The WEF: mostly smoke and mirrors

The WEF is today. The only reason I knew about it is because it was on Yahoo Finance and Taleb mentioned it on Twitter. This is supposed to be a huge event in which the greatest leaders and minds in business and government convene, yet zero anticipatory discussion or hype on social media leading up to it.

These lectures or seminars evoke as much excitement and attentiveness, even by the attendees, as a fire safety drill. If the WEF was actually guilty of the crimes its accused of (like forcing the world to eat bugs, which does not even make economic sense given that animal meat is cheaper than crawlers), and not a forum in which pampered attendees unenthusiastically exchange bromides about ‘sustainability’ or ‘climate change’ to an audience that would rather be anywhere else if not for the social mingling, that would at least be interesting, but the reality is more mundane.

The populist narrative you often see on Twitter is that these elites are pulling the strings of society. But most of them are mid-level functionaries or have little political power despite considerable wealth or name recognition.

Consider Bill Gates, who is a Davos frequent-flyer. Despite his credentials and wealth he had zero success at affecting Covid policy. He became more famous or notorious for being the protagonist of various social media vaccine conspiracies, than anything having to do with policy (an embarrassing divorce did not help either). After two decades of trying to pivot from software salesman to public policy expert, Covid was supposed to be his big moment to shine. But the spotlight was taken by Fauci, Biden, etc. AFIK, he was not even consulted.

Or the late Henry Kissinger. Despite his notoriety as a string-puller, the last time he actually had any formal power was in 1977, when Ford left office. The remaining 45 years of his life was consulting.

Of course, there are important, powerful attendees like Antony Blinken, but these people were already policy leaders. And second, they have no need to hide their intentions behind a closed-door meeting, as they have already made their motives evident through policy.

But still, these people are only bureaucrats. They are appointed to fill a role, which they carry out for the allotted time with the minimum necessary competency to get the job done, and then return to their old jobs in either the private sector or academia. They aren’t drafting or scheming plans to radically change society. On the other hand, business people attendees tend to be more ambitious, but don’t have formal power (although CEOs like Zuckerberg have a lot of power in other ways).