I want later today to return to the Piketty book and talk about its implications some more, but first, brief comments about three things that arose while I was in New York: 9/11, the Taliban at Camp David, and the firing of Bolton.
9/11: The attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001 is universally considered the defining moment of modern twenty-first century America, the transformative event that has shaped everything that has come after, an event that people of all political persuasions memorialize by ritually recalling where they were when they first heard of it.
It was also, statistically speaking, not a very big deal. Roughly 2,800,000 people die each year in America, which is to say somewhat more than 7,600 a day. The three thousand or so deaths in the attack were thus a blip, the equivalent of a single day with ten extra hours in it. That number is dwarfed by the body count of many other disasters: the number of Americans who die each year because of the denial of readily available medical help, the number of Americans who die each year from opioid overdoses, the number of Americans who die each year from gunshot, the number of Americans who have died in wars ostensibly initiated in response to the 9/11 attacks, and so forth.
The Taliban at Camp David: The bloviating classes were aghast at the insensitivity of even considering inviting Taliban leaders to Camp David in the very week of the sacred 9/11 remembrances. Their collective horror at the thought somehow was transformed into the notion that the Taliban had something to do with 9/11 but that, of course, is nonsense. 9/11 was a Saudi Arabian manned operation, a fact that led the Bush administration to suspend the nation-wide grounding of commercial aircraft sufficiently to allow a bunch of high placed Saudis to fly home before public outrage trapped them in this country.
The Taliban are cutthroat religious fanatics, to be sure, but they are our cutthroat religious fanatics. We did not create them, but we funded them and provided them with the shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles with which they could down the Soviet helicopter gunships that were wreaking havoc with the Mujahadin during the ill-fated Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. [For movie fans, the go-to film is of course Rambo III.]
They have a greater claim to a Camp David invitation than does Prince MBS.
John Bolton: Bolton is a genuinely dangerous man, and I am delighted to see him gone. His summary dismissal highlights the odd but welcome fact that Trump is a dove. A belligerent dove, a bullying dove, a bombastic dove, an ignorant dove, a feckless dictator-loving suck up of a dove, but a dove nonetheless. This is a dangerous world. We must take our comfort where we can find it.