The frequency with which foolish ideas come back to the scene and destroy the prospects of progress is alarming.
This is a placeholder for the ridiculously ill-informed and incompetent "economist", Thomas Piketty who has revived the idea that "inequality" is the business of economists.
First, my views on "equality" (or inequality):
Let’s not waste time discussing inequality. Poverty removal is the goal.
Why are Americans not jealous of the rich?
Don’t be jealous. Be happy!
The dangerous idea of equality
Beware the delusions of equality
My views on The Spirit Level: propaganda masquerading as social science
Economic inequality MUST NECESSARILY increase over time in a free society, even as poverty is completely put to rest (e.g. there is GUARANTEED to be more economic inequality in an agricultural society than in a hunting gather society, and similarly more in an industrial society than agricultural society). But there is a huge amount of variability and social mobility, so these trends are VERY long term and not much can be read into short term movements.
Let me post a few comments/critiques from various people which demolish Piketty's ridiculous thesis. I'll keep adding as time permits. The blogworld is full of commentary on how Piketty doesn't understand liberty, political economy, economics or even basic statistics. Why this fuss about a deeply confused man?
Let me say that I've not read his book and have no intention of reading it. The case against economic equality is FOOLPROOF. No Picketty can change my mind on such a basic truth. Let there be liberty and let governments protect property rights. And remove dire poverty. No more.
Deirdre McCloskey rebuts the idea that economic inequality per se is an issue for anyone to care about. Crony capitalism – involving the theft of money from the people (which is precisely what BJP/Congress have been doing in India) – is definitely wrong. But what can POSSIBLY be the issue with inequality based on providing value to society?
"‘You have to ask what the source of the inequality is. If the source is stealing from poor people, I’m against it. But if the source is, you got there first with an innovation that everyone wants to buy, so you get paid some crazy sum, you ought to be paid so much, don’t you think?" [See full article here]
Piketty's data is deeply flawed.
Thomas Piketty wants to keep billions of people poor to stop a few from becoming rich (Robert P. Murphy)
What Thomas Piketty Gets Wrong About Capitalism
Shocking Quotes from Piketty (Robert Murphy)
Piketty Can’t Even Get His Basic Tax History Right (Robert Murphy)
Showing Problem With Piketty Using Neoclassical Models (Robert Murphy)
A Fleshed Out Example Showing Problems With Piketty (Robert Murphy)
Larry Summers Unwittingly Blows Up Piketty’s Whole Book (Robert Murphy)
Why Thomas Piketty is Wrong About Inflation and Interest Rates
Why Thomas Piketty's wealth equation doesn't work in Britain (Kitty Ussher)
Something to Celebrate (Steve Landsburg)
To a Correspondent About Piketty (Don Boudreaux)
The Piketty Bubble? (Alex Tabarrok)
Piketty-Piketty (Don Boudreaux)
A (Long) Note on Piketty (Don Boudreaux)
Down the Lane with Piketty (Don Boudreaux)
Piketty's Numbers Don't Add Up, MARTIN FELDSTEIN, Wall Street Journal
Brett on Piketty
Morgan Kelly's review
The Piketty Code (Dick Langlois)
High Taxes Are Not What We Need (Stephen Moore)
Why Following Thomas Pikkety’s Economic Advice Would Be Foolish (Nathaniel Ward)
"If the writer starts discussing income inequality data as if it tells us something useful about economic inequality, I know I can pretty much ignore anything the author has to say" [Source]
Steve Horwitz's Facebook post (links to an article that states;
"Piketty states, “From 1980 to 1990, under the presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the federal minimum wage remained stuck at $3.25, which led to a significant decrease in purchasing power when inflation is factored in. It then rose to $5.25 under Bill Clinton in the 1990s and was frozen at that level under George W. Bush before being increased several times by Barack Obama after 2008.” (Page 309).
Wrong, Professor Piketty. The federal hourly minimum wage rose twice in the presidency of George H.W. Bush, from $3.35 to $3.80 in 1990 and then to $4.25 in 1991, a 27 percent total increase. Then, under President Clinton, it rose to $4.75 in 1996 and $5.15 (not $5.25, as Piketty states) in 1997, a 21 percent total increase.
The next increase in the minimum wage, from $5.15 to $7.25 over three years, a 41 percent increase, was signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush. The federal minimum rose to $5.85 in 2007, to $6.55 in 2008, and to $7.25 in 2009. President Obama has not yet signed a minimum wage increase into law, despite beginning his first term with the political advantage of a Democratic Congress."
What do the Piketty data problems really mean? (Tyler Cowen) [19th century data seem to indicate that a “Piketty world,” even if we take it on its own terms, far from being a disaster, would likely be accompanied by rising real wages and declining consumption inequality, albeit rising wealth inequality.]
A Piketty problem? [Economist]
Piketty vs. Giles (Bob Murphy)
Inequality and the Fate of Capitalism (By Scott Winship)
Deirdre McCloskey Contrasted With Thomas Piketty (Don Boudreaux)
The Piketty Kerfuffle (Sinclair Davidson)
Phil Magness on Piketty's U.S. Wealth Data
More on Piketty (Phillip Magness)
Another Piketty Oddity (Phillip Magness)
Is Piketty’s “Second Law of Capitalism” fundamental? (Tyler Cowen) – demolishing even the basic economics of Piketty
Piketty Owes His Readers Some Answers
Thomas Piketty’s Problematic Political Philosophy Part I: Normative Arguments (by KEVIN VALLIER on MAY 30, 2014)
Thomas Piketty Pens Communist Manifesto for 21st Century
Piketty: A Wealth of Misconceptions
Piketty is an economic illiterate (Steve Kates)
Piketty v. Solow (Alex Tabarrok)
Piketty on Kuznets (Scott Sumner)