Interesting and very insightful take. I would add that Elliot was someone who believed what has become the newest mantra of “white privilege”. As such everything should have been handed to him, with minimum or no effort at all. Maybe he should have ‘checked his privilege’.
Kevin Williamson writing for the National Review gives his take on the same subject, here’s an except:
It may very well be the case that African Americans will never, no matter what policies are enacted, catch up economically with whites. Even assuming that invidious racism were an entirely negligible factor, it is likely that economic development will tend to proceed along broad racial channels if, for example, people of various ethnicities tend to largely marry within their ethnic group, live in neighborhoods largely populated by co-ethnics, and engage in other social-sorting behavior that is racial at its root but not really what we mean by the word “racism.” If that is the case — and it seems that it is — then initial conditions will be very important for a very long period of time.
And that would be true even if there had been no slavery and no discrimination. Imagine, for example, that rather than having been brought to the colonies as slaves, the first Africans to arrive in the New World had come as penniless immigrants in 1900. If their incomes grew in the subsequent century at the same rate as those of white natives, then a century later they’d still be as far behind as they were when they arrived. Income gaps have been closed and closed quickly by some immigrant groups — notably European Jews, Vietnamese immigrants, and Indian immigrants — because their incomes across the first few generations grew much, much more quickly than the native rate. And though the hostility that often met these immigrants is not comparable to the experience of slavery and African Americans’ subsequent repression, it is worth appreciating that Jewish and Asian immigrants have not always been welcomed with universal warmth. The black experience is unique within the context of American history, but it is hardly unique within the context of the experience of other racial minorities in other societies throughout history.
The election season must be near, it is easy to tell as articles such as, the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates’, “The case for reparations“, get published and become the fodder for all the talking heads in the MSM. While it was not his intent he makes a good case as to why we don’t need reparations. In his attempt to demonstrate the uniqueness of the “Black Plight” he rather shows how similar the experience is to that faced by other groups of immigrants and migrant worker who have thrived and persevered despite the obstacles they originally faced. After quoting the Bible, John Locke and another anonymous source he begins his essay thus:
“The state’s regime partnered robbery of the franchise with robbery of the purse. Many of Mississippi’s black farmers lived in debt peonage, under the sway of cotton kings who were at once their landlords, their employers, and their primary merchants. Tools and necessities were advanced against the return on the crop, which was determined by the employer. When farmers were deemed to be in debt—and they often were—the negative balance was then carried over to the next season.”
Peonage or debt servitude was very common and it was not limited to blacks but many white farmers had similar arrangements and similar results. A real example of State sponsored Peonage would be like that which was instituted by the Spanish Crown in 1873 when it abolished slavery in Puerto Rico. Under the new law that emancipated the slaves, the slave owners were compensated by the government for their former slaves but it also decreed that the former slaves must work the land of their previous owner for a minimum of 3 years. They would not be “free” until that time expired. Though they would be compensated for their work, they could not leave until the peonage had been paid. Those that did not stay on the land that was provided to them, as many did, without title to the property until their time was up would lose claim to the property and became fugitives. That is not what Mr. Coates describes, but a very common happening to this day of farmers borrowing money for expenses using the projected future crops, with the land as collateral. If the crops failed or prices deviated many farmers found themselves losing their land to their lenders or bank. But fallow land is not profitable so many lenders resorted to share-cropping , that would allow the farmer to remain and work the land while debts were paid and crops was the only collateral available to them at that point. In Mississippi for instance while 70+% of black farmers were sharecroppers so were 40% of white farmers. By the 1920’s the price of cotton was on a free fall which meant perpetual debts for both black and white farmers. Coates likes to use small anecdotes in making his case, but they leave out information, is misleading, incomplete or unverifiable. His anecdote on how the Ross family lost their farm due to back taxes, for instance does not have a date only that it was when Mr. Ross was a child. He then talks about a story by the AP in 2001 detailing 406 victims throughout the South that the story determine were documented thefts of black properties. Sad as that may have been 406 “thefts” out of the millions of farmers that existed in the South is hardly indicative of anything. Again he does not mention the story by name, or authors or provide a link. He goes on to detail how Mr. Ross was a smart kid but the better school was to far to walk and return in time to work the fields, this strikes me as a decision of convenience for him and his family. Whether the white kids had access to a school bus or not is immaterial as he was not prevented from attending this new school because of busing, schools were segregated, but because it would be inconvenient to the family. The same thing happens with Coates’ anecdote about Mr. Ross horse. The story is meant to garner sympathy for a young child. But, does it do that. Examining the story it is very strange that if the point was to relieve the kid of the horse that they would pay anything for it. Further, if you do a simple search about the prices of a colt, you find that $17 is about the price you would pay in 1933 for a 2-year-old colt. A 6 month-old horse was worth about $8, he could buy 2 for the price of the one he lost or sold. I can’t help but wonder if because, this was 1933 and the 4th year into the Depression that having a horse for leisure was an extravagant luxury during that time. Cotton had been falling from their high pre-Civil War highs when the South produced 3/4 of the world’s cotton. In 1919 cotton hit its high 35 cent per bale before the bottom fell out of cotton prices. By 1933 the price was down to 5 cents per bale. In fact the sharp decrease in prices of cotton in the 20’s led to the First Great Migration of blacks farmers to the North. Looking back at historical data, the avg. price of cotton between 1900 and 1945 was 14.6 cents, from a high of 35 cents in 1919 to a low 5 cents in 1933 so the prices the Ross family was being paid are certainly within the range of what others were getting regardless of race. Cotton prices would not hit 50 cents a pound until the mid 1970’s, all of this information is readily available for Mr. Coates if he wanted to educate or inform the readers of plight of the farmers at the turn of the century. Living in a farm is hard work, regardless of race. The years at the turn of the century were hard on farmers there is no need to try to insinuate that things were harder because of race. The same hardships were faced by White sharecroppers as Black sharecroppers. Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty show, was suspended from his show on the A&E network, was suspended for his comments on gay relationships but in that same article he also said this:
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
There were calls by some to label Robertson for saying this, as it is against the prevailing story from people like Mr. Coates that Blacks left the South because of discrimination which drove them out of their farms and homes. The truth is a little more nuanced than that. Is interesting that Mr. Coates choose to showcase Mr. Ross’ story and not someone from another southern State. Mississippi was the first State to elect a Black Senator in 1870 and the second in 1875. Their new Constitution in 1868, the convention adopted universal suffrage; did away with property qualifications for suffrage or for office, a change that also benefited poor whites; provided for the state’s first public school system; forbade race distinctions in the possession and inheritance of property; and prohibited limiting civil rights in travel. The reforms only lasted for 22 years until 1890 when a new constitution disenfranchised most blacks and poor whites but by that time fully 2/3 of Mississippi’s Delta farmers where black. Blacks kept coming to the Delta area and it was not until first agricultural depression culminating in the early 20’s that the first Great Migration of Blacks to the North occurred. As falling prices of Cotton caused many Black and White farmers to sell their land in order to pay-off debts. Though many did remain as sharecroppers for another 20 years. Was discrimination part of the decision to leave the Delta farms and seek better fortunes in the North, probably but it was not until the economic conditions got dire that many made that decision. The North needed labor, the South had excess labor as with Migration of workers economics was the driving factor. Mr. Coates continues with Mr. Ross’ life by detailing his efforts to buy a home in Chicago, using a Contract for Deed. He tries very hard to make the practice seem nefarious, but that is far from the case. Contract for Deed or Land Contracts are still used to this day. It provides people who have lack credit or have limited resources and opportunity to own a property and are used quite frequently. Are there risks involved sure for both the buyer and the seller. Depending on how the contracts are written a buyer risks losing his investments if he loses his job or some large expense like the boiler breaks down and he is unable to pay for the repairs. Owners risk potential buyers leaving the property before the contract is finished in deplorable conditions that would require a capital expense before the property could be sold again. Either way Mr. Ross was able to purchase his home using this method despite his complaints against the way by which he bought the property. The complaint about lack of access to equity in the house while on the Contract Sale is true, but if as Mr.Ross did, and buy out his home the equity did not disappear only his access to it while paying for the house. None of this would strike any other large group of immigrant out of the ordinary, Germans, Poles, Jews, Italians, Irish, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, etc all faced restrictions and lack of access to financing, areas where they could not buy a house at all and were steered to certain areas at one point or another. Mr. Ross’ story should be one about perseverance and success not as case for reparations. It seems such a shame that rather than celebrating his achievements we are told to see his story as one of deprivation and envy because his journey should have been easier in Mr. Coates’ opinion.
“Contract sellers became rich. North Lawndale became a ghetto…” “According to the most-recent statistics, North Lawndale is now on the wrong end of virtually every socioeconomic indicator. In 1930 its population was 112,000. Today it is 36,000. The halcyon talk of “interracial living” is dead. The neighborhood is 92 percent black. Its homicide rate is 45 per 100,000—triple the rate of the city as a whole. The infant-mortality rate is 14 per 1,000—more than twice the national average. Forty-three percent of the people in North Lawndale live below the poverty line—double Chicago’s overall rate. Forty-five percent of all households are on food stamps—nearly three times the rate of the city at large. Sears, Roebuck left the neighborhood in 1987, taking 1,800 jobs with it. Kids in North Lawndale need not be confused about their prospects: Cook County’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center sits directly adjacent to the neighborhood.”
This is one of Mr. Coates’ most spurious charges, he does not explain how Black home ownership created a ghetto with all the connotations that come with that charge. If home ownership created a ghetto in North Lawndale, then perhaps the problem is the pressure that is put on Blacks to own a home when renting is better option. Instead of pushing for higher rates of home ownership, especially of those on the fringes we should discourage it until they a stronger foundation (long-term employment, financial security, marriage, stability, substantial down payment) things that many first-time Black buyers lack, but feel pressure to commit to buying a home nevertheless. There segregation was policy practice against Blacks, as it was other groups but does policies are not in force now and have not been for decades. Today’s segregated communities are the result, in many cases of governmental policies. Free or subsidize Housing that directs the poor to certain neighborhoods, welfare policies that penalize recipients if they get married, obtain a job or move to another area and the lack of accountability of those that game the system. Making matters worse, has become permissive of lifestyle choices that while at pains to say it, sociologists have now recognized that the family unit is the a main contributor to many of the ills that Mr. Coates feel will be cure by re-desegregation. Including lower crime rates, higher wealth and incomes. It is the reason why Latinos the group most often compared, comparatively to Blacks have surpassed them in practically every category even though back in the 60’s they trailed Blacks and Whites by wide margins. Today Latino’s are reaching parity with Whites in all categories and are poised to supplant Whites as the largest Ethnic group. The rest of Coates’ long essay does not break any new ground, he tries to correlate poverty with crime as an excuse to the Black real problems with high crime in their neighborhoods. One statement he made I want to address. He writes the following:
“From the White House on down, the myth holds that fatherhood is the great antidote to all that ails black people. But Billy Brooks Jr. had a father. Trayvon Martin had a father. Jordan Davis had a father. Adhering to middle-class norms has never shielded black people from plunder. Adhering to middle-class norms is what made Ethel Weatherspoon a lucrative target for rapacious speculators. Contract sellers did not target the very poor. They targeted black people who had worked hard enough to save a down payment and dreamed of the emblem of American citizenship—home ownership. It was not a tangle of pathology that put a target on Clyde Ross’s back. It was not a culture of poverty that singled out Mattie Lewis for “the thrill of the chase and the kill.” Some black people always will be twice as good.”
Yes, Trayvon Martin had a “father” and mother as did Jordan Davis and Billy Brooks Jr. but what they lacked was a family unit. All three were sent to stay with their fathers because they had become too much to handle for their respective mothers. Being a sperm donor is easy, being a father is much harder. Showing up after problems manifest themselves is failing in your duties as a father and should not be celebrated. Ethel Weatherspoon, like Clyde Ross bought a house in the North Lawndale area is she also to blame for the condition of the neighborhood today? Of course not, and neither are the rapacious speculators that sold them the house. They wanted the American Dream to own a house and they did, using the method available to them as many others of limited means did before. That is the problem with Mr. Coates’ essay, with the exception of the despicable period of slavery, the hardships and triumphs are the same that many other ethnic groups faced and are still facing. The Black experience is only singular in their estimation, as is their feeling that because of slavery their road should to success should have been paved, rather than a curvy, rock-strewn one with detours along the way.
The road to success is not straight. There is a curb called Failure, a loop called Confusion; speed bumps called Friends; red lights called Enemies;caution lights called Family. You will have flats called jobs. But, if you have a spare called Determination; an engine called Perseverance; insurance called Faith, and a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called Success!!- Anon.
Noemie Emery, expands on the War on the Middle Class. She talks about how President Obama became the Progressive dream candidate and how his administration run by the new Aristocracy of Intelligence have failed at their social experiment. Definitely a must read.
Also an update on the Piketty’s book.
The Financial Times of London, the Center-Left British publication, they endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012 has done a study of the figures and conclusions and concluded that he got his figures wrong. It gets worse, it seems that much like the Global Warmists, he cherry picked data and ignored that which went contrary to his main thesis.
The central theme of Prof Piketty’s work is that wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war. The investigation undercuts this claim, indicating there is little evidence in Prof Piketty’s original sources to bear out the thesis that an increasing share of total wealth is held by the richest few.
Except as the FT’s study showed, once the formulas and the data was analysed it did not, as was Piketty’s contention, showed any tendency towards income inequality since 1970. Completely, undercutting his thesis. It gets better, as the FT analysis shows;
“His spreadsheets (Piketty’s) , there are transcription errors from the original sources and incorrect formulas. It also appears that some data is cherry-picked or constructed without an original source.”
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline! “Phil Jones, Director CRU- climategate scandal e-mail
Piketty’s seems to have adopted the same playbook. When asked by FT about the issues, he responded that he needed to make a number of adjustments to the raw data because of the types “heterogeneous and diverse data sources”. If the numbers don’t fit we will adjust them until they do.
The other morning as I sit with my 7-year-old daughter eating breakfast before going to school, I noticed a scene on a movie that my daughter was watching. The movie Dr. Doolittle: Million Dollar Mutts appears to be another sequel to the Dr. Doolittle movies with Eddie Murphy as Dr. Doolittle.
This straight to video movie despite the title is about Maya Doolittle, the daughter of Dr. Doolittle who like her father has the ability of talking to and understanding animals. In this sequel Maya is graduating from HS and is looking into Veterinary program, while watching the video of the school she learns that it would take 7 years to graduate to her horror.
She then complains that in 7 years she would be old, she would be 25 and finally exclaims: “But, I am different, why should I have to do things the same way as others?!!!”
That sentence and the attitude that accompanied it kinds of summed up the attitude of today’s young and college soon to be brethren.
As Daniel Henninger writes in the WSJ:
“It’s been a long time coming, but America’s colleges and universities have finally descended into lunacy.”
“Last month, Brandeis University banned Somali-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali as its commencement speaker, purporting that “Ms. Hirsi Ali’s record of anti-Islam statements” violates Brandeis’s “core values…”
“On Monday, Smith announced the withdrawal of Christine Lagarde, the French head of the International Monetary Fund. And what might the problem be with Madame Lagarde, considered one of the world’s most accomplished women? An online petition signed by some 480 offended Smithies said the IMF is associated with “imperialistic and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.”
“On Tuesday, Haverford College’s graduating intellectuals forced commencement speaker Robert J. Birgeneau to withdraw. Get this: Mr. Birgeneau is the former chancellor of UC Berkeley, the big bang of political correctness. It gets better.
Berkeley’s Mr. Birgeneau is famous as an ardent defender of minority students, the LGBT community and undocumented illegal immigrants. What could possibly be wrong with this guy speaking at Haverford??? Haverfordians were upset that in 2011 the Berkeley police used “force” against Occupy protesters in Sproul Plaza. They said Mr. Birgeneau could speak at Haverford if he agreed to nine conditions, including his support for reparations for the victims of Berkeley’s violence.
In a letter, Mr. Birgeneau replied, “As a longtime civil rights activist and firm supporter of nonviolence, I do not respond to untruthful, violent verbal attacks.”
Not mentioned in the article was Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American Secretary of State whose invitation to be the speaker at Rutgers drew student protest and led to her withdrawal.
It is not just commencement speakers that are facing the intolerance of the tolerant but other activities are also being affected. In Dartmouth an annual fundraising event called “phiesta” was cancelled after one, I repeat one student of Mexican origin complained that it was offensive.
Then there is the latest absurdity, “trigger warnings”. It originated with the feminist movement but now it is beyond ridiculous, gaining wider acceptance. As Rich Lowry writes in the National Review:
“Oberlin College, long the nation’s leader in the earnestly ridiculous, seeks to be the FDA of political correctness, with warnings about classroom material nearly as comprehensive as the litany of side effects included in advertisements for a new drug. The school’s Office of Equity Concerns published a document for faculty (since pulled for more work after professors complained) urging them to “understand triggers, avoid unnecessary triggers, and provide trigger warnings.” It exhorts professors to “be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism [i.e., prejudice against the transgendered], ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.”
Yes, the Chinua Achebe anti-colonial novel Things Fall Apart is a “triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read,” according to the guide. But there’s a downside — it could “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more.”
Ace has more of the Oberlin demands for new rules regarding “triggers” and it is worth a read in its entirety, here’s and excerpt;
“Respect students�, colleagues�, and guest speakers� pronouns.
The Sexual Offense Policy defines sexual offense as �a behavior, which calls attention to gender, sexuality, gender identity or sexual orientation in a manner which prevents or impairs an individual�s full enjoyment of educational or occupational benefits or opportunities.� For many, use of incorrect pronouns calls attention to gender in a very inappropriate way, and prevents or impairs their safety in a classroom.
When possible, don�t call roll using names from Presto or Blackboard � allow students to self-identify using preferred names by asking them to sign in or to speak their preferred names.
If your class is too large to memorize names and pronouns, avoid using gender-specific language whenever possible. For example, if your instinct is to call on �the guy in the purple shirt,� try instead saying, �you, in the purple shirt.�”
You in the Purple shirt, how personal and uplifting!
James Taranto writing in the WSJ adds;
“The MPAA, ESRB, TV Parental Guidelines and RIAA warnings are all designed to strike a balance between freedom of expression and parents’ interest in shielding their children from the fouler aspects of popular culture. For the most part free expression wins out, especially in the Internet age, as it generally requires an enormous effort to prevent a determined adolescent from gaining access to “adult” material.”
Every one of these organizations faced free-speech controversies though they were design to address parental concerns for their minor children as Taranto concludes;
‘In those days, “mature” content held a certain allure for teenagers and young adults. By contrast, it would seem that today’s young adults are anxious to be infantilized.’
As the protest about the commencement speakers demonstrated it is not only Conservatives that colleges are trying to either censor or shut down but Progressives who step out of line to whatever precious beliefs they are beholden to.
A couple of weeks ago, anarchist author Kristian Williams was to deliver a panel talk about police brutality at a Law and Disorder Conference at Portland State University. He was met by 15 students who proceeded to silence the other panelist with continuous chants. What was Mr. Williams’s crime, he suggested sexual assault allegations should be more thoroughly investigated rather than assumed to be true.
Williams in “The Politics of Denunciation,” states that:
“Under this theory, the survivor, and the survivor alone, has the right to make demands … one obvious implication is that all allegations are treated as fact. And often, specific allegations are not even necessary” it reads. “It may be enough to characterize someone’s behavior … as ‘sexist,’ ‘misogynist,’ ‘patriarchal, ‘silencing,’ ‘triggering,’ unsafe,’ or ‘abusive.'”
You can watch the video below h/t to Ace of Spades via the College Fix;
The title of the panel was called “Informants: Types, Cases and Warning Signs“
Jonah Goldberg concludes it best;
And what a strange madness it is. We live in a culture in which it is considered bigotry to question whether women should join combat units — but it is also apparently outrageous to subject women of the same age to realistic books and films about war without a warning? Even questioning the ubiquity of degrading porn, never mind labeling music or video games, is denounced as Comstockery, but labeling The Iliad makes sense?
I do wish these people would make up their mind. Alas, that’s hard to do when you’ve lost it.
Historian Ron Radosh gives a historical perspective about how the Free Speech Movement of the 60’s has evolved into this Approved Speech Movement that is going on in our Progressive colleges around the country. He concludes here that:
“…the faculty elders grew up when Herbert Marcuse, of the Marxist Frankfurt School, was a household name to them. Marcuse, as I have pointed out in this column some time ago, believed in the theory he dubbed “repressive tolerance,” which coincided with the original FSM at Berkeley, and to which he dedicated his essay to his Brandeis students. According to the great sage of the New Left, “reactionary” and right-wing ideas should be suppressed. As he argued, the American state precluded true ideas – those of the Marxism he espoused — from being heard; therefore, the only chance of “liberation” was to free the people from being dominated by the ruling ideas. America, he believed, was “a totalitarian democracy.” His argument boiled down to this: “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”
This is how we have gone from as Voltaire may or may have not said;
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
Tolerance, no, is not – it should not be a two-way street. It’s a one-way street. You cannot say to someone that who you are is wrong, an abomination, is horrible, get a room, and all of those other things that people said about Michael Sam, and not be forced — not forced, but not be made to understand that what you’re saying and what you’re doing is wrong.
This was said by someone who I argued with back and forth during the Zimmerman trial months back, journalist and one-time Washington Post Editorial Board member Jonathan Capeheart. To him and Progressives like him tolerance is only of those that share your views.
Great article by the 20 committee. Ideology might be makings look stupid and a need to find a Center is a laudable goal. Yet, finding a Center requires much more than generalizations. We need a guide, remember what has worked and what has failed. Pretending that all Social Experiments are equal despite the results will just mean more of the same. Aiming for the Center is great is we only can agree where that is.
That there is something wrong with the United States – its politics, its economy, its culture, its interactions with the rest of the world – seems to be widely acknowledged by most Americans today. Poll after poll indicates a profound discomfort with the direction of American society, for myriad reasons. While people on the Left and Right will disagree about what exactly is wrong, and particularly what might be done about it, there’s a lot of consensus that the United States has hit a rather rocky patch, and that our venerable two-party system isn’t doing a very good job of ameliorating what’s going wrong. Indeed, our political system seems to many Americans, including this one, to be one of the larger aspects of the problem.
My colleague Tom Nichols has highlighted how the spreading disdain for actual experts and their expertise undermines public efforts at debating knotty problems, where the…
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He’s been called the “rock-star economist”, French Economist Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century is a bona fide bestseller and have provided fodder for Progressives, the present scourge that will soon spell the death of our society. I was still under the impression that Global Warming, Climate Change, or perhaps Climate Disruption, as it has been recommended to be called now, was going to be the End of our Civilization but we have been misled; it is income inequality as Mr. Piketty’s thesis asserts that will do that.
Keynesian Progressive Economist, part-time lecturer for City University of New York and regular contributor to the New York Times Paul Krugman, has boasted that Piketty’s thesis has reduced those on the Right to name calling after failing to mount any substantive counterattack. If by name calling Mr. Krugman refers to people who have called the thesis a work of Marxism, then I guess he is correct. Of course, that is not all they are saying, in fact the book’s conclusions are being shredded by other economists and not just in the US but some of his contemporaries in Europe as well, we will get to that in a minute.
Piketty’s book is meticulously researched, he covers economic data from several countries for over 200 years and he has a flair for writing making his case. What is Piketty’s assertion? In essence his conclusion is that Karl Marx and communism were right, only that he was too early. His theory is that capitalism is a powerful force that eventually concentrates wealth of select few and widens the inequality gap. He arrives at this conclusion by noting that the growth of wealth (returns on capital) are outpacing economic growth (returns on labor). With the wealthy owning more of the capital the inequality between both will continue to grow uncontrollably.
For instance for the US, he uses IRS data from tax returns to illustrate his point. This becomes one of the many issues that plague his overall thesis. As Scott Winship of Forbes magazine;
“…omits any consideration of the welfare state — Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, public housing, school lunches, etc. Piketty’s analysis also excludes the value of health insurance that Americans typically earn as part of their compensation package. It hardly makes sense to measure poverty without including the payments that are being made to reduce it. Incorporating such factors, Winship estimated that the real median income of a four-person American household in the bottom 90 percent of earners rose by $26,000 between 1979 and 2012, or $13,000 for a one-person household, as against Piketty’s claim of minus $3,000 per household in that period.”
Rather telling that an advocate for redistributionist state ignores the very measures that the government uses to reduce the inequalities between the have and the have-nots. That is just one of the 6 ways that Forbes found that Piketty’s book is not holding up. Another and perhaps more important one the claim by Piketty that the wealthy can grow their capital by 4% doing nothing at all and just holding on to their capital.
As Kevin Williamson of the National Review points out;
“A huge pool of potential capital is widely available to the non-rich. If the growth of capital left to build upon itself is such an amazing unstoppable force, says Kevin Williamson in National Review, that’s an argument for turning Social Security into an individualized investment account like a 401(k). The Social Security withholding tax amounts to 12.4 percent of each paycheck (divided equally between employee and employer). If that money were put into individual accounts growing at a modest rate instead of providing a giant government slush fund to be used for general spending, every American with a paycheck would retire a successful capitalist. This principle holds true regardless of income. Even if you made only $20,000 a year and never got a raise, writes Williamson, investing $2,000 a year at 4.5 percent for 45 years leaves you with over $300,000, which could be converted into an annuity paying $1,800 a month, more than you made in your job.”
You can read the whole article, it list 6 ways the book is not holding up Forbes here:
Piketty’s book seems like an attack on the wealthy, how is that an attack on the Middle Class?
While hidden as an attack on the rich, the whole thesis is an attack on Capital, everything from real estate to financial assets to intellectual property. His recommendations of a Global Wealth tax or confiscatory wealth tax on the rich of 80% on earnings and inheritance are design to make capital disappear or be greatly diminished. His claim that these taxes will not affect overall growth are belied by historical data that show otherwise.
He uses the new Chinese oligarchy of Mega rich businessman as an example but completely ignores the millions of Chinese who have been lifted from abject poverty along with them. There is a reason why Communist China is now Capitalist Lite China now. Yes some have become obscenely rich, to Piketty, but there are many millions more who have also benefitted from a market economy.
In Europe, and especially France from where Mr. Piketty hails from and Socialism dominates most governments, yet not one has adopted communism and the full Marxist theories. The question is why, the answer is the large Middle Class that resulted from the neo-Capitalist societies there. As long as that large Middle Class exist, Marxism will remain as a fringe philosophy, tried and failing.
Piketty likes to note the large salaries given to top executives and claims such large salaries are not warranted, by their performance. He contrast that to the earnings at the bottom and sees this as untenable. His solution is to tax those earnings at a prohibitive rate even though he admits that this will do nothing to help the one at the bottom of the pay scale, while at the same time asserting that it would not affect growth and the prosperity which is what will ultimately keep lifting those at the bottom.
Confiscatory inheritance taxes means that your heirs will not enjoy the fruits of your labor, thus denying them a chance that they would continue to build on your assets. How many have heard of heirs that had to sell their parents’ home, or cash out other forms of capital to pay for inheritance taxes? This only ensures that raising their wealth, they have to start again accumulating wealth and are not allowed to enjoy the benefits of the previous generation.
The rich will find ways to ensure that their Capital is not confiscated in that manner, but how about the rest of us? What incentive is there for us to attempt to achieve, if we know that the government will take it back in the end?
The new Aristocracy
Piketty, Krugman and many others are the new “aristocracy”, highly credentialed individuals that share the same views and now largely in control of large portions society. They are the movers and shakers, although largely unseen they influence our Society in various ways. As they control the Media, they ensure that their Progressive views are the dominant one. They control most Universities campuses and stamp down any dissent, while punishing those that do not toe the Progressive line.
Much like in Great Britain during Victorian times many of the noble aristocrats found themselves penniless but titled them parlayed that into positions within government, industry the arts selling their noble titles to add a sense of respectability and gain some modicum of wealth in the process. Today we have these highly credentialed aristocrats who use their degrees to dictate and lend credibility to all sorts of schemes whose ultimate goal is to take from those that produce and redistribute it to themselves, first, and to others.
This is how we get the whole AGW mess, a massive burden that will ultimately only make everyone poorer, except those Aristocrats that will illuminate our way through the diminished or confiscated growth of everyone. This were we get schemes like Obamacare, another boondoggle that only serves as a massive tax on the Middle Class as more companies abandon Employer subsidized health care for a much less affordable and diminished product. The NPR recently ran this story “Employers May Start Paying You to Buy Health Insurance” trying to paint this in positive light, after years of denying that this would be a consequences of Obamacare. Ironic, now they tell us.
This is perhaps the most puerile form of diplomacy that I have witness is born. The #Bringbackourgirls hashtag diplomacy is so revoltingly asinine and useless that it brings tears to my eyes. The hashtag diplomacy was previously used during the Crimea annexation to force, convince beg the Russians not to take over in Crimea and divide the Ukraine. We know how effective that was.
In this case we are not talking about a country like Russia but about an Islamic terrorist group whose aim to wipe out Western education and influence in the country. While Nigeria’s cell phone coverage is vast and reaches even the most remote sections, do we really expect this group to see the First Lady of the United States or the PM of the UK with a placard saying #Bringbackourgirls and make a difference in their thinking or their actions? I’d suspect that are scheming on ways to further capitalize on our plight.
These are the same people who have vigorously maintained a campaign to portray the Tea Party group as racism, xenophobic, ignorant and of course White. This while at the same time claiming that although Boko Haram the group who had killed hundreds before they abducted the young over 250 girls in Nigeria was not an Islamic terrorist group.
Even now weeks after the abduction, there some in the State Department that are still denying the connection between Islam and Boko Haram or their previous atrocities. In their view, Nigeria was not tolerant enough and brought upon themselves for trying and failing to stop a group who sole purpose is to turn Nigeria into an Islamic Sharia State.
The New York Time who has become the voice and lead apologist for these enlightened aristocrats has declared that we do not have the ability to mount a rescue operation, gee you think. From the story;
The administration quickly offered its help to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria in taking on the kidnappers, the extremist group Boko Haram. But the United States has not sent troops, and is unlikely to do so, in part because the girls are not believed to still be in one place, and because of the risks in attempting such a large-scale rescue over a vast expanse.
The story continues to blame the Nigerians for Boko Haram’s actions;
The problem, they said, rested more with Nigerian officials who ignored past American warnings to soften brutal tactics that only fueled Boko Haram’s insurgency.
If all we are going to do is pretend to help, what is with the hashtag diplomacy? It provides a safe, inexpensive and impotent way to pretend to care about events we are neither prepare or capable of attempting to correct. This is especially true in this case as the Administration fought for years to name Boko Haram a terrorist organization despite all their atrocities in the past.
Yes this new Aristocracy is very tolerant until they aren’t. The Boko Haram insurgency was tolerable, like Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the Al Qaeda insurgency in Benghazi Libya, they were are considered tolerable and worthy of our support. Yet, they have all ended up badly. The Maidan insurgency in Ukraine was also worthy, but not those in the Crimea or Donetsk or current protest in Venezuela something our Aristocrats media controllers have all but ignored.
Stephen B. Waters wrote in his book Individuals, Journalism, and Society
“Generations forget themselves and go stupid over time. Hubris grows. ‘Hey! I’m the center of my Universe and I must be right!’ Literature is called to refocus the magnifying glass of consciousness to remind humanity that the lessons of history are there for their benefit and, if forgotten, will bite them in the ass”
Mr. Piketty is fond of the French Revolution who he considers more significant because it appropriated more wealth. I hope he does not forget what happened to Aristocrats (both the educated and the nobility) that supported that revolution. Hopefully, he won’t lose his head thinking about it.