Leaders from around the world met in Davos, Switzerland for an Economic Summit in January. Oxfam reported at that summit on recent economic trends that indicate 85 individuals own more wealth than 50% of the rest of the world. This dramatic inequality highlights what has been going wrong for decades as the rich work to grow richer instead of to ensure that all of us have access to basic human rights. This report highlights what I’ve been thinking lately about how urgent it is that each of us understand our personal responsibility. Our leaders will not narrow the gap and create a better future for everyone. You and I must do it.
As Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International said: “Do we really want to live in a world where the 1% own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.”
The world we live in now is the result of decades and centuries of the wealthy and powerful exploiting the weak and vulnerable. Laws, policies, and treaties are all designed to favor mega corporations and outrageously rich men, women, and organizations.
It is easy to blame the Corporatocracy for its role in the broken system, but if each of us speaks out against poor policies and toxic organizations they will lose their power. At the Davos Summit in Switzerland, bad companies were voted on by world opinion groups and the worst ones were given awards labeling them as terrible. Chevron (which among other horrendous actions has refused to honor the $9.5 billion lawsuit it lost in Ecuador for polluting the rainforests) was awarded the Worst Corporation of the Year at the Davos summit in the Public Eye Awards, beating out companies like Dow Chemical, Gazprom, Glencore, Goldman Sachs and Wal-Mart. The idea, the hope, is that these corporations will be punished by consumers – you and me – for their irresponsible business practices, and good corporations such as Toms and Warby Parker, among a host of others, will be rewarded.
People like New York lawyer Steven Donziger and the indigenous people of Ecuador are standing up to companies like Chevron/Texaco; because of their courage and perseverance none of the major oil companies dared bid in the recent round to auction off large blocks of Amazon forests. People of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are taking action to change the old Predatory Capitalism reality for a better one. From famous people like Sting and Angelina Jolie to high school students, individuals are putting their hearts and bodies on the line to rein in a system that has run amok.
As I’ve said before, both sides of the socio-economic spectrum are waking up to the stark reality that this situation is untenable. They realize that we can’t perpetuate the failed system that has created a Death Economy not only for the US, but for nations around the world. We need to empower ourselves and responsible organizations to create a Life Economy, where corporations are required to serve a public interest, rather than the private greed of the few who sit in the feudal castles of modern empire.