Professor of Anthropology Thomas Hylland Eriksen of the University of Oslo has made a stir with his call to give away half of Norway’s Oil Fund as based on luck alone, unearned, unfair.
In his recent opinion piece penned with pensioner Lasse Kringstad, Hylland Eriksen
against the Oil Fund managing sums that correspond to NOK 2 million ($220,000) per inhabitant, which they see as unreasonable.
“Everyone now knows that Norway is the worst climate-wise, and it is time to take responsibility. Above all, half of the Oil Fund should go to sustainable development projects among those who haven’t won the lottery”, they wrote.
Norway’s wealth was called “random and undeserved”, and it is seen as unfair that people in other countries are less rich.
“Not because they are lazy or stupid, but because they have not drawn the winning ticket”, the writers claimed, accusing their countrymen of destroying the planet more than others.
“In typical countries, the inhabitants are poorer than here, and they do not contribute to the same extent to destroying the planet, as they do not produce, sell, or use any particular fossil fuel”, the article claimed.
To remedy this, they urged “politicians concerned with the equitable distribution of resources” to transfer a large part of the oil wealth (initially a half) to UN organisations, on condition that the money is spent on the world’s population and the planet’s environmental well-being rather than bureaucracy.
According to the authors, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that solidarity is needed and that the proposal is realistic and feasible.
“Such a redistribution would show that the West not only hypocritically commits to human rights, but on a good day can actually seriously take the slogan that all people have value”, the authors ventured.
Additionally, the two columnists would like to earmark 10 percent of the world’s military spending for “good causes”, without going into detail what that might actually include.
While the future of oil and gas drilling has become one of the key issues of the ongoing election campaign in Norway, some parties, like the Greens, previously proposed transferring substantial sums from the Oil Fund to an international climate fund. Still, the proposal to give away half of it hasn’t garnered any political support so far.
On social media, people were even less polite, with some asking whether it is possible to “instead give away Hylland Eriksen”. Others asked whether the authors intend to lead by example and give away half of their own wealth.
“Strange that no party has thrown itself into this obviously winning case”, one mused sarcastically.
However, others were supportive, including the leader of the Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation and Green Party member Truls Gulowsen.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen has landed in controversy before, most notably for his 2008 quote: “The most important white spot is now to deconstruct the majority and do it so thoroughly so that it can never be called a majority anymore”.
The stated aim of Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund – the largest in the world – is to ensure the responsible and long-term management of revenue from Norway’s oil and gas resources, so that this wealth benefits both current and future generations.