Yesterday I tried something entirely new – I held a workshop with Sciences Po students in Nancy on career basics and talked about resume building, job interview tactics, salary negotiations and how to manage expectation gaps. I was very impressed how much they knew and tried already. Comparing to Pavel’s fellow students, when I was in my early twenties, I was totally clueless. I did not speak any foreign language and was never abroad and could not even imagine everything that would happen to me afterwards. But here I am, talking at Sciences Po – and they listen and take notes and ask smart and difficult questions.
The evening ended up with Champagne at Stanislas square talking about Thomas Piketty (formerly a teacher at Sciences Po) and his recent best-selling book about Capital in the Twenty-First Century
The English translation of the book came out just a few weeks ago and despite the fact that it’s serious and full of terms like “economic growth”, “income distribution” or “return on capital”, it became a super-bestseller outperforming many easier to swallow genres. Turned out, not only they already talked about this book in a class, they even managed to find lots of flaws in author’s methodology and line of argumentation. And I am barely half way through. I think this book is remarkable and it brilliantly connects research and common sense.The researchers collected and studied personal tax returns, property taxes and national accounts of many countries for the last 100+ years in order to answer the question, why rich people get richer and poor people get poorer. Indeed, that’s the conclusion is that in spite of high taxes and mast amounts of money reallocated by governments and social security systems, rich people earn the majority of the money and own the majority of the assets, approximately in same proportion as they did 100 or 200 years ago. The topic is obviously very interesting and personal which could partially explain public interest to the subject, but at the same time the story is written extremely well and easy to follow. You read and literally see the peasants, workers, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, you just see the history flowing in front of your eyes. I would not want to discuss the conclusions just yet, because I have not finished the book, but I already can tell, this is a must-read. Time, Forbes, New Yorker and every other major publication issued a thorough review. I’m certain, this book is going to be quoted and referenced to in media and research, it will be used in political debates for many years to come and all respectable intellectuals must know what’s it all about (I am only half kidding).