|Bill "Concerened About Inequality" Gates in front of his home.|
This is as goofy as it gets. Bill Gates, who generally ranks as one of the top three wealthiest people in the world, is concerned about inequality.
And to prove he is serious, he tells us that has read one of the goofiest books out on capital and inequality.
A 700-page treatise on economics translated from French is not exactly a light summer read—even for someone with an admittedly high geek quotient. But this past July, I felt compelled to read Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century after reading several reviews and hearing about it from friends.It seems that the only important dispute Gates has with Piketty is as to how to tax us non-billioanires:
I’m glad I did. I encourage you to read it too, or at least a good summary, like this one from The Economist. Piketty was nice enough to talk with me about his work on a Skype call last month. As I told him, I agree with his most important conclusions, and I hope his work will draw more smart people into the study of wealth and income inequality—because the more we understand about the causes and cures, the better. I also said I have concerns about some elements of his analysis, which I’ll share below.
I very much agree with Piketty that:
High levels of inequality are a problem—messing up economic incentives, tilting democracies in favor of powerful interests, and undercutting the ideal that all people are created equal.
Capitalism does not self-correct toward greater equality—that is, excess wealth concentration can have a snowball effect if left unchecked.
Governments can play... extreme inequality should not be ignored—or worse, celebrated as a sign that we have a high-performing economy and healthy society.
Piketty’s favorite solution is a progressive annual tax on capital, rather than income...
But rather than move to a progressive tax on capital, as Piketty would like, I think we’d be best off with a progressive tax on consumption.
For the problems with Piketty's take see Piketty's Strategic Victory.