Transcript: Conversation Between Noam Chomsky, Paul Craig Roberts and Rob Kall part 1– the future of capitalism

 

General News 9/28/2014 at 09:18:53

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Paul Craig Roberts and Noam Chomsky
(image by Paul Craig Roberts image by Paul Craig Roberts Noam Chomsky image by Rob Kall)
This is part 1 of the transcript of my interview with Paul Craig Roberts and Noam Chomsky. More parts will follow in the coming days.

Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey. Online at opednews.com/podcasts and at iTunes under my name, Rob Kall, K-A-L-L.

My guests tonight, I’m very excited to say, are Noam Chomsky and Paul Craig Roberts. And we don’t have a lot of time so I’m going to skip the introductions and go right to getting this conversation started. There are a lot of different things that you could talk about. I’m hoping that what will happen is you will do some jazz and blues, and riff off of each other and have an interesting conversation that will enlighten both of us and each of you.

I’ll start off with a quote from each of you. Paul Craig Roberts recently wrote “eventually the large US trade deficits produced by offshoring the production of goods and services sold into US markets and the collapse of the middle class and tax base caused by jobs offshoring will destroy the value of the US dollar. When that day arrives, US living standards, already endangered, will plummet. American power will have been destroyed by corporate greed and the Fed’s policy of sacrificing the US economy in order to save four or five mega-banks, whose former executives control the Fed, the US Treasury, and the federal financial regulatory agencies.”

Noam wrote, in a forward to the book, Realizing Hope: Life Beyond Capitalism, “It is surely necessary to resist oppression and pursue liberation — and also to advance towards realizing hope by gaining clarity about our objectives and constructing paths to attain them.”

So there’s a whole lot of things I’d like to cover and I’d be happy with any of them. I’ll just throw some topics at you and I’ll throw a first question, and you can go where you want with it. Nationalism, Imperialism, Fascism, Corporatism, Capitalism, Industrialization, Neo-Liberals, the US economy…my topic that I like is ‘Top down and Bottom up,’ patriarchy, power, wealth inequality, psychopathy, sociopathy and narcissism, Bottom-up — decentralization, localization, beyond the Arab Spring, revolution…there’s Congress and the Supreme Court, and Citizens United, Global Warming,…and, because it is hard to ignore, Scotland, ISIL and Ukraine and Russia.

So the first question, just to get things started, what’s the future of the US economy and capitalism?

NC: Who’s supposed to answer? Who are you posing it to?

PCR: You have a shot at it.

NC: Okay.

Rob: Go ahead Noam.

NC: Well the first point to mention is that we’re very far from a capitalist economy and have never been one — it’s a state capitalist economy with substantial state intervention that, in many respects from basic research and development to manipulating interest rates to determining the laws that administer regulations that permit CEOs to pick their own boards and hence to enhance their salaries, and thousands of other ways. What’s the future of it? That depends on how the public will respond to the circumstances in which there are. I mean, there is an institutional logic which will perpetuate things in a certain direction, but it is not graven in stone. It has been in the past, and can be in the future, influenced, modified, even radically changed by public engagement and action. And there’s no way to predict that — those are matters for action not for speculation.

Rob: OK, Paul?

PCR: Well I think that’s a very insightful view of it. All I would add is that in more recent years, the private interest groups seem to have taken control of the government. Wall Street, Military Security Complex, Agribusiness, the extractive industries — their campaign donations elect the House, the Senate, the President, and they then write most of the bills that Congress passes and the President signs, so it’s a form of state capitalism in which the capitalists seem to have the upper hand.

I think that greed has run away with them to such an extent that they have let it undermine the domestic economy on which they themselves depend. For example, they greatly increased profits in managerial or executive performance bonuses by offshoring so many of the middle class jobs, not only the manufacturing jobs but the professional tradable service jobs, such as software engineering, research, design — these things have left, or a large percentage of them, and it erodes consumer purchasing power. The middle class is damaged, the kids who graduate from university expecting jobs find that jobs are offshored, they’ve got debts, increasingly the big retail box stores just offer part-time employment — you can’t form a household on one of those jobs. You can’t get married, buy a house. You have to work two of those jobs, some people three. There are no benefits, no pension. The years of zero interest rate, in order to save the big mega banks, have caused the retired element to have to draw down their savings because they don’t get any interest income, and so inheritance for children is disappearing. And so the whole system has become a house of cards.

Massive debt/money creation is not matched by the increase in real goods and services. As Chomsky said, interest rates are rigged, the gold price is rigged, the stock market is a bubble, the dollar is a bubble — in a way it’s a house of cards. And the power of the United States rests, to a substantial extent, on the dollar being the world reserve currency. And yet, when you create massive new dollars to support quantitative easing but the goods and services don’t increase, you worry the whole world about their dollar holdings. And then you step in and threaten other countries with sanctions? That gives them an incentive to leave the dollar payment system, which means the demand for dollars drops.

So, I think the whole thing is a house of cards and that change could come from a substantial collapse that simply totally discredits the elites from both parties; and some kind of collapse of that extent would give room for the sort of thing Noam mentioned — that people could get back in and be determining factors in the process and some kind of new leadership could arise.

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Rob: You had a question for Noam?

PCR: No, not about that. I was just adding my two cents to his two dollars worth.

Rob: OK, Noam, do you have a response to Paul?

NC: Well, I mean there…he brought up a great many points. I think a lot of them merit much closer scrutiny and discussion. We don’t have time for it now, but I think there’s some…I would just like to say that what he’s describing, you know, we can disagree about this and that part, but the major picture that he’s describing does reflect a certain logic of the state capitalist institutional structure as it now exists. So let’s say take offshoring, the CEO of a corporation has actually a legal obligation to maximize profit and market share. Beyond that legal obligation, if the CEO doesn’t do it, and, let’s say, decides to do something that will, say, benefit the population and not increase profit, he or she is not going to be CEO much longer — they’ll be replaced by somebody who does do it.

Also, the government has stepped in — partly I think because of the enormously increasing power of financial institutions and decision making in the last generation — it has stepped in to provide mechanisms by which this institutional obligation of CEOs is magnified. For a particular CEO, actually Hacker and Pearson had a good discussion of this years ago, it used to be the case, say, 50 years ago 60 years ago, that the CEO of a corporation had a stake in the survival and growth of that corporation. That’s much less true today because of the way compensations are determined. For today’s CEO, because of the mechanisms that allow them to essentially set their own salaries, bonus systems and so on, the incentive is to guarantee profit in the short term– the next quarter– no matter what happens to the institution. That way they’ll become the multibillionaires who are forming the fraction of 1% who are designing policy. Those are very perverse incentives. And they are now part of the basic logic of an institutional system that is driving towards serious disaster. Now I hope we don’t have to wait for a catastrophe for the population of the country to act in ways to reverse this. If we do, it’ll be I think too late. But clearly these are tasks that have to be undertaken. And there are others.

For example, we were marching — well, there was a big global march, a march on global warming a couple days ago, drew a couple hundred thousand people to New York, that happened to take place on the same day that an international commission that monitors global emissions reported that global emissions had increased to a record level last year by over 2%, and in the United States by even higher than the global average. Another report predicted that in another…it reported that August was the hottest month yet and that in another maybe 30 years the number of over 90 degree days in New York would probably triple with much more dire effects in warmer climates — all of these things are happening and we’re reaching a point of literal no return. If they pass a certain not very distant level we can be quite confident that the basis for the decent survival will have been seriously eroded. And we can’t wait for a catastrophe to bring a change in policy — that has to be done very quickly.

Rob: You had a question for Noam?

PCR: No, not about that. I was just adding my two cents to his two dollars worth.

Rob: OK, Noam, do you have a response to Paul?

NC: Well, I mean there…he brought up a great many points. I think a lot of them merit much closer scrutiny and discussion. We don’t have time for it now, but I think there’s some…I would just like to say that what he’s describing, you know, we can disagree about this and that part, but the major picture that he’s describing does reflect a certain logic of the state capitalist institutional structure as it now exists. So let’s say take offshoring, the CEO of a corporation has actually a legal obligation to maximize profit and market share. Beyond that legal obligation, if the CEO doesn’t do it, and, let’s say, decides to do something that will, say, benefit the population and not increase profit, he or she is not going to be CEO much longer — they’ll be replaced by somebody who does do it.

Also, the government has stepped in — partly I think because of the enormously increasing power of financial institutions and decision making in the last generation — it has stepped in to provide mechanisms by which this institutional obligation of CEOs is magnified. For a particular CEO, actually Hacker and Pearson had a good discussion of this years ago, it used to be the case, say, 50 years ago 60 years ago, that the CEO of a corporation had a stake in the survival and growth of that corporation. That’s much less true today because of the way compensations are determined. For today’s CEO, because of the mechanisms that allow them to essentially set their own salaries, bonus systems and so on, the incentive is to guarantee profit in the short term– the next quarter– no matter what happens to the institution. That way they’ll become the multibillionaires who are forming the fraction of 1% who are designing policy. Those are very perverse incentives. And they are now part of the basic logic of an institutional system that is driving towards serious disaster. Now I hope we don’t have to wait for a catastrophe for the population of the country to act in ways to reverse this. If we do, it’ll be I think too late. But clearly these are tasks that have to be undertaken. And there are others.

For example, we were marching — well, there was a big global march, a march on global warming a couple days ago, drew a couple hundred thousand people to New York, that happened to take place on the same day that an international commission that monitors global emissions reported that global emissions had increased to a record level last year by over 2%, and in the United States by even higher than the global average. Another report predicted that in another…it reported that August was the hottest month yet and that in another maybe 30 years the number of over 90 degree days in New York would probably triple with much more dire effects in warmer climates — all of these things are happening and we’re reaching a point of literal no return. If they pass a certain not very distant level we can be quite confident that the basis for the decent survival will have been seriously eroded. And we can’t wait for a catastrophe to bring a change in policy — that has to be done very quickly.

Rob: Now, my next question, well, is going to be about climate change. What role will climate change play in the future of economics and world power balances? Why don’t you keep going Noam.

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer– first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978–Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story– each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people’s consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com— which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up(egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up– The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also (more…)

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer– first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978–Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story– each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people’s consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com— which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up(egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up– The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also (more…)

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Categories Capitalism, Chomsky

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