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On Monday night Senator Elizabeth Warren and Dr. Thomas Piketty sat down for a discussion presented live on The Huffington Post. The interviewer was a surprisingly knowledgeable Ryan Grim, and was conducted in front of a live and enthusiastic audience at the Old South Meeting House in Boston. Here is the link to the
 Senator Warren and Dr. Piketty essentially discussed the main themes from their respective books. In A Fighting Chance, Senator Warren discusses the rigged nature of the current system, with an eye on an attempt to level the playing field.
  Dr. Piketty shows in Capital in the 21st Century how the economic system of Capitalism distributes income in a perversely unequal way, that taxes on incomes and wealth are required to allow the system to function in an equitable manner.

  The discussion is too long for me to reproduce here, but the crux of it can be best summed up in Senator Warren's remarks about the failed theory of "trickle-down economics." First she points out that the best characterization of the theory came from George H.W. Bush when he called it "Voodoo Economics."
    She went on to sum it up quite nicely when she said that "...wealth does not trickle down, it trickles up. It trickles from everyone else to those who are already rich."
   Dr. Piketty pointed out the need for a graduated wealth tax. We have an existent wealth tax in property tax, but this is levied at equal percentages for all, no matter the value or the equity of the property, and must be substantially expanded.

   They discussed a range of issues, such as (spreading the benefits of) free trade, the importance of Labor Unions, not just as a practical matter of workplace fairness, but as an historical force for good in issues like Social Security, Medicare, and Civil Rights, just to name a few.
  Also discussed in quite a unique way was the issue of Global Climate Change, which Senator Warren posited to be part of the same dynamic as the economic issues, pitting the haves , who benefit from polluting, against the have-nots who suffer from the effects.
   My favorite line from Senator warren was her advice to Dr. Piketty about how to handle the flood of criticism. "Hit back," she said.

   Also, quite notably now, Senator Warren was asked about all she could potentially accomplish related to this discussion if she would run for president. The crowd was very loud and enthusiastic in voicing approval. And NO DENIAL was forthcoming from the Senator, which is a departure from how she's answered this question before.
   Does this mean she's going to run? In the words of Stephen Colbert, "I'll take this as a probably!"

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 07:13:09 PM PDT

  •  I'd leave this diary up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Wolf10

    and delete the other one where you have several production problems. This one came out fine.

    Does Piketty discuss the issue of needing a constitutional amendment to have a federal wealth tax in the US? States can have property taxes because they have plenary taxing powers. States could even have broader wealth taxes although I think they would fear capital flight, and with good reason.

    "let's talk about that" uid 92953

    by VClib on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 07:21:32 PM PDT

    •  Capital flight "with good reason": avoiding taxes, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, ChuckChuckerson

      particularly in a country that has provided the legal and social infrastructure fostering wealth accumulation, and then shipping jobs to authoritarian nations with low wages, substandard working conditions, slave labor and endemic corruption hardly constitute "good" reasons in my book. Capital uber alles is no way to run a decent society. There are other social goods besides and beyond those dictated by the rate of return on capital.

      The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

      by Wolf10 on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 07:38:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wolf - no state has a wealth tax (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        even though they could. I think the reason is very simple. People with liquid assets would move out of that state. No one has any obligation to stay in any particular state, particularly if they don't like the tax rules. They can vote with their feet. Thousands of people move from New York to Florida every year because Florida has no state income tax. There is nothing illegal, immoral, unethical, or unpatriotic to move from New York to Florida to pay lower taxes.  

        To implement a national wealth tax would take a constitutional amendment, like the 16th was required for a national income tax.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 07:54:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was referring to nation-states not states (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, VClib, tardis10, ChuckChuckerson

          of the union. For example nations can impose capital controls or engage in public spending, if it choose, by simply printing and spending money. We are pretty much doing that now but we are handing control of the money over to banks producing asset inflation alongside high unemployment and stagnant pay for work.

          A country as powerful as the U.S. with control over its own currency that is also the world reserve currency can pretty much lead the rest of the world in any direction it chooses. Or, because of our capacity for autarky, we can to a greater degree than we do, chart our own course economically. The point being, we rely on private capital to the degree that we choose to do so.

          The current degree of freedom and privilege accorded private capital combined with relatively unencumbered global trade is a very new phenomenon. We have pitted working classes of nations with hard won rights against those without such rights to the detriment of the former. The social fabric of the economically advanced countries is unraveling and what flows from that will not be a pretty sight.

          The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

          by Wolf10 on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 08:26:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Did I tip & Rec the right diary? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wolf10, elwior

    Or am I just seeing double? lol

    "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." - 17th-century French clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu.

    by markthshark on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 07:27:36 PM PDT

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