Even billionaire Ray Dalio — the second-wealthiest hedge fund manager in the world — knows capitalism is only working for the rich.
That’s according to a November 2018 talk he gave at the Summit conference in Los Angeles. In January, Dalio tweeted video of the talk. On Monday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), a self-identified Democratic socialist, tweeted a CNBC article about Dalio’s talk, saying “even billionaires are acknowledging” the failure of capitalism.
“When 40% of Americans can’t afford basic needs, or a $400 emergency, the problem isn’t unique. It’s systemic,” the Bronx Congresswoman tweeted. “Even billionaires know they can’t shield themselves from this kind of perilous instability.”
Even billionaires are acknowledging it, folks.
When 40% of Americans can’t afford basic needs, or a $400 emergency, the problem isn’t unique. It’s systemic.
That’s not good for anyone. Even billionaires know they can’t shield themselves from this kind of perilous instability. https://t.co/juOoCI7XqL
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 11, 2019
Ironically, the hedge fund billionaire’s talk didn’t sound all that different from Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) stump speeches. Dalio — whose net worth exceeds $18 billion according to Forbes (hedge fund manager James Simons is the richest) — spoke of how the gap between the very rich and the American working-class continues to widen, and that the wealth gap hasn’t been this stark since the Great Depression. He also said that, if he were president, he would declare a national emergency over the wealth gap.
“Today, the top one-tenth of 1 percent of the population’s net worth is equal to the bottom 90 percent combined. In other words, a big giant wealth gap. That was the same — last time that happened was the late ’30s,” Dalio said. “We’re in a situation when the economy is at a peak, we still have this very big tension. That’s where we are today. We’re in a situation where, if you have a downturn, and we will have a downturn, I believe that — I worry that that polarity will become greater.”
Dalio’s conclusion that capitalism isn’t working is also shared by a group of researchers who in 2018 submitted a paper for the United Nations’ 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report. Scientists from academic institutions throughout Finland wrote that there are “no widely applicable economic models” capable of fostering sustainable development in the midst of a rapidly changing climate, including capitalism. The paper’s authors recommended a global endeavor similar to the Marshall Plan, in which countries around the world would collaborate in an effort to phase out use of fossil fuels by a pre-approved deadline.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s solution is similar. In a follow-up to her tweet of the CNBC article about Dalio’s speech, she promoted the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and tuition-free public college as a means of correcting the wealth gap caused by modern capitalism.
“These are investments in people, not profits,” she tweeted.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.