- David Sirota and Andrew Perez expose Steve Schwarzman's galling complaints that his perceived lessers dare to complain about declining security and stagnating incomes. And Aditya Chakrabortty discusses how the wealthiest few people have manipulated our political and economic systems into their own playthings:
(D)ecades of burgeoning inequality – of the Davos set scooping more and more of the gains from growth – have enabled the super-rich to pretend that their narrow sectional interests are what’s good for the world economy. Policies as manifestly unfair as QE would never have happened in a fairer economy – the UK and US would have relied instead on public investment and government programmes.- Fram Dinshaw reports on Tom Mulcair's work to highlights the problems with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while Sujata Day provides her own critique of another plan to transfer money and power from people to corporations. And Janyce McGregor reports that the "there is no alternative!" talk surrounding the CETA is giving way to renegotiation due to justified concerns about its dispute settlement provisions.
Massive inequality has allowed the 1% to buy political influence as never before in postwar history. Indeed, the super-rich now practically write their own tax laws – such as the way senior executives of Britain’s biggest businesses were invited by George Osborne to advise on overhauling corporation taxes. They get to ensure that tax havens are treated with due leniency, all the better to hide their trillions in them. They buy their own politicians, as with the shadow-bankers who funded the Conservative election campaign or the billionaire Koch brothers using their fortune to tip the US presidential contest. Indeed, the more ambitious decide to become politicians. Think not just of Donald Trump but former bond trader turned media mogul turned mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.
The great mistake made by the mainstream left and right, even by NGOs such as Oxfam, is in imagining that the super-rich, now enjoying such massive riches, are somehow playing by the same rules as the rest of us. That they are “wealth creators” providing jobs and investment for the rest of us, or that they might give up their tax havens. If that ever were the case, it isn’t now. A tiny minority has gained from massive tax cuts and legislative leniency about where they shove their money. They have siphoned off gains in salaries and profits wherever possible and enjoyed hundreds of billions flowing into their asset markets. Meanwhile, the rest of us who provide the feedstock for their revenues see our welfare states hollowed out, our wages frozen and our employers failing to invest. But none of that matters very much in Davos.
- Seth Klein offers his ideas for the next federal budget. And PressProgress points to Alberta's decades of conservative mismanagement as an example to avoid.
- Finally, Alvaro Bedoya reminds us that there's nothing new in governments claiming "national security" as an excuse to abuse civil rights - and that the same excuse has been regularly used to spy on and disrupt the likes of Martin Luther King Jr.