The parallel universe of Davos’s high priests | Letters

As Larry Elliott’s piece pointed out, world elites are meeting at Davos to make global decisions about humanity’s future (All might look rosy, but world’s billionaires are entering avalanche country, 22 January). Their rallying call, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”, and the content of this 48th World Economic Forum present as a parallel universe for billions of ordinary people.

As the WEF takes place, the world faces an inequality crisis that is spiralling out of control. Across it we are seeing the gap between the richest and the rest of us reach unprecedented extremes. Our current economic system works for the elites rather than the people, affecting both our health and wellbeing, as billions live in poverty. Such inequality is also failing and threatening our planet.

The Fight Inequality Alliance (FIA) is a growing movement of leading international non-profit organisations, human rights campaigners, equality campaigners, environmental groups, faith-based organisations, trade unions, social movements and civil society organisations that have come together to fight the growing crisis of inequality. We make up a new UK chapter of the FIA. During the our global week of action as the WEF takes place, we are united in asking the government to take action to tackle income inequality, tax transparency, the housing crisis and health inequalities.

We believe that not taking decisive action presents a clear and present danger, one that we ignore at our peril. Inequality is not inevitable.

Dr Wanda Wyporska Executive director, The Equality Trust

Jamie Burton Chair, Just Fair

Zarin Hainsworth Chair, National Alliance of Women’s Organisations

Professor Bev Skeggs Director of the Atlantic Fellows programme, International Inequalities Institute, LSE

Miatta Farnbulleh CEO, New Economics Foundation

Helen Goulden CEO, The Young Foundation

Will Snell Director, Tax Justice UK

Niall Cooper Director, Church Action on Poverty

Zoe Matthews Co-director, Friends, Families and Travellers

Tom Burgess Executive director, Progressive Policy Unit

Tracey Lazard CEO, Inclusion London

Yvonne MacNamara CEO, The Traveller Movement

Fran Boait Executive director, Positive Money

Neal Lawson Chair, Compass

Jackie Longworth Chair, Fair Play South West

Rachel O’Brien Disabled students’ officer, NUS

Rev Paul Nicolson Taxpayers Against Poverty

The “capisceptics” (Even at Davos, capitalism’s critics are centre stage, 23 January) are not naive and foolish in their objections to the free market system; they have a respected progenitor in JM Keynes. He said that capitalism needed protecting from itself, as its excesses – as demonstrated by the 1929 financial crash – were self-destructive. Those protections included managing aggregate demand – that is, increasing public spending in times of recession and cutting it when the economy overheated. Since the 1970s we have had decades of the neoliberal free markets and the return of the problems that characterised prewar Britain – large-scale unemployment, low wages and job insecurity. The “capisceptics” can have their cake and eat it, as all we want is a return to social democracy – a mixed economy that works to benefit all, not just a tiny elite. Social democracy has its failings but those failings are small compared to those of contemporary neoliberalism.

Derrick Joad

Leeds

Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs is missing the point by claiming that Oxfam is promoting a race to the bottom by their highlighting of global wealth inequalities (Richest 42 people ‘have as much as poorest 3.7bn’, 22 January). We are very close to the bottom already. The idea that we need high earners to create wealth for others – the so-called “trickle-down” theory – is deeply flawed. Many of the world’s richest people have created wealth not through new ideas or innovations but by buying and selling existing businesses, or – like hedge funds – by gambling on failure.

The world economy cannot survive indefinitely with such imbalances. Where will all the future demand for goods and services come from? The already wealthy will just accumulate more wealth while the rest of us survive on the crumbs from their tables. Not only morally indefensible but economically unsustainable.

John Whitley

Milford on Sea, Hampshire

When we all shout “Lock them in!” could Ed Collard (Build a beautiful wall – around Davos, 22 January) be ready with a chain and padlock to go round his wall? Belt and braces!

Lucy Craig

London

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