Many places with less-restrictive gun laws have less gun violence than Chicago, which already sports some of the toughest gun restrictions in the country. The gun-ownership rate in rural areas is higher than in urban areas—a Gallup poll last year found that rural Americans are more than twice as likely to have a gun in the home than those living in large cities—yet urban areas have more gun violence. And finally, the gun ownership rate among whites is significantly higher than among blacks, yet gun violence among blacks is much more common. In 2010, blacks, who make up just 13 percent of the population, were 55 percent of shooting homicide victims. And 90 percent of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.
Piketty’s Political Hunch
More importantly, Piketty does not explain, except for his subtle references to social discontent, why we should care about the growing — if it is — concentration of ownership of capital. In a competitive economy, why should we care about capital ownership?
In a competitive economy, capital ownership is irrelevant. If owners of capital aspire to maintain their rate of return, they have to provide products or services of value to the consuming population. Why should the consuming population care about inequality in ownership of the capital used to provide the product?
When a patient goes to a hospital, there is a huge inequality of capital ownership. The hospital’s possession of MRI and CT scanning machinery, not to mention the accumulation of machines checking vital signs, is vastly unequal to the capital possessed by the patient. Is this inequality a problem? No, in fact the patient would prefer more inequality of capital if that would enable the hospital to more successfully diagnose the health problem.
Similarly, when a consumer buys a car, does it matter whether the car manufacturer is owned or controlled by a dynastic family as opposed to a set of employee pension plans (again, most workers are idle capitalists by Piketty’s definition)? It doesn’t matter. What’s important is the quality of the car.
Maintaining a competitive economy trumps all of Piketty’s concerns about inequality of wealth.
Too few also seemed to care that almost everything the president had promised about Obamacare — keep your health plan, retain your doctor, save money on your premiums, sign up easily online, while we were lowering the annual deficit and reducing medical expenditures — was an abject lie. In such a climate, Obama felt no need to issue accurate data about how many Americans had lost their health plans, how many had simply transferred to Obamacare from Medicaid, how many had actually paid their premiums, or how many were still uninsured. The media ignored the serial $1 trillion deficits, the chronic high unemployment and low growth, the nonexistence of the long-promised “summer of recovery,” and the nonappearance of “millions of shovel-ready and green jobs.” The fact that electrical-power rates, gasoline prices, and food costs have soared under Obama as wages have stagnated has never really been noticed. Nor have the record numbers of Americans on food stamps and disability insurance.