It is Monday morning in America. You, dear reader, are perhaps fresh out of your tossed sheets, bending blearily over a steaming cup of freshly-brewed coffee — nectar of the gods and a Monday morning must — whilst digitally traipsing across the elegant confines of the MUI PR Blog (take a moment and congratulate yourself for your obvious good taste). You scroll through the stream of articles hot off the digital press and somehow click your way into this one. What, dear reader, awaits your wandering, sleep-deprived eye? Nothing less than a few hundred words on the joyous world of economics.

 

Keep that exasperated grimace for a moment. Freeze that cursor of yours, hovering so eagerly over your browser’s “Back” button. Today, the dismal science may prove a bit more interesting than you expected. There is conflict afoot.

 

Chances are, you have heard the word “inequality” bandied about a bit during the past few months. Inequality is one of the top trending topics of the year, the hottest of hot button issues, a made-for-competing-op-eds discussion with far-reaching ramifications. Economic inequality is on the rise. Global wealth is increasingly concentrated in the richest of the rich. The yawning canyon between the haves and the have-a-whole-lot-mores could split open the foundations of politics, eroding democratic principles as those with money to burn purchase the loudest voices.

 

You may even have heard of “Capital In The Twenty-First Century,” a gargantuan tome by French economist Thomas Piketty that placed the inequality debate on the top of the bestseller lists. In brief summary (your correspondent is still mired somewhere in the first chapter and thus will not be publishing an in-depth review anytime soon), Piketty throws an astonishing amount of data at the issue and comes to the conclusion that, since the return on capital often outstrips economic growth, wealth will become increasingly concentrated in the hands of the ultra-rich.

 

Piketty became an instant celebrity upon publishing “Capital.” Liberals hailed his arguments and his policy prescriptions as economic gospel for a new age, while conservatives slammed him as politically obtuse and probably a communist. Economics became briefly sexy again and your correspondent started carrying Piketty’s book to local coffee shops in an attempt to look sophisticated and intellectual.

 

Lo and behold, the drama refuses to die. The Financial Times recently published a blistering take-down of “Capital,” arguing that Piketty made numerous errors in his data analysis. FT’s new-and-improved data belied some of Piketty’s most important conclusions, namely that wealth inequality is rising, and rising faster in the United States than in Europe.

 

FT’s criticisms are rather dense, ranging from alleged transcription errors in 20th century Swedish wealth data to numbers seemingly drawn from thin air to questions regarding Piketty’s data for the U.K. Piketty has hit back, accusing FT of misinterpreting his work. The columnists are at it again, and it seems likely that this debate will remain contentious for a good long while.

 

What does all this economic posturing mean for you, dear reader? Nothing tangible. If you have perused this article to the bitter end, though, you may be able to pull it out for a quick and intriguing anecdote around the water cooler at work. On the off-chance that you are interested in pursuing the subject further, your correspondent has a copy of “Capital,” your correspondent has a copy ready to go for cheap. The allure of coffee shop intellectualism is, in his opinion, highly overrated.

 

What do you think about the wealth gap? How do you feel that it is affecting you? What, if anything, do you think the common man can do to even the economic playing field? Seriously, do you want to take “Capital” off my hands? Sound off in the comments, or find me on Twitter @aa_murph