Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tough Talk from a Tough Politician

I suppose that at this time of year I tend to sound like a broken record as I continue to bash the World Economic Forum (WEF) for its incredible investment in self-admiration among the rich and mighty when they assemble for their annual gathering in Davos.  Given the collective damage that these elites have done to our climate and given the way the climate has been pushing back by punishing the far-less-rich-and-mighty around the world even as I write this, it would be poetic justice for those conferees to get snowbound in their little retreat.  The rest of us could then see what happens when the food runs out, not to mention electric power and (shudder!) Internet connectivity.  I wonder, what kind of jawboning about “innovation” would take place then?

If I am to believe Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada, it probably would not make a whole lot of difference.  Lisa Kassenaar has a great story on  the Bloomberg site about the paucity of women at Davos.  I found her interview with Campbell quite telling.  Here is the relevant excerpt:

Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell says the obstacle to quicker progress is the WEF itself. “If you want to insist on only the CEOs and the very top people, you get the same-old, same-old, same-old,” says Campbell, who chairs the international advisory board for the Kiev, Ukraine-based Foundation for Effective Governance and who attended Davos in the early 2000s when she was teaching at Harvard University.

“They will give women another seat, but it’s not the same as making gender real,” she says. “If they were very serious, they could do ‘Who are the most interesting woman entrepreneurs?’ Don’t confuse Davos with something serious about changing the world agenda -- it’s not.”

There you have it, just as we always expected.  Davos is where the rich and mighty gather to plan ways to maintain the status quo in order that they, themselves, remain rich and mighty.  All that talk about innovation is just propaganda to get the rest of us to shut up and think that they may actually have the interests of the rest of the world in mind.  At the end of the day, there is only one kind of innovation that draws attention in Davos, and that is the kind the surfaced in Robert Skidelsky's abstraction of the basic argument in Niall Ferguson's Ascent of Money book:

Throughout history men have been more ingenious at finding ways to make money than to make things.

Has anyone checked the weather forecasts for Switzerland?

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