BBS Book Thingie: “Capital in the 21st Century” Discussion Week 2 - Income and Output

Well, to say that the U.S. is colonizing itself may be a little ummmm, overly dramatic, overly “poetic”? I dunno. More plainly I would say that elements of US society are treating other elements like colonial subjects, as sources for cheap, easily exploitable labor who have little say in their own lives. And yes, I’m referring to class divide.

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He’s certainly arguing the notion that markets are “natural” is BS, which I think is important. If it’s a social construct, you can tinker with markets and make them the most beneficial to human beings, right?

In order to tinker with markets you need capital, and/or political power. Which seems to me to suggest that people who have both political power and have abundant capital could be said to be in a sort of conflict of interest.

It doesn’t need to be this way but in the absence of a way to mobilize the power of labor then markets will only serve those with the power to tinker with it.

I understand that my argument is circular, the point is that I get the sense that Piketty is saying that the value of labor in capitalism is tied to whatever means of production employs it, the same way he mentions it’s hard to separate the value of a building from the land it sits on. And this gets me thinking about the way unions, which can leverage the bargaining power of labor, have lost power as inequality grows.

Yes, my experience is that investing in human capital promotes growth. The service industry is growing in Mexico and I’ve been, though more by luck than anything else, involved in its growth for the last 15 years now. But I’ve also seen how established interests have maintained control by limiting the power of the labor force to compete and innovate.

I hope Piketty returns to the value of labor, because it seems to me that as long as the only capital that the majority of people possess is their labor (Which unlike gold, cannot be a store of value), then capitalism must necessarily be it’s own engine of inequality, and the best you can do is minimize it by arbitrarily establishing rules to balance it’s deficiencies.


It’s Friday again, Armchair Economists!

I’m almost done with chapter 1. It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Glad to be reading it, but I’m not keeping up, which means I’m not part of the discussion either. :disappointed:


I’m busy writing something for work, so not reading. Will also be catching up later …


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