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May 26, 2014

I am currently deep into Piketty’s opus “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” and am enjoying it immensely. I have read and reread sections of particular interest to me. With three hundred years of research to buttress his conclusions, conclusions resting on observed facts rather than ideology either right or left, his conclusions are impeccable. Of course, those who have their own fish to fry (exponents of the status quo of the inequality that is eating our democracy away) cannot rest with such conclusions.
As I wrote to a friend just today:
“The usual putdowns of Piketty’s success are coming on line, of course. The upper 1% (and especially the .01% of that 1%) cannot let such a challenge to their continued piggishness survive in its present form. Some of his “selected research bases” are themselves being selected to disprove his conclusions. Krugman says that the few errors cited are of no consequence, and I say that anyone who does an ambitious study of 300 years of research in 30 different countries and who does not have some at least minor errors is a magician, not an academic. The task of those who wish to belittle his conclusions is to prove errors in research so egregious as to undermine his ultimate conclusions. Thus if Einstein had a typo in his theory of relativity, what does that have to do with his ultimate conclusions of the existence and operation of such a law of physics as observed fact? Nada, of course. . . . Piketty’s naysayers are going to have to come up with more serious errors than the inconsequential to destroy or even seriously harm his fundamental conclusion of r>g, the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and the historical basis for the inequality that is currently eating away at our democracy.”
The superrich among the rich (the .01% of the 1%) will, of course, hire credentialed hacks and right wing think tanks to peck away at Piketty’s conclusions with a view toward their destruction. Why? Because what he has concluded may well be a call to arms to either end or at least slow the inequality in and among the world’s nation states which, should it come to fruition, would signal the end of income inequality, whether such income is derived from either wages (services rendered) or capital (dividends, capital gains etc.). Further, his proposal to tax capital internationally (so as to remove tax evasion and tax haven thievery) is anathema to those whose assets are now safely ensconced in the vaults of Zurich and other such repositories.
Such an international agreement, admittedly unlikely but a theoretical possibility, would also remove the threat of a change in citizenship and/or home office games of pretense now played with Ireland and other such venues where taxes are low or non-existent. The superrich among the rich, I observe, use globalization in all its glory to amass the assets they send to Zurich, but break out the flag of the USA when it is time to protect these same assets from taxation. Such practices, always under the banner of freedom, “free trade” and other such non-existent catchphrases, are clearly in need of public regulation if we are to save capitalism itself from or for the capitalists. They are too greedy to believe Piketty’s r>g formula which, if ignored, can come to destruction of the entire structure of the system under which they have prospered. Thus they, in their oblivious greed for profit are, in time, authors of their own demise.
I await something from paid hacks that would refute Piketty’s conclusions, having heard nothing to date (such as counter-research of substance). Till then, do we end inequality – or does it end us? GERALD E

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