Davos and the World Economic Forum are not about what many call the 1%. The WEF is one of the most elitist groups in the world. The WEF, a Swiss Foundation based in Geneva and created by Klaus Schwab, has always been about the 0.000001%; just like Swiss banking, both are focused on "la crème de la crème." Neither has as "raison d'être" to improve the state of the world, even if Klaus Schwab and its slogan claims that: We must come together to reshape the world.
It is only after 44 years that suddenly the WEF's real top economist, Professor Klaus Schwab himself, is becoming seriously scared about the great risk that the global wealth gap represents for his elite stakeholders and strategic partners.
The 99% percent of the so called 1% are not welcomed at the Davos meetings or at any of its regional meetings. First, the 1% would not fit inside the Davos Congress Center. They only have room for a couple thousand people. The same way that the 1% is not welcomed as a client in Swiss banks. Switzerland's success can be measured in its more than $6 trillion in AUM. An amount accumulated based on focusing on managing the financial interests of the global elites in both business and politics, not of the 1%, without caring at all what happens to the 99.99999%. Most of the world's billionaires have assets in Switzerland. Most of the millionaires never will. The millionaires are sent to offshore islands.
It is no secret that politically exposed persons (PEPs) from all continents have hundreds of billions in assets in Switzerland. There are constantly news stories about deposed politicians "caught" with hundreds or tens of millions in Swiss banks. Most people do not know who owns the trillions in the Swiss financial center, but there is no doubt that there are trillions with a T there. As there is no doubt that an important part of those assets are in: bearer bonds, bearer shares, art, allocated gold and even piles of cash and gems, far away from the reach of tax authorities and not really in what most believe are Swiss bank accounts. The lion's share of these trillions belongs to the 0.000001%. Therefore if they were serious about ending inequality or about putting their wealth at the service of the people, like Pope Francis asked them this week, they have trillions to do it and not only those trillions in Switzerland.
I came to Davos for the first time in 2007, not as a WEF participant but to meet with some of the WEF participants at cafes and hotels -- outside of the Davos Convention Center. I ended up being invited by my hosts to many events and running into Paulo Coelho, whom I had written to inviting him to be part of my artwagen collection: Global Creative Initiative. Paulo remembered my letter and invited me to meet him in a hotel that evening to discuss the project. I asked Paulo if I could call him niño (child). He accepted immediately. In my opinion, Paulo's success, and that of many other legendary creators I have been lucky to meet, is based on the fact that he dreams like a child. Nothing is impossible for him. He is not afraid of failure. He has fallen and has been a failure according to others. His inspiring success is based on the fact that he believes in his dreams, just like Walt Disney believed in his mouse or Erno Rubik believed in his cube, even when most "experts" did not.
While in Davos in 2007, I also had the opportunity to talk to dozens of the 0.000001%. My impression was that most of them needed to think like Gandhi and Einstein if they really wanted to IMPROVE THE STATE OF THE WORLD. Gandhi believed that "Poverty was the worst form of violence" and that it was key to "be the change you want to see in the world." Professor Einstein repeated many times, "The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education (or knowledge)." Most of the 0.000001% in Davos and even the WEF executives would probably disagree with those statements, even if most would claim to admire Gandhi and Einstein. Most in Davos would not believe that the poor can teach them efficiency or, in other words, how to do a little with a lot. They are experts at it. Mohammad Yunus and others understand that very well.
Either before or after the WEF I was invited to meet Wolfgang Schüssel, then president of the European Union in Schonbrun. He granted me a few minutes to talk about creativity just before a concert. Chancellor Schüssel told me that for him creativity was "how hundreds of millions of mothers can feed four children with less than one euro a day." I will never forget that.
He also said that most Europeans do not understand that.
Einstein said of Gandhi: "I believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit." Listen to Einstein's voice here. This Einstein statement inspired me to propose to the Gemainde of Davos, and the governments of Switzerland, India and the United States (Einstein had dual Swiss and American citizenship) to build a monument to Gandhi and Einstein in Davos to inspire a new "Spirit of Davos."
The WEF, the most powerful stakeholder in Davos, as well as some of the 0.000001%, were not supportive of the idea. Maybe Gandhi's concern about "poverty being the worst form of violence" was too much for them. Others did not like to talk about Einstein being the first major speaker in Davos.
After 2007, I came back to Davos almost every year and noticed that the WEF was mostly a meeting of men that preached about gender gap to the world but did not practice it. Therefore, I decided to present in January 2012 the art exhibit Davos: Gender Equality? Reverse Reality to fuel the gender debate in Davos through the local and global media and to try to convince the WEF that they needed to "Be the Change they wanted to see in the world."
In 2014 the gender gap in Davos is 1:7 and, inside the WEF, 100% of its own global Managing Directors are male. The only woman in the top ten executive positions of the WEF left in 2013.
In my opinion, 44 years of the Davos Schmoozefest are enough evidence that the WEF Foundation sees itself as a vehicle to advance the interests of the movers and shakers of the world, as they are doing very well. They do not see themselves as a force for change that will shake off their wealth -- Improving the State of the World: putting an end to poverty or reducing inequality in any serious way.
For me, reverse reality is about thinking like those on the other side of the fence; thinking like those who are affected by your decisions or like those who have no say in what is being decided above them. I do not believe that most in the WEF Foundation and sadly most in the 0.000001% have any reason to even try to think in reverse reality, like those three billion people living in inequality or like the two billion of them living in poverty, unless they were trying to sell them something.
This raises an interesting question:
Could the end of poverty and the end of inequality be a multi-trillion dollar business opportunity to propose to the 0.000001%? I think it is.
Most in the Davos crowd are not going to listen to this unless they either have to to survive or to protect their billions, or until a group of top economists comes together with the business plan: THE END OF POVERTY, A GREAT BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY FOR THE ELITE.
What inspires the "Spirit of Davos"? Until now, it is mostly a thirst for profit and global influence. It is not Gandhi, not Einstein, not Mandela and, definitely, not any of the inspiring women in the history of humanity which have not been even given the proper recognition in spite of their great contributions.
Could the 0.000001%, their wealth managers, business experts and their economists, create a two trillion euro trust fund ($2.73 trillion) to end poverty and inequality by creating opportunity for the three billion people most affected by the wealth gap? Yes, they could.
Even if it is more than 20 times the foreign aid of all OECD countries to the world, it is only roughly 2% of the yearly Gross World Product and about 8% of the private wealth hidden in tax havens (including Switzerland). Poverty and Inequality in general are not the result of a natural disaster or an "act of God"; both are a man made disaster.
I do not believe that the 0.000001% is at all ready to discuss a Two Trillion Euro Opportunity Fund, imitating Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Gates and Buffet do not just give it away, they also manage it. They have a sense of mission. Bill Gates' mother is known for writing to him, "From those to whom much is given, much is expected."
That phrase by Ms. Gates is not the way most gathered in Davos think. I am convinced that they need to start thinking like Einstein and read Gandhi's talisman before the world becomes ungovernable and they become victims of their indifference.
"We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them." ~ Einstein
"Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away." ~ Gandhi
Until they stop being indifferent to inequality and poverty, I will keep on promoting reverse reality so they understand equality and also understand other people from a different perspective. I will also insist on the need to bring: Einstein, Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King, as well as the inspiring women that hardly any one names, to help create a new "Spirit of Davos."
Truth is: We can not blame all on the "Failing Elites," as Martin Wolf calls them in his Financial Times article "Failing elites threaten our future."
We are all responsible for the world we live in, some to a lesser degree than others.
"The greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." ~ Martin Luther King
I welcome your suggestions.