WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “European unity and cooperation is being called on question”, Vice President Joe Biden criticizes from Davos

Special Session: Joseph R. Biden Jr speaks

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 20JAN16 – Joseph R. Biden Jr, Vice-President of the United States of America speaks during the special session at the Annual Meeting 2016 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 20, 2016. WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/swiss-image.ch/Photo Remy Steinegger

The end of the first day of the World Economic Forum 2016 welcomed the Vice President of the United States of America, Mr Joe Biden, at the Congress Hall of the Davos Congress Centre. The American politician gave then a very long speech, too long for many, about the 4th industrial revolution and how it affects America and the world.

According to the former Delaware Senator, there are two questions regarding Industry 4.0:

A) “Will this revolution transform our global economy?

B) “If it is does is it for good or for the worse?”

“We are already seeing how digital advances are consequential for all economies”. These transformations, VP Biden added, are for the good of average people around the world as they create new kinds of jobs that are “hopefully” well paying.

Further, Mr Biden underscored that all these astounding changes in science require us to be proactive. And true, there are major matters at stake like greater flexibility or less work protection due to the rapid technological expansion. However, all those existed even before the 4th industrial revolution taking place, he argued.

No middle class, no thriving economies

“The underlying question goes to President Obama refer to the defining challenge of our time: how do we ensure wide access to middle class which is being hauled out in the 21 century?”, the American politician wondered, stressing the importance of the middle class for modern democracies. The middle class he said is a “value set”, “an idea”, a “belief in the possibilities” of the US.

Consequently, Mr Baiden made a substantial reference to the middle class and its significance to political and economical stability: “the possibility to have a descent life, a good job… it is possible for anyone to work hard to achieve that. A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It is your dignitiy, your self worth, your place in the community. Every single human being is entitled to be treated with dignity, be given an opportunity…That bargain has been broken… Corporate profit is not shared any more. There is a gap between productivity and wages…A thriving middle class has been the main reason for stability in our societies. It is the fiber to hold ourselves together…No middle class, no thriving economies…Changes in corporate governance… I have watched the change. Nothing benevolent. The fundamental change is the gap between productivity and wages. Pay cheques have stagnated”.

The Vice-President of the United States of America went on by showing how it is every leader’s responsibility to “bend the changes” that the digital revolution brings, so that they serve the society and the citizens without posing a threat to employment. He then said that this is not the first industrial revolution that the world has seen. Previously, workers had to be adapted too e.g. the blacksmith had to make frames for automobiles thereafter. Mr Biden demonstrated a big worry on whether the world will be able to accommodate this new digital revolution by saying “it may be harder in this fourth revolution”.

The 5 digital pillars

Overall, the US Vice-President presented five key measures to take control of the 4th industrial revolution. First, he sees education’s importance to be truly primordial. Particularly “when I say education I mean early, affordable and accessible”, he underlined. For that purpose the role of the private-public cooperation to create and support apprenticeships is too important. In the US often there is a big shortage of supply in engineers with cutting-edge IT skills. The solution is to embed in schools educational programmes that respond precisely to all those needs.

Second, work protection in the digital era is a big must. In the past 40 years Mr Biden witnessed the big corporations in America getting richer but the middle class getting poorer. He thus finds imperative that the companies around the world have a better profit sharing policy, to give back to their employees and their communities.

Third, world class infrastructure is certainly another effective way to welcome the 4th industrial revolution. Private-public partnerships are surely a great tool in that direction.

Fourth, Mr Biden stressed that “we need a more progressive tax code” so that “everybody pays a fair share”. Like that “we can invest on things to make life better for everyone”, the American politician explained.

Last, but not least, we would not be able to make the most of the 4th industrial revolution without better access to capital. In order to “make entrepreneurship more widely available we got to figure out how to make more capital available. Opportunitiess to take risks have to be more widely available”, Mr Biden openly supported at the rostrum of the World Economic Forum.

Referring to Europe, one sentence that made obvious the bad name that Europe has been making currently at the other side of the Atlantic, possibly due to its sluggish economy, the ongoing Brexit/Grexit question and the migrant crisis: “European unity and cooperation is being called on question”.

Closing his speech, the American VP showed an acute optimism for the future. “Never before we had so much power to do great things!”, he underscored.

“This is not going to be easy, but it is possible. It is always about possibilities”.

Stay tuned from 20 to 23 January as the Sting will be once more producing top class critical LIVE media coverage from the Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland. 

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