Elites: Let Them Eat Mindfulness

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economy

This article about the World Economic Forum kind of blew me away. Not in a good way.

They are eager to talk about how to set things right, soothing the populist fury by making globalization a more lucrative proposition for the masses. Myriad panel discussions are focused on finding the best way to “reform capitalism,” make globalization work and revive the middle class.

What is striking is what generally is not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.   ….

…. More entrepreneurialism, mindfulness training, education focused on the modern ways of technology: These are the sorts of items that tend to get discussed here as the response to the plight of those left behind by globalization. That perhaps private equity overseers should not be paid 1,000 times as much as teachers while availing themselves of tax breaks is thinking that gets little airing here.

Mindfulness training? “You’ll still be poor, dude, but you’ll be less stressed about it!”

“There’s never been a better time to be alive, and yet we feel so glum,” Mr. Goldin said. “So many people feel anxious. So many people feel that this is one of the most dangerous times.”

 Do tell.

And yet, Mr. Goldin said, if the benefits of globalization are not spread more equitably, the world could be in for a replay of the Renaissance, an extraordinary period of scientific progress, commercial growth and artistic creativity in Europe that ultimately yielded popular resentment.

The gold leaf landing on cathedrals was not bettering the lot of the peasantry. The spices coming in from Asia were too expensive for most. The Medici family that ruled Florence was sent packing by the mob. Intellectuals were persecuted and books burned.

“We need to learn these historical lessons and realize that this is the most precious moment in human history,” Mr. Goldin said. “We need to make the choices to ensure that globalization is sustainable, that connectivity is sustainable, that we deal with the intractable problems that are worrying people.”

Yes; glad to know someone gets it.

But Mr. Goldin’s comments were merely the prelude to a conversation that was supposed to be about how to pull that off. The answers from the corporate executives who comprised a panel could be crudely boiled down to this: The people who have not benefited from globalization need to try harder to emulate those who have succeeded.

Never mind.

Abidali Neemuchwala, the chief executive officer of Wipro, the global information technology and consulting company that hosted the event along with The Financial Times — and who last year earned some $1.8 million plus stock grants worth an additional $2 million or so — said working people would have to pursue training for the jobs of the future.

“People have to take more ownership of upgrading themselves on a continuous basis,” he said.

No one can reasonably argue against the merits of training (or entrepreneurialism for that matter). The jobs of the future have not yet been invented. New skills will be required to seize them. But nowhere in the discussion was there a mention of tax policy, or addressing the soaring costs of gaining higher education, or access to health care.

You’ll like this part.

Ray Dalio, founder of the American investment firm BridgeRay Dalio, founder of the American investment firm Bridgewater Associates — who took home $1.4 billion in compensation in 2015 — suggested the key to reinvigorating the middle class was to “create a favorable environment for making money.” He touted in particular the “animal spirits” unleashed by stripping away regulations.

What does that even mean?

I’m reading this and thinking about the “austerity economics” that have visited privations on the Middle Class to atone for the mistakes of the financial elite, who apparently are Too Big To Atone. And then there’s the creepy Steve Mnuchin, nominated to be Secretary of the Treasurer.

A bank established by President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, once tried to foreclose on a 90-year-old Florida woman over a $0.27 payment mistake, reported Politico Thursday.

Such a prince, this guy. But this is the latest:

Steven T. Mnuchin, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick to be Treasury secretary, failed to disclose nearly $100 million of his assets on Senate Finance Committee disclosure documents and forgot to mention his role as a director of an investment fund located in a tax haven, an omission that Democrats said made him unfit to serve in one of the government’s most important positions.

He’s got money stashed in so many places he forget to include it all on his disclosure forms. I recommend mindfulness training.

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19 Comments

18 Comments

  1. erinyes  •  Jan 19, 2017 @10:01 pm

    One thing I can think of; it used to be that a person could make a few extra bucks doing small jobs like hanging a door, replacing some deck boards on a dock, fixing some rotted stairs, etc. Things a contractor would not be interested in doing. In Florida, doing any of those can get a person a FELONY conviction. That’s screwed up.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 19, 2017 @10:02 pm

    I can see at least one type of training program that our wealthiest elites will be happy to pay about 50% of the world’s population:
    It’ll be training on how to kill the other almost 50% of the people.

    Without drastic changes, the rich will soon face revolutions in much of the world’s nations.

    To avoid them, they’ll have to pony-up for universal livable wages, as well as health care.
    But they’ll say that’s far too expensive.

    Far cheaper to pay 1/2 of the people to kill the other 1/2!
    And then pay 1/2 of the killers to kill the other 1/2.
    Etc…

  3. Bonnie  •  Jan 20, 2017 @2:27 am

    Love the last paragraph! Thanks, Maha.

  4. Doug  •  Jan 20, 2017 @2:52 am

    I think it’s a good time for an entrepreneur to make his fortune selling do-it-yourself plans for your neighborhood guillotine. And make sure the right folks know they are on the guest lists. What’s missing for these people who lack civic responsibility and occupy the top tenth of one percent is an awareness how dangerous the mob is.

    Unless they want the chance to show the dignity of Marie Antoinette.

  5. Swami  •  Jan 20, 2017 @3:14 am

    erinyes.. The felony comes on the third offense for contracting without a license. Second offense is only a misdemeanor.
    In colonial Maryland (Catholic) the penalty for denying Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior was a public flogging for the first offense, a hole bored through your tongue for the second offense, and the third offense would get you hanged. It was quite the incentive to invite Jesus into your life, ya think? They didn’t look kindly on dissin’ Jesus back in the day. So, looking at it progressively, you have to admit that the Constitution is a good thing even if they’re still handing out stiff penalties for not following the rules for the distribution of power.

  6. erinyes  •  Jan 20, 2017 @8:08 am

    Cool, Swami.I can build that dock after all. 🙂

  7. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 20, 2017 @8:56 am

    No Deus ex machina to save us.
    At least not yet.
    op
    Maybe when t-RUMP’s hand touches the Bible, the Washington Monument will top of top of his bad Herr-do* on his pointy head – and on Pence’s empty skull, and then on the rest of the GOP psycho/socio-paths in the Senate and House.

    And now, in astrological terms, we enter “The Age of Disastrous.”

    t-RUMP doesn’t have a “hairdo.” He’s got a “hair-don’t.”

  8. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 20, 2017 @10:08 am

    If Shakespeare were alive today, he’d be writing a great play about last years election.

    It would be about how the Queen wannabe lost a civil war on the fields of media battles to the Duke of Derp.
    The play would be titled one of the following (more suggestions welcome):
    All’s Terrible that Start Badly,
    or,
    Love and Labor Lost.
    Another possiblity?
    The Merchant of Menace.

  9. Dissident  •  Jan 20, 2017 @10:45 am

    And yet, Mr. Goldin said, if the benefits of globalization are not spread more equitably, the world could be in for a replay of the Renaissance, an extraordinary period of scientific progress, commercial growth and artistic creativity in Europe that ultimately yielded popular resentment.”

    My dear Mr. Goldin,

    Actually, I had in mind something more like 18th century Versailles, which was the gated community for the French aristocracy — and the thousands of poor masses who finally decided to take matters in their own hands. They had little choice but to violently revolt, since political representation was denied them (they have no billionaire lobbyists, after all). Now that didn’t turn out particularly well for that 1%, did it?

    Keep it up, Mr. Goldin — and your time will come. That’s not a threat — that’s just history.

  10. maha  •  Jan 20, 2017 @2:43 pm

    Dissident — I think Goldin is right, too, and he’s not the enemy. Try to keep up.

  11. csm  •  Jan 20, 2017 @11:38 am

    With our “billionaire” president, his billionaire cabinet, and then there is this:

    World’s 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/world/eight-richest-wealth-oxfam.html

    We’re entering a new Gilded Age that may make The Dark Ages seem like the Enlightenment.

  12. paradoctor  •  Jan 20, 2017 @12:31 pm

    ” ‘He touted in particular the “animal spirits” unleashed by stripping away regulations.’
    What does that even mean? ”

    It means that if we legalize crime, then we can all get rich by swindling each other.

  13. Alex  •  Jan 20, 2017 @1:08 pm

    Upgraded? Like the Cybermen? Sometimes sci fi gets too real. “You will be upgraded!” http://www.thedoctorwhosite.co.uk/cybermen/cyber-conversion/

  14. Dan  •  Jan 20, 2017 @1:11 pm

    Pretty ‘rich,’ considering the top extractors gain at the expense of others. You cannot accumulate material wealth at the rate these “people” do without taking it from others – they certainly do not “make” anything of that level of value, and that’s assuming ANY of them make ANYTHING of ANY value.

    We are living in the era of the greatest redistribution of wealth in the history of the earth. You know: that evil that Republicans have railed on about for oh so many decades…

  15. Swami  •  Jan 20, 2017 @1:40 pm

    A little off topic, but…Hail to the Big Bag of Shit! The Charlatan-in-Chief.

  16. csm  •  Jan 20, 2017 @2:35 pm

    Regarding resistance, we have to look beyond Trump the man. He would not be where he is, nor will he be able to do the damage he’s projected to do, without the support of the GOP. Trump is less of an aberration, and more of a logical result of years of media supported right wing hate mongering to distract from the real goal of reinstalling oligarchy over government and people. What we have today may be the advent of what the late supreme court justice Lewis Powell designed as the ultimate goal of his infamous Powell Memo. (http://billmoyers.com/content/the-powell-memo-a-call-to-arms-for-corporations/) We’re in uncharted territory not by happenstance, but by design.

    Trump will be a daily circus of a thousand absurdities; he’ll serve up reality-show inanities designed to “entertain” and distract. Serving as cover for the republicans and their corporate masters to do their thing. Which is to pull the rug out, down to the threads, of everything that does not serve the 1% and then loot the savings.

    Which is why the focus can’t just be on Trump, and we can’t allow ourselves to analyze ad ifinitum his stupid tweet storms, because Trump is nothing more than this: a useful idiot for the *real* beneficiaries of this conservative revolution.

    We gotta do like Churchill said regarding fighting the Nazis, e.g. fight them on every front, and never surrender. We have to fight them in congress, fight them in the media; let nothing go unopposed or not called out. We got to fight them in the minds of their erstwhile supporters, too misled to know the truth. And we got to fight them economically, e.g. don’t do business with ANY corporation or entity that either feeds, contributes to, benefits from or is owned by those in congress or the administration that
    is working to oppress people. And let others know who they are, so they can join in. Recall how, so many corporate sponsors of ALEC dropped out when they were publicly called out and shamed for their support.

    As Churchill, instead of this being a sad day, lets let it be the end of the beginning.

  17. Bill  •  Jan 20, 2017 @6:06 pm

    That this is all finally being talked about, at all levels, is not an insignificant event.

  18. Mike G  •  Jan 21, 2017 @12:39 am

    “There’s never been a better time to be alive”, says ultra-rich guy at a ski resort in Switzerland while other ultra-rich guys agree.

    I’m getting mighty sick of the “Louis XIV would envy your smartphone” wankery from these people.

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