Davos, World Economic Forum. Jan 2019

This very week the good and the great {100 state leaders, and at least 1,000 business leaders and “special invitees”, {eg Prince William?  David Blaine illusionist and thrill seeking performer? and the odd film star} are gathering in Davos, at the World Economic Form, whose stated aims are “to make progress happen, to improve the state of the world by encouraging influential people to meet and work together”.
Looking at some of the numbers involved, to attend you have to be a member of the WEF, a “run of the mill member” costs $52,000 pa, an Industry Partner $260,000 pa and there are higher categories of Strategic Partners at crazy prices, in addition a ticket cost for the 4 day event itself costs another $28,000, of course then there’s travel, accommodation and drinkies!
For a Complete list of those attending

A little background. Davos refers to the Alpine village in which the World Economic Forum has been meeting for the last few years. The original gathering commenced in 1971, HQ Geneva and was the European Management Forum, the new title WEF was adopted in 1987. In addition to the aims stated above its PR blurb boasts that it has been “a catalyst for global initiatives historic shifts, industry breakthroughs, economic ideas and thousands of projects.”
Lets have a broad overview of where the WEF has helped us to get to in the 47 years since 1971. There are not many organisations who take a global view of the economic health of the world but two which I will use to provide reliable information are the UN, specifically UNHCR, its Commission for Refugees and Oxfam.
The UNHCR estimates that in 2018 the total number of displaced people in the world was about 68 Million, roughly the population of the UK. There is a multitude of reasons why so many are displaced but it will help you to understand the reasons if you use my old guidelines of 1. Follow the money and 2. Who are the Winners and Who are the Losers?

UNHCR. 2018 Displace People. 68 Milliom

Her World. Our World ?

Oxfam has just released its latest report which gives an up to date overview of how successful we have been in achieving widely agreed upon goals such as reducing poverty and hunger and establishing conditions in which people have a fair opportunity to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Numbers living in absolute poverty have indeed fallen world wide, however this statement deserves closer examination. Most of the reduction happened in China and India and thats wonderful, however other areas of the world has got worse! EG. Nigeria whose population is 190 Million has 87 Million, almost 50%, living in extreme poverty. In the DRC 60 Mil, 72%, of its 83 Mil live in extreme poverty.
The other important caveat when analysing these poverty figures is, how is absolute poverty measured? A widely accepted figure is the numbers living on $1.25 or $2.00 a day. Realistically this level of income would hardly keep body and soul together.

If we accept a meaningful figure of $4 or $5 a day the numbers in poverty balloon by hundreds of millions. As a basis of some comparison, the 3.6 Mil garment workers in Bangladesh got their first negotiated pay increase since 2015 in December 2018. It was a 51% increase taking their monthly wage to $95. The best estimate of a living wage in Bangladesh is $160 a month. I cannot resist mentioning that Europe’s richest man is the owner of Inditex, its brands are Zara, Stradivarius, Berksha and a few others. Could we afford to give these Bangladeshi women a decent pay increase?
In another part of the world Mexico, recent calculations show that if Mexican garment workers had their wage doubled it would add less than 2% to the cost of a $100 garment in USA.

Reverting to the billionaires and heavy hitting millionaires of the world in Davos figuring out how to “steady the ship”, just as OXfam’s Report highlighted that the 26 wealthiest folk have more wealth than the bottom 3.8 Billion of the world, and in 2018, the wealth of billionaires in general {not just those 26} grew by 12% and to complete the story the above mentioned 3.8 Billion saw their store of wealth fall by 11%. If this 3.8 Billion and their supporters became restless I can imagine the ship could become fairly unsteady. Throughout 2018 a new Billionaire was created every 2 days, in the 10 years since the crisis their numbers doubled, in a decade of very low inflation.
This is not the first time I have tried to understand what Davos meetings achieve and it is now my considered opinion that it amounts to little more than the Champions League of networking events for Fat Cats, a socialising institution for the emerging global elite, globaliation’s ‘Mafiocracy’ of bankers, industrialists, oligarchs, technocrats and politicians.
“They promote common ideas, and serve common interests: their own”.
I morally support those who make the effort to demonstrate at its meetings, protesters who believe organisations like the Forum, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, exacerbate poverty and environmental destruction by promoting corporate interests and profit-driven business practices over humanitarian concerns.

About tryingtobefair

More than a little interested in how we can all make the community we live in a better place. "The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed" Gandhi. Let's all learn what's enough.
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