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Robert Reich
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Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. His film Inequality for All is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and Netflix. His homepage is robertreich.org.

Entries by Robert Reich

Raising Most People's Wages

(17) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 9:12 AM

I was in Seattle, Washington, recently, to congratulate union and community organizers who helped Seattle enact the first $15 per hour minimum wage in the country.

Other cities and states should follow Seattle's example.

Contrary to the dire predictions of opponents, the hike won't cost Seattle jobs. In fact, it...

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Why Ordinary People Bear Economic Risks and Donald Trump Doesn't

(184) Comments | Posted September 21, 2014 | 6:18 PM

Thirty years ago, on its opening day in 1984, Donald Trump stood in a dark topcoat on the casino floor at Atlantic City's Trump Plaza, celebrating his new investment as the finest building in Atlantic City and possibly the nation.

Last week, the Trump Plaza folded and the...

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Berkeley vs. Big Soda

(29) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 3:11 PM

I was phoned the other night in middle of dinner by an earnest young man named Spencer, who said he was doing a survey.

Rather than hang up I agreed to answer his questions. He asked me if I knew a soda tax would be on the ballot in Berkeley...

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The Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Division of America

(376) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 2:48 PM

Detroit is the largest city ever to seek bankruptcy protection, so its bankruptcy is seen as a potential model for other American cities now teetering on the edge.

But Detroit is really a model for how wealthier and whiter Americans escape the costs of public goods they'd otherwise share with...

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Back to College -- The Only Gateway to the Middle Class

(151) Comments | Posted September 1, 2014 | 8:03 PM

This week, millions of young people head to college and universities, aiming for a four-year liberal arts degree. They assume that degree is the only gateway to the American middle class.

It shouldn't be.

For one thing, a four-year liberal arts degree is hugely expensive. Too many young people graduate...

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Back to School, and to Widening Inequality

(86) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 7:08 PM

American kids are getting ready to head back to school. But the schools they're heading back to differ dramatically by family income.

Which helps explain the growing achievement gap between lower- and higher-income children.

Thirty years ago, the average gap on SAT-type tests between children of families in the richest...

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The Disease of American Democracy

(156) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 5:51 PM

Americans are sick of politics. Only 13 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, a near record low. The president's approval ratings are also in the basement.

A large portion of the public doesn't even bother voting. Only 57.5 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the 2012...

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The Rebirth of Stakeholder Capitalism?

(43) Comments | Posted August 9, 2014 | 11:18 PM

In recent weeks, the managers, employees, and customers of a New England chain of supermarkets called "Market Basket" have joined together to oppose the board of director's decision earlier in the year to oust the chain's popular chief executive, Arthur T. Demoulas.

Their demonstrations and boycotts have emptied most of...

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Work and Worth

(71) Comments | Posted August 3, 2014 | 11:50 AM

What someone is paid has little or no relationship to what their work is worth to society.

Does anyone seriously believe hedge-fund mogul Steven A. Cohen is worth the $2.3 billion he raked in last year, despite being slapped with a $1.8 billion fine after his firm pleaded...

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The Increasing Irrelevance of Corporate Nationality

(120) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 2:17 PM

"You shouldn't get to call yourself an American company only when you want a handout from the American taxpayers," President Obama said Thursday.

He was referring to American corporations now busily acquiring foreign companies in order to become non-American, thereby reducing their U.S. tax bill.

But the president...

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The Rise of the Non-Working Rich

(223) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 7:27 PM

In a new Pew poll, more than three quarters of self-described conservatives believe "poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything."

In reality, most of America's poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.

The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit...

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The Limits of Corporate Citizenship: Why Walgreen Shouldn't Be Allowed to Influence U.S. Politics If It Becomes Swiss

(64) Comments | Posted July 6, 2014 | 5:31 PM

Dozens of big U.S. corporations are considering leaving the United States in order to reduce their tax bills.

But they'll be leaving the country only on paper. They'll still do as much business in the U.S. as they were doing before.

The only difference is they'll no longer be "American,"...

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Freedom, Power, and the Conservative Mind

(298) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 3:22 PM

On Monday the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that privately-owned corporations don't have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the corporate owners' religious beliefs.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, the plaintiffs in the case, were always free to...

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Hillary's Hardest Choice (and the Democrat's Dilemma)

(19) Comments | Posted June 29, 2014 | 10:32 PM

What's the reason for the tempest in the teapot of Hillary and Bill Clinton's personal finances?

It can't be about how much money they have. Great wealth has never disqualified someone from high office. In fact, some of the nation's greatest presidents, who came to office with vast fortunes --...

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Break the Koch Machine

(191) Comments | Posted June 27, 2014 | 11:07 AM


A number of billionaires are flooding our democracy with their money, drowning out the voices of the rest of us. But Charles and David Koch are in a class by themselves. They're using their fortune -- they're the fifth and sixth richest people in the world -- to create their own political machine designed to protect and advance their financial interests. The Koch machine includes:


1. Political front groups pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into elections at every level of our democracy, while disguising the sources of the money.

2. Giant advertising campaigns to convince Americans climate change is a myth, the Affordable Care Act will harm them, unions are bad, and wealthy people deserve tax cuts.

3. A network of think tanks designed to come up with findings the Kochs want. For example, over $23 million for studies arguing we should abolish the minimum wage or keep it where it is forever.

4. A campaign to suppress the votes of minorities. In the last presidential election, funding white "poll-watchers" where minorities vote, leading to complaints of voter intimidation. And peddling a Voter ID bill to state legislators across the country, designed to make it harder for many to vote.

5. A nationwide effort to bust unions. Funding anti-union campaigns in states like Wisconsin, and pushing an anti-union law that's been used in dozens of states to undermine workers' collective bargaining rights.

And 6. A long-term strategy to unravel America's campaign finance laws, even organizing secret meetings with sympathetic Supreme Court justices.


The Koch political machine would be troubling in any circumstance. But it's especially dangerous in present-day America, where wealth is more concentrated than it's been in over a century and the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates to big money.

The problem isn't that the Kochs are so rich, or their political views are so regressive. The problem is they're using their exorbitant wealth to impose those views on the rest of us, undermining our democracy.

More than 200,000 of you have already signed my MoveOn petition denouncing the Koch brothers for undermining our democracy.

The Kochs won't care what we say, but when a half a million of us stand up to them, politicians will have to think twice before taking their money. When a million of us stand up to them, their money will be a political liability.

Standing up to bullies is the hallmark of a civilized society. Please join our petition -- and stand up for our democracy. The link to the petition is at the end of the video.

Or go here.

Our democracy is not for sale.

ROBERT B. REICH's film "Inequality for All" is now available on DVD and blu-ray, and on Netflix. Watch the trailer below:

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Real Business Leaders Want to Save Capitalism

(138) Comments | Posted June 19, 2014 | 8:56 AM

A few weeks ago I was visited in my office by the chairman of one of the country's biggest high-tech firms who wanted to talk about the causes and consequences of widening inequality and the shrinking middle class, and what to do about it.

I asked him why he was...

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The Three Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Poverty

(246) Comments | Posted June 14, 2014 | 12:35 AM

Rather than confront poverty by extending jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, endorsing a higher minimum wage, or supporting jobs programs, conservative Republicans are taking a different tack.

They're peddling three big lies about poverty. To wit:

Lie #1: Economic growth reduces poverty.

"The best anti-poverty program," wrote Paul...

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Seattle Is Right

(4) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 1:52 PM

By raising its minimum wage to $15, Seattle is leading a long-overdue movement toward a living wage. Most minimum wage workers aren't teenagers these days. They're major breadwinners who need a higher minimum wage in order to keep their families out of poverty.

Across America, the ranks of...

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The Way to Stop Corporate Lawbreaking Is to Prosecute the People Who Break the Law

(55) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 9:42 PM

Today (Thursday, June 5) GM releases the results of its internal investigation about why it failed to respond to an ignition switch defect in millions of cars that has been linked to at least 13 deaths.

But who's really to blame when a big corporation breaks the law? The government...

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Freedom Summer II

(66) Comments | Posted May 31, 2014 | 6:48 PM

I spent several days in New York last week with students from around the country who were preparing to head into the heartland to help organize Walmart workers for better jobs and wages. (Full familial disclosure: My son Adam is one of the leaders.)

Almost exactly fifty years ago a...

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