Warren Zevon – Economics 101 (click for a great live Letterman performance of Lawyers, Guns and Money)
“I’m the innocent bystander/ Somehow I got stuck/ Between the rock and a hard place/ And I’m down on my luck” –Warren Zevon (Lawyers, Guns and Money)
The World Economic Forum happened in January 2016, but chances are (if you’re anything like me), election coverage ad nauseum –plus attending your kid’s chorus concert — prevented you from finding out what the next 8-80 years will actually look like if the world’s so-called leaders have their way.
So thanks, Huffington Post, for some decent coverage that I only now am discovering. Below you will find excerpts from one of the better articles, interrupted by my highly biased and probably under-informed (and parenthetical) opinion about the implications of various content in that article:
How Widening Economic Inequality Could Shake The Whole World
By Jo Confino, Executive Editor, Impact & Innovation, The Huffington Post …on 1/20/2016
Experts say that rapid advances in technology are pulling the world in opposite directions and that the way that policy makers, businesses and civil society handle the extraordinary pace of change will determine the direction of human society.
On one side we are seeing that technology is creating greater transparency and stronger global networks. The recent unprecedented global agreement in Paris to seek to limit runaway climate change is also being hailed as an example of the ability of the world to act with one voice.
But on the other side of the equation, there are increasing numbers of people who feel disenfranchised and angry at the widening inequality between rich and poor, exemplified this week by Oxfam’s report
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/global-wealth-inequality_us_56991defe4b0ce4964242e09> that the richest 62 people are as wealthy as half the world’s population…
“Those people being left out have no interest in the ongoing march of globalization, and we are likely to experience a bumpy ride in the years to come,” Lacy added. “How we manage the next 10 years will determine whether we see a greater pace of fragmentation or the ongoing benefits of globalization.”
Business leaders across the globe also worry that the world is once again in danger of fragmenting.
A new survey <http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/>
of 1,400 CEOs from 83 countries by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that three-quarters expect increasing regionalization in trade, 83 percent predict differing fundamental belief systems underpinning societies, 59 percent expect multiple economic models and 81 percent see increasingly divergent systems of laws and liberties.
(We may have fewer dictators than ever, but what about the destructive and presumptuous IDEOLOGIES that they wield? [Including the implicit assumption that capitalism is ONLY good and capitalists will always play fair.] Those ideologies, plus the increased destructive/disruptive power that trickles down to disgruntled and weapon-supplied pawns and foot soldiers in the developing world, are enough to keep us bogged down, possibly forever. Furthermore, what are the unforeseen consequences of these “culture wars” that CEOs don’t want us to know about, or don’t know about themselves? For example, what’s the relationship between the war in Afghanistan [where illegal poppy plants are practically the only global asset they have, over 52% of the GDP] and the record-breaking increase in heroin abuse throughout the West since the “Taliban” war began?)
PwC says that the complexity faced by business leaders “isn’t just being shaped by economic and geopolitical trends. We believe there is a more fundamental shift taking place, namely from a globalizing world to one with many dimensions of power, growth and threats — a transition that we call multi-polar.”
(I call it chaos, just barely contained, and contained only by a lack of access to real power for the poor majority. What happens when they decide that neither the West’s nor China’s nor the average Muslim thug’s version of “law and order” has worked out for them? If their standard of living is still literally medieval in its severity, and they’re still locked out of the process for achieving the prosperity promised by all this so-called modernization, then why wouldn’t they be interested in tearing it down?)
…Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, also says that we live in a time of great promise and great peril.
The WEF, writing about Schwab’s new book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, points out
that “[t]he world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions.”
(???!!! Really? And how is that “undoing” going to happen? Just because you want it to happen and believe with a religious fervor that technology can solve every problem? Science is science, and yet human error/bad public policy/corruption is something else entirely. Meanwhile, we’ve passed the tipping point on climate change. Doubling down on technology as an “asset” won’t clear the already ruined air. Plus, if your CEO survey from this same World Economic Forum says that the #1 concern of company leaders is OVER-REGULATION [presumably including EPA-style limits on such anathema as fracking], then giving them the keys to Dad’s swiftly disintegrating Planetary SUV will only wreck the planet quicker.)
“However, Schwab also has grave concerns,” the WEF goes on to write, “that organizations might be unable to adapt; governments could fail to employ and regulate new technologies to capture their benefits; shifting power will create important new security concerns; inequality may grow; and societies fragment.”
(OK. So you can at least be honest about the potential roadblocks to universal economic development. Good. Now where’s that same honesty when it comes to admitting that your kind of development has historically been at the expense of the poor, and of the planet, and that the whole capitalist/competitive system is designed to perpetuate that disparity and inequality? When will people stop equating capitalism [economic “freedom”] and democracy [political freedom] ? When my powerless self-interest (in equality) is competing with the powerful elite’s interest in national security, or an imbalanced tax policy, or cheap international labor, then whose agenda will triumph? When Mexican heroin production is up 600% in the past 10 years, and drug lords rule the provinces, why don’t we talk about illegal Mexican immigrants as “refugees” in the same way we talk about refugees from non-democratic nations or Islamist regimes?)
Any thoughts, dear ones? I for one am just disillusioned… If not terrified.