Ultra-Rich ‘Philanthrocapitalist’ Class Undermining Global Democracy, Study Says
Jan 17, 2016 / By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams
From Warren Buffett to Bill Gates, it is no secret that the ultra-rich philanthropist class has an over-sized influence in shaping global politics and policies. And a study (pdf) just out from the Global Policy Forum, an international watchdog group, makes the case that powerful philanthropic foundations—under the control of wealthy individuals—are actively undermining governments and inappropriately setting the agenda for international bodies like the United Nations.
The top 27 largest foundations together possess assets of over $360 billion … they are expanding their influence over the global south. And in so doing, they are undermining democracy and local sovereignty. … Some among them, like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have been criticized for abusing their power and influence in pursuit of questionable policies.
“…the increase in philanthropic giving is just the other side of the coin of growing inequality between rich and poor.” … “…philanthropy is largely about letting billionaires feel better about themselves, a form of ‘conscience laundering’ that simultaneously functions to ‘keep the existing system of inequality in place…’ by shaping the culture. … The risks of “philanthrocapitalism” are manifold, the researchers argue, including: “fragmentation and weakening of global governance”; “unstable financing”; and “lack of monitoring and accountability mechanisms.”
What’s Eroding the Middle Class? Jan 17, 2016 / Charles Hugh Smith
This erosion of a self-employed, independent middle class was an important pre-condition for the collapse of Rome and the French Revolution. … when the middle class—the layers of the economy between the Power Elites and landless laborers/state dependents—erodes away, the nation/empire is destabilized and descends into crisis. A society without a functioning middle layer of economic and social activity is not stable, though repression can mask this for a time. …societies that lose the cohesion needed for concerted, collective action collapse, either by failing to meet an external threat or from internal conflicts.
Economies constructed of a supremely wealthy elite, a thin layer of independent artisans and small farmers, and a great mass of laborers with no assets has no shared sense of identity or purpose; those at the bottom have little in common with those at the top, and the thin middle that is scraping by has little affinity with either the elite above or the poverty-stricken below. This erosion of a self-employed, independent middle class was an important pre-condition for the collapse of Rome and the French Revolution. …the middle class in the U.S. is eroding…
Richest 1% own more than the rest of us: Oxfam
The richest one percent of the world’s population now own more than the rest of us combined, aid group Oxfam said Monday, on the eve of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.