Tim Pawlenty Blurs the Distinction Between an Entrepreneur and a Rentier

By Marshall Auerback

In a private email exchange, Michael Lind of the
New America Foundation drew my attention to a recent speech by Republican Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty. Like those of us who blog on this site, Pawlenty thinks we need to cut taxes.  But, as Jon Ward at HuffPost argued, Pawlenty’s justification for tax relief “took him into unusual — and scatological — rhetorical territory.” 



Pawlenty said that about five percent of the population belongs to the entrepreneurial class and that “if that five percent become six, seven percent, we’ve got a very bright future. And if that five percent becomes four, three, two or one percent, we’re in deep doo doo. We are in deep crap.”


He’s given away the Rentier mindset.  He talks about “entrepreneurs” but he’s really talking about rentiers.

About 10 percent of the US population is self-employed, the majority of them lawn mowers and such.  Clearly Pawlenty’s tax cuts aren’t aimed at expanding the group of self-employed lawn mowers by one or two percent of the population. He’s talking about expanding the richest few percent.

He’s talking about capitalists, not entrepreneurs.  There’s a certain overlap, but most capitalists are not entrepreneurs and vice versa.  Most capitalists are passive investors in businesses they know nothing about and most entrepreneurs are unable to fund their businesses without borrowing. 

The rentier right wants to blur this distinction, so 2-year-old Junior Moneybags, whose trust fund is earning money while he barfs on the family maid, is an “entrepreneur.”

5 responses to “Tim Pawlenty Blurs the Distinction Between an Entrepreneur and a Rentier

  1. "The rentier right wants to blur this distinction, so 2-year-old Junior Moneybags, whose trust fund is earning money while he barfs on the family maid, is an “entrepreneur.”"Hilarious ! 🙂

  2. One has to clearly differentiate between the words "entrepreneur," "rentier," "saver" and "investor." There are also the words "consumer," "laborer," and worker that need to be clearly understood in the economic paradigm. The current political structure clearly advantages the rentier over all the others mentioned.

  3. Many rentiers are of course not even passively investing in businesses. Buying a stock in the secondary market does not enrich a business directly and trading in CDSes for example does not provide funding to anyone but the other side of the bet you make.

  4. It seems to be a common mistake. Paul Krugman [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/10/opinion/10krugman.html?src=me&ref=general] also blurs the same distinction but in another way. He makes the arguments that the point of protecting the banks is protecting the rentiers. Not so. The point of protecting the banks is protecting the the massive political contributions of the banking class. And more generally protecting the corrupt system itself.

  5. The Finance-Insurance sector should be nationalized, and run as a public utility. the tables below clearly make an extremely strong case for that approachFinance-InsuranceandManufacturing