[Cross-Posted from Inequality.org]
The concentration of America’s wealth may be reaching a point where any further gains for the top 1 percent must literally come at the direct expense of everyone else.
The exquisitely succinct equation at the heart of Thomas Piketty’s best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century — r > g — has impressed readers worldwide. Just three symbols. Even Einstein, for his masterwork, needed five.
Piketty’s core principle: The rate of return on the investments the wealthy make will normally be greater than the rate of growth in a nation’s economy and total wealth.
Piketty considers the three decades right after World War II an exception to his rule. In those anomalous postwar years, the French economist explains, the rebuilding required after Europe’s destruction generated a rate of growth, g, not sustainable in the long term.
In more normal times, Piketty believes, r > g will drive ever-increasing concentration of wealth at the top — unless tax and other policy choices impose sufficient constraint on that concentration. Continue reading
It’s now been five weeks since my last post. In the five plus years preceding that stretch, I wrote just over 750 posts, never going more than two weeks in between postings.
Who would have predicted a few years back there would come a time that ole Thucky would have more visibility here than I?
Well, to Steve, the Captain (now Censored, after AZBM terminated the Captain’s commenting privilege) and the precious few others who follow me, I will be back. For whatever reason, I’ve found precious little inspiration to write over the past month or so. After a few attempts to churn out a post just for the sake of continuity, I said “screw it” and focused more on my golf game. My social media time also has been cut way back.
Truth is, my sabbatical has been great. For those of you who spend substantial time posting, commenting, tweeting, or Facebooking, I highly recommend it. It’s not that the social media is unenjoyable. Rather, a change of habit and a return to other forms of relaxation can be refreshing.
Still, I love to write, so I will return.
I stole the title from a friend’s Facebook post. I doubt he’ll mind.
He and I had the identical reaction to Trump’s speech to CPAC on Friday, in which Trump declared that America is about to undergo the greatest military buildup in history. Military buildups have one and only one purpose: going to war. That’s especially true when the nation embarking on the buildup already has the largest and most advanced military in the world, with most of the world’s other large fighting forces aligned with its own.
Worse yet, Trump, who expressed puzzlement at America’s no first strike policy regarding nuclear weapons, has promised a buildup in nuclear weaponry as well.
The only real questions are who and when. Iran? China? Mexico?
These are, as the saying goes, “interesting times.”
And we’re living in them.
Trump’s recent exchange with reporter April Ryan at last Thursday’s press conference has generated a ton of criticism.
Criticism that has been far too kind.
I saw Trump’s presser referred to as a “scream of consciousness.” I agree, but the presser included a scream of something else: racism.
In American politics these days, the unofficial rule is that as long as a politician doesn’t go so far as to use the “N” word, the press won’t use the “R” word. I will: Donald Trump is a flat-out, screaming racist. Racism is the only explanation for his exchange with reporter Ryan, his past birtherism, and countless other remarks. I remember an interview years ago in which he spoke of his “great relationship” with “the Blacks.” The Blacks? Really? Does Trump believe that all Black Americans think and feel the same way, or that they sit around a 40 million-person dinner table to discuss whom they like and don’t like? Continue reading
My son-in-law just reminded me that Stephen Miller, a co-author of Trump’s unconstitutional and racist ban on Muslims entering America, was John Shadegg’s press secretary during my race against him. Which makes for perhaps the easiest exercise in dot connecting ever. Dots we should have connected years ago.
Although under-reported by the media, Shadegg was a raging Islamaphobe. I learned this about midway through the campaign, when he used his two-minute speech at the annual AIPAC breakfast in 2008 to tout two books: Knowing the Enemy and America Alone. Later that day, a Google search revealed that Shadegg was pimping those books every chance he got. Although I was inundated with reading material related to the campaign, I felt compelled to read them.
I’m glad I did. I could never have known who I was running against without doing so. I never understood, however, that he was under the spell of a 23 year-old monster. Continue reading
Fortunately, among those who didn’t vote for Trump (and maybe a few who did) the resistance crowd is prevailing “bigly” over the “give him a chance” crowd.
That’s a great sign. It provides a glimmer of hope.
Here’s a not-so-great sign: Orwell’s 1984 tops the best seller list. Wait, what? “Lord, you quote Orwell incessantly. Now you don’t want people reading Orwell?”
No, reading Orwell isn’t a problem. But not reading Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals is. If this resistance is going to succeed, all Americans who don’t share Paula Pennypacker’s medieval worldview must not only resist, they must do so with maximum efficiency.
And that’s what Rules for Radicals is about. Which means people need to put down Orwell and pick up Alinsky. It’s been years since I read it, but the one thing I remember about Rules for Radicals is how outside the box Alinsky thought and how outsized his results were.
A recent email from a friend reminded me of this. Continue reading