The Guardian - July 12, 2021
There comes a moment in every good gangster movie when all of the villains come together in a remote hideaway to make nefarious plans. If the good guys are smart, this is the moment they swoop in and arrest everyone. In real life America, though, we consistently squander these opportunities, opting instead to sit back and gawk at the villains like a bunch of dazed paparazzi. It’s never too late to change that.
Did you make it to the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho this past week? If you did, go directly to jail. The investment bank sponsors the annual schmooze-fest and “summer camp for billionaires” for the same reason that companies give away their luxury products in Oscars gift baskets: because if you spoil rich people enough, they may develop sufficiently warm feelings towards you to throw you some business one day. At Sun Valley each year, the billionaires are feted by the mere millionaires; the millionaires drum up enough deals to allow them to buy their third and fourth homes; and somewhere down the line, you can get a job as a housekeeper for one of those homes. This is the wondrous model of American capitalism in action – a tiny handful of wealthy people eat cake, and an entire nation gathers downstream, hoping to snatch up a few falling crumbs.
The Sun Valley conference is primarily known as a place where tech and media moguls gather to do a little fly fishing and strike multibillion-dollar merger deals, while various members of the financial press flit about the periphery of the resort like a bunch of tabloid hacks desperate for a snapshot of Mark Zuckerberg in the season’s latest fleece vest. More fundamentally, the conference is, like Davos, a mechanism for the concentration of wealth, dressed up as something friendlier. Here, America’s wealthiest mega-billionaires gather with the chief executive of America’s most powerful companies, the director of the CIA, and America’s most worthless pseudo-journalists (hello, Anderson Cooper) to develop the social and business connections that allow the top 0.00001% of earners to continue to accumulate a share of our nation’s wealth that already exceeds the famously cartoonish inequality of the Gilded Age of Rockefeller and Carnegie. Everything that happens at Sun Valley will contribute to the ability of attendees like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mike Bloomberg to increase their society-warping fortunes. They and their fellow billionaires got more than 50% richer during the pandemic year, by doing absolutely nothing but sitting back and watching their capital grow as millions around the world suffered and died. Their power over the course of this country grows ever more unassailable and unaccountable to anything other than their own whims. We are developing a private class of billionaire kings whose will is omnipotent and untouchable by any democratic force. This is the state of affairs that the Sun Valley conference serves to intensify. It is, by any reasonable measure, a threat to the long term stability of our country that far exceeds anything the Taliban could ever dream up. ...
Read full report at The Guardian