Fresh from his Presidential Medal of Freedom win, “Uncle” Joe Biden skipped the trip to Disney World and jetted off to Davos instead, where he delivered a hum-dinger of a speech to mark the passage of the Obama administration into the latest footnote of A People’s History of the United States. There, he showed the courage of a man speaking truth to power, or power to truth, or–well, whatever it is you say to a room full of rich people who think the same way you do:
Globalization has not been an unalloyed good.
It has deepened the rift between those racing ahead at the top and those struggling to hang on in the middle, or falling to the bottom.
Okay, so far so good. Biden then went on to say:
In my country, there used to be a basic bargain, embraced by both major political parties. It was something everyone agreed on.
If you contributed to the success of the enterprise, you shared in the profits. Today that bargain is fractured.
Advanced technology has divorced productivity from labor-meaning we’re making more than ever, but with fewer workers.
There’s a shrinking demand for low-skill laborers, while highly- educated workers are getting paid more and more.
Interesting observation, that. One wonders why that never seemed to occur to the Obama administration with its look-the-other-way-nothing-to-see-here stance on illegal immigration (after all, when there’s an already shrinking market for low skilled labor, why not open the borders to millions more low-skilled workers?). Also, Biden failed to note the steady creep that globalization has made into the realm of those highly-educated workers, enabled by serial abuse of the H-1B visa system, that is starting to displace white-collar jobs at places like Disney and Toys-R-Us.
But don’t worry–he has an answer for that:
We can and we must take action to mitigate the economic trends that are stoking unrest in so many advanced economies and undermining people’s basic sense of dignity.
Our goal should be a world where everyone’s standard of living can rise together.
There’s an urgency to taking common sense steps like: increasing cognitive capabilities through access to education and job training. Ensuring basic protections for workers. Expanding access to capital. And implementing a progressive, equitable tax system where everyone pays their fair share.
Ah, so that’s it! We just aren’t taxing enough and spending enough. In a country that already took in $3.27 trillion just in federal taxes last year. . .and still had a $590 billion deficit. . .piled on top of a nearly $20 trillion debt.
As Reverend Jim once said, “Ohhhhhhhkey doke.”
Of course, you have to wonder why a government that spends so much money isn’t doing that stuff already–but then I’m a deplorable, so what do I know? Still, to be fair, Biden did make a few good points in his speech–mostly about to how productivity gains are here to stay and how you can’t turn back the clock on technology; but he still keeps making the fatal mistake that “income inequality” is the problem, when it’s really a symptom of larger issues–many of which can be traced straight back to the crony relationships between big government and big business. All Joe wants to do is throw good money after bad.
Money we don’t have, by the way. But that’s another story.
At any rate, Biden seems to be more worried about all of this collapsing the liberal new world order than he is about the sustainability of that new world order–ironically, never stopping to consider that perhaps the Davos crowd’s way of doing things is precisely the thing that has led the world to the nationalist precipice that he fears.
Fortune has a complete transcript if you wanna check it out.
UPDATE: Bloomberg has a related article about Davos, in which the elite shared their grave concerns during a panel on how to deal with the rise of populism (i.e., how we get around those pesky voters). Their prescription, naturally, is more wealth redistribution. Um, guys, I’m just spitballing here, but maybe–just maybe–most people just don’t like the world you’re creating?