Saturday, October 11, 2008

Noam Chomsky: Anti-democratic nature of US capitalism is being exposed

from the Irish Times:

[T]he US treasury now regards free capital mobility as a "fundamental right", unlike such alleged "rights" as those guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: health, education, decent employment, security and other rights that the Reagan and Bush administrations have dismissed as "letters to Santa Claus", "preposterous", mere "myths".

The conception of the inalienable right of wealth to do as it pleases, without any obligation or debt to the society from whence it came, is forever being repackaged for consumption by the average American. It is a very old song, a lullaby set to induce the kind of intellectual coma required to believe that owning a car or home creates an economic kinship with the conglomerate legal entities which effectively own the nation -- its industry, its resources, and its government. It's one of the clearest examples of how the whole concept of "private property" confuses endlessly what should be a transparent demarcation of interests: owning personal property does not threaten to infringe on the basic ability of others to survive; but owning productive property -- like factories and farm land and the resources they require -- can ultimately affect everybody in a society, thus warranting some manner of "shared" ownership.

Similarly on the subject of taxation, "cutting taxes" for lower-income workers gives them a few hundred extra dollars back -- naturally helpful -- but pitifully insufficient to buy their own health care plans, their own road maintenance, their own fire department and police services, their own libraries, or their own private schools. What across-the-board tax cuts get them is $1000 back on which they are expected to meet every basic human need imaginable. This is why the very godfather of "free markets", the Scottish economist Adam Smith, would be slandered as a communist if American business programs ever taught his actual views, including the moral necessity of progressive taxation. The tax which supports the maintenance of democratic governance was, in Smith's words, "a badge of liberty" -- evidently a sentiment lost on the McCain campaign, which ridiculed Joe Biden for the suggestion that paying taxes might constitute a "badge of patriotism."

Enjoy the show.

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