This heist by the rich has finally drawn the attention of the media, academics and politicians. But the fact that their politics is also taking away the non-elite's access to culture has barely drawn notice.
Whatever holes one may pick in Picketty and other economists, plutocracy is rooted deeply and rules the world. If this is indeed inevitable, what's to be done?
The ability for ordinary working people to organize and collectively bargain over their wages and working conditions is a fundamental human right. It is a right just as critical to a democratic society as the right to free speech and the right to vote. Over the last 30 years many in corporate America and the big Wall Street banks have conducted a sustained attack on that human right. Unionization dropped from 20.1 percent of the workforce in 1983 to 11. 3 percent in 2013 -- and the results are there for everyone to see. The simple fact is that absent government regulation and collective bargaining agreements, the market by itself does not assure that everyone shares in the fruits of society's increased economic productivity. In fact, we know that just the opposite is true.
The lack of a guaranteed income floor has been a social and cultural issue that has considerably affected America. It is also a leading reason why interpersonal violence, psychological struggle and economic collapse happen.
To me, patriotism isn't just about celebrating our strengths; it's also about getting real about where we can -- and must -- do better.
By distributing income and assets more evenly throughout a region, inclusive business programs are one of the most proactive ways to address economic and racial inequality and grow the economy.
The government-imposed barriers to entry in the pharmaceutical industry don't just raise prices by 20 or 30 percent, as may be the case with taxi fares; they raise prices by a factor or 10, 20, or even 100 (that would be 10,000 percent).
Recent research shows that private corporations have sought to cash in on the services and infrastructure that working Americans rely on every day, while slashing wages and benefits in the process.
Piketty's concerns are relevant to the growing inequality in China that has resulted from adopting the neo-liberal capitalist model from the West. Hence, Piketty's reflection on mainstream Western economics indirectly treads a delicate ground in China. It fits right into the current raging debate over which path China's reformers should take in the next stage of "structural reform."
In a world of downward mobility for the majority, Democrats need to acknowledge the widening divide and propose specific ways to reverse it.
On top of devastating the country, wiping out many people's savings, and increasing the obscene gap between the wealthy and the rest of us, the Great Recession may have had the side effect of increasing racial tension.
There are lots of terms underprivileged tots don't know as well as their upper-class counterparts and I'm not sure reading to them will truly close the gap. How about giving their parents more access to well-paying, stable jobs?
To encourage efficiency, we would want a proper set of regulations and taxes and have them apply equally to everyone. The point is to encourage people to make profits by providing better products or lower cost services, not to get rich by finding clever ways to evade regulations.
The White House is holding a summit Monday, June 22 on working families. The summit is intended to call attention to the fact that President Obama wants to raise wages and job opportunities for working Americans, especially for working women.
The wisdom and necessity of action can, and should, be debated. Those debates, like most foreign policy debates are discussions of strategy, scenarios and interests, but rarely seriously consider the needs and hopes of the American people.
If a ticket of two women offers economic revival and transformational change based on financial justice championed by Pope Francis, the most popular figure on the world stage, support from women would be stratospheric and many men would join them.