Elites at Davos Try to Deal With Rise of Populism

They say globalization may be ending.

They understand that the middle class is both expanding world wide (Asia, Africa), but shrinking in the industrial world (U.S. and Europe).

“We need to go to a system where we are protecting workers, not jobs, and society will help people retrain or reorient,” Richard Baldwin, professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, said in an interview in Davos. “There may just be a need to man up. We have to pay for the social cohesion that we need to keep our societies advancing, and accept that this may be a higher tax burden on people.”

These really smart people meeting at the center of world finance to discuss the current state of affairs do get it.  Eight people having as much wealth as 50% of the planet is unsustainable.  It raises the question, why not just take everything those eight people have and distribute it?  Doesn’t seem all that difficult.  It’s just eight people.  They can surely sacrifice so that the entire planet has more.  I’m not even saying hang them in the town square.  It doesn’t have to be as messy and ugly as that.  Although, that cry will be coming.  I think these people fear that.  I do not fear that.  I think it’s worth a thought.

“I want to be loud and clear: populism scares me,” Dalio said. “The No. 1 issue economically as a market participant is how populism manifests itself over the next year or two.”

We can try to do it peacefully through consensus that government needs to do more, leading us to heavier taxation on the super wealthy.  But even that pretty non-radical idea is treated as an existential threat by those people, who just arm themselves with as many lobbyists and propagandists as they can possibly purchase in order to end even the most benign threat to their hegemony.

FDR saved capitalism when unemployment was 25% and an actual socialist revolution seemed possible.  Over the objections of the Hoovers and Mellons, the New Deal enabled the super wealthy of the day to hold onto the mechanisms that made them wealthy, just so long as they paid a bit more to finance reform.

His cousin Teddy before him did much the same when public opinion was galvanized by the work of the muckrakers and social reformers giving him the space to create regulations and reforms that the wealthy didn’t like, but really in the long run didn’t cost them all that much.

In the century since Teddy and FDR, the rich have just gotten so much fucking richer with the mechanisms of the further funneling of  wealth from the poor, the middle class and the commonwealth healthier and better greased than ever.  It’s pretty well established by this point that there’s never been a bigger divide between Wall Street and Main Street. Unlike in the 20th century, Wall Street’s 100 foot yacht can keep rising on the tide while the dinghy of humanity gets swamped in the wake.

In Europe they may just give in to the populist anger and break up the EU, which won’t actually reform the economy in the ways people need, but it might assuage some rage. More brown people will be hurt than London and Geneva toffs.

But in the U.S. we’re getting to the point where some peaceful givebacks from the top .01% aren’t going to cut it.  We’ve let the infrastructure get too far to seed.  The inner cities, schools and airports are way too far gone for band aids.  People are too angry to settle for crumbs.  But we’ll see soon what the populace will do when they’re completely sold out by the phony populist president they elected and his swamp of Goldman Sachs billionaires.

The next step may be more grabby and confiscatory than we’ve ever allowed.  And violent. Hopefully, if there’s violence it’ll be a fair fight against the people who actually are a threat (not brown people).

While violence is pretty looked down upon it is sometimes necessary.  And in this instance we’re not talking about a goal that can be achieved by Gandhian peaceful civil disobedience.  I don’t think the people who have everything will give it up by anything less than force.  It can be collective political force.  But so far our history shows that such collective political force always results in feel good sops to the masses in the streets that maintains the power structure and enables the malefactors of great wealth to lay low for a bit and then get to funneling up the wealth again.

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