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April 23, 2014

What Does the Allegedly Neutral and/or "Moderate" Media's Embrace of the Hard-Left Marxist Theories of Piketty Tell Us About Their True Politics?

I see a lot of hands shooting up quickly.

Yeah, I know, it's kind of obvious.

As I write this, Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is #1 on Amazon....

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?

...

Piketty also advocates for a 60-percent tax rate on those making $200,000 and an additional worldwide tax on wealth...

Fact is, the tax hikes offered by even the most progressive elected Democrats wouldn’t alter the dynamics of “fairness” in a society with a $16 trillion GDP. To put it into perspective, ending Bush-era cuts may net the treasury $80 billion yearly. If Piketty’s clairvoyance is to be trusted, and I’m assured it can — we will need to transfer trillions of dollars from one class to another just save our society from disaster. And none of this, according to the author, will destroy economic growth.

...

[P]iketty’s utopian notions and authoritarian inclinations — ones that I’m pretty sure most Americans (and probably most Democrats) would still find off-putting — do not seem to rattle the left-wing press one bit....

So if his popularity tells us anything, it’s that many liberal “thought leaders” have taken a far more radical position on economic policy than we’re giving them credit for.

"We're not Marxists, and it is paranoid (and perhaps prosecutable) for you to call us Marxists," said the Marxist, then he went back to masturbating righteously over his Marxist manifesto.

Our politics is corrupted and retarded at every step by lies the dominant class requires us to tell.

And the Middle Class. Well, the Middle Class won't be helped by any of these schemes, of course.

Neither will the poor, for the matter.



I am not disputing that something unhappy is going on in the global economy. Nor am I disputing that this unhappiness is unequally distributed. But the proportion of this unhappiness due to income inequality is actually relatively small -- and moreover, concentrated not among the poor, but among the upper middle class, which competes with the very rich for status goods and elite opportunities.

If we look at the middle three quintiles, very few of their worst problems come from the gap between their income and the incomes of some random Facebook squillionaire. Here, in a nutshell, are their biggest problems:

Finding a job that allows them to work at least 40 hours a week on a relatively consistent schedule and will not abruptly terminate them.

Finding a partner who is also able to work at least 40 hours a week on a relatively consistent schedule and will not be abruptly terminated.

Maintaining a satisfying relationship with that partner over a period of years.

Having children who are able to enjoy more stuff and economic security than they have.

Finding a community of friends, family and activities that will provide enjoyment and support over the decades.

This is where things are breaking down -- where things have actually, and fairly indisputably, gotten worse since the 1970s. Crime is better, lifespans are longer, our material conditions have greatly improved -- yes, even among the lower middle class. What hasn’t improved is the sense that you can plan for a decent life filled with love and joy and friendship, then send your children on to a life at least as secure and well-provisioned as your own.

...

I suspect that Piketty’s plan would actually work best for the pretty well off. It would knock the consumption of the ultrawealthy down to the consumption of a professional near the top of his field, who earns a large income but has comparatively little wealth. Because those people are being priced out of top schools and delightful real estate by people who can afford to have a nice apartment in five different world cities, they would strongly benefit from this plan.


This is an interesting idea I've written about before: That the "solutions" proposed by wealthy-but-not-actually-rich "mindworkers" of the upper-middle to middle-upper classes are not for the benefit of the lower classes, but for themselves.

We talked about this on the podcast with Matthew Continetti -- there is a class struggle going on here, to be sure, but the class struggle is between the upper-middle-to-middle-upper income levels against the upper-upper income levels.

Those in the mere middle-upper-to-upper-middle income ranges feel a bit down because they're being outpaced by their competitors -- the upper-uppers -- and so propose laws to take away the upper-uppers' income advantage.

Someone observed -- wryly but accurately --that the media/academic class thinks the highest income one should be able to earn just so happens to coincide with their maximum yearly salary at their job, in their industry.

If they could earn $300,000 per year, why then $300,001 per year constitutes the threshhold at which we must begin confiscating estates.

Tom Brokaw probably earned, who knows, $2 million per year. So what's his idea of the ultra-rich, the filthy rich the grand rentiers? Why $2 million and one dollars per year.

This is a squabble between the Marxist members of one pampered class which looks longingly at all the Stuff possessed by a somewhat more pampered class.


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posted by Ace at 04:12 PM

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