Paul Krugman Tells Bill Moyers That Inherited Wealth Is Destroying Our Country
In this clip, economist Paul Krugman tells Bill Moyers that America is on the road to becoming a society controlled not by self-made men or women, but by their offspring. “Those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on. You’re living in the past. You’re living in the ’80s. You think that Gordon Gekko is the future,” he says, referring to the character in Wall Street, who became a symbol of unrestrained greed.
“[R]ight now, what we’re really talking about is Gordon Gekko’s son or daughter. We’re talking about inherited wealth playing an ever-growing role,” he concludes. Watch the entire show to learn more about what the Nobel prize winning economist has to say about Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
The following is video of Moyers' interview with Krugman, with an accompanying transcript:
BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman of "The New York Times" on a revolutionary new book about wealth and democracy.
PAUL KRUGMAN: Piketty is telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth.
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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Even in this age of hyperlinks and cyberspace, nearly six centuries after Gutenberg devised his printing press, it’s still possible for a single book to shake the foundations, rattle clichés, upend dogma, unnerve ideologues, and arm everyday people with the knowledge they need to fight back against the predatory powers that have robbed them of their birthright as citizens.
This is such a book: “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” by the French economist Thomas Piketty. The book of the season to many. To others, the book of the decade. Reviewers have called it “a bulldozer of a book,” “magisterial,” “seminal,” “definitive,” “a watershed.”
At 700 pages it’s already a best seller. And there isn’t a single scene of seduction, not one celebrity interview, not one picture -- just graph after graph, fact on fact, drawn from two centuries of data and imbedded in prose that can suddenly explode like a supernova in the brain.
Here’s one of its extraordinary insights: we are heading into a future dominated by inherited wealth as capital concentrates in fewer and fewer hands, giving the very rich ever greater power over politics, government, and society. “Patrimonial capitalism” is the name for it, and it has potentially terrifying consequences for democracy. For those who work for a living, the level of inequality in the US, writes Piketty, is “probably higher than in any other society, at any time in the past, anywhere in the world.” Over three decades, between 1977 and 2007, 60 percent of our national income went to the richest 1 percent of Americans. No wonder this is the one book the 1 percent doesn't want the other 99 percent to read.