Article 43


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Book - The Common Good


“People don’t like the system. . . . 95% of Americans think corporations should lower their profits to benefit their workers and the communities they do business in, 70% think businesses have too much power, and more than 80% think that people don’t have enough say in what goes on, that the economic system is inherently unfair, and that the government basically isn’t functioning, because it’s working for the rich.”
- Noam Chomsky

The Common Good
By Noam Chomsky

Chomsky is always incendiary. The Common Good makes it clear why he isn’t quoted on the 6:00 news. Here’s an extremely easy to read and easy to understand introduction to his thought on subjects such as corporate welfare, globalization, postmodernism, and political activism.

Mission Statement

“This book was compiled from seven long interviews David Barsamian did with Noam Chomsky.”


"Two technical economists in Holland found that every single one of the hundred largest transnational corporations on Fortune magazine’s list has benefited from the industrial policy of its home country, and that at least twenty of them wouldn’t even have survived if their governments hadn’t taken them over or given them large subsidies when they were in trouble. . . . You can make as much money as you want, but if you get into trouble, it’s the taxpayer’s responsibility to fix things.”

“Another of the many areas where freedom and capitalism collide is what’s laughably called free trade. About 40% of US trade is estimated to be internal to individual corporations. If a US auto manufacturer ships a part from Indiana to Illinois, that isn’t called trade; if it ships the same part from Illinois to [its plant in] northern Mexico, it is called tradeit’s considered an export when it leaves and an import when it comes back.

“But that’s nothing more than exploiting cheaper labor, avoiding environmental regulations and playing games about where you pay your taxes. This sort of activity also accounts for similar or even higher proportions of trade in other industrial countries. Furthermore, strategic alliances among firms play an increasing role in administration of the global economy.

“So talk about ‘the growth in world trade’ is largely a joke. What’s growing is complicated interactions among transnational corporations - centrally managed institutions that really amount to private command economies.”

“The big transnationals want to reduce freedom by undermining the democratic functioning of the states in which they’re based, while at the same time ensuring that the government will be powerful enough to protect and support them. That’s the essence of what I sometimes call ‘really existing market theory’.

“If you look through the whole history of modern economic development, you find thatvirtually without exception - advocates of ‘free markets’ want them aplied to the poor and the middle class but not to themselves. The government subsidizes corporations’ costs, protects them from market risks and lets them keep the profits.”

“. . .a very effective propaganda campaign to make people hate and fear the poor.

“That’s smart because you don’t want them looking at the rich, at what Fortune and Business Week call ‘dazzling’ and ‘stupendous’ profit growth, at the way the military system is pouring funds into advanced technology for the benefit of private industry. No, you want them to look at some imaginary black mother driving a Cadillac to pick up a welfare check so she can have more babies. Why should I pay for that? people ask. . . .

“There’s another aspect of this that’s much less discussed. One of the purposes of driving people away from welfare and into work is to lower wages by increasing the supply of workers.

“The New York City government is now partially subsidizing workers driven out of the welfare system. The main effect hs been to decrease unionized labor. Put a lot of unskilled labor itno the workplace, make conditions so awful that people will take virtually any job, maybe throw in some public subsidity to keep them working, and you can drive down wages. It’s a good way to make everybody suffer.”

“Social Security says, Let’s ensure that all of us have a minimal standard of living. That puts a bad idea into people’s heads that we can all work together, get involved in the democratic process and make our own decisions. Much better to create a world in which people behave individually and the powerful win.

“The goal is a society in which the basic social unit is you and your television set. If the kid next door is hungry, it’s not your problem. If the retired cuple next door invested their assets badly and are now starving, that’s not your problem either. . . .

“That’s the ideal of a capitalist society - except for the rich. Boards of directors are allowed to work together, and so are banks and investors and corporations in alliances with one another and with powerful states. That’s fine. It’s just the poor who aren’t supposed to cooperate.”


Posted by Elvis on 11/26/09 •
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Today's Diversion

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. - Carl Sagan


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