Socialist Worker

Rhetoric from the rich masks a rotten system

Issue No. 2688

Billionaires Melinda and Bill Gates

Billionaires Melinda and Bill Gates (Pic: Wikimedia/Creative Commons)


Billionaire bosses, politicians and celebrities descended on Davos in Switzerland this week for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF was supposedly set up to “improve the state of the world”. But in reality, it’s just a chance to give their obscene wealth a veneer of caring and concern for all.

Prince Charles is expected to deliver a talk on “how to save the planet”.

Oxfam published its annual report on inequality ahead of the conference. The report showed that the 2,153 billionaires in the world have more wealth than 4.6 billion people.

The top 1 percent collectively has twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people, nearly the entire world’s population.

And the 22 richest men have more wealth than the 326 million women living in Africa.

Oxfam said the number of billionaires has doubled over the last year, at the cost of ordinary people.

Some 42 percent of women across the world can’t go into paid employment because they are responsible for taking care of someone else. Those with paid jobs in care have to put up with irregular hours and poor pay.

According to the report, a rise of just 0.5 percent in taxes on the richest 1 percent over ten years would equal enough investment to create 117 million jobs in care sectors.

This job creation would help to ease the immense burden put on women around the world.

Change 

The people who gather at Davos will not bring about anything like the change we need. They are the cause of the world’s problems, not the solution.

Their avowed focus on climate change was already fraying even before Donald Trump arrived.

Reacting to a dire International Monetary Fund forecast, the Financial Times newspaper reported, “The latest signs of economic fragility will force global leaders and chief executives to tackle the more immediate challenges of restoring growth.”

Profit comes first, saving the planet can be ditched.

Yet the meeting is also being held as protests against inequality and corruption have swept many parts of the world. Just recently we saw one of the biggest workers’ strikes in history in India.

Workers continue to battle president Emmanuel Macron in France.

And in the last few months protests have hit Chile, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Hong Kong, Sudan, Guinea, Algeria and other countries.

Such protests are inspiring. But the immense wealth concentrated among the Davos rich reminds us that protest needs to become a challenge to the whole system.

We need to seize control of the economy from the Davos vultures and do away with the billionaires and the system that produces billionaires.


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