Davos WEF
Davos WEF

Joe Biden to Davos: The top 1% must pay its fair share or else…

Biden defends liberal world order at Davos speech
Biden defends liberal world order at Davos speech

In his final speech as vice president, Joe Biden warned that the top 1 percent needed to pay their fair share, or else.

Biden delivered his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, which is attended by world leaders, top executives, investors and members of the press.

The outgoing vice president started his speech by noting that there is a "palpable sense of uncertainty about the state of the world," and we need to ask ourselves, "What kind of world are we going to leave for our children?"

The main theme of his speech was that the "liberal international world order" is at risk of collapse, as bad actors like Russia meddle in elections and try to undermine the progressive values of the United States and Europe.

Bad actors have always existed, Biden said, but their potential impact feels greater now than in years past. Part of the reason is that income inequality has risen creating pressure on the world order as we've known it, he asserted.

While it is "easy" for business leaders and politicians to embrace the benefits of globalization at a place like Davos, Biden warned it is at "our peril" to ignore fears across the developed world.

Globalization is benefiting people at the top, and some people at the bottom. Biden warned, however, that the middle class is being hollowed out. The middle class historically has been the engine for growth and the source of social stability.

Social stability at risk

As the middle class is decimated by technological change and globalization, we risk social instability, which could lead to collapse of the democratic world order, he said.

Biden said our "goal should be a world where everyone's standard of living is rising," and that continuing education is going to be required to help people advance.

He suggested that the U.S. government could, and should, pay for college to help advance people in their careers.

We need a progressive tax structure where everyone "pays their fair share," said Biden. "The top 1 percent is not carrying their own weight."

In most middle class societies, people can't get a raise, Biden said. But if we offered free college, he said, they would be thankful. "We can afford to do that in a heartbeat," Biden said.

We can pay for every student to go to community college for $6 billion a year, if we just restructure our tax code, he said.

As people get more training, more education, they should be able to progress in their careers and earn more money, which should lead to a stronger middle class and eventually lead to greater social stability.

See also: In an epic final speech, Joe Biden warns that the progressive democratic world order is at risk of collapse