More Effective Remedies for Inequality than Piketty’s

[A new book by Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is drawing a lot of comment - here and here.  My own comment on it is now posted on Real World Economics Review blog.]

I have read only reviews of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, but clearly it is valuable for documenting the nature and history of inequality over the past century or three, and for highlighting the excessive political power that flows from super-wealth.  Yet he frames it in terms of capital and capitalism and, for all the quality of his diagnosis, his main prescription evidently is just to tax the wealthy, through income and inheritance taxes.

The trouble is, capital and capitalism are very ill-defined.  To speak of capitalism is to invite an un-constructive shouting match.  Capitalism has caused great harm to people and the world!  Yes but capitalism is what has made us rich!

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Canberra and Sydney Book Launches

A reminder of tomorrow’s launch in Canberra;  more details below.

Also note that the Sydney launch will be 4 May at Gleebooks, featuring Steve Keen.

Sydney, Sunday 4 May, 3:30 for 4

Book launched by well-known iconoclastic economist Professor Steve Keen
Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road Glebe NSW 2037 Sydney.
Free, but please register (link and more details to be added real soon now - i.e. after tomorrow). Continue reading

Book launches

Several events will launch the hardcopy of Sack the Economists over the next few weeks.  Spread the word, come, meet, and buy a hardcopy.
Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra Sydney
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Countering neoliberalism: A new life for Labor?

[A variation of The Lost Left, published today at Independent Australia.]

The way forward for progressives is to argue against the self-serving neoliberal ideology of the fatcat and for prudent and sensible management of the markets, writes Dr Geoff Davies.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten saysLabor needs new policies.

He’s not wrong there.

For three decades, while Labor has focussed on being merely a slightly paler imitation of the Coalition, its membership has plummeted, inequality has risen, it has repeatedly capitulated to wealthy bullies and, it seems, there is no policy too degrading for it to adopt as it races the Coalition into the depths of fear and negativity.

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A Science of Economies?

[This is a more technical post, addressed to those interested in re-making the field of economics into something relevant, informed and capable of self-improvement.]

Debates about whether economics is or can ever be a science appear frequently on the Real World Economics blog, such as making economics a relevant science.  Perhaps more in the subsequent comments than in the articles themselves, there are some recurring confusions and misconceptions, such as whether mathematics should be involved, about what the role of mathematics might be, about “prediction” as a necessary part of a science, about the role of assumptions and approximations, about whether any study involving people can ever be a science and, fundamentally, about what science really is.

I have commented in passing on this topic before, for example here, but in this comment I’d like to offer a more focussed discussion.

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The Lost Left and the Way Forward

[This piece was prompted by Has the Left Surrendered? by Richard Eskow on Campaign for America's Future, a good source of sensible US commentary.  His article was in turn prompted by Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals by Adolph Reed Jr in Harper's magazine. ]

trickle-downThe political parties of the Left, in the US, UK and Australia, lost their way when they swallowed the free-market mantra.  They became merely neoliberalism-lite.  They implemented the market-fundamentalist program, and then applied bandaids to the wounds thus inflicted.  They yielded the initiative, became defensive and reactive, and were steadily pushed, dragged and wedged ever-further to the right.  They are now well to the right of the conservative parties of four or five decades ago.  The former-left parties are now a huge impediment to real progressive politics, entrenched in that political space but betraying it on a daily basis.

Despite continuing soul-searching among those who recognised and deplored this process, there has yet to emerge any unifying alternative, beyond a catalogue of the many disparate social and environmental causes and groups that attempt to continue, with diminishing success, the old Left’s concern for ordinary people and their world.  Indeed no alternative can emerge unless and until the core meme of neoliberalism is confronted.

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Sack the Economists now available in hard copy

SackCoverPrint-on-demand hardcopies of Sack the Economists can now be ordered from CreateSpace and

More sources of both ebook and hardcopy versions will be added soon, including the UK and Australia.

Also the ebook will be available in formats other than Kindle – so any reader will work.

Go to Sack the Economists for more information and all purchase options.