Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The New Capitalist Tool for the World Economic Forum

It used to be that Forbes advertised itself as being the "capitalist tool." I am not sure when they decided that this sobriquet had lost its charm; but these days I see that their Web site describes itself as being the "Home Page for the World's Business Leaders." Still, even the world's business leaders cannot be good leaders without a few good tools; and it appears that one of those tools is now available through the World Economic Forum. His name is Richard Edelman (when you are one of the world's business leaders, the best tools are always of the human variety); and he apparently runs a communications consulting business that specializes in telling the rich and mighty what they want to hear. At least that is the impression I got when I read a report by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson filed from New York yesterday for the Financial Times. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Public confidence in companies, governments and non-governmental organisations has staged a recovery since last year’s “trust Armageddon”, but the rebound is patchy and fragile, according to data to be presented at the World Economic Forum on Wednesday in Davos.

Trust in business has risen from 49 per cent to 53 per cent around the world year-on-year, says the annual “trust barometer” of well-educated, highly paid and engaged “informed publics”, conducted by Edelman, a communications consultancy.

That second paragraph says it all, since it describes Edelman's sample space. Apparently, Edelman is less interested in providing analysis and more interesting in running a massage parlor for data to keep his customers feeling good; and what is the World Economic Forum if not a gathering of the rich and mighty to feel good about themselves without being troubled by the presence of the homeless, the unemployed, and those dying through lack of proper medical care? Edelman is the perfect antidote for all of those dark clouds that Archbishop Desmond Tutu summoned last year at Davos; and, of course, it takes a fair amount of chutzpah to be so oblivious as to ignore those not numbered among the "well-educated, highly paid and engaged 'informed publics!'"

Now I admit that it is early in the week. Considering that the Davos Follies will be getting under way tomorrow, it may even be too early to declare a Chutzpah of the Week award winner. On the other hand think of how much the high spirits of those follies owe to the data that Edelman has served up as an amuse-gueule for the event. So I shall go out on the without-him-you-are-nothing limb and declare Edelman winner of the Chutzpah of the Week award, subject to this year's Forum outdoing its outrageousness once the proceedings get under way!

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