short essay: govt discussion: equality

For this discussion, you will need to watch the documentary Capital in the 21st Century available online through the Collin library here: http://library.collin.edu/login?url=https://collin.kanopy.com/video/capital-twenty-first-century (Links to an external site.)

PRO TIP: The first few minutes are in French with subtitles, with Piketty discussing mostly European economic history. If you find it interesting, fantastic! But you are welcome to jump ahead to 13:30 in the video, which picks up the story at the Industrial Revolution and in English.

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This film is based on the book of the same name by Thomas Piketty, a French economist who teaches at the Paris and London Schools of Economics. It explores the trends and development of market economies in, mainly, Europe and America. Specifically, be looking for the pros and cons of capitalism and the market — like any system, market economies are not perfect and the effort here is to explore the problems and possible solutions to make capitalism work better.

For this discussion, explore the issue of inequality in market systems. Do you agree with the premise that inequality should be expected in capitalism, and that it is harmful? If so, then what might be an appropriate intervention (in your opinion) to address inequality — one that can still encourage investment, work, innovation, and wealth, but ease the tensions caused by inequality? If you do NOT agree with Piketty’s premise, explore what you see as the flaws in the argument — what might be an alternative explanation for the issues he attributes to inequality?

If there is some other element of the documentary that you would prefer to elaborate and reflect on for this discussion, that’s fine as well. What I’m looking for is that you have watched the film and are reflecting on the issues it raises. Within that broad guideline, you are welcome to explore whatever ideas most appeal to you.

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