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The elites meet to save the world

Participants gathering in the main hall of the congress center during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. The World Economic Forum is opening today where world's financial and political elite will meet in the next four coming days in Davos. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

The world’s rich and powerful are gathering this week for the annual World Economic forum at Davos, Switzerland, where they discuss important stuff, like reducing poverty.

And on that subject, there’s surprising news. A report from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is predicting that by 2035 there will be no poor countries left.

But there’s also that shocking statistic just released by Oxfam that the 85 richest people on earth have the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population.

Now that doesn’t mean that these 85 people have half the world’s wealth – in fact they only have 0.7 percent of the world’s wealth – but there are so many people who have little or NO wealth that if you gathered up everything owned by the 3.5 billion poorest people, that would equal what these 85 rich people have.

But what do you do about that?

A few years ago when my daughter was in the Peace Corps, we visited her village in Niger and as we were escorted to the village chief, I realized my wife and I had just become Bill & Melinda Gates. And we were mobbed the day word got out that the Americans had gifts.

And yet – people seemed self-sufficient and happy. And I left with the impression that they didn’t really need much from people like me – much less from a bunch of elites meeting at a Swiss Ski resort discussing “Resilient Dynamism” – which is this year’s theme at Davos.

The chief eventually decided the village could use a reliable well for their vegetable gardens, so my daughter arranged to build two of them, and they named one after her.

I think I can truthfully say those wells were not only quite resilient, but extremely dynamic – and not a single world leader was required.

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