Pluralistic Equality is ‘Wealth in the Twenty First Century’

I recently read Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty First Century” and it sparked a few arguments in my mind I’ve likened to explore in this essay review. Also, I’d like to note, that everything here is based on logical argument instead of bigdatastic rationale.

I wrote clumped, steadfast pieces of ideas and thoughts I’ve garnered over the past year in attempting to reach a optimized financial freedom/independence, strategically lowering monetary obligations, and unlocking the potential of monopolizing myself, decentralizing that monopoly, and creating wealth assets even with a budget of a college student (that I am).

Capital.

Let’s start with what exactly is capital? In definitive terms, capital is ownership of monetary assets by a single individual; however in Piketty’s definition he relates capital to a group of individuals who fall under a category of similar or equivalent asset balance. The first important highlight here is that he groups them by class [1]. A differentiation to make early on is that capital wealth are assets, not liabilities; whereas, work has liabilities such as wages attached to selling one’s time or like variable capital (lapor is input and the variable is based on amount of wage in the duration of one’s employment contract — or simply put money attached fixly on time). This belief of variable capital and liability of time that a worker produces more than she is paid in wages and this creates new value is in itself highly variable on specific market, labor intensivity, time affordance, coupled upon other constraints. In my perspective, I want to get as far from variable capital as possible because it doesn’t afford the freedom that wealth provides (more onto that later).

Now what the kind of forms that capital can be presented and used can differentiate. Unlike variable, constant capital is tied to capital goods, or ones’ investments into non-human labor that can go on autopilot with the affordance of machinery or technology as such. One could argue that this investment itself is a replacement value to commodities its [automation] is used to produce, in addition to future increased replacement costs. However, that is against the focus here on how that can impact evolving inequality, I want to focus on how such constant capital is actually tends to afford individuals the ability to produce wealth, instead of worrying about having “lost their job to an automation” as some might put into a third rate sum of results of this investment [2][3].

Albeit the free market economies capabilities of opportunistic wealth, critics could say the distribution of monetary assets aren’t equal. I want to point out that any form of control, bureaucratic of all, on wealth results in locking people with wealth privilege in their entitled positions — and this serves as a single derivative example of economic heterogeneity. Variations in wealth are important growth in GDP, and also inevitable in a country where GDP has an upward trend (I will talk about this further in present terms in the second to last section of this essay).

Wealth.

Wealth = assets — liabilities

Anyone has the ability to grow wealth, as long as they have a substantial wage that allows them to afford investing in those assets — and if one does afford to, then one’s wage must grow faster in order to maintain that wealth. In sum that the causations and perpetuations of capital wealth versus wages is that income from capital is invariably much less evenly distributed than labor income [4], so really to fit the realistic model:

Wealth = savings = income — consumption (expenses)

(If an individual has a large income but also large expenses, the net effect of that income on her or his wealth could be small or even negative)

Over the past two centuries, we have witnessed that capital tends to grow faster than the overall economy. Infact, following the World Wars, capital was destroyed in major decline, which brought much higher taxes in the U.S and Europe. In the U.S., Piketty states that increase of income distribution to the top 1% of the population has had a sharp increase since the 1970’s; however, he states it was attributed to capital and intergenerational inheritance dynamics and were instead the rise of what he calls “supermanagers” as well as the sharp declines in top marginal tax rates that made it worth managers’ while to bargain harder for raises of the averaging working class [4]. Furthermore, the rise of top percentile income share in over 13 countries was positively correlated with declines in the top marginal tax rates of those countries — which in effect exacerbated income disparities [5]. In the GNI breakdown of high income countries, U.S. has had an overall comparative advantage of 12% over the past 40 years [6].

Pew Research Center

Perpetual dynastic wealth.

In Piketty’s view, the view of a dynamic market economy that allows ‘market-oriented’ citizens to “valorize the fruits of entrepreneurial capitalism” will eventually progress into the absorbed state that allows top marginal families to lock in their wealth for generations; and pushes for top marginal taxes. For Piketty, he swades the progressive global wealth tax as his eureka solution in that book with varying additional descriptions regulating tax upon other forms of ownership like estate [1].

However, I suggest, instead of tending to wealth-destruction methods, intellectual property reform and land taxes that the top margin own in assets over directly taxing their wages could stop the disincentivizing saving and wealth creation agenda in the economy [7]. For example, families in Florence have recently revealed many have kept generational wealth for over five centuries, or even better you can just take a look at Belle Epoque France.

Nicolas Nassim Taleb makes an interesting point that static measures of inequality like ‘top 1% of population have xx% of the wealth’ aren’t that useful as it might not reflect exactly what you will experience in life, a better indicator would be a dynamic measure that shows economic mobility, people going both up (new money) and down the ladder (bankruptcy) [8]. Economic mobility is defined as how someone’s income well-being has transitioned over time within the constructs of social mobility. An upward mobility of income is positively correlated with improvements in economic social well-being over the course of lifetime, and vice versa when downward mobility occurs.

Distribution As It Is.

“Different measures of inequality — such as the Gini coefficient, the Theil index, and the income share of the wealthiest in society — are sensitive to different parts of the distribution and can in principle rank inequality before and after the pandemic differently. Clarity about which inequality is being measured matters a great deal for assessing the unequal impact of the pandemic.” [9].

What does redistribution of wealth mean for Pikesttism? It is taxing assets owned by the wealthy and giving it to the poor in the form of benefits, which I’ve already refuted in the above section. However, in order for different classes to have a chance in successful wealth creation — that might otherwise not while suffering overpowering variable capital — is that we must consider dynamic inequality that takes into account the past and future life of thriving wealth creation. In order to create dynamic equality however, raising wages and opportunities for those at the bottom of the pyramid will not suffice, but rather forcing the rich to rotate to open the possibility of creating an opening because true equality is equality in probability. What income mobility means to become rich, is what having no absorbing barrier of those who become rich is to uncertainty of staying rich (accumulation of wealth in the top percentile of that state income bracket breakdown). In sum, dynamic equality assumes that Markov chain with no absorbing states [10].

And yet, according to Markov’s Chain, it is possible for any non-absorbing state in the Markov chain to eventually move to some absorbing state (in one or more transitions).

Focus on mobility of the rich over history and then the mathematical translation of that mobility is really density [11]. Take the game of Snake and Ladder as an example of Markov’s chains, where each individual turn a player starts in a given state and from there has fixed odds of moving to certain other states (squares).

Is there a trade-off between equity and inefficiency? Such as accepting some price of lower GDP to aid citizens in low-income brackets or trickle down economics of slashing both taxes on the rich and aid to the poor? Market economies always seem to need a fixed amount of inequality to function and be true. Yet, “Inequality is a Drag” as Paul Krugman likens it as in his NYT opinion, implores the question ‘does inequality drag the economy?’ — yes![12].

Today, we beg to ask this question again and in the aggressive open markets, the statement would remain the same — that inequality drags. And so, I bring to you from the seventeenth century the ‘fictitious capital’, lending from Marx, or the net present value of intangible assets of physical capital. I bring this back because in the new open free market that is afforded by todays new form of managing wealth and capital that brought to us because of new architecture (in the likes of Blockchain), inclusive wealth has (a) scarcity, (b) immutability, (3) scalability of wealth distribution because it is always in circulation and in a constant fluctuation between absorbed and non-absorbent states and this is party due to the introduction of trustless environments.

I’d like to add that the open free market has integration that provides wealth creation equally regardless of external constraints of one’s income and expenditure. In result, money is not locked for only a fraction of the population. In the past, wealth has been treated as a zero sum game, but today we understand inequality to be zero-sum. Rationalizing and updating our definition of wealth, especially as web3 and unimaginable business models and middleware begin to unfold themselves, is robutst to win and help win.

Conflicts of Interest

So whether you refute the theory-first approach on ratio of capital to labor income and/or believe theory in modern economics is a dead-end, or harbor theory under your pillow every night, one thing is for sure…you definitely come to a conclusion once actually participating in relational transactions of social capital itself (especially as it is redefining itself in every state of the economy as you read this). We can continue to talk about the constructiveness of social capital and networks, whether wealth creation is based on science or mathematics at the network or individuals level, or the new forms that liabilities (regardless if limited) can take in this economy, whether I should circle back to this with function refined function is perhaps for another read — and highly likely as my constructivism metamorphosize’ as I continue put myself in the throes of practice and fractionalizing myself.

References

[1] Capital in The 21st Century by Thomas Piketty (if you don’t have access to the book readily you can get a overview here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_in_the_Twenty-First_Century)

[2] Naval. https://twitter.com/naval/status/1140024333655351296?s=20 . There are advantageous gains in wealth creation when leveraged wisely.

[3] Time. https://time.com/5876604/machines-jobs-coronavirus/ among many other iterated expressions of losing and victim mindset towards automations.

[4] Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2014/04/pikettys-capital-in-a-lot-less-than-696-pages

[5] American Economic Journal: Economic Policy

[6] The World Bank Data

[7] Global Economic Inequality by Our World in Data

[8] Black Swan by Taleb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Swan:_The_Impact_of_the_Highly_Improbable

[9] IMF

[10] Inequality and Skin in The Game by Taleb — https://medium.com/incerto/inequality-and-skin-in-the-game-d8f00bc0cb46

[11] Probabilistic Markov’s Chains https://math.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Applied_Mathematics/Applied_Finite_Mathematics_(Sekhon_and_Bloom)/10%3A_Markov_Chains/10.04%3A_Absorbing_Markov_Chains

[12] Paul Krugman https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/opinion/paul-krugman-inequality-is-a-drag.html

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Alia Abbas

Alia Abbas

19 y/o. Reengineering alot with molecular engineering, decentralization, geo/behavioral economics, systemic thinking, & evolutionary synthesis of science.