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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

r > g

by Tim Kahl

French economist Thomas Piketty has spurned the Legion of Honour, the country’s highest distinction, on the grounds that the government should not decide who is honourable. Piketty, author of the bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which has become compulsory reading for world leaders, added: “They’d be better off concentrating on boosting growth in France and Europe.” --The Guardian, January 1, 2015

after Thomas Piketty

In the space between profit and economic rent
the wood of the forest grows to have a price placed
on it. Who is to pay for the license to gather it?
The owner comes to realize his land is earning more
than he is. He lines up a string of assets to
satisfy conditions for maintaining the wealth effect.

The rate of return on capital (r) is bigger in
the room than any of the tables and chairs,
the knives and forks, the working doors on cabinets.
Everyone sits down to eat and secretly they
are served by the incorrigible invisible hand
that has been replaced by the hand that grabs
and is giving the middle class the middle finger.

What is wealth doing now? No one seems to know.
It travels into safe crevices that are not
upset by light. It goes by the name of anonymous
and hypnosis. It is surreptitious and tries its best to
reinvest where its privilege won't be revealed.
If someone understands how to apply a tax to it, 
in just a moment it will melt again into the dark.

The amount of economic growth (g) measured
between the polar caps will always lag behind
the impact of a good amount of capital 
whose managerial class will rise to the apex
of steadfast vigilance. They shepherd funds
across the borders to come to peaceful rest 
in their blessed state of inheritance.

Work hard, play by the rules, and you get a stake
in the outcome. But that notion is so passé.
The holders of debt have foreclosed on the government.
Run for the hills and take your children with you.
Build a bunker. Get a gun. Are there any ideas that 
can prevail in this cynical age, in this grim era of discipline?

Tim Kahl is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009) and The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012). His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Mad Hatters' Review, Indiana Review, Metazen, Ninth Letter, Sein und Werden, Notre Dame Review, The Really System, Konundrum Engine Literary Magazine, The Journal, The Volta, Parthenon West Review, Caliban and many other journals in the U.S. He appears as Victor Schnickelfritz at the poetry and poetics blog The Great American Pinup and the poetry video blog Linebreak Studios. He is also editor of Bald Trickster Press and Clade Song. He is the vice president and events coordinator of The Sacramento Poetry Center. He also has a public installation in Sacramento {In Scarcity We Bare The Teeth}. He currently houses his father's literary estate—one volume: Robert Gerstmann's book of photos of Chile, 1932.