Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What happens when money earns more than working does...

I'd be surprised if this is the first time you've heard the name Thomas Piketty. He is the rage because of his book Capital in the 21st Century, already #1 on Amazon. 700 pages of super-logical argument about economics.

Mike Carroll was talking about him today at our Clericus Group and when David and I got in the car, he was being interviewed on NPR.

The essence of his thesis is this: capitalism is, by default, weighted toward the upper, upper people of wealth and unfair to the working class. What he shows, in great detail, is that 'capital' makes more money than working folks do and so the wealthy will be wealthier and wealthier and those of us who 'work' for a living will have less and less access to economic mobility. Money earns more money than working does, in understandable language.

What is needed, according to Piketty, for democracy to remain viable is to redistribute the wealth through taxes/

Not surprisingly, the folks on the Right have started calling him a Marxist. But the interesting thing is, he has a harsh critique of liberals and progressives because he sees that they have no answers to the inevitable path of democratic capitalism either.

I consider myself an ultra-liberal Democrat. Truth is, after hearing and reading about Piketty, a French economist, (I've not read his book and may not!) I know that deep down, I am a socialist.

My entire life has been spent in economic comfort. My father was a manual laborer most of his life who veered off into being an insurance salesman later in his life. My mother was a school teacher before there were teaching unions. Both of them grew up on the economic edge but became a part of the 'American Dream' and lived comfortably without extravagance for most of their lives.

Bern and I were on food stamps for a short time back in the 70's, but, for the most part, even as students together, we have live a comfortable, but not extravagant life. Now, in retirement, we're really better off than we've ever been: my Church Pension Fund check, our two early social security payments and my little part time job support us better than we've ever lived--without extravagance....

And I don't see why, in the richest country ever on this earth, everyone can't live in comfort without extravagance. There is nothing special about Bern and me. Everyone should live as we do.

The problem is this:the ultra-rich have crippled the unions, taken most of the wealth and left most of us unable to 'move up' the way the American Dream meant us to be.

Work should make money--not money. It isn't right that more and more wealth is being absorbed by fewer and fewer people in our society while tax levels on the rich are the lowest they've ever been. Something is simply wrong and unfair about that.

Under FDR, not surprisingly, and Ike as well, the tax levels on the rich were at least 5 times what they are now. And the working class is making less, given inflation, than they did in 1950.

There's something wrong when money earns more than working does. Just wrong. Dead wrong.

Hopefully, Piketty will bring income inequality into even more light than President Obama has sought to do.

People should 'make money'--'money' shouldn't make more money than working does....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.