If this White House event didn’t exist, Thomas Piketty would have to invent it

This White House event, chronicled in the New York Times, seems both politically astute and more than a little sickening.

From the fashion section, naturally
Blame the game, not the players….

Maybe my favorite part of the story comes from the reporter:

(Disclosure: Although the event was closed to the media, I was invited by the founders of Nexus, Jonah Wittkamper and Rachel Cohen Gerrol, to report on the conference as a member of the family that started the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company.)

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

6 thoughts on “If this White House event didn’t exist, Thomas Piketty would have to invent it”

  1. "Sickening"? Wealthy heirs can be surprisingly liberal – see FDR – so it makes good sense to court them early.

    1. I'm not much of a fan of Kathleen Geier, a regular weekend blogger at Washington Monthly, but she gets at why this is sickening. The amount of wealth that is going to be transferred to these heirs is heading us back towards a system in which the well-being of most people becomes dependent upon the whims of the ultra rich. It's sickening not because the president is speaking to them but because we are in a situation where he needs to.

      Ideally, we'd move towards a system where wealth is spread evenly enough that philanthropy isn't so important.

    2. I think you missed the Thomas Piketty reference. In a nutshell, Piketty argues that the ever widening gap between rich and poor threatens to destroy the liberal state as we return to a society in which the nearly all of the wealth will become concentrated in economic elites who have inherited their wealth rather than working for it.

      Digby makes the point that what is developing is a new aristocracy. This White House soirée and the fact that the reporter was able to attend only by virtue of his being a scion of the new aristocracy makes Piketty’s point and then some. It’s almost a self parody of our Second Gilded Age. http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-most-i

      Arun Kapil has an extensive collection of links to articles and videos:

      Thomas Piketty: A Tocqueville for today tinyurl.com/knhgj7s

      Also these:

      Capitalism isn't Working tinyurl.com/p3jomvx

      Vox: Captial in the 21st Century tinyurl.com/lyn4pjv

      Harv. Univ. Press – Links tinyurl.com/mb6k2bk

    3. It is not only that wealthy heirs can be liberal. It is that there was a time when the wealthy felt that they were a part of the country and had civil obligations not in spite of their wealth, but because of it. Thus, George H. W. Bush, two Kennedy brothers, David Rockefellar, etc., served with honor in the military during WWII. Today, we would view the scion of a wealthy family who serves as an anomaly.

      Similarly, although Republicans objected to relatively high marginal tax rates in the period 1950–1980, they paid those taxes. They didn't accuse those who favored high marginal rates as being "Nazis" or the equivalent thereof.

  2. For at least a decade, Jamie Johnson has been reporting on the superwealthy, including his own family, mostly in his own films like "Born Rich."

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