The Elizabeth Warren Delusion

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The senator’s sit-down with Piketty reveals the shallowness of her populism

For National Review OnlinePatrick Brennan writes: How many rookie American politicians, seated in a colloquy with a French economist, can get repeated rounds of applause from the packed high-walled pews of Boston’s Old South Meeting House?

” if Warren’s student-loan proposal is meant to address this, she’s abandoning the pretense that it’s about inequality or access to education and instead is calling for a bizarre roundabout economic stimulus.”

At least one: Senator Elizabeth Warren. And she can do it while repeatedly referring to Thomas Piketty, the bestselling author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, professor at the Paris School of Economics, as “Tom.” He even seemed to like it.

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“This is the kind of policy that comes out of focus groups, not white papers.”

That’s the phenomenon that is Elizabeth Warren. She doesn’t have a massive or national following (the Boston event was full but not mobbed), and she isn’t the policy prodigy some supporters might hope, but she has some serious political talent.

On Saturday, Warren and Piketty participated in a discussion led by Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief of the Huffington Post, in part funded by Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy Americans campaigning for higher taxes on themselves. Read the rest of this entry »


The New Marxism

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A prominent liberal economist contends capitalism will inevitably increase inequality.

‘Karl Marx wasn’t wrong, just early. Pretty much. Sorry, capitalism. #inequalityforevah”

James Pethokoukis writes:  When trying to condense a sweeping, 700-page analysis of the past, present, and possible future of capitalism into an 85-character tweet, you’re bound to miss a few things. But the above Twitter-fication of economist Thomas Piketty’s much-awaited Capital in the Twenty-First Century captures the gist of the author’s argument.

“Piketty, a left-wing Frenchman who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, is hardly the only economist arguing inequality is headed inexorably higher…”

Piketty thinks the German progenitor of Communism basically got it right. It’s only that his essential insight — private capital accumulation inevitably leads to the concentration of wealth into ever-fewer hands — took a hiatus during the middle part of the last century thanks to depression and war hurting the fortunes of the well-to-do. But now Marxism’s fundamental truth is reasserting itself with a vengeance, a reality borne out in both Piketty’s own meticulously gathered data and in business pages replete with stories of skyrocketing wealth for the 0.001 percent and decades of flat wages for everyone else.

John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek famously squared off in the 1930s, Left versus Right. But when Keynes published his revolutionary General Theory in 1936, Hayek went silent….Who will make the intellectual case for economic freedom today?”

And it’s only going to get worse, Piketty concludes. Sure, the productive and innovative capacity of market capitalism will generate enough income growth for the masses to prevent revolution. He concedes Marx got that bit of apocalypticism wrong. But an “endless inegalitarian spiral” will create such wealth bifurcation that “the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based” will be undermined. The political process will be hopelessly captured by a tiny elite of rent seekers and trust-fund kids. America (and then the other advanced economies) will become what Occupy Wall Street types and Elizabeth Warren think it already is.

Read the rest of this entry »