Several months ago, I went to a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. One of the items auctioned off there was a Dinner with Noam Chomsky. I won the bid, together with another guest at that event. And past Wednesday, we finally went out for dinner.

Note: Check out the picture of us with Noam Chomsky.

So there were four of us, besides Maha, there were Jessica and Alma, both were working for Lawrence Community Work, a local non-profit dedicated to the development of the city of Lawrence.

It turns out to be a fun, casual evening. Chomsky was not lecturing, but very approachable. Yes, we talked about politics, about client states, community work, drug policies and incarceration rates, but also about his kids, rents, neighborhoods, and our lifes. We learned that he and his wife email each other from one floor in the house to the other. He spends a lot of time answering email, and like everybody else, he has to fight spam pretty hard.

We touched on Germany, a topic I was very interested in, obviously. While Germany seems in much worse shape than the USA, at least from my perspective, Chomsky put them more or less in the same league (for example unemployment: He pointed out that the official number hardly reflect reality, e.g. the 0.7% of the population that is in prison in the USA is not counted as unemployed). Similar arguments go for the state of health insurance, pension plans, etc. To put things into perspective: To judge the severity of a situation, it’s important to look at who is affected. In Germany, the population as a whole is affected to a larger degree (due to the social nature of the Germany system). In the USA, it’s limited to the poorer groups within the population. Personally, I still think that there is a significant difference. In Germany, these issues are more likely to affect the economy, as politicians are unwilling to allow social hardship (at least to the degree it happens in the USA). German politicians are willing to make different trade-offs than their American counterparts. Add the EU to the picture, and right now specifically the stability pact, and Germany is endangered to end up with deflation, and a recession similar to the one happing in Japan for the last ten years. At the same time, the USA approach certainly generates much more poverty and resentment than the German system.

At some point Chomsky said: "That’s what people always did, it’s human nature." We can’t change nature completely but we can try to make this world a better place. That’s what Chomsky is about. He was completely unjudgmental, but tries to make us aware of our surroundings.

One response to “Dinner with Noam Chomsky”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Chromsky – He, Michael, jetzt hab ich das erste mal gesehen, was ich neues oder zusätzliches auf Deiner Seite lesen kann. Hab ich vorher nie ausprobiert und werde es Papa nachher zeigen. Vielleicht ist er dann so beeindruckt, dass er Deine Homepage auch mal selber öffnen wird. Küsschen Mama