Cotto: Everyone is talking about the Fiscal Cliff. What do you expect to happen if both parties fail to find common ground on a budget proposal?
Dr. Roberts: The "fiscal cliff" is likely to be like the debt ceilings and the budget resolutions; just another can kicked down the road. The Congress will pass extension after extension. The Republicans will use the fiscal cliff to try to cut the social safety net, and the Democrats will use it to try to raise taxes.
If the parties succeed, a weak and faltering economy will get a double-barrel dose of austerity and be driven further into the ground.
Cotto: Over the last several years, mass movements such as Occupy and the Tea Party have made an impact on the political process. Each is largely a result of the recession and popular anger at government malfeasance. From your standpoint, are Occupy and the Tea Party as different from one another as pundits tend to claim?
Dr. Roberts: Occupy and the Tea Party both are expressions of frustration over the fact that the US government represents only a handful of powerful private interests who purchase the government which then does the bidding of the private interests.
Cotto: Due to the Citizens United ruling, millions of Americans have become are nervous about the influence money plays in politics. Are these concerns legitimate?
Dr. Roberts: The concerns about corporate money ruling politics are legitimate.This was the case even before the Republican Supreme Court made its Citizens United ruling legalizing the purchase of the US government by private interests.
Cotto: During complicated times like these, a robust national security policy is essential. While America can continue to build stronger relationships with proven allies, more should be done to prevent domestic terrorism as well. What are your opinions on this most challenging matter?
Dr. Roberts: There is no domestic terrorism. Moreover, the "war on terror" is a hoax. The hoax is increasingly perceived abroad, and, consequently, America's relationships with allies are beginning to unravel. Today all Washington can do is to use money to purchase the governments that it needs as allies.
Cotto: Illegal immigration is a political lightning rod. Some believe that America needs legislations like the DREAM Act. Others say that the federal government should deport all illegal aliens. What would you say is the most effective manner of dealing with such a contentious matter?
Dr. Roberts: It is too late to do anything about immigration. The immigrants comprise too large a percentage of the population and many are now integrated into society. Washington has no better chance of expelling immigrants than Rome had of expelling Germans.
Cotto: Multiculturalism is spreading across the Western world at high speed. This has led not only to language barriers, but substantial ethnic, religious, and racial tensions. How should our country's leaders be approaching this volatile subject?
Dr. Roberts: Empires become multicultural entities. In the US multiculturalism is protected by civil rights law and political correctness. The US has a black president, a black attorney general, a black UN ambassador and, apparently, soon another black Secretary of State. I am not complaining, just acknowledging the reality of multiculturalism. When the US government demonizes and profiles Arabs and Muslims, it might be breaking its own laws and also making other ethnicities and religions nervous.
Cotto: A cross the political spectrum, libertarianism has become very popular. Specifically in the Republican Party, followers of Ron Paul are posing a serious challenge to the establishment. What do you feel the Ron Paul movement brought to the conversation?
Dr. Roberts: Ron Paul tried to bring defense of the US Constitution to the conversation, only to find that neither Republicans nor Democrats had any interest whatsoever in defending the US Constitution.
Cotto: We all have turning points in our lives. At what point did the path diverge, leading you to become one of America's most well known economists and political commentators?