‘… Inequality …’ is on the Grattan Institute’s 2014 Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister

This year’s Summer Reading List from the Grattan Institute includes a review (‘The inequality puzzle’ by Lawrence H. Summers) of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (2014).

I have not read Piketty (2014), but I have listened in to a few conversations about it (including a conversation in which one interlocutor had actually read the book, not just reviews). Will this be a new go-to reference (with a shorthand title) in the vein of Fukuhama’s The End of History or Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations

I have spent much of this morning revisiting my 2010 tirade against ‘social inclusion’ to add it back into my dissertation. My use of concepts such as social inclusion certainly dates my fieldwork. Perhaps considering the response to Piketty (2014) can be a way to update my discussion? Then again, it is unlikely to be plopped as a reference in government documents the way that The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (with its various titles) was — e.g. The 2010 ‘A Fairer Victoria’(see PDF). … or is it?


I think I have found some [amusing] reasons why this particular review has been so widely shared.

Academics may have been so amused at this line that they have sent it around to see if their colleagues read it and scoff with amusement.

“I suspect we will soon see the rise of educator superstars who command audiences of hundreds of thousands for their Internet courses and earn sums way above the traditional dreams of academics.”

This is possibly the line that fitted with the program at the Grattan Institute.

“Probably the two most important steps that public policy can take with respect to wealth inequality are the strengthening of financial regulation to more fully eliminate implicit and explicit subsidies to financial activity, and an easing of land-use restrictions that cause the real estate of the rich in major metropolitan areas to keep rising in value.”

As for Summer’s own line as to something that can be done to address inequality, fix Kennedy airport.


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