Vermeidung einer Ungleichheitskatastrophe

NEW HAVEN – Thomas Pikettys beeindruckendes, viel diskutiertes Buch Capital in the Twenty-First Century hat beträchtliche Aufmerksamkeit auf das Problem der wachsenden wirtschaftlichen Ungleichheit gelenkt. Aber Lösungen sind nicht seine starke Seite. Wie Piketty selbst zugibt, würde sein Vorschlag – eine progressive globale Steuer auf Kapital (oder Vermögen) – „ein sehr hohes und ohne Zweifel unrealistisches Maß an internationaler Zusammenarbeit erfordern“.

Wir sollten uns nicht auf schnelle Lösungen konzentrieren. Die wirklich wichtige Aufgabe für die politischen Entscheidungsträger überall auf der Welt besteht darin, Katastrophen zu verhindern – also jene Extremereignisse, die wirklich zählen. Und da die Ungleichheit zu langsamer Veränderung neigt, liegt eine eventuelle Katastrophe dieser Art vermutlich Jahrzehnte in der Zukunft.

Diese Katastrophe – eine Rückkehr zu einem Grad an Ungleichheit, wie wir ihn seit Ende des 19. bis Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts nicht erlebt haben – wird in Pikettys Buch umfassend beschrieben. In diesem Szenario wird eine winzige Minderheit enorm reich – und dies überwiegend nicht, weil ihre Mitglieder intelligenter sind oder härter arbeiten als alle anderen, sondern weil grundlegende wirtschaftliche Kräfte in unberechenbarer Weise eine Einkommensumverteilung bewirken.

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