The French economist Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is taking some more sharp hits.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes:
he cannot even offer an accurate historic description of the U.S. minimum wage.
Piketty states, "From 1980 to 1990, under the presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the federal minimum wage remained stuck at $3.25, which led to a significant decrease in purchasing power when inflation is factored in. It then rose to $5.25 under Bill Clinton in the 1990s and was frozen at that level under George W. Bush before being increased several times by Barack Obama after 2008." (page 309).
Wrong, Professor Piketty. The federal hourly minimum wage rose twice in the presidency of George H.W. Bush, from $3.35 to $3.80 in 1990 and then to $4.25 in 1991, a 27 percent total increase. Then, under President Clinton, it rose to $4.75 in 1996 and $5.15 (not $5.25, as Piketty states) in 1997, a 21 percent total increase.
The next increase in the minimum wage, from $5.15 to $7.25 over three years, a 41 percent increase, was signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush. The federal minimum rose to $5.85 in 2007, to $6.55 in 2008, and to $7.25 in 2009. President Obama has not yet signed a minimum wage increase into law, despite beginning his first term with the political advantage of a Democratic Congress.
Clive Crook writes:
aside from its other flaws, "Capital in the 21st Century" invites readers to believe not just that inequality is important but that nothing else matters.
This book wants you to worry about low growth in the coming decades not because that would mean a slower rise in living standards, but because it might cause the ratio of capital to output to rise, which would worsen inequality. In the frame of this book, the two world wars struck blows for social justice because they interrupted the aggrandizement of capital. We can't expect to be so lucky again.