Monday, May 19, 2014

Video of Thomas Picketty

This is a recent interview with French author/economist Thomas Picketty discussing income and wealth. You have to listen carefully because he has a thick accent.

His last name is pronounced "PICKET-ey," but then the French are known to violate phonetic rules. That's why I never bothered to take French because unlike Spanish and other languages, what you see printed is not how it is pronounced. It's worse even than English. It drives me up the goddamned wall.

I know it could be worse. It could be Russian or Chinese, but it's bad enough.

He makes a lot of good points. I haven't read his book yet, but from what I know he tends to be more pessimistic than he needs to be. Furthermore, it appears some of what he says doesn't really apply to the United States. In other words, we KNOW what works in this country because it was done before after the war and was not a result of it. To paraphrase Robert Reich, we had strong labor unions, strong regulations of businesses, and high taxes on the very rich. That had nothing whatsoever to do with World War II; it was a result of deliberate federal policies that redistributed wealth more equitably and thus was great prosperity in the country. This got changed thanks to the influence of the insane neoliberalism from the Chicago School that began in the late 1970s. Our country has been on the road to ruin ever since.

A lot of Picketty's problem, and it isn't his fault, is that he was born too late (in 1971) to have meaningfully experienced how things were, and he didn't live in this country to experience firsthand the U.S. economy during the postwar years. It wasn't a fluke but a result of deliberate federal policy.

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