The statistics are damning enough. But of course, they are damning every year. It never seems to get better. Nearly a billion of our fellow citizens are without clean and safe drinking water. The stuff they are forced to drink is contaminated with every conceivable parasite and life-threatening bacteria. Two billion of our fellow citizens must make do without proper sanitation. Disease is rife. lives are cut short. One in five girls don’t get a primary school education. They are condemned to a lifetime of grinding poverty and ignorance. To top it off, the extremes of wealth and poverty just get larger. A mere 42 people hold the same wealth as the poorest 3.7 billion. 82% of the wealth created in 2017 went to the obscenely rich 1%.

 This catalogue of shocking statistics is never-ending. It should shame the elite but on the contrary, they try to justify it all by arguing that the number of people forced to live on less than $1 a day is shrinking all thanks to the free market and neo-liberal economic policies. This state of denial is almost as shameful as the reality itself. And at the World Economic Forum at Davos, they’ll be at it again – trying to excuse the inexcusable, trying to rationalize the criminally irrational.

Any business that is as grossly inefficient as global capitalism, would surely be consigned to the bankruptcy courts. Industrial and finance capitalism has had the best part of two hundred years to get its act together. ‘Black cat, white cat – as long as it catches mice’, was the provocative catchphrase of Deng Xiaoping, China’s post Mao pre-eminent leader. And you could say he had a point. If capitalism worked across the planet, meeting at least the basic needs of the world’s population, then its defenders might have a case. But it doesn’t and never has. It can’t even meet the basic needs of the populations in the so-called developed nations let alone the billions of citizens trying to eke out an existence in the so-called developing nations. By any humane criteria, capitalism in the 21st century must be branded a busted flush.

In Davos this week, billionaires will big up their philanthropic projects. Bill Gates and the rest of them are good at that. But it’s all a sham – a complete diversion. If the corporate multinational weren’t allowed to squirrel their super profits in obscure tax havens, there would be no need for their philanthropic gestures. Wealth created could and should be turned back into social infrastructure and the bleak reality highlighted by Oxfam’s damning statistics could be systematically dealt with. Just how hard can it be to provide safe drinking water and sanitation for the whole planet? If we can seriously plan to colonise the moon, then surely we can seriously eradicate entirely preventable diseases and provide at least a basic primary school education for every child on the planet.

It is statistically true that the number of people living in total poverty has decreased, in no small part due to the ‘state socialist’ policies of China. But the relative improvements are simply not enough. We as a planet create more than enough wealth to give every citizen access to basic heath, housing and education services. And yet the Davos set seem to think the slum life that so many of our fellow citizens are condemned to is somehow ok. It isn’t. Not at all. And no amount of statistical chicanery can obscure the grim reality of how we run our planet. Shame on the elites for their criminal hoarding of socially generated wealth. Shame on those who seek to justify this crime. And shame on the neo-liberal ideologues who, despite the evidence in front of their noses, insist that the ‘free’ capitalist market is the best way to distribute wealth. One cannot help but conclude that the entire planet is run by a cartel of gangsters. Many of them will be at Davos this week.

End JPK Copyright 23/1/18

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