The 1% Battles Economic Inequality At Swiss Resort

The World Economic Forum brings together the richest and most powerful people in the world. But what’s their message to the world’s poor?

January 21, 2014  |

World and business leaders are flying to Davos, Switzerland this week to participate in the World Economic Forum, a gathering of the richest people in the world.  This year, the 1% will be focusing on income inequality, among other issues.

It’s a meeting that brings together the most powerful people in the world to talk and shmooze. This year, those attending include Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister; Bill Gates; JP Morgan head Jamie Dimon; Matt Damon; Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. There’s also a lot of buzz over the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be attending the same forum as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The issues the forum will touch on include:

-Technology and surveillance

-Inequality

-Geopolitics

But it’s inequality that is capturing the most attention around the world, and the forum will reflect that–even if many of the people they invite perpetuate inequality. In the run-up to the forum, an Oxfam report revealed that 85 of the richest individuals around the world own as much as the poorest half of the world.

It would be foolish to expect that the World Economic Forum is the place where real solutions to inequality will be forged. The Guardian’s Economic blog criticized the forum for inviting tax avoiders, and suggested the forum not invite those people–though the publication admitted that might leave the forum empty.

“Don’t expect much support for any of Oxfam’s suggested remedies for inequality: that corporations should stop using offshore boltholes to avoid tax; that business leaders should support progressive taxation, universal provision of health and education, and a living wage in all the companies they control,” the blog states.  “The CEOs in Davos may be worried about the impact of inequality but they are not that worried, and not nearly as worried as they should be.”