Things To Read

I still haven’t found much time for “blogging” and with the Feast of the Assumption (Dormition) tomorrow, I may not get back around to Opus Publicum until this weekend. Thankfully that doesn’t mean the Internet is without other things to read in the interim. Here are a few pieces which caught my eye over the last week.

  • Over at The Calvinist International, W. Bradford Littlejohn has been hard at work wresting Catholic Social Teaching (CST) from the economic liberals. While the first installment is very good, the second part — “A Critical Examination of Catholic Social Teaching on the Question of Private Property” — slays the myth that John Locke and Pope Leo XIII are intellectual blood brothers while also offering a very careful parsing of the Church’s social magisterium with respect to property rights. Wouldn’t it be nice if Catholics could write this thoughtfully about CST?
  • With Pope Francis once again raising eyebrows over his recent disparagement of “proselytizing” non-Catholics, Unam Sanctam Catholicam has posted a detailed discussion of “Prosleytism and Conversion.” Once again it appears that the Holy Father has offered more confusion than clarity through his off-the-cuff remarks.
  • Law professors Eric Posner and Glen Weyl, writing for The New Republic, take umbrage with some of Thomas Piketty’s monumental Capital in the Twenty-First Century: “Thomas Piketty is Wrong: America Will Never Look Like a Jane Austen Novel.” I don’t think Posner and Weyl are entirely on point with this article, but it’s still worth a read. After you go through it, you may want to consider the following observations offered by a friend of an online acquaintance of mine who works in finance:

As with most of the critiques, there’s a pretty elementary mistake early on that invalidates it. The example these authors provide of the billionaire inheriting at age 50 and living till age 80 assumes that of her $80 million in return each year, she’d have to pay out $20 million in taxes each year. As most anyone in the business knows, and as Piketty shows, this is very far from reality. Income taxes are only taken off of *realized* investment gains, and the person in this picture wouldn’t have to realize most of her gains. In fact, if she were spending $10 million a year, she’d only have to pay taxes on those $10 million of realized gains. If she gives away $10 million to charity, she’d have no tax burden. Thus, rather than growing at 1% real rate a year, as in this example claims, her wealth would grow at 2%/yr., thus growing 81%, rather than 35%, over 30 years, which totally changes the equations. In a world where the average birth rate is considerably less than 2 (and even less for higher income levels), as is especially the case in Europe, which Piketty is most concerned with, division among heirs would not be sufficient to shrink such growing fortunes.