90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Robert Reich: Plutocracy or Democracy

Reich talks about the economy and the perfect storm — he says — that threatens American democracy.

Robert Reich was U.S. Labor Secretary in good times — the Clinton years, where America saw low unemployment and strong growth.

Now that’s all turned around. And Reich is warning not just about the health of the U.S. economy, but the health of American democracy. Inequality, he says – concentrated wealth – is at historic highs. And it’s drowning out ordinary voices, and economic demand.

The Tea Party might beg to differ. We hear conservative pushback today. But Reich says if we don’t bring on higher taxes for the rich, our economy and our democracy are in trouble.

-Tom Ashbrook

See Reich’s tough words to On Point Wednesday about the Supreme Court and the new campaign finance environment.

Guests:

Robert Reich, author of the new book “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future.” He was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton and is now a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Allan Meltzer, professor of political economy and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He was an economic advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Michael

    It seems that Allan Meltzer hasn’t learn the lessons of the Reagan years and seems if his true to his articles will follow the typical talking points. As for Reich at the gym i saw him talking about the tax-cuts that obama gave that many Americans(and the AstroTurf tea-party ) are not aware of

    * The Fed’s Anti-Inflation Exit Strategy Will Fail
    * Professional Biography
    * Testimony, House Financial Services Committee
    * Why Capitalism
    * Why Obamanomics Has Failed
    * Regulatory Reform and the Federal Reserve

  • jeffe

    Robert Reich is the voice of reason and rationality.

    I said this before and I’ve heard Robert Reich say this as well, this country is fast becoming a plutocracy or we really already are one, and nothing is going to get done. The extreme right with the money are meeting and developing ways to run the country the way they want too. The Koch brothers are the main organizers of a retreat that will include a host of the super rich who want it all.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/us/politics/20koch.html

    I can’t even get decent health care coverage…

  • twenty-niner

    Mr. Ashbrook,

    Please ask Mr. Reich if he supports tariffs on Chinese imports to support and encourage domestic manufacturing. As was clearly demonstrated by the destruction of our rare-earth metals industry, the Chinese strategy is to dump product, wipe out competitors, gain monopoly power, and then set quotas to restore prices. Ironically, they’re the ones playing hardball, while we’re standing around with our thumb in our mouth holding a ping pong paddle.

    And please don’t rehash that tired old Smoot-Hawley argument. No one’s advocating ANY tariffs against first-world trading partners who let their currencies float, honor intellectual property, respect workers’ rights, and respect the environment.

    Further, China should be told that it can cash in its nearly 1 Trillion in US debt holdings for American-made products.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    In spite of our idealistic origins, America has always been ruled by a sometimes brutal individualism. Most of our humane progress has been won in the teeth of that me-first attitude. But after thirty years during which me-firstism has strengthened, we are now facing an overblown reactionary threat to make selfishness the only political option. What would Robert Reich suggest we do to defuse the Tea Party timebomb, or at least to broaden the appeal of cooperation that might serve to lead America in a humane direction once again.

  • frank’s wild years

    What would Robert Reich suggest we do to defuse the Tea Party timebomb, or at least to broaden the appeal of cooperation that might serve to lead America in a humane direction once again.

    If I had the money I would move to Canada.

    What amazes me is while we all sit here typing over in France the whole country is going nuts over changes in the retirement age. Could you imagine if we had protests that shut down the country that demanded that we have a decent single payer health care system. I can’t…

  • Zeno

    Jeffe From the NYT link you supplied: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/us/politics/20koch.html

    “Charles Koch, whose wealth Forbes magazine calculates at about $21.5 billion, argues in his letter that “prosperity is under attack by the current administration and many of our elected officials.” He repeatedly warns about the “internal assault” and “unrelenting attacks” on freedom and prosperity. A brochure with the invitation underscores that to the Koch network, “freedom” means freedom from taxes and government regulation. Mr. Koch warns of policies that “threaten to erode our economic freedom and transfer vast sums of money to the state.” ”

    The concern of the Koch brothers and the plutocracy is about the new reality of “freedom” they have created for their class and wish to maintain: http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/disturbing-statistics-on-the-decline-of-americas-middle-class/19676292/?icid=main

    “As Smith notes, the top 20% of the American populace holds roughly 93% of the country’s financial wealth, and the top 1% of the country holds approximately 43% of the money in the U.S. Meanwhile, the middle 20% of the population — what would, officially, be called the middle class — holds only 6% of the country’s total assets. While disturbing, even this minuscule share of the wealth pie dwarfs the bottom 40% of the country, who control less than 1%.”

    “…When looking at the declining American middle class, a good number to start with is 42,400. That’s the total number of factories that the U.S. lost between 2001 and the end of 2009. Put another way, this translates into the outsourcing of 32% of all manufacturing jobs in America. ”

    It is difficult to imagine how our failed republic can withstand the continuing abuse of the wealthy.

    The problem with our government is that it does not serve or represent the people, but is very effective in its catering to every want and need of the top 20% and at redistributing our tax dollars upwards to the plutocracy. Everyone else is living in servitude to that 20%.

  • Charlie Mc

    • I am 72, a retired schoolteacher with precious little wisdom in matters of economics.
    Last year, I watched a FRONTLINE (PBS) presentation of the cause of our economics collapse. I understand that one woman, Brooksley Born,in 1997, as Chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission warned that the deregulation of the business and financial processes was leading to a catastrophe for the American people. The Presidential advisory group (Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, Tim Geitner, Larry Summers, Arthur Leavitt and Bill Clinton himself), dismissed her warnings and claimed that doing what she suggested would cause the greatest financial disaster for the economy. They persisted in arguing against this solo critic with disrespect. They counseled that she should be removed, and eventually helped to bring about her departure while still maintaining her belief.
    She was right, they were ALL wrong. Yet only two ever admitted their error publically: Alan Greenspan, who shamefacedly and reluctantly admitted his mistake, the greatest of his life, before a Senate Subcommittee, and then retired. Secretary Arthur Leavitt later testified to his error, that he wished that he had known her better before falling in with the group against her.
    Brooksley Born was awarded the Profiles in Courage Medal, but otherwise has kept a low profile, while the non-apologetic “Wise Men”(cf Time Cover story) have been appointed as President Obama’s closest financial advisors as they try to undo the damage their previous advice to “Let the Market itself do the regulating”.
    Is it any wonder that so few people struggling to survive the “collateral damage” of their thinking and policies have such little TRUST in anything they say. President Obama has thousands of would be advisors, but very few genuinely trustworthy. He should call upon the one who might help us all, Brooksley Born, to come out of her private life to advise us with the wisdom we so desperately need.
    Lkewise,Robert Reich should be returned to his full advisory capacity before the oligarchy makes its next move.

  • bob

    Job outsourcing, job outsourcing, job outsourcing. It was supposed to be the thing to do according to many economists. What has it done? Made life worse, worse, and worse for the average American. I hate it here. I’m afraid of no work, no hospital, living on the street.

    Will someone please finally talk about this?

  • cory

    I’d like to suggest an alternate title(s) to today’s show.

    “Equality and Capitalism”

    or

    “Equality and Plutocracy”

  • Carlo

    Robert Reich has wonderful Utopian ideas and not a single clue on how to pay for any of them. His ideas work perfect in academia but get failing grades in the real world.

  • Chris

    Charlie Mc – I also saw that show and was stunned and amazed when the President selected so many of those who ignored Ms. Born’s warnings and helped cause our recent financial downfall. The best thing this administration could do is to let the rest of these “financial geniuses” (I use this term very lightly) go elsewhere, and replace them with the folks who actually care about the American Public’s well-being. Mr Summer’s departure was totally welcome as was Mr.(Foul-mouth) Emanual. Next up(hopefully) Tim G.

  • Sam Ulmschneider

    Dr. Reich has a solid analysis, but I would want him to answer an important question:

    Why does he believe that government policy and reform will be a way to change the awfully lopsided distribution of growth gains? Both parties and most all power structures belong to businesses and the wealthy, and will not create or allow policies that challenge their power.

    Why doesn’t Dr. Reich (who says he is a student of American history) address the fact that in previous moments of mass economic polarization, it was an active and even violent people’s movement that burned rail yards, shut down factories, rioted, and cowed the ruling classes into change?

  • Yar

    Carlo, How to pay for them?
    Think for a moment of a family on a island, is there anything called debt? We work and receive pay, the idea is to trade work today for sustenance tomorrow. That can be called debt but to the island family does it really matter? Now change it to a business model where debt is real, work today and eat today, no work no food. This destroys any hope of retirement or disability. That is what is really at stake in our economic calculus today.
    We are in a huge country with vast resources, if we quit wasting them and work together like the island family we can survive, if we start killing our elderly and disabled the whole society breaks down. (not literally just in effect by withholding sustenance)
    Debt is not the problem; not working, the loss productivity is our unraveling.
    I propose a jobs program for our youth, A revived CCC that helps with infrastructure and education, giving work experience to our youth and building our society.

    Would you rather live in a business or a family?
    That is the choice we face as a nation.
    Debt is a red herring.

  • Ann Marie

    OFF TOPIC: Re Virginia Thomas and her no-show for today

    One has to wonder if placing a call to Ms. Hill wasn’t a deliberate attempt to get her name and her current cause into the conversation. I hadn’t heard of either until this story broke.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Larry Summers out, Robert Reich in!

  • Zeno

    All other countries facing this financial crisis are making changes to their governments and economies. But the US taxpayer continues to underwrite massive borrowing from China to give to corporations, their outsourcing, the wars, the thousands of military bases around the globe, the defense of countries that can well afford to defend themselves, etc.

    Yet we will hear that all of this debt and economic failure is due to Americas poor. You know the people who hold 1% of the total wealth.

  • Brandstad

    Robert Reich is a partisan hack. Our country doesn’t need party politics; it needs history taught and a restoration of American values and aspirations.

  • WINSTON SMITH

    Please ask Mr. Reich if he is in favor of heavily taxing his buddies like Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Al Gore, Barak Obama, Larry Summers, and many others who use their political offices and connections to then cash in by getting obscene amounts of money for giving speeches, doing “consulting”, etc.

  • frank’s wild years

    Robert Reich is a partisan hack. Our country doesn’t need party politics; it needs history taught and a restoration of American values and aspirations.
    Posted by Brandstad

    And you are, what? Not a partisan hack? Please spare me your romper room philosophy.

  • John

    I still believe Anita Hill.

  • Nicky McCatty

    Robert Reich and Paul Krugman should be Barack’s primary advisors on the economy.

    Inequality is a problem by itself. What really matters most, however, is the timidity of politicians who profess caring about “regular folks,” and the limitless pasivity of the populace.

    If our perverted electoral system weren’t so prohibitively expensive, perhaps the moderate & liberal pols would have more courage. The frightening thought is that Citizens United will make things worse. If our fellow Americans would actually read and think, instead of watching Fox, perhaps we could get the Dems to move past Disaster Messaging, but now, I am quite pessimistic about halting the current trajectory.

  • Susan

    Hmmm… Robert Reich is talking about the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer. Will he talk about the real reason why? Will he present the long view that history has shown us time and again? Will the term fiat money be uttered in the next 45 minutes?

  • jeffe

    Clarence Thomas’s Wife Asks Anita Hill for Apology

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/us/politics/20thomas.html?_r=1&hp

    This woman is a real piece of work.
    How are her political activities not something that compromises Justice Thomas’s position on the Supreme Court?

  • Abel Collins

    The prolonged income disparities have left us with the most unequal distribution of wealth in our country’s history. This problem can no longer be solved by making the income tax more progressive, because the rich already have the wealth. Please ask Secretary Reich about the feasibility of dissolving the income tax and replacing it with a flat wealth tax, which would be inherently more equitable. Thanks.

  • Simon Du

    Wake up, Americans!

    I have been really baffled why it is so unpopular when someone suggests a redistribution of wealth. After all, 99% of people will benefit from that! Do they really all believe they would be billionaire one day? Absolute socialism is bad. But uncontrolled capitalism is worse. We need a balance of both elements.

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I’ve been thinking a lot about a cartoon that was on when I was growing up called Biker Mice From Mars which foresaw all of this. The Biker Mice fought Plutarkians who want to rape the Earth of resources while sewing fear and dumping toxic waste everywhere.

    Bigger government or smaller government doesn’t matter to me. I just want to live in a system that works. If shrinking the government just gives more room for corporations to grow, then it’s only feeding the plutocracy. Making the government larger so that the politicians at the top just make more money does the same thing though. It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s about the fight in the dog, and as long as the government is just colluding with corporate interests, there’s not much inspiration to fight for it.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    I have been saying this ever since Citizens United,

    “They may have all the money,
    But we have all the votes!”

    It’s a shame all their money is now going to be able to drown our votes, thanks to Citizens United.

  • Steve

    Robert Reich is part of the plutocracy he bemoans.

    Lord save us from the “best and the brightest” who long ago were co-opted by the oligarchy to insulate themselves from the people who they feared would become wise to their game.

  • Greg

    TOM- Another guest referencing the importance of Citizens United. I have asked this question here every time it comes up and you never put it to them:

    Isn’t Citizens United a First Amendment victory, and doesn’t it put the onus on Congress to pass REAL campaign finance reform, lest our democracy go to hell in a handbasket.

  • http://fuzzarelly.blogspot.com Nancy McKellar

    Enjoying the discussion, but if I hear the term “perfect storm” one more time, I think I will scream.

  • http://challenginglachesis.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    There were ninety and nine that safely lay
    In the shelter of the fold
    But one was off in the hills away
    Buying up all of the gold

  • Grace

    I’m with Wild Frank…Partisan you say? Opinions like your should be reserved for a different place and time. This is too far important an issue to read comments like yours. The only people rich people spend money on is other rich people, if they spend at all!

  • Connie Oswald Stofko

    Media coverage of political campaigns is partly to blame for the power imbalance. There are 7 candidates for New York State governor, but I hadn’t even heard of 5 of them until recently because media doesn’t consider them legitimate candidates because they don’t have large financial backing.

  • Beth

    Robert Reich is a partisan hack. Our country doesn’t need party politics; it needs history taught and a restoration of American values and aspirations.
    Posted by Brandstad

    Branstad, what exactly are you talking about when you throw out vacuous sound-bites like American values and aspirations? You contribute nothing to a substantive conversation and assume that these values and aspirations are somehow a monolithic set of ideals that are tacitly understood by everyone.

    If this is what the national discussion has been reduced to, no wonder nothing is getting done. American values include fair wages for one’s work, equality of opportunity, and an understanding that democracy is about more than advertising and lobbying. How is that different from Mr. Reich’s critique of the burgeoning plutocracy?

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think the very idea of “jobs” has made us into thumb-suckers. Where is the independence in that? “Tell me what to do; figure out a way to pull in money; train me; tell me where to live.”
    Waiting for Jobs? Waiting for Godot.
    We have to focus on staying in place and figuring out what our neighbors need that we are uniquely suited to provide. A homestead representing a living and family traditions of service.
    Allow jobs, sure, but not as the objective of free-thinking people.

  • Tom Ardito

    Thank you for hosting Robert Reich–he is 100% RIGHT ON.

    Please ask him–Why is Pres. Obama not addressing this issue? Why is he not behind the payroll tax changes RR is wisely proposing? He has spoke of income inequality, but seems unwilling to do anything about it.

    If it were up to me, Obama would fire all his economic advisors and hire Reich, Krugman and Kuttner–voices of reason in a crazy time.

    –TA

  • Brianne Fokine

    can I vote for you for president?

  • gloria from Vermont

    Away from the mountains wild and bare
    Away from the Shepherds tender care

  • http://singingstring.org msd

    RR is correct.

  • Beth

    Well put, Ellen Dibble.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Are voters so angry they can’t think? Some say so. The ads tell us to be angry, trigger-happy in votes.
    Why small government? When the size of the pie that goes right back to you the voter (Medicare and Social Security) seems not to be the object of Tea Party anger? More likely the money behind the Tea Party is corporate and is looking for smaller government because they can do all the governing themselves, regulate themselves, without the hassle of democratic process. And cheaper to them the corporations.

  • Robert Snyder

    If the majority of voters are not members of the wealthy class, why are politicians so afraid to engage in “class warfare?”

  • Kellyn

    This sounds a whole lot like redistribution of wealth. The Constitution guarantees us an equal opportunity not an equal outcome. We have the right to prosper and keep the fruits of our labors. This was central to the founding fathers’ vision for this country. We need to get back to that vision. I say NO to redistribution of wealth.

  • Roberto

    While I agree strongly with RR’s concerns about income disparity, “Carried Interest” and deregulation, my question is how to reverse these? Whether it is Sen. Kerry cheating on his yacht, or the Koch Bros using their PAC firehose, both political parties are responsible. As Pres, RR’s own Clinton started the dereg. debacle. But, right now:

    –What specific steps is RR recommending (stop describing and state your solutions)?

    –How is he mobilizing US Economists to publicize those solutions?

    –Will RR tell us if he has offered these–personally, and perhaps unsolicited–to Pres. O? And what was the President’s response? (afterall, if situation is so dire, no sense keeping the kidgloves on…)

    –RR should give ref. to SIMON JOHNSON who has been singing this hymn much longer. Go to “Baseline Scenario”

  • Beth

    Fine; how about a redistribution of opportunity?

  • Susan

    The Perfect Storm?
    “The West’s Pending Paper Money Implosion”
    http://www.thedailybell.com/1460/The-West-Implodes.html

  • dave

    Who cares who sponsors the ads? We need to start thinking for ourselves at some point, why not now? I am a little poor guy who works on government jobs, and I can tell you that it is an incredibly wasteful way to spend money, and with each regulation, it becomes more wasteful.

    I can’t believe people still listen to this little man. He seems to think that all the cash belongs to the government, and that it is the job of the government to take funds away from people by force and give it to others just because they vote that way.

    He doesn’t even mention the core problem – the Federal Reserve Bank.

    The government is the least efficient place to have money, and most of our problems since before both of the World Wars, and the first great depression, are rooted in the fact that government has been increasingly interfering with our various transactions over the past decades.

    Maybe we should get rid of all government assistance here, and tax any product that comes from a company which receives any government assistance from any country in the world, or from any company who’s workers receive any government assistance.

  • Mike Guay

    Not that this is a direct parallel(yet), but in 1789 the French overthrew their wealthy plutocratic leaders when those leaders no longer cared about the poor conditions of the growing numbers of have-nots. Is this what America has in store for it’s future? I surely hope not.

  • Ann

    Abel, You say, “The prolonged income disparities have left us with the most unequal distribution of wealth in our country’s history.”

    Not true, BECAUSE your statement does not look at the CENTURIES when African-American slaves were paid NOTHING for their extraordinary labor, and then after Emancipation when way too many African-Americans were exploited by the peonage system described in Slavery By Another Name.

    We ARE in a terrible, terrible situation — I think we agree on that.

    But, if we “mis-remember” the economic systems of our country’s past, we won’t have the skills to properly assess and solve our current problems, or to assess solutions for the future.

    Thanks!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Kellyn, the government is in many ways tilted to redistribute money up, starting way back in Reagan’s time, using all sorts of basic mathematics, but everything that people with clout in Congress can dream up that would favor them, those with clout (money).
    Further, having more money means having more “voice,” more “vote,” because according to one man one vote, someone’s money should not give them greater voice. And yet under Citizens United, those with more money have vastly more electoral heft. Watch this election. Those who underwrite the negative ads will end up ahead, and it will favor the rich again, redistributing according to their will. It seems counterproductive. A democracy is stronger the MORE people are enabled and productive. The more who thrive, the stronger we are. That is the threat.

  • Brian M.

    Wait a minute… teachers unions are responsible for income inequality?

    Come on. Gimme a break. What nonsense.

  • Roberto

    Kellyn — of course! as long as wealth is earned honestly, and without paying off politicians to create an uneven playing field. Why is carried interest — in reality, annual income earned” by hedge funders, VC and Priv. Equity — treated as “cap gains” and therefore, preferentially taxed? Why are there 52,000 American secret Swiss accounts at UBS bank, alone? Why are key execs allowed to backdate stock options, or “reprice” same after they dip underwater? All are clear examples of cheating, not “lessez faire” markets.

  • michael

    Please ask your second guest if the public schools have failed than how are the public schools in China and all the other countries doing better than the U.S. not failing.

  • Beth

    the failure of the US education system is not because of teacher’s unions or the state, it’s because school budgets are the first things slashed when times get tough. The bigger problem is also that blue collar trades have become targets of disdain and white collar, liberal arts degrees have become the only measure of success. This is how we became a nation of ill-educated consumers instead of highly skilled, educated producers.

  • Scott Burns

    The first business law we need in this country is :If you do business in the US, you pay tax in the US.

    I’d also add that if any business has an office in one of the places like the Grand Cayman Islands, they should have to show their factory in the Grand Cayman Islands or be subjected to US taxes.

    ***

    In 2007 Billionaire Warren Buffet testified in front of Congress that he thought it was ridiculous that he paid taxes at a significantly lower rate than his secretary’s assistant who was only making $60K a year. Then some of Warren’s contemporaries more than hinted that perhaps Warren was suffering from dementia.

    There is a movement among some of the wealthiest people to be taxed more, like the owner of the Hawaiian Tropic tanning products company, that say they want to be taxed more; I wonder why more attention isn’t be paid attention to them in the media?

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    @Greg -Citizens United is not supportive of the First Ammendment, it perverts it by saying that a corporation is an individual. Corporations are already represented in every election by their owners, their shareholders, and their customers. If they can’t fit in a polling booth, they shouldn’t be able to finance any ads.

    @Kellyn-Yes the Constitution guarantees Equal Rights, but that doesn’t apply when the moneyed interests are able to manipulate and game the system for their own ends. If a thief is caught with his hands in the cookie jar he doesn’t get to keep what he stole.

  • Scott Burns

    The first business law we need in this country is :If you do business in the US, you pay tax in the US.

    I’d also add that if any business has an office in one of the places like the Grand Cayman Islands, they should have to show their factory in the Grand Cayman Islands or be subjected to US taxes.

    ***

    In 2007 Billionaire Warren Buffet testified in front of Congress that he thought it was ridiculous that he paid taxes at a significantly lower rate than his secretary’s assistant who was only making $60K a year. Then some of Warren’s contemporaries more than hinted that perhaps Warren was suffering from dementia.

    There is a movement among some of the wealthiest people to be taxed more, like the owner of the Hawaiian Tropic tanning products company, that say they want to be taxed more; I wonder why more attention isn’t be paid attention to them in the media?

    Scott Burns
    Jamestown, NY
    WBFO Buffalo NPR

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc

    Tom:

    Your guest, Alan Meltzer blames the failures of public education on-in large part- the teachers’ unions.

    Well,…the top ten performing states are unionized-the bottom ten are non union right to work southern states. Who’s to blame for the consistent bottom performance of the southern states-certainly not the teachers’ unions-they have none.

    He probably thinks that it is a bad thing to give raises to workers too.

  • Daniel

    Did your guest honestly just assert that American teacher’s unions have destabalized the global economy?

    I’m sorry, but Reich’s explanation is just so much simpler.

  • joe

    I agree w/ prof. reich’s premise that we’re on the verge of, or already deep into, a plutocracy. And I’m not surprised to hear Prof. Meltzer focus on teachers unions and labor as the problem vs. reckless financiers. As Andrew Mellon once said, “during a depression assets return to their rightful owners.”

    I also agree that wide-spread support for blatantly plutocratic Bush tax cuts is counter-intuitive. But beyond redistributive tax solutions: how does the US and the globe deal with unregulated global overcapacity or overaccmulation and the profit squeeze and the consequent wage squeeze that entails. Can America continue to be the debt-financed buyer of last resort for the world’s commodities? And is there any merit to the notion of governmental pursuit of full-employment?

  • Ruth-Arlene W. Howe

    We are already a plutocracy. The middle class folk who may be out front in the Tea Party are mere peons – they DO NOT realize that they are being used, no differently than African Americans in the south were reenslaved.

    Robert Reich is RIGHT ON.

    Your second guest is DEAD WRONG.

  • Yar

    The perfect storm has the lightning bolt of anarchy. It strikes as the gap between rich and poor becomes too great.
    The TEA party is like violence in the hood. The hurt is real and they respond, but that doesn’t mean the reaction is rational.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    Metzler, a shill for the wealthy, and if he is paid, then he is their w&$#@!

  • Patti

    With the HUGE (and anonymous!) corporate backing that the Tea Party receives, why is it continually being touted as a “grass roots” group?

  • http://goodle freeman kirby

    Thank you for such an enlightening program. How does what is currently happening in France bear on where America is currently ??
    Greatest respect for Mr Reich

  • Nick B.

    Meltzer – “…those of favor growth” Growth of what? Growth of the top 10% and oligarchy’s bank accounts?

  • Flowen

    Meltzer is full of you know what.

    Tea Party draws its energy from the angry middle classes, but it is a tool of the Republican political party and the corporations, who are expert at confusing the issues and dividing the population to continue their political/economic dominance.
    Tea Party has good energy and good intentions, but the leadership is hidden and evil.

    Republican values are noble and worthy, republican politicians today are criminals. And anyone who helped develop Reaganomics is clearly much more the problem than the solution.

    The media industrial complex will never give the population the real view of the Supreme Court decision, that decision (allowing undisclosed campaign funding) is worth billions and billions to them. They have a great self-interest in having this law.

    Meltzer is not just an idealogue, he is a dangerous idealogue. Listen to him confuse and divide. It’s all Obama’s and Soro’s fault. Koch brothers are innocent, not holding a gun to anyone’s head.

    Yes, barely a kernel of truth (corn, that is.) from Meltzer.

  • Tom

    Hi Tom,

    THE TEA PARTY IS SUPPORTED BY THE KOCH BROTHERS. GEORGE SOROS WANTS TO HELP THE DOWNTRODDEN. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT. YOU WANT TO REDUCE THE DEBT THEN CUT BACK ON THE MILITARY EXPENSES!

  • Dean

    The Tea Party movement is a classic example of uninformed working-class and middle-class Americans being duped into voting against their own interests by the wealthy and therefore powerful.

    We need massive campaign finance reform in this increasingly corrupt country, but it will never emanate from the congress.

    The populace needs to get wise about the reality of the American political-economic system. Instead of the Tea Party supporting the status quo, there must be a grass roots movement for a new Constitutional Convention. Hey, they got it nearly perfect in 1787, but we now have 230 years of experience with which to make it more so.

  • Brandstad

    Tom

    How much transparency was there for Presadent Obama’s last campaign? Didn’t he accept web donations with no tracking so any foreign doner or company could donate $200 ten times a day without any tracking?

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc

    Come on Professor Meltzer, the tea party middle class?

    The TeaParty movement starts the last week of February 2009, weeks after Pesident Obama is sworn in. They question the President’s birthplace, religion and if he is pro=-American.

    It is clear that the teaparty is made up of yes some angry folks, but it is mostly right winged fringe groups and a very large racist element.

    I had been ivolved in GOP politics going back to Reagan’s 1976 campaign & believe these folks are more in line with Jess Helms and David Duke-they are no where near the Gipper & Goldwater.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    They may have all the money,
    But we have all the votes!

  • Elizabeth

    “The Constitution guarantees us an equal opportunity not an equal outcome.” But that is NOT what we have – the system is skewed and that is what many want to keep. We already have a plutocracy – and it it is using the middle class to carry their message. And as for the Tea Party “uprising” how many of those people carried signs calling for the government to keep its hand off of their GOVERNMENT benefits. Essentially most Tea Party members are arguing that, “I’ve got mine – the heck with everyone else.”

    Until our policies actually start working for EVERYONE the long-term economic health of this country will be in sad shape.

  • Ellen Dibble

    This election, we need the idea “Yes We Can,” but we are voting as if we could not. I’m thinking yes we can but not if so much of our wealth (created by our country, our system, our people, by us) is concentrated in the very top. Without USING our assets (the assets now residing with the very rich), we CANNOT. I’m afraid that might be so. No, we can’t — unless we all pull together.

  • Robert Gladstone, MD

    I am a psychiatrist who treats a number of public school teachers in my practice. As a group, they struggle to educate young people, giving up portions of their income to buy supplies for their classes, as they struggle to educate students from impoverished families. The children in these families suffer from inadequate parenting as the parents struggle to survive, and many of the students are virtually unteachable. I see teachers who suffer physical injury in their classrooms repeatedly, yet struggle on as they and their unions are demeaned by the body politic. The impoverishment of the families is the primary stumbling block, not the educational system.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    Education and Health Care not for the poor?

  • Ed Chase

    Tom, keep pressing Mr Meltzer! I strongly suspect you’ll find that massive inequality is just fine with him. That he just dodged that question is very telling.

  • mark meunier

    my theory is — the tea party people were waiting on the starting line full of rage.
    Because they could not vent at their own , the republicans , they vented at Obama

  • Mark Thomsen

    Could Prof. Reich comment on the size of the debt, and how much that really is a problem for the future? Paul Krugman has long been saying that the stimulus was too small, and that there should be more stimulus.

  • Linda Domina

    I was shocked by Dr. Metzger’s opening argument citing the Tea Party’s support for maintaining the Bush tax cuts for the rich. That argument is neither economics based nor persuasive; in fact, it’s a fallacy. What lay people think, especially if their views have been manipulated by powerful, wealthy ideologues, is not valid evidence! If that’s his best argument to support his rebuttal of Reich, he’s clearly wrong. Moreover, the second point, blaming U.S. education, is simply a ruse to divert attention from our growing plutocracy.

  • William Maher

    For those who are under the very false impression that public schools are underfunded, etc., here are a few teacher salaries from one public school system in a very sub-average per captita city, Revere, Massachusetts(Source: Revere Journal, the favored local newspaper):

    Mattera, Mark – $99,409
    Lanza, Susan – $99,143
    Delgreco-Tringale, Adriana – $98,079
    Healy, Grace – $95,129
    Doherty, Kim – $94,786
    Montani, David – $94,747
    Mauro, Donna – $94,566
    Costa, Matthew – $94,542
    Livote, Stacey – $93,236
    Mastronadi, Carol – $93,079
    MacDonald-Devine, Lisa – $92,541
    Fratoni, Gia – $89,607
    Testa, Ronald – $89,488
    Peluso, Jean – $89,410
    Mulligan, Nancy – $89,250
    Collar, Debra – $89,246
    Cascetta, Nicole – $88,836
    Ficociello, Corinne – $88,648
    Hamel, Dina – $88,531
    Badger, Wendy – $88,441
    Burke, Josephine – $88,322
    Alba-Madden, Karen – $88,008
    Ryan, Charlotte – $87,513
    etc., etc., etc…

  • sally bacon

    in fairness, please note that of the top 20 overall donors in 2011, 16 contributed to the democratic party. Of those 16, five are unions and 6 are corporations.

  • Lily

    On growth: Is it true that Trickle-down-economics failed because the wealthy chose to invest not in small business, but in new and speculative financial instruments? In other words we became an economy based on speculation rather than a truer economy of actual businesses that DO something?

  • Elizabeth

    I have concern that Tea Party activists don’t actually understand the fundamental reality of what is happening in our country right now. I find the anger from them less rational than “passionate.” The misinformation and rhetoric is astounding listening to this segment of the population. But it’s too late for facts …. because as I heard recently on NPR, they mistrust most sources of information.

    I am confounded by Tea Party activists and Republicans (my mother included) saying, “But large corporations are giving to Democrats too!” as an argument. How is this a comfort to Republicans? I find the liberal people I know are hugely concerned about the scads of money (which increases exponentially) given to all politicians by large corporations, particularly under a veil. This is absolutely a threat to our democracy, and I don’t care who is taking the handouts, or from whom. It makes our politicians beholden to corporate machines instead of acting in favor of the voters.

  • http://wbur.org Teresa

    Two points:

    One, on Prof. Meltzer’s earlier argument regarding the state of American education weakening the earnings of the lower half of the scale. If the U.S. redistribution mirrors that of the other 7 countries in the Swedish study, those countries don’t have our education system and their education results are higher than those of the U.S. probably in every case. It sounds more to me like it is changes in regulation, union strength, and taxation that are benefitting the upper classes over the lower.

    Second, the tea party gets large amounts of funding from people who benefit from that lack of regulation, union strength, and lower taxation of the wealthy. They are happy to help out the hood-winked middle class who have been led to believe that these policies will somehow help them.

  • Tom Sessions

    I cringe when I hear opposition to redistribution of wealth. Every governmental action inherently redistributes wealth. The problem is that the present system of redistribution massively favors corporations and the wealthy.

  • Dean

    It sounds like Allan Meltzer gets his history from a political pamphlet. He is flat wrong in his history and in his citations of France as the alternative to the American wealth machine. How about Germany the last 40 years, Mr. Meltzer? How about the US in the 50s and 60s?

  • Ed Chase

    Brandstad, Obama’s donations, even the small ones, are all public and online. There are plenty of sites that will break it down by individual, and even plot the donations on a map!

  • Yar

    Angie,
    The biggest tax middle class workers pay, and the most regressive tax in America is Healthcare.
    Most of it isn’t even called a tax.
    But it is the biggest redistribution of wealth up the economic ladder.

  • john from danvers
  • Paul

    Yes, we should ignore the billionaires funding the Tea Party…

    Like the caller says – it’s a grassroots group of middle class voters who are tired of paying taxes for entitlements enjoyed by the middle class!

    They’re pro-corporate shills angry about Social Security and the minimum wage, just like you and me!

  • kim siebert

    Sure, the Tea Party movement is a middle class movement brought about by how out of whack things have gotten. The Tea Party is just not blaming the right things for the pain that the middle class is experiencing.They’re pointing fingers at the wrong issues.

  • http://wnpr anthony cosgrove

    if i hear a republican refer to george soros one more time as a demoocratic boogeyman i’m going to rip my hair out. at least he has the personal integrity to own up to what he believes in. the koch brothers may as well be wearing kkk hoods – they are cowards.

  • Valkyrie607

    “This is a rich country!”

    “This isn’t a rich country!”

    “This is a rich country, but it won’t be in the future!”

    Does anyone else get the feeling that Alan Metzer is making it up as he goes along?

  • Daniel

    We’ve paid for social programs in the past, as well as living wages, now there is more American wealth then ever before, and we can’t afford anything. The money is still there, it is just being locked up in dragon hoards and kept from building a stronger society. The wealthy do not spend there money. Trickle down economics never worked.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Meltzer is talking about pensions too high, and I do think we need a broad reconsideration of the post-60 years. I certainly think life begins at 65, when Medicare kicks in, and when I get some income that can actually be used to build my business. I might get somewhere before I’m 75. Do I want to retire then? Nope. I like what I do.
    The idea of retiring (if you have a job that strengthens you, makes you grow) — it used to be you retired a couple years before you died, and you did so because you were pretty much useless.
    We need to remember that.

  • Les Wetmore

    What is this notion of the tea party represents the sentiments of the people in this country. They are a small group, funded by the rich, being driven by salem witch trail like rehtoric,
    and revisionist history.

  • Samuel Williams

    I am an “overly educated” engineer married to an even more overly educated primary care physician – our combined anual income does not hit the 250K level. Our income is entirely in line with people in our fields. We are not at all worried about increasing the tax rate of incomes over 250K.

    The notion that are educational system is at fault is entirely baseless. We couldn’t be more educated and out income is capped.

  • Terry Harris

    The big corporations are already shipping IT and engineering jobs to India and China. How long before they start shipping finance and middle management jobs there too.

  • mykey

    OMG!! The working class, who worked to EARN their retirement, getting a pension!!! THE NERVE! Let’s cut the BS and admit that if we cut the defense budget, and get out of Afghanistan, we could get out of debt in a fraction of the time. Or, to ease the debt, let’s raise the tax rate on the top 2%. Face it people, that is not you! As much as you would like to think the Republicans have your interests in mind, they don’t. They are only concerned about themselves.

  • CHRIS M

    Tea Party folks aren’t regular middle class, they are either upper middle class or lower wealthy class. Apparently, once you reach a certain payscale, which is substantialy higher than others in your group, you lose part of your empathy and/or reasoning for those below you.

  • Brandstad

    Gallup polling shows that 70% of people polled agreed with the main tenants of the tea party. The ideas of the Tea Party are truly bipartisan and American.

  • JohnO

    Mr. Meltzer is correct that Americans are largely poorly educated. However, this has allowed them to be duped by the pundits telling people to sacrifice themselves for the sake of corporations and the wealthy. Both those entities benefit greatly by subsidies and loopholes. Listen to the ignorant people of the “Tea Party” who misquote financial facts and the Constitution of the United States. It would be laughable if it were a sitcom, but it is the degradation of the political situation for the gain of those in political office and those who give them graft (obfuscated as campaign contributions).

  • http://robertswineware.com Darrol

    Inequality is not a problem.. someone will always have more you you. even the rich knows someone richer than them

    whats important is that there is a sustained political and social environment that provides venues and mechanism for those without, to gain.. without compromise.

    Which means supporting education and creativity..even when it hurts, Ensuring that every potential qualified candidate for an opportunity has a chance to compete for that opportunity.

    All of this will mean that taxes have to be at a level to support and maintain growth educational programs. and further that the us allows for a competitive environment an that includes the inclusion and embrace of new people (immigrants) to the US. because competition will always make America and Americans better.

  • Matthew VanBrocklin

    From my perspective, and educated (masters degree in geology and working in academia)man the rich continue to get richer and the poor and middle class continue to get poorer. This wealth allows elections to be bought, helps place the wealthy above the law, and limits a great deal opportunity for the middle class. An education does not equate to wealth, though it sure allows for more opportunity to make a decent living. The wealthy in America need to pay their fair share. The tax system should not hamstring the poor and middle class while the wealthy get a break.

    Case in point: my brother (who is also well educated) and I are currently trying to purchase our family farm in rural Northern New York State. We grew up on this farm, hunted and fished and cut our fire wood on this farm. But the price of land here, as it is elsewhere, is well above what locals, to include my brother and I, can pay. Even together, two well educated men with good jobs, we are having a hard time purchasing the family farm because there are those wealthy people from urban areas that can and are willing to pay such high prices that locals in a rural area simply can not compete.

  • Josh

    Please ask Metzer why exactly the middle class Tea Partiers are concerned about their taxes, when middle class taxes have been stabilized or lowered under Obama, and Reich’s plans involve taxing the highest economic tier. Nobody is suggesting increasing a middle class burden.

  • Brandstad

    70% of Americans has to contain a lot of middle class people as well as some rich and some poor.

  • Brandstad

    Josh,

    If you drive a car, smoke, pay property taxes, your taxes have not gone down as a middle class member of society

  • Rich Kenyon

    Robert is correct, JB Morgan said that the top earner in a corporation should not earn more then 40 times what the average earner in that corporation makes. Today is is something like 400 times. Study after study shows that large corproations i.e. CEO and Boards are sending jobs overseas so they can keep increasing their earnings while the middle class suffers.

    The funding for people like Rush Limbaugh comes from corporations who want to maintain this discreptancy, it is a smoke screen aimed at the lower and middle class to convince them the problem is not with the wealthy but with the democrats.

  • Roberto

    Robet — Take out a blue book and “Discuss” –

    1. Education has good and bad teachers. Does lack of accountability, good/time-tested and improved assessment measures, and yes, rewards/punishments, contribute to the system’s decline? Follow-up: do weak tax bases, caps on charter schools, and permanent tenure (after 5 years?!) particularly in the urban zones, do damage?

    2. Outsourcing; are all whiners about goods manufactured outside the US need to accept heftier prices if they want “safe” labor and “green” production? Should US consumers be willing to pay more for well-documented disposal costs of the goods they consume>

    3. Finally, define “middle class” — does it include the State Troopers/Boston’s Finest who *double* their 80-90-100k salaries to goose their pensions? Is $200k+ a “fair” takehome and considered a “right” to be middle class, even when most recipients only have HS degree? Are “Small Business” owners who basically run much of their personal expenses (cars, homes, travel, material goods) through their corp. entity to diminish taxes (yet many of whom are still taking home 250k+) paying into our tax base “fairly”? Are they middle class or *upper* middle class?

  • Brian M.

    Simple equations:

    Alan Meltzer = hack

    Tea Party = people you know who haven’t supported a Democrat since the 60s, supported George W. Bush until 1/20/09 and insisted that no war president could be criticized, who started calling Barack Obama a Nazi at 12:01 on 1/20/09, and who favor a small government that can wiretap your phone.

  • Greg

    Professor Meltzer has a very oldskool, wool-pulled-over-the-eyes take on our system.

    To him the substantive issue delineating Democrats and Republicans is redistribution. I say the overriding fact is that both parties are in the pocket of big spending business.

    He’s basically arguing that “it’s not that much of a plutocracy.” I wonder if he’s read CitiGroup’s pre-recession perspective of our economy. Ok, the word they use is “plutonomy.”

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/6674234/Citigroup-Oct-16-2005-Plutonomy-Report-Part-1

  • Beth

    Mr. Maher – Yowzers; I was raised by two public school teachers in Massachusetts, and I’ve never met any teacher who makes anything close to those figures. Are these figures including what principals and administrators make? I ask because there is appalling income disparity between those who are actually in the classrooms and those who are in the upper eschelons of administration.

  • Roman

    Tom, Bob Reich can talk without end, not for one hour but many – maybe that’s why he is writing books not articles. You need to manage this in order for you to get a chance to ask a question and a different prospective as opposed to a lecture.

  • ThresherK

    Robert Reich, and only one hack, to whom the spurs are being put a little?

    Reich isn’t “balanced” by two Beltway Inbreds and a think-tank right-wing welfare recipient? Or a “realist” who enabled the bingeing deficits during Shrub’s raiseless “expansion” and now (that they’ve got a hangover) insists we all have to be teetotallers because they can’t handle their “liquor”?*

    This is one of the episodes to save.

    (*Yes, metaphor-heavy.)

  • Rich Kenyon
  • James R Smith

    Yes, we have votes but now that companies can contribute to campaigns with impunity and executive pay is rising and they are not paying the equitable share of taxes we should vote with our wallets- everyday!

    No more big cars, sugary drinks (Coke), snacks, large screen TVs, cable or satellite TV. Lose weight and spend more time with your family.

    When the large corporations and fat cat executives don’t have our money where will they be?

    Be very aware of where your money goes. You may be financing the problem.

  • Varda Burns

    The argument made for extending unemployment was a dollar given to the American people is a dollar spent and this is good for the economy – the same should apply to giving the people more stimulus money- We bailed out Wall Street, the car companies, we pay for expensive wars and huge tax cuts for the rich- now it’s time to invest in the American people – If we truly bailout the American people they will spend, spend spend and this will trigger a recovery, increase revenues that will contribute to lowering the deficit. Paul Krugman, Dean Baker, Robert Reich and Stegliz all agree. We cannot let Main Street fail!

  • Kathy Beauchemin

    Thank you Mr. Reich. I cannot wait to read your book. I am a steadfast Democrat because I am so strongly opposed to the ideology of the Republican party. I tasted the bitter fruit of the “trickle down” theory of the Reagan era when I was desperately poor with two young children. We are being squeezed by our local governments, which leaves us even less money, and forces some local governments to rely more and more on corporations to fund programs. To me this is the Republican vision, since corporations are already in charge of their party, and they are the ones who are benefiting by leaps and bounds. Not to say Democrats are pure, but their stated values and general vision for our country is more in line with my own.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    They may have all the money,
    But we have all the votes!
    So Vote!

  • Zak

    Tom Ashbrook did so much better of a job interviewing both guests than Fresh Air’s Dave Davies (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130189031) did interviewing Reich. I love Reich and agree with him wholeheartedly, but I was really disappointed to hear Davies’ pathetic softball questions. Our man Tom takes his job seriously, and asks challenging, probing questions of all his guests, whether they are left or right. When Davies sycophantically nods his head, NPR looks completely biased.

  • Roberto

    Matthew — does not farm land in NY receive special tax consideration? You should already receive a “helping hand” for running an ag. property. If you create a “permanent deed” either to ag purpose, or eventually, conservation, it will free up capital for purchase — as well as discourage commercial developers.

    I agree that estate law can hit family farmers and businesses adversely. I thought that was one of the benefits of Bush tax laws which increased tax-free transfer basis of real prop, as well as increasing dollar magnitude/hurdle of what can pass tax-free to heirs. Have a good T&E lawyer advise you, pronto!

  • Virginia

    I’m so tired of hearing teacher’s unions and teacher benefit packages (health care and retirement benefits) blamed for economic difficulties in this country. Yes, there are problems with unions in general but to use hard working teachers as scapegoats in this economy is blasphemous. Most teachers barely earn enough in their first 10 years of teaching to pay back the student loans they had to take out to fund their education in order to meet government certification requirements. Most teachers spend 100% of their incomes in their local economies because (aside from their mandatory retirement fund contributions) they barely have anything to save after living expenses are met. Most teachers spend significant number unpaid of “non-work” hours during evenings, weekends and summer vacations preparing for class, working on IEPs and attending to mandatory professional development requirements at their own expense.

    Unions are the only thing that stand between teachers earning a living wage and the taxpayer urge to scapegoat, punish and cut costs by abusing teachers an other service workers. Teachers are not getting “special treatment.” Unions are merely working hard to protect and provide for teachers, paraprofessionals and (in NYS anyway) nurses the basic rights and benefits that ALL American workers deserve.

  • Zac

    Alan Meltzer seems to think that inequality is okay, I wonder how much inequality is okay for him? Would it be okay to have 1% of the population get 90% of the income while the remaining 99% population get the remaining 10% income. How much exactly is okay?

    Surely he does not believe that the top 1% ‘created’ 90% of the income and hence deserves it. And even if it did create that much income surely it is not because the other 99% ‘did not want to’ create more income. My point maybe the 1% population created the 90% income because they are in an intrinsic position to do so and the remaining population cannot do so even if they want to. That is the top 1% already have high incomes and that makes them intrinsically able to make even higher incomes.

  • Ann Grenier

    I never seem to hear anyone talk about the fact that our educational system is designed to create perfect consumers. It has been a fabulous success! Many, many of the brightest go on to market STUFF to the products of our schools. More money to schools is touted as the answer to failed system. When we admit that there is a dirty secret at the heart of the supposed “failure” of our educational system perhaps a new conversation can begin.Society as a whole is responsible for inadequate education, not unions, not lack of funding or school committees or politicians. Who is asking why we educate our children? What outcome do we desire? As long as success is defined by dollar signs, the United States of America will continue to decline.

    We need an attitude change, a change in values, less materialism and greater moderation. Come to think of it,all that is now being forced upon us as the unavoidable consequence of the path that we the people have chosen over the past several decades—

  • Stephanie

    Robert’s position is just common sense – people respond viscerally when they lose jobs, houses, becoming homeless, etc. Look at recent history – 100 plus years – the Russian Revolution, the rise of Hitler in Germany. When did these events take place? When people couldn’t feed their children and see a decent future for themselves and their children. What percentage of teapartiers are losing a house or job – or know someone close to them who have? It is very scary to have no job, no home. Resentment breeds very quickly. Understanding complex problems takes time and it is easy to pick on the latest thing – stimulus package, immigrants, obamacare, etc. The problem didn’t happen overnight.

    The middle class has already lost the battle for political control of this country – most of us just don’t know it yet.

    power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – we need full disclosure on political contributions.

    Stephanie

  • jeffe

    I can’t believe what Metzler just said, that the teachers and police and firemen and their unions have rigged the system. He’s demonizing others to make his argument.

    I think there are problems with unions, but to put the blame on them because the states of California miss managed their pension funds is absurd.

    These people put THEIR money into the pensions expecting a return. That said I do think that this points to a huge problem we have in this country with retirement and we pay for it. Raising the age to 70 is not an answer. Interesting to note what is happening in France in this regard. Most people lost half or more of their 401K’s in the downturn. The reality is, while the hedge fund folks have been making a killing, the middle class worker’s income has remained flat, and has been for at least the last 25 to 30 years.

    The amazing thing is the caller who claimed she was a Tea party member who went on about being angry about entitlements. I wonder if one dove deeper into her life if you could find that she was a recipient of the entitlements she is against. One has to ask people like this do they really understand how they are being manipulated by people like the Koch brothers and Dick Amory?

  • mary elizabeth

    How do the superrich become superrich? Is it not from the masses buying their products? After a certain point or number, does not that megafortune belong, in part, to the society that made it possible?
    Could the Koch’s, the Heinz, the Wal-Mart heirs et al have become billionaires without the poor?
    Unless we all want to begin making our own ketchup, beer, toilet paper, etc we are at their mercy.

  • Stephen J. Nelson

    Dear Tom,

    This hours’ interesting discussion only scratched the surface of a number of fundamental issues at the basis of the matter at hand. To wit and to name only a few: 1.) You are entitled to your opinion but not your facts, the heart of Meltzer’s playing with history and facts and equally so by the Tea Party and many Republicans.

    2.) The reality that the middle class, especially middle class (and even lower) whites have for years been stirred up to support candidates who then do nothing to promote their interests and in many cases only worsen their state and this fire further their cynicism (see the many examples of Tea Party middle class, retired or nearly so folks who want their medicare, S.S. and other benefits but then seem to say let’s not keep that line moving, or don’t even realize how reliant, many of them through lifetimes of government or government related employment they are on the supposed “big government” they decry and want to demolish.

    3.) That there is an undeniable racial bias in all of this that accounts for the reason why few if any minorities in the Tea Party, that the interests of those folks are not even on the radar screen of the Tea Party’s purported desire to raise the interest of themselves as somehow downtrodden victims (but somehow black lower class right underneath them are vilified for portraying themselves as victims), and that there was no movement to have these rallying cries under eight years of Bush and if McCain had become president (and all of our economic picture now would probably be worse than it is) there would have been no protest of him, a regular white guy.

    4.) Much of this is about “I’ve got mine” and you are not only not going to get any of that, but we will make sure that the status quo ante is maintained.

    This is just a portion of what you are into sparked by Reich’s initial set of points.

    Sincerely,

    Stephen J. Nelson
    Providence, RI

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy

    It was said several times by Professor Meltzer and callers also alluded to it — ” … not everyone is deserving of a higher station in life.”

    Well, if logic doesn’t work on some people, let’s see if they have even a slice of humor in their bones. Can anything get their attention?

    Who? The Meritocracy: A de-facto caste system that is taking hold in America which states that each person occupies a station in life that is either given to or earned by him (or her) based on the merits of their (not necessarily in order) work output, wealth, intellect, ethical being, perseverance, sense of duty, patriotism, Godliness, cleanliness, (which is next to Godliness) charisma, artistry, balance, and winning smile.

    Exemplar of each – God, Trump, God or Trump, God, Trump, Trump, Trump, God, God, (probably God) Trump, God, God, Palin, but with just one caveat: don’t let those crocodile smiles fool you.

    http://www.venturacommenter.org/ventura-county-local-politics-2010/float-like-a-butterfly.php

  • Roberto

    Sam: I applaud your education. But wonder how your take home is so low. Perhaps you have each chosen a less-remunerative path within your fields, or are in a “low cost” geography. Nevertheless, I too am not worried about paying more into the system on the MARGINAL $$ over 250k (and we have been and will be this year).

    So long as political leadership is making strides to leash the abuses I see in local and national papers. carried interest, Off-shore accounts, “goosed” pensions, etc. Otherwise, I say: stuff your tax proposals! Pres. O needs to show the 98% “less wealthy” that he and his party are truly making changes happen; that begins with pointing finger at Sen. Kerry, Rep Tierney, Rep Rangell et al who have modelled tax cheating to all the rest of the nation. Wonder why everyone else is cutting corners too??

  • Robert

    Mr. Reich proposed a requirement that other countries should establish a minimum wage at 1/2 their median income.

    2007 US Census reports a median income for men at $45,113 ($22.00/hr) and for women $35,102 (17.00/hr).

    The Reich formula applied to the US economy is $11.00 for men and $8.50 for women which results in a minimum wage in the United States for 2008 around $10.00/hr.

    Before requesting other countries to follow the Reich formula, the United States should set an example and raise the minimum age.

    The overall effect would stimulate our economy and decrease the profitability of moving jobs overseas.

  • Gerald Fnord

    I always find it amusing that people who think the Free Market (angelic chorus) should make almost all the valuation decisions in our economy (and that “the economy” should include almost all that happens in our privatised world) are unwilling to let such determine the value of money.

    In market terms, fixing a dollar-value for gold makes as little sense as fixing a dollar-value for human labour—and most of these folks are against the comparetively milder minimum wage, the closest equivalent in the actual economy to that latter.

  • Rich Kenyon

    To Mike Guay – “Let them eat cake”

  • Pat O’Reilly

    I think Robert Reich’s point about the squeezed middle class is a good one, but throwing out a number like the 91% tax rate on those making above $200k in 1954 fails to put it in historical context and does not consider inflation over that time. The 91% tax rate on income of more than $200k in 1954 equates to income of nearly $4 million today. While an income of $200,000 today equates to an income closer to $12,000 in 1954 dollars which put a person in the 38% tax bracket back then.

    Going back to 39% rates would actually be a higher rate for some people than those same professionals would have paid in 1954. And by not indexing these upper middle income tax brackets to inflation, at the same time the Fed is pooring newly created electronic dollars into the economy will put an increasing tax burden on those with middle incomes as their salaries rise along with accelerating inflation in this coming decade.

  • Geri

    I was born into a lower middle class family and learned early in life that hard work was the only GUARANTEE to a modicum of success.

    I worked two jobs while going through college to pay my way and worked full time while getting my masters.

    I have taken minimal time off and been frugal in my lifestyle. As a result I am retiring this year at 62 – in good health – and with adequate personal assets excluding social security – to live comfortably for the rest of my life.

    If more people would follow this work ethic, we would be less dependent for our next handout from big brother and be much happier. God Bless America!

  • Jim in Omaha

    I have only been able to hear a tiny part of the broadcast, but I heard Meltzer argue that most government benefits go to the middle class and that same middle class is the core of the tea party angered by a deficit caused by government benefits. He is obviously a lightweight when it comes to informed debate, but he actually, although inadvertently, hit the “grass roots” anger issue squarely on the head:

    The tea partiers’ enemy is themselves! They are the recipients social security and military pension payments, Medicare coverage, supporters of vastly increased military-security spending,, good roads, police and fire protection, court enforcement of commercial activity. In short, they want and are the recipients of the very government spending that they so publicly throw tantrums about. I say give ‘em what they want: Let’s end THEIR government benefits, then check back in a year or so and see if their opinions have changed.

  • Roberto

    jeffe — I will amend my remarks: most cops, fire, teachers prob. do a decent job and don’t rig their pensions, but many do. Please review the following culled from public records by the Herald; I sorted by “State Police”:

    http://www.bostonherald.com/projects/payroll/massachusetts/earnings.DESC/POL/

    Virginia — I agree with most of what you say. But how come public systems are “failing” us? Would Ann G have the answer?

    Ann G — me thinks you refer to a “fork in the road” and directing less academic students to more vocational paths — say after 2 yrs. of high school? or not providing so much financial aid to people not performing at high enough level warranting a college degree? I would use some of those savings to pump up childhood education — there I agree 110% w/RR; the “benefits” of Headstart and other programs are rife. The US political system has failed to act on this, and we lose immense opportunity every day!

  • Rachel Rose

    I do believe our democracy has shifted and morphed into a plutocracy. I am a professional educator in my mid-thirties with a Masters Degree. I find it increasingly difficult to make a comfortable living and rise above lower middle class status in today’s current economic and political climate. It seems to me that the money simply does not flow like it did forty years ago because it is being horded by the ultra-weathy. Those who say that everyone has opportunity in this country to receive a college education and be successful financially, do not understand that the extreme cost of education prevents many intelligent, hard-working people from receiving a degree. However, that hardly seems to matten when there are a rash of college/university educated professionals out in the world who cannot find firm footing in the workforce anyway. It is apparent to those of us struggling to get by that the weathy are in control of the economy and politics in this country. The United States no longer has a government for and by the people. It is obviosly a government for and by the ultra-weathy and the corporations.

  • Flowen

    Simon Du @ 10:19 Thank you for your valuable and right on international view!

    Ellen Dibble @ 10:36 Nice piece!

    Frank’s wild years @ 2:31 AM: “What amazes me is while we all sit here typing over in France the whole country is going nuts over changes in the retirement age. Could you imagine if we had protests that shut down the country that demanded that we have a decent single payer health care system. I can’t…”

    Wow! You’re right! Those Frenchies are on to something!

  • Robert Bronstein

    For all those are the Tea potty screamers:
    Fine you want to shrink government spending here are some suggestions:

    Refuse
    FDIC insurance
    Public education for your kids
    Medicare for your parents
    Social Security for your retirement.
    National guardsmen in states of emergency
    Bridges to cross bodies of water,by taking a private ferry &
    Boycott events at publicly funded arenas and stadia

    If you do those things first then I’d be happy to listen
    consider your arguments

  • Gene

    I believe Dr. Reich is an incredibly astute and reasoned person whose insight should be given more visibility throughout the media. Thank you On Point. The truth is that we already live in a plutocracy and a miniscule, obscenely wealthy minority, through vehicles including the Supreme Court’s deeply flawed Citizens United ruling and our tax code, is being enabled to become more wealthy and powerful.

    For the stability and health of our country (including the wealthy class), we must address the current highly uneven distribution of wealth. People – WAKE UP! Remember the old slogan ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. 99.9% of ‘We the People’ want to feel safe, be productive members of society (through work and educational pursuits) and feed, clothe and house ourselves and our families. Unfortunately, increasing foreclosures, bankruptcies and crime are signs that a shrinking middle class and growing portion of our citizenry living below the poverty line are starting to have dire impacts.

    I totally agree with Dr. Reich in that I believe that radical, substantial measures (changing tax code, improving broader access to quality education, encouraging increased business investment in domestic labor, manufacturing and services) must be taken to ensure the future health and prosperity of our great nation.

  • Ruth

    So according to Mr Maher, teachers are not allowed to make over a certain salary. It doesn’t matter if they have attained higher college degrees (Masters or Doctorates) and have worked in the field for decades. Doesn’t matter – put up a list of people and their salaries with no further information concerning them and we are supposed to be outraged (outraged!!!!!) that a teacher could make this type of income. Apparently, teachers are supposed to always be paid low incomes no matter what and be happy with it. Yeah right!
    So Mr. Maher, please tell us, what is the salary cap for teachers – no matter their background, years of service, or area they teach in taken into account?

  • ThresherK

    Geri,

    Work ethic?

    Do you have any idea how many Wall Street types say they work harder than people who hold regular jobs, and how seldom anybody in the press says otherwise? Have you tuned into CNBC waiting for someone to ask one of those folks who brought down Wall Street about their “work ethic”, in a year where Wall Street pay is going to be back at pre-crash levels?

    Do you have any idea how many people are working regular three jobs for what used to be one paycheck? Or how many non-overtime faux “management” jobs mean a so-called “40 hour workweek” that goes to 60 hours, if someone is “serious about their career”?

    Everyone has the “work ethic”. The plutocrats are just exploiting the schtick of it to keep the other people from picking up torches and pitchforks. Don’t enable the plutocrats.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Man, this whole show was like a Disney movie, with a lovable professor and a bad guy who got his good-natured butt harmlessly whipped. Alan Meltzer should report for another casting call in the morning. The comedy routine of blaming teachers for our failed economy rightly belittled privileged fairy tale believers who say more education and campaign finance reform will solve all.It also diverted useful discussion, and a host with fortitude would have bid him adieu at that juncture, but not Old Uncle Tom.
    It’s a little late for polite solutions considering the accelerating updraft of wealth and income. Like a black hole, increasing mass rapidly increases pulling power. I,m afraid the money game must run it’s course while we all install a personal solar panel and grow container gardens in a sunny window. Obama was the “best we were allowed to have” but even he will stand by while people die without medical treatment, suffer malnutrition, and have their brains fried with sales pitches masquerading as education. Bill Clinton didn’t feel YOUR pain, that was just his gluttonous guts. But then, Reagan and the Bushes really got off on Your pain.

  • Mrs. Metzler

    Quit picking on Alan. He’s a good boy. I just bought him some new underwear with my Social Security check. He is smart and respectful to the people that matter. You little people are just green with jealousy. Tom, you are a bully. And that Bobby Reich is a dirty fighter beating up on a smaller kid.

    Alan: I loved the lacy apron you sent on Mother’s Day, and the fondue set the year before was marvelous. Call Mama, Honeypie.

  • Roberto

    Sadly, ThresherK, not everyone has work ethic. Or, their perception is warped about what “real product” they are returning to society… Designing a fair compensation for valued services is critical — and I very much value teachers’ contribs. But there are excesses there, and many who do NOT perform adequately. Perhaps not in your system, but I see it in Boston schools, for sure!

    Also, that Robert B’s “spending” list shows we all get something from USGovt. But, everyone wants only the “somethings” they value. We vote for politicians (I hope) who we think will make the best decisions about spending and laws governing our country, but our view is through the prism of our own circumstances/needs.

    Even so, it seems to me that too many politicians are beholden to the monied special interests — bankers AND unions. Worse, they have become entrenched, and thus are truly aloof to their electorate. The system itself has become “schlerotic” thereby prohibiting any progress. All of these are part of what goads Tea Party activists (not counting the “paid” ones making noise thanks to these opaque funding organizations), but I don’t think for one minute the Republicans will be any better stewards of my vote…

    Maybe it will take a few boycotts, riots, or blocked highways/train tracks to catch the attention of our Political Leadership. Am not holding my breath, though!

  • Ann

    I’m bad at math, but perhaps I’m onto something.

    Perhaps we need to use a NEW KIND OF MATH to determine tax rates for a SURTAX on the wealthiest people among us.

    I believe that Robert Reich said that many CEO’s earn 350 times what their workers do; whereas, in the 1950′s (I think), that figure was only 50 times.

    Perhaps, in addition to a progressive income tax, perhaps CEO’s could have a surtax that was tied to the MULTIPLIER — the number that represents their income compared to the average (median? mean?) income of their workers in a multiple figure.

    This could be difficult, because if you were Shakespeare, and you needed workers to box up your handwritten plays you’d created, would this system be fair? I don’t think so. Nevertheless, when some CEO’s are driving their corporations into bankruptcy or into being bought out, while the workers ARE doing real work, then, perhaps something like this could be considered (well, BEFORE the bankruptcy and/or buy out).

    If anyone else is good at math, or can see how this germ of an idea could ACTUALLY be structured, please speak up! This is just a brainstorming idea, and as I presented it, it has many flaws. Thanks!

  • jeffe

    Roberto I agree with you. In Massachusetts the Police union has been fighting the removal of police being on road work sites. I use to live in Vermont and they use work crews only and part of the crew are traffic controllers. From my experience these work better.
    The amount of times I’ve been in traffic at a work site and there is the cop or state police officer just standing there doing nothing or talking on a cell phone.
    you never see this in Vermont. Mind you it’s rural.
    Even so this BS should stop.

    I’m all for reforms, I don’t think anyone in the police or fire department should walk away with 200K a year pensions. I’m also against this nonsense of padding that they are allowed to do.

    However we need to stop demonizing the unions and the people who work for the public.

  • ThresherK

    Or, their perception is warped about what “real product” they are returning to society.

    Real product return to society?

    Your obsession of blaming teachers and unions for not teaching harder and better pales in comparison with the circle-jerking of banksters and financiers.

  • ThresherK

    There are plenty of people who will rail about the public unions until they are broken, and be cheered for it. Anybody in the mainstream press who wants to be tagged for “class warfare” will rail against “Wall Street” and be called a “communist” for it. And the same class of people who invented all the devices which brought us down this last decade have an entire media empire (Rupert Murdoch’s) to paper over their actions and display them as honest, regular folks.

    (Oh, and I forgot to close italics. Oops.)

  • twenty-niner

    “There is a movement among some of the wealthiest people to be taxed more, like the owner of the Hawaiian Tropic tanning products company, that say they want to be taxed more; I wonder why more attention isn’t be paid attention to them in the media?”

    Why wait for a tax hike? What’s stopping them from simply cutting a larger check to the Treasury? The Treasury will happily except it.

  • Jim in Omaha

    ThresherK @ 11:55

    So right you are. A scene that should have led off the Congressional hearings in 2008 on the bank bailout requested by Hank Paulson would have had just one of our elected officials asking:

    So Mr. Paulson, most Americans don’t understand
    what you titans of finance do, it being so
    complicated and all. So why don’t you begin
    by telling us what work you did to earn the
    $35 million you were paid at your job with
    Goldman Sachs. Tell us about your toughest day
    at that job so we can all get a better
    understanding of this mysterious and oh so
    complicated world of finance that the taxpayers
    are now being asked to bail out. I’m sure
    our citizens would be more than willing to
    help out if they just know how hard you all
    work and truly earn your millions.

    Does anyone in authority ever ask these greedy bastards just what they actually do to deserve their obscene take?

  • jean

    Phooey. We missed our chance. The last time we had income discrepancies of this magnitude was just before the great leveller, the Great Depression. Many of the financial predators were ruined, many of them jumped from their office windows.

    This time, we put the culprits in offices with windows that don’t open and we bailed them out. We left their prey to be evicted or laid off or to struggle without unemployment and health insurance.

    We-the-people blew it.

  • Kelsey Hale

    Boy does that Meltzer make me angry- and I am not a misguided Tea Partier. He says that our education is failing us. Boy is it ever, but not in the way that he is speaking to. My educated friends and I have graduated college and some of us are without jobs. All of us are saddled with student loans (despite having worked through college). Six years on from graduation, I struggle to pay my rent for my basement apartment which I share with a roommate. I have crap insurance so a large portion of my income goes to healthcare. I cannot increase my earning power without going back to school and I don’t expect to be able to afford graduate school in this lifetime. My parents are members of the lower-middle class, but my siblings and I are on the brink of homelessness. I am the woman on the street and I am against economic redistribution as it is happening: the money is moving up and it doesn’t trickle down. Just as Reicher said, the middle class and poor spend a much larger portion of their income. That’s money that goes back into the economy and back to the corporations. Politicians should be selling a “trickle up” agenda. Higher taxes for the wealthy and lower taxes for the middle class and poor!- this is the clarion call for the middle class, Mr Meltzer.

  • http://www.oldelmtree.com Andrea Studebaker

    I just finished reading Aftershock. I have already recommended it to a dozen or more people. I would like to know what Sec. Reich would have said in the book about Foreclosuregate, had it been exposed while he was still writing the book.

  • jeffe

    I’m sorry but I don’t think Supreme Court justices should attend political retreats. This is such a conflict of interest and I question the ethics of this.
    Especially in the recent Court ruling on the Citizens United case.

    the New York Times reported that an upcoming meeting in Palm Springs of “a secretive network of Republican donors” that was being organized by Koch Industries, “the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes.” Buried in the third to last graph was a note that previous guests at such meetings included Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, two of the more conservative members of the bench.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/20/scalia-thomas-koch-industries_n_769843.html

  • http://subnumine.livejournal.com Subnumine

    As Richard Henry Lee said at the time, the Constitution depends on the “equal division” of property and the “strong arms furnished to our people by nature and situation” to defend them against the usurpations of the centralized Federal authority. Those who expect to be free and unequal expect what never was and never will be.

  • Ann

    Since the cost of housing and health insurance, transportation, and our digital needs (for communication, inventory, and record keeping, even without the entertainment component) are staggering, what I’m about to say may not work at all, but here goes.

    I went to Sicily in 2005. I cannot claim to know how their economy works, or if it even does. And we were told that a certain “factor” was at play enough that we were not to even mention the word — the word that I’m not even using here.

    What I DID see was this: markets, sometimes miles long, of fresh food, wine, flowers, in every town. In the restaurants, all the food was made from scratch with fresh, local products. When you order ravioli, the pasta itself wasn’t even made until you ordered it, and then it was created from flour, eggs, whatever comprises it. Meanwhile, there were streets of shops, with extraordinarily beautiful marzipan, ALL of it was exotic, making the fruit-shaped marzipan we have here look like nothing special.

    There were so many shops selling handmade/handpainted ceramics of all kinds. The religious festivals we passed by used handmade costumes (new designs for each year), and local musicians (young & old) accompanied the parades thru the hand-decorated streets. (Later, on TV, I saw a show about Easter festivals in Sicily; one town divides the citizens into two groups which compete for the best street-decorating prize, using only natural materials, meaning reeds, grasses, bamboo, and whole decorative walls made with BREADS!).

    WHY do I bring this up in a discussion about our economy? Well, I think we are PARTIALLY in this situation because we were sold on the idea of CHEAPER GOODS. We were sold on the idea of going to Big Box and being able to buy fifteen presents for each kid on their birthday or religious holiday. At first, it was cheap toys, then it was cheap electronics, NOW it’s getting to be cheap electronic PROGRAMMING! NOT a good thing at all! Even our highly educated workers are seeing their jobs out-sourced; yet they still have student loans to pay off. Now, MOST of the out-sourcing is for the PROFITS of the SHAREHOLDERS, and many shareholders are ordinary citizens who worked hard but are now in retirement. But wasn’t Capitalism supposed to include Investment as well as Profit?

    WHAT IF WE DID A PARADIGM SHIFT!!!??? Before Big Box stores, neighborhoods had their own businesses, from stores that sold products to service businesses. Now, corporations have taken over so much of the market that small, local businesses have a hard time competing. Besides the loss of jobs in all our neighborhoods, we have lost the mentoring and takes-a-village-to-raise-a-child contributions of the former neighborhood businesses. WHAT IF WE DID A PARADIGN SHIFT???!!!

    Even think about how we listen to music, for the most part. MOST of us listen to music by FAMOUS people, delivered thru corporations, rather than listening to handmade music by our neighbors, who could provide a service BUSINESS to the community.

    WHAT IF WE DID A PARADIGM SHIFT and STOPPED BUYING THE CHEAP STUFF FROM OVERSEAS. Instead of buying three prints of work by famous artists that were framed in China, what if I bought a single artwork by someone in my neighborhood. If I couldn’t afford much, I might buy an artwork by a teenager who was busy being entrepreneurial, instead of being so depressed about his future in this country that he was already lured into a gang for quick wealth in what he expected would be a short life? Instead of going to a chain restaurant that uses lots of pre-processed “food” products, what if I went to a local restaurant so small that they also made the pasta from flour and eggs. And so on, and so on. Instead of buying eighteen gifts for the family holiday, what if I hired two local musicians, older Portuguese men who play Fado guitar, to serenade my family for the half-hour that I could afford.

    WHAT IF WE BROUGHT THE ECONOMY BACK TO A POINT WHERE WE COULD ALL PARTICIPATE IN IT? THAT WOULD BE THE PARADIGM SHIFT. It would be engaging, because we would all be working on making OUR OWN business (product or service) within our LOCAL environment. There could even be bartering when times were really tough.

    Right now, small businesses have been trying to figure out HOW they can compete in a Global Marketplace. MAYBE it’s time to Stay Home, but STAY HOME BIG! There is NO reason that a local marketplace can’t be as vibrant as a global marketplace. Right now, for me, the term “global” is a joke! If products from China taught me about Chinese culture and aesthetics, I’d be delighted. But, instead, products from China sometimes even imitate the “old farmhouse” look of Ye Ole’ New England! That’s not global! That’s FAKE!

    Back to the Sicilians. Apparently in France, if you go into a cheese market, they will offer you EVERY cheese made in France. In Sicily, if you go into a cheese market, they will offer you the LOCAL cheese, wine & olive oil of their town, possibly of their region. So, the farmers who grow and process these products and the restauranteurs who use them are part of a Local Network that CREATES Economic Value!!! Our own farmers markets have been moving in this direction. I’m just suggesting that perhaps we could think Really Big about this, and take this BEYOND agriculture & food! I could buy your computer expertise, and you could buy my art lessons for your elderly father, or my daughter’s short story, even!

    We are so used to thinking that the current cultural AND economic movement is toward the digital. MAYBE, altho that is true, perhaps, because of the Plutocracy, that is NOT a safe enough direction for us to rely on so completely. AND, if ONE thing is true, its OPPOSITE is usually ALSO true. So, in a Global Market, perhaps we MUST go LOCAL! Perhaps ALL of us together on this blog page could support one another if we figured out what goods and services we have to sell to one another.

    Growth? Does that always have to include exploitation (slavery; Jim Crow exploitation & wages; exploitation of immigrant workers; lower wages to women workers until Obama signed a new law; putting kids into jobs adults used to support whole families on; NAFTA; outsourcing first to poorer American South, then overseas)? Capitalism DOES look for the lowest wages. PARADIGM SHIFT: what if we refused to be Classic Capitalists, but became Hyper-Local Entrepreneurs instead? What if Local were more important than Cheap?! Also, right now, growth seems like an indulgence. I think many Americans just want to stay even and/or stop their frightening falls into jobless despair. BUT IF WE HAD A PARADIGM SHIFT…..

    Could this work? As I said, I don’t know if this IS what is working in Sicily, for many people at least. I’m sure it’s not their entire economy, but, the restaurant staffs we met SEEMED unstressed. They SEEMED to be lifestyle-content.

  • Will H

    As a Carnegie Mellon alumnus, I am ashamed that there is a professor like Alan Meltzer. Why the heck is CMU keeping him around and allow him to sully the CMU name??

    Tea Partiers may be middle class, but it’s part of the middle class that has been bought, paid for, and incited by the money from the likes of Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News, and the Koch Brothers and their 30 second TV ads. Someone should survey the Tea Partiers and find out what percent of them are ardent Fox News watchers. I bet that’s close to 100%. They are a gullible, angry mob voting against their own interests.

    Wake up America!

  • twenty-niner

    “This time, we put the culprits in offices with windows that don’t open and we bailed them out. We left their prey to be evicted or laid off or to struggle without unemployment and health insurance.

    We-the-people blew it.”

    Yes, and what most people don’t realize is that significantly more Democrats voted for H.R. 1424 (otherwise known as the biggest heist in American history) than Republicans.

    House:
    Democratic 172 Yeas, 63 Nays
    Republican 91 Nays, 108 Nays

    Senate:
    9 Democratic Nays
    14 Republican Nays
    1 Independent Nay

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll681.xml
    http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00213#position

    The facts are that the House could’ve stopped this thing and required that any bailout be contingent on cram downs, regulations, and that share holders bare most of the pain. Now you have a resurgent Wall Street with 2 big investment banks instead of 4, and with both being very sanguine that the tax payer and the Fed’s printing press will come running at the slightest sign of trouble.

    The problem with our economy is not capitalism, it’s crony financial capitalism. The banks should be there to serve industry and the real economy, now they only exist to serve themselves; and it’s clear that Congress and the White House exist to serve the banks.

    Go to the site above. If you’re congressman voted yea, make sure you vote nay!

  • William

    I always think of that old Communist song “Internationale” when Reich shows up on radio or tv.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    They may have all the money,
    But we have all the votes!

    Time for my idea called “The Government Plan”
    It includes the following bare bones benefits:
    -Wellness care (Including preventative dental)
    -Basic Food stamp allotment
    -Dormitory living arrangements Or equivalent Tax credit.
    -Public Transport to and from job or gas allotment
    -
    How is this paid for? Easily, we all contribute the same amount, being the same amount of time. Say it works out to eight hours per week. Then someone making $10.00/hr would pay $80.00, someone making $100.00/hr would pay $800.00. The unemployed would have to volunteer an equivalent amount of time. Children over age four or so would “pay” by being in school and getting good grades. We all learn a little responsibility, we are all a little healthier and we all have a boost to our pride at having contributed to our country.

    Unfair to the $100.00/hr person? How so? Is their time really any more valuable than anyone elses? Essentially, we all have the same amount of time here on earth. This is only to provide a base level of benefits for all. If you want to have enhanced benefits you work a little harder, you buy a supplemental plan, you buy extra groceries. This doesn’t require all your money, just a portion of it.

  • Russell Williams

    Wow, I can’t believe what I’m reading. It’s staggering to me the amount of people who believe someone should take care of them. Don’t get me wrong I’m not against helping the down and out but this attitude that someone owes you something is disgraceful. I’m sorry I just don’t get it. If things continue on track they are on now with people in this country only looking for a handout it won’t be long before the riots you see in France will start to happen here. And for those of you who believe the rich owe you something maybe you should think about how much the majority of them had to sacrifice to get what they got.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    @Russell Williams- No one is saying someone should take care of them. The Constitution guarantees Equal Rights, but that doesn’t apply when the moneyed interests have manipulated and gamed the system for their own ends and benefit. If a thief is caught with his hands in the cookie jar he doesn’t get to keep what he stole. The Bush Tax cuts were just such an example. They were never paid for, so they should be paid back, with interest. The same with the bailouts for the banks. They need to make good the losses they caused elsewhere by their behavior.

    The wealthy in this country have controlled way to much for way to long. It is not a death tax it is an inheritance tax. Bill Gate’s father (Bill Senior)understands why it is necessary and right to have an inheritance tax. Go check him out. Essentially it boils down to the fact that much of the innovation that has occurred and is occurring stems from research at our Public Universities which are funded in large part by Federal dollars.. In order to continue to fund such research the governments kitty needs to be replenished. The fairest way to replenish these funds is to tax capital gains on sales of stocks, and tax estate transfers.

    I am not saying something for nothing, but how can you say that it is smart economically to not have Universal health care in this country. Are you unaware that we spend 17.4% of our GDP on health care while other industrialized nations only spend 10.5% and they cover all their citizens? On top of that they have better results (lower infant mortality, longer life expectancy). We are barely in the top ten of those. How can you read the Constitution and without realizing that when it says Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (not property)that health is a part of life? Are you that callous and cold-hearted that you actually believe this should be allowed to continue? Senator Mitch McConnell (my state’s senator) is fond of saying “We have the best health care in the world”. What he doesn’t say and is afraid to say (because he is a lily livered piece of cow dung) is that he means he and his fellow senators have the best health care in the world, which is actually true.

    I would guess that you as so many conservatives seem to believe that “Free Enterprise” they worship is the Holy Grail. For your information “Free Enterprise” does not and never has meant “Survival of the Fittest”. Free Enterprise means you are free to pursue whatever business you choose so long as it is done legally, with out harm to others or the environment. Then you say, there are to many regulations, we saw where to few or poorly enforced regulations got us with the bank bailouts under “W”, or all the toxic waste sites before the EPA was created, or all the coal miners deaths and injuries before MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration), or workplace injuries and deaths before OSHA.

  • Lawrence Fernald

    Both economists Alan Meltzer and Robert Reich are intelligent men. To some extent their perfectly good arguments address different windows or segments of the economy. I have the feeling that the two of them could hammer out some changes in compromise that would benefit everyone. Let’s get with it folks, talk specifics, talk
    compromise. It’s what makes the world go round.
    To Tom Ashbrook: I would like to hear more of these men.

  • NICK

    TEACHERS OVER PAID??????

    I am not a teacher but I know that those salaries take years and years to reach PLUS lots more expensive graduate school. To reach the salaries listed earlier, a teacher needs 20 years, MASTERS plus 45 HOURS of schooling. THOSE STUPID PEOPLE WHO THINK TEACHERS ARE OVER PAID HAVE NOT SEEN OR TAKEN A COLLEGE COURSE in ages. Look up the cost of an accreditted school today.

    Kids on Wall Street are making those high salaries their first year and screwing people to make it.

  • http://incongressional.com Erodriguez

    The teacher bashing is pervasive.

    Tom: How did this happen to the economy?

    Metzler: It’s the teachers fault.

  • http://www.rebeltumbao.com Matt Jenson

    Get this FOOL Meltzer off the air. Allowing such idiots any air time does more damage to the effort to tell the people the truth than can be imagined. Sorry oh Mr. Highly respected ‘expert.’ It’s an insult to all of humanity that $$ is allowed to RUN practically everything in the world today. Don’t you remember how well deregulation worked (from Reagan to Bush II)….NOT! GOD, I’m so pissed off at these jerks! How can anyone defend such a concentration of wealth and power to such a small (and vastly disillusioned) few at the very top! WTF!!!!

  • Karen Gayle

    Why is the anger directed toward the poor? I do not understand why people aren’t upset about all the money that is controlled by the few at the top. Do most people just envy them so much and want to be like them that they don’t want to criticise? The statement about the difference in the wage from the workers and the CEO was startling. That is why unions were created…doesn’t anyone know their history? This is very scarey. I am in Florida and this is the first time I really don’t know who to vote for. I am so disappointed with the democrats. What are they doing with their majority?

  • Paul Dobbs

    How can Professor Meltzer sleep at night?

  • FallenAcorn

    Please, let’s ask Robert about “The Century of the Self” as it (and the documentary by the same name) explain alot.

    Thank you.

  • FallenAcorn

    IN A WORLD OF LIMITED RESOURCES, YOU CANNOT BASE YOUR EXISTENCE ON PERMANENT GROWTH AND EXPANSION.

    The jig is up. America is over.

  • jim strong

    Soros Gives $1 Million to Target Fox News
    Wednesday, 20 Oct 2010 07:35 PM Article Font Size

    Billionaire currency titan George Soros, long a patron of liberal political causes in the United States, is giving $1 million to Media Matters in what he says is an attempt to stop the growing popularity of Fox News.

    The money, Soros said, is designed purely to “to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast.”

    The donation was all the more notable since Soros, who has donated to MoveOn.org and other liberal political websites, said earlier this year that he was holding back from giving to Democrats in the midterm elections because the Republican “avalanche” in the midterm elections was nearly impossible to stop.

    The donation itself seems to buttress a long held theory by Fox commentators – that the liberal Media Matters has been under the control of Soros’ money for some time. Soros has repeatedly denied that until Wednesday, when he announced his gift, Politico reported.

    Fox News host Glenn Beck, meanwhile, has accused the group of being a “left-wing George Soros-funded media machine” and claimed it called him a jihadist.

    But Soros still denied the allegations that he had funded Media Matters before Wednesday.

    “Despite repeated assertions to the contrary by various Fox News commentators, I have not to date been a funder of Media Matters,” Soros said. “However, in view of recent evidence suggesting that the incendiary rhetoric of Fox News hosts may incite violence, I have now decided to support the organization.

    “Media Matters is one of the few groups that attempts to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast. I am supporting Media Matters in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy.”

    Soros apparently played a role in the conspiracy theory that allegedly drove convicted felon Byron Williams to arm himself and set out to kill staffers at the Soros-funded Tides Foundation the ACLU this summer, Politico reported.

    Williams said he had first heard of the theory from other sources, but he told Media Matters in a jailhouse interview that Glenn Beck was a “schoolteacher” who “blew my mind” on such topics. He told the interviewer to watch Beck’s June shows to get more information about Tides.

    On Friday, Drummond Pike, the founder and CEO of the Tides Foundation, said “there will be blood on many hands” if the next assassin succeeded, and called for a network-wide advertiser boycott of Fox News and Beck. This morning Media Matters launched a website to join the effort.

    But Beck on Tuesday pointed out that Soros has been attempting to influence American elections for years. He also offered Soros to come on his show and debate, “mano-a-mano, no minions, no spin doctors, no NPR journalists, just you and me.”

    Glenn Beck has said on air that Soros funds Media Matters 14 times this year so far, according to Media Matters. But his main problem with Soros is how he manipulates world currency at the expense of the U.S. dollar, and how he is influencing journalism through huge donations to National Public Radio and other left-leaning media.

    “He’s been expanding his influence through groups such as the Tides Foundation,” Beck said on his show Tuesday. “And if you think it’s too much to call him the evil emperor from “Star Wars” episode, really more of the “Episode Six” emperor.

    “If you think it’s too much, well, he is the guy who’s called for the managed decline of the U.S. dollar. Gee, George, thank you so much. I can’t wait for my money to be worth less. Thank you….”

    “See, what he does is buys up everything he can. He buys gold, like, right now, he’s buying gold in huge sums, and then he just — he waits for the right time and then he says, I don’t know, I think maybe currency is not going to go so well, I’m not sure if I’m going to stay, and he sells and everybody panics, and they collapse. Four times. You’re going to go for number five?”

    After explaining this, Beck launched into an explanation of how Soros is trying to manipulate U.S. public opinion similar to the ways in which he manipulates currencies.

    “And now, here’s what he’s doing….” Beck said. “He’s buying up journalists. Soros’ Open Society Institute just announced for you $1.8 million to add 100 journalists at NPR radio stations across the country. The only good thing here is at least George Soros is now just buying the reporters out in the open. So, that’s great.

    “So, the Huffington Post is going to be funded by George Soros and the Tides Foundation and their investigative arm. Yes. And then Soros Open Society Institute is helping fund NPR. That is great.”

  • Bryan T

    When it comes to any worthwhile analysis of contemporary life in the U.S., wealth inequality is the enormous white elephant in the room (pun referencing the GOP intended): if one ignores the issue, then that person is likely to be nothing more than an apologist for a social system that cannot long be sustained.

    Let’s look the perpetrator squarely in the eye: Corporate dominance of our lives. Extreme corporate wealth and the political power that flows from it are directly implicated in an enormous number of social problems. Thus, OnPoint is to be commended for giving this important subject an airing, and Robert Reich is right on target in many of his criticisms and warnings.

    Take the example of executive compensation. On this subject, we can dismiss the comments of Allan Meltzer as so much right-wing propaganda. Neither he nor any other ideologue rigidly attached to concepts like “freedom” is willing to admit that their cherished beliefs bear little resemblance to reality in salient cases like the compensation of top corporate officials. Where is the sacred law of supply and demand in the board rooms of companies like Bank of America, Exxon, or Monsanto (not to say AIG) when they vote to reward their executives arbitrarily high salaries and bonuses? The decision amounts to an agreement among backslapping good ol’ boys, completely inoculated from public review. This is not to speak of the bitter irony of doling out huge sums to executives who have driven their companies off an economic cliff or “succeeded” by firing the most workers (and therefore lowering the company’s main source of bottom-line costs), making a mockery of the vaunted notion of accountability with which the rest of us have to live.

    Lest we forget, right-wing ideas that boil down to coddling the rich have been tried and found wanting since the nostalgic days of “supply-side” Reaganomics, and earlier. But to those who worship at the altar of Greed, the operative bedrock value of American big business, to those who salivate at the prospect of capitalism liberated from all forms of restraint, no amount of failure can shake their irrational faith in the so-called “free” market. When has any market ever been truly free? From the time of the Robber Barons, when a character like John D. Rockefeller made his fortune by driving competitors out of business through outright criminal behavior, right through to today, major markets have always been manipulated for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful, to the detriment of the rest of us. When government is forced to step in and improvise, as during a genuine crisis such as the Great Depression, the result is far from the “socialism” and “redistribution” decried by propagandists on the right. FDR acted to save capitalism from its own excesses. Notwithstanding the movie character Gordon Gekko’s fervent approval, greed is only good for the few, not the many.

    What is to be done? On the one hand, there is a small group of people, keenly class-conscious, who bring their considerable resources to bear night and day to obtain results in the political sphere highly skewed in their favor. While these people enrich themselves, social problems affecting the entire society, including them, remain neglected. On the other hand there is the rest of the populace. Numbers are on our side. But so many of us are dispirited and confused, unable to recognize or advocate for our own economic interest, and would rather identify with the needs of the wealthy than struggle to obtain a fairer share of the economic pie. All the while, real wealth continues to flow upward, from the less well off to the rich, in an ironic parody of “trickle-down” economics. Where is the outrage? What is needed is an organized movement of people not just fed up but who know where to place the blame: not on immigrants, the latest in a long line of right-wing scapegoats, not on “progressives” or “socialists,” the favorite smear words thrown out by paranoid demagogues like Glenn Beck, but where it really belongs, on those fantastically wealthy individuals who in fact control our lives and who have been waging a class war on us for generations. Where is the organized movement of people akin to the civil rights movement of the 60’s, who will demand that the system be truly reformed? This is the next question OnPoint ought to tackle.

    Those interested in a further insightful view of our economic problems should also listen to today’s internet interview of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on DemocracyNow’s website: http://www.democracynow.org/2010/10/20/nobel_laureate_joseph_stiglitz_on_how

  • bill jones

    Socialism does not work.
    Liberalism does not work.
    Dems and libs only believe in taxing people more and more. The middle clas has no more money. The rich can leave the country and are doing just that. The dems and libs believe in class warfare. They have simple minded ideas like “tax the rich.” The dems refuse to look at the reasons why the education system is destroyed. Graduation rates of 50% and less are outrageous, yet the dems and libs want to keep taxing as if that were the cure to everything. No one speaks of personal responsibility. The tea party people are middle class people. They are sick and tired of being taxed. There is no more money.

  • Edosa Eweka

    Where should the Tea Party anger be directed? All politicians since the 1980s – both Republicans and Democrats. These politicians have not taken the difficult choice of cutting defence and social security spending. A country can only cut taxes insofar as it cuts spending. Has anyone been listening to Ron Paul or David Stockman?

  • Michael

    I was hopeful that id be wrong about Allan Meltzer, instead he was worst than the guy Onpoint had on aguring against E.J. D. an few months ago. Besides the fact he double talked most the show, highly rude, and quite frankly delusional on such topics of wealth gaps, the economy,the Europe Economy and his insistence that the tea party is the majority (even know poll after poll after poll after poll proves this to be completely false) kept stating such. Not to mention not all the middle/working class are republicans or hard core conservatives yet the tea party consisted Disproportionally of such. This should have been another indicator that the guys for of it.

    The previous Reagan guys on your show awhile back were pretty good though i didn’t agree with them on everything but this guy was awful.

    But i guess it would have been the same if Victoria Thomas was on as well.

    Onpoint can you do a show on the Conflict of interest between what his wife is doing and cases he have voted on and will be?

  • Michael

    Where should the Tea Party anger be directed? All politicians since the 1980s – both Republicans and Democrats. These politicians have not taken the difficult choice of cutting defence and social security spending. A country can only cut taxes insofar as it cuts spending. Has anyone been listening to Ron Paul or David Stockman?”

    Check out the UK there cutting defense spending by 8% in the next 4 years and the U.S. and our SOS Mrs Clinton crapped themselves crying about such there was an media blitz on saying how troubling it was for the UK to do such ommitting of course that it’s spending will still be rank 3rd, 4th at worst.

    Even NPR covered it as

    “Britain Announces Massive Defense Cuts”
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130675317&plckFindCommentKey=CommentKey:dd33d0df-f9aa-465c-914e-8c7265c683d8

    Massive was the heading and even with Ron Paul and Frank plan to cut defense spending has produced since than ??? I’ll tell you billions more in defense spending, just reported today on Marko W. “The World” a few Defense companies received 9 million dollars to (not create) but to think of how to create a flying Humvee.

    As for Public schools ask yourself how Public schools all across the world can manage to produce brighter children than the U.S. can using similar methods and ask how many of those countries ahead of the U.S. rely on Charter schools to do so?

    If you want to look at a country where there is only private schools and everyone has to pay for there kid to go to school or not go at all check out Haiti to see such results.

  • Michael

    Let’s not forget the Country that loves Freedom and Democracy and willing to sanction other countries for violating such, is not only selling arms and weapons to an Fundamentalist government and highly undemocratic there doing it so they can stay in power and protect itself, the slip was one of the officials stated it was to protect the U.S. oil interest.

    So they we have it democracy and freedom is out the door if we need something from a given country.

  • John Schneider

    If the top 1% have increased their control of income from 8-9% in the 1970′s to 23.5% in 2007, how did this happen? Was it not government that made this shift in wealth possible? Should it not be government that helps to turn the tide back to something that is more sane? Government should protect “us” from the powerful/wealthy.

  • Richard Johnston

    Everybody who thinks the adherents of the T-partee are thoughtful and perceptive analysts of the economy and have brilliant concepts to solve our problems, raise their hands. ‘Way back in the back behind all the no-nothings and “back to the Constitution” fundamentalists who haven’t read the document they claim to cherish, I see Meltzer grandly joining in. He clearly feels social policy should be written in the streets of America as it is in France, and by ill-informed, socially backward hicks. Further, it is precisely the flood of undocumented money into anti-Administration advertising such as that from the selfish Koch brothers that has empowered this angry, frustrated protest that would take government off the backs of corporations and install social Darwinism as the basis for our society, where the rich continue to rule.

    Too many Americans are all but defenseless before the lies and “values-oriented” trivia thrown in the way of truth and understanding through the bloated advertising budgets the right now has at its disposal. Meltzer clearly does not believe in representative government where the leaders lead and do what is best for the country. His judgment on the health-care legislation is based on it current popularity. While he criticizes politicians for not considering the future and anticipating fiscal liabilities due on our children he thinks it is just fine to leave the health-care monster to increase to 20% of the GDP and to enrich private insurance companies.

    Finally, it is deeply offensive to hear Meltzer equate university scholars and the rich like hedge-fund managers who might earn 100 times what a tenured full professor does at a major university: he even knows the idiocy of that comparison and he is grandstanding in a fashion no better than the worst of the lackeys of corporate America.

    Prof. Reich’s analysis is perfectly on target. We must hope the people recognize soon that corporate control of public policy is the single greatest threat to our democracy, and that they act on that realization.

  • Lori

    The federal reserve system provides the world with perpetual debt. As long as we-the-people allow the federal reserve to provide currency at interest nobody will ever be debt free – government or private citizens.
    When will we-the-people wake up and see the reality of the federal reserve system?
    Until we overthrow the federal reserve system we will all e slaves the the debt created by profit grabbing corporate federal reserve.
    The federal reserve system that creates federal reserve notes for us to use as currency – at interest – is as much a governmental agency as is federal express.
    When do we wake up?

  • Edosa Eweka

    Talk of income or wealth brackets are meaningless by the likes of Messrs Robert Reich and Allan Meltzer – the real issue is that America as a government and populace are spending more than they earn. To fend off bankruptcy cut spending – defence and social security. The only presidential tenures since 1972 where the debt as a percentage of GDP actually went down were the Carter term and Clinton’s two terms. Those are the only three terms in nearly forty years where economic growth exceeded debt growth, putting the lie to the fable that tax cuts for the top blar blar percent will result in increased tax collections due to economic stimulus.

  • B. Zeh

    While our current education system may be broken, test and punish is no way to improve the system. Don’t lay it just at the feet of educators. Do you blame the dentist when your child shows up with cavities? Many parents abdicate their responsibility for helping educate their child. Others are too busy with their own issues to put children first. We are all at fault. Take a look at Finland and the model they are using to make their education system top in the world. Let’s not fail to put CHILDREN FIRST or we will become Third World America!

  • Chuck Bagg

    We’ve known since the early days of the cold war that brainwashing is a reality and works, but who new you could do it with tea?
    The Tea Party folks are totally convinced that it’s OK to take everything from the middle class and hand it over to the rich and powerful, as long as not a penny goes to the poor, because giving to the poor would be socialistic redistribution of wealth!

  • david

    Boy, the liberal Pip Piper is blowing his horn today and all the little children are following after him.
    Wait until you see what is in store for next year!!!
    Your taxes are going up!!!

  • drew kelly

    I am in 100% agreement of Robert’s opinions expressed on this evenings show. It is nice once in a while to hear a voice of sanity amongst the chaos.

    Our society has grown terribly imbalanced- how anyone can in clear conscience support cotiniued tax breaks for wealthiest couple of % and coorporations who clearly have much more $ than they know what to do with (other than buy political favor and fund candidates in secret)is hard to believe.

    It seems to me there was a time in America that when all the evidence was in, American society as a whole were cappable of making reasonable conclusions.
    For example when 95% of scientists who have devoted their lives to their work, conclude that climate change is a reality, the discussion should be over.
    When we get to directly view the results of 30 years of “trickle down” economics and deregulation and are brought to brink of 2nd great depression, then it should be obvious that we need go in a different direction.
    Voices of reason seem to be drowned out by idiocy and special interests as far as eye can see.

  • http://none don larson

    When will the American People get past name calling, finger pointing, and party idology, and try to bring some focus to the critical problems facing this once great Nation?

    As a 40 year Republican, I layed all of my idological beliefs aside, and read Robert Reich’s book twice. I don’t necessarily accept everythng that is says in his book, but on the CORE issue, “he nailed it.”

    Wealth and Income Disparity in this Country has never been more unequal, more unjust, and more unfair. During Tom’s Wednesday night show, I would have liked to have heard a discussion about the predatory nature of unregulated Capitalism when these in control of decision making either on Wall Street, or in the Halls of Congress have a complete lack of MORALITY when it comes to MONEY!

    The low level bickering and finger pointing over idology, is serving as a huge distraction from the critical issues that should be discussed, and I have to believe that both major parties are loving it! I say a,”plague on both the parties,” because they are both equally culpable, in bringing about the demise of this once great Country.

    Oliver Stone calls the debacle of 2008 on Wall Street, the greatest heist in American History and, will change the face of Capitalism in America forever. I’m not so sure.

    It seems to me, that Wall Street and Congress are back at it. Have you noticed how they take of one another?
    Bailouts for the banks, loans to big business, payoffs to members of Congress, and another round of obscene bonuses for the pinstripes on Wall Street. Middle America – - what did you get? THE BILL for it al!

    A second substantive issue that a serious discussion is warranted – - and maybe the only way the gridlock in Congress can be broken, and special interests eliminated is to have all the States call for a Constitutional Convention to Amend the Document to make the kind of changes that will return Government to the rank and file of the American People. The Principles of this great document would not be altered – - heaven forbid! But what could be changed are things like term limits. Eliminating

  • http://none sam

    As usual, the public financed NPR gives a soft and loving interview with this former Labor Secretary of the pervert Clinton administration. Reich gives a lot of revisionist history from the depression to now and blames it all on capitalism, but does not blame socialistic policies of the federal government and the socialistic Federal Reserve System, who create money and credit out of thin air and creates booms and busts. As usual, he goes after the TEA PARTY and claims they are angry, comparing them to nazis. He claims Muslims are VICTIMS, which is typical of American liberals and wants UNREGULATED IMMIGRATION and says nothing about ILLEGALS.
    You listen and judge.

  • Chris

    Sam, You say, “public financed NPR”?! NPR gets very little money from the “public”, if by that, you mean from “government coffers”. The bulk of their funding comes from donations made voluntarily.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com MOHAMMED N. RAZAVI

    Can you please name the millionaires that went broke because of the seventy or ninety percent marginal income tax rates or did not create new jobs and industries?

    How many TEA party members will go broke because of a three percent marginal income tax rate increase will have to eat dog food?

    What percentage of people making under ninety thousand a year will buy their own health insurance and save for retirement and pay for their kids education from their own pockets?

    What mushrooms do I need to make my TEA?

  • Jay

    I believe the current economic crisis and the general decline of quality of life for the masses in the United States is due to the discontinuation of the Home Stead Act of 1862, ended in 1976 in the States, 1986 in Alaska; this country needs the Free Soil Party, not the Tea Party, and a new version of the Home Stead Act for the masses.

  • http://none don larson

    Sorry about the mis-stroke above, I didn’t get a chance to finish a sentence, or a chance to proof-read for typing errors. Forgive.

    Want to make one more comment on the matter of greed and morality on Wall Street.

    Regardless of your party affiliation, don’t you have to be concerned when supposedly our very brightest young people, who come from name recognition families; attend the best Ivy League Schools, and head to Wall Street, and soon engage in practices that are both immoral and often times illegal? Wall Street for the most part, stole 10 Trillion Dollars in Wealth from the American People through very risky investments, slick and fraudulent investments schemes. Remember the sub-prime mortgage debacle? How about the Credit Default Swaps? Want more? How can anyone forget the fact that Wall Street,”hawked,” certain kinds of these so-called ceative investments, and then turned and bet against them, and made a killing?!

    Folks, we are focusing on the WRONG issues! Much of the bickering and hollaring is for DISTRACTION purposes. Wall Street and certain members of Congress do not want people to come together and focus on the REAL problem. It would threaten their hold on POWER and MONEY! And, when the nation comes to grips with that reality, maybe, just maybe, things will change.

    We have over 40 million people living in poverty and most are on food stamps, and many are homeless. 50 million people are either without health insurance, or are under insured. 15 million people are either un,or under employed. We’ve had two budgets now, each with a Trillion Dollar deficit, and a third in the making. Our Education System is in shambles and our infrastructure is falling apart.

    Obama is a good man, but he was/is to inexperienced for the job at this point in time. He surrounded himself with too many left leaning liberals without doing proper backgound checks. He got bad advice from some of his advisors. He turned too much of his legislative agenda over to the Congress, who at times, were not all that certain, what he wanted. The communications on his bailout plan was not handled properly either before or after the TARP money was distributed. He got ahead of himself with his, “shovel-ready,” programs. What happened to the Stimulus Money you ask? I suspect much of it was diverted to the States to help them keep their budgets afloat, and to maintain adequate public safety service and public education.

    Now, as for George Bush. He cut taxes that could have been used to pay for his two very expensive wars. This was a big mistake! Now our children and grand children are stuck with the bill. He did the bidding of Paulson, Bernake, and others, with respect to the Wall Street Bailout. He contributed to the sub-prime mortgage mess because the lack of oversight occurred on his watch. So, there is enough blame to go around for everyone.

    Fighting, bickering, finger pointing, and playing the, “blame game,” maintains the STATUS QUO, and the Greedy Wall Street Crowd and the Power Hungry Congress are very comfortable with that. Think about it.

    The People in the Tea Party Movement are well-meaning, for the most part. They know something is terribly wrong, and that government is not working for 80% of the American People. They know too, they are running faster and faster, and falling further and further behind economically,in trying to support their families and maitain a decent standard of living.

    The Republicans are using them for their own political purposes, and the Democrats are demonizing them as, “nut,” jobs, because they feel threatened. While the rank and file member is well-meaning, many have not really thought much about the core problem. They could become a powerful force once someone frames the problem for them; provides leadership, and helps to suggest meaningful solutions. If they ever get a clear thinking and articulate spokesperson, you will witness an even greater ground-swell of support and the call for action and change will grow ever louder.

    If the truth be known too, I sincerely believe there are many people in Congress, and members in both parties that really don’t have a handle on the Nation’s problems either. Can’t provide solutions until there is a consenus on the problem(s).

  • Ofelia

    While I agree w. Professor Reich’s views I was disappointed at how little time was afforded to Professor Meltzer. It was a bit embarrassing and certainly not useful for us listeners to not permit these two highly competent debaters to engage more fully. I was impressed by Meltzer’s ability to hang in there and not lose his cool nor complain. Please, present more balanced opportunities for true debate so we can stretch and exercise our democratic minds. Preaching to the choir never advances our critical thinking abilities.

  • http://none don larson

    Can’t sleep so I am punishing you readers. Sorry about that.

    After reading all the comments posted with respect to Tom’s interview with Robert and Allen, one can’t be very hopeful about the ability of this Country to solve it’s problems. The lack of coherent thinking and the inability to engage in honest and meaningful dialogue is astonding, to say the least. I’m absolutely shocked that so few people know much about the period of, “great prosperity,” that occurred in this Country following WWII, and for 30 years thereafter. So many people do not know their history, nor have any idea how we got to where we are today. Many, many, people just want to argue, fight, smear and insult others. Tis’ a shame! because we are paying the price for illiteracy today. So few people seem to know much about history or economics, and aren’t interested in doing the research either for that matter. It’s just easier to go on line and complain and blame others for all the ills of the Country; or attend a rally and stand up and scream – - not knowing really, why the group is assembled.

    If there was ever proof needed for the famous quotation, “That in a Democracy, the People Get Exactly What They Deserve,” all one need do is to read some of the comments submitted above. OMG! What a shame! Is it any wonder that Congress and Wall Street are running wild, and pretty much having their way with the American People?! Geez, I gotta quit here; I’m beginning to sound like one of the herd.

  • Jack in Canada

    It has seemed to me for a very long time that the US was ruled by a national oligarchy that essentially controlled both of the major political parties, but it seems to me now that the Republicans are controlled by and represent a kleptocracy that owes no loyalties to anything beyond its own enrichment.

  • joshua

    This Meltzer putz is wrong about everything he says-he has no idea what he is saying. Absolute nonsense falling out of his mouth. Nothing he says has any credibility. he belongs in a mental institution. Why does ha have university post?

    This man is dangerous. It sounds to me like he wants a edu system of standardized testing and private money–which equals dumbed down corporate drones with no ability to think.

    Why does NPR continue to give voice to the extremist elements dangerous to community and peace and prosperity. These people are nutty. This conversation is a ll vague nothingness as is all mainstream media.

    This meltzer melon needs to be fired.

  • peter nelson

    I’m absolutely shocked that so few people know much about the period of, “great prosperity,” that occurred in this Country following WWII, and for 30 years thereafter.

    That was a unique period in US history when the rest of the world was in ruins following the the war and the US was the only nation to emerge from that war with its economy, infrastructure and factories intact. It was a singularity that bears no resemblance to the present.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Just wondering: What are people being taught in civics classes (or before that in grade school) about participation?
    Are you taught nationalism and reverence? Pray and sing? Get out there whether or not you know the whole answer because nobody does? Show your colors, kids. Don’t be shy?
    Are you being taught to be sure to get your own fair share? Figure on your own behalf? Believe in your own convictions? And be proud?
    Just wonderin’

  • peter nelson

    Democracies get the governments they deserve.

    In a democracy people have the power of CHOICE. This includes not only the choice of how to cast your vote, but other choices as well: where to get your news; how much time to spend news gathering; how much time to spend studying history, economics, and other background information; how skeptical to be about what reporters and pundits say; whether to pay any attention to advertisements; whether to ask questions and demand to see the numbers.

    I don’t care how much plutocratic money is pumped into political advertising because I don’t watch political advertising on TV or read it in the newspapers. Let the plutocrats waste their money – at least copy editors and page-layout editors and printers and web hosts get some jobs out of it!

    But if others choose to be influenced by these ads that’s their choice in a free society. If others choose to be ignorant about history, economics, any hard numbers, etc, again that’s their choice in a democracy.

    Reich’s ideas are pure academic pie-in-the-sky. By their votes and other choices, actions and inactions the American public have made it clear they’re perfectly happy living in a society with the income disparities, lack of health insurance, huge, expensive foreign wars, and politicians in the pockets of big corporations, of the US.

  • peter nelson

    The liberals talk a good game, but follow the money:

    Barney Frank’s top 5 campaign contributors in the current election cycle are ActBlue, FMR Corp, New York Life Insurance, Weiss Capital, Promontory Financial Group.

    Talk about strange bedfellows – a liberal PAC and 4 plutocratic financial services companies. Nice for the chair of the House Financial Services committee.

    How about Chris Dodd? ActBlue, Travelers Companies, United Technologies, Citigroup Inc, Royal Bank of Scotland.

    Do you see a pattern here? NPR listeners think of ActBlue as a progressive political force. But who is ActBlue supporting? Candidates whose biggest supporters are well-heeled corporations! So the self-styled “progressives” are contributing (literally) to the problem even as they drive their Priuses and drink their fair-trade coffee and sing ‘kumbaya’ at the Unitarian church, their money is cozying up with United Technologies and Citigroup.

    Of course the conservatives are also in the pockets of big business, but at least they’re not hypocritical about it.

    Check out YOUR favorite candidate at: http://www.opensecrets.org

  • http://www.lowenfoundation.com/ Frederic Lowen

    “Please, let’s ask Robert about “The Century of the Self” as it (and the documentary by the same name) explain alot.

    Thank you.

    Posted by FallenAcorn, on October 20th, 2010 at 8:43 PM”

    I most definitely second this recommendation!!!

    It is a 4 part (4 hour) analysis of the role psychology and psychoanalysis has played in Public Relations as used by corporations and politicians since the 1920s.

    It begins with the well-known publicist Edward Bernays who was a nephew of Sigmund Freud, and was astute in applying Freud’s understanding of the unconscious towards motivating consumer and voter behavior to buy and to believe.

    It clearly shows that there is much less free choice in human behavior than we like to believe, especially in the US. It is the best work I have seen in explaining the mechanics of manipulating consumer/voter behavior at levels below consciousness.

    I am proud to point out that my Dad, Alexander Lowen, M.D. is portrayed as one of the few good guys in this story. FYI, in the first 10-15 minutes of Part 3.

    I believe this is so important because without understanding this stuff, you cannot fully understand the social problems in the US.

    It was shown in the UK, but never in the US on TV (probably because of the clarity of content). It is readily available at Google Videos, or You Tube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvHcbolQ0K4

    Tom A: the producer/director of this work, Adam Curtis, could be a fascinating guest. He has done other extremely interesting work in areas that are way off most radar screens, but are so central to our issues. He clearly sees the box that most people don’t even realize we’re all trapped in.

    Thanks FallenAcorn!

  • Jim in Omaha

    @peter nelson:

    Do you really think that if voters were presented with a candidate who ran on a platform of, “If you elect me, I promise a nation of ‘income disparities, lack of health insurance, huge, expensive foreign wars, and politicians in the pockets of big corporations’, that people would actually for for that?

    I think what many of the commenters here are contending that many of those who vote are simply uninformed, propagandized into ignorance, and, of course, some are just too stupid to adequately assimilate actual facts. I don’t think people are consciously voting for that platform. Do you really believe that?

  • Will H

    Jim in Omaha,

    You have nailed it.

    The Republican and Tea Party Platform

    Small government = “income disparities” as the corporations are free to rob the people in whatever way possible, and the super rich can take whatever means to get richer, squeeze the middle class, and forget the poor.

    Personal responsibility = “lack of government insurance”, you are on your own. No insurance, No pensions, No Social Security, No Medicare! Feel free to die on the street. Squeeze the middle class with the hidden tax in the form of rising health care costs to enrich the corporations. Too bad if you are poor and sick.

    Strong national defense = “huge, expensive foreign wars”. Leave the dope Obama to clean up and look foolish.

    Christian morality = “uninformed, propagandized into ignorance” You are not Christian if you vote for a Democrat. Nothing else matters. So what if the First Amendment specified separation of Church and State.

    Return to the Ideals of the Founding Fathers = “uninformed, propagandized into ignorance” We the People should be We the People and Corporations. By the way, the Muslims and other non-christians are not quite equal to us.

  • Mark

    Bill Jones stated in his post “Dems and libs only believe in taxing people more and more.”

    You’re wrong Bill. We’re simply trying to come up with a rational way to prevent all the wealth in this nation from migrating to a few people. The sad truth is that the fruit will NEVER fall far from the tree in this country. If you come from wealth, congratulations. If not, you’re screwed.

    That’s not right. I struggle because I happen to be a specific sperm cell and a specific egg from two specific lower class people. Althewhile, little johnny comes from wealthy sperm. He didn’t earn his station in life, yet, he’ll live longer because he’ll be less stressed throughout.

    It’s not natural. In the wild, every animal is given the same odds.

    Eat the rich!

  • peter nelson

    “Do you really think that if voters were presented with a candidate who ran on a platform of, “If you elect me, I promise a nation of ‘income disparities, lack of health insurance, huge, expensive foreign wars, and politicians in the pockets of big corporations’, that people would actually for for that? ”

    Who knows? But where did I say they would?

    I think what many of the commenters here are contending that many of those who vote are simply uninformed, propagandized into ignorance, and, of course, some are just too stupid to adequately assimilate actual facts.

    Would they say the same about themselves? Would you? It’s very elitist to say that “_I_ am a self-aware, free-willed individual and all those who disagree with me are stupid, ignorant, brainwashed automatons”.

    I, on the other hand, give the same credit for intelligence and free will to everyone. I know that I’m intelligent and that I’ve made various choices WRT how much effort to put into following the news, studying history, science, and economics, and generally being well-informed. There’s only so much time in the day and I don’t have kids or watch TV (except football games this time of year), but these are tradeoffs I’ve made.

    Other people may make different tradeoffs based on their priorities. What I find to be an exciting exploration of science, geopolitics or history might seem like boring academics to a Palin supporter. That doesn’t mean they’re brainwashed; they just have different values and priorities.

  • John

    We should go back to the tax rates in the 1920′s. I think the high end was 25 percent vice the current very high rate of 35 percent.

  • peter nelson

    That’s not right. I struggle because I happen to be a specific sperm cell and a specific egg from two specific lower class people. Althewhile, little johnny comes from wealthy sperm. He didn’t earn his station in life, yet, he’ll live longer because he’ll be less stressed throughout.

    Tea Partiers that I’ve met are not really that concerned with how long they live or whether they will retire to a nice golfing community in Florida. The ones I’ve met have a much more fatalistic attitude where you deal with what life hands you as it happens. When they get sick or have an injury, if they can’t afford healthcare they die or live with a lifelong disability.

    I recently tore my rotator cuff and luckily I have insurance so I’ll have surgery to repair it. An uninsured Tea Partier might spend his life resigned to never being able to lift his hand above his shoulder. He would not expect you or I to pay for his surgery.

    This is what I think liberals don’t get. To them it seems obvious that people shouldn’t go without medical care just because they can’t afford it. To Tea Partiers, many of whom are very religious, that’s just the breaks, part of God’s plan. Liberals can’t conceive that some people really do have a different concept of “fair”.

  • Neil K

    Am I the only one that sees the disingenuity in a platform that claims that we can no longer afford to take care of the sick, disabled, or elderly but that we can afford a trillion dollars in tax cuts for the Uber-wealthy?????

  • peter nelson

    Am I the only one that sees the disingenuity in a platform that claims that we can no longer afford to take care of the sick, disabled, or elderly but that we can afford a trillion dollars in tax cuts for the Uber-wealthy?????

    Again, just think of it as different values. Look at it this way – last summer I had a pile of money land in my lap, My wife and I could have spent it on new windows for our house or a trip to Alaska. We chose Alaska. Another couple might have chosen windows.

    America is a very conservative society; they have different values from the UK. Look at Osborne’s new budget: HUGE SLASHES across the board. There will probably be riots in the street over this. But notice what was ring-fenced: NHS. Because Brits are very proud of their NHS.

    The US doesn’t even HAVE healthcare for all. Even Obamacare will be repealed after the GOP takes over in a few weeks. Different country, different values.

    I’m a liberal but I know that while I’m living in the US I’m in the minority. I’m not stupid enough to think that my values are universal. But apparently some liberals think that everyone shares, or should share, their values and priorities.

  • Jim in Omaha

    peter nelson,

    You’re the one that said Americans,

    “By their votes and other choices, actions and inactions ……. have made it clear they’re perfectly happy living in a society with the income disparities, lack of health insurance, huge, expensive foreign wars, and politicians in the pockets of big corporations ….”

    Now you seem to be saying they favor that, but wouldn’t consciously vote for it. So you agree with my contention that their support for those outcomes is based on ignorance, or mass hypnosis or something else you can enlighten me about.

    And you are completely wrong about the tea party. It is full of recipients of social security benefits, military pensions and VA medical care, Medicare coverage, etc. When some of them start to choose dying without medical care instead of trying to get someone else to pay for it, then I’ll buy your “different values” BS.

  • peter nelson

    Now you seem to be saying they favor that, but wouldn’t consciously vote for it.

    Where did I say that? I said “who knows”? And I mean it – no one has ever tried running like that so it’s pure speculation.

    And you are completely wrong about the tea party. It is full of recipients of social security benefits, military pensions and VA medical care, Medicare coverage, etc. When some of them start to choose dying without medical care instead of trying to get someone else to pay for it, then I’ll buy your “different values” BS.

    I didn’t say that don’t receive some of those benefits; I said that if they DIDN’T have health insurance they wouldn’t demand it. The only item from the list above they would demand is VA benefits because many of the Tea Party supporters I’ve spoken with are vets who see it as part of the deal when they enlisted.

    Many Tea Party and other conservative voters are lower-class or blue collar working people who don’t have health insurance now. And believe me they are doing without it. Many of them have chronic conditions from years of manual labor, unsafe working conditions, smoking, drinking too much, eating unhealthy diets, etc. Many of them WILL die early from treatable conditions, or are suffering or in pain NOW from these conditions, and would benefit from treatment. I know these people; they’re not stupid; they’re fully aware of this. But they’re not asking for help from the government.

    Really, you’ve got to come down out of your ivory tower or gated community or wherever you’re posting from. There are millions of people in the US whose value system is very different from yours (or mine).

  • http://none don larson

    Peter,

    Can’t learn anything from history, epecially during the period of great prosperty in this Country? Come on Peter, you really don’t believe that. Have you read Robert Reich’s book? If you have, then it appears to me that you are playing to the readers of this site, rather than responding to my posting. If you haven’t, let me refer you, and others, to the chart on page 52 of Reich’s book. As you will note, there is an almost a perfect relationship between the growth in production AND,and the growth of wages,during the same period.

    Have any idea how the gap was closed following WWII, and what gave birth to a strong middle class? You know that answer to that. (Just review the income tax rates during that period and study the nature of the relational culture and values during that period of time.) People were far less selfish, and much more patriotic than they are today. In addition, people were more sensitive to the needs of all groups in Society.

    The income gap today has expanded again to levels that rival 1929; and are just plain immoral and unjust, and must be addressed; if we are to maintain our Democracy.

    You are a bright guy, and know too, that many people who are rich, either obtained their wealth through manipulation,or by actually cheating the American People out of their hard earned wealth.

    The immoral, greedy, and very selfish Wall Street Financial Houses, literally stole $10 Trillion Dollars from the American People. This is a wrong that cannot go unaddressed. The rich are going to have to step forward and face a rather hefty increase in taxes (which they can easily afford); if the income gap is to be narrowed significantly. (The Oracle of Omaha has stepped forward and has said as much.) In addition, Social Security and Medicare are going to have to be, “means tested.” We can’t have millionaires, and billionaires, draining the Treasury when there are so many people in need, and money is so scarce. Wealthy people can easily, “self-insure;” as they clearly have the means to do so.

    Concluding note: I was a staunch Republican for over 40 years. I detest Liberalism, and believe that it is the Scourge of Mankind. But, it is clear to me that both parties are corrupt and in bed with powerful
    Special Interests. You must know that.

    Everything that I have believed in has been shattered during the past ten years. I have come to believe that Wall Street, Big Business, and Congress have all committed, “Crimes against our Democracy!” This is what the Tea Party is feeling, although they sometimes aren’t very effective at articulating that.

    I,in good conscience can’t support either party because they are not governing in the best interest of the American People. Unfortunately, it’s about MONEY and POWER! and not much else. People would be well-advised to keep their eyes on what is going on in France.

    We are closer to mass demonstrations and violence in this Country than at any other time since the civil rights movement. We should all pray that doesn’t occur.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com mohammed n. razavi

    It will all work if human beings, by nature, were fair, honest, smart,(and good looking). But the utopias promised by the politicians do not exist. We need to be honest to ourselves that there will be no return to the status quo ante. We ourselves foolishly sold away our American dream. Now is the time for a period of hard times, no matter what side wins. American public looses.

  • http://www.XeroXeroFive.com Gordon Smith

    Where have you people been and what Kool-Aid have to been drinking? It’s not a question of when. The question is more like for how long? And the answer is, since the beginning of time. Sure there have been glitches like the 1950s but from what I’ve seen, the general rule of thumb is power begets power, right?

    I have a crazy idea. Instead of increasing the tax rate of all the super-rich, why not weight the tax rate as based on the pay rate of their employees? The larger the gap between the top and the bottom, the higher the tax rate. We complain about sweatshops in China and Asia, but relatively we have the exact same thing here. $10 per hour might as well be 50 cents in China since both are sub-poverty.

    And while we’re on the subject, that’s the big problem I have with the Buffett & Gates effort to get their peers to give more money back to charity. Cute idea but that’s hardly efficient. Why didn’t they just pay more of their employees better all along. That IS what Buffett and Gates should be pushing for.

  • Edward G. Stafford

    Dr. Reich, in discussing the need for more funding for public higher education, fails to appreciate that a sure path to an elitist plutocracy is the domination and control of higher education by the State. Rather than taxing the working poor and others to ensure a new elite is trained according to the reigning ideology of the ivory tower, we should foster independent higher education that attracts the best minds by scholarships based on achievement and promise, holding out to the poor and lower middle-class opportunity for advancement based on their abilities and efforts.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    So, it is a given fact that ill-informed fascists allied to the Oligarchy will assume quasi-legal control of Congress in January 2011. If they do not win by majority they win by turnout and skewed eligibility. If they do not win by casting, the voting machines will be flipped.If the polling is challenged the toadies on the Supreme Court will rig it up. It is fixed. It is a done deal. Fairness here is as dismal as in Haiti, Mexico or Afghanistan.

    And soon comes the tribalism, the fascist violence and the abandonment of the disadvantaged. Tea farties expect to roam with guns taking what they want and racially cleansing with rape and execution. I can see it in their faces. They are zombies of blind greed and sadism. Thomas’s wife is already threatening Anita Hill with torture until she recants her Congressional testimony. Lady Liberty is about to suffer a home invasion where her children will die agonizing deaths under buggery, cigarette burns and the knife. It all ends with arson. And can the perpetrators live with themselves? SURE! Look at how well the CIA goons and the corporate vampires fare! They sold their souls long ago and have no conscience, no pity, no regrets. That’s how we got here. And because we worshiped the wealthy and didn’t resist, this scourge has come. Still I’ll be trying to vote for the lesser evils on November 2.
    (Enjoy my Halloween story: It may be true.)

  • Ed Jordan

    I want to know what university that professor works at and make sure my kids don’t go there! He was on the edge of incoherency for a while there – sorting of scatting through a laundry list of unrelated issues – but by his fourth or fifth comment I realized he was just partisan and doing some electioneering. Very disappointing for what started off to be an engaging conversation – very combative and opinionated individual.

    Anyways, I wander, but I think this middle class protest is about a different version of income or wealth redistribution – they see it as a redistribution from the middle class to the lower class, not from the middle class to the rich. One of the later callers on the show summed up the protest so well – concern about giving more handouts, and the rich are just entitled -that’s just the way it is. Perhaps they know the inevitableness of the way our government is now set up. If we are to help the poor, we all know that the middle class will be taxed, and the upper class won’t be. So instead of attacking something we feel powerless to attack (the rich), we instead attack the other side (the poor) in an attempt to keep what is ours.

    So if the problem really is that the rich have better circumstances now than in the past, that message is not getting across to people. Maybe there’s that dream that we will enter the gateway to the rich one day, and we want the spoils of being rich if we ever get there! Once people really understand the problem, and really begin to see that the income redistribution has been happening mainly from the middle class to the rich, then we’ll see some changes in government policy. But until that message gets across to people, voices like the professor’s will resonate – a populist angry voice -a fist in the air, get rid of the bums type reaction.

  • Watson

    Mr. Reich always claims he cares about the poor, middle class but turned against them by pushing for “free trade”, outsourcing manufacturing jobs overseas etc…He thinks he can “make it fair” by just taking money from one group and giving it to another. People in this country, especially, poor, middle class etc..like to work with their hands in a meaningful way, etc..they want a career and don’t mind working in factories. This idea of a “service economy is a bad nightmare on most Americans.

  • Gregory Zwick

    I am very tired of hearing “we need to tax the rich” without ever discussing the definition of “rich”. If I own property valued at $20 Million but have no income am I rich? (politicians DON’T seem to think so).

    If I own a small business with 3 employees and $750,000 in gross income but after paying employees, rent, utilities, insurance, and taxes (other than income) I have $75,000 left, am I rich? (politicians seem to think I am)

    I am all FOR generating additional tax revenue from “wealthy” persons who are not using their assets to contribute to the “general welfare” of the country. Personally I would increase taxes dramatically on things out of reach of most Americans like private jets, homes over 7,000 sq ft, property over 5 acres not used in an active business., yachts over 75 feet, …

    Lets focus on the difference between someone with a high “gross” income and “fat cats”. Is a “fat cat” someone who accumulates power through a capitalistic system or someone who accumulates power by manipulating a political system, or both?

  • twenty-niner

    “Mr. Reich always claims he cares about the poor, middle class but turned against them by pushing for “free trade”, outsourcing manufacturing jobs overseas etc…He thinks he can “make it fair” by just taking money from one group and giving it to another. People in this country, especially, poor, middle class etc..like to work with their hands in a meaningful way, etc..they want a career and don’t mind working in factories. This idea of a “service economy is a bad nightmare on most Americans.”

    Extremely well said. Unlike the French and Greeks who seem to be happy to receive a welfare check or work some meaningless government job, most blue-collar Americans would like to finish the day feeling they accomplished something.

    I worked at a mid-range diesel engine plant, and the workers there put in long hard days, but were extremely proud of the work they were doing and the product they were putting out. I highly doubt they would want to substitute those jobs with “doggy day care”, census taking, bed-pan-changing candy striper, or welfare queen.

    Reich is just another dope who thinks we can fix our economy by simply tweaking the tax code, and there are plenty of those dopes on the right as well.

  • John C

    All this talk about changing the tax code seems to miss something to me. There is a large “inequality” in wealth even between the top 19% and the top 1%. Why not make more tax brackets? Setting the bar at $250k seems like a very odd place to set it. IMO someone making $250k per year may be well off, but I don’t think they are making an insane amount of money. Those people could probably handle a small tax increase, but nothing like the 1950′s era 91% tax rate. These numbers are thrown around out of context and do little to further the discussion. Someone making $250k in 1950 was wealthy beyond measure where as today they would be considered upper middle class. On the other hand we have people who make hundreds of millions of dollars per year. There is no possible way that those individuals can come anywhere near putting that money back into the economy on their own. That is money that sits in private accounts (probably offshore as well) and skews statistics.

    I believe I heard the Prof state that the average income in the US is $54k. Is that number skewed by Wall Street CEOs taking home huge bonuses? I would like more detail in my “facts”.

  • twenty-niner

    “All this talk about changing the tax code seems to miss something to me. There is a large “inequality” in wealth even between the top 19% and the top 1%. Why not make more tax brackets?”

    Why not just stop global labor arbitrage? If I’m a CEO and I can’t readily outsource your job, and I have to pay you a living wage, and I have to properly dispose of my toxic sludge, I probably won’t be making so much money. And because my labor pool has just shrunk by an order of magnitude, my workers are going to demand more pay, thereby increasing their wealth and reducing the burden on government services.

  • twenty-niner

    …Continuing from above,

    And then because these workers are coming home from a hard day’s work feeling as though they accomplished something (versus collecting a welfare check), they’re less likely to crawl inside a six pack and beat their wives. They might be more inclined to help their kids with their homework, or fix the house over the weekend.

    This seems to be the one intangible that the economists never get: When you send a guy’s job overseas, not only are you enriching CEOs and Wall Street at his expense, you’re robbing this guy of his dignity and self worth, which has huge and, I think, largely unaccounted for consequences for society that don’t make on these economists’ spread sheets.

  • peter nelson

    As you will note, there is an almost a perfect relationship between the growth in production AND,and the growth of wages,during the same period.

    Have any idea how the gap was closed following WWII, and what gave birth to a strong middle class? You know that answer to that. (Just review the income tax rates during that period and study the nature of the relational culture and values during that period of time.)

    I’ve studied a lot of economics and I subscribe to LSE podcasts (which I recommend everyone here do) to stay up-to-date. And one thing that’s very clear is that macroeconomic behaviour is dependent on a HUGE variety of social, cultural, technological, legislative, geopolitical, historical and other factors. Economists and historians who have devoted their CAREERS to studying these things will reach wildly divergent opinions about why or who something happened the way it did. It is intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise.

    Reich’s explanation for our period of post-WWII prosperity is only one of many credible theories by thoughtful, knowledgeable people.

  • Jones R.

    I watched Robert Reich on Charlie Rose last night and find him rather disappointing.

  • Zeno

    “Reich’s explanation for our period of post-WWII prosperity is only one of many credible theories by thoughtful, knowledgeable people.” -Posted by peter nelson

    Correct. The US was the worlds largest exporter of OIL and other petroleum products to a war ravaged world. The prosperity of the 50′s and 60′s was mostly due to oil and manufactured goods exported to a war ravaged world.

  • JonS

    Robert Reich has found his perfect place –Berkeley California. All he ever talks about is raising taxes on earners and re-distribution of income from those that earn to those that don’t.

  • Sam Wilson

    his seems to be the one intangible that the economists never get: When you send a guy’s job overseas, not only are you enriching CEOs and Wall Street at his expense, you’re robbing this guy of his dignity and self worth, which has huge and, I think, largely unaccounted for consequences for society that don’t make on these economists’ spread sheets.
    Posted by twenty-niner, on October 22nd, 2010 at 5:02 PM
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    One of the rare occassions when I totally agree with “twenty-niner”

  • Tom

    I find it interesting that all the commentators on the economy keep ignoring the ‘Elephant’ in the room. Since the economy has gone south many many employers large and small have been dumping higher paid workers and replacing them with people who are desperate for work and will work for much lower pay and benefits. This is especially true at the lower end of the scale – jobs that paid $18 an hour are now paying $12 an hour – jobs that had finally made it up to $13 an hour now pay $10. Besides the obvious results of reducing the spending power of the ‘lower middle class’ to that of the ‘working poor’, it also has reduced the taxes collected by the government putting them into more of a financial bind. Companies have always taken advantage of a weak job market but in the present market they have been especially agressive in cutting salaries of the lower end workers. Of course, the CEO’s have taken no such pay cuts which makes the disparity even harder to swallow. Let us not forget that the concept of working for the same company your whole life has become a thing of the past as has pensions for those who don’t work for the government. Is it any wonder why so many are losing their homes when their earning power has been decimated?

  • peter nelson

    All he ever talks about is raising taxes on earners and re-distribution of income from those that earn to those that don’t.</i?

    If a bank President makes $24 million plus another $7 million in bonusses why should we accept the premise that he earned those?

    Somethime we hear the term “deserving poor” to imply that we should pass some judgement of which poor are truly deserving of our largesse and which ones are mere slackers. I think the same like of reasoning can be applied to the rich. I don’t accept the premise that just vecause a fat cat pullst down a big package that he “earned” it.

  • Mordecai Carroll

    The media keeps uncritically reporting that the Tea Party is some new phenomenon, when in fact it’s composed of the same people the Hard Right has always consisted of. The Tea Party is just a rebranding of the Hard Right, plain and simple.

    Tea Partiers claim to be shocked by out of control gov’t. spending, and have taken to the streets to voice their anger about it. But where was this anger when Bush took the country from a budget surplus at the beginning of his first term to a huge deficit when he left after his second term? Why is their reaction different now that Obama is in office? I have yet to hear a good answer to this question.

    Also, if the Tea Party is so concerned with out of control spending, why don’t they argue for cuts in the military budget?

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 1, 2014
A close up of newspaper front pages focusing on the Ebola outbreak, including a newspaper, left, reading 'Burn all bodies' in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Thursday, July 31, 2014. The worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 deaths in West Africa. (AP)

Israel-Gaza conflict heats up. The House votes to sue Obama. Ebola spreads in Africa. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 1, 2014
In this Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 file photo, Luis Mendez, 23, left, and Maurice Mike, 23, wait in line at a job fair held by the Miami Marlins, at Marlins Park in Miami. Increasingly, potential employers are turning to digital content as a way to judge job-seekers before they even apply. (AP)

They see you when you’re sleeping. They know when you’re awake. Employers move to digital assessment in hiring, firing and promotion. We’ll check in.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jul 31, 2014
A comical sign suggest the modern workplace is anything but collegial . (KW Reinsch / Flickr)

When the boss is a bad apple. How some pretty dark traits can push some to the top.

 
Jul 31, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.  (AP)

The U.S. and Europe face off against Russia. Are we looking at Cold War II? Something hotter?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 1, 2014
Friday, Aug 1, 2014

On the different levels of Internet, knee-jerk anger and the wisdom of Samuel Beckett meshed with the cuteness of a kitten.

More »
Comment
 
What Happened To Rodrigo Y Gabriela?
Friday, Aug 1, 2014

In which yet another studio connectivity issue beyond anyone’s immediate control foils a lively music interview with a great band. Good news: they’ll be back.

More »
Comment
 
Criticism, Conservatism And Dinesh D’Souza
Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Best-selling conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and On Point host Tom Ashbrook disagree about what makes America great…or do they?

More »
8 Comments