Reagan, Unions, Clinton, and NAFTA

In the brief following segment, renowned scholar and longtime MIT professor Noam Chomsky expels myths about Reagan and “Reaganomics,” points out that liberal heartthrob Bill Clinton was just as much of a shill as Reagan in his dogged defense of global neoliberal capitalism in the form of NAFTA, and speaks to the incredible importance of unions.


The Reagan administration pioneered, openly, illegal labor practices. It was well reported. Business Week pointed out that … the Reagan administration had informed, instructed the business world that they were simply not going to enforce the laws. That was picked up by Clinton, who had another way of doing it, called NAFTA. One of the predicted effects of NAFTA, and in fact realized, was to undermine union organizing. It gives employers a way to threaten the workers who are trying to organize a plant, that, if they continue, shift it to Mexico or somewhere else. It’s illegal, but when you have a criminal state, it doesn’t matter. And when the business world knows that it enjoys the benefits of the criminal state, it can carry these activities out.

Unions not only improve the lives of working people, but they’re a very powerful democratizing force.

Reagan was the most protectionist in post-war american history. In fact, he practically doubled protective barriers, more than all postwar presidents combined.