Forum: Do You Agree With Piketty That Income Inequality Must Be Cured By Government Action?

The Watcher’s Council


Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: Do You Agree With Piketty That Income Inequality Is Something That Needs To Be Addressed By Government?

The Left is absolutely ga ga over a new book by French Economist Thomas Piketty that calls for this. Are they right?

The Noisy Room: Once again, the Left is in the throes of love for an economist who embraces Socialism/Marxism and who extols the evils of capitalism and income inequality, while making sweet love to big government talking points. An addled Krugman is simply in a state of ecstasy with the rest of the Left. What utter Marxist bull crap. Let’s just keep on trying disastrous financial policies that have NEVER worked and will NEVER work until we finish ourselves off with fiscal suicide. So typically French.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” Piketty’s bible for aspiring Marxists, is an unabashed rehash of “Capital,” Karl Marx’s logically challenged bible of income and wealth redistribution. Neo-Marxism is Piketty’s battle cry, with a Socialist croissant or two thrown in for that buttery collectivist flavor.

Colored me bored. It’s the same old tripe with a shiny new cover and a new name stamped on it. They keep saying Piketty is a famous economist – well, I must be backward. I’ve never heard of him, nor care to. Same old Communist rhetoric and the Left proclaiming the author’s brilliance, while decrying the ignorance of the masses. Keep hitting Americans over the head with it long enough and they’ll eventually get it — that capitalism, hard work and success are bad. No… no, we won’t and we don’t want to. And we certainly aren’t frightened by your glorious intellect that espouses nothing but slavery for all and wealth for the elite. The false premise of the cry of ‘Oligarchy’ is not the defining topic of our time… it is the determining distraction of a fractured nation. Enough of the love affair with Marx already.

Piketty calls for an 80% income tax on the rich, plus a wealth tax. He bleats on about the evils of capitalism while stripping those who have worked and succeeded of all they own for those who have less. Then he’ll tax them again, in moves reminiscent of a wife beater, they asked for it I guess. He would like taxation to be used as a weapon of confiscation and redistribution. Another way to bring America down and put more Marxists in control.

No, I don’t agree with Piketty. He’s a utopian putz. Government doesn’t need to address income inequality… they need to leave us the hell alone.

GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!

Frenchy l’ Femme’s redux of old dead Karl’s Das Kapital giftwraps a solution for busy bodies that wanna queer the mix on anyone’s chance to join the affluent, rich and super rich.

A global wealth tax. While this seems politically unfeasible, certain elements will LOL that it is the only thing likely to work. In particular, these cats are dismissive of the idea that more education and training for the masses can solve the problem.

Yet there are no bread riots, and the American economy is growing faster than those of all but a few Western nations. The problem with gross inequality is that one tends to assume it will produce terrible effects that it may not yield — for example, increasing labor unrest. And there’s the stigma that only left-wingers, who would rather redistribute revenue than generate it, care about inequality. Occupy Wall Street, the revolt of the many against the few, fizzled.

So what? Is it the American Gov’s gig to ensure something something wealth equality happens?

No matter how much Constitution reading ones does – there is nothing nothing in it about wealth equalization.

Repealing the Death Tax, Inheritance Tax and a brand new tax code after the current one has been shredded along with energy independence, a redux of the EPA, Dept of Education and other stuff is the way to go.

The Independent Sentinel: Thomas Piketty may well be the most dangerous man in America today.

Piketty is a Marxist who is actually advocating the overthrow of capitalism in his new book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, published by Harvard and embraced enthusiastically by the left in the media, in the universities and in government. Our administration, universities, and media are so far-left that they are outwardly embracing his tempered communism, claiming it’s not communism.

It is a dangerous book at this time as our government moves from a Republic to a socialist democratic one. Make no mistake, that is the fundamental change we are now undergoing.

Articles people should consider reading are: by Michael Tanner, Cato Institute, in National Review Online, “Piketty Got It Wrong”, by Kevin D. Williamson, in National Review Online, “Welcome to the Paradise of the Real”, and Daniel Schuchman, in the WSJ, “Thomas Piketty Revives Marx for the 21st Century”. Then I would suggest people read the book, as painful as it will be.

The book will be weaponized to make the income inequality debate palatable and redistribution a necessity during this election cycle, and more importantly, during the 2016 election cycle. There is talk that Hillary Clinton will run on income inequality.

Communists are now out in the open, but they are pretending they are not communists so they can continue to hide in plain sight.

Piketty wants a worldwide tax of 80% on all incomes above $500,000 and other additional taxes if that is not enough to destroy wealth. He believes that this will somehow not disencentivize people. He is opposed to inheritance and retirement funds because they do not share the wealth throughout the collective. He has no viable solutions other than sharing the wealth and seems to think redistribution grows wealth as opposed to creativity and innovation driven by capitalism.

There are many problems with Piketty’s data, but you won’t hear much about that from the American left.

Income inequality, climate change and social justice are the neo-communist ideals of the 21st century. Like all other idyllic collectivist ideologies, people will eventually resist and it will end in violence. All of these issues are being presented as dire necessities. The left is making income inequality so serious and so disastrous, that anything will justify stopping it. If you haven’t read Ben Stein’s article in the American Spectator titled, “Disasters and the Enemies of Freedom”, I’d suggest it. It so succinctly and clearly tells of the dangers in what is happening now.

Liberty’s Spirit: While it is generally unfair to discuss someone’s perspectives without reading their book, it is my understanding that Piketty simply wants to tax wealth out of existence. He has decided that anything above $500,000 in income should be taxed at an 80% rate. Giving the tax to the government, to do what with, only someone who despises entrepreneurship could tell you. Apparently that isn’t really discussed beyond giving it to the poor worldwide. Apparently according to Piketty we can trust these third-world dictatorships to use that money to help their people, just like they do today. Or as Piketty suggests, better yet, give it to the United Nations itself, since they are such a fine and upstanding organization, run by such fine and upstanding socialist-tyrants, oligarchs and Islamo-fascists. You know the true humanitarians in the world who really care about their fellow human beings. The welfare of the people of the world is obviously the UN’s first priority, indicated by Iran being on the Human Rights Committee for Women, and Syria, Russia and China all being on the Human Rights Council. (That was sarcasm for those too devoid of a sense of humor to notice.)

If past is prologue, under this “new” economic regime, the peasants, who will be left in poverty, will once again work so that their betters will live glorious lives of luxury. Yes he said $500,000. No that is not chicken feed. But if you think that under this economic model you would ever be able to reach anywhere near that income you would be sorely mistaken. In order to reach such an income you need opportunity. If people and corporations cannot keep what they earn, no matter how much it is, then there is no incentive to strive, to create or to better anything in their world. Why work in order that someone reap the glory and the reward? This is not the middle ages. People are not gong to willingly return to serfdom or slavery.

Now in Piketty’s new world order, it will not be those of royal blood that rule over us, but a conglomeration of political sycophants, party apparatchiks and fascist thugs. Pretty much like what has happened under President Obamas’ leadership only with the added outcome that we would end up like the socialist wonderlands of Venezuela and Brazil. Where the leadership lives high-on-the-hog, having raped the country of its finances, and the people starve. There aren’t riots in these two countries because the people can buy life’s necessities.

His plan seems simply like rehashed socialism with a huge bit of communism embedded. The fact that the leftist-progressives, who have practically destroyed the productiveness of the United States economy, seem to be holding the book up as their new Bible on how to govern, basically sets me to questioning its actual usefulness. The reality is, that France, from whence the author hails, has turned politically to the right and has had enough of this socialist, spread the wealth, hate the rich garbage.

As history tells us, any time that someone is kept from keeping the fruits of their labor, their productivity goes down. Additionally anytime government tries to run the economy you end up with financial ruin. Now that is not to say that there doesn’t need to be some regulation and rules governing markets. Lassiz-faire capitalism isn’t all its cracked up to be either. We did see that after the rules governing investment versus regular banks were relaxed we ended up with a worldwide financial crisis. However, the true market reality is that when Americans have been left alone to pursue their dreams, not only does the US benefit, but the entire world tends to do better.

Furthermore, for some unknown reason, those that wish to create “income equality,” and I use that term rather loosely, prefer to make everyone poor instead of making everyone rich. It seems that if you have the drive to be better than someone else then somehow that is a bad thing, unless of course, you want to be better in a socialist-fascist environment. As long as you tow the party line you are allowed to garner accolades, and financial rewards.

I recommend to those that would like to implement Piketty’s program that they start with the Left stalwarts. But not only do they tax “income,” but wealth itself. Let those on the left, such as Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the editors of the New York Times, The Nation, the Daily Kos, The Daily Beast and every Kennedy and Clinton allow the government to come in, look at all their holdings (property, stocks, bonds, investments, etc.) in country and off-shore, and allow it to be taxed at an 80% rate. When they are willing to give up their wealth, and not just take from those who are trying to create wealth, for the ideals they decide us “insignificant people” have to live by, then let them talk. Until that time they need to shut up and get out of the way of the American people.

FYI – for those who promote Piketty’s ideas, there is nothing stopping them from giving all their money away to the poor NOW. Let those who think that income inequality is the next big political issue, show the rest of us how its done and give away anything that they have over the $500,000 mark and then let them be taxed on all their holdings, including government perks, such as the millions spent on some people’s many vacations.

JoshuaPundit: The first thing that appears obvious to me – especially given the response this book has received from the usual suspects – is that this is all about politics, not economics. As far as ‘inequality’, Margaret Thatcher expressed it quite well to a couple of Leftists who had the gall to mouth off to her about the subject:


Of course, as I said, this whine about ‘inequality’ has nothing to do with economics and everything to to do with politics. The idea, of course, is to gain power and wealth by bribing the easily led with as many freebies stolen from the labor of others as possible, while creating rage and a target for it.

As we’ve seen, once in power they start stealing with both hands while bankrupting anyone who ‘s not ‘connected’. Sinclair Lewis, a popular novelist early 20th century wrote a minor novel in the 1930′s called ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ about a fascist takeover of America. What’s most interesting about the novel is the nature of the fascism he saw taking over, a faux populist corporatist state (the ruling party was even called ‘The Corpos’) very similar to what’s developing now, where the State determines winners and losers. Hitler, the ultimate progressive set things up in exactly that way, complete with a ready made enemy to demonize.

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… n’est pa, Komrade Piketty?

Bookworm Room: Thomas Piketty, an economist, is the newest darling among the Leftist intelligentsia and faux intelligentsia (but I repeat myself), because he claims that capitalism is inherently unfair since it’s entirely predicated on income inequality. Clive Crook explains that even the meanest intelligence should see that Piketty’s conclusions don’t match his data.

I’ll add something that Crook didn’t say and that I’m sure Piketty ignored: Capitalism is not a still photograph; it is, instead, a moving picture. In any specific frame, there will be rich people and poor people who are separated by a wide gap. However, the dynamic of capitalism is that the poor in one still photo are not the same as the poor in the next. Socialism, by contrast, is a still photograph: Except for the coddled nomenklatura, everyone else stays firmly mired at the bottom forever.

Of all sources, the New York Times backs up my conclusion that the problem with socialist economists is that they understand the economy in static, not dynamic, terms:

It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution for at least one year. What’s more, 39 percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and a whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.

Yet while many Americans will experience some level of affluence during their lives, a much smaller percentage of them will do so for an extended period of time. Although 12 percent of the population will experience a year in which they find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, a mere 0.6 percent will do so in 10 consecutive years.

It is clear that the image of a static 1 and 99 percent is largely incorrect. The majority of Americans will experience at least one year of affluence at some point during their working careers. (This is just as true at the bottom of the income distribution scale, where 54 percent of Americans will experience poverty or near poverty at least once between the ages of 25 and 60).

The Glittering Eye: Yes. There’s more than a single factor behind income inequality in the United States. The government shouldn’t try to bring the incomes of the hardworking and talented more into line with those of the rest of the society. We will always have Michael Jordans and Tiger Woodses.

However, there’s another factor driving income inequality: rent-seeking. The bankers who earned millions even as their banks failed and were left intact during the financial crisis weren’t created or supported by the workings of the market but by those of the government. When the government lifts tariffs from domestic manufactured goods but preserves them in one form or another on services, that’s a subsidy to services. When environmental or labor regulations are imposed on domestic businesses while foreign businesses aren’t required to comply with them, that’s a subsidy to foreign businesses who export their manufactured goods or provide services here. The list of government actions that produce or bolster income inequality is very, very long.

The only force that’s able to reverse these prior government actions or mitigate their effects in producing income inequality is the government itself.

The income tax system is a blunt instrument in dealing with income inequality, striking the incomes of the hardworking and talented right alone with those of people who’ve manipulated the reins of government to increase their own incomes. Further, increasing marginal tax rates mostly serves to prevent people from becoming rich rather than making the rich more equal to the rest of us. The very rich can always leave, taking their wealth with them, or engineer exemptions for themselves. That’s been the history of the income tax system.

Rather the federal government needs to abolish or mitigate the effects of the thousands or hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations that produce income inequality by changing our trade, banking, immigration, agriculture, tax, and other laws to avoid creating winners and losers.

The Right Planet: Well, since Paul Krugman admires socialist Thomas Piketty, sumpin’ tells me I’m not likin’ what we’re steppin’ in here. First, I would challenge anyone to define “income inequality” for me. You don’t lift up the “oppressed masses” by pulling others down. Oh, and it’s so much easier to tear something down, than it is to build it up, isn’t it? Milton Friedman once said, “The only way in which you can redistribute effectively the wealth is by destroying the incentives to have wealth.” Is that why Piketty and sycophants like Krugman propose more government intrusion into the livelihoods and incomes of American citizens? Isn’t the only way to address so-called “income inequality” by redistributing wealth and riches from the haves to the have nots? Do these guys have an original idea between them? Always with the Marx … always the Marx. Use the Marx, Luke (aka Thomas) … use the Marx.


Ask Marion: I do not agree with Piketty… A free market and pressure from “the people” address the issues that matter to those concerned, just sometimes a bit slower than we would like…

There has been so much good discussion about this subject among the members of this group since we got this week’s question, in lieu of repeating what everyone has said and we’ve passed around, I think I’ll share what Rush said on the subject last week. As he says, liberal, progressive hypocrites from the White House, who pay women less than men, to liberals like Marlo Thomas… Don’t Worry About Income Inequality When It Comes to Their Own Wealth and Success:

Rush: As you recall at the end of the program yesterday we were in the midst of a discussion about the French socialist wacko economist by the name of Thomas Piketty, and who we have sound bites from today as well. Mr. Piketty’s premise is that there’s too much income inequality and that there’s too much wealth and the wealth is held in the hands of the same people forever and they don’t share it and they don’t pay people enough. All they do is just take and take and take and this leads to the end of democracy.

It’s a totally absurd premise. It’s a premise that has been tried in a remedial way to fix what people think are the gross unfairnesses and inequities of capitalism for decades and the idea that there’s some notion of equality that we can all be made to fit into, plugged into. We can all end up being the same people. We can all end up having pretty much the same stuff. And there’s only one way that can happen. And that is if we don’t have anything and our leaders have it all, and then they decide who among us gets what.

It’s frustrating, as it always is, because to me it is such common sense but it does take an open devotion to liberty and to freedom and an understanding of the consequences of individuality, rugged individualism and that freedom entails opportunity. It promises opportunity. It guarantees it, in fact, and it’s what you do with that opportunity that determines your outcome in life. And if you fail to exploit the opportunity you’re given, somehow we end up blaming the country. These people do. When the blame should fall squarely on the person who fails to seize the day.

We have a compassionate country that feels sorry for those who don’t do well and want to fix it for them and so forth. We all feel guilty. The successful end up feeling guilty and they’re made to feel guilty, “It’s not fair we’re doing so well and these people aren’t.” Well, what if they’re not trying very hard? All kinds of barriers. Everybody’s different. For example, to give you a little illustration, a mindless little story I found today in the middle of show prep, and it’s really mindless.

“Marlo Thomas Silences Power Lunch Crowd at Michael’s.” Now you might be thinking what in the name of Sam Hill does that have to do with income inequality? I’ll tell you what it has to do with it when I read the story to you. Marlo Thomas, the wife of Phil Donahue, still married. They still have a majordomo. They still have a mansion up there in upstate New York or Connecticut somewhere. Vladimir Posner still has his guest room there. They sit down over, what, schnapps, think about the good old days. Trotsky and so forth.

“There are not many women formidable enough to silence power lunch spot Michael’s, but Marlo Thomas is one of those women. The petite star of ’60s sitcom ‘That Girl’ coquettishly cajoled those in the packed restaurant to be silent as she stood up to greet a group who gathered to celebrate her new book, ‘It Ain’t Over.’ Thomas joked, raising her famous husky voice, ‘Can I get the whole restaurant to be quiet? You guys have got to keep it down. I don’t mind if you are talking over Diane Sawyer and Arianna Huffington, but I just can’t have it.’

“Thanking Sawyer and Huffington for hosting Wednesday’s event, she joked, ‘I have tried to use every girlfriend I have to sell this book, and I think it’s working.’ Her tome, which features stories of 60 women who ‘started over,’ is subtitled ‘Reinventing Your Life — and Realizing Your Dreams — Anytime, at Any Age.’”

Well, why? Why? Why are you trying to better yourselves, Marlo? Why don’t you try to settle in and be the same as everybody else? Why don’t you just settle for being the same as all the other dregs that are out there, the unfortunate dregs that are being left behind by this unfair capitalist system. Why are you exploiting this system? Why are you trying to write a new book? You’re 60 some odd years old, whatever years old you are, you’ve lived your life. Why don’t you go away, be happy, celebrate what you have and sit there and clip coupons? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

Income inequality, be happy with what we have? What do you mean, Marlo, you want more? Don’t you have enough? Haven’t you done enough? Haven’t you achieved enough? Why do you need to bring these other babes into it? Why do you need to bring Arianna Huffington into it and Diane Sawyer? Don’t they have enough? What about these other 60 women, stories of 60 women who started over? Why did they start over? Why weren’t they happy with what they had? Why were they being greedy? Why weren’t they so absorbed with income inequality, realizing they had more than anybody else, why did they want more? It’s not fair, Marlo.

Marlo Thomas added: “One thing I learned from reading everybody’s story is, think big and work small … and don’t be afraid to fail.” Now, wait a minute, that sounds like capitalists. Don’t be afraid to fail. Take a chance. Take a risk. Don’t be afraid to do that. Claire Shipman has a book out with some other woman, Katty Kay is her name. Claire Shipman, the stay at home wife (now when she wants to) of Jay Carney, the White House spokesman. She can stay home if she wants to because they have a lot of money. You can’t, but she can. You’re not supposed to stay at home. You’re supposed to go out and work and let somebody else take care of your kids. But she can stay at home because she’s part of the elite. She can write books about how she lives, but you’re not supposed to be able to do that because you’re from the hoi polloi.

Anyway, she’s got a book called Confidence Gap. That’s the latest problem plaguing American women, the confidence gap. They just don’t have enough confidence. These rascally men, way too confident, much more confident than women. Women have got to ratchet up their confidence level up there. And they’ve got to start thinking big. Claire Shipman says we gotta do a much better job at failing. What she means is learning how to fail, because there is an education in failing.

Now, to the American left, failure is natural and everybody does it, and everybody should do it and it’s the natural order of things because nobody’s capable of anything more than failure. The people that do not fail are few and the one percent and it’s unfair and so we have to punish them. But here the elites, they want to learn from their failure and take it and make it something bigger, which is what everybody should want to do. But when you want to do it somehow you’re subverting America. When they do it, they somehow are enlarging themselves.

The guests toasting Marlo Thomas included Gail King. No mention of the Oprah. Have you seen that story, the interview with the Oprah and the stepmother and the step — whoa, I don’t have it at my beck and call, but oh man, oh man, it’s all about Stedman and Gail King and Oprah and how race is nothing but a strategy that these people use. That there isn’t any real racism out there, they just use it as a strategy to get sympathy. It’s been out about a week. I was able to partake of some of it while I was in recovery mode.

Anyway, some of the other women at this thing: Gayle King, HBO’s Sheila Nevins, Joanna Coles, Joy Behar, Gloria Steinem, Diane von Furstenberg, Meredith Vieira and Atria’s Judith Curr.

Why? They’re Democrats. The leader of their party is out there making this big push for income equality. Why are they trying to better themselves? Why does Marlo need a new start? Why does she need a new book? Why does she need to even think about realizing dreams again? I’m sure she’s realized her dreams over and over. Now she wants to reinvent her life, realize her dreams, anytime, any age. My point, these are a bunch of hypocrites, folks. While their leader Barack Obama is out trying to convince you to give up, that the deck is stacked against you, that this country is so unfair and unjust, that the one percent, the Koch brothers, whoever they are, are taking everything and there’s nothing left for you. The only way you have a chance is to keep voting for them so you get what you need to get by. You should be happy with that.

We should all not be happy until everybody is making the same. Here you have these people that vote for this guy. They’re out there trying to get richer and richer and more powerful and more powerful every day. And they already are. So they are apparently free and clear and able to go ahead and follow the natural human order, which is self-improvement, make yourself better, improve your standard of living, improve your lot in life. They’re free to tackle that as often as they want without criticism. If they pull it off, they’re going to be celebrated. These women will be given awards for these books and these stories and so forth. And they’ll have another lunch at Michael’s to celebrate what a great meaningful book Marlo wrote. Or maybe that’s what this was.

But it burns me up. These people are a bunch of hypocrites. The people that make this country work are not the Marlo Thomas’s of the world or Arianna Huffingtons or whoever. The people who make this country work are out in parts of country that David Gregory needs a psychological analysis to be able to relate to, and they’re working hard every day and they’re trying to utilize the freedom they’ve got. They’re trying to improve their lot in life. And when they make 150 grand, somebody comes along in the Democrat Party and says you’re getting too rich and we’re going to raise your taxes and put you on our health care plan that you can’t keep your doctor anymore and so forth. They do everything they can to put obstacles in these peoples’ way and start bludgeoning them with guilt over this notion of income equality, because there’s too much income inequality.

Meanwhile, they don’t sit by and sit in squalor. They don’t just sit by and subsist with what they’ve got. They’re all trying to find out where the money is and they’re reaching into the till and they’re trying to get as much of it as they can, however they can. But somehow when everybody else does it, it’s greed or it’s selfishness, or some such thing. We’re being ruled by a bunch of hypocrites at best, and at worst it’s worse than that. But here’s just a tiny, tiny little example.

RUSH: It’s just a take-off on this French economist Thomas Piketty who has been embraced profoundly, happily, by some of the most common names of the left, the media and the Democrat Party. And what he wants to do is literally destroy wealth under the theory that destroying wealth is somehow going to distribute it fairly. It’s never worked.

But the point is that the people that sign on to this, the people that are all excited about it, are out there doing the exact opposite of what he says in the book. They’re out there living lives, full capitalism as best they can. They don’t vote that way. But they’re writing books. They’re trying to improve their lives, trying to start over at age 70, trying to maximize the one life they get, but you shouldn’t.

The fact that the White House under the Obama administration still pays women less than men is the perfect argument and example that income inequality like the fake war on women by Republicans are both ploys by the left to play to the low-informed and to promote Hillary Clinton’s candidacy using the carrot of electing the first female president in 2016, who will fix all this… NOT; just like electing the first black president was the carrot in 2008… who will fix race relations in America once and for all, NOT. And the women carrot, plus the amazing turnout she gets at everything from book signings, political rallies to the NRA, is exactly why Sarah Palin needs to be at the top of the 2016 GOP ticket!

Well, there you have it.

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