Paul Krugman and Thomas Piketty: Oligarch Groupies

April 28th, 2014 1:49 PM

All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others. – George Orwell in Animal Farm

George Orwell never met New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Not to mention the Left’s current pin-up author Thomas Piketty. But Orwell knew the type.

Orwell wrote about the Krugmans and Pikettys of the world in his classic Animal Farm, a “brilliant satire” of Marxism (in the words of the New York Times in 1946) that featured a revolution by animals against humans. A revolution that came to an end when the leading animals finally dropped all pretense and joined with their human enemies to form a totalitarian state.

Mr. Krugman, has been in the news recently for two things. Leaving Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School to accept a job at the City University of New York (CUNY) for a cool $225,000. Where Krugman’s task will be to preach the gospel of income inequality. Then there’s the business of being enthusiastically on board for author Piketty’s Marxist screed Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In which Piketty, according to this review in The Wall Street Journal,  inveighs against the” moral illegitimacy to virtually any accumulation of wealth.”

Alas, conveniently, Piketty declines to say, as the WSJ notes, “whether any occupation …is entitled to higher earnings because he  refuses to ‘indulge in constructing a moral hierarchy of wealth.’”  Krugman is so taken with this newest revision of Marx that he took to the Bill Moyers PBS show to assert that America had become nothing more than an “ugly…oligarchy” run by people of inherited wealth.


Good thing Piketty doesn’t get specific about that “moral hierarchy of wealth.” Or Mr. Krugman -- not to mention Mr. Piketty himself -- would be concerned about their place on the top end of that moral hierarchy of wealth. If hypocrisy were capital, Krugman and Piketty would be billionaires.

Mr. Krugman – worth $2.5 million in accumulated wealth according to Celebrity Net Worth – is in the business of earning his money from the very oligarchs he loves to rail about. Take that  current job as a Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The Wilson School feeds quietly off a 1961 $35 million endowment from…you can’t make it up – the oligarch Charles Robertson. Known otherwise as the late heir to the A&P grocery fortune.

In fact, when the late Mr. Robertson’s heirs became distressed that Princeton was not carrying out the term of the A&P oligarch’s endowment, they went the lawsuit route. The endowment, by numerous accounts, had ballooned to some $900 million in the last few years – plenty to keep Professor Krugman in the style to which he had been accustomed while railing against capitalism and oligarchy. The dust-up with the Robertsons was settled finally, with Princeton keeping the bulk of its oligarchical stash.

Not to be forgotten here is Krugman’s columnist salary from The New York Times. New York magazine reports that at the Times “depending on the luminosity of the star, (columnist) pay ranges from $150,000 to $350,000.”

In other words, the Times pays its columnists unequally. Question? Is Paul Krugman worth more – or less – than Maureen Dowd? As Orwell would say, some animals are more equal than others. A piece of Orwellian wisdom to keep in mind when one realizes that the Times itself is run by the oligarchical heir Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr..

Mr. Sulzberger’s ill-gotten gains -- Mediaite reports his accumulated worth at $200 million – came because he inherited the Times from Dad, who in turn inherited the paper from his Dad, who in turn inherited the paper from his father-in-law. A trifecta of Times oligarchs living off the wealth created by a long-ago father-in-law. The Times is a grade A example of everything Mr. Krugman and Mr. Piketty loudly profess to oppose.

Yet Krugman has made a career of following the trickle-down oligarch money of  a grocer and a newspaper publisher to accumulate his own millions.

Do we get the game yet?  Mr. Krugman’s entire career as academic and star Times columnist is the liberal media version of “do as I say – not as I do.”

Without the slightest sense of irony Krugman now heads to CUNY, where, says the school, he will be a “distinguished scholar at the Graduate Center’s Luxembourg Income Study Center….   Krugman’s move reflects his ongoing interest in (income) inequality, a core research focus of the Luxembourg Income Study Center (LIS Center)”. The LIS? That would be headed by Britain’s Sir Tony Atkinson, the “Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford. He was previously Warden of the College.”

Atkinson is renowned, you see for writing Unequal Shares, The Economics of Inequality, and more. What’s left out of Sir Tony’s biography is that both the LSE and Oxford – from which he has presumably earned his money – are awash in rich endowments run by those dastardly hedge fund managers or, as Piketty terms them, corporate “supermanagers.”  Prime suspects in the Marxist world of inequality economics. Sir Tony’s LSE even ran “The World’s Largest Student Conference on Hedge Funds and Private Equity” – co-sponsored by a veritable platoon of vividly capitalist firms including Mitt Romney’s old firm Bain Capital. Sir Tony’s tony LSE even held the event in the London Marriott Hotel. Marriot, of course, being the oligarchical American hotel family.

So. Mr. Krugman moves through the world collecting big bucks from grocery store and newspaper oligarchs. Today cheering on Mr. Piketty. And Mr. Piketty? Did I mention that Piketty’s bestseller is published by Belknap, an imprint of Harvard University Press? The imprint is named for one Waldron Phoenix Belknap, Jr. – the very rich son of a very rich banker who gave his oligarchical big bucks to Harvard to set up the Belknap publishing imprint. Making Mr. Piketty, like his fan Paul Krugman, yet another beneficiary of an oligarch.

Neither man has said a peep about all of this. They just take the oligarch money and run.

Some animals are more equal than others.

About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania.