Editor, The Times:
When you are playing with four aces you have a great reluctance to change the game.
This was the essence of a sign at Occupy Davos. Yes! There was an Occupy movement at this most prestigious of economic forums. By all reports it was a very civilized affair. The mayor of Davos lent the protesters a parking lot on which they built several igloos and yurts from which they would denounce the world economic forum as ‘illegitimate.’ No riot cops, pepper spray or any of the other things that dogged the Occupy movement elsewhere.
Unlike a meeting of say the Bilderbergers (yes they do exist), which is based on, “… we own a good part of the world and when nobody’s looking we are going to grab the rest,” the world economic forum was meant to be the property of the rich and powerful. It was, as founder Klaus Schwab envisioned, a meeting of the minds, a broad spectrum of economic, environmental, and other issues concerning the planet’s health and well-being.
That economic issues have predominated is that version of the golden rule: those who have the gold call the shots.
At Davos there was much talk about ‘rebuilding capitalism from scratch’ but, as even those advocating such drastic action admitted, there wasn’t much chance of that happening.
All through history we’ve had examples of empires and great powers collapsing because of a failure to reform at the right time. Twenty-some years ago we saw the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yes, yes, I know communism didn’t work. However can anyone explain how this weird concoction of financial rules that not even the persons who dreamt them up can explain is working?
Well, one way you can make it work is the Harper-Flaherty version – rob the poor to pay the rich.
However, as the events in Greece, Spain and Italy are proving – how many times can one follow the IMF and the World Bank? How many cuts can people accept before everything explodes?
A perfect storm is brewing. It won’t do to just shut the windows on the ship’s wheelhouse.