Noam Chomsky on Welfare & Poverty
How did we in the US get to this point? "It's not the Third World misery," says Chomsky, "but it's not what it ought to be in a rich society, the richest in the world, in fact, with plenty of wealth around, which people can see, just not in their pockets." And Chomsky credits the work of movement organizers for having helped bring these issues to the fore and having initiated a shift.
CHOMSKY: He had in mind the basic principle of the rising capitalist classes, which is what the working people of New England paraphrased a century later without having read Adam Smith, "Gain wealth, forgetting all but self." This idea of all for ourselves and nothing for anyone else was, Smith argued, the "vile maxim of the masters of mankind." He pointed out that this impulse, sometimes, incidentally, happens to help people, but he certainly wasn't impressed. In fact, the historical Adam Smith, who was also rooted in the Enlightenment and anti-capitalist in many respects, is rather different from the image of him that's been constructed.
CHOMSKY: There certainly is a racial element. It's part of the really vicious propaganda that has been developed in order to sell the corporate welfare programs that transfer funds to the rich. One way in which this has been done--this goes right back to Reagan's crazy anecdotes about black welfare mothers driving Cadillacs and breeding like rabbits--is by engendering race hatred.
Public policy for about 20 years now has been directed to establishing a sharp divide between a small sector of the very rich, and the majority of the population while cutting out public services. You've got to get them to accept the cuts somehow. What you do is get people frightened, get them to hate each other, in order to turn their attention away from the real power and towards fearing and battling each other. The welfare mother, by implication black, has been used for that p
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
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Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
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Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
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