Piketty Cut to Ribbons, Slice by Slice

Thomas Piketty, a French Marxist, got rich this year on book royalties. That his unreadable 700-page book got a huge market will go down as one of the great mysteries of early 21st-century capitalism. We have seen nothing like this since Tiny Tim sang Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

That the world of the Left literati could take this book seriously indicates the degree of desperation of an entire generation of would-be economic reformers. This is not grasping at straws. This is trying to resurrect a corpse. Gorbachev gave up. Deng gave up. East Germany, the only potentially efficient society Communism ever had, gave up.

Now a previously unknown French economist comes along and tries to persuade us that policies that have universally produced economic paralysis and massive corruption are just the thing to deal with the stagnant economy that central bankers and Keynesian politicians have produced. America’s Left literati bought it — hook, line, and sinker; lock, stock, and barrel; bell, book, and candle.

The book has now been taken apart, absurdity by absurdity. The man doing the public vivisection is George Reisman, one of only four Ph.D. students to receive his degree under Ludwig von Mises. Only he and Israel Kirzner are still alive. This is bad news for Piketty.

Now into the midst both of the assault on the capital supply of the American economic system and its ability to produce, and the unfounded resentment against economic inequality that has been stirred up by the impoverishment caused by that assault, has stepped one Thomas Piketty. Piketty, a neo-Marxist French Professor has written a near-700-page book published by Harvard University Press. His book is titled Capital in the Twenty-First Century, in honor of Karl Marx’s 19th century Das Capital. It has been greeted with fervent applause from the left-wing intellectual establishment, including reviews in The New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere ranging from highly favorable to glowing. His book has been on the best-seller lists of both The Times and Amazon.com.

Piketty urges measures purposefully designed to further prevent the accumulation of capital, indeed, to achieve outright capital decumulation. Namely, a progressive income tax as high as 80 percent “on incomes over $500,000 or $1 million a year,” accompanied by a progressive tax directly on capital itself, as high as 10 percent per year. This program is to be carried out in order “to avoid an endless inegalitarian spiral.”

(For the rest of his article, click the link.)

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