Friday, May 31, 2019

Chomsky on Trump

Noam Chomsky is credited as being somewhat of a savvy political commentator and in this interview he tries to explain the Trump phenomena and expose much of the fallacies his supporters still hold about him. Despite much of the media's depiction of him as clown Trump could very well be re-elected in 2020 as his approval ratings still appear to show strong support for him.

 Chomsky comments:
...he is a highly skilled politician, with a good sense of how to gain popular approval, even virtual worship in some circles. He certainly has taken control of the GOP, to quite a remarkable extent. He’s been very successful with his two constituencies: the primary one, wealth and corporate power; and the voting base, relatively affluent fairly generally, including a large bloc of Christian evangelicals, rural whites, farmers, workers who have faith in his promises to bring back jobs, and a collection of others, some not too admirable. It’s clear why the primary constituency is mostly delighted. Corporate profits are booming. Wealth continues to be concentrated in very few hands. Trump’s administration is lavishing them with gifts, including the tax bill, the main legislative achievement, across-the-board deregulation, and rapidly increasing fossil fuel production...To keep the rest in line is sometimes easy, among them the Christian right, white supremacists, ultranationalists and xenophobes, and those in terror of “hordes” of immigrants. It is easy to throw them occasional chunks of red meat. But sometimes maintaining their allegiance takes the kind of demagoguery at which he is expert. Thus many who are understandably aggrieved by the economic policies of the neoliberal years still seem to feel that he’s the one person standing up for them by shaking his fist at those they blame for taking away their jobs: immigrants and “the scheming Chinese”...”

Chomsky continues his analysis:
...It’s quite true that huge numbers of jobs have fled to China, but who is responsible for that? China? Is China holding a gun to the heads of Apple, GM, IBM, GE … and forcing them to ship jobs to China? One can’t even say that it’s the fault of the managers of the corporations. Their responsibility, in fact legal obligation, is to make profits for shareholders, and that purpose is served by shifting jobs to China, Mexico, Vietnam, Bangladesh. Those who object to these practices should be demanding that such decisions should not be in the hands of management and the board of directors, but rather in the hands of those who actually do the work of the enterprise, as democratic principle might suggest. Perhaps along the lines of a 19th century writer whose initials are K.M. But somehow one doesn’t see this interesting idea explored in mainstream commentary.”

He continues:
...Another charge is that China steals U.S. technology by forcing firms to hand over secrets as a condition on investment (already dealt with) and by violating World Trade Organization rules on intellectual property (TRIPS)... Putting aside the legitimacy of these highly protectionist devices, which raise patent protection far beyond the historical norm, we can ask who gains and who loses if, say, China uses discoveries in U.S. research labs to produce cheaper drugs than the corporations that have gained the patents, or to develop a better alternative to the Windows operating system? American consumers gain, while Big Pharma’s huge profits are somewhat reduced and Bill Gates might decline slightly in the ranks of richest men in the world...”

On the economy Chomsky points out “...The “economic boom” is a continuation of the slow recovery that began under Obama...The tax cut, of course, exploded the deficit, which can now provide a pretext for cutting social spending. The continuing increase in employment has led to a slight increase in wages, with opportunities for those at the lower end of the income scale, but it doesn’t come close to making up what has been lost during the period of stagnation from the early ‘80s....Jobs are growing slightly faster in Trump-supporting rural and exurban counties than in the urban mostly Clinton counties. At the same time, real wages declined slightly in Trump counties and increased slightly in Clinton counties, in both cases a decline from the Obama years...

Full interview at the Truthout website

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