Davos millionaires plot ways to get richer while pretending to care about poor
I thought I’d stumbled on the greatest capitalist irony of modern times.
A book about Philip Green with a title containing the phrase “Death of the High Street”, on sale at Amazon at a reduced price of £12.35 and qualifying for next-day delivery.
Meaning that buying the book about killing the high street with one click of your laptop would help push the high street closer to death.
But then I heard that the main topic of discussion at this year’s meeting of billionaires , plutocrats and captains of industry above the ski slopes of Davos, was “tackling global inequality”. And I changed my mind.
Here’s a gathering of the masters of the universe, who have made a combined wealth of a trillion dollars through bleeding the profits out of their companies and bribing the world’s politicians to give them tax cuts and sell them their nation’s public assets on the cheap.
They’re the ones who play nations against each other to pay less income tax than their cleaners and less
corporation tax than a small chain of Halifax off-licences, before diverting their gains into some morally dodgy offshore haven.
The ones who refuse to give their workers the living wage, decent pensions and the minimum of job security while driving unions out of the workplace in case they dare attempt to fight their exploitation.
Yet they want to peek below their designer ski hats to tell the world that inequality is eating away at them. Ain’t that cute?
On the same day the Davos shebang kicked off (with a third of Theresa May’s Cabinet clinking champagne flutes with the plutocrats, courtesy of you, the taxpayer) an Oxfam report claimed that the 26 richest people on Earth now hold the same wealth as the poorest 50%.
Worldwide, 2,200 billionaires, plenty of them no doubt in Davos, saw their wealth grow by 12% last year as the poorest half saw theirs fall by 11%. Put another way, a half-empty coach containing just over two dozen humans is as rich as 3.8 billion
others, with the planet’s billionaires growing two billion pounds richer every day.
Another report by Link Asset Services showed that UK firms paid out £99.8billion in dividends in 2018, a
5.1% rise from a year earlier, despite the FTSE 100 suffering its worst 12 months in a decade, which left ordinary shareholders and pension schemes taking a hit.
That kind of corporate behaviour, which our government actively encourages, explains how Persimmon’s former CEO Jeff Fairburn took home a £75million bonus last year, when the company’s average wage was £35,000.
A bonus from the York-based building firm, only possible thanks to the Tories’ disastrous taxpayer-backed buy-to-let scheme, which could have bought homes for every one of the 760 families in Yorkshire and Humber who are currently homeless.
Yet the rich gather in Davos , plotting ways of getting even richer, pretending their biggest concern is to make the system they milk more equal.
Meanwhile, back home, a party leader who calls modern capitalism “rigged” and wants to stand up “for the many not the few” is slandered by the establishment as an out-of-touch, militant dinosaur who would ruin Britain if he ever got into power.
I’m sorry, folks, but capitalist irony is dead.
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