This return to the industrial relations and tax policies of the early 19th century is bizarrely spearheaded by people who speak the language of equality, respect, participation, and transparency. None of them is in favor of “Master and Servant Act” or forced labor. It just so happened that the language of equality has been harnessed in the pursuit of structurally most inegalitarian policies over the past fifty years, or more. And indeed, it is much more profitable to call journalists and tell them about the nebulous schemes whereby 90% of wealth will be, over an unknown number of years and under unknowable accounting practices, given away as charity than to pay suppliers and workers reasonable rates or stop selling information about the users of platforms. It is cheaper to place a sticker about the fair trade than to give up the use of zero-hour contracts.
They are loath to pay a living wage, but they will fund a philharmonic orchestra. They will ban unions, but they will organize a workshop on transparency in government.
So in a year, they will be back in Davos and perhaps a new record in dollar wealth per square foot will be achieved, but the topics, in the conference halls and on the margins, will be again the same. And it will go on like this…until it does not.
by Branko Milanovic.
Read the full piece here.