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Chomsky: Only a Massive Uprising Will Change Our Politics

Chomsky: "What has to be done is what's happening in Madison, or Tahrir Square. If there's mass popular opposition, any political leader is going to have to respond.

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And they swept into office, with a big majority, a populist priest who immediately initiated programs which were in fact pretty constructive. They were in fact highly praised, even by the international financial institutions, you know, which don’t usually go for this. He cut back corruption. He fixed up the budget. Well, you know, just kind of waiting, and it took seven months for the military coup to come, which threw him out.

The OAS declared an embargo. The U.S. technically joined the embargo, but within weeks the government, that was Bush number one, announced that U.S. firms would be exempt from the embargo. I remember the New York Times, that report, saying this is a very humanitarian gesture: the embargo is being fine-tuned for the interests of the people of Haiti, namely by exempting U.S. firms. It turned out—and trade increased. Actually, I was there during—it was a horrible terror. I was right during it. Maybe you were, too. It was just awful. The CIA was reporting that all—to Congress, that no oil is coming in. You could see the oil farms being built by the rich families. And in fact, it later turned out that first Bush, then Clinton, had authorized the Texaco Oil Company to ship oil to the military junta and to the elite in violation of presidential orders. Barely mentioned. The Wall Street Journal had an article on it. And so it went on.

You know, every time there has been an effort by the Haitian people to overcome the misery and poverty that comes from 200 years of bitter attacks, really bitter, the U.S. steps in and blocks it. And that’s what’s happening now with this so-called election.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask you one final question on the U.S. situation. Yesterday the Federal Reserve Bank upped its prediction for growth in the United States. Corporations are getting record profits. The banks are back in great shape. The Dow is back up before it was in the crisis. And yet, we still have massive unemployment, conservatively estimated at nine percent, and we still have a huge mortgage crisis in the country, more and more people losing their homes. The disconnect between what the indicators are saying and the reality of what the American people are facing?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, actually, it depends how you look at the indicators. I mean, for the last 30 years, for a majority of the population, real incomes have pretty much stagnated. I mean, there’s growth. And the growth is going to—and the wealth is going into very few pockets. That’s by design. Tax laws are designed that way.

Take, say, the Bush tax cut. It was very cleverly done. It’s devastating the economy, but not the rich. The tax cut was done so that at the beginning, the first—right off, everyone got a check, you know, so it looks, "Oh, great. We’re getting a tax cut, couple hundred dollars." But it was designed so that over the years the cut would shift. By the end, over half the tax cut, I think, was going to maybe one percent of the population. But by then, nobody notices anymore. Well, that’s the way fiscal policy has been designed. It’s the way corporate governance rules have been designed. They come from the federal government. And they effectively give the CEO the right to pick the panel that gives him the salary, and all sorts of things like this, along with the deregulation, which—bipartisan, incidentally—which has led to a situation where, you know, maybe you can talk about growth on the average, but for most of the population it’s not there.

 
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