The EU

Google says the EU requires a notice of cookie use (by Google) and says they have posted a notice. I don't see it. If cookies bother you, go elsewhere. If the EU bothers you, emigrate. If you live outside the EU, don't go there.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

That Top 0.1% Problem

For John, BLUFIt isn't the top 1%, it is the top 0.1%.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The question of wealth inequality is out there, from the Occupy Wall Street Movement to French economists.  Because it is catchy and easy to grasp the expression "Top 1%" is used to capture the issue.  Truth being the first victim, so here we have the real number being the Top 0.1% of people representing this yawning gap in wealth.  And this morning from the Quartz site we have this:
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century went on sale in the US this week, and its central message can seem like a prophecy of doom.  It is that capital tends to accumulate faster than the economy grows in the long run; wealth thus concentrates in the hands of a few; and the egalitarian, upwardly mobile America of the mid-20th century was more a historical aberration than the natural order of things.  Through their research into income inequality, Piketty and his colleague Emmanuel Saez provided the “1% vs the 99%” narrative that drove the Occupy Movement.

But what’s often missed, as Quartz’s Tim Fernholz found out when he talked to Piketty, is that the 42-year-old French economist is actually rather optimistic.  To those who say that a global wealth tax, his proposed solution to inequality, is something that Americans would never accept, he retorts that nobody in 1910 thought the US would ever have income taxes, or more recently, that Swiss bank secrecy could ever be broken.  A wealth tax, he suggests, could replace a tax on property, making it popular with middle-class homeowners and giving politicians a lever to push it through.

But whether Piketty’s optimism is misplaced, or even whether he is right, matters less than the fact that, by framing the problem in these clear terms, he has enabled a public debate.  “Piketty has transformed our economic discourse; we’ll never talk about wealth and inequality the same way we used to,” wrote Paul Krugman, who knows a thing or two himself about changing economic discourse.  Another legendary economist, Paul Samuelson, once said, “I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws, or crafts its treatises, if I can write its economics textbooks.”  If Piketty’s work influences the terms in which politicians fight their battles, he too may end up having more influence than many of them.—Gideon Lichfield

OK, I don't have a lot of respect for Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, who, per Gawker, just took a $225,000 pa job teaching one course a semesteryear, beginning year two.  I wonder what all the underpaid Adjunct Professors think of that?

Here is a Quartz ten question interview with Author Thomas Piketty.

I am not so sure I can get all the worked up about the super-rich.  My focus is on those who just scraping by, and how we can improve their lot, and on those who have fallen into some sort of poverty trap, where their moral outlook is one of living off the work of others, and how we can help them develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and for others.  Those are two different points and people fall all along a spectrum from one point to the other.

Regards  —  Cliff


Craig H said...

RE those super-rich you aren't so sure you can get all worked up about:

I'll link free press coverage on a recent study by Princeton and Northwestern professors Gilens and Page summarizing that the US has become an Oligarchy, with the lede observation being that "multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and [sic] organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, where average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence".

You and I might both focus on improving the lot of those just scraping by, and you alone can worry about the "poverty trap" that you suggest corrupts moral outlook, while I suggest that morality a la Madoff is hardly worth the effort of comparison, but the bottom line is that all our efforts will come to naught while the super elite rig the system for their benefit, and their benefit alone.

Which is to say, your suggestion that these are two different points is necessarily naive.

Craig H said...

BBC coverage of the study here:

Neal said...

The super-rich and all that they bring to life is nothing new and exists without much historical change....other than the faces. It is called The Golden Rule and men have applied it since dawn immemorial. Governments have tried repeatedly to control it and legislate against it, but in each instance without noticeable success. In fact, the super-rich simply "buy" the government that they want and need. In the heyday of Rockefeller, Getty, Astor, et al, that is precisely what occurred. Today, the Congress is composed of relatively super-rich who will short circuit any effort to deprive them of the largesse that they crave. It really matters not who the player is....Madoff, Romney, Reid, or Pelosi....they all play the big game of Monopoly and the US is the game board.

As for caring for those just scraping by, it is a laudable and eminently Christian venture that is left to the "middle" to proffer.

W/r to this issue, I resort to the prayer of the alcoholic and beseech God to provide me with the wisdom to recognize those things I can change and those things that I am powerless to influence.

I could suggest the radicalism of outright revolt, but I assure you, it would collapse from within as many if not most will happily get their mind right for a few pieces of silver.