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Piketty Doesn't Understand Capitalism You've Been Living in a VA Dreamworld, Liberals

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Anti-Piketty: It's the Great Subtraction

by Christopher Chantrill
May 27, 2014 at 12:00 am

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WHEN YOU FINALLY get to the end of Thomas Piketty’s Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century you get what it’s all about: We Need More Money. Of course “we” do. It’s Little Shop of Horrors on the Left Bank. “Feed me!”

According to the London Financial Times Piketty couldn’t quite keep his numbers straight. Apparently the rich aren’t getting as rich as Piketty’s theory wants them to be, and he had to fudge the numbers a bit. But it doesn’t alter the message. Tax the rich. Because inequality.

Let’s be clear what he means. The only way to the future, for progressives, is through more subtraction, taking more money out of the economy in taxes. Just like feminists subtracting themselves from the future, what with their abortions and “child-free” lives, and all.

You could call it the Great Subtraction, shrinking life to an equation of rights and liberation. The progressive only thinks of what must be subtracted from other people to liberate them and create rights for their supporters.

There is another way. Call it the Method of Addition. Robert Tracinski shows how it’s done by rehearsing, on the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty and the Great Society, how to make war on poverty by conservative addition, as opposed to endless progressive subtraction that merely makes “the poor more secure in their poverty.” The Tracinski program starts with the things people can do for themselves.

The first rung of the ladder is Work. Yet a “whole network of government programs is designed to reduce and discourage employment”, starting with the minimum wage and an endless array of programs that discourage people from seeking work. So government subtracts people from the world of work.

Next comes Education, “by far the most effective way to improve your pay and prospects”. But “Education is one of the most spectacular failures of big government, which has squandered enormous, ever-growing sums and only seems to do a worse job.” These days “you can no longer work your way through college.” More money leads to less education.

Next step is Marriage. “If poverty is caused by not working, one of the biggest causes of not working is being a single parent—which usually means being a single mother.” Marriage means that one parent can earn money and one parent can raise children. Anything less subtracts a good childhood from America’s children.

Oh yeah, Children. Tracinski doesn’t mention this rung on the ladder, but if you want to add something to this world, children are a good thing to add. Our progressive friends have been scurrying down a century-long rabbit hole, from eugenics to feminism to abortion to population control that adds up to nothing but subtraction.

Then Savings. A lot of the things you need to add to your life start with savings. Yet Thomas Piketty wants to subtract their savings from the rich – because their wealth might spiral out of control! Then there’s Social Security, a program that taxes the savings of middle-class Americans, and reduces the wealth the middle class can pass to its children.

Next Homeownership. It’s an important security for the elderly, not having to pay rent. But it’s typical of government that it’s taken a good thing and made it into a nightmare by subsidizing home-ownership, driving the price of real-estate into the stratosphere, then crashing it, and subtracting from the security of owning your own home.

Finally Entrepreneurship. We often talk about the big stars that go from humble origins to great wealth, but “The more mundane reality is that for many, the road from poverty to the middle class lies in starting and running a business.” In many cases, the poor are already doing this, only their businesses are forced “Off the Books” into the underground economy because they can’t afford the subtraction of business taxes and onerous regulations.

Charles Murray in Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 tells us the before and after of the 50-year-old War on Poverty. The welfare state has turned out very well for the top 25%, the educated class that runs the welfare state. They get educated, get and stay married, have satisfying careers. Their lives are spent doing just the things that Tracinski recommends. The poor living in places like Philadelphia’s Fishtown live on government benefits. The men don’t work and the women don’t get married. No savings, no homeownership, no entrepreneurship.

At the end of Coming Apart Murray implores the top 25% to “preach what they practice” to middle and low income Americans. No dice: liberals still bang on about “rights” and “liberation” and the wonderful government safety net.

But liberals are having fewer children than conservatives. At the end of their Great Subtraction waits extinction.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

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David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
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Conservatism

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US Life in 1842

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Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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