<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Caroline Baum</p> <p>Ah, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-23/davos-s-dubious-strategic-partners.html">Davos</a>. A place, yes, but much, much more. No one says, "I'm going to the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos in January." They say, "See you at Davos." Not "in," "at."</p> <p>The theme of the 2013 annual meeting is "Resilient Dynamism," a worthy topic and something developed nations could use a dose of right now. Davos always picks lofty-sounding <a href="http://www.weforum.org/events/past">themes</a> in conjunction with the WEF mission of "improving the state of the world."</p> <p>And Davos claims to have done just that. In 1994, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat reached a draft agreement on Gaza and Jericho at Davos, according the WEF <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/tools/history/index.html">historical timeline</a>. "Peres and Arafat spontaneously joined hands and walked to the Congress Hall stage to thunderous applause," according to the site.</p> <p>Fast forward seven years, and I had an opportunity to witness Arafat blast Peres on that same stage for waging a "savage and barbaric war" against the Palestinians.</p> <p>While many U.S. chief executive officers go to Davos each year to see and be seen, the ethos is European social democratic. Founder Klaus Schwab even developed the "<a href="http://www.weforum.org/klaus-schwab-founder-and-executive-chairman">stakeholder theory</a>" of management, which puts the interests of "employees and the communities and societies in which they operate" on par with those of the companies' shareholders and customers.</p> <p>That's what makes Davos's class system so surprising. At Davos, you are the color of your badge. Holders of white badges -- corporate bigwigs, government officials, panelists, and some media pooh-bahs -- have access to all lunches, dinners and private sessions, which are generally off the record. An orange badge gets you into the conference center. Period.</p> <p>We are all equal in the eyes of the law. At Davos, some are more equal than others.</p> <p>(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/cabaum1">Twitter</a>.)</p> </body> </html>