Sometimes you have to pay attention to pop culture, not because you’re particularly interested, but just so you can understand what all the fuss is about or relate to people that are interested. Admit it: you may not like reality television like American Idol or The Bachelor, but you’ve seen a few episodes to make sure you understood the format. When pop culture tires of the latest celebrity antics and focuses its attention on economics or finance, it’s time to cheer.
Only rarely does an economics book cut through our collective short attention span and get some attention. In this case, French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book – Capital - has earned some attention, but infamy or controversy might be a better descriptor. Piketty’s book is all about worsening wealth and income inequality, given the upper class’ ability to retain investment wealth, and how a wealth tax is a potential fix for this dispartiy. Of course, a sideways charge of economic classism is virtually guaranteed to inspire like-minded detractors and provoke modern capitalism’s defenders. Already, his book tour is getting op-ed attention, critiques, and interviews from Stephen Colbert, The Financial Times, the Huffington Post, the New York Times and more.
The title – Capital – is reminiscent of Karl Marx’ Capital: Critique of Political Economy. Is it cynical to suggest that Piketty, or his editor, chose the title intending to inspire some controversy? Mind you, a little infamy can be good for disseminating an opinion, as well as boosting book sales.