But the top interest now is financial. The United States is the dominant force in the dominant lending institutions of the world: the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
What the United States exports, more than anything else, is credit. So the money is made from squeezing the interest out of those loans.
What that means in the Third World is that the economic elites borrow the money, with the government as their front, then bleed the population to pay the interest. That's done through higher more regressive taxes, by cutting social services, by selling off public assets, by co-opting or crushing labor unions, and so forth.
If the governments don't do enough, Washington pressures them to do more. At home, the American people are told that these countries need "structural adjustment" and "economic reform," when the reality is that U.S. foreign policy often is being conducted on behalf of loan sharks.
The big investors and the big lenders also are the big contributors to political campaigns in this country, for both Republicans and Democrats. The press, which is run by a handful of giant corporations, somberly repeats this rationale again and again, ~ economic reform and democracy."
Pretty soon, just to sound like we're not totally out of touch with current events, we catch ourselves saying, yeah ... Colombia, or Venezuela, or Russia, or Haiti, or South Africa, or whomever ... they need "economic-reform-and-democracy. ~