Mike Kueber's Blog

July 13, 2015

Sunday Book Review #163 – The Silencing by Kirsten Powers and Inequality by Anthony B. Atkinson

Filed under: Book reviews,Economics,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:57 am
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The Silencing describes how the left is killing free speech in America.  They do this by attempting to ostracize and punish anyone who holds a contrary political opinion.  The most common technique used by the left is to demonize the offender as bigoted, racist, sexist, etc.  When the left is charged with intolerance of alternative opinions, they respond that these issues are already settled within civil, mainstream society.  When the left is charged with killing free speech, they say that speech will continue to be free, but civil society is similarly free to levy punishment on those who stray far from the so-called mainstream.

I’ve always been a bit of a devil’s advocate, and The Silencing motivates me to redouble my efforts.  It also makes me feel a bit of shame for my reaction against the Dixie Chicks after lead singer Natalie Maines said some mean things about George W. Bush.  I’m sorry they are no longer making great music that I loved.

Inequality reminds me of one of my favorite books from last year, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a French economist.  Piketty explained why the world economy was moving toward greater income inequality (r>g; return on capital was greater than the growth of economy) and provided some common sense solutions, such as increased education subsidies, greater progressivity in personal taxes, and reduced corporate tax loopholes.

Although Piketty’s analysis and proposals might seem radical to some conservatives, his tone was so nonpartisan that he persuaded me to see him as a reasonable man.  Atkinson not so much.  He is a British economist who reportedly mentored the younger Piketty on inequality, but his focus is more on the elimination of poverty, which seems to produce more draconian socialistic proposals.  Among them:

  • New technology should be developed in ways that encourage greater employment, not less.
  • Greater power to labor vis-à-vis capital.
  • Jobs guaranteed for everyone.
  • Minimum wage should be a “living wage.”
  • Guaranteed return on capital saved by low-income individuals.
  • Large inheritance granted to all individuals upon reaching majority; funded by wealthy.
  • Increase state ownership-participation in private companies.
  • Progressive taxation, up to 65%.
  • Increased estate tax and a new tax on wealth.
  • Payments to parents for having children.
  • Increased social security.

Although Atkinson seems quite bold in his willingness to interfere with capitalism, I confess to being intrigued by several proposals.  Especially interesting is the proposal to grant a large sum of money to all young adults, funded by a robust estate tax and an annual tax on wealth.  I think the first-world countries can afford to give their young adults a jump start on their life to think and act like a capitalist.