Is hyper-expensive Davos is just an excuse for people who have lots of money to pretend that they care about people, who have very little money? Take US billionaire Jeff Greene. He made most of his money betting against sub-prime mortgages — so putting a wager on poor people being booted out of those homes. And this week he has selflessly holidayed from his 53,000 sq ft LA mansion, taking a private jet to spend a week with his wife, kids and two nannies at Davos — where he had some advice for the rest of us. Our “lifestyle expectations are far too high,” apparently, “and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence,” Greene preached. “We need to reinvent our whole system of life.” Thank you Jeff, we little people are truly humbled.
Davos is a seriously lucrative ticket. To attend, you need annual membership of the World Economic Forum (about $50,000); then there’s the actual entry price — around $20,000. Bringing a colleague along adds some $260,000 to the bill, plus you have to get there (by private jet if you’ve any pride at all), and stay somewhere — in the WEF, even the mouse-ridden hotels will set you back a few grand for the week.
Paloma Faith opened her set at Google’s Davos jamboree by shouting – with no apparent sense of irony, as the vintage Bollinger flowed – “let’s spread the 1%”. What she meant, presumably, was “let’s find a way to redistribute some of the almost-50% of the world’s wealth controlled by the richest 1%” – who undoubtedly include Paloma Faith. The World Economic Forum at Davis isn’t thronged by the best-heeled 1% of course. It’s in effect the annual general meeting of the top 0.01% – the super elite of the wealthy and the powerful.
It is where billionaires and business leaders buy access to world leaders and top central bankers. It is where, over coffee and cake in the day, and champagne and canapés at night, what would once have been called the ruling class get together to share their cares.
#davos2015 goal is to "help the state of the world" So perhaps its attendees should stop helping themselves to everything thro tax avoidance
— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) January 23, 2015
All of which is why, when 1,700 private jets dropped off several tons-worth of billionaires and celebrities at Davos this week, they arrived for purely selfish reasons: to have a good time and make themselves feel intelligent. Which is all fine, if that’s how they want to massage their egos — but there’s no need for said tycoons to pretend to be on a world rescue mission. The average Davos day sees a few self-important, jargon-spouting bosses seal lucrative business deals behind closed doors — but mostly it’s about each of them showing off their designer, smart-but-snowproof boots.
Today Davos feels a club of the existentially challenged, Ancien Régime, perhaps. Davos and the World Economic Forum will be around for many years yet. But it’s habitués risk defenestration, loss of their licence to govern, if they’re unable to respond effectively to the new demagogues’ charge that they are not saving the world, as they claim, but only their own precious privileges.
— Waterford Whispers (@WhispersNewsLTD) January 21, 2015
Not that I’m too worried because us real people have something better, Kilkenomics 2015 which brings together some of the world’s leading economists, financial analysts and media commentators with some of our funniest, sharpest stand-up comedians. It’s been called “Davos with jokes” and we wouldn’t disagree with that assessment.
Irish mix Economics and Comedy at Kilkenomics