There’s a lot of anger out there.
Anger directed at multinational corporations. Anger at politicians who betray their campaign promises. Anger at global elites with billions in the bank.
Rising popular discontent will be on the agenda this week as the world’s richest and most powerful people make their annual pilgrimage to Davos for the World Economic Forum.
This year, the principles long promoted by conference participants — globalization, free trade, working together to solve problems — face a multitude of threats. Brexit looms, and so does the presidency of Donald Trump. The Netherlands, France and Germany all face elections in 2017.
Will Davos produce any answers? Interviews conducted in the United States, Britain, Germany and Italy show that the public have little faith in globe-trotting elites to solve their problems. And this conference high in the Swiss Alps? Few have even heard of it.
Here’s what everyday people had to say about Davos 2017:
Tony Geary, U.K.: “They’re almost legalized crooks, politicians. They’re allowed to get away with, really, whatever they want to.”
“While we’re out here working, they’re sitting in an office and don’t see the real world. They don’t react quick enough to what are the real problems out here on the street.”
Karen Webb, U.K.: “Politicians are in their own little bubble, their own little world. There’s us, the working class, and then you’ve got them.”
Antonio Franco Santella, Italy: “I feel very failed because [the powerful] don’t do anything … Or, if they do something they do it wrong.”
Rhonda Madewell, Arkansas: “Honestly, I don’t look to government for change anymore, I think it’s just about people within your small community.”
Elizabeth Mzioued, U.K.: “They discuss our lives, they set rules that are unrealistic, and they don’t have to live by them.”
“They’re never going to be without money in their pocket. We’re the peasants, and they’re the privileged.”
Tony Geary, U.K.: “These guys that got the big houses, the big cars, the big salaries, they don’t know what it’s like on the shop floor with their workers.”
“No one realizes how much hard work it is … to pay our mortgage, our bills, to keep ourselves going.”
Rhonda Madewell, Arkansas: “It’s important to be around the common people, not be disconnected when you’re a leader, and go outside of their typical boards and people who advise them and actually go to the towns, go to the people. Talk with them.”
Advice for Davos
Antonio Franco Santella, Italy: “I would like to speak to the powerful elite saying that we must do something to better this world where there is so much sadness, so much poverty, and so many problems and that we have to finally try to resolve them.”
Juan Carlos Vaja, a Bolivian tourist in Rome: “It’s a very simple message, work for the people and respect human rights.”
Anthony Garza, Wisconsin: “If they pulled some of the small people in the world, like myself, I’m sure they would get a good cross section of what the small business person thinks.”
Kyle Sanford, Arkansas: “As far as the world’s richest people, everybody has their own personal agenda … I guess be less selfish, care about your fellow man a little more.”