Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thomas Piketty and the Renaissance of Collectivist Hatred

From David Harsanyi, at the Federalist, "Pundits of the World Unite! What Thomas Piketty’s Popularity Tells Us About The Liberal Press."

Karl Marx
As I write this, Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is #1 on Amazon. It’s been deemed an “important book” by a bunch of  smart people. Why not? It validates many of the preconceived notions progressives have about capitalism: Inequality is growing. Mobility is shrinking. Meritocracy is dead. We all live in a sprawling zero-sum fallacy.  And so on.

The book, as you probably know, has also sparked nonstop conversation in political and media circles. Though it’s best to let economists debunk Piketty’s methodology and data, it is worth pointing out that liberal pundits and writers have not only enthusiastically and unconditionally embraced a book on economics, or even a run-of-the-mill leftist polemic, but a hard-left manifesto.

Now, I realize we’re all supposed to accept the fact that conservatives are alone in embracing fringe economic ideas. But how does a book that evokes Marx and talks about tweaking the Soviet experiment find so much love from people who consider themselves rational, evidence-driven moderates?

Put it this way: It’s unlikely that Democrats would have praised a book like this 20 years ago – or even 10. Nowadays, Jack Lew – better known as the Treasury Secretary of the United States of America - takes time to chit chat with the author.

Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, argues that capitalism allocates resources efficiently but unfairly apportions income. And the excessive accumulation of wealth by the one percent – nay, the .01 percent — is not only corrupt, but an inequality that makes democracy unsustainable. And it’s going to get worse.  So only a massive transfer of wealth could make our nation whole again.

Here is his thesis, boiled down:
When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.

I’d ask if there are any historical examples that prove that skewed wealth in a generally prosperous nation is more damaging to its democratic institutions than the reallocation of wealth by a coercive state. But then I realize, as with any Marxist revival, the answer is: This time we’re gonna do it right!
Judging from the political rhetoric of the day, liberals already believe that higher taxes on the wealthy can create more opportunity for the poor and middle class. While some of us would argue that the nexus between high taxes and economic growth is tenuous, debating whether the top marginal tax rate should be 25 or 33 or 35 percent is well within the boundaries of a centrist debate. But that’s not Piketty’s position.

Here’s how Daniel Shuchman put it in a recent Wall Street Journal review:
Mr. Piketty urges an 80% tax rate on incomes starting at “$500,000 or $1 million.” This is not to raise money for education or to increase unemployment benefits. Quite the contrary, he does not expect such a tax to bring in much revenue, because its purpose is simply “to put an end to such incomes.”
Imagine there’s no rich people. You can say he’s a dreamer, but he’s not the only one.
Keep reading.

Bottom line: Leftists hate wealth. For them people having lots of money, and especially having money and being able to pass it on to their children through inheritance, is evil.

But what's truly evil is the literally pathological hatred leftists have toward the independent and prosperous. Remember, for leftists a free society is rife with "ugliness" and "racism," simply because the natural diversity of the free market conflicts with the grip-of-steel collectivism of the neo-Stalinist left.

The more your read on this Piketty debate the more you will see how terribly wrong politics has turned during this Obama interregnum. The current collectivism hasn't emerged from a vacuum. The real ugliness today is the vicious partisan class warfare the left has waged from the president on down. And now this Piketty dolt has jumped in with a partisan screed to give present-day Marxists a shot in the arm.

I'll have more, because you can't push back enough against these people.

RELATED: "The Misguided Resurgence of Marxist Collectivism," and "Bill Moyers and Paul Krugman Use Thomas Piketty's Capital to Attack America's 'Ugliness' and 'Racism'."