What’s the big deal about Piketty?


     The main reason why Piketty has made such a big splash is that he strikes at the heart of liberal Democrats’ first principle of political economy: “A rising tide lifts all boats”.  This may be a neoliberal principle, but it’s not at all recent. During the 1940s and 1950s Democrats came to believe that there was no conflict between  rich or poor or between labor and management, and that just by “growing the economy” (Clinton’s later slogan) it would be possible to improve the lives of the poor and labor without  demanding anything from the wealthy, and that for this reason a large part of the Democratic political tradition could be jettisoned without really losing anything. From this point on Democratic “populism” (much less radicalism) was discouraged and almost disappeared, and in 1960 the “rising tide” slogan was a Kennedy campaign slogan.

    And wasn’t just a political slogan…

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