Tuesday, April 29, 2014


The Economist wants to know why Thomas Piketty, the best-selling French author whose critique of capitalism has become all the rage among the American intelligentsia did not elicit a similar adultation when his book was first published in France last year.

Happily enough, I have already addressed the issue. Piketty’s policy proposals echo those of the French Socialist Party. Everyone but American intellectuals knows that policies based on those proposals produced an economic and, more recently, a political calamity.

The Economist echoes my point:

A more serious explanation could be that Mr Piketty was too closely linked to a proposal by Fran├žois Hollande, France’s Socialist president, during his 2012 election campaign to introduce a now-discredited 75% top income-tax rate. The 75% tax rate sent an important message, Mr Piketty said approvingly at the time, and “lots of other countries will inevitably follow this route”. In fact, the millionaire tax was denounced by one of Mr Hollande’s own advisers as “Cuba without the sun”, ruled unconstitutional by the French constitutional court, and was hastily watered down.

From which we must conclude that the French public is a step ahead of elite American intellectuals. This tells us that American intellectuals do not really care whether the policies that derive from Piketty’s analysis work.

More importantly, American leftists are ginning up their media machine for the upcoming elections. They know that they must change the conversation. If the nation is talking about the calamity of Obamacare and the pathetically weak economic recovery the Democrats will lose.

In order to motivate their base Democrats are generating a conversation about inequality. And, of course, racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia and so on.

How better to motivate Democratic Party voters than to tell them that the fault for their chronic joblessness lies with predatory capitalists. It’s called shifting the blame.

Besides, when the national debt is approaching $18 trillion, the last thing you want to talk about is how you are going to pay for it. If you did, you would have to explain why, at a time when your policies should be geared to producing new wealth, you are obsessing about how to redistribute old wealth, bloating the public sector at the expense of the private sector, thereby diminishing wealth.

American intellectuals want the nation to become more like France. French citizens know better. They know that Pikettynomics does not work.


Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis, Stuart, and right on the money. American leftists are always slow on the uptake - indeed they don't want the uptake since that would mean abandoning their religion.

For a scary article on our current state, see Bill Gertz in Commentary: "China Rises while America Falls"


Anonymous said...

The Piketty stuff sounds great until the Left governs. Governing is something it is incapable of doing, because it is at odds with the very concept of value. Consequently, the Leftist cannot assign value by positive means, because that's mean. Someone is always left out, and the inner conflict caused by this reality causes the true Leftist to spontaneously combust, because they realize that the value (of, say, money) they said was an imaginary construct is now real. The Left can only assign value based on who/what they oppose. Therefore, if they themselves are in power, they can only oppose each other (read: other Leftists). To get out of this conundrum, they create bogeymen. When bogeymen run out, the desire for ideological purity drives them mad (because it's impossible) and this is when the real horror movie starts rolling, ending with the authoritarian narcissist coming in on a white steed, claiming sanity as his (always "his," ladies) own, and putting an end to the nutty Lefty experiment. Fun!

You see, the Left cannot govern. Because of this, it attempts to impose its will through roundabout ways. The best ways to do this are through the regulatory bureaucracy and the courts. No consequences, no fingerprints.

Take the Obama Administration, for example. I was watching the news last night, and there was a report about mounting regulations. Not surprisingly, the Obama Administration has set new highs for the quantity, scope and economic impact of regulations entered into the Federal Register. There was a sound bite from Jonathan Turley's recent Congressional testimony saying that Federal agencies are becoming an unaccountable fourth branch in a three-branch system of checks and balances.

Thanks for waking up, Jonathan. How often do you get outside the D.C. area? Ever owned a business?

Most surprising was the reporter's assertion that "Administration officials and Obama supporters are concerned about this trend as well." Ummm... whom would those people be, please?

I always find the "concerned" elements of a political ideology so interesting when they are "concerned" about the logical outcomes of their ideological "concerns." More empathy for the unfortunate consequences of what they say they want, I guess. "Oh, my! You mean that these policies can have negative impact on people???" they cry aghast. Too bad Oprah is gone. Maybe they can share this shocking revelation on "The View" for their televised catharsis.

This kind of surprise pretty well explains the French voter as well. "Yes, there are only so many demographic and political carve-outs our government can do before it has to impose the same laws/regulations on everyone, and I'm so sorry, but that now includes you." And then the voter who thought they were getting back at "the man" finds out he is the citizen who's got to pay for it, because "the man" has fled the country. And then the citizen gets angry. Left-handed boomerangs always end up hitting the ally standing next to the thrower. Funny how that works. Who knew?

Obama has not disguised his preference for implementing socialism through backdoor, non-democratic means, such as: (a) economic justice through bureaucratic socialism; and (b) social justice through the modern interpretive fiat of courts. Both are unaccountable without action from Congress, which does not follow-up in these matters. And Eric Holder is doing astonishing work over at the Justice Department, halting any investigative or legal challenges to Obama's authority. It's a great system for executive hegemony.

That's Obama's modus operandi. He knows bureaucratic socialism works, and there's no way to stop it. And watch... if he's replaced by a Republican president, he'll get religion on the social justice speaker circuit, bemoaning an "imperial presidency." Isn't America great?

Cont'd below...

Anonymous said...

... Cont'd from above

So everyone is surprised, and no one seems to have any recourse to stop the madness. After all, let's say in the 2014 mid-terms that the Republicans do take both chambers of Congress, with solid majorities in each (say, +30 in the house and +5 in the Senate). What can they do with that, given how the Obama regime operates? Answer: nothing. No options. Wait until the next presidential election.

That's how the modern power game is played. Who are the power players? The analytical elite, the logical-mathematical-scientific whiz kids of our era. The new cognitive aristocracy is real, is global, is largely amoral, and will consolidate power for its own benefit, while giving to all the politically correct causes. These are the "brights," the new elite, and their power is not tempered by classical ethics (top universities don't require those courses anymore). Those who are not atheists are "Spiritual, but not religious." Either way, they're guided by their own North Star: the all-important SELF (their self-formed, self-delusional conscience).

This movement is embodied in a new scientism/rationalism, which simultaneously disregards the individual, but maintains the importance of the single SELF. Combined with relativism, it is unencumbered by traditional systems of political, ethical or moral philosophy. This is new.

Theirs is the apocalypse of democracy: the economic/material tyranny of the (manipulated) majority. Quantitative analysis and data mining of interest groups within voting populations makes politics a predictive modeling problem. So the fix is in! And it turns representative government on its head, because it becomes all about manipulating your way to the representative data set (voters) you want. It's a winner-takes-all game: if you're not a part of the winning coalition, you're screwed. The mish-mash of bizarre interests that make up Obama's coalition are inconsistent, malcontent ideologies based in fear. In Obama they have found their savior: the true embodiment of Nietzsche's "Will to Power." What they haven't thought of is what happens to their interests when someone they disagree with becomes President of the United States. Today's executive branch, when configured as Obama has, possesses unlimited power if left unchecked. The American political system requires all actors/parties to ultimately subordinate their interests to the Constitution, and do so willingly, based on its inherent wisdom to safeguard liberty and domestic tranquility. Without that wisdom, those in power just take what they can get -- because they can.

If this all sounds a little kooky, look around you. Look at the newspaper. Watch the news. Look at the culture. Look at who has the money, look where the money goes. Left-Right distinctions are meaningless here... in fact, they are tools for manipulation. Our problems today are not material, they are spiritual. We have degraded the inherent dignity of the human person, each born in the image of our Creator. Take the Creator out of Creation and you have the tyranny of the SELF, the consequences of which will make the Dark Ages look sane. We have forgotten the inalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence that formed the bedrock of this entire enterprise. The Founding Fathers were correct. The farther we move away from this ideal, the more desperate our lives will become in the face of despotism.

This may seem a long way from Thomas Pikettys, but ideas have consequences. This is where the all-important SELF brings us... the end. Had Enough Therapy, indeed!


Jocker said...

Stuart, You should comment this: