Netizens Discuss Piketty’s Theories on Wealth Inequality

Online community Ilbe has a webpage that collects informative ‘daily best’ posts. Recently, a thread discussing French economist Thomas Piketty‘s theories on wealth inequality in his sensational book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” received a large number of comments.

From Ilbe:

Let’s take a look at the “Piketty-mania” that has shaken the international economics academia

1. Who is Piketty?

He was born in Paris, France in 1971 (43 years old). He received his PhD at the London School of Economics (LSE) when he was 22 years old. He taught for two years as an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at MIT. In 1995, he became a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). He is currently the director the the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) and a professor at the Paris School of Economics.

In an interview, Piketty said he is not Marxist. He said, “I’m not from the generation that could be enticed by communism. I could look at capitalism and the problem of inequality from a new point of view.” Although he’s not Marxist, it is certain that he is Keynesian leftist. He was once an economic advisor for the Socialist Party in France. Let’s also keep in mind that he was one of the figures who supported a policy imposing fucking enormous taxes on the rich in France not too long ago.

2. Understanding the Piketty craze.

Debates surrounding the word ‘inequality’ are getting fierce around the world these days. While the mainstream school of the current economics is certainly neoliberal, it is undeniable that since the financial crisis of 2008, Keynesian leftist academics such as Paul Krugman are getting more attention.

Especially young people who recently began economic activities in society are experiencing inequality first-hand. They feel insecure and rapidly turn to the left. Rapid proliferation of leftists is a global phenomenon and it seems even among Ilbe users, there are more and more people who are doing the same thing.

While the time bomb was ticking, an economist named Piketty published a book based on his 15 years of research. That is “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. It will be published in Korea around this Fall. The book will finally cause the bomb to explode.

Numerous leftist academics, journalists and people who were complaining about inequality are enthusiastic about this book. It was written in a way that people who didn’t study economics can understand easily without use of complex math equations. It has become such a hot issue that they say that at this rate the book will be the top bestseller in Harvard University Press’s 101 years of history.

In this heated atmosphere, market-friendly media and neoliberal academics are actively trying to refute the book. Because of this, Piketty and his book are getting even more attention.

3. Summary of Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

Piketty book

• What does Piketty say?
– He gives 15-years worth of analysis of historical and economic data from a span of three centuries starting with the 18th century.
– He realizes that our world is heading towards a neo-Victorian classist society. (Hereditary capitalism.)
– The world is governed by hereditary wealth that wasn’t created by production.
– The richest 1% form their own cliques in collusion with politicians.
– When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of economic growth, the inequality becomes unsustainable.
– Then, democracy based on rewards for talents is undermined.

Piketty-theory

Then what are the solutions?
– Impose ‘global wealth taxes’. (Maximum wealth tax at 2%, income tax at 80%)
– Impose progressive taxes on the high-income bracket’s property.
– Inequality is controllable through these measures.
– The goal is to put all transfer of wealth under public supervision.
– Especially the US and Europe should work together to incapacitate uncooperative tax havens.

Is he some socialist? A commie?
– He does not oppose the principle of capitalism in which some degree of inequality leads to healthy competition.
– He claims that we can find a way to turn capitalism into something more peaceful and sustainable beyond cursory democracy.

Have you not read a book like Gregory Mankiw’s “Defending the One Percent”?
– The democratic society we live in is based on the belief that inequality in wealth distribution depends on individual effort and talent rather than blood ties or property ownership.
– Then social inequality can be justified and accepted as long as members of society can collectively benefit from it.
– The current economics academia couldn’t get over childish obsession with mathematics and pure theories.

4. Media critics and academics who refuted Piketty’s claims

[…]

[Read more at the Piketty Chronicles.]

5. Media critics and academics who advocated Piketty’s claims

[…]

[Read more at the Piketty Chronicles.]

6. Epilogue & References

The Piketty craze is still ongoing. From this fall when his translated book will be published in Korea, it seems debates about his theories will fully take off in Korea. The impact will be outstanding because the issue of income inequality that has been brushed off as politically motivated discourse will be understood as a legitimate issue. We need constructive debates. I’m worried how Korean leftists and media will distort the Piketty phenomenon and create another propaganda campaign as they normally do. Hence, you should at least be roughly aware of the different sides of the story and I hope you don’t go to the extreme.

[…]

Comments from Ilbe:
Angels:

Ke ke ke, Prof. Han Dong-geun at Yeungnam University is a typical leftist professor. Look. He made a wrong point about the increasing wealth gap between the poor and the rich. Generally, you should look at the size of the middle class to measure the wealth disparity. But he suddenly delves into the elderly’s personal property matters. People older than 60 find it hard to work full-time and it should be regarded as a population aging problem. So is the middle class in Korea getting bigger? No, it has been decreasing recently. Let’s take a look at the history of the middle class in Korea. During the Park Chung-hee regime, wealth disparity was the largest. The prices went up rapidly while wages remained low. When Chun Doo-hwan seized power and let Kim Jae-ik manage everything about economy, the wealth gap quickly decreased and the middle class grew much bigger. Then why is the middle class shrinking now? In fact, Korea went through the golden era during Chun. As our economy quickly developed, we needed various regulations and our society turned more bureaucratic. Now it is hard to establish new companies and the management positions at big conglomerates are inherited by the CEO’s family members.

I have a typical rightist view on economics. I believe if our government reduces various subsidies and regulations, it would be easier for companies to run their businesses, and they will hire more employees. I think the high prices in our country are due to high import tariffs and protectionism. If you look at expensive snacks in the market, big domestic snack companies have kept their own territory without much competition. The government should reduce import tariffs and let foreign companies fairly compete with domestic companies. This will lower the prices of products and benefit common people. If the prices are low, people have more disposable income and can invest. This creates a desirable economic circle. Currently, Korean conglomerates keep increasing their investment overseas. Last time, the Korean government even said, “We will reprimand companies when their investment fails.” What crazy company would increase their investment in Korea when there are other countries that are kow-towing to host them? If you want to set up a factory in Korea, you need to prepare thousands of pages of documents. You should submit project plans, environmental assessments, each administrative office’s permission and deal with nearby residents’ complaints. I’m in the process of setting up a factory in a provincial region so I feel the hardship. If I had enough money, I would’ve moved to a foreign country to set up the factory.


I can talk about the case of Hyundai Motors. When a new model is completed, they ask their factories all around the world about how many cars they can produce everyday and at what price. The factories in Korea are so behind. For example, while a factory in America produces 10 cars, a Korean factory can only make 2 or 3 cars. In the US, wages increase according to productivity. But in Korea, militant labor unions suck the blood out of their company. It is painful for Hyundai to manage their factories in Korea whereas they have completed an efficient production system in the US. The Korean government is certainly doing something wrong. I hope we get out of welfare populism soon.

루드비히하이에크:

Does Piketty deserve to be called a scholar when he manipulated his statistical data on purpose? Look at what happened to France after following his suggestions. Rich people left France and in a couple of years, the far right-wing party managed to receive the top approval ratings.

고노무새끼!:

The solution part is so retarded that most academics don’t even bother debating over it. What drew real attention is the part that describes what happens when r > g, that is when the rate of return on capital (r) is higher than the rate of economic growth (g). About how wealth is concentrated. The idea of imposing wealth taxes is treated like a joke though.

아모르겠다:

I fucking agree with his depiction of the reality. Wealth is inherited and there are unofficial social classes. But there doesn’t seem to be any solution to this. Communism tried to solve it but failed. The problem is that there is no solution after all, ke ke ke. Humanity should just embrace such inequality. It’s good enough to not skip a meal and have fun. Who cares. Enjoy your life and just die when the time comes.

와카츠키유미:

Lefty commies whine and demand helping hands for commoners while they switch their mobile phones every six months, carry a MacBook and drive a car. Common people in Korea should have no problem making a living and enjoying some hobbies. They just waste too much money on education. When they become poor and in debt, they ask the government to take care of them.

바람의남자:

What’s fucking retarded is to think that making money only means doing labor or developing superior technologies. What about making money through real estate, stocks, prostitution, private loans, gambling….? Do these have anything to do with labor or technological development? Fuck that. Traditional liberal capitalists tried to instill the idea that the rich are rich because they are hard-working and talented. That doesn’t work in the 21st century. It is fucking funny to ignore the realistic differences between someone who couldn’t even go to university because they had no money and someone who at least went to a no-name university and managed to open their own chicken joint. If you are fucking talented, you can still better yourself even if you are fucking poor. But money prevails at the end of the day. People can directly feel it. Do you know that direct taxes are higher than indirect taxes in Korea? It just shows that you are a rightist zombie if you ignorantly believe the CEOs should only care about making the highest possible profits and welfare is pointless bullshit. If there are not enough buyers, how would sellers make money? If there is no buyer and laborer, capital means nothing. The rich give away some of their wealth because they know that is the way to protect themselves.

대중노무새끼: [In response to above]

Ke ke ke, you are talking as if the rich are exploiting the working class, ke ke ke. They created labor unions to prevent that. What’s the problem??? Isn’t the problem those fucking idiots who demand their boss to resign, oppose privatization and interfere with management, behind the shield of their union?? Aren’t the unions for permanent employees indifferent to when temporary employees go on protest? It is not the CEO but the permanent employees who exploit temporary employees, ke ke ke. Do you think their demand for their children’s privileged employment is fair? The unions for permanent employees don’t help out temporary employees because they are worried that employment privileges for their children will be undermined. Does the CEO have any say in this? The capitalists just watch their employees fight each other as if they are watching fires across a river. The working class people divide themselves and create their own classes. You don’t even have to blame the rich, ke ke.

천추:

Even the exploited class in developed countries belongs to the exploiting class from a global point of view. If you impose taxes according to Piketty’s claims, capitalists would lose their motivation to make more money. If you want true equal distribution of wealth, wealth should be transferred from developed countries to developing countries. Then, do you think life of the middle class and below in developed countries will be better than now…

붉은댓글:

Why are there so many who can’t read? Simply speaking, if someone makes profits using a billion won, a salaried person can never catch up with their wealth. Piketty proved this plain common sense using data from three centuries. To fix this, the suggestion is to increase the maximum income tax rate to 80%. Do you know this? Once upon a time in America, their maximum income tax rate was 90%. If you don’t know history, don’t even ramble about commies. And Jeong Gyu-jae? That guy only shows the claims that defend export-oriented conglomerates. He doesn’t even advocate general free market capitalism. He defends “Korean-style capitalism”.

If you want to understand Piketty’s book properly, you should understand the mammonism in the 19th century and the Gilded Age. It is that legendary era when the average lifespan of British laborers was 30-something. There were way too fucking many domestic low-wage workers. So they began looking for colonies that would provide new markets. The UK and France occupied most colonies, which led to the World War I and II. That’s the future Marx predicted from Europe in the 19th century. Marx was right about the wars but of course, but he was wrong about everything else after that. You guys may not know that the two world wars played a role in wealth redistribution. Piketty is essentially saying we should prevent any devastating war through taxation. Of course, he is skeptical of the possibility of implementing such a global taxation.

수찡:

The world is not beautiful, people. It can’t be beautiful like in theories. This hellish reality is sustained only by competition. How can a scholar overlook the reality and mislead ignorant crowd… Imposing 80% tax rate on the rich? Are they fools? What rich people will sit back and do nothing? The world isn’t such a pushover. They will run away to other countries with their money and that will make their own countries’ commoners even poorer. That’s why that sly scholar suggested imposing global wealth taxes. What’s funny is that there is also fierce competition between nations. How would it be possible to raise taxes together globally? Crazy? I had a good laugh in a while.

KTH: [In response to above]

Piketty emphasized that the taxation should be implemented globally so that there is no room for tax havens. I don’t know if it’s the best solution out there but I think he has a point. If a company hired 10,000 employees to make a million products in the past, these days they can hire only 1,000 employees to make the same amount of products because of automation. The company makes the same amount of money but their efficiency has increased so they don’t need as many workers. What the rightists want is to keep the efficiency high and increase the number of companies in Korea. Then with 10,000 workers, they can produce 10 million products. It may be good domestically but globally it takes away jobs from other countries since it’s a zero-sum game. That is not a fundamental solution. It is true that there is no clear solution to the current situation. However, it is more retarded to do something like what Seoul mayor Park Won-soon did such as limiting big supermarket chains’ operating hours for small markets. At this rate, riots and wars in the world are inevitable. Some measure should be taken but it only works when the whole world does something together as Piketty suggested. I wish there were more innovative and fair methods than wealth taxation.. Honestly, I don’t know and I’m worried about the current world.

미.7H.:

I’m an Ilbe bug working at Goldman Sachs IBD. Let me scribble as much as I know. First of all, we should think about how practical Piketty’s claims are in the Korean context. One of the most eye-catching ideas is imposing global 80% taxes and progressive taxes on the rich. Here we should consider the relationship between distribution of income and progressive taxation. According to the stats from the IMF about OECD nations, income equality is better achieved by government transfers of wealth than by tax policies. Income redistribution is done by tax revenues and expenditures. The tax revenue is collected through tax policies including wealth taxation. Then the government spends expenditures (transfer). The claim that progressive taxation promotes redistribution of wealth can be applied only to very limited situations. It won’t be effective in Korea because they already collect enough progressive taxes and you also have to consider the side effects.

Expanding progressive taxes through wealth taxation doesn’t take into account the income disparities between classes in the bottom 99% because it only uses the view of top 1% vs. the other 99%. It would be more effective to adjust the value added taxes. The ultimate goal is redistribution of income. Why do they find imposing penalty-like taxes on the rich as the solution? That comes from unrealistic and idealistic ways of thinking. Why does Piketty suggest that? Maybe because he’s from France. They are born to be radical and progressive. They enacted the 75% wealth tax law so their rich people fled the country. Soon after implementation of the law, their tax revenue decreased and its effectiveness has been questioned. In this situation, Piketty’s suggestions are not trustworthy. You should look at the tax policies of the countries where the rich French moved to. Eastern European countries including Russia are using increased tax revenues from economic growth for redistribution of income. Global 80% income tax? That is utter bullshit. It would rather make more sense to try to impose flat taxes. The global income tax is possible only in the imaginations of the people who envy the rich. It would be more rational to wait for World War III, catastrophic natural disasters, or revolutions to happen and initialize the Kuznets curve or set up some brand new system.


Simply put, it is more realistic to create jobs, expand value added taxes and apply flat tax rates than to expand progressive taxation on the rich, which commies advocate. Piketty is on the side of those whiners who want to beat down the rich. The world’s property is owned by the top 1%. The 1% has the upperhand in 1% vs. 99% because the 1% can take any group from the 99% to their side with their wealth. The possibility of a leader who comes from the 99% and is able to resist such an opportunity converges to zero. We should take a different approach to this than suppressing the rich.

oogoo: [In response to above]

I also think it would be better to develop a value added taxation system rather than leeching off the rich. It seems true that globally, wealth creates even more wealth. Although I’m clumsy with these terms, hereditary capitalism doesn’t sound too wrong. I don’t like the idea of leeching off the rich that lefty zombies always advocate, but shouldn’t there be some measure against the deepening polarization of wealth? I can’t confidently argue with lefty zombies on this issue.

미.7H.: [In response to above]

Hereditary capitalism. Capitalism may not be able to get away from it. They say a system that doesn’t constantly improve will perish, but there cannot be any system without imperfection or cons after all. Imperfect humans create imperfect systems. Hereditary capitalism isn’t as harmful as commies claim. They are biased by the communist mindset that hereditary capitalism may hinder income redistribution. As I said, excessive income taxation and progressive taxation aren’t very effective in redistributing wealth. Each country has their own situation and policies. Imposing an 80% tax rate on all those countries? Nothing more than complete bullshit. There will always be some countries that do not participate or partially implement it. Wealth will move to those countries. Then there will be complaints from everywhere and the retarded system will be abolished by a radical measure in the end, only after causing so many losses. Let’s look at value added taxation. It is completely possible to transfer and redistribute income through increasing overall income and value added taxes that are universal. Imposing taxes on everyone will be more effective and give you more options. Commies all over the world tend to use their intuition about economics rather than numbers. They are frighteningly obsessed with political economics. Economy looks distorted when you manipulate numbers to your taste. Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz are like that. Mankiw didn’t spend much time to bring theorems in economics to the level of common sense. His ideas are objective and based on numbers. On the other hand, communist scholars spend a lot of time to manipulate numerical data so that it fits their absurd intuition. Piketty spent 15 years analyzing his data. It’s a scary world where commies are very creative. Sigh, I better go watch soccer games, ke ke.

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  • elizabeth

    Yup, restructure the VAT and import tax systems. 80% global taxation is unrealistic. Instead, impose caps/conditions on inherited wealth and/or restructure estate duties. Encourage philanthropy. Tackle corruption.

    Ensure equal opportunity in education and employment. Provide more financial aid to the needy and SMEs, tweak anti-trust laws and screen welfare claims to ward of abuse.

    Basic but still hard-pressed to find a government in the world that does all these although some may come close to it.

    • Paulistano

      What you wrote was (almost) exactly what I thought when I was reading this article, elizabeth. It’s painful and slow, but there is no other solution, 100 years ago, people genuinely believed that Socialism would bring equality and justice, but it only brought more misery and exploitation. Soviet Union is the prime example in my view.

      I would be more careful about ”Provide more financial aid to the needy and SMEs”. I think social welfare is important, but only suit for countries that are developed and can sustain high cost. Countries like Brazil love do do social welfere like Bolsa Família, Minha Casa, Bolsa Desemprego, but the government totally forgets that the people are still uneducated and the country still lack basic infrastructure like water supply and sewer system in many major cities. In other words, social welfere becomes Populism, a way to gain vote from electorate and since more than half of brazilians are still politically dumb, populism becomes a way to buy vote from the poor. That’s why brazilian political parties don’t invest in education, keep the people dumb, yet they gain their hearts by voting us, It’s a vicious cycle an that’s why social welfere should be only applied for developed countries in my opinion. Another example is Greece, they are educated ( I think) and considered (or it was considered) a developed country, but they can’t sustain high cost to maintain social welfere like west european countries do, so they lived in a fairy tale of ”Let’s pretend we are a developed country” like Germany, I’m pretty sure they are paying a high cost now.

      • elizabeth

        You are right about social welfare and financial aid and that is why I think screening must be done. Even in advanced countries, I feel that some governments are overdoing it and it adds unnecessary burden to the deficit with little positive effect. Also, I don’t think it would work as a standalone measure but as part of a ‘holistic’ system.

        • Paulistano

          Yeah, I think it should be a support and oh, my english is very bad so I couldn’t understand ”screen welfare claims to ward of abuse” well, but it’s all okay XD

      • George Dubbya

        Maybe I am mistaken, but didn’t the Bolsa Família campaign lead to a decrease in Brazil’s absolutely ridiculously high crime rate in the slums? Although the system is far from perfect, how do you expect those people to get out of the mess?

        • Paulistano

          Ah no, I have to disagree. If you can read portuguese or translate, this is a good analysis:

          http://www.cartacapital.com.br/revista/805/a-taca-de-assassinatos-e-nossa-4381.html

          Bolsa Família descreased hunger and misery, that’s a fact, but not crime rate, by statistics, Brazil is worsening year by year. It’s 50.000-60.000 homicides per year, it’s a ridiculous high rate. But that’s another topic.

          Bolsa Família is great, but it should be a support spending, not the main focus. The main focus should be a massive invesment in education, infrastruture, better efficiency and to boost industrial power (in case if Brazil wants to be a great power, that’s what brazilians wants to be), Bolsa Família should be only support, it should only only for very-shorted plans for people who is starving, but this social program is been implanted more than 10 years now, but there is not a considerably investment in education or infrastructure. It’s more clear that Bolsa Família is been used for populism, to gain vote, and guess what, the current party will be elected again, by the poor.

          Did you ever heard an expression called ”Panem et circenses”? Panem is Bolsa Família and Circenses is World Cup, Olympics-Rio and Carnaval, you must keep the people dumb and entertain them to gain vote.

      • jon777

        Except there has been no real socialist countries, only dictatorships prentending to be.

        • Paulistano

          But there were dictators that genuinly wanted a socialist system, but the problem is simple: it doesn’t work, humans can’t apply socialism system, because they are too greedy. When they know that socialism cannot be real, they don’t want to renounce the power neither.

      • nita

        I think everyone has a different definition of socialism–in my mind, socialism as a description of economic policy is separate from political dictatorship/oppression. For example, most of the industrialized countries have universal health care. Is this socialism? I don’t know. But based on objective measures like life expectancy and cost as a % of GDP, universal health care has proven to be more effective than the US system.

  • zachary T

    I do not agree with Mr. Piketty. after all Karl Marx also said he was not a marxist….A very good exposition on the book by someone who read it is by Jonah Goldberg. here is a link to his article. http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/mr-pikettys-big-book-of-marxiness/

  • Paulistano

    After the Bunny Man, I finally think that I can have some serious reading here about trends….. LOL

  • Smith_90125

    Anyone who calls Krugman and Piketty “leftist” is laughable and speaks from the ignorant american binary view of politics. They are at best moderates, nowhere near being socialists.

    As for Piketty calling this modern day feudalism and serfdom, that’s nothing new. Anyone with a library card and a sense of curiousity could figure that out. What Piketty is doing that’s new is making the public aware of it, finally someone making it part of the economic discussion.

    • bigmamat

      Absolutely because Americans have been “trained” to literally worship “captains of industry”, “innovators” and millionaires. We’ve been told time and again that these people are better more worthy, smarter. Problem is none of these people actually created all this wealth without help. They all benefited from the labors of someone else. Many of them made their fortunes due to their cozy relationship with legislators. Piketty isn’t going to be read or even discussed by the thousands of striking McDonald’s workers. They don’t give a rat’s ass about economic theory. They just know they are sick of working for a long established global giant of company and just scraping by. They know someone is getting the bennies and it ain’t them. White middle class Americans have lost their jobs and homes. Their kids are facing huge debt as they leave college in a country where even the educated cannot get paid a living wage. The 1% has pushed this thing way to far. They’ve literally destroyed the engine of their wealth, the American consumer.

      • Barack Obama

        you make it sound so easy. why don’t you go “benefit from the labors of someone else” and get rich.

        • bigmamat

          Mr. President…I’m just not that ambitious. I’m like most people I don’t need to be rich, just comfortable. I don’t like having to worry about paying the rent or not having the cash if the car breaks down. I don’t need hundreds of shoes, handbags and gold jewelry. I don’t want to live in a house so big I can’t clean it by myself. I think most people are like that, they just want to have comfortable life without constantly worrying about how they’re going to feed and educate their children. Most normal people aren’t greedy they just want to feel the satisfaction of being appreciated for the work they do.

          • Barack Obama

            well if you are worried about rent and your car breaking down why don’t you NOT OWN A CAR OR NOT RENT? Save your money, ride a bike, go move to a town where everything is cheaper, go live in the jungle, get off the grid, all those things you can do instead of self-pitying. You are complaining about the way our monetary society works yet reaping all the benefits from it and not realizing it. All those things you complain about are just pathetic. People that go into debt are not responsible with their money. It’s their own fault, period. And this country is pretty lenient on those people too with debt forgiveness and all that baloney to help entitled people like you. You are old, so I would guess you didn’t work hard or save enough from when you were younger. That’s your own fault. Too freakin bad. That’s life. What work do you do that you don’t feel appreciated for? Probably not a lot if you can’t even live comfortably. Go cry to your mommy.

          • bigmamat

            I didn’t say I was worried about the rent. You must not really live in the US. Most of the country does not have public transportation so not owning a car isn’t much of an option if you want to have a job. Although if I was homeless I would be hitchhiking my ass to some place warm. Sleeping over a grate in Chicago in February is not my idea of how to do it right. Might as well at least stay warm. You sound like a privileged asshole to me. Good for you. Keep your money and your middle class anger. At least you have something to live for…

          • Barack Obama

            Nope, actually I worked very hard for what i have and built my company from the ground up. My family moved here with NOTHING. Started working at restaurants as waiters and maids and worked our way up from there, saving little by little. Used to live in cheap crappy apartments for $300/month. Worked worked worked nonstop. And now we are here, our company makes $3000/ day and i still work 7 days a week. I don’t feel like I am not making enough for my hours i put in nor have i ever felt that way like you do, because if i did i would just go do something else. you just don’t like to work. I have no sympathy for people like you.

            “Most of the country does not have public transportation so not owning a car isn’t much of an option if you want to have a job.”

            That’s bs. There are buses everywhere.

          • bigmamat

            I thought I told you I wasn’t talking about myself. I’ve worked pretty hard as well. I haven’t been without a job since I was 15. I struggled for a number of years as a single mom. I’m just not mean and self righteous. I realize that some people no matter how hard they work cannot always succeed. I’m certainly aware of the challenges that small businesses face trying to make a go. But we really don’t help small businesses in this country at all. We talk about them a lot but we shit on them all the time. Set them up for failure with fees, local taxes and restrictions while large companies get all the bennies. I guess you just haven’t really been paying attention to current events. You know the way so many large companies get by with paying no taxes and CEOs make obscene money while laying off thousands of workers. I would venture a bet that your company still pays taxes. I just hope you aren’t one of those asshole employers that treats your employees like disposable trash or indentured servants. They did a study recently the richer you get the more you become detached from what it’s like to feel any empathy for people less fortunate. Wonder why?

          • Barack Obama

            yes, i do agree our government is a giant bureaucracy bent on extorting money from citizens through fines and taxes and threat of jail.

          • bigmamat

            That’s because government right down to the supreme court have been taken over by the corporate class. Even if you are a hard working successful small businessman you are not one of them. They are the rich and privileged. They are the Harvard graduate Skull and Bones crowd. The legacy babies and the hedge fund managers. The rest of them have gotten into bed with them in order to secure their own fortunes. Don’t be fooled by them. They don’t care how hard you worked. You and I will never be one of them and they don’t care about us. They will eat us for dinner and pick their teeth with our bones. They incite us to fight among ourselves down here at the bottom so they can convince people like you that we are the enemy and not them. They distract us with nonsensical cultural issues like gay marriage and abortion while they pick our pockets. The recent supreme court Hobby Lobby ruling isn’t about religious freedom. It’s about corporate freedom. The right for corporations to have the same rights as individuals. The right for corporations to dictate to actual people how they should live their lives. That’s not freedom, it’s tyranny.

          • Barack Obama

            life’s not fair. work your way up to their level

          • bigmamat

            That’s what they want you to think. Name one of them that actually started where we are, you can’t.

          • Barack Obama

            self made millionaires and billionaires? they do exist.

          • bigmamat

            Yeah there are a few. There are even a few decent ones out there that know how grubby all the others are and how they are destroying the fabric of our society with their greed. Most of them however have lost their soul in the process. You can’t tell me there is nothing wrong with a world where 88 people have more money than 50% of the worlds population. Just think about that for a minute. That is 3.5 billion people. Does that sound like freedom and democracy to you? Does that sound like something that can be achieved through hard work alone? What could those 88 people have done to deserve such a reward, cure cancer, invent an endless supply of food or energy? So they got there all by themselves? They didn’t benefit from public education, didn’t use roads, bridges and public works paid for and maintained by someone else? It’s a bullshit fantasy story that anyone gets that rich all by themselves. It’s like believing in Cinderella or the Tooth Fairy. It’s not only a fantasy it’s an arrogant selfish fantasy as well. It’s the dream world of the self absorbed. I’m a self made man look at me and be awed and amazed. You think you came here and did well all on your own. Really? The day you stepped foot on American soil you became the direct recipient of all the labors and sacrifices of the millions of people that came here before you. Could you go anywhere else in this world and even have the same opportunity to thrive that you received by coming here? I hardly think so. I’m not trying to say you haven’t worked hard and don’t deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor. What I’m saying is for you to stop denying that you didn’t have any help.

          • Cloudfive

            Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and this guy in Japan: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/16/national/sons-rags-to-riches-career-impresses-by-the-numbers/#.U7iMTY2Sy7M

            Those are just off the top of my head.

          • bigmamat

            Mark Zuckerberg is a sack of shit that stole someone else’s idea and stabbed everyone that ever helped him in the back. He was never a poor kid. He’s an American Jew some of the most well off people on the planet. He went to Exeter and then Harvard. He started out from a place of privilege. Let’s not lionize him because he became even richer. Steve Jobs as well had an upper middle class background. His father was an accountant and his mother worked for one of the first Silicon Valley high tech companies. So he had help as well. Oprah Winfrey is an old fashioned success story. That’s why she’s so unique. Being Oprah Winfrey is like being struck by lightening. It’s like winning a lottery. She’s also a goddamn democrat not a plutocrat.

          • darrenjh

            Profound argument right there.

          • Barack Obama

            profound whiner right there.

  • commander

    Angels wrote, “In the US, wages increase according to productivity. But in Korea, militant labor unions suck the blood out of their company.”

    I was wondering how Angels respond to the fact that the three big automakers in the United States went through near bankruptcy back in 2008, but given the new lease of life after what free market advocates vigorously oppose: bailout fund injection by the federal government.

    The biggest problem with those claiming that market is omnipotent is that in reality fair competition is hardly possible without government regulation. And the fundamental problem with neoliberal economics is that they never consider impacts on society of the selfish and self-centered human nature.

    • bigmamat

      Yes, the evil unions trope. Hammered into American heads. Told over and over again. Vast fortunes of propaganda money used to convince Americans they should accept less. All the gains made by our ancestors, a living wage, bargaining rights, health care, education, sick leave, time to be with our families, equality in the workplace all gone in less than 40 years.

    • jon777

      Libertarians live in a fantasy world. Any idiot understands that a completely “free market” is nothing but survival of the fittest.

    • nita

      I totally agree. If anything, the US government is guilty of reverse socialism when it singlehandedly saved the US banks from their self created black hole of destruction by pumping them full of trillions in free money.

  • Chucky3176

    80% income tax? Why not just declare all income is government property and forbid profit? Oh yeah, that’s called communism and it was tried and failed countless times already. Only in Korea, this type of nonsense is gaining traction where everywhere else where it failed, are moving away from it.

    • Random

      I don’t think they’re talking about a flat income tax rate. They refer to it being a maximum so it’s likely a marginal tax rate. In the US from the mid 1940s to mid 1960s the max marginal tax rate was >90% and from mid 1960s to 1981 the max marginal tax rate was 70%. I don’t recall the US ever being a communist state. 80% seems pretty high but it could be reasonable depending on what the tax brackets are.

      • George Dubbya

        “Income inequality is destabilizing and “responsible for the divisions in the country,” CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein said. ”

        I guess he’s a communist also.

        • bigmamat

          No he’s just a corporate criminal….

    • jon777

      Typical brainwashed right-wing lunatic.

      • Paulistano

        At least he is not Communist LOL. Communists are much worse, belive me HUE

    • KCdude

      Now I understand that the Saenuri supporters themselves act like blood-sucking Communists.

  • Barack Obama

    what’s wrong with wealth inequality?

    • George Dubbya

      Nothing really….. as long as you can build a fence high enough to keep those annoying commoners out

      • Guest

        .

    • Warren Lauzon

      Depends on how they got their wealth. If like in China, it was mostly via corruption, then not so good.

  • takasar1

    when the 1% control 99% of the assets, how can the 99% use their 1% as leverage/bargaining chip???

  • redgirls

    the battle between power and the powerless

  • Xio Gen

    If I wanted to read about how taxes are evil and everyone who doesn’t agree is a commie I’d go watch Fox News.

  • Krystal Hampton

    Just another way for you to buy the book. I know what ‘having’ and ‘not having’ feels like. I know I can save money and not have to worry about debt by not going back home. Problem solved. People can talk about wealth, not having wealth, etc. Just move. The only ones I feel sorry for are the elderly and the disabled, who can’t move elsewhere. If people moved out of their respected countries to better places for jobs (if jobs were available in their field) then you would see governments try everything within their power to keep their monetary base. I think we’re starting to see it now actually.

  • darrenjh

    Taxing the rich? What a fucked up fantasy world this nutjob is living in.

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