Listening to professor Thomas Piketty on EconTalk, I was struck by the banal drone of statistics and sly arguments from this author of Capital. In between monotonously glib recitations of data, he quickly inserted his argument that wealth must be taxed to preserve the social order.
However, he failed to answer his interlocutor’s question. Russ Roberts asked him, “Why should I care that others have more wealth than me?” Piketty artfully dodged the question.
Of course, the answer is that one should care. One should be grateful for those large concentrations of wealth for a simple reason: That wealth represents investment in productive enterprises. It does not sit in hoarded piles of gold hidden away on pirates' islands or dictators' safes. Rather, that wealth (by and large) is employed as financial capital in the form of stocks and bonds that are invested productively in the economy.
Those financial holdings represent factories, office buildings, transportation networks, the salaries at start-up enterprises, and the like. . . .