Joe Biden launches stinging attack on richest 1% in last speech as US Vice President

‘What kind of world are we going to leave for our children?'

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 18 January 2017 15:39
Joe Biden: "The top 1% is not carrying their weight"

Joe Biden warned that the richest people in the world were not “paying their fair share” and were instead hollowing out a two-tier world, one that was more vulnerable to fall away from democracy and threaten world order.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he said, “There is a palpable sense of uncertainty around the world.

“In two days there will be a new President in the United States but the challenges we face and the choices we make by the international community do not hinge exclusively on Washington leadership,” he said.

He stressed that he was not only talking about Donald Trump, but that all nations would have to make the same choices to determine “what kind of world we are going to leave for our children”.

“The greatest threat on this front springs from the distinct, illiberal and external actors who equate their success with fracturing liberal, international order,” he said. “We see it in Asia and the Middle East where China and Iran would clearly prefer a world in which they they have overwhelming sway in their regions. I will not mince words. This movement is principally led by Russia.”

The Vice President praised the US and Europe after WWII for creating institutions against wars, investing for the long term and working for the peace which was enjoyed during the second half of the 20th century.

Now, the working class feel they are being overlooked and their economic security is in jeopardy, he said.

His last speech as Vice President comes at the end of several spats with President-elect Mr Trump, who has been the face of the new populism in the US which vows to help the working class but fills its cabinet with corporate billionaires.

“Popular movements on both the left and the right have demonstrated a dangerous willingness to revert to political small-mindedness,” he said. “To the same nationalist, protectionist, isolationist agendas that led the world to consume itself in war during the past century.”

He spoke against demagogues and autocrats who exploited people’s vulnerabilities, encouraged division and expressed Islamophobic rhetoric to stoke fear.

Building walls, he said, would only create a “false sense of security” and would not resolve problems such as terrorism.

Mr Biden’s words echoed that of his 2016 speech in Davos, where he said: “The digital revolution has the potential to exacerbate this breakdown and further hollow out the middle class, not just in America but around the world.”

While highly-skilled workers are paid more and more, demand for lower-skilled workers is shrinking, and contributing to inequity. The bargain that workers are paid fairly and treated with dignity has been “fractured” in the US, he said.

“I will state what I hope what you all believe, that it’s our responsibility like those who have gone before us, what’s been done in every previous revolution, to bend these changes to the benefit of society,” he said, “to make sure the digital revolution creates far more winners than losers, and that’s not evident, in my view.”

The Vice President plans to employ his White House staff at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware to continue his cancer Moonshot initiative and to research foreign and domestic policy as well as violence against women.

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