Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 5:37 AM

Communists Lecture Capitalists at World Economic Forum in Davos

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

I have made something of a ritual of ridiculing the American masters of the universe who fly to Davos, Switzerland around this time each year to give lectures at the World Economic Forum on what it takes to get rich like them.  Because they were always so full of self-congratulatory hot air.

Unfortunately, since the record of their wealth creation seemed so beyond reproach, I was invariably obliged to limit my ridicule to the hypocrisy inherent in their quixotic crusade against global warming.  Nevertheless, the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do self-righteousness they exuded by lecturing people about the excesses that cause global warming, despite flying to this forum in their gas guzzling, CO2-emitting private jets, provided more than enough fodder in this respect.

At any rate, I am thrilled to be able to piggyback on the criticisms being hurled at these haughty Americans this year from the very stage they always commanded at Davos. And this occasion is made especially sweet by the fact that the leaders of China and Russia are the ones lecturing them; especially since I presaged this triumph of socialism over capitalism as follows:

[I]f nothing else, [these bailouts] should finally destroy the myth that the US is running a capitalist, free-market economy.  After all, this (and the other government bailouts cited above, which effectively privatized shareholder gains and nationalized losses), coupled with longstanding corporate subsidies, is indistinguishable from the way China and Russia run their socialist, centrally planned economies.

[Chickens come home to roost on Wall St, and Main St maybe next, The iPINIONS Journal, September 16, 2008]

For his part, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo led the chorus of leaders from developing countries in blaming the United States and Western institutions for the global financial meltdown. Specifically, the reasons he cited were America’s:

…unsustainable model of low savings and high consumption, a blind pursuit of profit and a lack of self-discipline among financial institutions as well as a failure of regulators to keep up with new financial instruments.

Then, without a hint of the schadenfreude he no doubt felt, Wen reminded his rapt audience (of political and business leaders from around the world) that the US is forecasting recession, if not depression, for its economy this year. And, by contrast, he waxed triumphantly as follows:

Will China’s economy continue to grow fast and steadily? Some people have doubts about it… Yet, I can give you a definite answer: yes it will. We are full of confidence.

To be sure, all economic indicators give Wen and the Chinese just cause to be full of … themselves. Forecasts have their economy growing at a rate of eight percent this year, despite the global financial crisis. Granted, this is lower than the double-digit growth they’ve been averaging in recent years. But it is still well above anything the U.S. has experienced in decades.

I would not be surprised, however, if the foundations of China’s economy turn out to be even more unsustainable than that of the US. After all, China cannot continue riding its real-estate boom on the ownership aspirations of consumers whose credit per capita is even less solvent than that of the sub-prime consumers in the US who caused its real-estate boom to go bust.

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was blunt, to the point of being indignant, in his criticism. Because when he took center stage all he said about the United States was that:

Today, investment banks – the pride of Wall Street [i.e., American capitalism] – have ceased to exist… a fact that spoke louder than any public tongue lashing [I could give].

Yet, given his pithy tongue lashing, my annual gibes about global warming would seem superfluous.

But I would be remiss not to note that Al Gore, the ordained (by the Nobel Committee) prophet of global warming, had the good sense to limit his carbon footprint by forgoing his annual jaunt, by private jet, to Davos this year. Never mind that he, like many other American leaders, was probably too ashamed to show his face.

Instead, Gore decided to come to Washington to lecture the US Congress on the elusive hazards of global warming. Though, ironically, the inconvenient ice storm that rained on his parade yesterday may have proved even more humiliating than any criticism Wen or Putin could have hurled at him.

Related commentaries:
Attendees emit more CO2 than solutions at Davos
Mother nature makes UN report on global warming seem a flaming hoax
Al Gore: an Emmy, Oscar and a Nobel for global warming

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