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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/19/20

Trump is on trial for abuse of power -- the Davos elites should be in the dock too

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From The Guardian

While the Senate mulls his fate, the president plans to speak to world economic leaders every bit as impeachable as him

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As the Senate debates Donald Trump's future, chief executives, financiers and politicians will descend on Davos in the Swiss Alps for their annual self-congratulatory defense of global capitalism.

The events are not unrelated. Trump is charged with abusing his power. Capitalism's global elite is under assault for abusing its power as well: fueling inequality, fostering corruption and doing squat about climate change.

Chief executives of the largest global corporations are raking in more money and at a larger multiple of their workers' pay than at any time in history. The world's leading financiers are pocketing even more. The 26 richest people on Earth now own as much as the 3.8 billion who form the poorer half of the planet's population.

Concentrated wealth on this scale invites corruption. Across the world, big money is buying off politicians to procure favors that further enlarge the wealth of those at the top, while siphoning off resources from everyone else.

Corruption makes it impossible to fight stagnant wages, climate change or any other problem facing the vast majority of the world's population that would require some sacrifice by the rich.

Popular anger is boiling over against elites seen as irredeemably greedy, corrupt and indifferent to the plight of most people struggling to get by. The anger has fueled uprisings in Chile, Spain, Ecuador, Lebanon, Egypt and Bolivia; environmental protests in the UK, Germany, Austria, France and New Zealand; and xenophobic politics in the US, the UK, Brazil and Hungary.

Trump's support comes largely from America's working class whose wages haven't risen in decades, whose jobs are less secure than ever and whose political voice has been drowned out by big money.

Although Trump has given corporations and Wall Street everything they've wanted and nothing has trickled down to his supporters, he has convinced those supporters he's on their side by channeling their rage on to foreigners, immigrants, minorities and "deep state" bureaucrats.

It seems strangely appropriate, therefore, that the theme of this year's Davos conclave is "stakeholder capitalism" the idea that corporations have a responsibility to their workers, communities and the environment as well as to their shareholders.

Expect endless speeches touting the "long-term" benefits of stakeholder capitalism to corporate bottom lines: happy workers are more productive. A growing middle class can buy more goods and services. Climate change is beginning to cost a bundle in terms of environmental calamities and insurance, so it must be stopped.

 

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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