There has been a lot of discussion of Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the 21st Century, which argues that:
- The ratio of wealth to income is rising in all developed countries.
- Absent extraordinary interventions, we should expect that trend to continue.
- If it continues, the future will look like the 19th century, where economic elites have predominantly inherited their wealth rather than working for it.
- The best solution would be a globally coordinated effort to tax wealth.
The United States is now an outlier among western countries in terms of income inequality and you can bet your car elevator that the rich are going to be able buy off much of our government, especially with the current SCOTUS in place:
Wealthy people will be even better poised to influence the 2014 and 2016 elections than they were to influence the 2010 and 2012 elections. Now, wealthy people are not a single voting bloc, but most wealthy people would like to continue being wealthy. And so you see bipartisan movement towards policies that protect their wealth, most recently with the Democratic legislature in Maryland voting to eliminate the state’s estate tax.
Over time, a political system that gives the wealthy more power is a political system that is going to do more to protect the interests of the wealthy. It’s the Doom Loop of Oligarchy, and we’re seeing it daily.
Of course you know who else who thought that capitalism would go into a death spiral. And now writers as different as The Wire’s David Simon and National Review’s Jimmy P are wondering if that bearded Satanist was right after all, or at least many people will soon believe that he was.
I like capitalism (though I don’t like money or people bragging about how much they make or how cheaply then live), but if I wanted to hasten its demise, I’d be cheering Paul Ryan on. Maybe the neocons never really stopped being Trotskyites.