The Cloud Minders Demand More Pain

I offer this as evidence:

“Amid great secrecy, about 200 of America’s wealthiest and most powerful individuals from the worlds of finance, big business and rightwing politics are expected to come together on Sunday in the sun-drenched California desert near Palm Springs for what has been billed as a gathering of the billionaires. They will have the chance to enjoy the Rancho Mirage resort’s many pools, spa treatments and tennis courts, as well as walk in its 240 acres away from the prying eyes of TV cameras.

But the organisers have made clear that the two-day event is not just “fun in the sun”. This will be a meeting of “doers”, men and women willing to fight the Obama administration and its perceived attack on US free enterprise and unfettered wealth.

As the invitation says: “Our goal must be to beat back the unrelenting attacks and hold elected leaders accountable.”

The reference to the accountability of America’s elected leaders is ironic, bearing in mind that the gathering has been convened by two brothers who have never been elected to public office and are among the most unaccountable and secretive political players in the country.”

Considering how friendly to business and wealth accumulation Obama has been (after all, Obama bailed out at least the financial, pharmaceutical, health insurance sectors), the only explanation for this attitude is that the wealthy demand absolute submission from politicians, in perception and reality. Anything that these wealthiest of the wealthy interpret as slight sign of not-total submission must be met with swift opposition.

And, of course, these men may be secretive but their views will be propagated by their media lapdogs:

“By similar vein, the guestlist for their gathering on Sunday is unknown. Past attendees at the twice-yearly event include supreme court judges, rightwing media celebrities such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, prominent governors of southern states such as Bobby Jindal (Louisiana) and Haley Barbour (Mississippi), as well as leading figures from Wall Street and energy companies, and titans of industry.

The format of the gathering will be similar to previous Koch events, the last of which was held in Aspen, Colorado, in June. The assembled tycoons will talk about some of the Koch brothers’ pet horrors – the growth of government and state regulations, what they call climate change “alarmism” and “socialised” healthcare.

Then they will share ideas about how to tighten their grip on politics and the judiciary by shaping election campaigns.”

Again, there is no such thing as socialized health care or climate change alarmism or growth of regulations (one wishes). Those are code words that have been rendered meaningless, used only as dogwhistles. But this is clearly a perfect illustration of the way extreme wealth undermines democracy and why its accumulation should be restricted.

At the same time, of course, the Transnational Capitalist Class (the global version of the power elite) is having its annual meeting in Davos. And the TCC, of course, is not a diverse bunch.

“The skewed gender balance at Davos is a sensitive topic for the WEF, an organisation founded in 1971 by the German business school professor Klaus Schwab, which aims to bring together the planet’s top decision-makers to swap ideas on global economics and politics each January.

In the corridors, halls and meeting rooms of the Davos congress centre, there appears, at first glance, to be a decent proportion of women among the grey male suits. But many are spouses, media representatives or staff.

Only a few hundred actually have a sought-after white pass designating them fully fledged WEF delegates with access to the forum’s pointy-headed policy discussions and “ideas labs”. They include Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, blogging supremo Arianna Huffington, Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Cynthia Carroll, the head of mining group Anglo American.

“Many of my generation of women have grown up in an era where we’ve kind of got used to it,” says Naina Lal Kidwai, the head of HSBC in India, breaking off from a chat over coffee with London’s mayor Boris Johnson. “In a number of the sessions I’ve been to – on the environment and finance – there have been no women on the panel and not many in the audience.””

Interestingly, Christine Lagarde states something that researchers on gender socialization have been saying for years:

“France’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde, told the New York Times that the “male-dominated chemistry” at her earlier visits to Davos had been galling: “You know you’re competent, you’ve look at your files, but somehow you feel inhibited.””

Interestingly, one of the topics of concerns of the gathering is that White men no longer seem to be the masters of the world:

“The second obvious dynamic is the asymmetric nature of the pick-up in activity, which has been heavily skewed towards emerging markets, most notably those in Asia. There is a real east-west vibe at this year’s gathering, summed up by the title of one session today: The west isn’t working.”

Translation: the Chinese, Brazilians and South Africans are beating us… at our own rigged game… no fair!

But that is the world of the Cloud Minders. Down in the trenches,

“A jobless recovery. Entrenched levels of high unemployment among the young. More than 1.5 billion people – half the global working population – in vulnerable or insecure jobs.

Those are the key findings of the latest health check on employment trends across the world released by the International Labour Organisation last night.

The ILO report makes depressing reading. Despite a relatively robust pick-up in growth during 2010, economic recovery made virtually no dent in the unemployment caused by the worst recession in the global economy since world war two. The official jobless figure stood at 205m in 2010, but that is almost certainly an underestimate since many of those who would like a job have given up hope of finding one, while millions more are working part-time when they would prefer full-time employment.”

Global Unemployment

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