Josh Eidelson in Salon:
David Leonhardt, in his New York Times Magazine essay on your book, writes that rather than a wealth tax, there’s “another, more politically plausible force that can disrupt [Piketty’s] first law of inequality: education. When a society becomes more educated, many of its less-wealthy citizens quickly acquire an ephemeral but nonetheless crucial form of capital — knowledge — that can bring enormous returns.” Do you share that view?
I do share partly that view. As I say in the book, education and the diffusion of knowledge are the primary forces towards reduction in inequality…
The question is, is that going to be sufficient?
…You need education but you also need progressive taxation.
It’s not an all-or-nothing solution. I think a lot can be done at the national level. We do already have progressive taxation of income, progressive taxation of inherited wealth, at the national level. We also have annual taxation of wealth at the national level. For instance, in the U.S. you have a pretty big property tax… Technically, it is perfectly possible to transform it into a progressive tax on net wealth…
The main difficulty is not so much to make it a global tax. The main difficulty is not international tax competition. The main difficulty is more internal political [obstacles]… Right now the property tax is a local tax, and so the federal government cannot do anything. You know, it was the same with the income tax one century ago.
So I don’t share the pessimistic view that a progressive wealth tax will never happen.