Marxism For Our Times

“What would a Das Kapital look like if written today?” may sound like a query that is more than a tad contrived, but in the hands of Rupert Younger and Frank Portnoy, who posed the question in a in the Financial Times recently, the conceit actually works quite well.

Perhaps I like the piece because—like the authors—I identify as an unabashed capitalist yet still observe a lot in society whereby the wealthy do, in fact, exploit the working class. But it is often at the hands of those who ostensibly fight on their behalf.

For instance, I have on the fact that in my adopted hometown of Washington, D.C., the card-carrying progressives procured heady implicit government subsidies for hip food trucks at the expense of stodgy established restaurants and that my wealthy neighbors to limit the development of new housing for the middle class in order to protect their ability to find free on-street parking for their expensive cars. And I argued that the entire in this town is nothing more than a mechanism to help the children of the wealthy and connected while shutting out the plebeians from the red-state hinterlands.

Younger and Portney observe similar bahavior elsewhere, and illuminate this in part by taking the Communist Manifesto and replacing the word “communism” with activism and “bourgeois” and “proletarian” with “haves” and “have nots,” which generates a surprisingly trenchant message.

As finance professionals who advise companies on shareholder resolutions and proxies, they take umbrage () at motions that are focused more on achieving some liberal goal (ending investments in fossil fuels or weapons, to name two common ones) and pretending that such changes would actually be doing shareholders a favor. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In 2016 Jason Furman, President Obama‘s Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, put out a that estimated the cost of even a one percentage point reduction in the long-run rate of return on an investor‘s assets—in this context due to a high management fee charged by an adviser—would result in a significant reduction in the assets available at retirement, owing to the power of compound interest.

That in different situations liberals go from being agitated to nonplussed about such a reduction—or simply pretend it doesn‘t exist altogether—is entirely consistent with Younger and Portnoy’s thesis.

Ethan Epstein sagely in these pages that Hillary Clinton‘s opining that the fact that the GDP in the states where she won in the 2016 election amounted to fully two-thirds of the country‘s total is somehow important would, in fact, be so only if we were to implicitly weight the importance of citizens by their income, a grotesque perspective but one that increasingly seems to comport with a progressive upper-class perspective that our net worth is somehow representative of someone’s individual worth.

Achieving economic equality—or even something tantamount to an equality of opportunity—may represent the progressive cri de coeur, but many liberals seem fine with concomitantly pursuing various other social goals that come at the expense of the great unwashed and undermine that very goal.

Ike Brannon is a nonresident fellow at the Cato Institute.

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