MILLINOCKET, Maine, April 27, 2014 – Amid a dazzling array of charts and graphs, French economist Thomas Picketty (pronounced “PEEK-et-ee”) revisits socialism and social economics. His book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” tries to turn a tired song into a new composition. And by using the latest popular catch phrase, “income inequality,” Picketty has endeared himself to the socialists of the world.
He has certainly earned kudos for extensive research and illustration in fleshing out his theories. The last hundred or so of its 696 pages contain notes, details, lists, and the index; plenty of documentation and references for every minute item found in the main body of the book. Throughout the book you can hear the familiar refrain and chorus: private ownership of property (capitalism) is overrated and unnecessary; and taxing the wealthy into oblivion (redistribution) is the cure for income inequality.
In his conclusion, titled “The Central Contradiction of Capitalism: r>g(*),” Picketty opens with:
“…(A) market economy based on private property, if left to itself, contains powerful forces of convergence, associated in particular with the diffusion of knowledge and skills; but it also contains powerful forces of divergence, which are potentially threatening to democratic societies and to the values of social justice on which they are based.”
Picketty concedes in his conclusion that there’s a good side and a bad side to a capitalist, free-market system. But he’s not going to highlight the good side, since this book is all about the bad side. The last three paragraphs of his conclusion simply underline his ideas of how bad the capitalist, free-market system is.
If you’re a social democrat you’ll love this book – it will sing with melodic justification. If you’re a free market capitalist, you’ll find this book to be repackaged socialism – just the same old song with a different arrangement.
*r>g: r = the private rate of return on capital, g = the rate of growth of income and output
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