DAVOS MAN: “A soulless man, technocratic, nationless and cultureless, severed from reality. The modern economics that undergirded Davos capitalism is equally soulless, a managerial capitalism that reduces economics to mathematics and separates it from human action and human creativity.”
– From the post: “For the Sake of Capitalism, Pepper Spray Davos”
I’ve written several posts examining the dangerous cluelessness inherent throughout the ranks of the oligarch class over the past several years. One of my earliest and most viral pieces was published two years ago and titled, An Open Letter to Sam Zell: Why Your Statements are Delusional and Dangerous. That article was a response to the billionaire’s appearance of CNBC during which he instructed the less financially fortunate to “emulate the 1%,” as if their destitution was a result of personal shortcomings as opposed to egregious structural flaws inherent in the rigged, crony, oligarch-controlled Banana Republic economy billionaires such as himself helped mold. Here’s an excerpt:
Individuals, social classes, even cultures and nation-states develop storylines and so-called “myths” about themselves and how they fit into the bigger picture of current events and human history. We all see ourselves and whatever group(s) with which we identify within a particular social, political and economic context. This is obvious, yet it is much more difficult to look at your owns myths and question them. It is far easier to look at other groups’ myths and heap criticism on them. That is basically all you do.
You think everyone that has issues with you oligarchs and how the 0.01% is destroying our economy and society is simply envious because you assume they think like you do. Certainly, if you were poor you would be envious of the the rich. You’ve made that clear. However, that is not the primary motivation of the anger and resentment swelling up from the underclasses.
Your misdiagnosis of the root cause of the current dissent in America is a result of your obliviousness to the actual concerns of the 99%. A group about which you speak with such certainty, yet certainly know almost nothing about. In fact, my website is dedicated to highlighting all of the destructive trends happening in this nation today. From record high food stamp participation, to declining real wages and the reality that young people need to take on so much debt they become indentured serfs from the moment they enter the workforce. From a loss of 4th Amendment rights due to illegal NSA spying, to the militarization of the police force. From oligarch immunity from serious financial crimes that average citizens would be thrown in jail for life for, to trillion dollar bailouts with zero strings attached for the financial community. From the over-prosecution of some of our bravest citizens such as Aaron Swartz, Barrett Brown and Private Manning to a fraudulent two-party sham political system entirely controlled by your socio-economic class.
In that article, I outlined many of the reasons people are angry and why they should be angry. In fact, I’ve published hundreds of articles every year since early 2012 detailing exactly why the country is in such dire straights. It’s not just me of course, tens of thousands of people across the globe have been doing it for far longer and to much larger audiences. The reason billionaires are incapable of comprehending what’s going on is because doing so would contradict the life-stories they tell themselves about themselves. Make no mistake about it, billionaires think of themselves as truly exceptional people. Privately, they likely muse that their mere presence on earth is nothing short of a glorious gift to humanity from the heavens. These people are deluded, secluded and emotionally stunted in more ways than you could possibly imagine. They have zero capacity for self-reflection.
In our modern world, our culture has become convinced that extreme wealth and power are something to admire, when history shows us time and time again that “the people” must always remain vigilant against the centralization of precisely those two things. Naturally, the people who are centralizing the wealth and power for themselves don’t see the problem with wealth and power centralization. Neither does much of the fawning, inept, and soulless media.
The latest example of oligarch disconnectedness comes, quite appropriately, from Davos. So here’s the quote from Steven Schwartzman, billionaire CEO of private equity giant Blackstone:
“I find the whole thing astonishing and what’s remarkable is the amount of anger whether it’s on the Republican side or the Democratic side,” the Wall Street mogul said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Bernie Sanders, to me, is almost more stunning than some of what’s going on in the Republican side. How is that happening, why is that happening?”
Forbes goes on to accurately note that:
America is the richest and most unequal nation in the world — at least when you look at the wealth in 55 of the more conventionally developed countries. Median income has largely fallen behind economic growth as corporations continue to retain a bigger share of the benefits, turning into a reverse of what is usually claimed as the danger of income redistribution.
But whether there are long term changes coming or not of their own accord is immaterial in this case. People in the U.S. don’t tend to think that way. What many perceive now is a basic economic unfairness. They work hard, play by the rules as they’ve learned them, and keep getting further behind. The debt funding for college and large purchases seems to be never ending for large portions of the populace, which cements in a sense of unending inequality.
In a way, Bernie Sanders and the Tea Party are different expressions of the same phenomenon. People disagree over the causes and the proper fixes, but they can find common ground in the sense that things are wrong, that power and wealth are too concentrated, and that most of the country will be left holding the bag when things blow up. That the biggest banks got bailed out of an economic downturn largely of their own creation while the promised help for homeowners largely never materialized didn’t help.
Of course people are angry. It’s one thing to face problems but another to face incompetent greed and manipulation. Unless people climb out of their ivory towers and recognize what is happening on the ground, there will be pain and suffering for all to pay. It’s happened time and again in the past. What makes anyone think that our age is somehow immune?
David Sirota at the International Business Times adds:
On the eve of the conference, the nonprofit group Oxfam released a report showing that the richest 62 people on the planet now own more wealth than half the world’s population. In the United States, recent data from Pew Research shows the average American’s median household worth has stagnated, as the median household worth of upper-class Americans increased 7 percent. Schwarzman, though, expressed surprise that people are enraged.
Yes, you read that right. 62 people own more than 3.5 billion of the earth’s inhabitants. Nothing to see here, move along serfs.
Of course, as I’ve maintained time and time again, this sort of aggregation of wealth only happens in rigged economies. It’s as if the entire Western world has become that Third World oil dictatorship where three guys have billions while the rest of the population eats dirt. I’m sure those dictators also see wonderful, admirable people when they fawn over themselves in the mirror, just as Steven Schwartzman undoubtably does.
Which brings me to my final point: Blackstone. It’s not like Steven Schwartzman is Steve Jobs or Henry Ford, revolutionary entrepreneurs who made their fortunes changing the world and bringing innovative products to people. In fact, you could very easily make the argument that Schwartzman has made much of his fortune by bringing misery to people, or if we want to be generous, hyper rent-seeking from the destruction of the American middle class. Need some proof? Check out the following:
Poll Time: Which group presents a greater danger to world peace and prosperity?
— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) January 20, 2016