"Thomas Piketty is a rock-star economist," writes Heidi Moore in the April 27 Guardian newspaper.
"Can he re-write the American dream?" she asks.
This French economist and his runaway near-700-page best-seller "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" have galvanized an American left dispirited by President Barack Obama's waning charisma and failed promises.
Piketty (pronounced PEEK-et-tee), a professor at the Paris School of Economics, arrived here like an old-time preacher trailing clouds of glory from the European motherland of socialist collectivism and the welfare state to restore wealth redistribution.
Most American leftists have welcomed him like an intellectual savior who is restoring their faith, faded by a century of progressive failure. He is renewing their mission to bring down capitalism.
What Piketty preaches the purge of capitalists and the rise of a new privileged "Marxist" aristocracy.
Piketty even acknowledges the long-self-evident truth that the free market is more productive than socialism. Piketty says he would retain the good competitive virtues of capitalism while purging what it does badly.
What capitalism is inherently unable to do, Piketty argues, is create a society of economic equality.
Capitalism, he believes, inevitably divides society into those who earn wages by selling their labor versus those whose wealth comes from investing money. Over time, the more reliable income of investors makes them richer, while workers need luck just to stay even.
Under capitalism, Piketty argues, the rich get richer, the poor poorer, and the dream of equality is always thwarted.
Radical egalitarianism became a dream of the left in Europe, where rigid class societies blocked upward economic mobility.
Social mobility was more available here than in Europe, at least in the English colonies.
England defeated France for control North America largely because if you were born a peasant in France, you could not advance your social status or wealth by volunteering to move to France's New World colonies.
France found it difficult to recruit colonists. The one incentive France offered was a government welfare-like pension to any settler couple that had six children — hence the fecundity of Quebec today.
In Britain's North American colonies, by contrast, a peasant from Yorkshire could start a successful business, or become a major landowner by moving to the western frontier. Such opportunities made it easy to recruit English colonists.
When the French and Indian wars erupted, British colonists hugely outnumbered French ones, and that is why you are reading this column in English.
As Charles Krauthammer reminds us, America's symbol is the Statue of Liberty, not Equality — a gift from France.
Equality before the law is part of our Constitution, but this is not what progressives like professor Piketty want. If government taxes all equally, then those who work harder, smarter or better will accumulate more money than others.
Piketty wants governments to treat citizens very unequally. He proposes a tax of at least 80 percent on those who make $500,000 per year. His aim, he boasts, is not government revenue, but elimination of wealth.
Prominent economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) now advocate at least one round of massive surprise taxation on the wealthy.
"Piketty's research is . . . as good as fact," claims Moore. Not so. libertarian economists have found dozens of major mistakes in his slanted data and large flaws in his reasoning. American wealth has accumulated far more in pension funds shared by millions than in the pockets of plutocrats.
But since Progressives crave new justifications for heavier taxation and bigger government, any pretext such as Piketty's screed will do, as Craig Smith and I discuss in our latest book "The Great Withdrawal."
We should remember that those who give up liberty to impose economic equality wind up with neither.
We should remember that America is great because the best people of Europe and other lands fled here to seek freedom and opportunity, not political redistribution of their wealth.
Lowell Ponte is co-author, with Craig R. Smith, of "Crashing the Dollar: How to Survive a Global Currency Collapse"; "The Inflation Deception: Six Ways Government Tricks Us . . . And Seven Ways to Stop It"; and "Re-Making Money: Ways to Restore America's Optimistic Golden Age." His new book is "The Great Debasement: The 100-Year Dying of the Dollar and How to Get America's Money Back." Read more reports from Lowell Ponte — Click Here Now.
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