While The Rich Get Richer …

Yesterday saw the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  Timely issues like the war and Covid will be discussed, alongside perennial threats such as climate change and cybersecurity.

Needless to say, Ukraine will be at the top of the list for discussion topics this year, as it should be, and Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy gave a virtual address to those present earlier today.  But other topics are on the agenda as well:  the post-pandemic recovery, tackling climate change, the future of work, accelerating stakeholder capitalism and harnessing new technologies.  I would suggest they turn their attention more toward the worldwide wealth/poverty crisis.  A few facts for your perusal …

  • The fortunes of food and energy billionaires have grown by $453 billion over the past two years owing to soaring energy and commodity prices during the pandemic and Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine
  • Spiraling global food prices helped create “62 new food billionaires” in just 24 months.
  • Cargill, which is one of the world’s largest food traders, now counts 12 family members as billionaires, up from eight before the pandemic. The Cargill family, along with three other companies, controls 70% of the global agricultural market.
  • Food prices, which are up more than 30% over the past year on average, are likely to push more than 263 million more people into acute poverty than before the pandemic. That would take the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day to 860 million by the end of the year. That is equivalent to the populations of the UK, France, Germany, and Spain combined.
  • Billionaires’ combined wealth stands at $12.7 trillion, according to Forbes magazine’s ranking on the super-rich. That is the equivalent to 13.9% of global GDP, and a threefold increase from 2000. The fortunes of the richest 20 billionaires are greater than the entire GDP of sub-Saharan Africa.

The stated purpose of the World Economic Forum is “… to bring together decision-makers from across society to work on projects and initiatives that make a real difference. Through collaboration between stakeholders with varied perspectives, our projects deliver concrete and sustainable results and make a positive impact at all levels of society.”

While I do not doubt that some of those leaders and decision makers are in Davos with the best of intentions, I very much doubt that any real help will come to those who are struggling for their very survival.  Why?  In part because even the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, has come to realize that the world he once believed could exist with cooperation among nations, simply isn’t happening.  Says political scientist Ian Bremmer …

“I think this will be the first World Economic Forum where Klaus himself does not believe that it is a Western-led world and that the rest of the countries are just going to align toward it. I think he gets it.”

Yet another part of the reason for my skepticism is the atmosphere that surrounds the event in Davos.  It seems to be a haven for the wealthy, days of sipping champagne and, as Mr. Bremmer says …

“… five days of making as much money as they can because they’re masters of the universe and they’re seeing other masters of the universe and they’re meeting every 30 minutes and getting deals done.”

As I sat writing notes for this post at about 2:00 this morning, munching on a few tortilla crisps, sipping a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, I realized just how lucky I am … and everyone reading this blog is … that while we may groan and moan about rising prices, we can still afford to keep a roof over our heads, the lights on, and food on the table.  Millions, if not billions of people around the globe are not able to do that.

Nellie Kumambala, a primary schoolteacher who lives in Lumbadzi, Malawi, with her husband, two children and her mother, said:

“Prices have risen so much, even since last month. Two litres of cooking oil, last month was 2,600 kwacha, now it is 7,500. Imagine. Yesterday I went to the shop to buy cooking oil, but I failed, I did not have the money. Every day I worry about how I will feed the household, thinking to myself, ‘What should I do today so we can eat?’”

Here in the U.S., gasoline prices are high and food prices are on the rise.  At least half of the people in this nation blame President Biden, for they have been told by their mentors on Fox ‘News’ that anything and everything that goes wrong must be Biden’s fault and they are too lazy or too uneducated to seek real answers.  But the reality is that fuel and food prices are high, not because of anything President Biden has or hasn’t done, but because the wealthy bastards who run the oil and food companies saw an opportunity to stick it to we the consumers, and they grabbed that golden ring, increasing their own profits astronomically while hurting the other 99% of us, particularly the lower economic families.

The development charity Oxfam called on world leaders meeting at Davos to immediately introduce wealth taxes on the super-rich to help tackle “the biggest increase in extreme poverty in over 20 years”.  While I fully agree … I think the wealthy should be taxed to the nines, be made to pay back for all the years they have gotten by with murder, paying no taxes while others starved to death … I am enough of a realist to know that it won’t happen.  Not today, not tomorrow, not next year, and probably not in 20 years, if the human species survives that long.  So, while I think the premise behind the World Economic Forum is a good one, I also think it’s pie-in-the-sky, unachievable, for the wealthy are greedy, arrogant creatures who would happily sip their champagne while the world burns around them.

A Few Random Tidbits …

My mind is bouncing today … I tried to settle it to write a single-topic post, but no, it was not having any of that!  It kept hopping from one topic to another so fast that my eyes were twirling about in their sockets trying to keep up.  So … once again I have just a few bits ‘n pieces today … and a hope that my mind stops bouncing soon, for I am getting a headache!


Mike Pence doesn’t say a whole lot, and after yesterday, I think that may be for the best.  The saying that is often attributed to either Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt,” seems to be one that Pence should heed.  Yesterday, he made the mistake of speaking …

“One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union.  That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on Congress to do. Come to the table in the spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border. We’ll reopen the government and we’ll move our nation forward as the president said yesterday to even a broader discussion about immigration reform in the months ahead.”  🤢

Sorry, Mikey, but Dr. Martin Luther King and Donald Trump have not got a single thing in common … one was a compassionate, concerned, caring, dedicated man who risked and ultimately gave his life for the people of this nation, and the other is a bloody fool.  Care to guess which is which?

Humanitarianism is apparently illegal in some places in the U.S., such as Arizona.  Four women, volunteers for the Arizona-based aid group No More Deaths, were convicted after a three-day bench trial at a federal court in Tucson. They could face up to six months in federal prison.  Their crime?  Leaving food and water for dehydrated migrants crossing the desert into the United States.  Watch what these border patrol agents did to that water …

Ever walked through the desert with no water?  The criminals here, in my book, are not the women who left the water for the migrants, but the border patrol agents who not only destroyed and wasted the water but appeared to take great pleasure in doing so.  Sadists.

The women, Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick were charged in December 2017. They said their work for No More Deaths was motivated by their religious convictions and a belief that everyone should have access to basic survival needs.  And for their efforts, they might go to jail.  What the Sam Heck is wrong with this country???

The worldwide charity Oxfam released a new report today.  According to the report, just 26 individuals have more wealth than the bottom 3.8 billion of the world’s population!  Think about that one for a minute.  Twenty-six people, probably fewer than at your last family reunion, own more than 3.8 billion other people.  Wow.  The combined net wealth of those 26 totals $1.4 trillion.  Now, people say that if a person works hard, he should be able to enjoy the fruits of his labour, and I don’t disagree with that.  Certainly there must be an incentive to go the extra mile, work harder, create and innovate.  But … mustn’t there also be a conscience?  Should not responsibility accompany privilege?

Rather than sharing their wealth, these 26 billionaires are actually hoarding and increasing their wealth, to the detriment of the rest of us.  In 2016, 61 billionaires controlled half of the world’s wealth, then in 2017 that number was 43, before becoming 26 in 2018.  At this rate, in another 2-3 decades, there will be a single person who will control half of the world’s wealth.

Meanwhile, back at the salt mines, the average worker’s wage has increased by only 0.2% in the past year.  Now, I have never been a billionaire, nor even a millionaire.  In my entire career of long hours and hard work, I did not earn a million dollars total … not even close. But if I had … I would not have six figures sitting in my bank account or investment portfolio, for I would have shared it with those who were hungry, cold or sick long before now.  Apparently, one of the criteria for being wealthy … disgustingly wealthy … is that you sell your conscience.

And, on that note, I shall go feed my bouncy mind in hopes that it can find a spot to settle for a bit.  I think the cold weather and mounds of snow have made it restless.  Have a great week, friends!