Friday, April 25, 2014

David Brooks Does HIs Job: Piketty's Book Has Initiated Class Warfare Against The Super-Rich

If there is anything that David Brooks dislikes it is what he calls class warfare against the super-rich.  The class that he opposes is his own class.  That is, the class of highly educated professionals, many of whom are envious of the super-rich. He believes that they should care more about the life of those in poverty.  They should leave the "job creators" alone and improve the human capital of the poor.  He is more comfortable with class warfare between the middle class and the poor than he is with the growing concentration of wealth and income at the very top of the pyramid. He would prefer to "improve" the education system and not tinker with the distribution of wealth and income.

He claims to have read Piketty's book which he damns with faint praise. His criticisms of the book are a collection of those which have been made by conservative economists.  They are fair criticisms of the book, but they have not been ignored by economists who have considered them and determined that Piketty is also well aware of them and has handled most of the criticisms in his book.

Brooks really dislikes Piketty's proposal for a wealth tax.  If he had read the book, he would have learned that Piketty is aware of the political problems with a wealth tax, and he would have learned that Piketty's wealth tax is rather modest. It does not confiscate the accumulated wealth of the super- rich. Brooks gives a nod of preference to raising the inheritance tax. That would not be inconsistent with the views of Piketty, or with economists who are concerned about the concentration of wealth and income at the very top of the pyramid.  Increasing the inheritance tax, however, would be opposed by his favorite political party.  It is as politically naive as Piketty's wealth tax.

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