|The World Economic Forum of the global financial oligarchy is once again taking place in Davos, Switzerland. The Davos Summit is being held amidst the growing impoverishment of the world's peoples and in opposition to the necessity for a new pro-social direction for the economy. Canada, whose governments at the federal and provincial levels represent supranational private interests in opposition to the people and their economy, has several contingents attending the forum financed by the public purse.
Media coverage of the Davos forum is always an extensive exercise in disinformation to present no alternative to an economy whose inherent feature is the trend of the rich becoming richer and the poor poorer. In this regard, the 2020 report by Oxfam on global inequality titled Time to Care says the world's 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet's population. The Oxfam report, released on January 20 in conjunction with the gathering in Davos, confirms the global trend towards the concentration of social wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer rich oligarchs. The report also fuels the diversion that the representatives of the world's richest people have an interest in a better distribution of wealth to benefit the growing poor whose rebellion they clearly fear. In this vein, several billionaires organized into a U.S.-led group called the Patriotic Millionaires issued an open letter declaring the rich should pay more taxes. According to their website, the oligarchs are "high-net worth Americans, business leaders, and investors who are united in their concern about the destabilizing concentration of wealth and power in America."
Voicing agreement with the oligarchs that taxing the rich is a safer option than a new pro-social direction for the economy, Oxfam writes, "Getting the richest one per cent to pay just 0.5 per cent extra tax on their wealth over the next 10 years would equal the investment needed to create 117 million jobs in sectors such as elderly and childcare, education and health."
Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar, who is said to be in Davos this year to represent the Oxfam confederation, feeds this narrative saying, "The gap between rich and poor can't be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these." Behar adds a sense of urgency for the oligarchs to act to defend their privilege and power saying, "Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist."
To further divert attention away from any serious discussion on the direction of the global economy and the urgent need for working people to organize for empowerment through democratic renewal, Oxfam suggests the oligarchs use the greater exploitation of women as a foil to stop working people from unleashing their collective power for change. Behar says, "Women and girls are among those who benefit least from today's economic system. They spend billions of hours cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Unpaid care work is the 'hidden engine' that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving. It is driven by women who often have little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run, and who are therefore trapped at the bottom of the economy."
The Oxfam report reads: "The 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa. Women and girls put in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day -- a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year, more than three times the size of the global tech industry."
After citing more facts pointing to catastrophic scenarios that could disrupt the lives of the financial oligarchy and the economic and political systems it relies on, the Oxfam report concludes, "Governments are massively under-taxing the wealthiest individuals and corporations and failing to collect revenues that could help lift the responsibility of care from women and tackle poverty and inequality. At the same time, governments are underfunding vital public services and infrastructure that could help reduce women and girls' workload. For example, investments in water and sanitation, electricity, childcare, healthcare could free up women's time and improve their quality of life. For example, providing access to an improved water source could save women in parts of Zimbabwe up to four hours of work a day, or two months a year."
To save the current direction of the economy from collapse and a change to the new, and to spread confusion as to the root cause of inequality, Behar urges the oligarchs to act in their own self-interest saying: "Governments created the inequality crisis -- they must act now to end it. They must ensure corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and increase investment in public services and infrastructure. They must pass laws to tackle the huge amount of care work done by women and girls, and ensure that people who do some of the most important jobs in our society -- caring for our parents, our children and the most vulnerable -- are paid a living wage. Governments must prioritize care as being as important as all other sectors in order to build more human economies that work for everyone, not just a fortunate few."
Regarding India, Behar's own country of origin, the report notes that one per cent of the population owns more wealth than 70 per cent of the population. Sixty-three billionaires have more wealth than the annual budget of the government of India. What the report does not say is that 79 years of independence from brutal British colonial rule have brought increased misery to a vast majority of the population because the state ensures that a tiny minority control the decision-making power and ensure no challenge is organized to its privilege no matter which party forms the government and which policies are adopted.
Indian governments since independence have adopted "socialism" and "secularism" along with a "green revolution" to eliminate poverty, and then "liberalization" and "privatization" and now "Hindutva" and "Hindu Rashtra." All these different versions of the same state power of the rich and privileged have been meant to keep the people disinformed, disorganized and disempowered.
Throughout the world the dictate of the financial oligarchy is expressed in supranational neo-liberal policies to use state funds to pay the rich and build war economies. The peoples' tax monies and increased state borrowing from private money lenders are employed to further militarize economies and wage propaganda campaigns such as the Davos Forum against any efforts of working people to organize to change the world in their favour. The financial oligarchy is adamant to retain its control over the economies of all countries regardless of the problems, misery and wars this creates. It refuses to have in existence any economic forms unless it can expropriate a portion of the new value as private profit. The oligarchs gauge the health and success of the economy not by any objective measure but from their own subjective outlook of whether the rich are becoming richer and their empires more powerful.
The World Economic Forum in Davos is all about inventing new ways to fleece the working peoples of the world and divert them from uniting in their own interests in opposition to the rich oligarchs. Most governments have become representatives of supranational private interests in opposition to the people and their economy.
There is an alternative! A new aim and direction for the economy under the control of the actual producers would begin to solve a country's economic and social problems. This requires democratic renewal and the empowerment of the working people using new political and economic forms and institutions of their own creation.
1. Oxfam says Time to Care is a methodology document and outlines how Oxfam calculated the statistics in the report and the dataset. It says:
"Oxfam's calculations are based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources available. Figures on the share of wealth come from the Credit Suisse Research Institute's Global Wealth Databook 2019. Figures on the very richest in society come from Forbes' 2019 Billionaires List. Billionaire wealth fell in the last year but has since recovered.
"Oxfam is part of the Fight Inequality Alliance, a growing global coalition of civil society organizations and activists that will be holding events from January 18-25 in 30 countries, including India, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda and the UK, to promote solutions to inequality and demand that economies work for everyone."
2. The World Economic Forum is funded by its 1,000 member companies, typically global enterprises with more than $5 billion in turnover (varying by industry and region). These enterprises rank among the top companies within their industry and/or country and play a leading role in shaping the future of their industry and/or region. Membership is stratified by the level of engagement with forum activities, with the level of membership fees increasing as participation in meetings, projects, and initiatives rises.
As of 2011, an annual membership costs $52,000 for an individual member, $263,000 for an "Industry Partner" and $527,000 for a "Strategic Partner." The admission fee was $19,000 per person.
In 2014, WEF raised annual fees by 20 per cent, increasing the cost for a "Strategic Partner" to $628,000. (Abhin Poojary, Analyst at Performics. Convonix)