If a catastrophic avalanche were to crush the Davos convention hall, where the fat cats of this world were meeting recently, I’m afraid there would be a lot of discreet raising of glasses by many so-called populists, basically envious haves who have plenty but don’t particularly like people who have more than they do. This Ed Miliband chappie is a populist, as are Bill and Hillary Clinton, not to mention a lot of white, brown and black trash one sees in glitzy nightclubs nowadays.
I’m no fan of the types that frequent Davos, people like Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and a partner of the ghastly Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, but I don’t wish them to perish in an avalanche while they’re busy telling us how to improve the state of the world — far from it, in fact. Apart from being one of the seven deadly sins, envy is what splits nations, races and people apart, and, envy being an ancient Greek trait, believe me, I know all about it. Newspapers, especially lefty rags and tabloids, thrive on envy, making the reader feel a have-not and then some.
Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum’s founder, is a serious man who means well and tries to keep the bling and glitz out of his forum, but with people like Sean Parker throwing non-stop parties in order to self-promote, his is a Sisyphean task. It now costs 70,000 greenbacks just to be invited to attend meetings in Davos, and you’d be surprised how many people are willing to pay this amount just to be able to say they were there. Basically the people who do this try to network with bigger fish, and there are even some who go there just to attend gatherings not under the auspices of WEF. I remember the American tycoon Barry Diller stopping over in Gstaad on his way there some years ago and sort of boasting where his next destination was. When I asked him how much he had paid for the invite, he didn’t look best pleased, neither did his yes-men.
Still, the WEF is a good thing and many good people attend it and the world’s economy is better off for it. No matter how the envious types wish for the avalanche to hit, there will always be those richer and more fortunate, either through their intellectual capabilities, their hard work, their luck, or — dare I say it — their background. There is nothing wrong with inherited wealth unless one uses it to make other people unhappy, like driving a Ferrari at top speed while under the influence, for example, or having an entourage that pushes people around in public places, as the sons and heirs of the camel drivers from the Gulf tend to do.
One of the things that bothers me about many modern tycoons is their lack of manners. Inequality will always be with us, but once upon a time inequality also meant extreme courtesy towards those less equal. Liberated from the constraints of class and race, you’d think a modern tycoon would act like those better than him in the past. On the contrary. Have any of you ever been in the company of a multimillionaire rap star? No Gary Cooper he, no Roger Moore, certainly no Fred Astaire. Henry Ford II, whose grandfather started the Ford Motor Company, was a bit of a slob — I knew him quite well — but he tried to play Jock Whitney, however much he failed. But at least he tried. These Silicon Valley multibillionaires make the old-style gangsters like Frank Costello and Bugsy Siegel look almost posh.
The great Theodore Dalrymple wrote in these pages about Britain’s decline, how her architects are devoid of scruples and about the war waged on beauty: Britain, once the world’s most ordered country, is now among the worst, fat slobs and the foulest of language monopolising the TV channels. Our leaders favour the uncouth over the refined, the stupid over the intelligent and the brutal over the gentle.
Better yet, have any of you taken a train lately? Both in Britain and America trains are dangerous places where hoods will attack the vulnerable and slobs will intimidate women and the weak. It seems to me that what matter most nowadays to most people are wifi access, mobile phones, laptops and game consoles. And to use the F-word as much as possible in front of as many people as possible.
Last week I received a letter that contained the picture of a young 14- or 15-year-old girl. She was incredibly beautiful and innocent-looking and I looked for the sender, and it read Martin, Helen and Francesca Scorsese. Francesca is my wife’s goddaughter, hence the card. Her mother and I used to go out when we were young, and Martin Scorsese is among the greatest directors of our time. He was going to be a priest until he got the Hollywood urge. So my question is, why does such a talented man insert the F-word 501 times while almost glamorising a crook of Wall Street who — worse than Madoff — stole from the working poor. Is it for reality’s sake? The coke, the ludes, the booze, the broads and the porn are all there, and they are what makes the movie so popular. Because that’s all people are interested in, not the fact that stealing from working stiffs should be punished with a life sentence, not the two years the Wolf of Wall Street got.
Klaus Schwab would serve society better if he switched things around and held a World Decency Forum.
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