Meditations on Modern Marxism

Even when they disagree with Thomas Piketty’s in principle — or, perhaps, on principle — some of his ardent critics still agree with him in practice. In this op-ed in Barron’s yesterday, Tufts professor Amar Bhide urges readers not to overvalue Piketty’s achievement and not to assume that he “has discovered an economic law about the root cause of inequality that had eluded generations of researchers”. Still, professor Bhide concludes that: “Even though Piketty’s vision of inevitable unfairness is misguided, we must identify and change the specific inequities that undermine the legitimacy and dynamism of capitalist enterprise in our age.” My translation of professor Bhide’s criticism: “OK, fine. Let’s do something about extreme inequality. Let’s put a few Band-Aids on this gushing wound. Let’s pay some lip services to the need for change. But we must leave the essential elements of the current system essentially unchanged.”

For petty, pedantic and predictable criticisms of Pikkety, turn to Salim Furth of the Heritage Foundation who regularly publishes in The Wall Street Journal (see below).

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Barron’s, 11/22/2014 — Profits Don’t Create Inequality, by Amar Bhide

  • “Economists, whether Keynesians or monetarists or supply-siders, find proofs of their theories wherever they look, even when they look in the same places.”
  • “Denying concerns about unfairness as petty jealousy invites a dangerous popular backlash. Even though Piketty’s vision of inevitable unfairness is misguided, we must identify and change the specific inequities that undermine the legitimacy and dynamism of capitalist enterprise in our age.”

WSJ, 11/14/2014 — Thomas Piketty and Questionable Choices, by Salim Furth

  • “In his best-selling book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” Thomas Piketty cherry-picks Swedish data points to match his narrative.”
  • “Mr. Piketty argues that people should take his theories seriously because of the extensive work he has done with the data. Our review suggests that the opposite is true.”