Guy Standing is a college professor. A professor of development studies, at that. In England. As you may by now have guessed, he’s also a Marxist and has been a proponent of universal basic income—that ridiculous idea about giving lazy hippies and liberal arts majors guaranteed money for doing nothing that you first heard about a couple of years ago—since before the Mets last won the World Series. So what’s he doing at Davos?
Standing is well aware that he’s not going to convert the world’s economic elite to the cause of the working class. By which we mean to say, he knows his audience. Sure, all of these self-made men plying the waters of global capitalism are going to instinctively hate the idea of UBI. But what if there were something in it for them?
“Something like the Alaska Permanent Fund or the Norwegian fund—had Britain set up the same fund, they could be paying out more than basic income now,” he proposed. “So what we are arguing [is to] build up a sovereign wealth fund system by levying it on rental income, intellectual property, and so on, and couch the debate as redistributing income as a system and not taxing the worker to pay a lazy system.”
As any hedge fund manager knows, Alaska Permanent and Norges Bank Investment Management (the Norwegian fund Standing was referencing) invest huge amounts of capital with alternatives managers. You would be hard-pressed to find a Connecticut or London money management baron who disagrees with the idea of more sovereign wealth funds….
Capital may flow to the alternative investment billionaires who work with the likes of Alaska Permanent, Norges Bank, or whatever new sovereign funds would emerge out of the reforms. It may flow to the lower-cost, retail investment millionaires at more traditional long-only shops. But unless there’s been a serious miscalculation by men such as Murray and Standing, the money will flow somewhere. Perhaps, then, a panel suggestion for the 2018 Davos agenda: The Case for Hedge Fund Marxism.