And so the great and good, and maybe the bad too, have descended on Davos, and top of the agenda is what to do about the kind of people who descend on Davos every January. But then again, there are things that the Davos elite can do, and maybe is doing.
If you listen to some people, the problem with the world today is the elite, and maybe experts don’t help much, either.
There is a problem with inequality. As Oxfam tells us this week, the world’s richest eight people have more wealth than the poorest half put together. The richest one per cent have more wealth than the rest of the world, put together.
Others say there is a problem with corruption, and it goes to the highest level.
And yet, so much of the critique is simplistic, and indeed wrong.
One of the stars of Davos this year is the IMF supremo, Christine Lagarde. It is easy to be critical, here is a woman who was recently found guilty of negligence. And the Twitter sphere lights up, critics Tweet that if Ms Lagarde had any ordinary job she would be in jail, instead, she doesn’t even lose her job. The reality, however, is different. She was actually guilty of trusting a three-person arbitration panel, and not appealing their decision. Her sin may seem bad, until you start thinking about what you would do in her job. And you would flounder, of course you would, we all would. We live in difficult times, leadership is tough. How many people are capable of running the IMF? Very few. How many people are capable of running the IMF who have a spotless record? Maybe no one. It’s not because people are corrupt, it is because life is difficult.
In the UK, there is a lot of support for the idea that MPs are grossly over-paid, they cite MP’s remuneration as an example of the elites feathering their own nest. The reality is that if you really want politics to be less of an elitist thing, pay MPs more. If this happened, there would be less independently wealthy politicians. Donald Trump boasts that is he waiving his salary. Do we really want leaders who don’t need a salary?
Many of the people who make up the list of the world’s richest are big on giving to charity. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg may all fall into the category of the world’s richest eight people, and they may have more wealth between them than the world’s poorest 25 per cent, but if they plan to give their money away, is it an issue? Maybe they are taking literally the idea about squeezing camels through the eyes of needles and entering heaven. It might be better, of course, if their wealth went straight to the those who need it, and not via these incredibly rich people.
The point is that the reality of the elites is not so simple. It is simply, not simple.
A bigger problem might be the way it is becoming so hard to have a proper debate, instead we get certain parts of the media promoting hate and intolerance, and when things go wrong they blame the elite, even though it is the elite that own them.
But this time around, the Davos elite have come-up with an idea, an idea that they think can transform the world. Are they in danger of getting it right, this time? Read on.