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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.
Friday, January 30, 2015 The Worst Trade Deal You Never Heard Of
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, now headed to Congress, is a product of big corporations and Wall Street, seeking to circumvent regulations protecting workers, consumers, and the environment.
Monday, January 26, 2015(3 comments)
Wall Street's Threat to the American Middle Class
Do we really need reminding about what happened six years ago? The financial collapse crippled the middle class and poor -- consuming the savings of millions of average Americans, and causing 23 million to lose their jobs, 9.3 million to lose their health insurance, and some 1 million to lose their homes.
Monday, January 19, 2015(3 comments)
The New Compassionate Conservatism and Trickle-Down Economics
When Jeb Bush admits that the income gap is real but that "only conservative principles can solve it," one has to wonder what principles he's talking about if not these. And when Mitt Romney promises to run a different campaign than he did in 2012 and focus on "opportunity for all people," the real question is whether he'll run on different economic principles.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015(2 comments)
Why Wages Won't Rise
It's easier than ever for American employers to get the workers they need at low cost by outsourcing jobs abroad rather than hiking wages at home. Outsourcing can now be done at the click of a computer keyboard. A a whole new generation of smart technologies is taking over jobs that used to be done only by people. Rather than pay higher wages, it's cheaper for employers to install more robots.
Monday, January 5, 2015(5 comments)
Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a Pending Disaster
The TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits. The Trans Pacific Partnership is the wrong remedy to the wrong problem. Any way you look at it, it's just plain wrong.
Thursday, January 1, 2015 Out with 2014, In with 2015, and Up with People
Turnout in the 2014 midterm elections was the lowest in decades. This is exactly what the moneyed interests want. If we give up on politics we give up on democracy, and they can take over all of it. Never underestimate what we can, and will, accomplish together. Organizing. Mobilizing. Energizing. Making a ruckus.
Monday, December 29, 2014(1 comments)
The Republican's Magical Mystery Tour (Starting Next Week)
George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Bill Clinton but then slashed taxes, mostly on the rich. The CBO found that the Bush tax cuts reduced revenues by $3 trillion. Yet Republicans don't want to admit supply-side economics is hokum. As a result, they've never had much love for the truth-tellers at the Congressional Budget Office.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014(12 comments)
The Government Problem
The size of government isn't the problem. That's a canard used to hide the far larger problem. The larger problem is that much of government is no longer working for the vast majority it's intended to serve. It's working instead for a small minority at the top. If government were responding to the public's interest instead of the moneyed interests, it would be smaller and more efficient.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 The Coin of the Realm: How Inside Traders Are Rigging America
If a CEO tells his golf buddy that his company is being taken over, and his buddy makes a killing on that information, no problem. If his buddy leaks the information to a hedge-fund manager like Chiasson, and doesn't tell Chiasson where it comes from, Chiasson can also use the information to make a bundle.
Monday, December 8, 2014 Wall Street's Democrats
The Street donated $49.1 million to Democrats in 2010, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. Hedge-fund managers alone accounted for $5.88 million of the total. Schumer and a few other influential Democrats were among the industry's major beneficiaries.
Sunday, November 30, 2014(23 comments)
Patrolling the Boundaries Inside America
parents are intent on policing the boundaries, lest a child whose parents haven't paid the "tuition" reap the same advantages as their own child. Hell hath no fury like an upscale parent who thinks another kid is getting an unfair advantage by sneaking in under the fence.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014(1 comments)
Why College Is Necessary But Gets You Nowhere
A college degree no longer guarantees a good job. The main reason it pays better than the job of someone without a degree is the latter's wages are dropping. In fact, it's likely that new college graduates will spend some years in jobs for which they're overqualified.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014(1 comments)
And Now the Richest .01 Percent
If you want to know what's happened to the American economy, follow the money. That will lead you to the richest .01 percent. And if you want to know what's happened to our democracy, follow the richest .01 percent. They'll lead you to the politicians who have been selling our democracy.
Monday, November 10, 2014(1 comments)
The Choice of the Century
What the President and other Democrats failed to communicate wasn't their accomplishments. It was their understanding that the economy is failing most Americans and big money is overrunning our democracy. And they failed to convey their commitment to an economy and a democracy that serve the vast majority rather than a minority at the top. Some Democrats even ran on not being Barack Obama.
Monday, November 3, 2014(1 comments)
An Election Day Carol
The corruption brought on by the Supreme Court's decision in "Citizen's United versus Federal Election Commission," opened the floodgates to big money in elections. Unless that horrific case is reversed, elections -- and democracy -- will fall by the wayside.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014(5 comments)
Empathy Deficit Disorder
Almost two-thirds of working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. And they're worried sick about whether their kids will ever make it. They need leaders who understand their plight instead of denying it. They deserve politicians who want to fix it rather than blame it on those who have to depend on public assistance, or who need a higher minimum wage, in order to get by.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014(4 comments)
Getting a Grip on Ebola
The real crisis is the hysteria over Ebola that's being fed by media outlets seeking sensationalism and politicians posturing for the midterm elections. That hysteria is causing us to lose our heads. Parents have pulled their children out of a middle school after learning the school's principal had traveled to Zambia. Are we planning to quarantine Dallas next?
Monday, October 13, 2014 Why Government Spends More Per Pupil at Elite Private Universities than at Public Universities
Because public universities have many more students than elite private universities, their larger percentages of Pell students represent far greater numbers of students from poor families. What justifies the high per-student government subsidies at the elite private universities, and the low per-student subsidies in public universities? There is no justification.
Monday, October 6, 2014(2 comments)
Why We Allow Big Pharma to Rip Us Off
Big Pharma is spending more on advertising and marketing than on research and development -- often tens of millions to promote a single drug. And, it's spending heavily on political campaigns. In 2012, it shelled out over $36 million, making it the biggest political contributor of all American industries.
Sunday, September 28, 2014(1 comments)
Raising Most People's Wages
Contrary to the dire predictions of opponents, the hike in minimum wage won't cost Seattle jobs. In fact, it will put more money into the hands of low-wage workers who are likely to spend almost all of it in the vicinity. That will create jobs. Conservatives believe the economy functions better if the rich have more money and everyone else has less. But they're wrong. It's just the opposite.
Monday, September 22, 2014(1 comments)
Why Ordinary People Bear Economic Risks and Donald Trump Doesn't
In America, people with lots of money can easily avoid the consequences of bad bets and big losses by cashing out at the first sign of trouble. The laws protect them through limited liability and bankruptcy. But workers who move to a place like Atlantic City for a job, invest in a home there, and build their skills, have no such protection. Jobs vanish, skills are suddenly irrelevant, and home values plummet.
Saturday, September 13, 2014 Harvard Business School's Role in Widening Inequality
Starting in the late 1970s, a new vision of the corporation and the role of CEOs emerged -- prodded by corporate "raiders," hostile takeovers, junk bonds, and leveraged buyouts. Shareholders began to predominate over other stakeholders. And CEOs began to view their primary role as driving up share prices. To do this, they had to cut costs -- especially payrolls, which constituted their largest expense.
Monday, September 8, 2014 Berkeley vs. Big Soda
Times have changed. Four years ago the Supreme Court decided corporations were people under the First Amendment, entitled to their own freedom of speech. Since then, Big Soda has poured a fortune into defeating ballot initiatives to tax or regulate sugared drinks.
Saturday, September 6, 2014(1 comments)
The Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Division of America
Detroit is the largest city ever to seek bankruptcy protection, so its bankruptcy is seen as a potential model for other American cities now teetering on the edge. But Detroit is really a model for how wealthier and whiter Americans escape the costs of public goods they'd otherwise share with poorer and darker Americans.
Monday, September 1, 2014 Back to College, the Only Gateway to the Middle Class
We can do far better than we're doing now. Too often in modern America, we equate "equal opportunity" with an opportunity to get a four-year liberal arts degree. It should mean an opportunity to learn what's necessary to get a good job.
Monday, August 25, 2014(2 comments)
Back to School, and to Widening Inequality
The achievement gap between poor kids and wealthy kids isn't mainly about race. In fact, the racial achievement gap has been narrowing. It's a reflection of the nation's widening gulf between poor and wealthy families. And also about how schools in poor and rich communities are financed, and the nation's increasing residential segregation by income. Schools in lower-income areas have fewer resources than ever.
Monday, August 18, 2014(6 comments)
The Disease of American Democracy
If we give up on politics, we're done for. Powerlessness is a self-fulfilling prophesy. The only way back toward a democracy and economy that work for the majority is for most of us to get politically active once again, becoming organized and mobilized. We need to do what we can do best -- use our voices, our vigor, and our votes.
Sunday, August 10, 2014(2 comments)
The Rebirth of Stakeholder Capitalism?
In the 1980s, corporate raiders began mounting unfriendly takeovers of companies that could deliver higher returns to their shareholders -- if they abandoned their other stakeholders. You might conclude we went a bit overboard with shareholder capitalism.
Saturday, August 2, 2014(2 comments)
Work and Worth
What's the worth to society of social workers who put in long and difficult hours dealing with patients suffering from mental illness or substance abuse? Probably higher than their average pay of $18.14 an hour, which translates into less than $38,000 a year.
Monday, July 28, 2014(3 comments)
The Increasing Irrelevance of Corporate Nationality
Since 2000, almost every big American multi-national corporation has created more jobs outside the United States than inside. If you add in their foreign sub-contractors, the foreign total is even higher. Let's stop worrying about whether big global corporations are "American." We can't win that game. Focus instead on what we want global corporations of whatever nationality to do in America, and how we can get them to do it.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014(1 comments)
The Rise of the Non-Working Rich
The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing. In fact, we're on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history. The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge amounts on Wall Street, in corporate boardrooms, or as high-tech entrepreneurs.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014(2 comments)
Freedom, Power, and the Conservative Mind
The owners of Hobby Lobby, the plaintiffs in the case, were always free to practice their religion. The Court bestowed religious freedom on their corporation as well -- a leap of logic as absurd as giving corporations freedom of speech. Corporations aren't people. But the conservative mind has never incorporated economic power into its understanding of freedom.
Monday, June 30, 2014(7 comments)
Hillary's Hardest Choice (and the Democrat's Dilemma)
As the middle class shrinks and distrust of the establishment grows, a new Democratic strategy for the downwardly mobile may be both necessary and inevitable. If she runs, Hillary may have to take the gamble. And if America is to have half a chance of saving the middle class and preserving equal opportunity, it's a gamble worth taking.
Friday, June 27, 2014(6 comments)
Break The Koch Machine
The Koch political machine would be troubling in any circumstance. But it's especially dangerous in present-day America, where wealth is more concentrated than it's been in over a century and the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates to big money.
Thursday, June 19, 2014(5 comments)
Real Business Leaders Want to Save Capitalism
Business leaders know the U.S. economy can't get out of first gear as long as wages are declining. And their own businesses can't succeed over the long term without a buoyant and growing middle class. Business leaders are arguing for changes in the rules of the game that would make the game fairer for everyone. They acknowledge it's now dangerously rigged in the favor of people like them.
Friday, June 13, 2014(8 comments)
The Three Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Poverty
The share of Americans in poverty remains around 15 percent. That's even higher than it was in the early 1970s.
How can the economy have grown so much while most people's wages go nowhere and the poor remain poor? Because almost all the gains have gone to the top.
Saturday, June 7, 2014(6 comments)
Voting in Mississippi, 2014 and 1964
Mississippi used its new voter-identification law for the first time Tuesday -- requiring voters to show a driver's license or other government-issued photo ID at the polls. The official reason given for the new law is alleged voter fraud, although the state hasn't been able to provide any evidence that voter fraud is a problem. The real reason for the law is to suppress the votes of the poor, especially African-Americans.
Thursday, June 5, 2014(5 comments)
Seattle is Right
The gains from a higher minimum wage extend beyond those who receive it. More money in the pockets of low-wage workers means more sales, especially in the locales they live in -- which in turn creates faster growth and more jobs. A major reason the current economic recovery is anemic is that so many Americans lack the purchasing power to get the economy moving again.
Sunday, June 1, 2014(3 comments)
Freedom Summer II
The firm says it can't afford to give its workers a raise or better hours and working conditions. Baloney. Walmart is America's biggest retailer. Its policies are pulling every other major retailer into the same race to the bottom. If Walmart halted the race, the race would stop. This week, Walmart employees will go on strike in dozens of cities.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014(1 comments)
Tim Geithner and the Wall Street Bailout Redux
The bailout helped the banks but did little or nothing for the tens of millions of Americans who lost billions of dollars in home equity and savings, and the millions more who lost their jobs. The toll was greatest on the poor and the middle class, who still haven't recovered their losses, even though Wall Street has fully recovered (and then some).
Tuesday, May 13, 2014(8 comments)
How the Right Wing is Killing Women
Some American women are dying during pregnancy and childbirth from health problems they had before they became pregnant but worsened because of the pregnancies -- such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease. Researchers aren't sure what's happening but they're almost unanimous in pointing to a lack of access to health care, coupled with rising levels of poverty.
Monday, May 12, 2014(4 comments)
How to Shrink Inequality
The pertinent question is not whether income and wealth inequality is good or bad. It is at what point do these inequalities become so great as to pose a serious threat to our economy, our ideal of equal opportunity and our democracy. We are near or have already reached that tipping point.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014(6 comments)
The Six Principles of the New Populism (and the Establishment's Nightmare)
Left and right-wing populists remain deeply divided over the role of government. Even so, the major fault line in American politics seems to be shifting, from Democrat versus Republican, to populist versus establishment -- those who think the game is rigged versus those who do the rigging.
Monday, May 5, 2014(3 comments)
The Four Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Inequality
At the least, the rich must pay higher taxes in order to pay for better-quality education for kids from poor and middle-class families. Labor unions must be strengthened, especially in lower-wage occupations, in order to give workers the bargaining power they need to get better pay. And the minimum wage must be raised. Don't listen to the right-wing lies about inequality. Know the truth, and act on it.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014(2 comments)
Raising Taxes on Corporations that Pay Their CEOs Royally and Treat Their Workers Like Serfs
The growing divergence between CEO pay and that of the typical American worker isn't just wildly unfair. It's also bad for the economy. It means most workers these days lack the purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing -- contributing to the slowest recovery on record. Meanwhile, CEOs and other top executives use their fortunes to fuel speculative booms followed by busts.
Thursday, April 17, 2014 Antitrust in the New Gilded Age
When two such media giants merge, the threat is extreme. If film-makers, television producers, directors, and news organizations have to rely on Comcast to get their content to the public, Comcast is able to exercise a stranglehold on what Americans see and hear. Is this good for consumers -- for democracy?
Tuesday, April 15, 2014(2 comments)
Happy Tax Day, and Why The Top 1% Pay a Much Lower Tax Rate Than You
The richest 1 percent of Americans are now getting the largest percent of total national income in almost a century. So you might think they'd pay a much higher tax rate than everyone else. But you'd be wrong. Many millionaires pay a lower federal tax rate than many middle-class Americans. Some don't pay any federal taxes at all.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014(3 comments)
Why The Minimum Wage Should Really Be Raised To $15 An Hour
A $15/hour minimum won't result in major job losses because it would put money in the pockets of millions of low-wage workers who will spend it -- thereby giving working families and the overall economy a boost, and creating jobs. Since Republicans will push Democrats to go even lower than $10.10, it's doubly important to be clear about what's right in the first place.
Saturday, April 5, 2014(1 comments)
Today’s Jobs Report and the Supreme Court’s "McCutcheon" Debacle
Most companies continue to shed workers, cut wages, and horde their cash because they don't have enough customers to warrant expansion. Why? The vast middle class and poor don't have enough purchasing power, as 95 percent of the economy's gains go to the top 1 percent.
Thursday, April 3, 2014(1 comments)
McCutcheon, and the Vicious Cycle of Concentrated Wealth and Political Power
In America of the late nineteenth century, the lackeys of robber barons literally deposited sacks of money on the desks of pliant legislators, prompting the great jurist Louis Brandeis to note that the nation had a choice: "We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth in the hands of a few," he said. "But we cannot have both."
Monday, March 31, 2014 The Distributional Games
Improving our schools is critically important. Making work pay by raising the minimum wage and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit would also be helpful. But these are only a start. In order to ensure that future productivity gains don't go overwhelmingly to a small sliver at the top, we'll need a mechanism to give the middle class and the poor a share in future growth.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014(3 comments)
The New Billionaire Political Bosses
In using their vast wealth to change those rules and laws in order to fit their political views, the Koch brothers are undermining our democracy. That's a betrayal of the most precious thing Americans share. The only way to stop this is through concerted political action. Yet the only large-scale political action we're witnessing is that of Charles and David Koch, and their billionaire imitators.
Monday, March 24, 2014(14 comments)
The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State
The world's "melting pot" is changing color. Between the 2000 and 2010 census, the share of the U.S. population calling itself white dropped from 69 to 64 percent, and more than half of the nation's population growth came from Hispanics. It's also becoming more divided by economic class. Increasingly, the rich seem to inhabit a different country than the rest.
Saturday, March 22, 2014(3 comments)
The Real Truth About ObamaCare
Remedies could evolve. States might use their state-run exchanges to funnel so many applicants to a single, low-cost insurer that the insurer becomes, in effect, a single payer. Vermont is already moving in this direction. In this way, the Affordable Care Act could become a back door to a single-payer system -- every conservative's worst nightmare.
Friday, March 14, 2014(4 comments)
The 'Paid-What-You're-Worth' Myth
It's often assumed that people are paid what they're worth. According to this logic, minimum wage workers aren't worth more than the $7.25 an hour they now receive.
According to this same logic, CEOs of big companies are worth their giant compensation packages, now averaging 300 times pay of the typical American worker.
"Paid-what-you're-worth" is a dangerous myth.
Friday, March 7, 2014(1 comments)
The Great U-Turn
In seeking to repair what is broken, we don't have to emulate another nation. We have only to emulate what we once had. That we once achieved broad-based prosperity means we can achieve it again -- not exactly the same way, of course, but in a new way fit for the twenty-first century and for future generations of Americans. America's great U-turn can be reversed. It is worth the fight.
Friday, February 28, 2014(2 comments)
The Real Job Killers
Progress requires creating more jobs that pay well, are safe, sustain the environment, and provide a modicum of security. If seeking to achieve a minimum level of decency ends up "killing" some jobs, then maybe those aren't the kind of jobs we ought to try to preserve in the first place. The real job killers in America are lousy jobs at lousy wages.
Friday, February 21, 2014 Inequality, Productivity, and WhatsApp
Productivity keeps growing, as do corporate profits. But jobs and wages are not growing. Unless we figure out how to bring all of them back into line -- or spread the gains more widely -- our economy cannot generate enough demand to sustain itself, and our society cannot maintain enough cohesion to keep us together.