piecing together bits of truth about gov't and corporate influence

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Paul Craig Roberts on Glass-Steagall, Free Trade and the Dangers of an Evolving 'Oligarchy of Private Interests'

Sunday, July 18, 2010 – with Ron Holland

Paul Craig Roberts

The Daily Bell is pleased to present an exclusive interview with Paul Craig Roberts (Photo left).

Introduction: Paul Craig Roberts is an economist and a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate. He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as a co-founder of Reaganomics. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. Roberts has been a critic of both Democratic and Republican administrations. He has written or co-written eight books, contributed chapters to numerous books and has published many articles in journals of scholarship. He has testified before congressional committees on 30 occasions on issues of economic policy. His writings frequently appear on OpEdNews, Antiwar.com, VDARE.com. Lew Rockwell's web site, CounterPunch, and the American Free Press.

Daily Bell: This interview will review material that you've gone over in your books and articles, but we hope you will answer the questions nonetheless as some in our audience are not aware of your works or point of view. But let's start at the beginning. Are you a libertarian? Can you briefly describe the belief structure from which you write?

Paul Craig Roberts: I am a libertarian in the sense that I am certain that there must be moral and constitutional limits on power as exercised by both government and private institutions. I am a conservative in the sense that I believe that reform of society must be piecemeal and based on good will. Progress has to be incremental. Reform cannot be achieved by violent revolution in one fell swoop.

Daily Bell: How did you come to your sociopolitical conclusions?

Paul Craig Roberts: During most of my life government power, the power of government bureaucracies, was excessive. The Soviet government was the epitome of unaccountable government power. In the US, government power over business and individuals grew.

Daily Bell: Is that still the case?

Paul Craig Roberts: In recent years there has been a redistribution of power in the US from government to private. The US now resembles an oligarchy of private interests. The most powerful ones are Wall Street, AIPAC, the military/security complex, the oil industry, agri-business, insurance and pharmaceuticals. These private interests control economic and foreign policy, write the legislation that Congress passes and the President signs, and have achieved the monopolization of the US economy by large-scale commercial organizations. As far as I can tell, traditional conservatives scarcely exist in the US today. They have been eliminated by the neoconservatives, essentially militarists committed to US world hegemony.

Daily Bell: That doesn't sound like a very healthy evolution.

Paul Craig Roberts: There's another. The Republican Federalist Society has succeeded in enhancing the powers of the executive over the co-equal branches of government. Many federal judges and Department of Justice appointments are drawn from the membership of the Federalist Society, thus putting in place ideologues to advance executive power. Once executive power becomes dictatorial, we will have lifetime rulers and growing conflict between the executive and private oligarchic interests.

American elections are meaningless as the vast majority of those elected are dependent, or become dependent, on the campaign contributions from the private oligarchic interests. Today government bureaucracies (Child Protective Services and police, for example) have unaccountable power over private individuals, but the power of government over organized private interests has been beaten back. Today the private interests rule the state.

Daily Bell: Can you give us some other examples?

Paul Craig Roberts: The examples are endless. President Obama broke his campaign promises and renewed America's aggression against Afghanistan, because that was what the military/security complex demanded. The health care "reform" was written by the private insurance companies and was designed to provide the insurance companies with 30 million involuntary new customers. Environmental restraints on deep-water drilling were removed at the instruction of the oil industry, resulting, for example, in the extraordinary environmental destruction in the Gulf of Mexico. Wherever one looks, the external costs that private companies are able to impose on others are rising.

This change has occurred more quickly than libertarians have been able to adjust. Historically allied with private interests against government, libertarians have been slow to acknowledge the rise of unaccountable private power.
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