12/31/2019

*Capital and Ideology*, by Thomas Piketty

"2. At some point the book veers into partisan issues such as the wealth tax. Many of those parts remain interesting, but it also becomes clear that Piketty is “out to lunch,” to wit (p.591):
To return to the Soviet attitude toward poverty, it is important to try to understand why the government took such a radical stance against all forms of private ownership of the means of production, no matter how small. Criminalizing carters and food peddlers to the point of incarcerating them may seem absurd, but there was a certain logic to the policy. Most important was the fear of not knowing where to stop. If one began by authorizing private ownership of small businesses, would one be able to set limits?

I can think of a less naive explanation of Soviet attitudes toward the private sector. Piketty also calls for “participatory socialism” (p.592), a dubious doctrine not to be confused with say Nordic social democracy. For instance, Sweden (among other countries) seems to have fairly extreme wealth inequality."