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Noam Chomsky: Trump Is Using Pandemic to Enrich Billionaires as Millions Lose Work & Face Eviction

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As millions of people in the U.S. lose work and face eviction due to the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, the 1% have seen a massive increase to their wealth, with the Amazon founder and world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, recently adding an estimated $13 billion to his net worth in a single day. World-renowned political dissident Noam Chomsky says the corporate windfall is yet more evidence that the U.S. is run “essentially by the corporate sector” for its own profits. “They’re just running wild.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about those in power, Noam Chomsky, profiting enormously now. You have Goldman Sachs reporting over $2.4 billion in second-quarter profits. A new study by Americans for Tax Fairness found U.S. billionaires have added $584 billion to their personal wealth since March. That’s a greater amount than the budget shortfalls of 23 U.S. states. They’re making these profits in the midst of the pandemic. And on the one hand, when you need stimulus packages to help those who are being crushed, who are soon to be evicted, when we’re talking about an economic situation, the unemployed to a level we haven’t seen since the Great Depression, you write about this and speak about this. How do people dig themselves out? What needs to happen right now in this country, Noam?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, what you’re describing is the way that it’s kind of a— the country is in a kind of a parody of the way it usually runs. It’s a country run by major — essentially, by the corporate sector, which has overwhelming influence on the government. And what you describe is quite correct: It’s kind of symbolized by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, who made $13 billion in a single day. They’re just running wild, using the — Trump and the administration are using the cover of the pandemic to increase their dedication to enriching the very rich and the corporate sector, who are, of course, eating it up. They love it.

I mentioned military industry. That’s another example of it. Sure, that’s — you might regard it as a last-ditch effort to try to impose the maximal rule of extreme wealth and corporate power, running parallel to the Mitch McConnell-Trump campaign to pack the judiciary, top to bottom, with young, ultra-right Federalist Society lawyers, who will make sure — be able to make sure that no matter what the public wants, nothing but their ultra-reactionary policies will ever be able to be implemented for at least a generation.

They’re running on all stops to try to maintain what they have succeeded in largely getting through the neoliberal period, the last 40 years: enormous concentration of wealth, concentration of political power, general population stagnating, declining, even to the point where there’s an increase in mortality in the last few years among working-age people, working-age men and women, mostly men, some women. Nothing like this happens in functioning developed societies.

The Republicans know very well that they’re a minority party. Trump, in fact, pointed out not long ago that if there were fair elections, the Republicans would never win political office. The country, basically, for a long time, has been pretty much a one-party state — the business party, two factions. They’ve changed over time.

The last several decades, pretty much since Gingrich, and extensively since McConnell, the Republicans have just gone off the spectrum, off the political spectrum. If you look at international rankings, they’re ranked alongside the European parties with neofascist backgrounds. Political analysts, serious political analysts, describe them as a radical insurgency that’s abandoned parliamentary politics. We talked a couple days ago with Greg Palast, whose very interesting work has shown the extent to which they’re desperately trying to purge electoral lists to prevent the wrong people from voting, so somehow they can hang on.

All of this is happening in parallel along with what you describe: the massive enrichment of the superrich and the corporate sector under the cover of the pandemic. Every couple of days, some other executive decision or decision of one of Trump’s corporate clones, the corporate figures who Trump placed in charge of the various agencies, like the EPA, passing further legislation to smash the public in the face and enrich the rich, like cutting back pollution standards, which, of course, is great for the coal companies. They’re hanging on by a thread, but we can keep them going longer to cause maximal destruction to organized human society. Also the pollution, which right in the middle of a respiratory pandemic, increasing pollution, of course, maximizes deaths.

And it’s selective. It’s the people who live near the polluting factories. Who are they? The people who can’t afford to live anywhere else. You don’t see Goldman Sachs executives living there. What you see is poor, Black, Hispanic, Puerto Ricans. They’re the ones who will take the brunt of it. They’re already suffering much worse from the pandemic. This will make it worse.

It’s kind of similar to what you see in Brazil, where Bolsonaro is quite happy to see the — the Indigenous populations of the Amazonian region are facing literal genocide, first from destruction of the forest, now from the pandemic. Many of them live hundreds of miles from the nearest health station. Illegal loggers come in and spread the pandemic; they die. Do you think Bolsonaro minds? He thinks they ought to be eliminated. He said so. “We don’t need those people, so let’s get rid of them altogether.” So, let’s get rid of the people living near the polluting industries. Who needs them? They vote the wrong way, anyway. They’re the wrong color.

This is something happening in the world under the U.S. aegis, which is literally unparalleled in modern history — again, with the single exception of the true fascist states — in developed society. There’s no other words to describe it.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author, laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years. Next week, we’ll bring you more of Noam Chomsky.

That does it for our broadcast. If you’d like to get our newsletter daily, text the word “democracynow” to 66866. Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Libby Rainey, Nermeen Shaikh, Carla Wills, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Thanks so much for joining us. Stay safe. Save lives. Wear a mask.

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