PCR: That was the first one" and then the most recent one--
GC: Made it even easier--
PCR: In other words, there are no limits for wealthy corporations to elect the government they want! It's like former President Jimmy Carter said a short time ago: At this time, the United States does not have a "functioning democracy." Well, he's right! We have an oligarchy. And the oligarchy rules, and the government is some sort of cloak for the rulers. You never see anything happen against the oligarchs! For example, one of the senior prosecutors for the Securities and Exchange Commission retired recently; and, he gave a speech and said that his most important cases had been blocked by the "higher-ups" who hoped to get good jobs with the banks that they were protecting! This is the way the government works today. When you try to say, we need more regulation--you can't! The regulators are "captured" by private interests. It was about 30 years ago, that economist George Stigler said that regulatory agencies invariably wind up "captured" by the industries they're supposed to regulate.
GC: What was his name?
PCR: Stigler". He won the Nobel Prize" not for that observation. He was a colleague of Milton Freedman" and was quite jealous of Freedman's renown among ordinary people. Whereas, Stigler had renown only among academics! [Laughter".] At any rate, I don't think you can simply say that we'll restore regulation" because the regulations that are on the books can't be enforced; the higher-ups are protecting those they're supposed to regulate--so they can get major jobs when they leave government service.
GC: The "revolving door"!
PCR: It's a sea change. And I think the only way you recover from something like this is through a catastrophe--something comparable to the Great Depression. But even that might not do it, because the way the forces are arrayed now it seems that the so-called forces of "Law and Order" are in behalf of the private interest groups. Look at who busted up the Occupy Movement! And we now have all this information of all the federal agencies being armed to the teeth. I mean, even things like the Social Security Administration, and the Post Office! The other day, I read where the Department of Agriculture has put in a purchase order for submachine guns! So" what is all this about if not to suppress any sort of popular resistance to an economic collapse or catastrophe? And, it may be that even a catastrophe won't let the United States recover.
GC: Are we past the point of no return?
PCR: Who knows? But, I gave you the reasons that could be the case".
GC: I do think we are in a great transitional period. I'm pessimistic, as you are. I think a lot of people admire your work because you made a transition, a transformation in your life--from being a conservative, Reaganite type to a radical who now writes against the system--
PCR: Well, Gary, let me interrupt you here". Actually, that's a mistaken perception of me". Because, they think if you work in a Democratic Administration it means you're a liberal or a Leftie; if you work in a Republican, it means you're a conservative or a Right Winger. But, actually, I was writing against the Establishment of the time! The supply-side movement was an attack on the Keynesian movement. The Keynesians were the Establishment! I wasn't attacking them for any ideological reasons; I was attacking them because their policies had ceased to work, and we were confronted with stagflation--which meant worsening inflation and worsening of unemployment; and they had no solution except to freeze everybody's wages, salaries and prices--which was an absurd solution; it wouldn't have worked! I was as much "on the outs" at that time as I am now. I haven't made any transition. I just see mistakes and speak against them.
GC: You're against rigidity. You want to be flexible; apply the best solution for the time".
PCR: I'm against ideological thinking. I'm against unrealistic thinking. I'm against the brutality of corruption! Because it endangers the country. We've already lost the Constitution because of this. I'm not a radical when I defend the Constitution! Today, it's becoming "anti-American" to defend the Constitution! Not even the Supreme Court will defend it! So, it's not a transition I made from being a conservative to a radical. I've always been challenging the Establishment--whether it's Left Wing or Right Wing. When I began as an Economist in Washington, the Keynesian Establishment was essentially a Democratic Establishment. Today, the Establishment is the "exceptional, indispensable Americans"--which is a self-definition which gives you the notion that you are superior to others. It's like Putin said a year or so ago in one of his speeches: Americans can say that they are exceptional; but, in fact, God created us all equal!
GC: That was in his New York Times op-ed piece.
PCR: Wherever it was" when you start making these claims that you are some sort of ubermensch, you start sounding like the Nazis. And you then start acting like you have the right to run over other people, other countries" because History chose you to be the hegemon! Well, this is extremely dangerous--not just to others, but it's dangerous to Americans; because the next step is, you lose your civil liberties. And you're faced with indefinite detention" or you may be murdered! Simply because somebody in the Executive Branch suspects you might be a terrorist! So, it's not radical to complain against the loss of the Constitution. That's a very conservative position--historically.
GC: I think it's fair to say you're a moralist--