Thursday, April 03, 2014

Enjoying the Omelet

Sometimes I'm horrified at the way people think.


In the buzz-generating (at least on the left) new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, économiste célèbre Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, argues that two world wars and a depression did have one upside: Those systemic shocks momentarily reversed capitalism’s inherent drive toward increasing inequality in Western economies, including the United States. Physical capital was destroyed, businesses nationalized, and taxes raised to previously unheard-of levels.

In short, the wealthy and the near-wealthy really took it on the chin. The top 10 percent in the U.S. went from grabbing 45–50 percent of national income in the 1910s and 1920s to 30–35 percent by the end of the 1940s. And the share of national income claimed by owners of capital (including property, machinery, financial assets, and patents) versus labor fell to historically low levels.

Really, let's look at the bright side of death and destruction on a global scale? At least income (and asset) inequality fell?

Not since a writer spoke of Mary Jo Kopechne's death by saying she'd draw comfort from her own death if only she knew what the man who left her to die had achieved have I read anything so reprehensible:

“If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age,” wrote the Globe’s Charles Pierce.

But one death is a tragedy (even if not punished as a crime) and millions are a statistic that shows good things. Piketty wants globally enacted wealth taxes to reduce that looming inequality that he predicts is building because of our regrettable lack of wars and global depression that leveled the playing field.

We'll see who goes first and risks wrecking their economy.

But if not that tax, maybe Piketty and his fans will get lucky and some damn fool thing in Ukraine, the Himalayas, or the East China Sea will trigger another round of bloody wars and economic dislocation that break lots of eggs income redistribution and save us all from the horrible fate we've endured since World War II ended.

Some monsters are very well educated, it seems.

UPDATE: Thanks to Pseudo-Polymath for the link.