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Robert Reich On Inequality

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich on his big new documentary on inequality – and his prescription for the future.

This Jan. 21, 2013 photo shows economist and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich from the film "Inequality For All" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the Fender Music Lodge in Park City, Utah. (AP)

This Jan. 21, 2013 photo shows economist and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich from the film “Inequality For All” during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the Fender Music Lodge in Park City, Utah. (AP)

American inequality just keeps growing.  Growing so great that it’s raising new questions for this country.

We had rich and poor in the great post-war 20th Century, but the middle was all right, so the country felt all right.  Today, the middle is not all right.  And the top tier’s income and wealth have raced off the charts.  Some conservatives say “what’s the problem with that?”  And we’ve heard them.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says it’s a big problem.  For democracy and the economy.  He’s got a new movie out.  And he’s here.

This hour, On Point:  Robert Reich and “Inequality for All.”

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Robert Reich, political economist, professor of public policy at the University of California Berkeley. He served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. He’s the star and subject of the new documentary “Inequality For All” – directed by Jacob Kornbluth — which examines widening income inequality in America. (@rbreich)

Jason Fichtner, senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. (@jfichtner)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Los Angeles Times: Ex-Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich warns about income inequality – “If nothing changes, the median household is going to get poorer and poorer. The wealth of the country is going to get more concentrated, which is not only bad for the economy but it’s also bad for society. I’m optimistic only because this has happened before in American history. If we were having this conversation in 1900, we would say much the same thing. Then two years later, we’d be in the middle of the Progressive movement. How did we get from 1900 to the Progressive era? Frankly nobody knows how social upheaval of a positive kind that we have in the United States occurs, but it’s very simple: We get to a gap where our ideal — equal opportunity, a society based on merit — is so far away from the reality that people just can’t stand it anymore.”

New York Magazine: Is America Catching Up With Robert Reich’s Income-Inequality Crusade? – “It’s been nearly two decades since Robert Reich held political office as Bill Clinton’s Labor secretary. Back then he was considered an affable moderate, capable of reaching across the aisle, but his steady pounding of the drums of middle-class neglect and income inequality in the years since as a cable TV pundit and Berkeley professor with 155,000 Twitter followers have made him into the kind of radical who is persona non grata at Fox News.”

The New York Times: The Rich Get Richer Through the Recovery – “The top 1 percent took more than one-fifth of the income earned by Americans, one of the highest levels on record since 1913, when the government instituted an income tax. The figures underscore that even after the recession the country remains in a new Gilded Age, with income as concentrated as it was in the years that preceded the Depression of the 1930s, if not more so.”

Trailer: ‘Inequality For All’

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  • 2Gary2

    We HAVE to tax the rich hard and spread the wealth. We have to stop corporate welfare which is 100′s of times higher than any welfare for people.

    For every wal-mart that DOES NOT open we save $900,000 or more per year in direct welfare costs to their low paid employees and this does not even include the costs of other wages being driven down at other businesses, many of which close.

    I am sick of subsidizing walmart–the heirs have more than enough to double their employees wages.

    This low wage low road job business plan is simply unacceptable.

    We need to save capitalism from itself by enforcing rules of business conduct.

    No more externalizing losses and privatizing profits.

    • Andrew_MN

      We cannot, as you put it, “save capitalism from itself” because we are not currently operating under real capitalism. I completely agree that the corporate welfare inherent in our system of crony capitalism has to be eliminated. However, I disagree on your point about taxes. Trying to tax the rich significantly more as you seen to imply will not raise more revenue as tax avoidance becomes more economically beneficial than just paying the taxes. The wealthy could always shift their incomes around, invest less, work less. The progressive tax code has always been more about influencing behavior than it has been about raising funds for the government.

      • sickofthechit

        We don’t just need to raise taxes on their income, we also need to tax their wealth. The top 20% control 93% of our nation’s wealth. That only leaves 7% for the bottom 80%. I have a white flag flying in front of my home. charles a. bowsher

      • Don_B1

        What is your definition of “real capitalism”?

        Note that raising (income) taxes on the rich does not just reduce their income and increase the income of lower-income workers.

        If you actually watch the documentary, you will hear the case that when the rich have levels of income so much higher than the average person, they tend to spend that money, not on “job creation” as so many want to claim, but on “rent-seeking” which effectively takes that money out of the job-creation investment area and puts it in areas that give the wealthy a form of monopoly.

        It gives the wealthy incentives to spend a lot of that increased income on lobbying for special advantage in taxation and business opportunities.

        it allows the wealthy to live a lifestyle which isolates them from the trials and tribulations of the average citizen, so that they do not perceive the problems that the country faces. Thus those problems are not dealt with and fester until they become nearly intractable.

        Consider the Middle East, where extractive industries have dominated almost all earnings and most of that income has gone to the wealthy and politically connected. Do you not see how that correlation is the inevitable result of one group gaining a position where they can command the majority of the wealth of the country?

        As for the wealthy “working less,” a business titan of no less acumen as Warren Buffett has made the point that he has never seen anyone fail to make an investment because it did not offer as big a return as it might have with a lower tax rate. What does change an investor’s decision is the choosing of the most profitable investment. And that is what has slowed the recovery from the Great Recession, leaving the country (particularly the 99%) in the Lesser Depression to this day. Because the consumer economy has suffered a lot of lost wealth and increased debt on the part of lower-income consumers, there is a depressed aggregate demand which means that the wealthy (individuals and companies, the latter sitting on some $2 trillion in cash) do not see a good (or any) return on most job-creating investments, so those investments are not made. Instead the money is spent buying other companies or paid to lobbyists to pass laws reducing taxes or making government activities into private company functions, which only ends up costing more and often performing worse (consider that the latest mass murderer’s security clearance at the Washington D.C. Naval Base was processed by a private company).

      • Don_B1

        One extremely important point I somehow forgot to include:

        When the most wealthy have incomes orders of magnitude larger than the median income, they tend to spend increasing amounts of that income in highly speculative investments (both in the 1920s and particularly derivatives in the 2000s) which made little positive contribution to the economy when it was doing “well” and made the downturn catastrophic when the bubble broke. Because it led to vast overleveraging of borrowed money, it led to huge debts which had to be paid back or reduced before the debtors could resume their spending that made the pre-disaster economy work, thereby making the recovery much longer than after other types of recessions.

        • Andrew_MN

          Making highly speculative bets isn’t intrinsically bad. It all depends on the level of risk that the speculator is willing to take. The problem we saw in the latest crisis is that the bad debt was not allowed to clear. When the government steps in as it did with the bailouts they just kicked the necessary de-leveraging down the road.

    • OnPointComments

      Your comment is typical far left liberal lunacy.

      1. Making the rich poorer will not make the poor richer.
      2. Corporate welfare is not “100′s of times higher than any welfare for people.” If that statement were true, corporate welfare would be more than the annual US economy.
      3. Each Walmart does not cost $900,000 in direct welfare. Is it your contention that if these people weren’t working at Walmart they would have no need for government assistance?
      4. Wages are not based on how much money the owners of the company have.

      • jefe68

        And your comment(s) are typical right wing regressive memes.

      • Don_B1

        See my response to Andrew_MN in this thread.

    • fun bobby

      and each family saves on average $2,500 a year shopping at walmart. how many families shop at each walmart? if you take away the walmart how much less will the poor be able to purchase with their food stamps? walmart, with the support of the first lady, has pledged to eliminate the “food deserts”. what is your plan? Walmart is using its purchasing power to influence packed food manufacturers to reduce salt and fat. who else could do that? I wonder how many more fundrasers you would have to listen to on NPR without the support walmart provides. What other retailers have pledged to become zero waste and use 100% renewable energy? has any other employer dedicated themselves to providing a job for every veteran who applies?

      • sickofthechit

        Window dressing as long as they are not paying their workers a living wage. Window dressing as long as part of your calculation doesn’t take into account the productivity lost by millions walking 1,000′s of feet just to get their milk. Window dressing when your calculation doesn’t take into account the loss of local jobs and businesses that couldn’t compete.

        I applaud their initiatives, but they have a long way to go to redeem themselves from the policies that work supervisors off the clock and keep workers hours just below the level of full-time benefits. charles a. bowsher

        • fun bobby

          actually if the amount their workers is subsidized is far less than the benefits to the community then that’s important to consider. the benefit of walmart is greater than the cost. walmart is really an egalitarian way to redistribute wealth as rich people can and do shop at walmart as well. I don’t understand your comment about walking thousands of feet to get milk. its not practical for everyone in a city to produce their own milk. Are you lamenting the loss of uncompetitive businesses?

          I don’t think you have looked at what walmart has been doing lately. I think the people who owned walmart have realized that their model was unsustainable and that they must be come sustainable in order to continue for the long run. unlike most organizations they have the money to actually achieve their lofty goals

          http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/

          • 2Gary2

            i look at how walmart costs taxpayers tons of money to subsidize their low wage workers when the walton heirs have more wealth and income than the bottom 150 million americans. They can pay their pay way.

          • fun bobby

            well then you should be pushing to end the subsidies that their workers receive. how is walmart wrong or evil for doing what is legal and done by every other corporation? why single out walmart? are you just plain jealous they have made so much money? you should get on board with the first lady and I in praising walmarts good works

          • 2Gary2

            walmart is the biggest and is a metaphor for all low wage jobs similar to the term “McJobs”

            You did not address the corporate welfare part, not the negative impact walmart has on driving down wages in general and the cheap junk from China that may cost less bit after needing to replace it after a few uses it is more expensive and clogs landfills.

            You are correct that many many companies receive corporate welfare. Just because it is legal (walmart/corporations write the laws) does not make it right.

          • 2Gary2

            Walmart makes so much money by exploiting others.

          • fun bobby

            what is your solution to the problems you perceive that walmart represents?

          • 2Gary2

            thank you for asking–I would approve the card check law and let walmart workers unionize easily. They could do this now, however, walmart makes this almost impossible. These jobs can not be outsourced so walmart could be forced to pay better wages. They make so much profit that they could keep prices low even with paying a living wage.

            Manufacturing jobs used to be poor jobs until unions made them better. If we are stuck with a majority of McJobs they need to be made better and pay a living wage say $15 per hour.

          • fun bobby

            you don’t sound like you frequent walmart often but I have been to many and none of them have the automatic scanners that most supermarkets have used to reduce their staff. I am sure they would simply introduce those and perhaps some shelf stocking ‘bots like they have in automated warehouses and such. they could replace whatever number of employees needed to make up the difference. where will those people work when every other business that employs low wage workers is doing the same automation process? they make ipods in china because its cheaper to pay Chinese people to hand assemble them than it is to retrofit an assembly line every few months when they come out with a new one. as robots become more flexible and cheaper that at will not be the case. people will only have jobs as long as its not cheaper for a machine to do it. bump the minimum wage to $15 and all sorts of people will cost more than machine labor. did you know many jobs at ups pay $8-10 an hour? the managers there make less than $15. That’s a union owned business by the way. Will the price of your packages from amazon increase or will they simply automate more( botsource) or both? on the plus side you wont have to try to talk to the person at the drive thru window you will just key in your order or perhaps order by smart phone

          • 2Gary2

            how is walmart wrong or evil for doing what is legal and done by every other corporation?—this is the problem–because of the income and wealth inequality the rich buy the government and write the laws in their favor.

            It is like a bank robber paying off politicians to make bank robbery legal–it still is wrong.

            you are in the minority in defending walmart and that fact that you try to defend the indefensible speaks volumes about why America is as messed up as it is. No sane person could say what you say.

          • fun bobby

            well like I said if you think it is wrong push to end the subsidies that many workers at walmart use. I agree the rich have undue influence.
            Perhaps few defend walmart on your alternet type sites. in American and around the world millions of people shop at walmart every day. perhaps enjoying getting a good deal in a clean store is crazy.
            I personally love walmart and thank God for it practically every time I shop there. I marvel at its efficiency. where do you shop that is so wonderful?

          • 2Gary2

            Not only is the Walmart model bad for workers and business, it’s also
            terrible for the taxpayer. The company’s refusal to pay a living wage and
            benefits forces most of its employees onto public benefits like food stamps and
            Medicaid. Each store’s workforce consumes as much as $1.75 million in public benefits each year.

          • fun bobby

            wow this is really expanding at a terrific pace, yesterday you said it was $900,000 now its 1.75 million? what exactly would you like to see done about walmart? where am I supposed to shop if you take away the walmart?

          • 2Gary2

            I know I low balled the 900,000 figure. I thought it was much higher but did not have time to check.

            I do not want to take away walmart only that they need to pay their own way and not rel;y on taxpayers to subsidize their low wage model.

          • fun bobby

            you keep repeating that like a mantra but you don’t seem to want to look at the bog picture

          • 2Gary2

            “Walmart wants you poor” is the real company motto, believing that hard
            economic times give them market share. They are like birds who believe
            that a dried up river makes the fish easier to catch.

          • fun bobby

            what bastards for giving veterans jobs investing tens of billions in American manufacturing and promoting sustainability and public broadcasting

          • Don_B1

            You are missing the sales tax goodie that most rural and suburban Walmart’s get when they negotiate the building of their stores in the state and town. They get to charge the customer for the state sales tax but get to keep it toward their bottom line. See David Cay Johnston for details.

            This provision adds $millions to Walmart’s bottom line.

      • 2Gary2

        fun bobby is a walmart employee at the corporate office in public relations. Ignore his praise of walmart as it is not genuine.

        Sorry hoss-you are busted.

        • fun bobby

          that’s funny. I am merely one of millions of happy, loyal walmart shoppers. I went there yesterday and my trip there provides an excellent example of what is great about walmart. They actually had ammunition in stock and were selling it at list price. If there was no walmart, during this historic ammunition shortage which Obama either likes or is blind to, I would either be unable to purchase any ammunition or be subject to all the “mom and pop’ stores who are gouging people during this crisis and/or have nothing. Also I got 20 pairs of socks for $15. what’s not to love? the stores are generally very clean, well lit and open 24 hours with employees who are generally helpful if not always competent. you are paying for it with your tax dollars why not save money and live better?

  • 2Gary2

    First of all, The Banana Republic of America is still in a depression.
    47 million Americans on food stamps is not a recession, it’s a
    depression. Actual unemployment is much higher than the crap government figures. Second, the bailouts of the “too-big-to-fail banks” rewarded
    their bad behavior and only made them bigger and even more destructive than before. So the banksters that caused a depression are causing this
    depression to become even deeper and get worse.

    And in a lot of Third World hellholes, the ultra-poor become
    “self-employed” by “starting their own businesses” and focusing on
    things like kidnapping for ransom, carjacking and violent home
    invasions. The ultra-poor can get very creative when they’re faced with hunger (just ask any CEO who has had the “pleasure” of being bound and gagged in a car trunk in the slums of San Salvador).

    • fun bobby

      that’s why I don’t worry too much about the foodstamp or other welfare cuts. people are not going to starve

      • sickofthechit

        They are already starving and the Repug’s are cutting $40 billion from food stamps over the next ten years!

      • Don_B1

        The damage to children not getting adequate nutrition will be felt over their lifespans as there will be more crime and less ability to do the creative work necessary for each worker to perform adequately in the more demanding jobs of the future.

        But someone with your cavalier “let them eat cake” mentality will never understand that.

        • fun bobby

          when the economy is bad crime goes down. it’s counterintuitive. what do you imagine these future jobs consist of?

    • Don_B1

      Support for at least some of your argument can be found here:

      http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/snap-notes/

      and here:

      http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/21/more-snap-judgments/

      More on the Republican motivation driving the attack on SNAP can be found here:

      http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/hating-on-food-stamps/

  • 2Gary2

    The real mystery is why red-staters, largely hard-working people
    who are closer to the poverty line themselves than most blue-staters
    (and whose states already accept more federal tax dollars, as a rule)
    have been convinced — purely on the basis of social issues — to vote
    Republican. They are putting in office the thieves who are taking away
    their safety net, taking away their school lunches, taking away their
    kids’ college educations and would like to take away their comfort in
    old age and their access to inexpensive health care, all because they
    believe the narrative that “lib-tards” are brown-skinned baby-killers
    who want to burn down their church and take away their guns. None of
    which is true. It’s quite a magic act, and one keeps wondering when
    these poor dupes will wake up and see that their pocket is being picked.

    • fun bobby

      perhaps there should be less talk of taking people’s guns then. are you saying that the poor should be grateful, for what they receive and fight to increase it?

  • 2Gary2

    Sorry for all the comments–this really hits a nerve with me.

    • dale_dale

      I feel you, the scene is obscene and absurd, and the perpetrators and enablers get TV gigs from which to point and laugh at us daily. A new union movement, not parties, are going to be the salvation, if anything is.

      • fun bobby

        how is that working out for the Mcployees?

        • Don_B1

          It has only just begun.

          • fun bobby

            we’ll see

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri
    • fun bobby

      I thinks that’s an underestimate. besides tradesmen like electricians and plumbers who cannot be replaced by a machine or computer?

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    A corporation is not a human being, employees and stockholders, are ! The corporation concept was legally created to facilitate business and to limit the liability of the individual investor against attacks from the unscrupulous, thereby, creating an investment climate that encouraged normal business risk taking by any, would-be investor. Today’s corporations have been hijacked by groups of people that have not put any of their own “sweat equity” into the company, nor have they put at risk, their own money. They demand large sums of cash and free stock options to perform their required duties, for their respective offices. In short, they practice extorting stockholders, constantly shuffling assets in and out of speculative securities and across international borders, in and out of currency swaps and questionable “securities”, passing hidden wealth within the network of criminals, to which they belong.

    If you really want to make a change in the way we operate in this country, demand that profitable corporations be forced to pay a cash dividend to stockholders. Tax those dividends as ordinary income, lower the corporate tax rate, and reduce corporate tax loopholes and watch as “trickle down” morphs into GUSH DOWN !

    • fun bobby

      you don’t think people would take their money out of the market and put it into a tax shelter?

    • sickofthechit

      Nice biography of Mitt Romney!

  • Unterthurn

    Today’s inequality is not comparable to earlier times, because the population is so much larger then it once was. The recovery these fools are dreaming of for normal citizens is a thing of the past. Equality among the masses would tax our environment and the earth cannot support all it’s inhabitants to live as the rich do.

    The big question is how are we going to deal with inequality?
    There are not enough natural resources for all to live like kings and queens.
    The definition of happiness shouldn’t be tied in with wealth.
    New etiquette is needed among the wealthy. The way they allow their lifestyles to be flaunted is creating envy.
    Marketing is being disguised as sensation news which is blurring the lines of reality. This is to leading to dissatisfaction.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Guten Morgen, Herr Reich. Wie geht es Ihnen !,

    ( I’m sorry I couldn’t resist having some fun with your name. )

    Mr. Reich,

    The changes that are coming as a result of technology are so profound and far-reaching that any and every, Every, EVERY, conversation about work and economics should contain some analysis about the fundamental structures and preconceived notions of our society.

    1.Here in the US, the 8 hour work day has not always been the rule. It is time to consider a 6 hour work day.

    2.Here in the US, an employee has to work “full time” to qualify for benefits. This needs to change. An employee that works as little as 1 hour, needs to be credited with 1 hours worth of benefits.

    3. The “Suffering Archetype” must be addressed. It is drilled into our consciousness that hardship and suffering are the paths to success and wealth, etc.. Nonsense ! Living the life of a “Workaholic” is not the answer. Somehow we must convince ourselves that, a thoughtful mind and consistency of action are the tools that will bring us wealth. As an example I sight the known fact that our Asteroid Belt contains over 100 Trillion Dollars worth of mineral wealth. More wealth than we as a nation have been able to acquire since inception! Our leaders need to be prodded to inspire the populace to seek this level of wealth.

    4. Mr. Reich, we are probably 30 or so years away from creating an Intelligence that will surpass any and all human beings. The system we have can not and will not survive. Writing books and appearing on Radio Shows are fine for entertainment and helping to ignite conversation but bring little change. I ask that you consider banding with others of like mind and creating a political organization, that will challenge our current political parties and spur a new civilization.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I won’t miss this hour. Reich is someone I would support as a totalitarian dictator.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      “I like Ike”, oh I’m sorry, I mean “I like Reich” but even I would not support him as dictator, that’s MY destiny ! :)

      • Shag_Wevera

        Now that’s funny!

    • thequietkid10

      and that about says it all doesn’t it.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Why have we fallen from a unionized, strong middle class nation to a mirror image of America in the age of the robber barons? Why have we let all of the progress fall by the wayside? How long will it take to recover what we have given away? Thank you for your answers, Professor Reich.

  • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

    There seems to be an increase in litter. What are the causes and how would you deal with it?

    • fun bobby

      move to a better neighborhood or pick it up or ignore it

      • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

        I have done a lot of hiking and biking and there is litter everywhere. I do go out on litter pick ups but the litter accumulates a few days later. I cannot keep up with the litter bugs. I have been thinking about setting up a mobile trash can business where I would walk along traffic jams and offer to take trash from the people in the cars for money.

        • fun bobby

          get a video camera and start busting people. give the videos to the police and/or youtube or start hiking in more remote places. perhaps you could recruit the homeless for your mobile can business and kill two birds with one stone

          • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

            Occasionally, I will notify people.

          • fun bobby

            I have been considering a similar sting operation at the crosswalk near my house that no one stops for.

    • sickofthechit

      Every state needs beverage container deposit laws. They go a long way to “cleaning” up the litter.

      • J__o__h__n

        They should repeal those and just have mandatory recycling. There might be less litter in some places but having the homeless rip open garbage bags looking for cans isn’t a great solution.

    • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

      The causes:
      1. Disgruntled people.
      2. Unwillingness to carry the garbage to the nearest receptacle.
      3. Advertisement
      4. Unsecured garbage.

      The deal:
      1. Educate people about garbage disposal.
      2. Arrest litter bugs.
      3. Encourage people to pick up the litter.
      4. Pay people to pick up the litter.
      5. Let people offset their government debt in exchange for community service.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Robert Reich never met a governmental entitlement program that he didn’t like.

  • John Cedar

    Only in American can we have a population who has the
    most cars
    the newest cars
    the biggest houses
    the most bathrooms
    the most flat screens
    the most cable channels
    the most wasted food
    the highest BMI
    and still complain because they don’t have as much as one percent Joneses

    Those unionized factory jobs, the revisionist socialist pine for did not provide as good of a life as today’s fast food jobs do. The postage stamp houses on postage stamp lots with one bathroom and a 30 amp electric service did not keep the average American in Beaver and June opulence. And no white collar Ward cleaver would be caught dead in the cleaver house today…unless it was just scoping things out before the 5,000′ tear down rebuild.

    • fun bobby

      being poor in America now in many ways is better than being wealthy elsewhere or at any time in the past

  • William

    Robert Reich: “Keep the stimulus money away from high skilled workers and white construction workers”. This guy is just another rich white elitist preaching to the rest of America his version of “equality”.

  • MsAbila

    Please discuss the economic problem and our current legal system where corporations are enabled to accumulate gigantic wealth from tax payers funded programs while they do not pay taxes or give back to communities.

    Also, please discuss the ‘off-shoring’ issue where wealthy companies keep their sheltered funds in countries like Switzerland, Singapore, etc to avoid taxation.

    It is a worldwide problem and is not being addressed in any meaningful way.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Worse yet people who are poor brag about how clean and nice some these nations are. Switzerland and Grand Cayman are an AXIS of evil.

      • fun bobby

        I have not been to Switzerland but I hear the alps are quit stunning. as far as grand cayman I have never had a bad time there

        • Bluejay2fly

          I would rather see my tourist dollars go to somebody in Saint Lucia or Guadeloupe who could actually use my money.

          • fun bobby

            then perhaps you should vacation in Haiti this year.

      • sickofthechit

        I think you mean an AXI$ of evil.

    • fun bobby

      because the media is made up of large international conglomerates as well. you would not want them to expose their own impropriety would you?

    • sickofthechit

      Don’t forget Romney’s favorite, the Caymans!

  • nuhampshire

    Mr. Reich,

    I teach sixth grade at a Boston-area independent school that costs $29,000/year to attend. Before that, I worked with a non-profit in Boston to help public school kids prepare for and get into schools like the one I teach at now—kids who will all be among the first in their family to ultimately graduate from a four-year college. The worlds I’ve been in through these two jobs are SO different. Few of the families I deal with now are divorced; nearly all were at the previous job (or else had children out of wedlock). Through the non-profit, families didn’t have internet access, struggled with language and resident status barriers, violent neighborhoods, and very often had next to no savings (or else startling amounts of credit card debt). There is a tiny amount of crossover: three of my advisees from the last job currently attend the school I teach at now. I spoke with one this morning, who has to leave his house by 6:45 each day and take a myriad of trains and subway lines to reach the school (hasn’t been late once in the last two years). But my question is what can be done to help people in these two different worlds SEE each other, and develop empathy instead of pity about deprivation in one direction and determination instead of shock at the largesse in the other?

    • fun bobby

      reality tv?

  • Andrew_MN

    How long will it take people to see that every action government tries to take on this front backfires?

    Minimum wages price some workers out of the market and encourage companies to automate wherever possible. Federal reserve monetary policy continually erodes the purchasing power of what little money people are able to make. Government, hoping to shame companies into paying lower executive salaries, forced disclosures that instead started a bidding war for the top talent that drove compensation up across the board. Corporations are limited in the amount of salary they are allowed to deduct so they start paying with stock which changes corporate incentives. and the list could go on.

    If you want real prosperity for everyone get the government out of the way.

    • Bluejay2fly

      You are correct government interference at times makes things worse and I am not just talking about the Vietnamese or the Iraqis. If we never had medicaid and medicare perhaps the healthcare system would not have become such a Gordian knot.

    • Don_B1

      Just like “minimum wages,” “executive compensation” and other government “regulation,” “getting the government out of the way” will also have even more devastating side-effects.

      When the average age of food-service workers is 27 or so, and more than half of food service workers have families, those jobs are not being treated as “entry level,” but the fast-food companies tend to treat them as cheap workers, using the high unemployment level to keep wages low.

      Thus a lot of “service industry” jobs are kept at minimum or near-minimum wage levels. Walmart is the poster case for this, as more than half its workers qualify for SNAP.

      Check out the controversy over the “sample monthly budget” for employees that McDonald’s posted:

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2013/07/18/why-mcdonalds-employee-budget-has-everyone-up-in-arms/

      and:

      http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2013/07/17/mcdonalds-worker-budget/index.html

      Workers are not the equivalent of a “piece of machinery” that can be selected and run on a “least cost” basis. That is because they come with what Adam Smith called “externalities.” That means that requiring workers to “get a second job” to have a “livable income” results in costs put on the whole of society rather than the businesses that are benefiting from those “low cost wages.” The poster case is Walmart, where the workers at each Walmart store qualify for something like a total of $900,000 in SNAP payments. But raising the salaries of the workers to as much as $15,000 from the minimum wage levels ($8.80/hour for the average Walmart worker) would add less than $0.50 to the average cash register receipt of Walmart customers (Demos study). Customers could still save a lot of money but not have to pay as much as they do for the taxes to support SNAP.

      When workers earn more they will spend more, generating the aggregate demand that will fuel business investment in capital goods and new hires to meet the demands of an expanding economy.

      If you insist on “entry level” wages, the minimum wage requirement can be adjusted to provide for other levels for first job employees, age-restricted to youth, or those in the job for less than some period. Some other approach with similar consequences could be better, but some livable minimum wage would greatly help the overall economy.

  • Bluejay2fly

    We have millions of Americans who have much different aspirations than we have for them. They do not want to be be educated and they certainly do not want to work in the service industry. Society has always had people like that and just accepted it for what it is worth. However, we are trying to make them “better” people by forcing education down their throats, applying more laws and codes on their behavior, and creating more government agencies, and government monies to uplift these people. We should just go back to the colonial times and just let people live their lives without government interference. If John wants to live in a run down house with no running water than let him as long as it is not damaging other people properties. Imagine the Trillions we spend every year dragging people to family court, throwing them in county jail, state prison, forcing them into mandatory drug treatment programs, and making sure they have heat, food, and a place to stay? If we drastically reduced government spending we could modify the tax system. Then people can dig ditches, sell apples, mow lawns, work odd jobs and eek out a living. The mindless factory jobs and subsistent farms were a good place for people but those are all gone and now we are paying for them to live in this expensive economy. Like it or not there are plenty of our fellow citizens out there who want nothing more out of the American Dream than to work a couple days a week then sit around the house watching TV, smoking, drinking or doing drugs. We need to realize there are more people out there like Jack Falstaff than Mike Brady.

    • OrangeGina

      There are many people currently working in the service industry that don’t want to be there either. Most service industry jobs are just a notch above slavery, poorly paid and the workers are subject to abusive behavior by their bosses. This is after being psych tested, drug tested and your credit score pulled. Service industry work doesn’t have to be like that. There are exceptions like the Costco warehouse stores.

      Let’s extend your thought experiment a bit further and imagine dealing with the modern world as the Colonials did. What happens with the next natural disaster, be it a paralyzing snow storm, or what we are now seeing with climate change like in CO? Does your neighbor have a helicopter to get you and yours out of the flood zone? Would your Toro snowblower be able to free cars trapped in 8 foot snow drifts on Rt. 128? Here’s another one: could you fix a deteriorating highway overpass with your battery powered Black and Decker drill?

      YES we should help each other, but some things need a larger entity with more resources.

      Just one more for ya: instead of lamenting why some value leisure more than work, wonder why all these so-called modern time/labor saving wonders we have now have not resulted in a shorter work week and more leisure time for ALL. We are all still rats running around and around the wheel.

      • Bluejay2fly

        I was in IRAQ in sept 05 guess who was there with? The Louisiana National Guard. Responding to Katrina and other natural disasters is what the Army National Guard should be doing not fighting in some bullshit farce. To much of our government waste is either DOD and foreign policy related. You are right about the quality of jobs out there. Moving industry overseas has cost us a lot of jobs that were decent and respectable. Maybe the New American Dream should not be co-opted by our obsession of global interventionism. Our international policies has not only acted as a national distraction it costs so much it necessitates high taxes. Worse yet it has caused us to neglect our own societal problems to the point where people are angry, frustrated, and are hopeless. Unlike many other forms of government wastes the total sum of what US soldiers spend overseas stays in those nations economy not our own. At least someone on welfare spends his dole in the US economy not in Germany or Korea.

  • J__o__h__n

    If only Clinton had paid more attention to Reich and less to Summers and Rubin.

  • stephenreal

    You got to wonder what Mr.Reich thinks about this government shutdown thing? He went thru it during his day.

  • Markus6

    It is immorale for people like CEOs to be making the money they’re making. And they make it not be cause they’re worth it, but because the board is stacked with their buddies. Similar situation though different cause for wall street money people who add little of value to the economy. They’re all very smart people, probably in the top 5% in brain power, at least, but they’re not worth what they get paid.

    But no one should trust Reich. He’s said that 16 Trillion in debt is acceptable. He really hasn’t seen a tax on a producer that he didn’t like. He’s glib and simplistic with things that are complex. He’s the ex labor secretary, not an economist, and a liberal advocate who only will give one side of an argument.

    Maybe I’m getting cranky as I get older, but this subject needs more than another clever advocate for one side.

    • Bluejay2fly

      What is the difference between the guy at work who steals money out of the coffee mess and those evil CEO’s? It seems to me nothing but scale. We need a cultural reboot.

    • Don_B1

      On CEO pay, I would put it a bit differently: I would emphasize that the contribution that they make, particularly C-level employees in the financial sector, do not produce a product that is worth what they are paid for it. Many started out learning physics or some other subject requiring mathematically gifted people, who switched to finance for the money.

      I think you misread Professor Reich about his characterization of the current debt level. Most “salt-water economists” (who advocate similar policies) consider the debt level the equivalent of “draining the swamp” but they consider the current unemployment level as the “swarm of alligators” that must be dealt with before the end goal can be attacked. Thus they would encourage reaching a lower Debt/GDP ratio but only after lowering the unemployment rate to a “full employment” rate, about two percent lower than the current level.

      Data from the “Lesser Depression” that has followed the Great Recession (December 2007 – June 2009), particularly for the 99%, for whom the recession has arguably not ended, show that austerity by governments has had the opposite effect from what the conservative right (Tea/Republicans in particular) have claimed. The leading study on this issue, by the IMF, has been particularly harsh on austerity in a recession. See:

      http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/05/imf-underestimated-damage-austerity-would-do-to-greece

      There are several other analyses that indicate the same thing.

  • geraldfnord

    First: let’s get our straw-men in order:

    Conservatives are fine with a nation of (oh let’s say) about one thousand incredibly wealthy white men and the rest of us impoverished so that we might be more compliant workers and sex slaves.

    Liberals want everyone to be impoverished because we love equality (and our master, Satan) almost as much as we hate hard work and talent.

    Okay, let’s—WAIT FOR IT!—go!1!

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      I must be a minion of evil as I refuse to worship the wealthy and elevate them to the status of demigods although I don’t think I’m working towards poverty and injustice for the 99%… The 1% are doing a bangup job towards that end and they legislate equality out of our system.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    My problem with Reich is that he, unlike your typical partisan, identifies a lot of the problems quite insightfully, but prescribes exactly the wrong solutions for most of them. It’s like he’s a gifted artist whose only tool is a hammer.

    • geraldfnord

      Well, I often read people with whom I agree that the patient were sick, but whose leeches I deride as unscientific twaddle (even in the case of post-transplant edema!), as opposed to the reasonable use of my Patent Animal Magnetism machine.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Well stated.

      I also find Reich quite likeable even though I disagree with many of his solutions.

  • fun bobby

    so what’s his plan? I guess we can always count on him to stand up for the little guy

    • geraldfnord

      No Bobby is ‘fun’, except as the Conspiracy defines the word. Kill “Bob”—he’ll thank you for it later, and make you rich or something.

      • fun bobby

        is that coherent to anyone?

  • creaker

    Most Americans have to ask themselves why they should be better off than the peasants and dirt poor that make up the major percentage of the world’s population.

    There is no reason for that disparity anymore – and things are steadily evening out. The first world are becoming nations of a few very rich, a tiny middle class, and a huge mess of poverty – just like the rest of the world.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Many formerly poor first world nations are not having this dilemma. Go to Norway, Sweden, or Finland or look at Germany, Japan, France, Kuwait, or Quatar. We need a strong middle class in this nation unless you want us to be like countries where people get abducted for ransom everyday.

  • Coastghost

    Requisite specificity from the very outset, if you please: define “inequality”, define “equality”: do not leave these key terms to self-evident understanding, please.

  • Coastghost

    Reich will doubtless be contributing hard-earned proceeds from his agitprop performances to Harvard’s ambitious fundraising campaign, true? (What ARE Boston University’s interests in promoting Harvard viewpoints incessantly?)

    • TomK_in_Boston

      So much free time to make irrelevant comments.

      • Coastghost

        I wouldn’t mind Reich’s irrelevance were his views not given so much prominence: yet another Harvard overlord at work.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Prominence? All I hear about is the big bad deficit, the need for “entitlement reform”, and the DC echo chamber.

          • Coastghost

            Fine, TomK: let Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government take over management of Boston and the rest of the Commonwealth. Or why would you not trust their competence to do so? (Who cares what common people think when such geniuses are in charge?)

          • TomK_in_Boston

            LOL, still haven’t quite made it to the issues, but keep trying. Shouldn’t you have mentioned “envy” by now?

          • Coastghost

            You mentioned “envy” twice in two succeeding posts, I think I’ve not mentioned it once, until THIS post (quoting you): so it must be your meme, and you are welcome to it.

    • jefe68

      Don’t listen. If you don’t like the show turn it off.
      THe reality of what Dr. Reich is talking about if a fact.
      That you think he’s irrelevance is neither here nor there.

      • Coastghost

        I’m not listening: I’m monitoring.

        • jefe68

          Monitoring what? How many intellectuals there are on On Point.

          By the way, you are aware that the Founders of our nation were mostly intellectuals. Are you against them as well? John Adams graduated from Harvard.

          • Coastghost

            Monitoring what our brainiacs come out with, espec. their prescriptions and asserted deontologies.

            “Intellectual: one who deems hypertrophy of the mind just compensation for constipation of the soul.”

          • jefe68

            So you are against intellectuals, is this your point? Or should I say the root of your pointless memes.

          • Coastghost

            Chiefly, I’m complaining of the institutional leverage they get in expressing their views from philanthropic outfits like Harvard

          • jefe68

            I find what you are saying here to be pretty absurd.

          • 65noname

            yes I am.

      • 65noname

        actually, no. my tax dollars go pay for this drivel and the show itself claims to encourage dissenting opinions. if you “don’t like” that, “don’t listen”.

  • creaker

    The big inequality is access to influence government. The rich have pretty much exclusive access – the rest of us get to vote on a preselected list of candidates every election.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Congress is the concierge where politicians are introduced to money.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Nice to have a guest not from Heritage or the TeaOP for a change.

    The suspension bridge graph is excellent, and a key message is that too much inequality is a leading indicator of a big crash; 1929 and 2008.

    IT’S THE TAX CUTS, DAMMIT!!! How obvious does it have to get? Middle class was kicking A when the top rate was 70-90%. Why not try what worked again? What can we lose? The benefits of Reaganomics, LOL?

    • 65noname

      reich is simply the soft, polite sidethose guys.

  • Coastghost

    When a leveraged voice from Harvard takes advantage of its vast opportunities to promote “equality”, why do I get suspicious?

  • geraldfnord

    Would Dr Reich support a tax cut, in particular J.F.K.’s desired cut to a marginal top rate of 70%?

    • TomK_in_Boston

      FYI that was a cut when JFK did it, it wd be a massive hike in 2013. Times change.

    • 65noname

      kennedy was no economic progressive (nor a social progressive for that matter)

  • twenty_niner

    Income inequality is the direct result of Fed and Central Bank money printing. The worst case occurs when the money supply is being expanded not because productivity and GDP has expanded and the money supply must expand to catch up; but when the money supply is being used as a cart to bang against the rear end of the horse. In this case, money printing creates massive dislocated asset bubble that directly benefit the uber wealthy.

  • geraldfnord

    But wouldn’t greater equality lead many of us to be less compliant workers, and (furthermore) diminish the Awe and Maiesty in which doth sit the Dread and Fear of our Betters?

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Oh boy, Tom’s comparison to “An Inconvenient Truth” is embarrassing since it was ruled a fraud by a British court.

    But it did make AlGore $100s of millions so maybe Robert Reich is OK with it.

    • 65noname

      exactly what did a “british court” do? and who cares what a legal system under the thimb of a monarchy says or does?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        “In order for the film to be shown, the Government must first amend their Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that 1.) The Film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument. 2.) If teachers present the Film without making this plain they may be
        in breach of section 406 of the Education Act 1996 and guilty of political indoctrination. 3.) Eleven inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children.”

        You can find the 11 major inaccuracies that the court found enumerated here:

        http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2007/10/09/court-identifies-eleven-inaccuracies-al-gore-s-inconvenient-truth#ixzz2fpJ6mNd1

        • 65noname

          We all know who owns the british courts. and its isn’t truth and honesty. of course whenever a court decides anything in a progressive manner it is accused of being dicatorial. And when a foreign court is quoted for a progessive point we are told that we should not look towards foreign courts. And does this mean that britian doesn’t allow the bible to be taught in british schools since now of the bible’s claims havew ever been shown to bee true?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            The 11 inaccuracies are all fact and science based. Are there any that you dispute?

            This isn’t about right or left. We shouldn’t show propaganda films to our students — especially in the name of ‘science’.

          • 65noname

            that’s not what actual scientists say. And it is about politics. And propaganda films ARE shown in classrooms all the time. and, once again, if british courts only allow “proven truth” to be presented in british classes, I asume that the bible is banned.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            “that’s not what actual scientists say.”
            er, no.
            Again, which of the 11 inaccuracies are based in science? Scientists did testify at the trial.

            At least we are clear. You are OK with propaganda being shown to school kids as long as it is YOUR kind of propaganda.

          • 65noname

            I think that I qualified the word “scientist” with the adjective “actual”. And, of course, the tobacco companies had “scientists” testifying that cigarettes did not cause cancer and are harmless.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Again, can you provide one scientist (actual or otherwise) that disagrees that the 11 claims are inaccurate?

            The court’s findings are quite conservative. They could have found much more but none of these 11 are even in dispute.

            Comparing this to tobacco co. ‘expert’ testimony is a lazy and false comparison — unless you have some new evidence to offer.

          • 65noname

            do your own research. And if response about the tobacco industry analogy is lazy and false, HOW is it is lazy and false. You made reference to the fact that some so-called scientists claimed that some “facts” were innacurate. I responded that we have heard so-called scientists be both dishonest and wwrong before as in the tobbaco example.
            Try not to be lazy and false in your comments.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Why is it lazy and false?
            Because it has been documented that the tobacco industry falsified scientific testimony. There is no such documentation (or even a shred of evidence) in this case. All we have is YOUR assertion.

            Again, the scientific community (not just one ‘expert’) acknowledge that these 11 claims are either false or misleading. You have yet to defend even one of the 11 claims.

          • 65noname

            o.k you win. I’m lazy and wrong; you’re honest and objective.
            and the industries that fight to continue their destruction of the evironment, and their political lackies, never present false evidence or lie. And the courts, espically british courts, are always honest and objective. and the bible is scientifically true.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Listen, it took me no pleasure in calling your argument lazy — but it was clear that your arguments were superficial and you were ignoring the facts in the case and you were making false claims.

            This suit in Britain was initiated by a parent and school board member to protect the children — it wasn’t big business.

            “”I care about the environment as much as the next man,” says [Stewart
            Dimmock, 45, a lorry driver and school governor from Kent]. “However, I am determined to prevent my children from being subjected to political spin in the classroom.”

            Side note: you appear to be obsessed with the bible. I don’t know where that is coming from but maybe it is time for some self-reflection?

          • 65noname

            dude, I said “o.k. you win” . You’re right about everything, espically about it being time for you to do “some self-reflection”. Go for it.
            And, by the way, why are you so hung up about the british courts and so obsessed with defending the bible?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Memo to 65noname: I’m not ‘right’ about everything. I never claimed I was.

            “why are you so hung up about the british courts and so obsessed with defending the bible?”
            I offered a single british court case because the results were so clear and illuminating.

            And I don’t recall my ‘defending the bible’ in our conversation. I simply observed that you continually brought up the bible. It was a non sequitur and seemed strange.

            But I’ll take your ‘concession’ and move along.

          • 65noname

            about time. espically almost every one of your “points” was lazy and wrong. and while you’re “mov[ing] along” learn to recognize sarcasm. And get over your obsession with me.

          • 65noname

            dude, I’m glad that you realize that its time for you to “move along” as well as do some “selfreflection”. while you’re doing so take some to figure out why you can’t recognize sarcasm. And why you’re so obsessed with me. And the british courts.

  • Yar

    It’s the 401 K system, the rich were given our retirements to manage, they stole the money, and fear the day we figure it out. This leads to revolution. We have not paid the first dime for the banking crisis of 2008, we simply shifted the debt from the wealthy to the public.

    • SteveTheTeacher

      Reverse-Robinhood. This model took a foothold and accelerated in the 1980′s when it was called, Reganhood.

    • 65noname

      and guys like reich and clinton allowed them to do it when they were in power; in fact they praised the guys doing it and deregulated those pensions and the financial industry.

      • J__o__h__n

        Where is the evidence that Reich did?

        • 65noname

          dude, he was the secretary of labor. What did he do to prevent any of this? And, if he couldn’t, if he had no influence, shouldn’t he have resigned in protest?

          • J__o__h__n

            What does sec of labor have to do with deregulating the financial industry?

          • 65noname

            First, if you don’t know what effect the policies and practices of the finance indusrty have on labor, you need to do some more studying. But, in any case, he claims that he was a top level economic advisor in the clinton gang. Anyone in that position who clams to believe what he now claims he believed then, he or she should have been screaming to the heavens about the eeconomic policies of the clinton cabal.

          • jimino

            I believe Reich did a lot during his tenure to advocate for policies that would mitigate what he perceived would be harm to US workers by the “globalization” pushed for by others in the Clinton administration, led by Robert Rubin. But the political forces favoring globalism and its financial-sector backers way outweighed those of labor. They won the political fight, continue to do so, and we are living the consequences.

          • 65noname

            did you hear him claim that clinton did great things for the economy? Have you ever heard him speak negatively about what clinto inflictted on tthe economy in order to benefit the financial industry?

  • creaker

    Economy is the movement of money – you can have endless wealth in a nation, but if the money and goods are not moving through it, there is no economy.

  • Citizen James

    Dear Robert, I nearly wrote you a letter when you were Secretary of Labor with Bill Clinton. I was a recent college grad working in Rochester NY for Kodak as a permanent temp through ManPower. I was well respected in the organization I worked for, but unable to go for any of the positions open to internal employees. After a decade in Europe I found it incredible that there was no legislation here that ruled that a temp worker can be hired in the same position for two years. After I migrated to Boston. Thanks to a negative 10% unemployment rate on the Route 128 tech belt I found a job and a career, if not a passion. I did well with 12 years of work. I moved to Florida in 2005, still working as a consultant in the software field. Two years ago I lost 125,000 physical dollars after buying a house at the very peak of the housing boom. More money goes out the door for health insurance premium increases and savings for college and retirement. I pull in a healthy income by most people’s measure. Why do I feel like I need to fight as hard as those early days for financial stability?

    • jimino

      Take the advice of right-wing economist Tyler Cowen and many of the self-proclaimed conservative commenters on this site and just learn to accept your lot in life and stop being so envious of others with more financial security.

      • Citizen James

        The funny thing is that a lot of vocal right-wingers would be very envious of my situation. They usually have bumper stickers stating their beliefs that sound completely ridiculous when posted on their broken-down pickup trucks.

  • John_in_VT

    Tom – Please have Mr. Reich talk about what I call corporate board in breeding. This is when members sit on overlapping boards. It develops a ‘if you approve my pay package I’ll approve yours’ mentality that has fueled the rise in pay inequality taking executive compensation of 42X worker pay in the 70′s to 400X+ in the last few years.

  • OnPointComments

    I wonder if the personal wealth of Robert Reich has increased, whether the increase in his wealth has been unfair, and if Mr. Reich considers the increase in his personal wealth to be a big problem.

    • John_in_VT

      No you don’t, when Warren Buffett says his income and tax burden are unfair you dismiss him. You have a point of view and alternates are just beyond your ability to cope.

      • jefe68

        Here, here.

  • sickofthechit

    Talking about income inequality is not even half the problem. Wealth Distribution is even more insidious and destructive. The top 20% control 88% of our nations wealth and they control 93% of our nation’s financial wealth. Granted a lot of it is overseas in tax havens, but they still have control of it. The game has been rigged for thirty plus years and it is time for some drastic changes.

    I support a “time-based” economy for basic human needs. For example, health care would cost us all six hours per week. So someone earning $10/hour will pay $60/week for their healthcare while someone making $100/hour would pay $600/week for their healthcare. It still “costs” them all the same. How is that not fair? Why should a basic human right not “cost” us all the same?
    This will work. Charles A. Bowsher

  • SteveTheTeacher

    I’d like to thank Rob Reich for pointing out a lot of the economic problems facing those of us that constitute the other 99% of the US population. Interesting data on this matter can be found at United for a Fair Economy, http://www.faireconomy.org/ and the National Priorities Project, http://nationalpriorities.org/

    Given his understanding of the divided nature of the US economy and the plutocratic government that this engenders I’d like Professor Reich to speak to a few questions I have:

    - Where, in the founding documents of the United States, is it etched in stone that the economy must be capitalist?

    - Why do economist and politicians continue to proclaim the notion of laissez faire capitalism with its ideals of ever growing consumption and growth as sustainable and meritorious when game theory, probabilistic modeling, systems analysis, etc. indicate that this system results in resource depletion and disparate wealth accumulation?

    How about a discussion of the pros and cons of economic systems such as models of fair trade, participatory economics, Human Scale Development (Max Neef et. al), green/sustainable economics, democratic socialism, etc?

    • MsAbila

      The interest of those who could make changes to the economic / political system is not aligned with the interest of the 99%.
      Also, the members of the 99% are deprived of meaningful education and are politically scattered.

      The American society is being stupefied actually has been stupefied for decades.

    • sickofthechit

      As we playfully said in the 70′s, “Right Arm!”

  • Bluejay2fly

    Our new national motto: Hurray for me, and F-you

    • Coastghost

      Or:
      “E pluribus pluribum” — out of many, more.

  • thequietkid10

    My mother works at Dollar General, she describes the job as easy…memo to the retail employees get over yourselves.

    • jimino

      So how do you (or your mother) plan to pay for medical care in the case of catastrophic injury or illness? How do you plan to be able to support yourself in retirement or if disabled?

      • thequietkid10

        My father makes a decent living. And I have no intention of staying at a job that pays 10 dollars an hour for 10 hours. How stupid is that?

        • jimino

          So what’s the your point? Marry or be born into a well -to-do family and you won’t have to worry?

          • thequietkid10

            my dad came from a working class family of seven and makes about 50,000 a year. I would hardly call his family or mine “well to do”. But we are happy. My point is stop bitching.and if you really don’t like your financial situation, don’t work in retail for 10 years.

          • thequietkid10

            Actually my dad is one of seven kids and he only makes about 50,000 a year. We are by no means “well to do.” My point stop bitching and if you really hate how much you are getting paid, you shouldn’t be working in retail for 10 years.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The middle class of the 1960s, those with supposedly dependable factory jobs, seemed kind of thin to me. There was not the kind of training and experience underlying that prosperity that, it seems to me, undergirded the farm-based economic growth of the westward expansion. I understand that human rights groups and unions enabled that middle class, and that we maybe think the same should recreate that. But the education of the 1950s would never get people the kind of jobs that are available today. Unless Bill Gates and the Clinton Global Initiative want to educate the masses for technical and innovative careers, then I guess the government has to focus on how to do that.

    • fun bobby

      in fact gates is working on that. the problem with technology is that its easily outsourced

      • Ellen Dibble

        Couldn’t there be some kind of tax incentive for keeping jobs in the USA? Or disincentive for moving them?

        • fun bobby

          probably. also we can just let economics take care of the problem. when was the last time you had to talk to an Indian when you called customer service? they started demanding higher wages close to $5 an hour and no one liked them anyways. so we improved our automated phone systems and hired some minimum wage americans at a lower overall cost than the Indian workers. The same thing has been happening with manufacturing and the Chinese. its funny that people blow a gasket when a job is moved to another country but no one seems to care much when an ATM or automated supermarket checkout comes to town. the manufacturing jobs we sent to china are all going to be done by robots.

  • ToyYoda

    Please talk about how computers, automation, and robotics are increasing the inequality in america. With such technologies, a few can do what many use to do.

    • fun bobby

      look up “captain ned”

      • ToyYoda

        Why?

        • fun bobby

          are you already familiar with him?

  • Bluejay2fly

    O”Reilly is not an intellectual very insightful Reich. Glad to see your making money in exchange for so much new information.

  • Coastghost

    But it’s only copacetic for Robt. Reich to entertain Americans to his version of deontological economics: I see . . .

  • creaker

    Funny no one pro or con mentions what was done the last time – no one is going to say “labor movement” or “union”.

    • creaker

      I take it back – he said it – once

    • fun bobby

      perhaps you are unfamiliar with the fight for 15 movement. don’t worry no one else is paying much attention to them either

      • creaker

        It’s being ignored – or ridiculed.

        Wait until they cut back on food stamps and the working poor become the hungry working poor. Things will get ugly quickly.

        • fun bobby

          we’ll see. I will become concerned when I stop seeing all these squirrels running around and people actually start picking the fruit off the trees. I don’t think americans will ever revolt in any meaningful way as long as our mobile devices still have service.

    • Rick Evans

      An AARP for workers would probably work better than a bunch of competing, self serving unions. Membership backed lobbies like AARP are more effective than unions trying to organize Walmart or Target,

  • geraldfnord

    As bad as the Bolshies were, it was only the fear of ‘em (or even folks as mild as Upton Sinclair) that got the wealthy to act even half-decently toward the rest of us.

    I don’ t support revolutionary terror, if only because the terror always ends up supervening and destroying the revolution. I would hope, however, that enough of the wealthy would have enough of a couple of Dutch-American aristos’ wisdom to understand that a people educated in and ideology of self-interest and living in a system that doesn’t appear to work for them much can’t long coëxist with freedom.

  • Spence Blakely

    In an effort to highlight that there is another party to sales transactions, besides seller and buyer, lately I’ve been telling sales people that the portion of my potential income that could go towards a purchase has already gone to the 1%.

  • Rick Evans

    Bob Reich, Medicare and Medicaid spending is evidence that single payer will not restrain health care cost inflation.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Absolutely, its made things worse.

    • jefe68

      Oh you mean the 5.1% for beneficiary of inflation for Medicare and Medicaid 4.6% for beneficiary versus the 7.7% for beneficiary for private insurance. Right?
      Average annual growth rate 2000 through 2009.

      • Bluejay2fly

        Look at all the middlemen between you and your doctor who make a profit: High cost of college, profits for bank lending student loans, malpractice insurance, law suits, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, medical supply companies— Single payer systems do not have all those for profit middlemen.

        • jefe68

          Are you having a comprehension problem? I posted those figures to show that Medicare and Medicaid cost less.

          • Bluejay2fly

            My state is 140 Billion in debt because our medical expense budget which is 30 Billion per year (in an annual budget which is 120Billion) put us there. My private health insurance boots me to medicare when I turn 65 meaning the government has to start paying for me when I get the most expensive to care for. Basically we have the worst of both world where the Gov has to pick up the tab for many people and private enterprise gets to make profits from it. I would love to see a single payer system but you would have to tear down many profit making industries to do so.

          • jefe68

            What you’re showing is one of the reasons our health care system is in disarray. We pay more for health care than any other industrial nation and have nothing to show for it in terms of better results and coverage of our populace.

            It’s a fee for service system that is broken. To deny this is a fools errand.

          • sickofthechit

            I noticed you did not include the increase inprivate health care costs over the same period. Everyone should know that Medicare and Medicaid pay the lowest reimbursement rates of all, so even a higher percentage rate of increase would actually translate to a lower actual cost. Amazing what can be done with statistics when one only looks at part of an issue. charles a. bowsher

          • jefe68

            The stats did include private insurance premium’s. What I posted was on premiums over a 9 year period.

            So what’s your plan? Is it the same as the GOP’s? Do nothing.

        • MsAbila

          Yep, those MIDDLEMEN, quietly raking it in!

        • Rick Evans

          Your doctor, PharMA, suppliers, technology makers, hospitals, are all profiting from that single payer.

          • Bluejay2fly

            A broken leg in Canada or France does not cost 100K nor is the cost of that leg subject to the Paymaster system which charges a different rate depending on which hospital it is.

          • Rick Evans

            It doesn’t cost $100K in Germany either but Germany uses the Bismarck model that is similar to the U.S. model. The difference is costs in Germany are regulated. The same is true in France and Canada. A single payer in an opaque non-price regulated system is no better than a bunch of inefficient multi-payers.

          • Bluejay2fly

            A german doctor does not pay 200,000-300,00 in student loan debt nor can they be sued for 3 million for malpractice and pay 40,000 per year for that malpractice insurance. We have a long way to go to get our system even near ready for single payer. That 100K price tag reflects those costs which are baked into the cake.

          • Rick Evans

            We agree.

      • Rick Evans

        Average Annual Percent Growth in Medicare Spending, by State

        kff.org/medicare/state-indicator/avg-annual-growth-in-spending-91-09/

        Average for the USA 8% annual growth in Medicare spending.

        BTW the Medicare spending per enrollee inflated 6.3% over that period.

        I’ve shown you mine(source) now show me yours.

  • geraldfnord

    When it was thought that the Nineteenth Amendment could not be repealed, many suggested amending the Volstead Act instead. Since I doubt he will get the amendment overturning Citizens United, what would he think about state-level changes to the rules governing governing the conduct of the artificial persons they create to reduce their influence?

  • Bluejay2fly

    If we change the tax code and extract more money out of the rich our government will just waste it on prison inmates, foreign wars, and hundreds of other ways that system disposes of money.

  • creaker

    All forms of government degenerate into oligarchies. We’re there.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Not all nations look like Bangladesh with fat people.

  • Coastghost

    Robert Reich: do please address Harvard’s wealth and influence, its prominence and power. Why should Americans play marionette to the string-pulling of Harvard overlords?

    • jefe68

      Oh please. Blame Harvard.
      OK I’ll raise you two Koch brothers.

    • John_in_VT

      It is true that a disproportionate number of the super rich are grads of Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Those universities derive a good deal of their wealth from the largess of those grads and are in themselves part of the problem. We have a two-tier post education system that a few outsiders are invited into with each class.

      • jefe68

        I don’t think this is what he’s on about. If I’m not mistaken this complaint about Harvard is more an anti-intellectual diatribe.

        • Coastghost

          You are mistaken here: my complaint also issues from sectional concerns about the pernicious influence of “the intellectual capital of the United States”: self-styled intellectual monopoly, if you please, as if Harvard and its Boston support staff will cure us of all (or many) ills. Its expertise is not nearly as vast or deep as its self-assurance: otherwise, how could we have gotten into this mess?

          • jefe68

            Reich never went to Harvard. He taught there for a few years, but that’s his only connection. He was a Yale graduate, same class as the Clinton’s.

            On your comment, I think your are mistaken, but that’s your opinion, even if misguided and wrong.

          • Coastghost

            To my untutored ears, Reich’s megaphone is still equipped with Harvard batteries, even if the megaphone itself was manufactured by Yale, Inc.

          • jefe68

            How so?

          • Coastghost

            He didn’t have to attend Harvard to be “a Harvard man” (that’s an intervarsity dispute the two schools can easily work out). (And by the way: I’ve not suggested in one of my posts today that he in fact attended Harvard: his professional affiliation with Harvard is evidence enough for me.)
            The fraternity of Ivy League schools is as comparably closed as the NPR newsroom in DC.

  • Mark Giese

    What if the automation of so many activities that used to be jobs is a process that is as inevitable as water finding its level? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_Work

    • hennorama

      There is no “What if,” and your question is actually a statement.

      As always, if a cheaper and more efficient way of doing business is available, it will be adopted.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    To wit, single-payer health insurance: a “solution” to a government-created problem that only adds another set of problems; another layer to the onion of command-and-control, if you will.

    The real problem is the disconnect between cost and the price the health care consumer pays, something exacerbated by HMO-style health insurance mandated by government coverage requirements: people have zero incentive to shop around on price, so they don’t, which causes prices actually paid to rise as if there were a shortage of competition.

    Single-payer “solves” this by allowing a single entity to set prices, eliminating the price discovery and early-adopter mechanisms that drive the development of new technologies, including new health care therapies, as well as discouraging young people from entering the medical profession. This is only a solution in the sense that existing care won’t get more expensive in terms of money, but it will get more expensive in terms of time (rationing) and efficacy (as the development of new therapies radically slows).

    • jefe68

      So how do explain that in every other industrial nation which has a single payer or a dual (public and private) health care system there are better outcomes and it cost less. Innovations have not been curtailed at all.
      THe other huge problem with your argument is that the US has one of the worst health care systems in the world in terms of cost and outcomes for it’s population.

      Case in point: Scotland is one of the leading nations in Aids research and stem cell research. They have a NH health care system.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The caller who said it’s not possible to have a McMansion for everyone, two cars in every garage, and a flat screen TV — I have to say to me that is more of a nightmare than a dream. It suggests a nation whose values have gone awry. The problem is people with no disposable income, whose choices are really not choices at all, except to prioritize among, actually, one deadend or another. A lot of that is medical realities, but a lot of it is the failure of education. The reason to have children, where I end up focusing my view, is that children are a tax shelter, and I think that offers access to Medicaid and all sorts of other services. Then people are kind of trapped into government deciding everything for them.

    • Patro321

      You have the problem backwards. This issue is that they do have choices and they always make the wrong ones. Trying to live an upper class life with a middle class income, or a middle class life with a lower class one. The resources the have, including their free public education, are squandered and they they whine about how they can’t afford the basics.
      The trap is that if they had been mature in their spending earlier and other allocations early in life they could have been actual middile or upper class instead of posers. But hey, who look to the future when you can live it up now. The government will take care of them, right?

  • Art Toegemann

    Reich is the smartest man on this subject, a prolific, lucid, presentation of the solution to the economic depression the US is suffering. It is no accident “depression” is a psychiatric term too.
    Taxing the excessively wealthy will keep that wealth in the US. How nice to be reminded that that rate was once 90%, when the nation at its most prosperous.
    The current tactic of raising the debt ceiling has been obstructed. Now comes the deadly combination of excessive wealth with severe deprivation.

  • Coastghost

    Economic incentives to innovation and growth vs. political redistribution schemes to equalize misery: stay tuned.

  • J__o__h__n

    Stop saying incentivize!

  • AC

    i was excited to hear him mention that tech has replaced jobs but then i had to get out of the car until now – did someone finally address the fact that we just don’t NEED people anymore? what did he say? what did i miss?

    • Ellen Dibble

      Well, education for one thing.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Teachers will be replaced by Salman Khan.

        • Ellen Dibble

          I actually think that would be terrific. Let the online education metastasize. Then the teachers can be a lot less robotic.

      • AC

        thats a start….anything else? i was kind of hopeful listening to him for a minute….

  • Agnostic58

    The start to fixing inequality is to reform and simplify the tax code.

    • John_in_VT

      Yes, but it will never happen. This quest has stymied smarter and more powerful people than you and me.

  • 65noname

    this is more of this guy’s neo/lib nonesense. He speaks as if the problem is simply that somehow, somewhere the economy has simply become misguided or off track. First. of course, anyone who claims that clinton’s trade treatys (wta, etc) helped the economy for working people is totally unaware of the world or is totally dissembling. This guy, espically as he did clinton’s bidding to put those policies in place, knows better. And, he is not being honest when he says that the economic recovery is very slow. It actually is blasting along at an incredible rate. But the benefits and profits from the recovery are going to the 1% while the rest of society is actuaally losing ground. Reich knows this but for his own manupulative political reasons he refuses to to put anything in the context of how purposeful this all is and how much those who run the economy are controling where the wealth goes.
    Then he attacks as playing the blamegame only doing finger pointing anyone who disagrees with his simplistic analysis and his attempt to cover over the purposeful control of the economy by those who own it and their political lackys in both parties.

    Instead of a debate between the extreme right and the right of center reich, how about having a real progressive such as dean baker in the debate?

    • jefe68

      If you are going to make a comment about Robert Riech’s tenure in the Clinton administration you might want to know he was against the dismantling of Glass–Steagall and fought Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. From what I’ve heard from this show Dr. Reich has been on about the 1% getting the lion share of the growth.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        What was his stand on NAFTA — given he was labor sec?

        • jefe68

          Look it up. I’m not your research assistant.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Testy this AM?

          • jefe68

            By the way Dr. Reich went to Dartmouth College and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

            He never went to Harvard but did teach there from 1980 until 1992, Reich taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

            All you need to to is Google him and all of this info will turn up.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Thanks for the info but I never thought he went to the Vard.

        • 65noname

          the fact that he didn’t resign over it and other policies is damning enough.

          • jefe68

            Damning for what? For standing up to his beliefs?

          • 65noname

            either he didn’t “stand up for his beliefs” or he lying now about what his beliefs were.

          • jefe68

            He’s not lying. I get it you don’t like Bob Reich.

          • 65noname

            I don’t know him so I don’t like or dislike him. I DO think that he is dishonest. But he was being dishonest now or he was dishonest then. And, yes, I think that hec is being dishonest now. Or at least he is being dslimy now when he pretends that he believes that the economy is simply off track and that the rich are simply misguided. he knows that what is going on in the economy is the result of deliberate, purposeful policies on the part of dems republicans and financial interests.

          • jefe68

            Calling him slimy is a bit much.
            Have you read any of what he writes?

          • 65noname

            have you read his autobiography? You know, the one where actual transcripts of meetings demonstrated that he had falsified the content of meetings that he was in and theccontent of e-mail criticism that he received? You know, the one where whole of text was reemoved in the when the paperback version came out because it was deomstrated to have been lies?
            “Slimy” is letting him off easy.

        • jefe68

          He was for it. But against the gutting of the Glass–Steagall act. Wow, a man with divergent beliefs and ideas.

      • 65noname

        that’s what he claims now. he is good at rewriting history. Once when testifiying at congress a congressperson actually presented proof that reich’s autobiography lied about his non-involvment in many of those policies. reich actually responded by saying that his autobiography was not meant to be taken literally.

        • jefe68

          Really. Well then I guess him being Rhodes scholar means nothing to you as well.

  • twenty_niner

    In the last 3 years, the Fed added $3.5 Trillion, that’s Trillion with a capital T, to the money supply – printed out of thin air; and they didn’t go down to bus station and write checks to ordinary people. Fed money winds up on the ledgers of the big banks, which is then used to inflate asset bubbles, making rich guys much richer.

    • sickofthechit

      Any money issued by the Fed should be passed directly to the public in equal shares. charles a. bowsher 9/24/2013

      • twenty_niner

        The problem is handing $3.5 T to the general public would create massive inflation, and the Fed knows that. By keeping it with the big banks, it largely stays out of circulation.

        The problem is that the money supply should only be expanded as the economy expands and better yet, when productivity grows. When the money supply is expanded to try to jump start economic growth, it just winds up creating massive asset bubbles, distorting the currency and commodity markets as well. In the end, traders make a lot of money, but little is done for the real productive economy.

  • creaker

    Our formula for capitalism is forever increasing growth – and since that’s just not sustainable, the wealthy will increasingly use government to make that growth happen for them.

    People go on about redistribution – but that redistribution is increasingly going upwards.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Exactly right.
      Reich nails it when he responds to the usual question about our economy, “who ever did it better”, with “WE did – in the post-WW2 decades”. Our current Scrooge McDuck version of capitalism with massive redistribution to the top has little in common with the high tax, high regulation version that worked.

      • Coastghost

        TomK: you might want to re-think whether I’m on to something with my Ivy League bashing: turns out Ted Cruz is a graduate of both Princeton and Harvard. Surprise surprise.

  • sickofthechit

    I like it. Kind of like my idea that any additions to the money supply should flow through the people’s hands first on an equal share basis. charles a. bowsher

  • MsAbila

    I’m glad he mentioned social security taxes, Here is the soc.sec tax limit for 2013. Note that there is a ceiling on income when it comes to paying soc sec tax!

    —-”When you have wages or self-employment income covered by Social Security, you pay Social Security taxes each year up to a maximum amount set by law. For 2013, you will pay Social
    Security taxes on income below $113,700. You must pay Medicare taxes on all income.

    Also, beginning in 2013 you must pay 0.9 percent more in Medicare taxes on earned individual income of more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly). The tax rates shown below do not include the 0.9 percent:

    Employees — the Social Security tax rate is 6.2 percent on income under $113,700 through the end of 2013. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45 percent of all income;

    Employers — the Social Security tax rate is 6.2 percent. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45 percent; and Self-employed —the Social Security tax rate is 12.4 percent on income under $113,700 through the end of 2013. The Medicare tax rate is 2.9 percent.” —

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Right. And when the class warriors get going on “entitlement reform”, you never, ever hear the obvious simple solution of raise the cap. “Raise the cap” doesn’t exist in the corporate media echo chamber.

      • MsAbila

        That’s right. In the program Reich should have brought it up but he didn’t….

    • OnPointComments

      There is a ceiling on the social security tax that a person pays because there is a ceiling on the social security benefit that a person receives.

      • MsAbila

        Perhaps it should be changef, since there is no limit on costs of services…

  • Patro321

    I like how Tom just insisted that the goverment is less involved when they just took over healthcare wholesale and it is spending more money, in both actual dollars and as percentage of GDP, than any time since 1980.
    Thats right, the Feds are spending more money now than at the hight of a nuclear cold war, and the vast majority of it is in entitlements. Do you feel like you are getting a bang for your buck?

    • MsAbila

      When it comes to entitlement programs, the majority of those funds get funneled into private pockets through the privatization of services of entitlement programs. There is no cost control in the services provided.

      There is a disconnect between the entitlement programs’ recipients and those who actually benefit from them. This is the crux of the problem. And nobody is addressing it with vigor.

      It’s very EASY and COMFORTING to charge the federal gov’t for services provided because it can always raise the funds from somewhere (either tax increases or cutting ‘entitlements to the needy’ or just by printing more dollars). All the gov’ts of the planet are doing this to some extent… and it’s braking societies everywhere.

  • N.G.

    The missing piece of the conversation of inequality and comparisons to the past is recognizing the changes in the world economy and the United States position within it. This missing piece is trade. Following the changes in the United States trade surplus/deficit from WWII to present along with the growth in middle class and average income reveals that the two are related. Seeing that 1975 is the last year this country had an actual trade surplus, and recognizing the rise of Reagan and ballooning government deficits, it shouldn’t be rocket science to realize that if America wants a healthy middle class that our nation of consumers must curve down our consumption of exports, support domestic goods more, and find things we as a nation can make and export competitively. All of these things were something we did in abundance following WWII and are missing in today’s economy. The government from Reagan forward has taken the tact of spending more to keep consumers shopping while ignoring the growing trade deficit which peaked in 2008.

  • Pierre Demers

    There is a large disparity in income however the type of income has a different affect on the economy. The very rich get their income from investment which is earned after the sale. This is good because it took workers to produce. The extreme high salaries of executives, pro-athletes, TV and entertainment celebrities, etc, are cost. These costs are trickled down to everyone of us through higher prices for no added value received.
    High salaries for relatively very little added value contributed is definately not a conservative value espoused by our conservative republican friends. Why are they so much against maintaining low taxes for the very rich. We have minimum wage laws, why not maximum wage laws.
    Private enterprise does not have the right to destroy our economy with their destructive practices, one of which is taking money away from the workers to pay extremely high salaries for doing nothing.
    Mr Reich, if these salaries do not come under control, I don’t care what you propose, the economy will falter.
    Republicans should follow there conservative values of not over spending by fostering such legislation.
    Pete Demers

    • fun bobby

      Bonjour Pierre,
      what should the maximum wage be? you realize that most of the people you listed actually pay taxes at earned wage rates because those are jobs right? the truly idle rich you envy who pay no taxes don’t have jobs or salaries but live off the income from their investments. what you should be asking for is a capital gains tax. perhaps even a capital gains tax and reduction in earned income tax rates would be even better. If you could jump in the air with a basketball for a full second you could make millions of dollars a year for a few years and if you are a clever businessman you can parley that into a fortune. that takes much natural ability talent and hard work. no one who was not born rich got rich without a lot of hard work. even winning the lottery takes dedication in most cases. even teen pop stars and such have to do hard work. I bet you could not make it a week as a teen pop star. no one would want that job unless it paid millions of dollars.
      au revior

      • nj_v2

        [[ what should the maximum wage be? ]]

        Pick a number. I’d say somewhere between $.5–1b. 100% tax rate for anything over that.

        • fun bobby

          why when gates and buffet types are all just giving it away anyways? it would be nice to curtail bloombergs political spending spree. there are only a few hundred people, not all of them American, making that much anyways. I would like to see the capital gains rate tied to the earned income tax rate with exceptions for certain retirement accounts. that way Romney would have to pay as much taxes as I do

          • StilllHere

            I thought most of his money was in his IRA, on which he’ll pay income taxes when he distributes.

          • fun bobby

            its a little more complicated. much of his income comes from investments that are not his and somehow that counts essentially as a capital gains type thing so he pays the low rate. he also gives millions to charity every year.

        • pete18

          So exactly how would that benefit the middle class or poor?

      • sickofthechit

        Those professional sports teams stadiums are all heavily subsidized by the communities they are in. In a town of 250,000 or so they are talking about redoing the local basketball arena used by our college to the tune of $200-300 million! egads!

        I’ll take you up on being a teen pop-star for a week. I’m already one of Lady Gaga’s little monsters. charles a. bowsher

        • fun bobby

          that’s a different issue.
          gaga is sooo 2 years ago. Brittney Spears, in addition to being blessed with the voice of an angel, used to do 1000 crunches a day in her prime. start there

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    It is interesting that there is no focus that the four richest counties in the country are suburbs of Washington DC. An inequality of our own doing.

    Apparently for the elitists this is OK or at least it is simply the cost of doing business.

    • jimino

      So you agree with Reich and his proposals for addressing inequality, right?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Not much. Maybe with the exception of restoring Glass-Steagall.

        The way to take money out of politics is to do massive tax code and regulatory simplification. That is the best way to put lobbyists out of business AND grow the economy.

    • fun bobby

      that’s where the men behind the curtain live, pay no attention to them.
      no one pays attention to how DC itself is a dump

  • Wood Working in NE

    I’m a highly educated individual with a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering. I’ve been laid off since 2001 and at 59 have no hopes of ever working in the profession. The resultant loss of income catapulted us into the “lower middle class” . I’ve reinvented myself as an accomplished custom furniture craftsman, only to see my business dramatically slow after the 2008 wall street melt down, Wall street is where the problem lies. Large business is run on the model of short term gain for maximum return at the expense of innovation. Jobs at all skilled levels are “off shored” rendering many with the backgrounds so often touted as being in short supply jobless. The notion of Fair Trade greased the way toward shifting manufacturing to Asia and creating a service economy that under pays and produces nothing. The tax system is biased toward the super wealthy and punishes everyone else. Unless there is real change the US of the future will more resemble India than what once was a country known for opportunity.

    • fun bobby

      one would think with the recent gains by the 1% and .01% a properly positioned custom built furniture company could be quite lucrative. the luxury brands are doing quite well. i think that the goal of the elites is for the future of America to look more like china not only in terms of vast disparities in wealth but also in liberty with a two class caste system, that’s if they don’t just kill us all off first. we better hope the Japanese working on those sex robots don’t perfect them

      • RobertLongView

        the world’s oldest profession has been outsourced — to Indonesia for the benefit of a mail order “as seen on TV” in-home self-help gadget industry, eh (one size fits all “metro” uni-toy.)

        • fun bobby

          i’ll wait till the Cherry 2000

    • VinceD2

      Same story here, HiB visas have decimated STEM workers. The Senate immigration bill vastly INCREASES H1B visas to satisfy tech company false claims of a STEM shortage.

    • RobertLongView

      Maybe invest in a tractor, corn planter and rent farm land in 2014 near an alcohol distillery?

      • fun bobby

        don’t forget the crop insurance

    • homebuilding

      @ WoodWorking, it might be time for you to be hanging around NPPD and OPPD–public power has a place for you. And hanging around generating plants, taking a lower level position puts you back in your field, even at 59.
      You have a far better chance there than with an IOU (investor owned utility)

      • RobertLongView

        Maybe we need a modern day version of the Depression-era TVA? As the Hon. Gov. MCCrory’s lobby say here in NC: “Frack, Baby Frack.”

    • StilllHere

      Why not work at a private company that isn’t subject to Wall Street’s whims?

  • Odysseus Bostick

    If you support the work of Robert Reich, then sign our petition to urge his nomination to “Head the Fed” when Bernanke steps down.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-barack-obama-to-nominate-robert-reich-to-lead-the-fed

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Has Reich stated he would accept? Because even he knows he would be in over his head.

      And no, this isn’t a short joke.

      • Odysseus Bostick

        He is coy. We’re hoping to spur the conversation a bit.

    • twenty_niner

      Reich would likely be as bad as the Bernank in terms of printing. The Fed is in a full-blown liquidity trap at this point. The economy is addicted to Fed crack, making a taper, which could cause a small recession, politically untenable; and to complicate matters, the Fed is now a political body, also not a good idea.

      The real problem is how do you unwind a massive 30-year credit half-cycle that upon reversing, caused a massive de-leveraging and deflationary bust. The Fed’s answer has been another mini credit cycle. But this will only postpone the inevitable. The current credit half-cycle will not end well.

      They’re called credit cycles because you get an economic boost when the credit is issued (the first half-cycle), but a nadir when the credit must be re-payed (the second half-cycle). Bottom line, if productivity hasn’t grown fast enough by the time you reach the second half cycle, you can’t repay the debt with interest. You get a credit bust with de-leveraging, bankruptcy, deflation, and worst case, bread lines.

      We are currently in the first half cycle, with a HUGE injection of credit, and the economy is barely trudging along. Productivity growth is for “s”, which is not good. When we get to the second half of the current cycle, all bets will be off.

      What we need is a Fed that will tamp down these credit cycles. Rates should not drop below about 4 percentage points above a 1.5% inflation rate. And the way inflation is measured needs to go back to the old method and more accurately reflect the real cost of living, not just the cost of big-screen TVs.

      • sickofthechit

        I thought worker productivity was at an all time and that the problem is the gains in productivity are not going to the workers, but rather to their robber baron bosses. charles a. bowsher

        • twenty_niner

          Productivity growth has been nothing special for the last couple of years, and no where near in line with the amount of debt that has been accumulated. This is the definition of “bad debt”. In other words, debt to buy a tractor that allows you to harvest more corn per day is “good debt”, versus buying a big-screen TV – “bad debt”.

          You are right that wages have been stagnant for many years and on a very low slope for decades while productivity has grown at a faster pace.

          • RobertLongView

            need better graphics, maybe a chart dated back to 1976 — the last democratic POTUS before our Reagan Revolution, eh? Say maybe, 40 plus years ago or so…. .

  • tbphkm33

    Increasingly the U.S. of today is resembling the “banana republics” of the 1980s Latin America. Inequality has a whole host of social problems and represents a financial hole that is difficult to dig out of. 30 years later, Latin America still is hampered by the effects of inequality and the inability to push beyond the inequality trap.

    The U.S. is already lagging behind first world nations in so many social measures – the U.S. is in fact a 2nd world country today. Increasingly Americans are going to be on the sidelines, as innovation and the social benefits of technological advancement are seen elsewhere, but not here.

    All the while, the “leaders” squabble about inconsequential issues, mainly designed to keep The People distracted from the real issues. Politicians and the media berate Europe for its financial situation… yet, Europe is actively working to change its situation. Here in the U.S., no one is even willing to admit there is a problem.

  • tbphkm33

    Oh, I did want to thank Robert Reich on his years of public service and eloquent explanations of issues facing the nation. We need more individuals of Mr. Reich’s caliber that are willing to serve the public good.

  • AC

    yet another ‘expert’ who can’t answer the question of what we should do about population
    more than half of jobs that haven’t been will be replaced:
    http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/pelletier20130923
    this is not a bad thing, no more back-breaking, mind-numbing physical labor for instance. but what to do with the ‘left-over’ people??
    pretend away, the solution is going to come from dealing with this variable. i’m fairly sure of it………..also, it may just be my own perspective, but people want to feel like they have purpose. why exist unless you have a function? it sounds beyond boring…all he’s doing is saying everyone should exist. big whoop.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      You might enjoy this essay. A more optimistic tone.

      “Are Robots Killing The Middle Class?”

      http://thefederalist.com/2013/09/24/are-robots-killing-the-middle-class/

      • fun bobby

        the upper middle class is next. doctors lawyers and such will be replaced by apps

        • StilllHere

          What’s that rash? app coming soon

          • fun bobby

            until then just check web md. on the plus side your health insurance will pay for the app

    • RobertLongView

      definitely expert with street cred — now, elder statesman to the celebrity stars — chasing mad money… .

    • fun bobby

      the elites are brewing up a nice war to kill off the excess humans

      • AC

        the don’t need an actual, traditional ‘war’ – its called ‘designer babies’….laugh away

        • fun bobby

          I am sure there are a number of ways they could eliminate 2/3 of the worlds population.

          • AC

            give us enough rope to hang ourselves with. have you not felt the hatred in the air? it’s called our ‘political’ and ‘religious’ differences…..

          • fun bobby

            that’s the old fashioned way to reduce the population. why mess with success? we have always been at war with Eurasia right? I feel like the Muslims are to us what the Jews were to the Germans

          • AC

            no thanks, i’m not capable of being a sheep of any kind. i’m more of a mule type.

          • fun bobby

            sheep have an easy life, mules have to work hard

          • AC

            yep. i’m more of a mule.

          • fun bobby

            as long as you are not a rented mule or a drug mule

    • geraldfnord

      I think lotus-eating has had a bad rap. Just enjoying yourself, whether it be by sex, drugs, studying Talmud or the Thomists or the Analects, sounds like a better use of a conscious being’s time than most jobs, most of which have more to do with barely consensual dominance/submission rituals than getting useful worl done.

      • RobertLongView

        show me your world, little gurl… .

      • AC

        i’m not sure what the heck any of this means? with so much still left to explore and learn (space! the deep sea!) why sit around stoned? it sounds a little boring….

        • fun bobby

          you should try exploring and learning… on weed

          • AC

            i tried it once. it bored me to tears. dumbest waste of life and time ever. i think i watched movies and ate toaster strudels for 4hours.

          • fun bobby

            I bet you enjoyed those toaster strudels much more than you would have. my comment was a line from a jim brewer movie

      • fun bobby

        perhaps we should just rename unemployment “following your bliss” and make the benefits last indefinitely

  • dale_dale

    Looks like Tyler Cowen and his cohorts at the Mercatus Institute, funded by the Kochs and Exxon Mobil, naturally (thanks for disclosing this, Tom /sarc) are the fresh new face of Gilded age apologia and misdirection.

    Lead with sensible-sounding rhetoric acknowledging inequality, pretend it sprang from a political vacuum, ensure you that seeking improvement of ones’ lot through government is a fool’s errand (he should really tell that to the corporate elites — think of all that lobbyist money they must be wasting year after year tsk tsk) followed by gentle instructions on how best to accomodate yourself to the new misery without disturbing your ‘job-creating’ superiors.
    A new gaggle of extra-strength Thomas Friedmans.
    Unfortunately Reich plays into their game with the ‘let’s stop fighting’ nonsense. The ‘haves’ have been fighting 24 hours a day for decades to skim their cream from the economy and leave everyone else increasingly confused and desperate for crumbs.

  • Art Toegemann

    Earlier I posted RR was the smartest guy on the subject. Now I realize I must add Bill Moyers; both prominent in my feed.

  • Art Toegemann

    The inequality has an effect beyond economic. It is also demoralizing. People become angry, lethargic, unwilling to work for a system gamed so.

    • fun bobby

      speak for yourself. when the going gets tough the tough get going

      • jimino

        Is that what you tell people who claim to have PTSD too? Just tough it out and stop moping?

        • fun bobby

          I don’t really have a lot of people coming to me for help with PTSD. if someone asked me I would suggest they look into what is being done with cannabis these days. its supposed to be very effective but I would say it should be used as an adjunct to some CBT

  • fun bobby

    have you cut up yours yet? I have a bunch. I have not run a balance yet. the card companies call people like me deadbeats.

  • Coastghost

    As I said: “requisite specificity”. You cited four rather disparate and incommensurable categories.

  • RobertLongView

    Could that Yaller Avatar include cowboy and trusty steed kneeling to give healing chant thanks ‘neath the cover of the Harvest Moon? Beware the Cow (moon) Pies and Happy trails — adios amigos… ( sick-sick, slap-slap, clippity-clop, clippity-clop.)

  • VinceD2

    Why is it that no one will mention excessive immigration as a driver of the wealth gap?

    H1B visas have decimated technical workers as corporations import Indians who work insane hours for peanuts.

    7 million illegal aliens gold jobs in the low – mid range, driving unemployment and depressing wages.

    The Senate bill puts immigration on steroids, granting a massive amnesty and vastly increasing legal immigration at a time when we already have more people than jobs. Our “leaders” are throwing us under the bus.

    • RobertLongView

      But,but the senate is offering security jobs on the Texas border, no… . trapping coyotes and such vermin — no doubt

      • VinceD2

        We should be shooting coyotes, and I don’t mean the 4-legged ones! ;^)

        • fun bobby

          but also the 4 legged ones right?

    • Markus6

      Republicans can be dopes. But it’s hard to understand how democrats, who claim to care about poor people are so accepting of immigration. Food services, construction, retail, lawn care, and all the rest are jobs that the people they claim they care about could take. And these certainly help raise their income more than the various forms of welfare.

      In many ways, democrats are the same as the republicans they complain about. The right thing can only be done til it conflicts with their ideology or happens to agree with the enemy.

    • nj_v2

      [[ Why is it that no one will mention excessive immigration as a driver of the wealth gap? ]]

      Just guessing, but maybe because it isn’t.

      “Immigration is often viewed as a proximate cause of the rising wage gap between high- and low-skilled workers. Nevertheless, there is controversy over the appropriate framework for measuring the presumed effect, and over the magnitudes involved. This paper offers an overview and synthesis of existing knowledge on the relationship between immigration and inequality, focusing on evidence from cross-city comparisons in the U.S. Although some researchers have argued that a cross-city research design is inherently flawed, I show that evidence from cross-city comparisons is remarkably consistent with recent findings from aggregate time series data. Both designs provide support for three key conclusions: (1) workers with below high school education are perfect substitutes for those with a high school education; (2) “high school equivalent” and “college equivalent” workers are imperfect substitutes; (3) within education groups, immigrants and natives are imperfect substitutes. Together these results imply that the impacts of recent immigrant inflows on the relative wages of U.S. natives are small. The effects on overall wage inequality (including natives and immigrants) are larger, reflecting the concentration of immigrants in the tails of the skill distribution and higher residual inequality among immigrants than natives. Even so, immigration accounts for a small share (5%) of the increase in U.S. wage inequality between 1980 and 2000.”

      http://www.nber.org/papers/w14683

      • VinceD2

        Sure, drink hat Kool-Aid. Dumping millions of workers depresses wages, and the wages of the immigrants are awful, often approaching slavery for illegals.

        Sorry but wage depression for middle and lower tiered workers, and cheap labor for higher tiered folks is not a good combination.

        And how is that acknowledged 5% of wage inequality defined? And how much is acceptable.

        Now I will grant you that immigration is not the only factor, the whole globalization thing works great for corporations, but devours workers. But to deny excessive immigration as a factor is to put on blinders.

  • RobertLongView

    Is Fichtner advocating home ownership income tax credits for more sub-prime mortgages?

  • David Phillips

    Robert Reich couldn’t be more correct in his focus on inequality. I haven’t seen the film, but I think it should be pointed out that income inequality extends beyond the economy to public health. There is some forthcoming research from a colleague of mine demonstrating that income inequality is one of the strongest explanatory factors for population-level health.

  • Vic Volpe

    Inequality is not just an economic argument. As Charles Murray pointed out in his recent book, Coming Apart, it is just as much cultural as well; and, there is an educational basis for the disparity – there is a direct correlation between educational level and income through the decades.

    (1) We have an American economy that has been re-jiggered over the last couple of decades so that there is more emphasis on consumerism and less emphasis on designing and making things with the resultant effect on an educational system that doesn’t emphasize technical knowledge. Compare what we have done over the past several decades with the approach taken by Germany.

    (2) Economic incentives, including tax policy, are misplaced.

    (3) Working people are not empowered in the workplace – and I mean they need to take back the initiative themselves and stop looking to others to help them.

    (4) Civics – you need to participate in your government and in your community for a democracy (aka democratic republic) to function – it goes with citizenship.

    When you compare the economy of the 1960’s with today you have to realize we have a different economy. Today we have more social welfare programs to finance (and programs like Social Security and Medicare are not welfare programs; they pay for themselves) and they get financed out of the productive
    economy. With an economy that is growing at only a 2% annual pace , these social welfare programs become a burden on the overall economy. We need to grow at 4% or better to support our social welfare programs and keep our national debt load in check; and, when liberals take anti-growth stances on development issues because of the environment or whatever they hamper the economic growth and the social welfare programs they say they want to support as well as the
    economic well-being of the nation that has to manage the debt load and compete internationally.

    Check out my blog for more on a comparison of the economy of the 1960’s with today — http://vicpsu.blogspot.com/2013/09/then-1960s-versus-now.html — as well there are posts there on reviving the manufacturing sector of our economy. We have a consumer economy that cannot be revived by government spending (aka pump priming) like was done in the ‘60’s because the consumer is tapped out, indebted, and can no longer use their house
    equity because it hasn’t recovered yet.

    When one company makes a decision to move a facility from the U.S. to an overseas location, it may be good for their shareholder value; but, when one company after another does this over a couple of decades it becomes an industrial policy for the nation without any input from the greater society. And
    that is why we find ourselves in our present state of affairs.

    • RobertLongView

      Vic writes: “When one company makes a decision to move a facility from the U.S. to an overseas location, it may be good for their shareholder value; but,…”

      American off-shoring of the last six years has not helped the “GE” shareholder value during the same time frame — but it has most likely has helped the GE executive pay you think?

    • brettearle

      It’s my understanding that Murray primarily puts the blame on the Middle Class.

      And he does this, rather than to examine the woeful state of training programs, and retraining programs, that could re-energize many skilled workers, whose past work experience can’t keep up with the demands of advanced technology in the workplace.

  • geraldfnord

    As Kodos promised, ‘Inequality for some…tiny American flag pins for others!’

    • RobertLongView

      i want my little red, white and blue lapel pin in the shape of a 1700′s tricorn teabag hat — or maybe a coiled rattle snake, hmmmmm

      • fun bobby

        I was looking for a nice don’t tread on me speedo but have been unsuccessful

        • RobertLongView

          good luck, hope the tea bags don’t fall out

          • fun bobby

            that’s funny, hopefully it comes in large. I don’t accept the tea party’s cooption of the Gadsden flag

    • fun bobby

      don’t blame me I voted for Kang

      • RobertLongView

        makes me want to vomit

        • fun bobby

          Kodos: It’s true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It’s a two-party system. You have to vote for one of us.
          Man 1: He’s right, this is a two-party system.
          Man 2: Well I believe I’ll vote for a third-party candidate.
          Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.

  • TimD

    Reagan’s whole ideology centered upon creating a climate of inequality. Cutting taxes and deregulation were supposed to free business and the wealthy to create more employment and economic growth. Well in kind of worked as business opened factories in countries with lower wages, lower taxes and even laxer regulations. Today’s slow growth and inequality is the natural outcome of Reagan’s trickle down. Jason Fichtner wants to tame inequality by reducing entitlements it very much sounds like play it again Ronnie. We already know how that will work.

    • RobertLongView

      Class warfare — Ayn Rand style. Reagan was a Grade “B” movie star/pitchman and a Madison Avenue Shill for corporate America — they call what Reeagan does “work” on the left coast. They live on off the cream at the top — just like our east coast DC beltway lobbists… .

      • TimD

        Absolutely,
        Ayn Rand glorified the few – if it wasn’t for them we would still be in caves. The trick is that a modern market economy relies on both the purchasing power of the many along with the investment of the few into the domestic economy. The cut and run of the few (the move of production investments to other countries ) has led to a rise in inequality and the reduction in economic growth; both are a natural outcome of Randian thinking.

    • ExcellentNews

      A little inequality is indeed good, as it motivates people to produce. However, we are living in different times than those of Reagan. We have A LOT of inequality, not only for income, but in all other regards. We have no real productivity, since everything productive has been offshored to slave-labor dictatorships. Let’s not drag Reagan into a discussion that should be about the global oligarchy of today. If Reagan was alive today, he would probably order the sponsors of the Tea Party and other sham Republican PACs arrested and shipped to Guantanamo for terrorist activity against the United States.

      • TimD

        I agree that there are diminishing returns to inequality. Remember that Reagan trumpeted inequality and accelerated the redistribution of money and power from the people to the corporations.

        Also remember that an important component of Reagan’s support were the right-wing former democrats from the south who Reagan won over by saying that government was the problem. Those people are equivalent to the current tea party – if you check with the current tea party members you would find that they idolize him.

  • nahummer

    Hopefully Reich’s new movie can be the catalyst that Occupy almost became for a serious conversation about inequality and the hugely damaging social costs that it has for all income groups, including the rich – http://theendisalwaysnear.blogspot.com/2013/09/abhorrent-anniversary-gifts.html

    • fun bobby

      the media made sure that that did not happen.

      • RobertLongView

        Jeez us, Americans are not only apathetic they are lazy. They prefer the lean back television. And let some jerk like Bill O Really do their thinking for them. in Italy they are called Mama’s Boys… can’t even do their own laundry..

        • fun bobby

          social media is the new opiate of the masses

    • ExcellentNews

      Sadly, the republican PACS funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers, the King of Saudi Arabia, or the Sovereign Trust of the People’s Republic of China will see that Mr. Reich voice is lost in a hurricane of “Benghazi!” “Communist!” and similar non-sense peddled by the corporate media.

  • Sage

    Reich says minimum wage should be $10+, why not $15, or $20? As harsh as this sounds, does a person flipping burgers deserve that much? Where is Milton Friedman when you need him!!! The issue is not capitalism, the issue is what we currently have which is crony-capitalism…..government doling out goodies to the chosen few.

    Do yourself a favor and look at videos from Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Yaron Brook…..

    GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE ANSWER, the issues Reich highlights are actually caused by government….War on Poverty?…government failure; Education?…we spend more than ever and get terrible results…..government failure.

    In the words of Friedman, only in government do you have the case that if a program is failing the solution is to simply spend more money on it….

  • Sage

    Try running a business and you’ll see how difficult it is to become wealthy, Why is it that we vilify a successful person who has busted their ass to “make it” but we celebrate athletes who employ themselves and collect insane sums of money?

    Remember, wealth is portable, look what happened to Maryland and New York after they passed their millionaire taxes….their tax receipts went DOWN…..

    Also consider that the government collected a record amount of tax this year but somehow we are still struggling to pay the bills? Does that make sense?

    Go ahead and tax me…..I will leave…..

    • jimino

      Where you headed?

    • twenty_niner

      Further, taxes can be sheltered. Taxes are paid on profits, and business owners can write off vehicle leases, trips to the Bahamas, golf outings, and meals as business expenses, thereby reducing taxable income while still enjoying the “good life”. Raising taxes is not enough to increase government receipts; the code must be changed.

      • VinceD2

        The IRS/income tax should be scrapped. Start the conversation with the FAIR tax, make it a bit more progressive, and dump the army of accountants that produce nothing but suck up vast amounts of wealth.

        Dismantle America’s Gestapo, the IRS, where you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

        Tax consumption, not earnings, and encourage savings.

        • fun bobby

          how can you have a progressive tax system and a consumption tax?

          • VinceD2

            Simple! Exempt basic goods, tax luxury goods at a higher rate.

            PA exempts food and clothing for instance: People come from NY and even Canada to shop here for that reason!

            Wanna buy a Ford Focus? That’ll be 12%. But that Mercedes over there gets taxed at 25%. (An example, not sure where the numbers would follow.)

            We could apply a surcharge tax to foreign goods to incentivize keeping jobs here.

            There are some “tax and prebate” proposals, but those seem too complicated and prone to fraud.

            We need to come up with SOMETHING to replace the current system, the IRS is a nightmare. Too big, too complicated, not trusted, an enormous waste of resources.

          • fun bobby

            are suggesting a tariff on foreign cars or other foreign goods? the problem is that they then put tariffs on your goods and then we can’t sell any Ford Foci in Germany and I hear that car is very popular in Europe. a Mercedes is much more expensive than a focus so of there was a flat tax rate then the Mercedes guy would be paying a lot more anyways

            perhaps we should put taxation on the honor system and make everyone sign a declaration that they have paid their fair share along with a check. then the congress could be limited to only spending that amount

          • RobertLongView

            How about a carbon tax? We could kill two birds with one stone. revenues and help the climate… .

          • VinceD2

            You’d have to find a way top tax the carbon footprint of imported goods. Be sure to include the shipping in that equation!

          • fun bobby

            there ought to be a way to account for pollution emissions but will it be applied fairly? how will we meter how much you exhale?

          • VinceD2

            I think the best way to control the trade deficit would be to grant import credits to nations/overseas_corporations who buy from us, they can then use those credits to sell to us or sell those credits to other nations/overseas_corporations so they can sell to us. Allowing the Chinas of the world to run the deficits on the backs of virtual slave labor is not acceptable.

            Tariffs? Why not? Maybe we wouldn’t need then if we did the income tax thing. Any proposal needs smart people with the interests of citizens at heart to make it work. Right now, only the corporations are being represented, there is THE problem.

          • fun bobby

            if its the trade gap specifically you are concerned with seems like we should only import items from foreign producers that pay as much of a minimum wage as we do and make them comply with all of our safety and environmental laws. then American made goods would be cheaper by virtue of savings realized on shipping. the problem with your solution is that smart people who are doers are self interested

          • VinceD2

            Well, that would be an improvement, we outlaw slavery here but allow goods made with virtual slave labor to have access to our markets. A little moral contradiction there eh?

            Yeah, “self interested”, what a way to out it! People who are willing to stomp on others to promote their “self interests” are the reason we need laws to protect others, and the national interests.

            How many jobs have the Wal-Mart heirs moved to China? How many families pushed into poverty for the Walton “self interests”.

          • fun bobby

            1. yes
            2. 0, the Chinese walmarts do not take jobs away from americans. if their suppliers have moved to china that’s a different story. on the plus side they have just pledged to purchase 50 billion of American made goods and created an industry coalition that has pledged to purchase 500 billion of American goods in the next decade.
            3. How have the waltons pushed anyone into poverty?
            walmart, it seems, heart has grown three sizes. they have come to realize that they cannot just be a taker and must change to be sustainable long-term. they have pledged to become 100% renewable energy powered and create 0 waste. If you take a look at their corporate responsibility page its actually pretty impressive. even michelle obama is on board

          • VinceD2

            Wal-Mart has a history of forcing their suppliers to move production overseas. Not writing about Wal-Marts in China, but the push for Chinese goods. This definitely pushed American workers into poverty.

            Is Wal-Mart turning around? I hope so but won’t hold my breath. Beware of greenwashing, verify carefully.

            Check out the movie: “Wal-Mart: The high cost of Low Prices”.

          • fun bobby

            to satisfy the desire of their shopperswalmart demands low prices. some suppliers achieve this by outsourcing. walmart is actively working and spending 50 billion to purchase American made products. where are you shopping that the consumer goods there are not made in china? if Americans do not demand American goods how is that walmarts fault? americans who shop at walmart demand cheap goods and we don’t care where they came from or what the societal costs are of purchasing that item. I am well aware of the criticisms of walmart. Most companies engage in the greenwashing you speak of. the walmart up the street from me has dozens of wind turbines, walmart is learning that it makes good business sense to be efficient and sustainable and with their massive size even the little changes they make can be significant. looking at the depth and breadth of walmarts efforts its hard not to be a little impressed. even without all that stuff I personally think walmart is proof that God exists and that He loves us.
            have you seen the south park about walmart?

          • VinceD2

            I liked WM when Sam was around, but those kids went evil. Perhaps they are turning around, let’s hope!

            As for the Chinese gods/demand for low prices. It took consumers a long time to even start to realize that low prices have long term costs. Buy cheap from China, Americans lose their jobs, but the consumer doesn’t see that until it hits close to home. Capitalism becomes cannibalism, and most consumers didn’t see it happening.

            Unfortunately, it is difficult to buy USA made goods. We try. We’ll even do without or get something at a flea market to avoid imports. Used popcorn poppers work just fine! I actually bought a USA made can opener a year ago and it actually still works!

            I believe in people turning themselves around, and perhaps the WM heirs are doing so, but their actions of the past suggest the existence of the devil, not God. But if their actions change over a long time period, so will my opinion.

            OK, gotta look up the SP! That show is AWESOME! Thanks!

          • fun bobby

            there will be an influx of American made goods available at the walmart coming soon along with local seasonal produce. a few years a go I would have never thought I would see a walmart with wind turbines in the parking lot. hopefully they keep on the path they are on they can do an enormous amount of good if they do what they are saying they will

          • VinceD2

            Well, I hope that is what happens and if it does, my opinion will change. But you must admit, they’ve done a lot of damage. Can they change? Hope so! Time will tell. Take care!

          • fun bobby

            I think the damage walmart has done is fairly negligible despite their being blamed for the death of downtowns and main streets. god bless

    • ExcellentNews

      Even in an equal opportunity society, for every person who becomes wealthy by “busting their ass”, there are 99 others who also bust their ass without becoming wealthy. Luck or bad character have often much more to do with wealth than hard work.

      And we are not an equal opportunity society anymore. The children of the oligarchy is poised to inherit the machinery of wealth in the next generation. Except for few freak cases, it will be nearly impossible for a “middle class” young person to rise.

  • OnPointComments

    WHAT HAPPENS TO INCOME INEQUALITY IN 20 YEARS?

    If someone was in the lowest quintile of income earners in 1987 (the bottom 20%), where were they in 2007, twenty years later? 55% of them had moved to a higher quintile, including 18% of them in the top 20% of income earners, 9% of them in the top 10%, and 3% of them in the top 1% of income earners. More than half of them were better off, and some were much, much better off twenty years later.

    How did the top 20% of income earners in 1987 fare twenty years later? More than half of them (54%) had fallen out of the top 20% and moved to a lower quintile. Of those in the top 10% of income earners in 1987, 62% of them weren’t in the top 10% in 2007.

    The person who has low income this year may be in the top 1% twenty years later. The program summary at the top says “the top tier’s income and wealth have raced off the charts,” but what it doesn’t say is that the top tier isn’t the same people year after year, and the bottom tiers aren’t the same people either. If there is the opportunity to move from the bottom 20% to the top 20% in twenty years time, then the quote from Los Angeles Times must be wrong, and we do have a society based on equal opportunity and merit.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CCoQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aeaweb.org%2Faea%2F2013conference%2Fprogram%2Fretrieve.php%3Fpdfid%3D462&ei=kQZDUu_SNIS-9QTgvoGYDw&usg=AFQjCNEjKScgvJbI1qkmQAtw0gQRWFgdWQ&sig2=_LqaylIJGZ_ZRFL8A_Giag&bvm=bv.53077864,d.eWU

    • ExcellentNews

      Duh! People who were young in ’87 and in the bottom quintile got educated, got jobs and in ’07 were in the upper quintile. Likewise, people in the top of their game in ’87 retired (or more likely got downsized) so they dropped down the ladder. Duh again.

      But you are clearly shilling for the Tea Party and the Koch brothers, so please do not let data analysis get in the way. Please continue throwing numbers around to prove that the Earth does not spin and that it is flat.

  • twenty_niner

    Repeat 100 times:

    The president doesn’t run the economy….
    The president doesn’t run the economy….

    The divergence between wages and productivity growth started in the early 70s, well before Reagan. During the 70s, which was marked by stagflation, central bankers sought to break the back of inflation. One of the primary means conceived was to open up the 3rd World labor pool to American industry, which is what really curbed wage growth in the following decades. The trend accelerated under Clinton when NAFTA and MFN for China were signed. You can unionize all you want, but if your job can be moved over seas, what real pressure can you apply.

    • VinceD2

      Moving jobs overseas, allowing excessive immigration to drive down wages here. Our government has turned against us. And it’s BOTH parties!

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Jason points out that 70% of income tax is now paid by the wealthy. Did you fail to note that 95% of the wealth creation went to the wealthy in this recovery? That hundreds of thousands of people have taken 30, 40, 50% pay cuts not because they are lazy but that’s what ‘the market will bear’ … And the reason there are so many poor is that Wall Street keeps squeezing more and more profit out of workers making workers collectively poorer? So regardless of one’s individual ambition and energy, there is only so much consumer spending available to compete for, so the lower wages are, the less such spending that producers and service providers can compete for, thus less opportunity and less growth.

    • twenty_niner

      The .1% don’t make money off of pay. To these people, pay is a rounding error. In fact, most wouldn’t care if their pay was zero. The wealthy make money off of investments. They own assets. The own equity, debt, and real estate. As I’ve said many times on this blog, when the Fed prints $3.5 Trillion out of thin air, the wealthy can expect to get richer by about $3.5 Trillion.

      The best part about all of this (really the worst part) is that they have all of the proles running around screaming about Reagan and taxes and unions and deficits and my favorite ‘trickle down”. What a head fake!

      You can’t make this stuff up. And meanwhile, hardly anyone pays attention to the man behind the curtain, the real guy with the lever in his hand. He’s doing trickle up! – taking money from working people in the form of inflation (real inflation, not the bogus number that’s reported every quarter) and handing freshly printed money to the wealthy. Even worse, he has a lot of the proles cheering him on, as their real earnings go down year after year.

  • StilllHere

    From the chart above, it looks like everything’s getting better, so what’s all the fuss about. On Point, move on.

    • jefe68

      Funny, I was thinking the same about you.
      Your tired right wing memes are well, tiresome.
      Oh for your information your reading the chart backwards. But that goes in hand in hand with being regressive.

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      You want the 99% to “move on”, or do you want them to JOIN Move-On??? Where do you want them to go? Elysium???

  • fun bobby

    the second richest guy I know retired at 35 after working for gates

    • StilllHere

      Great story! Sucks to be him I guess ;)

      • fun bobby

        its a great gig if you can get it

  • ExcellentNews

    God bless you Mr. Reich. Your words are not only the voice of reason, but also the voice of decency. I hope that it prevails over the voices of Mammon and its shills.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 24, 2014
Youths seen playing basketball through bars on a window at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Ethan Allen School in Wales, Wis. (AP file)

The cold hard facts about juvenile prisons. And the case for shutting them all down. Plus: former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is with us.

Jul 24, 2014
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We’ll look at the new science of what plants feel, smell, see – and remember.

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Jul 23, 2014
Actor Wallace Shawn attends special screening of "Turks and Caicos" hosted by Vogue and The Cinema Society at the Crosby Street Hotel on Monday, April 7, 2014 in New York.  (AP)

From “The Princess Bride” to “My Dinner with Andre “and “A Master Builder,” actor and writer Wallace Shawn joins us.

 
Jul 23, 2014
In this Saturday, July 12, 2014, photo, migrants walk along train tracks and boxcars after getting off a train during their journey toward the US-Mexico border, in Ixtepec, southern Mexico. (AP)

Crisis at the US border. What do Latinos on this side of the border have to say? We’ll ask our special roundtable.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Hillary Clinton: ‘The [Russian] Reset Worked’
Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took time out of her global book tour to talk to us about Russia, the press and the global crises shaking the administration she left two years ago.

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Where Did Nickel Creek Go?
Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

The Nickel Creek interview originally scheduled for Thursday, July 24 is rescheduled for an as-of-yet undetermined later date. We explain why.

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Our Week In The Web: July 11, 2014
Friday, Jul 11, 2014

As we prepare for a week of rebroadcasts, we reflect on Facebook posts, misplaced comments and the magic of @ mentions. Internet, ASSEMBLE!

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