By Paul Krehbiel
Oxfam’s recent report documenting increasing world-wide inequality and calling on world leaders to reverse this inequality is extremely important. Oxfam’s seven point plan is very good and deserves widespread publicity and support. Unfortunately, a significant number of world leaders that Oxfam is appealing to are very wealthy individuals with ties to the giant corporations and financial institutions of global capitalism — the economic forces that have caused and fueled growing inequality. Oxfam’s appeal to these leaders is a worthy effort, but fraught with difficulty. Appeals to more independent leaders would be more promising. Reaching out to the giant world-wide working-class would be more promising yet. Over 800 million people are near starvation daily, and 2.6 million children die of hunger-related causes each year. There is enough wealth and food in the world to eradicate all of these problem, yet it has not been done.
Some among the world economic elite proclaim they oppose inequality. One is Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the CEO of E. L. Rothschild LLC, a multi-millionaire financier who the Oxfam executive director quoted favorably. Lynn Rothschild said that inequality was a ìmoral wrongî which ìundermines economic growth,î and urges world business leaders to do something about it. Unfortunately, much of Lynn Forester Rothschild’s history raises questions about her ability and motivation to seriously reduce inequality.
Lynn Forester worked in telecommunications, becoming a vice president of Metromedia. In 1995 she founded FirstMark Communications and sold it in 2000 for $1 billion. That same year she married Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, an heir to the giant global Rothschild’s banking empire valued at between $200-$400 billion. She fashions herself as a liberal maverick and social reformer.
A registered Democrat in 2008, she supported Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign for President. She then supported Republican John McCain for president. She criticized President Obama for failing to support businesses after the 2008 crash and failing to reduce high unemployment. Obama bailed out Wall Street with $1.2 trillion, and repeatedly introduced jobs creation bills that Republicans in Congress voted down. In 2012 Lady Rothschild supported Mitt Romney who called for more deregulation and lower taxes for businesses, the very policies that caused the 2008 Great Recession and fueled increasing inequality.
On February 12, 2015 Lynn Rothschild presented her ì10 Point Plan to Save Capitalism,î published in the Standard Report in the United Kingdom. Many of her headings sound progressive, but are problematic. One is Value people as well as profit. She wrote, If capitalism is going to survive it must benefit the entire population. But the inherent nature of capitalism is to benefit the few at the expanse of the many.
Under Be a force for good, she wrote, The business of business is not to solve societyís problems. But it is a problem for business when society views business as a problem, not a force for good.î Therein lies her dilemma. Capitalism is under increasing attack world-wide for causing inequality, poverty, and many other problems. Rothschild wants to blunt that attack by telling the public that a mega-capitalist (her) is for a social good because she denounces inequality, and that capitalism is really a force for good. Yes, there has been some good, but too much that is destructive. The best way to reverse inequality is to weaken the power of capitalism, increase the power of everyone else, and work toward building something fairer, socialism. A massive jobs creation program, raising wages by strengthening unions, and raising taxes on corporations and the very wealthy is a good start.
Paul Krehbiel is a long-time union organizer and negotiator, and a member of the national coordinating committee of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.