March 23, 2006

Higher Taxes For Thee, But Not For Me

That the Chomskybot is against pretty much everything that makes America America should come as no surprise to anyone to the right of Marx, but I figured that as a True Believer he'd actually practice what he preaches.

Not so much:

. . . Chomsky, with a net worth north of US$2-million, decided to create one [a trust] for himself. A few years back he went to Boston's venerable white-shoe law firm, Palmer and Dodge, and, with the help of a tax attorney specializing in "income-tax planning," set up an irrevocable trust to protect his assets from Uncle Sam. He named his tax attorney (every socialist radical needs one!) and a daughter as trustees. To the Diane Chomsky Irrevocable Trust (named for another daughter) he has assigned the copyright of several of his books, including multiple international editions.

Chomsky favours massive income redistribution -- just not the redistribution of his income. No reason to let radical politics get in the way of sound estate planning.

But how does a 'champion' of the poor and downtrodden accumulate a net worth measured in megabucks? Apparently, the 'rubber tofu' speaking circuit pays pretty well:

Chomsky's business works something like this. He gives speeches on college campuses around the country at US$12,000 a pop, often dozens of times a year.

. . .

Chomsky's marketing efforts shortly after Sept. 11 give new meaning to the term "war profiteer." In the days after the tragedy, he raised his speaking fee from US$9,000 to US$12,000 because he was suddenly in greater demand.
And of course there are his books - and by 'books' I mean 'bloviations that somebody had to type up:'
But books are Chomsky's mainstay, and on the international market he has become a publishing phenomenon. The Chomsky brand means instant sales. As publicist Dana O'Hare of Pluto Press explains: "All we have to do is put Chomsky's name on a book and it sells out immediately!"

Putting his name on a book should not be confused with writing a book because his most recent volumes are mainly transcriptions of speeches, or interviews that he has conducted over the years, put between covers and sold to the general public. You might call it multi-level marketing for radicals. Chomsky has admitted as much: "If you look at the things I write -- articles for Z Magazine, or books for South End Press, or whatever -- they are mostly based on talks and meetings and that kind of thing. But I'm kind of a parasite. I mean, I'm living off the activism of others. I'm happy to do it."

. . .

Seven Stories Press, a small publisher, pulled together interviews conducted via e-mail that Chomsky gave in the three weeks following the attack on the Twin Towers and rushed the book to press. His controversial views were hot, particularly overseas. By early December 2001, the publisher had sold the foreign rights in 19 different languages. The book made the best-seller list in the United States, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. It is safe to assume that he netted hundreds of thousands of dollars from this book alone.

OK, so now he's got piles of cash laying around the house. How does he make it work for him in a socially responsible way? Surely he invested it in one of those 'green' funds that don't invest in companies that do icky things, right?

Not so much.

Chomsky, for all of his moral dudgeon against American corporations, finds that they make a pretty good investment. When he made investment decisions for his retirement plan at MIT, he chose not to go with a money market fund or even a government bond fund. Instead, he threw the money into blue chips and invested in the TIAA-CREF stock fund. A look at the stock fund portfolio quickly reveals that it invests in all sorts of businesses that Chomsky says he finds abhorrent: oil companies, military contractors, pharmaceuticals, you name it.

'Hypocrite' doesn't seem strong enough a word here. Perhaps a linguist could prescribe a better one. Now all we have to do is find a linguist who actually, you know, linguisticates...

[H/T Chess]


Posted by Chris at March 23, 2006 04:16 PM

Category: Media Stupidity

Given Chomsky's at best ambiguous feelings about capitalism, why hasn't he found another country with free speech rights but not so enamored with capitalism in which to spew? I know where my bet.

Gotta love that Chomsky. He makes it so that weekend political warriors like myself can school him.

Posted by: Paul at March 24, 2006 03:36 PM