In Oakland, California, over 4,000 people are living homeless lives while nearly 16,000 housing units sit vacant.
In Davos this past week, at the annual Alpine gathering of the world’s rich and powerful, our global elites demonstrated that even they understand how deeply inequality is tearing our societies apart.

The influential execs at Davos 2020 made “stakeholder capitalism” their central theme, a sign they recognize that catering to shareholders alone will only accelerate the breakdown in the world order they dominate. But will “stakeholder capitalism” be enough to fix a rigged economic system? Hardly. The Davos elites, as I write in the Guardian, need to ask themselves whether they’d rather see a fair tax system or pitchforks?

More below this week on Davos and the existential threats inequality and climate change pose. 

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Naomi Klein on Climate Solutions and Inequality
With the new year, we’ve entered the decade of climate justice or bust. Most everyone by now has heard that the world has just ten years to limit climate catastrophe, thanks to the landmark 2018 report from the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But what does climate justice look like? We have this week a conversation between two important activists, Naomi Klein and Laura Flanders, about why we need climate solutions that explicitly address inequality.
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Pablo Picasso Never Much Liked Bankers Anyway
In Spain, they take their art seriously. They consider any major artwork over 100 years old a national treasure that no one can take out of Spain without an export permit. Billionaire Spanish banker Jaime Botín, the great-grandson of the founder of Spain’s biggest bank, applied for that permit. He didn’t get it — and didn’t at all appreciate the rejection. Botín would go on to smuggle out on his yacht the painting he wanted to export, a 1906 Picasso, but customs officials eventually foiled the scheme. Earlier this month, a Spanish court found Botín guilty of smuggling and fined him $58 million, twice the estimated value of his Picasso. Spain also gave the Picasso to a Madrid museum and gave Botín an 18-month jail term. Artist Sarah Rose Sharp — a critic of “the whims of the obscenely wealthy” that drive the global art scene — says she’s found “something heartening” in the billionaire’s conviction: “the notion that art can belong first and foremost to a people, regardless of who has bought and paid for it.” 
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The Evolution of ‘Davos Man’ into . . . Trump Fan!
The annual World Economic Forum high up in the Swiss Alps has always served — with its $10,000 hotel rooms and $43 hotdogs —as a reminder of the vast and growing divide that separates the world’s richest and most powerful from the rest of us. But this year’s Davos gathering seems to have worked overtime at rubbing that reminder in. With the swells at Davos applauding, President Donald Trump declared that he has created a “roaring geyser of opportunity.” But in the United States — and most of the rest of the world — few people are feeling any spray from a “roaring geyser.” co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Chuck Collins, Dear Billionaires: Pitchforks or a Fair Tax System? Taxes will always be the best and only appropriate way to ensure adequate investment in the things our societies need.

Dr. Wanda Wyporska, Don’t Listen to Davos. We, the People, Have the Solutions to Inequality. The UK, a nation of food banks and Ferraris, ranks as the world’s sixth-richest economy. Advocates are demanding change.

Elsewhere on the Web

Sarah Stranahan and Marjorie Kelly, Ownership design for a sustainable economy, Democracy Collaborative. Our economy has three billionaires holding more wealth than the bottom half of Americans combined. But a different kind of economy is growing.

Lia Russell, The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare, New Republic. Life in America’s tech industry gives us a sense of what the world would be like “if it were run by our digital overlords.”

Nicholas Kristof, Are My Friends’ Deaths Their Fault or Ours? New York Times. A powerful rebuttal to the rich people-friendly myth that we live in a land of limitless opportunity, and that those who struggle have simply made “bad choices” and failed to muster “personal responsibility.” 

Cory Doctorow, Manhattan: a city of empty luxury condos and overflowing homeless shelters, BoingBoing. The luxurification of cities like New York didn't happen by accident.

Richard Rothstein, The Neighborhoods We Will Not Share, New York Times. Persistent housing segregation lies at the root of our enormous black-white wealth gap.

Paul Starr, How Money Now Tries to Bury the Truth, American Prospect. The rich and the corporations they run are using nondisclosure agreements to protect and enhance grand private fortune.

Tom Shachtman, The One Percenters Always Helped Rule America. They Weren’t Always So Self-Serving. Daily Beast. The rich of the 1776 generation compared to the rich today.
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