I spoke at a conference today made up entirely of socially progressive men and women, each of whom is actively involved in some kind of compassionate life-affirming project or program. They were mostly in their middle years, with some twenties and thirties. In my presentation I noted the Wealth Inequality Trend, remarking that 80 people have wealth as great as 3.5 billion people.
As I stood in line to get the organic lunch — quite good — I heard the voice of the French Revolution. A man came up to me and said, “if we talk just about those 80… well, we know where they live, it wouldn’t take much to pull them out of their beds. Would it?” Then he added, “If I can think of this, don’t you think we ought to assume other people have as well? And that someone might act on it.” I thought that indeed, and then I remembered this story I had seen a few days earlier. I run it now because I think the zeitgeist is changing.
DAVOS, SWITZERLAND — With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people’s mind, the world’s super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.
Johnson, who heads the Institute of New Economic Thinking and was previously managing director at Soros, said societies can tolerate income inequality if the income floor is high enough. But with an existing system encouraging chief executives to take decisions solely on their profitability, even in …