stiglitz268_FABRICE COFFRINIAFP via Getty Images_trump davos Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Has Davos Man Changed?

The discussion at Davos this year may be part of a move in the right direction toward a more sustainable capitalism. But we need to see some proof: corporations paying taxes and livable wages, for a start, and respecting – and even advocating – government regulations to protect our health, safety, workers, and the environment.

DAVOS – This year marked the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum’s flagship meeting of the world’s business and political elites in Davos, Switzerland. Much has changed since my first Davos in 1995. Back then, there was euphoria over globalization, hope for ex-communist countries’ transition to the market, and confidence that new technologies would open up new vistas from which all would benefit. Businesses, working with government, would lead the way.

Today, with the world facing climate, environmental, and inequality crises, the mood is very different. Facebook, willing to provide a platform for mis-/disinformation and political manipulation, regardless of the consequences for democracy, has shown the dangers of a privately controlled monopolistic surveillance economy. Corporate leaders, and not just in the financial sector, have displayed remarkable moral turpitude.

Moreover, multilateralism is under attack. Its strongest defender historically, the United States, now has an administration committed to “America First,” and to undermining global cooperation, even as the need for cooperation in a host of areas – including peace, health, and the environment – becomes increasingly apparent.

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