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Robert_Bumbalough

Book Review "Anti Piketty: Capital for the 21st Century"

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https://www.mises.org/library/anti-piketty-capital-21st-century

David Gordon asked:

Quote

The well-known demographer and economist Nicholas Eberstadt makes a related point.

Whatever may be said about economic inequalities in our epoch, material forces are quite obviously notworking relentlessly and universally to increase differences in living standards across humanity today. From the standpoint of length of life and years of education, indeed, the human condition is incontestably more equal today than it has ever been before. (p. 27)

How might Piketty respond? It is apparent from his book that what concerns him is the gap between rich and poor, more than the quality of life enjoyed by the poor. He would be likely to say, “Granted that the poor today do not for the most part live in abject circumstances. Still, the superrich have enormously more wealth than anyone else. That by itself suffices to justify corrective action by the government.”

But this would open Piketty to a further objection. Why is inequality bad? If you lead a good life but others are much better off, why do you have any cause for complaint, just because of the inequality? That is a fundamental question, but unfortunately it is not addressed in Anti-Piketty. In a densely written essay, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson say, “It may be difficult to maintain political institutions that create a dispersed distribution of political power for a wide cross section of people in a society in which a small number of families and individuals have become disproportionately rich.” (p. 174)

Taking their comment on its own terms, would not a better solution to the problem it poses be to reduce the power of the state rather than to confiscate wealth? But this is not the issue I wish now to address. This is the failure of the contributors to address the intrinsic justice of equality. Is equality good or bad in itself? Why or why not? The contributors leave this vital issue to the side.

Why do egalitarians such as Piketty hold that equality is somehow a virtue?

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5 minutes ago, Robert_Bumbalough said:

https://www.mises.org/library/anti-piketty-capital-21st-century

David Gordon asked:

Why do egalitarians such as Piketty hold that equality is somehow a virtue?

Because they assume that if A has more than B,  A must have taken something from B  or A has denied B an opportunity to be better off.  This position is a variation of the Zero Sum Lie.

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Does anyone take Piketty seriously anymore? I thought he was a flash-in-the-pan Obama-baked econ-celebrity.

He didn't even get 15 minutes of fame. When he showed up, the media went whoosh and everybody suddenly knew Piketty. But it didn't take and he went whoosh on a magic carpet right back to irrelevance.

I even bought his damn book when he was a thing but I have yet to crack it open. I did that probably because I like to piss money down the drain. It was not a cheap book at the time.

(I have to beat myself up to keep from doing this kind of crap again.)

:)

Michael

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This is not on topic, but having wealth is no guarantee or indicator of happiness, as most Getty’s, Kennedy’s, celebrity actors, and Powerball winners, illustrate. And on the contrary side, those people who “live off the grid” without electricity (and who get a lot of news attention) may be as unhappy as a clam out of water. In so many ways we make ourselves happy.

Just look at any teenager. I thought having a car and girlfriend would make me happy . . . and it did . . . so I am not a good example, but most teens have all the newest electronics, and are a thumb text away from all their friends and they may or may not be any happier than a 1950’s teen on a landline phone, party line. “Mrs. Gilbert, get off the line and let me talk to my friends in private. I can hear you reacting when we say something! Mom, Mrs. Gilbert won’t get off the line!”

When cell phones came out people were on them constantly, and now with the newer phones, people are constantly texting each other. Social sites allow people to share everything with the world. I don’t suppose that is sad, but I do not have a need to chronical my personal life like that, even though I talk about myself living on Delmarva. But to be “in touch” 16 hours a day? No thanks. It’s like a family living in a snowed in cabin.   

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Hi Pete, Mike. Ms Ayn Rand wrote her definition of happiness into the script of that darned ole Galt's speech. 

//Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death. Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.//

//Happiness is not to be achieved at the command of emotional whims. Happiness is not the satisfaction of whatever irrational wishes you might blindly attempt to indulge. Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction,//

It's not about having money or even earning money or possessing toys; she put an example in her character Rearden in dialog with the "Wet Nurse" character or Roark's defense at his trial. Both were talking individual creative achievement that was their intellectual property and source of their pride.  My design drafter job lets me approach that sort of an ideal, but I'm still far from it. My works are variations on a theme created by the company founder. After he passed, his kid took over. Lucky thing she's not some closet Marxist looking to turn a cash cow business into a charity, so maybe I'll get to be more inventive. If so, then I'll be in pursuit of happiness.  

Hey Pete, you like my cat? He's a handsome dude. Oh but them claws!

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Robert,

I'm basically on board with all that.

:) 

I'm not on board with Piketty being a serious influence in the world. He had his 15 minutes and didn't know how to goose that up into something longer.

In other words, David Gordon, who sometimes writes interesting things, wasted his time trying to debunk an economist nobody pays any attention to anymore. It's like Gordon woke up and thought, "I have too much time left over in my life. I need to piss some of it away. Oh, I know. Let me write about Piketty. That will make absolutely no impact on the world since Piketty no longer does, but the piss will feel good."

:) 

Michael

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1 minute ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Robert,

I'm basically on board with all that.

:) 

I'm not on board with Piketty being a serious influence in the world. He had his 15 minutes and didn't know how to goose that up into something longer.

In other words, David Gordon, who sometimes writes interesting things, wasted his time trying to debunk an economist nobody pays any attention to anymore. It's like Gordon woke up and thought, "I have too much time left over in my life. I need to piss some of it away. Oh, I know. Let me write about Piketty. That will make absolutely no impact on the world since Piketty no longer does, but the piss will feel good."

:) 

Michael

Hi Mike. All good. I agree. The guy who did the analysis leg work showed up Piketty's many errors, so the later's rehash of Das Kapital was a flop. Those darn lefties though don't care and still tout Piketty as if his stuff was the real deal. However, I probably should stay the heck off of Twitter. Too many trolls. My block list is as long  or longer than my following list. When my panties get into a wad, I spend too much time watching rebuttal vids or reading on mises.org instead of doing my yard work or something actually useful. 

But thanks for the clue about the AS movies. I ordered the dvd set this morning and started Part 2 of the novel last evening. I'm starting to think Ayn Rand was projecting her own sense of self into Dagny's character. But what the heck do I know; I'm nowhere close to being up to speed on her stuff, yet I hope that something of Rand is portrayed in the characters.  

Chat ya later. :)

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The cat looks sublime. Locally, here on Saint Martin's Neck, Maryland, people used to have dogs but I see fewer and fewer dogs, nowadays, and more cats. It has been five or more years since a pack of dogs, or even two have come into my yard to steal food, or gotten into a chicken house. Good riddance.   

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