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Thomas Piketty: The newest version of a familiar specimen


It is unclear how many people have actually read Thomas Piketty’s treatise “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” — 577 pages of text and graphs plus 78 pages of notes and, for added clarity, an appendage called “Contents in Detail.”

But there is little doubt that Mr. Piketty has written the big-think book of the moment. Sped into production in February, “Capital” has jumped onto the New York Times best-seller list. Last week, Amazon notified readers its cavernous cupboards were bare. Mr. Piketty’s publisher, Harvard University Press, plainly caught off-guard, scurried to meet the demand.

“We have six printings on the way,” the book’s publicist said — two each in the United States, England and India.

Meanwhile, Mr. Piketty, fresh from a triumphant visit to Washington (where he met with members the Obama administration) was in New York, being shuttled from MSNBC to NPR. One devoted fan had even set up a Twitter feed, consisting of images of Mr. Piketty, boyishly handsome at 42, and inviting the verdict “hot or not.”


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Looks like he's all about symptoms

while the causation escapes him.

"The modern update through Piketty, and the "revelation" that has brought him American fame, is that the return on "capital" has exceeded economic growth for some time, exceeding any possible productive proportion - dating back curiously to the early 1970's without mention of the major event that took place in August 1971."


Dangerous vapidity

Blaming capitalism for inequality when we've never had true capitalism in this country and have been under "progressive" economic polices for over 100 years. Getting onboard with Obama's "campaign against income inequality" when the policies of his government (and every other president for 100 years, especially since Nixon de-linked from gold in 1971) are responsible for said inequality. Setting up for 100% collectivism/progressivism/socialism/communism/egalitarianism as the solution when such ideologies are the cause. Rallying cry: Make sure you libertarians/RonPaulers align with us "progressives" as "outsiders" to fight the corporatocracy and "get more things done" via government! Nice trick, huh?

Geroge Orwell had these Piketty types pegged 60 years ago: "...The ugly fact is that most middle-class Socialists, while theoretically pining for a class-less society, cling like glue to their miserable fragments of social prestige.....Sometimes I look at a Socialist — the intellectual, tract-writing type of Socialist, with his pullover, his fuzzy hair, and his Marxian quotation — and wonder what the devil his motive really is. It is often difficult to believe that it is a love of anybody, especially of the working class, from whom he is of all people the furthest removed. The underlying motive of many Socialists, I believe, is simply a hypertrophied sense of order. The present state of affairs offends them not because it causes misery, still less because it makes freedom impossible, but because it is untidy; what they desire, basically, is to reduce the world to something resembling a chessboard. ... The truth is that, to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which 'we', the clever ones, are going to impose upon 'them', the Lower Orders..."

LTV was debunked years ago

Piketty's title echoes Karl Marx's "Das Kapital," and his argument is similar: returns on capital tend to exceed returns to labor, producing increasing income inequality and concentration of wealth.

Can't wait to read it

Still waiting for the book to show up in libraries. I requested it about a month ago.

Michael Nystrom's picture

Here's something to whet your whistle in the mean time

I heard it on my morning drive yesterday, then recalled reading this article in the Times over the weekend.

It is an interesting show. At the very least, you get to hear his French accent, which you can use as a reference when you're reading the book.



The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. - Alan Watts


Perfect for my commute tomorrow!

hmmmm ....


Michael Nystrom's picture

mmm hmmm ...


Interesting perspective, I thought.

Especially this part:

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. - Alan Watts