BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

ROBERT REICH: How do you constrain capitalism from doing stupid things that are not in the public interest? You have a democracy that is sufficiently well-functioning. That laws and rules limit what can be done. If the democracy is corrupted itself by that capitalist excess, then the first thing you've got to do is get big money out of politics.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Odds are you know of Robert Reich. Perhaps as the public servant he was under three administrations – for his work as President Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, Time Magazine called him one of the best cabinet secretaries of the 20th century.

He’s written thirteen books, including his latest, Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It.

But you’re about to see professor Reich who teaches public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, in a wholly new light: as the star of a dynamic, witty, and entertaining new film to be released next week in theatres across the country. It’s called Inequality for All, and was directed by Jacob Kornbluth. Here’s the trailer:

ROBERT REICH in Inequality For All: Now the thing you want to know about this Mini Cooper is it is small. We are in proportion, me and my car. My name is Robert Reich, I was Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. Before that the Carter administration. Before that I was a special aid to Abraham Lincoln. Of all developed nations the United States has the most unequal distribution of income and we’re surging toward even greater inequality. 1928 and 2007 become the peak years for income concentration, it looks like a suspension bridge.

WOMAN in Inequality For All: Last year we made $36,000.

MAN in Inequality For All: Think I probably make $50,000 a year working 70 hours a week.

ROBERT REICH in Inequality For All: The middle class is struggling. People occasionally say to me, “Now what nation does it better?” The answer is, the United States. In the decades after World War II, the economy boomed but you had very low inequality.

BILL O’REILLY in Inequality For All: Do you know Robert Reich?

MAN in Inequality For All: I do.

BILL O’REILLY in Inequality For All: He’s a communist.

ROBERT REICH in Inequality For All: When I was a kid, bigger boys would pick on me. I think it changed my life. I had to protect people from the people who would beat them up economically. Who is actually looking out for the American worker? The answer is, nobody. If workers don’t have power, if they don’t have a voice, their wages and benefits start eroding. We are losing equal opportunity in America. Any one of you who feels cynical just consider where we have been.

BILL MOYERS: That’s from "Inequality For All," starring Robert Reich, who is with me now. Bob Reich, welcome.

ROBERT REICH: Thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: I think this film is a game-changer in this discussion about inequality. But I am curious because you're encroaching on my turf. Why you turn to film to tell this story?

ROBERT REICH: Well, it was Jake's idea. And he really is the brains and the creative giant behind it. But I was easily persuadable because I've tried everything else. You know--

BILL MOYERS: Thirteen books--

ROBERT REICH: --I mean--

BILL MOYERS: --a blog--

ROBERT REICH: And television and so on. But there is something about film. With which you can emotionally connect with people and open people's minds and eyes and hearts. And on this issue of widening inequality there's so much confusion, many people if they’re, you know, if they're rightwing, they want to blame the poor, if they're leftwing they want to blame the rich.

There's a lot of blame going around. But people are not looking at the actual structure of the economy as it's evolving. They're not looking at how we need to change the organization of the economy, why we are the most unequal of all advanced societies and economies in the world.

There is this popular misconception that the economy is kind of out there, it's kind of natural forces that can't be changed. They're immutable. We all sort of work for this economy. But in reality, the economy is a set of rules. There's no economy in the state of nature. They’re rules. I mean, there are rules about property and liability and anti-trust and bankruptcy and subsidies for certain things and taxes for certain things.

These rules really are the rules of the game. They determine economic outcomes. If we don't like them, we can change the rules. I mean, if we had a democracy that was working as a democracy should be working, we could adapt the rules so that, for example, the gains of economic growth were more widely distributed without a sacrifice of efficiency or innovation.

BILL MOYERS: Those rules are difficult to explain in writing, much less on film. And yet you and Kornbluth do very well at it. Let me play an excerpt for our audience to see how you did it.

ROBERT REICH in Inequality For All: Of all developed nations today, the United States has the most unequal distribution of income and wealth by far. And we're surging towards even greater inequality. One way of looking at and measuring inequality is to look at the earnings of people at the top versus the earnings of the typical worker in the middle.

The typical male worker in 1978 was making around $48,000, adjusting for inflation, while the average person in the top one percent earned $390,000. Now fast forward. By 2010, the typical male worker earned even less than he did then. But at person the top got more than twice as much as before. Today, the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together. Now think about it. Four hundred people have more wealth than half the population of the United States.

BILL MOYERS: And that wealth is increasing.

ROBERT REICH: It’s increasing.

BILL MOYERS: At the top.

ROBERT REICH: Yes, the latest data we have from one of my colleagues at Berkeley, Emmanuel Saez, and his colleague Thomas Piketty, who had been the pioneer researchers in this field, because they've been looking at a source that nobody else has been looking at, IRS data going back to, really the beginning, 1913, the beginning of the progressive income tax.

BILL MOYERS: And you featured their work in the film.

ROBERT REICH: Yes. Since the film, actually we put the film together, there are new results that came out just within the last week or so show that in the year 2012 inequality reached a new peak in the United States. The previous peak, we thought was the peak, that is 2007 actually has been superseded by this new peak of inequality, concentrated income in 2012 that almost all the gains of economic growth have been going to a very small number of people at the very top.

BILL MOYERS: The figures are so startling, I had to shake my head in disbelief when I first saw them, showing that in the first three years of the recovery from the recession brought on by the financial collapse in 2008, the top one percent of Americans took home 95 percent of the income gains. Ninety-five percent?

ROBERT REICH: That's right. As the economy grows it used to be, you know, within the memory of many of us, myself included, between 1946 and 1978, as the economy grew, everybody benefited. It was very wide-- the benefits were very widely dispersed.

BILL MOYERS: Shared prosperity we called it.

ROBERT REICH: Well, we called it shared prosperity. It wasn't socialism. I mean, Eisenhower was president through most of that. And we didn't consider it abnormal. We considered it normal. As the economy grows, we should all get something. And during those years, the economy doubled in size and everybody's income doubled. Even if you were in the bottom fifth of the income earners you did actually better.

And then, and this is really the subject of the film. Something happened in the late 1970s, early 1980s, to change the historic relationship between economic growth and the growth in productivity on the one hand and wages. Beginning in the late '70s and really to a greater and greater degree over the last three decades, all the wealth, or most of the wealth, most of the new wealth in society went right to the top.

Income gains went right to the top and people in the middle, the median worker, the median wage, stagnated. In fact since the year 2000, if you adjust for inflation, you have to adjust for inflation, the actual median wage has been dropping. It's now five percent below what it was then.

BILL MOYERS: So help us understand in practical terms what it means when the layman or woman reads that the top one percent of Americans took home 95 percent of the income gains. How can that be?

ROBERT REICH: I think that most people, if they really understand it, will say: "This is not the America that I should be part of. This is not an economy that is working as it should be working. Something is fundamentally wrong." And the game feels rigged somehow.

And I think that's the conclusion that many people are coming to regardless of whether you are, consider yourself, on the left or the right. Many Tea Partiers are angry at the system because there seems to be so much collusion between government and big business and Wall Street. That's where the Tea Party movement came from.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. That was-- that intrigued me back when Occupy happened, that it and the Tea Party were both about the one percent.

ROBERT REICH: Both about what looked like a fundamentally unfair subsidy going from everybody, taxpayers, to mostly the top one percent, that is the people on Wall Street who had blown it. Who had basically treated the economy as a casino for much of their own benefit. And leaving many of the rest of us underwater in terms of being able to pay our mortgages, with our savings depleted because the stock market had basically reversed itself, and jobless.

BILL MOYERS: And here we are, five years after Lehman Brothers collapsed and Wall Street went south and you say that the banks, the big banks are still at it, still gambling?

ROBERT REICH: Unfortunately, they are. We don't even have a Volcker Rule. Remember when we had the Dodd-Frank Act that was supposed to clean up all of this? And a piece of it was kind of a watered-down Glass-Steagall. Glass-Steagall was the old 1930s rule that said you had to split your commercial banking operations from your, basically your casino, betting operations. And--

BILL MOYERS: You couldn't bet with my deposit.

ROBERT REICH: You can't bet with commercially-insured deposits. But we couldn't even get the watered-down version of Glass-Steagall in the form of the Volcker Rule. It's still not there. Why isn't that there?

Because you've got a huge, powerful, Wall Street lobbying machine, a lot of money coming from Wall Street that influenced politicians, even Democrat politicians. This is not a matter of partisan politics. Everybody is guilty. And the money is still determining what the rules of the game are going to be.

BILL MOYERS: And these are the people who are taking in most of the income produced by the recovery.

ROBERT REICH: Not only they-- they're taking in most of the income produced by the recovery, they're enjoying almost all of the economic gains and they are using their privileged position with regard to political power to entrench themselves in terms of their economic gains of the future and their political influence in the future.

So you know, it's not unusual that many average people who are working harder than ever, worried about their jobs, worried about paying their next, you know, bills, living from paycheck to paycheck, are going to stay, you know, beginning to say to themselves, "There is something fundamentally wrong here."

BILL MOYERS: The film does splendidly show what's happened to blue-collar and white-collar workers, or what you call "flat-lining."

ROBERT REICH in Inequality For All: Contrary to popular mythology, globalization and technology haven't really reduced the number of jobs available to Americans. These transformations have reduced their pay. It is not just that wages are stagnated.

But when you take into consideration rising costs. The rising cost of rent or homes, dramatically-increasing costs of healthcare, the rising costs of childcare and also the rising costs of higher education, rising much faster than inflation, take all of these into consideration, and you find that it's much worse than just stagnating wages. It's basically middle-class families, often with two wage earners, working harder and harder and harder and getting nowhere.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean "getting nowhere"?

ROBERT REICH: They are not seeing their incomes increase if you adjust for inflation. And obviously you-- in terms of repurchasing power. Many of them are seeing their incomes drop. They also are having less and less, enjoying less and less economic security. Because at any time they can be fired. You have two incomes they depend on.

So the chance of something happening, like a firing or a company basically leaving town or one of them getting very sick and not being able to pull in that kind of income. All of those negative possibilities are themselves increasing. And meanwhile, upward mobility is fading. We used to have in this country the notion that anybody with enough guts and gumption could make it.

So even if you have wide inequality, it was okay because you could make it. You could feast at the same table if you stuck to it and if you really tried hard. That's disappearing. Forty-two percent of children who were born into poverty, for example, in the United States, will be in poverty as adults and at a higher percentage than any other advanced country.

Even great Britain, with a history of class. I mean, we think about Britain, we think of a class or rigid class structure. Only 30 percent of the kids who were born into poverty remain in poverty as adults. Because you see upward mobility is more of a reality in these other countries than it is now in present-day America.

BILL MOYERS: But talk a little bit further about corporate behavior. If they're sitting on record profits, and no one denies that, why aren't they creating more jobs? The argument goes that corporations should be taxed at a lower level so they can create jobs. Or that money-- that the rich shouldn't be taxed because they're job creators.

ROBERT REICH: This is where the problem really reaches back onto itself and explains itself. Where we're in a giant vicious cycle. Because if the middle class and everybody aspiring to join middle class don't have enough money. If their wages are declining, their benefits are almost non-existent, they're worried about the next paycheck. They cannot turn around and buy what the economy is capable of producing. And in this country, 70 percent of the economy is consumer spending.

So if you've got this giant middle class and everybody wanting to join the middle class, and they don't have the purchasing power any longer because most of the benefits of the economy are going to the very top, and the top is, certainly, they're the ones who are saving. Their savings going around the world, wherever they can get the highest return on those savings. You don't have enough aggregate demand in the economy to make it worthwhile for companies to hire more people and expand.

BILL MOYERS: Don't you think the CEO's understand that?

ROBERT REICH: They understand the next quarter. They understand what's immediately in front of their noses. I mean, Wall Street is saying to them, "Don't plan for the long-term future. Give us the highest return we can possibly get." And so the average CEO says "Well, I have the best, you know, they're not all that many customers. I'm not selling like I used to be selling. So the easiest way of showing big returns is I shrink my payrolls, I get lean and mean and maybe I outsource, maybe I automate whatever I have to do to get the cost down." Bill, I'm not blaming CEOs. This film is not about blame.

But the fact of the matter is that the entire system is designed in such a way that everybody is acting rationally, given what the rules of the game are. But the rules of the game themselves are irrational, and irrational socially. They are not generating the kind of prosperous society that we need to maintain an economy and also to maintain a democracy.

BILL MOYERS: For example, in terms of the people inside the system acting rationally, Microsoft recently bought the Finnish company Nokia. And I heard an eye-opening, ear-opening discussion of that by David Brancaccio on Public Radio's "Marketplace," where you often appear. He's talking with Allan Sloan, who's the senior editor-at-large at “Fortune Magazine.”

DAVID BRANCACCIO on Marketplace: Morning, Allan.

ALLAN SLOAN on Marketplace: Good morning, David.

DAVID BRANCACCIO on Marketplace: So I was writing the story the other day about Microsoft buying Nokia, and I'm thinking, "They wanted a nice manufacturer of smartphones.” You're saying there was more to it than that?

ALLAN SLOAN on Marketplace: Right. Microsoft has all this money overseas. And it can't bring it back into the United States without, God forbid, paying tax. So it's using it to buy a big foreign operation.

DAVID BRANCACCIO on Marketplace: So it's got this money rattling around, it might be nice if it bought something with it from its perspective rather than paying taxes, and it sees Nokia as an opportunity. Is this unprecedented?

ALLAN SLOAN on Marketplace: Hardly. Two years ago, Microsoft did the same thing with Skype and a company called Cisco, which is what's known in the trade as a serial acquirer, something that buys one thing after another. It's taken a holy oath not to buy anything in the United States unless the tax laws change.

BILL MOYERS: So it's more profitable to buy a company abroad than it is to bring your profits that you've earned overseas home and pay taxes on them? That's logical within the system?

ROBERT REICH: Within the system, it's logical. But here's where blame is deserved. Because you see very wealthy people, not everyone, but many very wealthy people and many big corporations use their money to buy rules that favor their positioning.

Tax laws that improve their competitive position, that entrench their wealth; antitrust enforcement that may go against their competitor, certainly not against them; intellectual property laws that guarantee them a nice profit and extend the length of their patents or trademarks.

And we could go through a whole list, Bill. I mean, the point is that with large size and a lot of money goes a great deal of political power. And the more uneven the playing field, the more you concentrate income and wealth at the top, the more you are susceptible as a society to this kind of corruption. And it is corruption.

BILL MOYERS: There are people who disagree with us on this, as I'm sure you know. They even celebrate inequality. When former Senator Rick Santorum was running for the Republican nomination for president last year, he made a speech at the Detroit Economic Club.

RICK SANTORUM at Detroit Economic Club: President Obama is all about equality of results. I'm about equality of opportunity. I'm not about equality of result when it comes to income inequality. There is income inequality in America. There always has been and hopefully, and I do say that, there always will be. Why? Because people rise to different levels of success based on what they contribute to society and to the marketplace and that's as it should be.

ROBERT REICH: Well, first of all, let's be clear about what we are arguing. Rick Santorum is exactly right in saying that nobody should expect or even advocate equality of outcome. The real problem is that we don't have equality of opportunity. What do I mean by that? Number one, the schools available to poor and lower middle class and many middle class families and their kids are not nearly as good as the schools available to the wealthy.

The tax laws are weighted increasingly in favor of the wealthy. Therefore a lot of middle class and poor people actually are paying, particularly through social security taxes, which nobody talks about. They all want to talk about income taxes. They're paying a much larger share of their income.

The laws governing almost everything we can imagine are tilted toward shareholders away from those whose major asset is your house. So it's not equality of opportunity. That's the problem. If we really had equality of opportunity we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

I think again, it's important to bear in mind that some inequality is necessary if we're going to have a capitalist system that creates incentives for people to work hard and to invent and to try very hard. The question is not inequality, per se.

The question is, at what point do you tip over, do you get to a tipping point where the degree of inequality actually is threatening your economy, your society, your democracy? When do you reach a point where inequality is simply too much? Where most of your people feel like the game is rigged.

BILL MOYERS: The film makes it clear. You think we are reaching that tipping point, that we're just right there.

ROBERT REICH: I think that in terms of the economy, we are very close. In fact, the Great Recession-- it has many causes. But one of the major causes was that the last coping mechanism that the middle class used, even though their wages were flat or declining, to continue to spend and keep the economy going was to borrow against their homes. And that, of course, exploded in everybody's face. You couldn't do that.

So there's no longer a coping mechanism. One reason why the recovery has been so anemic is that you don't have enough purchasing power in your society because all of the gains are going to a very small number at the top. So you don't have to wait and say, "Well, we're going to get that tipping point economically, 'cause we're already there."

Fact of the matter is, most Americans now are losing faith in our democracy. Which seems to me, you know, is our most precious gift, the most precious legacy that we have to hand down to our future generations.

BILL MOYERS: I particularly like the suspension bridge analogy.

ROBERT REICH in Inequality for All: This graph becomes very central for explaining what has happened to the U.S. economy, and indeed what's happening and has happened to our society. It looks like a suspension bridge. What happened a year after 1928? The Great Crash. And what happened just after 2007? Another crash. The parallels are breathtaking if you look at them carefully.

Leading up to these two peak years, as income got more and more concentrated, in fewer and fewer hands, the wealthy turn to the financial sector. And in both periods, the financial sector bloomed. They focused on a limited number of assets, housing, gold, speculative instruments, debt instruments. And that creates a speculative bubble in both times.

We often note that the middle class in both periods, their incomes were stagnating and they went deeper and deeper into debt to maintain their living standards. And that creates a debt bubble. That's why you see in both these periods economic instability. What makes an economy stable is a strong middle class.

BILL MOYERS: I think most people would agree with you that the middle class is the linchpin of stability in the economy and in the democracy. But for the purposes of this discussion, can you tell us what you mean when you use the term middle class?

ROBERT REICH: Well, there's no official definition. And I would say people who self-identify as middle class extend from people who are earning around $25,000 a year to people who are earning… well, in major cities, expensive cities like New York or San Francisco, a lot of people call themselves middle class who are earning $200,000 a year because the cost of living is so high. But in-- however you define it, you're talking about the great bulk of Americans clustered around the median, not the average. I want to emphasize there are measurement issues all over here. And--

BILL MOYERS: That's what makes it so hard for--

ROBERT REICH: Well, it's hard and also is ripe for people who want to deny the truth because they can say, "Well, we're measuring it wrong." The fact of the matter is that I distinguish between median and average because, you know, the basketball player Shaquille O'Neal and I have an average height of six foot one. I mean, you know, I'm very short.

But what we know is that averages are always pulled up by people at the top. And that's true of income as well. When you have a cluster of extraordinarily wealthy people they bring up the average wage. Or the average income. You need to look at the median.

That is half of the people above, half of the people below. That gives you a sense of where the middle really, you know, is. And the median is going down. If you adjust for inflation, the median, the median wage, the median income, is heading downward.

BILL MOYERS: That intrigues me because Richard Burkhauser, who's a scholar at Cornell University and at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, challenges the conventional wisdom, yours and mine and others about income inequality. First, he's not only argued that the condition of the poor and middle class is improving, more recently, he and some of his colleagues have come up with statistical findings. That not only wipe out inequality trends all together, but purport to show that, the poor and middle classes have done better on a percentage basis than the rich.

ROBERT REICH: Well, they're tricks of the trade. He's using one of those tricks. He's not here to defend himself, so let me be very careful to give, you know, just as much justice as possible to what he's arguing. He, in calculating income gains for the median worker, uses the assumed increase in the value of the home up until 2007.

And because home values were rising and many families own their own home in middle-class families, even lower middle-class families, he assumes that they got the benefits of those income gains. Well, that's just silly. Most people could not sell. If they tried to sell, they'd have to buy another house that was just as expensive.

And they don't-- their quality of life, their standard of living is not really affected. And more over, it was a bubble. And back in 2007, 2008-- those gains disappeared. So that's a statistical trick. It has nothing to do with how real people live.

BILL MOYERS: Speaking of real people, we began this series last year with three broadcasts on inequality. And in the first one we introduced our audience to a woman living in Iowa named Amanda Greubel. She had been part of testimonies before the Senate on how the middle-class families are struggling to make ends meet. “Stories from the Kitchen Table” it was called.

When the state cut funding for local school districts, her salary was reduced by $10,000.

AMANDA GREUBEL: $10,000 might not seem like a lot to some people. But that loss of income required a complete financial, emotional, and spiritual overhaul in our family […] It means that most of our clothing comes from Good Will, garage sales, and the clearance racks because we try not to spend full price on anything anymore […] If my family, with two Master's degrees is struggling, you can imagine how bad it is for other people. The past few years, our school district has seen our percentage of students on free and reduced lunch increase steadily. In a community that has a reputation of being very well off, over 30 percent of our elementary-level students qualified for that program this year.

I've sat with parents as they completed that eligibility application and they cried tears of shame. And they say things like, "I never thought I'd have to do this," and "I've never needed this help before." […] Sometimes their clothing becomes more tattered, and we see parents cut the toes off of tennis shoes to accommodate a few more months worth of growth and let those shoes last just a little bit longer.

ROBERT REICH: In this day and age, Bill-- in fact, there is no guarantee that somebody in the middle class, seemingly safely in the middle class, won't fall into poverty. We used to talk about the poor as a separate group. The middle class was here, the poor was here. Michael Harrington, you remember in his great book “The Other America” which focused the nation's attention on a separate group of people that was really struggling in ways that we didn't even know. Today, fast forward to the year 2013 and you have a middle class that is very close to the poor in the sense that over a ten-year period, a large percentage of the people in the middle class, who are earning, let's say, $50,000 a year, $35,000 a year, $26,000 a year, find themselves suddenly, almost without warning, because they lose a job, because they've got a health crisis, because something else comes up, they're poor. They're on food stamps, they are humiliated.

And this is a fear that justifiably and understandably haunts America today. I think it's why so many people are so frustrated and so angry, because it's not just that they're working harder and getting nowhere. But they are worried that they are only one or two or three paychecks away from poverty.

That they have not saved. That if they have saved, they know that their savings are not going to go nearly far enough. They can't save for their children's education. They know that their kids are going to be burdened by huge student debt. They say to themselves, "Look, this economy is supposed to be working for me if I'm working for it." But that basic bargain at the heart of the economy seems to have been broken.

BILL MOYERS: What about the poor? We all talk about the middle class. But very few politicians, and even increasingly fewer journalists are talking about the poor and the people who are not in the middle and are likely never to get into the middle class. We almost never hear that word "poverty," even from President Obama.

ROBERT REICH: We've got to a point where money is so powerful a force in politics and in the media, that attention is paid mostly to people who are wealthy or upper middle class. They define what it is that politicians are looking at and concerned about and what it is that the media are covering.

And I wish that were not the case. But in fact as a practical reality, that is the case. We no longer have powerful trade unions that used to define the working class. We no longer have a visible and potent poor people's movement such as we had in the 1960s, War on Poverty. We no longer have a society that has the kind of countervailing power that we used to have that enabled people who were struggling to have a voice.

BILL MOYERS: The Cato Institute recently came out with a study that showed there are 126 federal programs to help people in need. And the argument-- I'm simplifying a very complicated and interesting study.

But they're arguing that the problem is so many people are now getting relief of some kind from the federal government or the state governments that they don't feel this anxiety, they don't feel this motivation to get a job because if they do, they lose some of those benefits. Is there any truth in that?

ROBERT REICH: I suppose there are some individuals around who are getting many benefits, therefore don't have an incentive to work hard. But the fact of the matter is right now you got three people who are out of work, looking for work, needing a job, for every job that is available. So don't tell me that unemployment insurance, which only covers 60 percent of the unemployed to begin with is keeping people out of work.

And welfare, we got rid of welfare in the 1990s. We now have a temporary program that is supposed to tide people over, that gives them five years in their lifetime of help. That can't be keeping people from working. Food stamps is a supplement.

The reason a lot of people are on food stamps these days is because their wages are so low they can't maintain a family. They can't get out of poverty, and they have to rely on food stamps. So somebody says, "Oh, it's all because of food stamps," is not looking at reality.

BILL MOYERS: You and I both remember a different time, what we once called "shared prosperity." I was a child of the Depression, but in the post-war period, I was the beneficiary of my generation, the beneficiary of that upward mobility that came from all the money being spent on war being brought home and invested in our economy. There's a segment in your film about the virtuous cycle.

What's happened to the virtuous cycle?

ROBERT REICH: It has turned, over the last three decades, into much more of a vicious cycle. That is you've got almost all the gains from growth going to the very top, most Americans are not sharing in it. They are therefore constrained in terms of purchasing goods and services that the economy, under full employment, could otherwise produce.

So you've got these periods of very high unemployment, you've got chronically slow economic growth, you've got booms and busts, you've got government that can no longer afford to do a lot of the things the government was doing because the tax receipts, the wealthy are able to get the tax loopholes and get their taxes down; the middle class is not earning enough to pay a lot in terms of income taxes; and so government investment is withdrawn.

Infrastructure is sort of crumbling in terms of deferred maintenance. Our schools are not nearly what they need to be to compete in the 21st century global economy, and many people are left out. You see how everything relates to everything else, Bill. It becomes a vicious cycle rather than a virtuous cycle. And if you just look at one little piece of it, you don't see how everything is connected.

BILL MOYERS: But something had to interrupt that cycle, or several things had to interrupt that the cycle. Can you point, you're not a finger-pointer or a blame thrower, but can you point to actual causes of the interrupting of the virtuous cycle?

ROBERT REICH: Essentially, if you look at the forces that are changing, fundamentally changing the underlying structure of the economy-- there are two. And they really exert their full force by the late 1970s, beginning of the 1980s. One, globalization. The second is technological change.

Both of them displace a lot of workers. Or at least force a lot of middle class into lower paid or more precarious work. Now the real story here is not globalization and technological change. But even-- we're not going to stop these forces. We shouldn't try to stop these forces. We can't become neo-luddites and smash all the technology.

The real problem is that we didn't adapt. We didn't change public policies. We didn't change the rules of the game to provide more opportunities, to provide more upward mobility to make sure that the economy was nevertheless not withstanding globalization and technological change, still going to work for the benefit of most people. We could have done it. We didn't.

BILL MOYERS: You say in the film that one of the reasons for the flat-lining of wages, is the decline of unions brought on by globalization and technology, as you just said. You never mentioned NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, that as Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, you helped to bring about. Any regrets there?

ROBERT REICH: Well internally, I can't really-- I still don't feel completely free to tell you what the internal debates were. But I can tell you, that I have publicly stated for years that the labor-side agreements that would guarantee labor rights and the environmental-side agreements that would guarantee environmental protection in NAFTA were not strong enough, not nearly strong enough. And if you pressed me a little bit, I might tell you that I thought the making NAFTA a priority at that point in the administration I think was, I said was, bad at the time, and I still think it was the wrong priority.

BILL MOYERS: Why did the president push it so hard?

ROBERT REICH: Why does any president create the priorities he has? I mean look, we can have the most talented people in the White House we can come up with. But if Americans don't understand what's at stake and are not pushing good people in government to do the right thing, eventually the moneyed interests are going to win out because there's nobody else that is loud enough to be heard.

BILL MOYERS: Well, that seems to me to be the central dilemma, which is that the powerful interests had bought the rule-making machine.

ROBERT REICH: They have. But that doesn't mean that is inevitable. I mean, what the powerful moneyed interests would like in this country is for us all to get so cynical about politics that we basically give up and say, "Okay, you want our democracy? Take it." Then they win everything.

One of the purposes of this film, Bill, is to make sure people understand that the only way we're going to get the economy to work for everybody and our society, once again to live up to the values of equal opportunity that at least we aspire to, is if we're mobilized, if we're energized. If we take citizenship to mean not simply voting and paying taxes and showing up for jury duty. But actually, participating in an active way, shutting off the television--

BILL MOYERS: Some exceptions excluded.

ROBERT REICH: --if you don't mind, there's some exception. And spending an hour or two a day on our, in our communities, on our state even on national politics and putting pressure on people who should be doing the public's business instead of the business of the moneyed interests to actually respond to what's needed.

BILL MOYERS: You have many followers, as you know. And several of them had written me, knowing that you were coming, to ask questions they say they would like to ask you, if they had met you in the airport, for example.

One of them, named Arizona Mildman, says "Okay, what does Rob Reich think our direction should be? What would be what we might call the Reich financial recovery plan that would heal and recover this economy?"

ROBERT REICH: The core principle is that we want an economy that works for everyone, not just for a small elite. We want equal opportunity, not equality of outcome. We want to make sure that there's upward mobility again, in our society and in our economy. Now how do we achieve that?

There is not a magic bullet. But we've got to understand that the economy is a system of rules. And we can change the rules if we are organized and mobilized in order to change the rules in ways that make the economy work for us. Why shouldn't we have a minimum wage that is at least as high as, adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage was in 1968? I mean, that would be $10.40 today. But the society is so much more productive. If we figured productivity into that, it would be at least $15 an hour.

We ought to have Glass-- you know, the Glass-Steagall Act ought to be resurrected, so that there is that wall between commercial and investment banking, so we don't have too big to fail banks that wreak havoc on the economy and on the middle class and the poor.

We ought to cap the size of the banks. And we ought to make sure that the banks are not as large and as powerful as they are right now. We've got to make sure that the earned income tax credit is larger. That's a wage subsidy. It was a conservative idea. But it's very important to people.

We've got to have a tax code that is equitable. And I'm not just talking about income tax. I'm talking about Social Security taxes. Exempt the first $15,000 of income from Social Security taxes. Everybody's. And take off the ceiling on the portion of income subjected to Social Security taxes. And so it makes that system much more equitable. I mean, we can go piece by piece through it, Bill. The point is that we can do it if we understand the nature of the problem. That's what this film is all about.

BILL MOYERS: And Linda Kasel wants to know “what Robert Reich thinks unions can do to transform themselves again to be relevant agents of change?”

ROBERT REICH: Well, one thing we've got to unionize. I say we because it's not just the trade unions. We all as a nation I think have a responsibility to make sure that poor workers in big-box retailers like Walmart or in fast food giant fast-food companies, McDonald's and others that they can unionize that they can therefore have enough power to get a piece of the action.

These workers, these poor workers in retail and restaurant and hotel and hospital they don't have to worry about foreign competition because they're providing services right here. They don't have to worry about automation because the essence of what they're doing is a personal, personal service.

And so they can be unionized. And many of these companies are so profitable and they are very competitive, they're not going to pass on the costs immediately to consumers. They want to keep down their costs. This is a perfect sector in which unions need to be active.

BILL MOYERS: You've been in a feud with Walmart recently.

ROBERT REICH: Well, look, let's be clear. I have nothing against Walmart. But Walmart is the largest employer in the United States. Now if we were back in the 1950s, General Motors was the largest employer of the United States. General Motors in today's dollars was then paying its workers about $50 to $60 an hour. Today, Walmart is paying its average worker, including its part-timers, $8.80 an hour.

What do you-- I mean, does the biggest employer in the United States not have some responsibilities here? I mean, the rest of us are supplementing Walmart pay through food stamps and through everything else that we provide to give people who are working at Walmart enough money so that they can stay out of poverty. But doesn't the biggest employer in the United States have any social responsibility whatsoever?

BILL MOYERS: And you've been circulating or asking people to sign a petition that would do what?

ROBERT REICH: It's a petition to the CEOs of Walmart and McDonald's as the exemplars in these two big, big sectors of the economy, employing huge numbers of people to raise their wages to $15 an hour. Which it seems to me we ought to be able to, as a society, afford it. These companies can certainly afford it. They are so big and so powerful, why not?

These workers, unlike 30 years ago, where fast-food workers and workers in big-box retailers were often teenagers-- the typical worker in these places is an adult is bringing home at least half of family income and these are very profitable companies.

BILL MOYERS: Suzanne Featherstone has a question for you, quote, "Given the current inequality of wealth, how long would it take under your proposed tax rate changes for wealth equality to return to what it was in the 1950s?" And I should say that there's a section in the film where you talk about how the earned tax rate was, in the '50s, was 70 percent, I think.

ROBERT REICH: Well, actually, under Eisenhower, the top marginal tax rate was 91 percent. But even if you consider all the deductions in tax credits, the typical person at the very top of the heap was paying over 50 percent, federal income taxes. Now that's completely out of the political discussion now. That was the norm under Dwight Eisenhower, Republican president Dwight Eisenhower. Now how long would it take? Well, that's just one piece of it. I don't--

BILL MOYERS: You wouldn't propose politically going back to 91 percent on the marginal tax rate, would you?

ROBERT REICH: I would propose going back to a marginal tax rate that was the effective tax rate in the 1950s. That is-- it seems to me that a 52 percent effective tax rate, if we-- you know, 1950s were not a period of slow growth. In fact, in those years, from 1946 to 1978, when the top marginal tax rate was never below 70 percent, those years had more economic growth per year than we've had since. So anybody who says that, "Well, you've got to reduce taxes to get growth," doesn't even know history.

BILL MOYERS: Abby Arletto wants to know, "Do you think American culture is fundamentally irreconcilable now with a viable labor movement and our social democracy?"

ROBERT REICH: It's a valid question. But people, you know, there's some people who may be watching this program who want to throw up their hands and say, "Well, capitalism can't possibly work." Let me just make it clear. There's no other system, no other economic system in global history that has worked as well as capitalism.

Our goal and the goal of America as a capitalist democracy has never been to get rid of capitalism. But time and again, we have saved capitalism from its own excesses. In other words, what we did in the progressive era between 1901 and 1916 and what we did in the 1930s in the New Deal and what we did again in the war on poverty, and what we did again to some extent in the 1990s is to prevent capitalism from going off the rails, to make sure that capitalism is working as it should work.

BILL MOYERS: To be a brake.

ROBERT REICH: As an engine of prosperity for most people.

BILL MOYERS: To be sort of a brake on the excesses of private power, private greed?

ROBERT REICH: The excesses of greed and power, and the money that can corrupt, otherwise, a democratic process. How do you constrain capitalism from doing stupid things that are not in the public interest? You have a democracy that is sufficiently well-functioning. That laws and rules limit what can be done. If the democracy is corrupted itself by that capitalist excess, then the first thing you've got to do is get big money out of politics.

BILL MOYERS: So is this a moral or systemic dilemma?

ROBERT REICH: I would say it's both, Bill. It's certainly a moral dilemma, because it has to do with the foundation stone of this country, which is equal opportunity. If we can't fix it, we're going to lose equal opportunity as a practical reality. It's also systemic in the sense that if we don't do something about this, our economy is going to continue to sputter. It's going to continue to be prone to high unemployment and booms and busts and basically instability. And our democracy is going to be subject to the kind of cynicism that makes it ripe for demagogues on the right or the left to basically conjure up scapegoats and create very ugly society.

BILL MOYERS: That's a hopeless, grim scenario.

ROBERT REICH: It is not hopeless, Bill. This is the most important point. I mean, if people are hopeless, they don't know history. If you and I were having this conversation in 1900, we would be talking about corruption, huge concentration of income and wealth, the robber barons who ran America-- urban squalor, and you might've said to me, "Well, it's hopeless, isn't it?"

And I would've said that to you, "Well, there's going to be a tipping point. I can't tell you exactly when it's going to happen." But what happened in 1901 was the birth of a progressive movement in this country where we had a progressive, graduated income tax, we had laws against impure food and drug, we had antitrust laws to break up the trusts.

We had a progressive movement that ended the corruption in many, many of these states and many of these cities. We have reformers coming in and basically beginning to change America so that it worked for everyone. Now that's been the story of America. It happened again in the '30s, it happened again in the '60s. It can and will happen again.

BILL MOYERS: In the meantime, we can go see “Inequality For All,” a film by Jake Kornbluth and Robert Reich. Rob Reich, thank you very much for being with me.

ROBERT REICH: Thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: Robert Reich’s optimism is a tonic. But the rich don’t seem ready to take the cure. Look at this recent study, “Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans." According to the report there is little or no support among the rich for reform that would reduce income inequality. Yet according to “Forbes” magazine, the 400 richest Americans are now worth a combined two trillion dollars. That, while new figures from the census bureau show that the typical middle class family makes less than it did in 1989. The two Americas are growing further and further apart.

At our website,, there’s more about this and more about the documentary “Inequality for All,” including my conversation with the film’s director, Jacob Kornbluth.

JACOB KORNBLUTH: There's a lot of people who made a lot of money who think this widening economic inequality is bad for them and it's bad for the economy. And that's a big concept in the movie, the sense that often, it's portrayed as, you know, we're taking money from the rich and we're giving it to the poor. You know, let's get angry with these folks or, you know, sort of this animus that comes up in this discussion of inequality. It's us versus them, depending on what side you're on.

And the reframing of that discussion too, wouldn't it be good for the whole economy? Wouldn't it be good for this wealthy guy, Nick Hanaeur, and these other wealthy individuals if they had more customers with money to buy their stuff? And Nick Hanaeur's perspective, the guy in the film, his perspective is that, "Look, if my customers have more money, my skill as a businessman will show through clearer. I can make more money and also my cleverness as a businessman will be more evident.” So it-- we went to the folks who believe that message. And who are wealthy as well. And thank goodness, there are some, or else there would be no film today.

BILL MOYERS: You can see my complete interview with Jacob Kornbluth at I’ll see you there, and I’ll see you here, next time.

‘Inequality for All’

September 20, 2013

This week marks both the fifth anniversary of the fiscal meltdown that almost tanked the world economy and the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, the movement that sparked heightened public awareness of income inequality. Yet the crisis is worse than ever – in the first three years of the recovery, 95 percent of the economic gains have gone only to the top one percent of Americans. And the share of working people in the U.S. who define themselves as lower class is at its highest level in four decades.

More and more are fighting back. According to Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor: “The core principle is that we want an economy that works for everyone, not just for a small elite. We want equal opportunity, not equality of outcome. We want to make sure that there’s upward mobility again, in our society and in our economy.”

This week, Reich joins Moyers & Company to discuss a new documentary film, Inequality for All, opening next week in theaters across the country. Directed by Jacob Kornbluth, the film aims to be a game-changer in our national discussion of income inequality. Reich, who Time magazine called one of the best cabinet secretaries of the 20th century, stars in this dynamic, witty and entertaining documentary.

A professor at the University of California Berkeley, Reich is the author of thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, which is available in 22 languages; Aftershock and Supercapitalism, which were best sellers; and his latest, Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and our Democracy, and How to Fix It. He appears regularly on television and radio – you can hear him on public radio’s Marketplace – and blogs about politics and economics at

Interview Producer: Candace White. Editor: Rob Kuhns. Intro Producer: Lena Shemel. Intro Editor: Paul Henry Desjarlais. Outro Producer: Reniqua Allen. Outro Editor: Paul Henry Desjarlais.

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  • Anonymous

    The present game IS rigged as many Americans are beginning to see and Reich alluded to in his interview. It has become a hollowing out of the middle class, with those still in it treading water in the dangerous currents of off-shoring, globalization, and corporate downsizing. Until big money is driven out of politics (a difficult task, and one of the viscous cycles Reich talks about) nothing will change, and we will see more income inequality in the future. At least lets be honest with ourselves and call our form of ‘democracy’ (demos kratia originating from Greek and translated as ‘people power’) oligarchy or plutocracy, as our present system has become anything but average citizens holding power to affect change. Will we come out of our television and iPhone induced trance and work for changing the system? That remains to be seen.

  • Anonymous

    Robert Reich speaks of inequality of opportunity in America. And he is absolutely correct in is assessment. But his solution is a “redistribution” solution rather than FUTURE “distribution” solution. Never does he suggest that we implement policies that broaden private sector individual ownership of FUTURE productive capital growth to provide income security for EVERY American.

    Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.

    The reason the rich are rich is that in large measure their income is derived through dividends, capital gains, interest and rent, through their ownership of wealth-creating, income-generating productive capital assets. The 99 percent class of Americans are essentially propertyless as related to ownership of productive capital assets and are solely dependent on wages and salaries from jobs. The growing rich-poor gap is being propelled by tectonic shifts in the technologies of production that are destroying jobs and devaluing the worth of labor and by globalization, which shifts employment to other countries where labor is less costly as well as regulations and controls.

    The role of physical productive capital is to do ever more of the work, which produces income. Full employment is not an objective of businesses. Companies strive to keep labor input and other costs at a minimum. Private sector job creation in numbers that match the pool of people willing and able to work is constantly being eroded by physical productive capital’s ever increasing role.

    The result is the consumer populous is increasingly not able to get the money to buy the products and services produced as a result of substituting machines for people. And yet you can’t have mass production without mass human consumption. It is the exponential disassociation of production and consumption that is the problem in the United States economy, and the reason that ordinary citizens must gain access to productive capital ownership to improve their economic well-being.

    For solutions see “Financing Economic Growth With ‘FUTURE SAVINGS': Solutions To Protect America From Economic Decline” at and “The Income Solution To Slow Private Sector Job Growth” at

  • Anonymous

    And where are the ordinary citizens to obtain this capital? Their savings in the 401K plans so generously provided by their employers were bled almost dry by the collapse. Many of us lost our jobs when our employees realized they could no longer pay their older workers a rate they had earned through years of faithful service. They knew as we grew older we would be the impetus behind their rising insurance rates.
    Now, we are on Social Security since no one else wanted us either. You have to keep any money you have been able to accumulate in a IRA or other type of mutual fund since you earn spit in a savings account. That is the fault of the companies who thought these programs were doing us a favor when, actually, after a good many people lost most of that investment, the owners of those funds were among those “bailed out”. THAT is where all the money is as excess profit. Nothing available for the smaller local banks and the Feds QE and the lack of cash made available for loans or interest means you have to be in some sort of fund in order to have your money work for you at all.
    Yes, a lot of us have fallen on hard times but if you are reading this you have at least survived, as I have. We may be in the lower tier economically but let one of these tax dodging, cash hoarding fund managers call ME lower class!

  • Anonymous

    Eventually if this continues, the entire nation will be a giant Walmart company town.

  • Joseph A. Mungai



    9/4/13 PRNewswire — The world’s largest industrial, worker-owned and run cooperative, Mondragon, founded in the Basque region of Spain over fifty-five years ago and winner of the 2013 Financial Times “Boldness in Business” award has agreed through its cooperative bank, Laboral Kutxa, to partner and build cooperative stakeholder businesses in local living economies throughout America with the U.S. based National Cooperative Bank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

  • cgmcle

    One thing I’ve never heard anyone talk about explicitly and comprehensively is the corporate decision-making process regarding the distribution of revenues in the form of salaries, bonuses, and wages. The decline of the median wage and the rapid escalation of CEO and executive compensation are the result of conscious, intentional
    decisions made by corporate leaders – most of whom are unfettered by any form of organized power among their employees and many of whom are unburdened by any sense of moral obligation to treat their employees with respect and dignity.

    WalMart is a good example. Wal-Mart had net sales of $444 billion in 2012. For the first quarter of this year, net sales totaled $114 billion, which was described as disappointing.

    Imagine what the process might look like when Wal-Mart executives determine what their compensation will be, and what their employees’
    compensation will be. As they contemplate revenues of almost half a trillion dollars per yearr, whose share
    do we suppose they carve out first? Perhaps their employees’ share, the calculus is simple enough – to the meek go minimum wage and food stamps. Then, to the inheritors of the earth goes the remainder – large salary increases, bonuses (even when sales are disappointing), stock options, and a variety of perqs.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. It is not only possible to achieve a more equitable distribution of corporate profits, some companies actually do it. But the decline of the median wage over a period of more than three decades indicates that in most companies, CEOs and executives take what they can and leave the scraps for their employees.

    Why? In many cases, simply because they can and, for a variety of reasons, consider themselves entitled and their employees undeserving. In addition, as mentioned in the interview, the wealthy have had the
    money to buy the game and rig the rules of capitalism in their favor. Eliminating big money from politics is a necessary step to revive the corpse of democracy, but much more needs to be done. I want to share Robert Reich’s optimism and find some hope in his citation of U.S. history as a source of optimism. But I fear we may have experienced deflections in the trajectories of our politics and our economy big enough that they cannot be corrected.

  • GHY

    How about a new tax on the 1% since they arent reinvesting in our country. If the 1% get 50% of the income in the country. Then impose a property tax of 5% on the 1% for 10 years

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    If you call yourself a libertarian, this is your path to the free society you claim to want:


  • Anonymous

    I have 24 years in IT and worked in multiple large corporate data centers throughout America. The majority of my co-workers (90%) are H1B’s. The majority can not leave their position and put in long hours for much lower pay. They also get the majority of the training in the hottest technology, because if I get access to the technology my value goes up, so management does everything to keep good technology away from me, to keep my value low. So even though I feverishly try to study independently to learn the latest technology, one is always sequestered away from the technology, to keep all our values as low as possible. Management always strives to make us all serf or slaves. I never get health care, I see little hope for a better life, even with near state of the art skills.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like just another version of an IRA –

    1) folks can’t afford the std one – how will they afford this one?
    2) another way for the Big Finance to make money by “brokering the transaction”

  • Joseph A. Mungai



    9/4/13 PRNewswire — The world’s largest industrial, worker-owned and run cooperative, Mondragon, founded in the Basque region of Spain over fifty-five years ago and winner of the 2013 Financial Times “Boldness in Business” award has agreed through its cooperative bank, Laboral Kutxa, to partner and build cooperative stakeholder businesses in local living economies throughout America with the U.S. based National Cooperative Bank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Reich is almost there but he can’t quite come right out and say that most of his party, including the current and last Dem admin, has simply gone over to the dark side and joined the Reps as corp stooges … He will admit to “even some Dems” having done so, but he cannot bring himself to contemplate the fact that we now have 2 corp parties in charge – so he clings to the idea that it really is our fault for not “pushing” hard enough ….

    He’s right that it is our fault – for continuing to elect Ds and Rs to office, but the pushing we need to do is pushing them out and replacing them with non corp reps – and that means 3rd party ..

    Yeah, we need to get the money out of politics, but that requires electing folks who are not ruled by it – meaning, again, disenfranchising the corp duopoly – both Ds and Rs benefit from the current system, both from getting into office and from the revolving door that money opens up for them …. They allowed the money in, they keep the money in, they have no interest (forgive the pun) in getting it out.

    It’s clear he is uncomfortable and hesitates before he yet excuses them – he knows but he just can’t admit it …

    Mr. Reich – you are almost there, you’ve got most of it right – you just have to take your blinders off re the Dem Party, as personally painful as that may be ….

  • Anonymous

    Chairman Benjamin Bernanke and other members of the Federal Reserve need to wake-up and implement Section 13 paragraph 2, which directs the Federal Reserve to create credit for local banks to make loans where there isn’t enough savings in the system to finance economic growth.

    While journalists continue to proclaim that the Federal Reserve is pursuing its dual mandate to control inflation and maximize employment, and provide low-interest loans to business, the reality is it is not so doing. Instead, the Fed’s quantitative easing helps the big banks but does little for the economy. The purchase of bonds issued by the Treasury introduces new money into the system not backed by real productive capital assets, but instead government debt. And instead of providing capital credit loans to businesses, the big banks are investing in the speculative gains of the stock exchanges, which in turn is driving the Dow up.

    The Federal Reserve was intended in part to replace the government debt-backed United States Notes (Greenbacks), National Bank Notes, and Treasury Notes of 1890 with private sector asset-backed Federal Reserve Notes.

    U.S. entry into World War I was financed on debt, which resulted in backing the new Federal Reserve Notes with government debt rather than private sector assets. This was being paid down when the 1929 Crash came, fueled by money creation for speculation on Wall Street, driving the Dow up to unheard-of levels.

    The Keynesian New Deal was financed on debt, and then World War II (against Keynes’s own recommendation!), causing debt to balloon. The idea that only government debt can back a currency instead of private sector assets has resulted in a global economy where an asset-backed reserve currency simply doesn’t exist any more.

    In 1935 Dr. Harold G. Moulton, then president of the Brookings Institution, presented a counter proposal to the New Deal that was based on private sector initiative backed up with asset-backed instead of debt-backed financing. It was completely ignored.

    Bernanke has yet to support the policies that will result in substantial double-digit GDP growth while simultaneously broadening, private sector individual ownership in FUTURE wealth-creating,income-generating productive capital assets.

    What is needed is to implement the Capital Homestead Act. ( with interest-free capital credit loans made available via super-IRA-typle CHA accounts, repaid with the future earnings of the investments. Thus, instead of the Federal Reserve slashing bankers’ cost of money, the capital credit loans would be directed to enrich ordinary Americans by systematically broadening private sector individual ownership of the formation of FUTURE productive capital investment to empower EVERY American to accumulate over time a viable capital trust (super-IRA) portfolio of stock in diversified companies and reap the full earnings payout of corporate earnings as dividend income to support their livelihood and retirement.

    Right now the Federal Reserve creates money by loaning it to banks, who re-loan it multiple times because of fractional banking rules. With Capital Homesteading, money would be created by loaning it directly to citizens via banks at near-zero interest to invest in FUTURE wealth-creating, income-generating (full dividend payout) productive capital assets formed by producer companies. To build real wealth and also phase out our near-defunct social security scheme, the new full-reserve money would go into a long-term retirement account to be invested in dividend-paying, asset-backed shares of corporations. That way, money power would be spread to all citizens. The middle class would be invigorated using the principle of compounding interest, instead of being decimated by mushrooming public and personal debt.

    The Federal Reserve could play a more positive role, removing artificial barriers to equal citizen access to acquiring and owning productive capital wealth. By creating asset-backed money for production, supported by growth-oriented tax policies, the Federal Reserve could truly help promote shared prosperity in a market system.

    With businesses increasingly faced with less “customers with money” they have no prospects for growth. And those that do have prospects are increasingly denied capital credit to expand. Others are dramatically reducing operational costs (including a reduction in labor workers) to sustain profitability and operations. The result is the consumer populous is not able to get the money to buy the products and services produced because their sole source of income is a job. And as tectonic shifts in the technologies of production continue to destroy jobs and devalue the worth of labor, the situation worsens, because the system’s invisible structure restricts ownership expansion of wealth-creating, income-generating productive capital assets due to the requirement of “past savings.” And yet you can’t have mass production without mass human consumption. What needs to be adjusted is the opportunity to produce, not the redistribution of income after it is produced. It is the exponential disassociation of production and consumption that is the problem in the United States economy, and the reason that ordinary citizens must gain access to productive capital ownership to improve their economic well-being.

    The purpose of production in a market economy is the consumption of products and services by the consumers who make up the economy. But without income, the non-capital ownership class, the 99 percenters, cannot afford to purchase the products and services they desire. But when incomes rise among consumers who have the need and desire to improve their material standard of living, the market demand for products and services strengthens, which in turn increases production and results in a growth economy.

    To solve this problem and stimulate economic growth, we need to lift ownership-concentrating Federal Reserve System credit barriers and other institutional barriers that have historically separated owners from non-owners and link tax and monetary reforms to the goal of expanded capital ownership. This can be done under the existing legal powers of each of the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks, and will not add to the already unsustainable debt of the Federal Government or raise taxes on ordinary taxpayers. We need to free the system of dependency on Wall Street or the accumulated savings and money power of the rich and super-rich who control Wall Street. The Federal Reserve System has stifled the growth of America’s productive capacity through its monetary policy by monetizing public-sector growth and mounting Federal deficits and “Wall Street” bailouts; by favoring speculation over investment; by shortchanging the capital credit needs of entrepreneurs, inventors, farmers, and workers; by increasing the dependency of with usurious consumer credit; and by perpetuating unjust capital credit and ownership barriers between rich Americans and those without savings. The Federal Reserve Bank should be used to provide interest-free capital credit (including only transaction and risk premiums) and monetize each capital formation transaction, determined by the same expertise that determines it today––management and banks––that each transaction is viably feasible so that there is virtually no risk in the Federal Reserve. The first layer of risk would be taken by the commercial credit insurers, backed by a new government corporation, the Capital Diffusion Reinsurance Corporation, through which the loans could be guaranteed. This entity would fulfill the government’s responsibility for the health and prosperity of the American economy.

    The Federal Reserve Board is already empowered under Section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act to reform monetary policy to discourage non-productive uses of credit, to encourage accelerated rates of private sector growth, and to promote widespread individual access to productive credit as a fundamental right of citizenship. The Federal Reserve Board needs to re-activate its discount mechanism to encourage private sector growth linked to expanded capital ownership opportunities for all Americans. Through such economic democratization reforms, economic growth would be freed from the slavery of past savings, while creating a domestic source of new asset-backed, interest-free money and expanded bank credit to finance new capital formation repayable out of future savings (earnings).

    See the Just Third Way Master Plan for America’s future at and the Capital Homestead Act at and

  • Charles van der Haegen

    I believe this subject should not only be an American one. We are living in an interconnected World. The Military and Economic power of the US is such that any weakening of democracy there should be seen as a big issue for all. So we should ask ourselves what we , foreigners, can do to avoid what seem to me inescapable disruptions with World-Wide effects.

  • Anonymous

    I look forward to seeing the movie and thank Professor Reich for his efforts trying to help turn our economy away from the cliff. I do wish he would spend a bit more time making clear the whole idea of progressive taxation. Far too many people have mistaken ideas about how it works and when they encounter something about a marginal rate of 91%, they are lost. The notion of proportionality is, for some reason, not equated with the rising tax rates. Bill Gates has the same marginal tax rate on his first dollar as everyone else….

  • Anonymous

    I agree with most of your post – except the last sentence – to accept that is to give up – am not ready to do that ….

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm – maybe detach from involvement with corp US institutions, and concentrate on self sufficiency – local, regional, and national to the extent possible – This does NOT imply isolationism – in fact, ISTM, that relations between various parts of the world would improve if they were not based on exploiting or being exploited by other countries which seems to be the existing paradigm – disguised under the banner of “free trade” ….

  • Charles Shaver

    First, thank you Bill Moyers for your continuing contributions but I doubt this senior working-class American male will bother seeing the movie after watching the interview. While touching on most of the right issues, with mostly suitable solutions, there was one issue that was too-typically under addressed; legality. Not only did Bill Clinton and a very bipartisan 85% of the 106th Congress violate various provisions of the U.S. Constitution to repeal Glass-Steagall protections from another Great Depression, and George W. Bush run up huge, stupid, unnecessary and unconstitutional war debt and losses, they violated their own oaths of office (Bush, twice, military oath).

    In general, the tenets of the Preamble to the Constitution (e.g., “…establish Justice…insure domestic Tranquility…promote the general Welfare…”) are as much valid and enforceable law as any Article, Amendment, Treaty, Supreme Court Decision or precedent. Very specifically, passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November of 1999 was ex post facto (Article I, Section 9 [3]) to the 1998 mergers of Citicorp and Travelers Insurance and Norwest Mortgage and Wells Fargo Banks, minimally, and criminal at best (treasonous, to me). Professor Reich’s so-called ‘rules of the economy’ are inherently inferior to Constitutional law and, minimally, the perpetrators of the collapse should be prosecuted and required to pay restitution to the majority.

  • JonThomas

    It started before the Clinton era. The Reagan era laid the foundation. Unions were undermined, and the entire ‘trickle down’ point of view was woven into the psyche…’what’s good for the top…’

    Yes, Corporate interests did flourish in the Clinton years. Since most Americans were doing well, they didn’t feel there was a reason to question. Unfortunately, they trusted their leaders.

  • JonThomas

    Keep in mind that no one is obligated to ‘reinvest.’

  • Shirley0401

    Great point. I think a lot of people are simply too worn out to do much beyond meeting their basic needs and social/family obligations. I do not think this is coincidence–with all the advancements of the past 100 years, it’s amazing the work week is still 40 hours, and the poor have to work far more than that…

  • Anonymous

    Excellent interview, Bill. Both you and Professor Reich are national treasures.

  • William W Haywood

    it was an excellent interview, but: I wonder if capitalism is really compatible with true democracy. It seems to feed the greed of those who have succeeded already. Once the rich capitalists get leverage over our economic system they do not seem to want anything to do with democracy anymore. Democracy was fine while they were trying to get rich, but once they become rich, democracy becomes bad because it allows other entrepreneurs to compete with them, which they can not tolerate. We need an economic system that allows for profit, but does not allow the wealthy to continue to over capitalize their incredible wealth. Just how do we go about that? Can we change the rules of incorporation so that profit is not the corporations most important product?

  • Anonymous

    I voted for Clinton twice but I could not agree more Clinton sold us out big time with NAFTA
    and Phil Gramm was never anything but
    opportunist and money whore, The
    consitution is nothing more than a convenience for the powerful to play their insidious game and to justify that they’re lying, cheating and stealing is necessary to grow the economy and keep us safe. But somebody is voting for these criminals and the Koch’s and others just laugh at them as their money buysthe governments of the world. It’s really sickening. I voted twice for Obama too, it’s not likewe had a real choice, Mitt and Paul or The 2 Mavericks..what a joke!

  • JonThomas

    None of the ‘isms’ work in the real world. What is needed is to understand the principles behind any enterprise.

    Like you say, there is nothing inherently wrong with profit. Profit is simply the beneficial result of purpose.

    However, profit is only legitimate if it is truly beneficial.

    If profit comes at the detriment of another (mutually) beneficial enterprise or agent, is it really profitable?

    However, if profit comes at the diminishment of a universal (or shared) hazard, then we can say that profit is indeed constructive.

    It’s not always clear which is which, nor is it always necessary to know. The truth is in the motivation.

    When it comes to isms, employing what has integrity and works, rather than holding steadfast to individual ridged theory is the only way to move forward as a community.

    For example…I put forth that Corporations, since they are, by definition, limited liability enterprises (and thus cannot uphold, even act against, the principles of accountability and responsibility) should not be acceptable and legitimate institutions.

  • Mike

    Shirley, the work week hasn’t been 40 hours for years! Everyone is working more than one job to survive, or working “off the clock” to keep their jobs.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a big fan of professor Reich and he is correct that Capitalism was saved numerous times over the past century by Federal regulations, but that regulation was eventually weakened, bypassed, or totally eliminated by the smartest people in the Capitalist game who had the enormous economic resources to make that happen. Professor Richard Wolff, who has been on Moyers a couple of times recently, makes a great point that over the past sixty five years the people in this country have been allowed to discuss and often change almost every aspect of our society with the exception of Capitalism that remains shielded from public scrutiny and any significant alteration. In addition, any discussion of alternate forms of economy in our so-called free society has repeatedly been branded as economic blasphemy and expressly forbidden !

  • Anonymous

    In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries their was an enormous public effort to limit Capitalism’s free for all environment that resulted in two forms of business, Cartels and Monopolies. Monopolies were immediately attacked as they were in direct opposition to one of capitalist’s core arguments that there system would promote free competition, a difficult task in a monopoly environment. Cartels were allowed but heavy regulation was requested to keep the combined economic power of these business entities in check. But now, like then, the power of big money kept any real legislation from being enacted. If we haven’t been able to control this system since the 1890s, one can’t hold out too much hope for an equitable solution coming out of this current corrupt government !

  • Anonymous

    A lifetime Democrat that no longer blindly votes for any candidate the party’s Neo-Liberal leadership vomits up. Alan Grayson is back in the saddle in Florida and Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts is showing great promise, but this is hardly a return to a strong majority on the Progressive side of the party !

  • John Bailo

    It’s hard to make things equal when more mouths want to eat from the pie. Countries that have birth rates above replacement for example, need to clamp down and even install punishments. In aggregate, the United States did expand its middle wealth class after 1980 — but it also added 100 million new people! It’s wrong for the leaders to want to cram more and more people into this country while hoarding the cash for themselves and asking everyone else to reduce their share.

    We have to look at both sides of the equation. Wealth, and population!

  • cgmcle

    “I don’t think there will ever be another Franklin Roosevelt and even if there were, I think that the powers of the rich today would overwhelm him or assassinate him …”

    Interesting quote from you, Yoda. There is some fairly strong evidence that what you speculate might happen, actually did happen, early during FDR’s administration. “The Plot To Seize the White House,” by Jules Archer, a respected 20th century journalist, lays out the evidence of an apparent plot implicating a number of corporate titans with familiar names (e.g., Morgan, DuPont) who apparently admired the efficiencies of fascism. The plan was to seize control of the Roosevelt administration and, if possible, retain FDR as a puppet leader, while the corporate-approved person made the actual decisions. If FDR refused to cooperate, assassination appeared to be the next step.

    Time magazine, which at the time (1934, 1935) dismissed the Congressional investigation into the plot as rubbish, calls the book “Fascinating and alarmingly true.” It was first published in 1973 but, according to some accounts, all copies were removed from book stores within a few days. It was reissued in 2007 and is now readily available.

  • cgmcle

    Sometimes simple images best convey the crux of even complex situations.

    Moyers showed a video of a teacher from Iowa talking to a Congressional committee about how parents in her town, formerly thriving, had started cutting off the toes of their children’s shoes to get a few more months use out of them.

    The image of children wearing toeless shoes is in bizarre juxtaposition to the image of a plutocrat sipping a glass of premium liquor, a glass in which floats a single, $8 ice cube, an $8 ice cube that “allows differentiation for those consuming a premium drink from those with less discerning taste” – you know, like children wearing shoes with cut-off toes. (Glace Luxury Ice Co. – $8 ice cubes)

  • Henry Castleberry

    What an excellent report

  • Anonymous

    The game “feels rigged” because it IS rigged and those on the right further it along via ignorance & policy that history has shown to be completely impotent. And, still worse, what do the ‘Tea Party’ members do? They look, completely incorrectly, at Government as the sole source of their problems and they belittle, decry, and attack the only movement that has gotten it right in the last 50 years – Occupy Wall Street.

    It is NO coincidence that the Koch Brothers fund the Tea Party and it is NOT to promote Libertarian or Right-leaning ideology; that is so simplistic as to be laughable. The Koch’s are knowingly promoting a party whose essential premise is faulty and they do so because Tea Party ideology is a fantastic bait and switch platform ‘you’re suffering, it’s clearly Government’, ‘all Government is bad’, ‘taxes are too high’, ‘what have YOU (government) done
    for me lately?’ erstwhile corporations are harvesting our productivity and stealing our futures while the canard of all government is bad lives on.

    The reality is that government is the only mechanism we have that is powerful enough to restore a somewhat level playing field and certainly, our broken government will not be fixed via electing members of the Tea Party.

    What do people think would happen in the United States, with an ever-weakened government? There exists this fanciful idea that with less government intervention & involvement, it would allow for ‘free’ markets & that is delusional thinking; history and human behavior demonstrate that to be completely absurd and yet not a day goes by where I do not hear someone spout off that nonsense. Nonsense that will only further the lifespan of the Plutocracy in which we now live.

    I read in the NYTimes yesterday two stories on the same page: 40 billion in cuts to the food stamp program over 10 years – 4 billion a year. And, another story next to it that reported Lockhead Martin had secured a 4 billion dollar contract to build missiles. When we have a country of citizens
    willing to tolerate such moral and practical indecency than I have little hope the same citizens will be able to wake themselves from the endless talking points by corporate America, the media, and by the right that only serve to fuel inequality.

    I can imagine the argument for cutting food stamps is that that money just went to lazy people or that when someone is given food to eat they become complacent & have no incentives. In this, the wealthiest country history has ever seen, that is beyond moral indecency – it is evil.

    When a country is brainwashed into thinking more than 2 billion dollars a day on defense spending is okay but we then must gut the social safety net – a safety net almost all of you reading this will need when you are old – I have little optimism we will realize what is important before its simply too late.

    Stop fighting amongst yourselves for scraps and aggressively go after tax and economic policy that restores equality of opportunity and if you want to call that ‘class warfare’ your absolutely right – it is and we have allowed the richest americans a free ride long enough.

  • Anonymous

    antlican party
    Yes, we have Liz, Grayson, I would certainly count Pelosi, most of the time, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Al Franken Steve Horsford in the house. There’smore to be sure but first the wingnuts will have to destoy the Repugnants party,. It would also be most helpful if people didn’t vote their hate and voted for their own self inteerests..What are the odds of that?

  • Anonymous

    The move is toward what Sheldon Wolin refers to as Inverted Totalitarianism and I think that better encompasses the direction the country is heading…or has since arrived.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed! Wal-Mart is a great example of inequality & a distribution of income that is simply immoral.

  • Anonymous

    I really do not think commentary on the decline of equality is complete without squarely assailing President Reagan in addition to the usual suspects you mentioned. While a minor point I think it is a critically important one because failure to squarely lay blame on Reagan furthers this nonsensical meme on the Right that he walked on water.

  • Henry Castleberry

    What I love the most about this report is that he identifies every single problem and then offers solutions that would actually work…Like he said “no magic bullet”, but if people just figure out to stick together instead of sticking to propaganda the problems could easily be solved. The people could easily, by law, control the corporations.

  • Ardi Hominid

    Robert Reich stands tall in his knowledge, presentation, and optimism.

  • Ronni Smith

    Yes, it does seem like a daunting task indeed! Go hungry & live under a bridge while fighting for equal opportunities! Still, if we can bang out post here, I have to hold myself accountable to at least begin letter writing to those we voted in from our respective states. I see so many other countries fighting for their rights but feel we have become so complacent in America! I can’t not know this “truth” and do nothing!

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Reich pointed out me for what is the fundamental problem, translated this way,” money is power”, in the system, possibly the ultimate power. Power to pay lobbyists, to write legislation, to sway politicians. To own the process. A process that is suppose to be owned by the people.
    Mr. Reich also pointed the simple solution to that problem,”get big money out of politics”, put the process back into the hands of the people. Public financing of campaigns.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry for the long post, here is my idea for getting the American economy back on track:

    Basically, there’s some huge economic sectors that have the people of this country pinned to the wall with no recourse. All of these areas have to be reformed and changed and so I thought we could start with housing since that seems fairly universal. Below is my idea for steering money out of the big banks mortgage industry and into a non-profit system that keeps building and circulating instead of getting sucked out by the banks and their shareholders.

    ~National Non-profit Housing Lottery~

    We start with a couple hundred billion dollars from the US Gov. We use the money to pay down the remaining balance on mortgages held by local, non-profit financial institutions. The money that is used to buy the mortgages must be loaned out again by the bank within 30 days to a qualified borrower. When the original mortgage is bought, with the chain of title we include a monthly 120 dollar fee from the new owner that pays into the rolling cash pool that buys more non-profit mortgages. The newly loaned out money from the local non-profit also includes the $60 monthly fee so every transaction adds 2 properties to the contributing monthly total (we can adjust down the rate to keep it competitive while including the $60.) The rolling pool of cash (the fees) cannot be raided because it must be loaned out within 30 days (there’s no real “pool” anyway, all the money floats between buying and re-lending.) When the money is re-loaned it carries the same $60 a month lottery fee on the property (qualifying the mortgage holder for the monthly lottery.) The randomization of the lottery keeps the speculators from capturing the process or benefiting from regional land booms (although there might have to be some anti-speculator provisions added to terms of the sale – owner occupation, no rentals, cannot be sold for 5 years etc.) Many people who might originally resists these restrictions would think twice when they see the savings (e.g. $300k paid to a bank over 30 years or $43k into the rolling non-profit fund.) This deal should drive the mortgage industry back to a locally held industry (and not gambled with i.e. Wall Street) which should protect the people a little better. Plus the people who were paying the $1000 a month mortgage and are now paying $120 would have more money for health insurance and consumer spending etc. Getting this program up and running should be a national priority. If the current state of massive inequality in our economy is unable (or unwilling) to produce the middle class that we need to stabilize the system, we should create it artificially. I think this will work because: – It will drive the mortgage industry back into being a local industry (qualifying mortgages must be locally held by non-profit financial institutions.) – It will free up additional consumer spending for those who see their monthly housing bill decrease by 70 – 90 percent etc. – Housing prices should get a little bump with the amount of new cash in the system. – The credit unions etc should be in favor of this as they would still be receiving a fee by originating the loan. – Forcing the bank to re-loan the cash in 30 days will help get credit flowing again (and hopefully in consumer friendly terms since the for profits will have to compete with the lottery now.) However, all these advantages wouldn’t be nearly as useful as starving the banking beast by taking away their mortgage business (where they are getting a lot of the money that they are using against the people of this country.) That would be my plan for fighting back.

  • Anonymous

    I only wish the right responded to truths when revealed – historical & otherwise. Agreed, History has also demonstrated many decisions Clinton made were instrumental in the inequality we now see – without a doubt.

  • freedomfighter

    Mr. Reich may well inspire a new wave of activism with his take on this issue. He avoided all the hyperbole and presented the facts in a way that everyone could understand. I urge everyone to see “Inequality For All”. I know I will. I don’t begrudge anyone being successful , but we have allowed capitalism to go completely off the rails. Simple greed has been replaced by unbridled avarice. How much is enough? The NEEDS of the MANY outweigh the WANTS of the FEW. A simple yet powerful concept.

  • Henry Hertz Hobbit

    First, the United States of America is a Republic, not a Democracy.
    Second, an amendment that makes the President of the US elected by popular vote and makes sure the President cannot back into a war is needed. It would break up the legislative impasse but neither Democrats or Republicans will pass it and hand it on to the states.
    Third, public funding to remove ties to big money interests for political candidates will never work. Today it is the gold rule (they that have the gold rule) rather than the golden rule that holds sway. Every time somebody tries to get a fair publicly funded election process Republicans object and some time the Democrats join them.
    The United State and the world in general have abandoned spiritual ideals as old-fashioned and we are heading to Armageddon. Fair treatment of everybody isn’t just an ideal. It is the only thing that will turn things around. Even people like Warren Buffet say that. We need another Theodore Roosevelt but there isn’t one available.

  • Meister Omega

    The biggest step forward we can take as a society is to educate our populace. Washington Irving did not write a book of history. Christopher Columbus did not sail the Atlantic because the world was flat. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow did not write a book of history. Israel Bissell warned the colonies, not Paul Revere. Everyone has heard of Edison, but how many learned about Tesla? The biggest part of… the problem in today’s society is the “history” most people believe is a work of fiction, and total B*******.

    The current Oligarchy needs to be brought to an end. All this concentrated wealth and power allows for the corruption of our government, the total lack of prosecution and TBTF. The progressive tax system worked well for decades. It spurred investment, jobs, and growth via a high tax rate, with deductions and incentives for re-investment. The lower the burden on the top earners, and the lack of incentive which has been implemented by deregulation in the last thirty-five years has given us the highest degree of socioeconomic disparity since the Great Depression. The “free market” does not exist, but it’s myth pervades our society.

    The founders of this country opposed the concentration of wealth, and power. They opposed “God on the Throne”. That’s why the original corporate charter system banned corporations and their interests from civic life, PERIOD. No lobbyists, no campaign contributions, NOTHING. They existed to conduct only business, and were separated from government, just like “church and state”. The abuse of the Fourteenth Amendment has allowed corporations to be considered “persons”, and to infest the government. Before the Civil war, there was no such thing as “borers” or lobbyists as they have come to be called. The founders knew from experience with England that Corporate, and Government power are direct adversaries. They don’t play well together, and whichever has the larger allocation of resources becomes the dominant member of the marriage of the two.

    This country looks like the “Merry ‘ol England” the colonies rebelled against. In fact, it very well likely has a higher degree of socioeconomic disparity. The Boston Tea Party which sparked the Revolution was because of the way the Dutch East India Company had a monopoly on trade thanks to the English Crown, and the result of said monopoly was the suffocation of trade, and colonial small business. That is from firsthand accounts, and you can read quite a few of them at the NY Public Library.

    So, when is the next American Revolution?

  • freedomfighter

    Thanks for the thumps up. By the way, love the icon!

  • JonThomas

    You make an interesting point concerning ‘higher’ corporate tax rates, but it doesn’t surprise me that it wasn’t discussed in detail.

    The subject is complicated and would take an hour all by itself.

    First, I find it helpful to understand one of the points made in the discussion… That monied interests forge policies – including tax policies.

    What makes you think that these Corporate interests want to invest in the U.S.?

    MultiNational Corporations owe no allegiance to the U.S. Their only obligation is to stock holders. Since costs (especially labor costs) are much lower in other nations around the world, and marginal (if not effective) tax rates are also lower, then why should you expect tax rate incentives to work?

    If we’re talking about manufacturing… as long as production, and shipping costs (including tariffs) are lower, then it’s obvious why money is being kept overseas.

    Dividends are given breaks, and that’s all that matters to the investors…obligations satisfied.

    Tax code is but one (very small) component of profit decisions.

    The push to lower the U.S. Corporate tax rate is actually a red herring used by the ‘owner class’ and those same Corporate interests to get taxes lower on what they do have to pay in the U.S.

    Just to give an example, because of the stimulus, 2011 saw the lowest effective corporate tax rates since WWI…

    As WAS mentioned in the discussion, in real terms…tax code changes related to dividends would have more effective impact.

    With the Cayman Islands marginal rates at 0%, and Ireland at like 12%, money kept overseas is going to stay overseas.

    Because of production and operating costs, the only way you can change the current investment situation would be to slash U.S. wages even more, then you’d also still have to raise tariffs to un-imagined levels.

    As it is now, the stockholders and upper management can afford to live in, and enjoy the benefits of U.S’. low individual tax rates (thus the fight against universal healthcare) while operating overseas where all the fore-mentioned costs are low.

  • JonThomas

    The U.S. is a DEMOCRATIC Republic. :-)

  • Meister Omega

    Thanks. Appreciate the thumbs up as well. “Big Money” has got to go. As Rush so wisely lyricized “Big money got no soul…”

  • Anonymous

    Nice show. I didn’t really hear anything I hadn’t before, but Reich made a valuable, coherent presentation of his ideas.

    However, I do have some problems with it:
    1. I don’t like the term “stagnation” he (and others) uses to describe what’s happened to middle class workers’ pay. Really, what we’ve seen, considering inflation and benefits (I don’t think Pickety and Saez’s IRS data includes the effect of changes in benefits), is a dramatic drop, not stagnation;
    2. He and other economists are in denial about the planet’s ability to support capitalism. The key feature of this system is its dependence on an ever growing capital base, even more so than free markets (that’s why it’s called capitalism, not marketism). It should be obvious that endless growth is unsustainable on a finite planet, but since this truth is so incredibly inconvenient, economists pretend not to understand this;
    3. Reich pretends it was the Progressives of the early 20th century that were the impetus to correcting the excesses of our economic system, but it was really the Prairie Populists of the 1890s that scared the heck out of the establishment and paved the way for reform. The Progressives were really a watered down establishment answer to blunt the force of the Populists;
    4. Reich didn’t even bother to mention the new, NAFTA-on-steroids trade agreements that will devastate Labor, our environment and our democracy even more than their predecessors, especially the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); and
    5. What is it with economists that they refused to discuss the issue of how money is created and who is creating it? It’s insane and clearly contrary to the Constitution that we allow private banksters to create our money supply, as debt owed by the rest of us to them. I wish Bill Moyers would invite monetary theorist Stephen Zarlenga onto his show and allow this genius to explain that money creation should be a public function, and how it could work.

  • freedomfighter

    Indeed! But fear not, because “there’s something in the air, and you know it’s right”.

  • Anonymous

    Reich talks sense, as usual. I notice he’s pretty careful not to lay blame at the feet of anyone. I suppose because he’s more interested in getting people to take stock of our circumstances.

    In polls, Americans grossly overestimate income equality in this country. Most Americans still believe, assume really, we have good upward economic mobility in this country. Most Americans would probably say that we still had gradually rising incomes up to the recession at least. The things he talks about still haven’t sunk in.

    Reich is purely a mainstream guy. What he is talking about is, or was, until about 20 years ago conventional wisdom by trained economists. Their profession was been corrupted by the big money. Just like government.

    What is the answer? PBS has been airing from time to time the terrific “Seven Up” series, following children from various social classes in England from age 7 in 1964, to present. The theme of the first show basically was that the end result was foreordained and how unfair it was that the poor children had no hope. The series is interesting for a lot of reasons, but one of the most striking things to me was the way in which upward economic mobility crept in to British society almost when nobody was noticing. Why?

  • Anonymous

    Not so Kelly. Carter had a faster economic growth rate per capita than Ronald Reagan and a faster employment growth rate as well. In fact, employment growth during the Carter years nearly equaled RR’s best term, (second) in absolute numbers. Employment growth as a percentage, during the Carter term was exceeded only by Lyndon Johnson and occasionally by FDR. (Quite a few baby boomers and women went to work back in the 1970’s and we just took it for granted).

  • freedomfighter

    Brilliant commentary!! You brought up several good points regarding spending. The Tea Party has bamboozled the public into believing that we have a tax and spend problem. Rather, we have a PRIORITIES problem. I look forward to the day when we evolve as a society to the point where we devote our energy and resources to improving the human condition for ALL. instead of using them to promote death and destruction or feeding the avarice of the FEW.

  • Anonymous

    Is it just me, or do I detect some apologism for capitalism by Reich? If his intention is to prevent cynicism, it isn’t working on this hardheaded cynic.

    I think we have heard this rhyme and dance on a few occasions, including the ones Reich himself admits. Yes, it’s true that a tipping point is on its way. In fact, I would bet money on it if I had any. Trouble is those tipping points are as inevitable as the probability that it will rain at some point in the future. This is a known quality of capitalism, regardless of the specific reasons it fails.

    So Reich believes that our golden moment is on its way again. Oh, just great. We can look forward to demonstrations, protests, and revolts around the country that will almost certainly result in tear gas, rubber bullets, and even live rounds causing deaths, courtesy of our now ridiculously militarized local police forces. Worse still is that Washington DC will behave as if they didn’t hear a thing, regardless of which of the two flavors of capitalism are in power in the Congress and the Oval Office. (Guess how I might know that…yep. Same way you do.)

    It’s The People who pay each time the tipping point is reached. And, knowing the history of the US, we can already assume very few of the crooks will go to prison, pay a fine driving them close to broke, be deprived of their unfairly “acquired” wealth, or even be put on a witness stand. The only ones who will pay will be those with bad attorneys, or ones who are caught up in a sex scandal, sex scandals being the most important revelation of politicians’ character (right. Just shoot me, ok?).

    I am not looking forward to another one of these revivals of progressive movements. Capitalism cannot be fixed; Marx pretty much proved that a century and a half ago, and history reads like it ever since. The system is designed to permit the accumulation of wealth by a lazy non-working class, primarily thanks to the working class and automation.

    I am not against progressivism, so please don’t pretend you read that into this comment. When it DOES come, I will be out there with everyone else, shoulder to shoulder, and very carefully avoiding Democratic Party sycophants this time. But I AM against another recital of that old song about a disaster we could have prevented if we had just listened to the last person who predicted an impending disaster. Reich is in good form, brilliant as ever. But I am not convinced he sees what ails us.

  • freedomfighter

    Very eloquently put. I have been saying for years that capitalism was a failed system, only to be faced with reactions ranging from indifference to treason to downright hate. Reading your commentary has given me a sense of vindication. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    The government’s chief function is to protect, via a legal infrastructure, property rights. Even libertarians agree with this. Neo-libertarians (Austrian Schoolers) then refuse to draw the appropriate conclusion:

    Property rights should be the tax base rather than income or capital gains. Reich’s refusal to emphasize the distinction between income and wealth results in flawed thinking from the outset. Income provides class mobility so this cretinous refusal to emphasize the distinction between income and wealth serves the wealthy. This intellectual failure goes back to FDR’s so-called “wealth tax” which was the only plank in Norm Thomas’s platform that he gutted — and he did so by replacing wealth with income as the tax base, thereby setting us up for the present pathology.

  • Anonymous

    If you believe that government’s chief function is to protect property rights, you would end up evicting virtually everyone off “their land” in North America, Australia, Kiwi, and probably a number of states in Asia and even Europe.

    Unless you believe that blood is as good as cash for real estate purchases.

  • Anonymous

    You’re questioning the legitimacy of group force hence State sovereignty itself, which is OK, but it is not a debate you want to have as it ends in the state of nature where individually sovereign males engage in natural duel over territory.

    To be clear, I’m all for it as it would give nature a chance against civilization and, by implication, it would give natural Man a chance against civilization .

  • Anonymous

    Like, “ugha ugha?”

    No thanks, I think I’ll stick with more civilized society.

  • Anonymous

    And as a true capitalist is making beaucoup bucks on this film!

  • Anonymous

    Democracy and capitalism work together only when laws and policies protect “the People”.

  • Anonymous

    And isn’t time just wealth itself? Money cannot buy time.

  • Anonymous

    Superb points, both of you.

  • Anonymous

    May I point out that the “Progressive Caucus” has never topped 100 of the total members of the House? That means there was/is little chance of legislation that will help us.

  • Anonymous

    America looks more and more like Italy (finally … living up to the ancestral namesake). Overall Americans have become complacent and jaded about political corruption. We have a plethora of Berlusconi’s and the people that really have our back are not supported by the masses. Yep, Kansas is still voting against it’s own interest.

    It think it was in this interview that Reich said local business and technology are barely helping to keep the middle class afloat. What it has done is brought creativity and in some instances quality. So while others will come to visit and see America’s quaint cottage industries, our travel days will be over. Who can afford to travel anymore?

  • Anonymous

    Like Aquifer says, below, do everything possible to send a message to your own governments that The People of your nation condemn the behavior and actions of the US, economically and militarily (which seem to be converging forces).

  • Anonymous

    I keep saying that the American Left needs its own political voice. But that must begin with Left identity, and that is a huge challenge in itself. I think very few people understand they are on the Left whether they think so or not. The system is not designed to make them wealthy, and clinging to one of the two RW parties is an impediment to growing a strong, well-identified Left.

  • JonThomas

    Actually, and I say this not in contention, but as a point of fact… money can buy time!

    It can buy your own if you haven’t commitments, or can free you from commitments…but perhaps more apparent is the power of money to buy other people’s time.

    When it comes to applying it protests; all one would have to do is use a media outlet (well, kind of like FOX…) a focused message that draws on anger, frustration, and a few misapplied principles (complete with scapegoats…) and a goal…then add in a few million dollars and a friendly Supreme Court…and VOILA!

  • Anonymous

    Well, don’t we also need to lay some blame on the Nixon WH as well? My understanding is that Cheney, Rumsfeld and some other familiar characters are described as “young interns” in that earlier administration, which never saw one day of prison for its real conspirators. Many pundits have claimed that if Nixon had been successfully impeached, much of the next 40 years history would have been significantly different.

  • John J. Messerly

    Say we incented retention of middle class jobs using a variation of the idea of Carbon Credits. Concretely, say businesses were issued one “dollar” of “wage credits” for every dollar of wages paid to worker. Next, say there is a special kind of business tax that is payable only with this new auxiliary currency.

    I say it is a special kind of tax because for businesses incur no additional cost if they are paying out in payroll their fair share of consumer purchasing power necessary to sustain a company like theirs,

    Some companies that are inherently labor intensive like the post office would actually make money because they would generate a surplus of wage credits which they could in turn sell on the open market to companies who were short. These companies that extract more purchasing power from the economy than they return in wages may be doing because of the nature of their work- For example they may be a small group of software developers who create a wildly popular game that sells in the millions of copies. To pay this special tax- let’s call it a Purchasing Power Defense Tax, these wildly successful software developers might buy wage credits from their favorite non profit, from businesses they like- like USPS, or simply as one might buy any other financial commodity.

    I wonder if Professor Reich might consider this market mechanism for allowing business managers to feel the profitable benefits of maintenance of US purchasing power. No longer a benefit that all businesses understand they depend on, purchasing power (wage) credits are measurable in business ledgers as a general accounting item subject to the kinds of cost benefit trade-offs that any other business decision is subjected to.

  • Anonymous

    Methinks the American left has a political voice – it just refuses to use it at the polls – if folks expressed at the electoral polls the preferences they express time after time in opinion polls – e.g. for single payer, no war, etc. – we would have a Green gov’t by now!

  • nahummer

    Can’t wait to see the movie, one can only hope that the more people know the facts about how inequality is hurting them personally, the more they’ll act. A few more thoughts –

  • Jofbow

    Pickaname.. read The Banking Swindle… get a good idea of what is happening in the monetary system, first.

  • Anonymous

    It is interesting to look at the Constitution, the Supreme Court from a historical perspectives. The Constitution was written so that only 5% of Americans could actually vote. (The Bill of Rights saved us) The Supreme Court made corporations “people” well before Citizen’s United. We really need a new constitution because this one has led us straight to plutocracy.

  • Anonymous

    Which political voice available to the American Left is it failing to use, methinks?

    The Green Party is doing no favors for the Left because it incessantly refuses to give up its notion of accommodating the Right as well as the Left. So long as there are elements of the RW agenda dragging down the agenda for the Left, the Left will not get far.

    Believe me, my experience in the GP showed me plenty of RW behavior, and much of it got personal and vile as retribution for standing up for the Left agenda.

  • Anonymous

    Then you accept the legitimacy of group force holding sovereign territory and property rights being an artificial construct granted by the sovereignty within that territory, “in fee simple” thus rendering your prior comment is moot. Do you have any other funny noises posing as argument? Passing wind?

  • Anonymous

    good point.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, that is exactly what I am saying, sans your silly nonsense at the end of course. I think it was the indigenous peoples in North America, for instance, who lived on the land here before White Man arrived, wasn’t it?

    How did it get to where we are now, with White Man in control who — in the words of Buffy Sainte-Marie — “carve it up and call it real estate” ???

    Your position seems to be defending property rights of people who really do not have any right to that property at all.

  • JonThomas

    This is a good discussion, if not a bit confusing. I’ll need to research the terms in use…but to jump in real quick, and replying here only because it’s convenient to the flow of conversation.

    I think property rights do need to be revisited. Obviously the accepted U.S. concept of property rights come from European settlers.

    The sovereignty perspective is interesting, as it seems an outgrowth of Monarchy land-rights thinking. If I’m wrong, I welcome correction.

    The concept of ‘Property Rights” is so woven into the fabric of our culture that, by many, it is tough to see the need to discuss it at all.

    Anyway, I need to learn a bit more about these terms being used.

  • moderator

    NoDifference and Jabowery

    Please refrain from nasty asides and stick to the issues at hand.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    Jabowery and NoDifference

    Please refrain from nasty asides and stick to the issues at hand.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    How is the GP accommodating the R?

  • Anonymous

    Not sure what you are referring to. The “ugha” reference was meaning very primitive society where men clubbed each other over territory, women, etc. It was not in reference to the OP, which I think is pretty obvious.

    Or is it something else?

  • Anonymous

    My experience there was that there was a significant number of members who believe in some sort of mixed agenda of the Left and the Right. Mostly it was references to coalitions between the two, which is a ridiculous concept at best. Democracy cannot exist when there is a RW agenda dragging down anything the Left is to accomplish.

    You cannot have democracy when some (with money and power) defend a system of inequality. And, yes, unfortunately, as some other posters have stated, this includes some in that “middle class.”

    The Right and the very wealthy do not exist without this inequality. I think that is very clear by definition, but there are still a lot of people who do not see this.

  • Russell Spears

    WELL LAID OUT INFORMATION… Poorly constructed solutions offered… Capitalism has to be rethought not fixed. We do not need to fix our politics, we need to supplant it with a shift in our economic basis. Capitalism based on Democratically Run Worker Ownerships is going to be the next phase of real progress… Politics will follow that, not a vacuous attempt to change today’s politics.

  • moderator

    I was just giving both of you a heads up to stay within the topic at hand. The conversation seemed to be headed the wrong way.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    Let me try this one on: What about community-owned corporations? What I am thinking is that this might appeal to those who insist we must continue to worship the concept of the legal fiction that currently gives limited liability to non-transparent entities that can engage in any kind of destruction desired except for those made explicitly illegal (like stealing from the corporation, failing to optimize profits, etc).

    This would be modified a bit, of course, in order to create a much more pleasant work place as well as honor the customers and preserve the environment. Limited liability would still apply, except that now the oversight body is no longer “shareholders” per se, but rather the entire community it operates in.

    Managers would still be compelled to optimize efficiency and so forth in order to maximize profit, but those profits would go straight back to the “investors,” who would this time be the community, not specific individuals. This means we know exactly where the owners live…

    Customers would be treated correctly this time. If a product or service fails to meet expectations, the corporation would either refund or provide replacement. If a customer could not get the corporation to rectify the problem directly, they could approach the city council — or perhaps a public oversight board set up to monitor the community-owned corporations in its jurisdiction — to make a complaint.

    Workers would be paid a living wage, as you can imagine. They would get at least as many vacation days as their European (or at least Canadian) counterparts, sick leave, the right to organize (but hopefully they would be happy and not feel compelled), and — yes — even bathroom breaks. (Bad boss? See section on customers.)

    Environmental rules and laws would be obeyed, and the company would be compelled to seek out newer and better means of utilizing and recycling resources, minimizing packaging and other overhead. (Failure to comply with EPA and local environmental rules? Again, see above.)

    Naturally, the community could sell overproduction to other communities, and the local community could vote to purchase products and services from other worthy community-owned corporations in other jurisdictions rather than from commercial sources whenever such products and services are available.

    Now we have a model company that is as efficient as any capitalist corporation, that I dare to say even Marx would admire (Marx was very impressed with capitalism on that level; see Das Kapital).

    So the community-owned corporation is accountable to the community, not individuals who are seeking to maximize profit for themselves. And the profits that would normally benefit the already wealthy would be returned to the community in the form of funding for schools, healthcare, public transportation, parks, free public symphonies and plays, and any other amenities the community deems desirable.

    So we have maintained the skeletal structure of the primary institution of capitalism while enforcing humane and environmentally-sensitive practices. It’s not exactly my idea of ideal socialism, but at least it would be a step in the direction of human (and environmental) progress I think.

  • JonThomas

    I think I understand your intent, and it is laudable, but the problem with any entity that is granted Limited Liability (for whatever purpose,) is that it cannot be a responsible member a community.

    If I have an accident and I cause injury or death, depending on my culpability in that instance, I can be held accountable and tried for negligence. I could rightly go to jail for my mistake.

    If a ‘good’ corporation, such as you described, was involved in (or caused) an accident, who who go to jail? Every share-owner? Just the CEO? The Board of Directors? Everyone who could be traced to the problem?

    Remember, when under pressure, not all humans, not even the best, will always admit to mistakes; in fact, most will do their best to avoid taking responsibility for bad behavior.

    The whole idea of a corporation is to hide behind a bulwark, while still profiting.

    However, in order to build a rational society where all members are respected as rational moral agents, individual responsibility MUST be maintained.

    It’s one thing when you have humans born with difficulties, or when maturity is an issue, but to create and permit a way of hiding the responsible behind a liability shield is, at best, immoral… and at least, criminal.

    This is one reason why the world is suffering under so many problems related to corporate malfeasance. Irresponsible members of society (corporations) have more power than the rational. The inmates are not only running the asylum, they are running your world.

    You cannot control corporations and you cannot hold them accountable; because by definition, they are uncontrollable. The ones who should be held accountable are shielded. They are even bailed out because their very existence holds you over a barrel.

    A society which creates a system that allows the irrational to not only be citizens, but also to exist without boundaries, then sits back and wonders what’s wrong, is seriously deluded.

    I know that I sound extreme, and that the idea of ridding the world of such widely accepted institutions is anathema, but this is the truth. There is no good in something that CANNOT act with responsibility.

  • Anonymous

    There are some things that people across the board agree on, don’t you think? We are all the same species and have fundamentally the same needs, many of which are not being met under the reign of the duopoly – you cannot “convert” folks if you won’t converse, interact with them – if you stand across the street and yell, you won;t get too far – you have to find out where folks are, go to them and guide them to where you are ….

  • Charles Shaver

    Awakened101, and concerned others, while most so-called Middle, low income and poor class people seem to think the causes and cures for what’s gone wrong with our America are too complicated to deal with, I say “…no, they are not.” First, the U.S. Constitution is still the “…supreme Law of the Land…” (Article VI [2]) and it is as ubiquitous to all things legal in the U.S. as gravity is to all things material. And, the Framers of the Constitution prescribed a unified orderly peaceful prosperous moderately secular socialist democratic republican nation-state, not the diverse global chaotic money, power and war mongering elitist extremist capitalist Judeo-Christian self-perpetuating two-party failed monarchist state we have today. Put it together and every American citizen and legal resident is as responsible and subject to the constitutional rule of law in the U.S. as any government agency, branch, department, office or official.

    It is not that the Constitution is as worthless as a piece of ‘asswipe’ (so I’ve heard said) or “…a convenience for the powerful to play their insidious game…” (Awakened101) it’s that those in high places are increasingly, repeatedly violating common sense and various provisions of the Constitution and some 200 million eligible voters keep putting or returning people to high office who decades ago already proved themselves to be corrupt, incompetent, irresponsible and/or treasonous. Mentally ill would not be a bad label either, but also no excuse.

    The Framers were not only wise enough to prescribe a basically more functional form of government, they were wise (and honest) enough to know their work was fundamentally flawed (e.g., slavery) and they included the Article V. Amendment procedure to fix what was already broken and that which could or would become broken. In simple summary of the cause, suffice it to say that ‘when the law makers become the law breakers then there is no law’ and, in simple statement of the cure, suffice it to say we need to return our America to a state of constitutionality.

    During some fifty recent years of rapid decline only two major political parties have been in power and almost totally sold out to Wall Street through K street; Democrats and Republicans. Slow learner that I am, even I haven’t voted for either of them for President since Ronald Reagan. In November of 2012, of some 222 million eligible voters nearly half didn’t vote and the remaining votes were divided up between Obama, Romney and about 4 1/2 million who not only voted but voted wisely (e.g., candidates and parties other than proved criminals). Therein lies the real problem.

    It will only take 3 elections, in 6 years, to purge the federal government of most remaining elected criminals. And, an entirely new administration could impeach those criminals who still reside on the Supreme Court by then. So, to summarize exactly how uncomplicated it really is, “We the People of the United States…” are not just millionaires and billionaires, the rest of the people need to ‘wake up’ to what’s really wrong and: don’t blame Democrats; don’t blame Republicans; blame both; vote ‘other.’ Is that really so hard to figure out? There are other parties and candidates.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree that we need to convert folks… on the Left. LOL. Those are the people I’m talking about getting on board. But my approach is to create attraction for an idea more than direct proselytizing. But as always, you and I and others on the Left take different approaches.

    As far as the Right is concerned, I see no point in trying to convert them to anything. Power gives up nothing without a demand, as those powerful yet now cliche words are often said. Besides, we have more than enough on the Left without trying to convert the others.

    Adopting those policies that oppress the vast majority of us in order to appease a tiny selfish minority is outrageous. I do not support their ideas and find them repugnant.

  • Anonymous

    I think you will find the 99% – i.e. those being screwed by the 1% are left, right, and everywhere in between – when you get below the surface you often find that those who might describe themselves as “Right” agree with many on the “Left” when it come to particular issues – once folks understand they actually have much in common, then a discussion can actually begin …

    What do you want to convert folks “on the left” to? And “on board ” for what?

  • Anonymous

    You make good points, but may I point out something? Since the whole community oversees the corporation, there really is total transparency. The managers are directly accountable to the jurisdiction it operates in. So there is no where for corruption and avarice to hide itself.

    Also think about this: Since worker safety rules are being enforced, and the community is watching this closely (unlike the opaque operations of boiler room type corporations), the chance of an accident occurring at all is much less likely. When such an accident does occur, the managers would be held criminally.

    I should have included this above, but, ideally, the managers would not be paid huge salaries. They would receive something much more in line with the other workers. IOW, something that the jurisdiction could afford to pay. Upper management salaries are a large contributor to income inequality today.

    The rules for Limited Liability might need to be re-worked somewhat. Also, I think you might misunderstand L.L. a bit. AFAIK, L.L. only protects the OFFICERS of the corporation, and that means the CEO and board. Shareholders are not normally held responsible for mismanagement, unless a court could prove that they were somehow involved; I am not sure how often that actually happens. I think it is more typical that it is shareholders suing the officers for graft and mismanagement.

    But Jon, all I was trying to do is come up with something that could at least pass the smell test for the neoliberals, demonstrating that this is just a modification on their favorite mechanism for the accumulation of wealth. The only difference would be diverting the profits to all rather than some.

    Also note that at the end I admitted this is NOT my ideal socialist solution. I do appreciate your feedback.

  • Anonymous

    When I say “Left” I am talking about those of us (most) who are building the movement for total equality. Social equality is directly dependent on economic equality. The Right only exists where there is economic inequality, and hence, social inequality as well.

    Think about this: If you take away inequality, the Right disappears! But trying to convert these oafs to something more constructive is a waste of our time when there are so many self-identified RWers who are nothing more than deluded, just like some of their peers on the Left, who worship their respective duopoly parties as if, someday, they too will enjoy the fruits of their own labors (which is very unlikely as you know).

    We need to work on people, like the blue-collar workers, for instance, who believe that their demagogues are telling them the truth. We need to work with peoples from the Central Americas who mistake such “Conservatism” with the kind they are familiar with in their own culture; they are very different.

    But as I said to Jon, rather than a door-to-door campaign, I prefer to work somewhere way out there in the midleft ( and create the attraction that these people probably really desire after peeling away all those defensive layers as you infer.

    And, yes, to assure you I get your point also: There are conservatives and liberals on the Left. The Right only knows how to be Conservative with the wealth produced by the Left through its labor (whence comes all wealth in reality) and Liberal only in terms of their own largess.

  • Anonymous

    Who outside the folks here, who are at least thinking about this problem, and at most know of a few solutions, are going to understand their duty as citizens?

    K-12 Civics curricula in every school, public or private, NOW!

  • Anonymous

    And this is ONLY considering potential Presidential candidates, too.

    Who is in the lineup to replace Congressional seats currently held by RW parasites in either of the duopoly parties?

  • Charles Shaver

    Awakened101, and concerned others, while most so-called Middle, low income and poor class people seem to think the causes and cures for what’s gone wrong with our America are too complicated to deal with, I say “…no, they are not.” First, the U.S. Constitution is still the “…supreme Law of the Land…” (Article VI [2]) and it is as ubiquitous to all things legal in the U.S. as gravity is to all things material. And, the Framers of the Constitution prescribed a unified orderly peaceful prosperous moderately secular socialist democratic republican nation-state, not the diverse global chaotic money, power and war mongering elitist extremist capitalist Judeo-Christian self-perpetuating two-party failed monarchist state we have today. Put it together and every American citizen and legal resident is as responsible and subject to the constitutional rule of law in the U.S. as any government agency, branch, department, office or official.

    It is not that the Constitution is as worthless as a piece of ‘asswipe’ (so I’ve heard said) or “…a convenience for the powerful to play their insidious game…” (Awakened101) it’s that those in high places are increasingly, repeatedly violating common sense and various provisions of the Constitution and some 200 million eligible voters keep putting or returning people to high office who decades ago already proved themselves to be corrupt, incompetent, irresponsible and/or treasonous. Mentally ill would not be a bad label either, but also no excuse.

    The Framers were not only wise enough to prescribe a basically more functional form of government, they were wise (and honest) enough to know their work was fundamentally flawed (e.g., slavery) and they included the Article V. Amendment procedure to fix what was already broken and that which could or would become broken. In simple summary of the cause, suffice it to say that ‘when the law makers become the law breakers then there is no law’ and, in simple statement of the cure, suffice it to say we need to return our America to a state of constitutionality.

    During some fifty recent years of rapid decline only two major political parties have been in power and almost totally sold out to Wall Street through K street; Democrats and Republicans. Slow learner that I am, even I haven’t voted for either of them for President since Ronald Reagan. In November of 2012, of some 222 million eligible voters nearly half didn’t vote and the remaining votes were divided up between Obama, Romney and about 4 1/2 million who not only voted but voted wisely (e.g., candidates and parties other than proved criminals). Therein lies the real problem.

    It will only take 3 elections, in 6 years, to purge the federal government of most remaining elected criminals. And, an entirely new administration could impeach those criminals who still reside on the Supreme Court by then. So, to summarize exactly how uncomplicated it really is, “We the People of the United States…” are not just millionaires and billionaires, the rest of the people need to ‘wake up’ to what’s really wrong and: don’t blame Democrats; don’t blame Republicans; blame both; vote ‘other.’ Is that really so hard to figure out? There are other parties and candidates.

  • aprescoup

    I wonder how much more repugnant you find their ideas, to those of the centrist leadership of both parties representing itself through neoliberal policies?

    If we make an account of said policies which coddle War and Wall Street, the security state, and, if Obama gets fast track authority, will globally liberalize finance and turn corporate personhood into virtual Godhood, then, perhaps – lesser evilism, and all that… – right-libertarian and Ike conservative factions resisting all of the above might start looking sane by comparison…

    To wit:

    Large demonstration in Poland against government austerity policies

    By Markus Salzmann

    23 September 2013

    “The deep gulf between the demonstrators, and the parties and trade unions that placed themselves at the head of the protests, was more than apparent at the demonstration against government austerity.

    The protest was called by the Solidarity (Solidanosc) trade union and the Polish trade union confederation OPZZ. Groups close to the conservative and nationalist opposition Party of Law and Justice (PiS) also joined in.

    The chairman of the social democratic SLD, Leszek Miller, told the press he was in complete solidarity with the demands of the trade unions. The ultra-right party Self Defence (Samoobrona) also took part in the protest. In addition, several groups of radical right-wing and ultra-Catholic forces also intervened in the final rally. –

  • Charles Shaver

    Of the few I’ve asked, all say they learned the U.S. Constitution in high school. And, military personnel take and oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution from all of our enemies, both foreign and domestic,’ most of whom (in my opinion) are domestic these days.

    Mandatory when I attended, so long ago, perhaps ‘Civics’ now needs to be reintroduced, along with taking the emphasis off of so-called ‘sports’ (e.g., commercial athletics) and putting it back on academics, where it belongs.

  • aprescoup


    Chomsky has been advising us for eons, that the public, on discreet issues, is far to the left of the political center in Washington.

    If we debunk the propaganda used by both political parties to ensconce irreconcilable divisions between both camps, we’ll find that most aspire to the same outcomes.

    The Tea partiers hoisting signs spelling ‘Hands off my Medicare, commies’ ought to give any free thinking “leftist” pause.

  • Anonymous

    I think you might be conflating Left/Right with Democrat/Republican? I don’t find such parallels to be accurate. Also, I don’t even begin to understand what the “political center” is supposed to be, or what it believes in. Generally speaking, I dismiss centrism wholesale because I think anything it could possibly refer to is a ridiculous notion, existing only as much as unicorns and fairies exist.

  • Anonymous

    I am not entirely sure what position you are taking (but I enjoyed the read! thank you). But, again, I am not really clear on what centrists believe in: Are they for equality, or do they defend the inequality that enables classism? Like I said in my previous reply to your other comment, I don’t see how they can be both or neither.

    My own wish is that pundits would stop using “center” “centrist” and “moderate” altogether and simply state what it is they really mean. This would be very educational to (apparently) uninformed, ignorant people like me.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly, and why I recommend it be a FULL K-12 program, not just one marking period, an excuse to not have to go to gym class that quarter. But I am glad to hear that at least your contacts learned the Constitution. That IS a step.

  • Anonymous

    Nice diatribe but as we learned well in Florida in 2000, voting” other” or not voting only leads us to the most undesirable of all outcomes. Are both parties to blame, oh yeah. But, it’s no contest which party has damaged this country so badly and continues to this day. If you’re holding Reagan up as some kind of success story you could not be more wrong. He should have been impeached without question. He was a union buster and beyond being asleep at the switch, he sold us out greatly when he was awake.
    We need a new way of doing business to be sure but are we so naive to think that throwing the bums out would fix the problem. Big money and lobbyists would still be in place. The first thing that we MUST do, before we care for one veteran or educate one child or protect one senior is to have public financing for all federal elections and I would argue all elections. The same rules, the same formula for voting places, hours, days and registration. In fact, are we so dense that we don’t believe that people should be able to vote by the internet once they have confirmed their eligibility. If we do allow outside contributions then every dime is transparent and contributions are strictly regulated.
    Beyond that, an absolute prohibition on the revolving door for at least 10 years with severe of penalties
    for violating the public trust.
    And then, every enterprise, product or service that is essential for every American’s life,liberty and the pursuit of happiness, whether it’s energy, healthcare, food production, environmental protection, whatever is owned by the people. The military belongs to the American people and is controlled by the elected members of our government exclusively, no more contractors like Blackwater,No mercs, no more Haliburtons or BP’s. No more tolerance for bribery or extortion or no bid contracts. AND NO MORE SPYING ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FRO THE NSA, THE CIA or any government agency and the fourth amendment and first amendment are non-negotiable. Sever penalties will fall upon those who violate the laws..
    Our military would require full participation by the citizenry, every high school graduate or 18 year old boy and girl would serve a minimum of 2 years in some capacity serving this country, no exceptions except the most serious health problems.
    No more weapons sales to foreign governments unless there is a clear and urgent need to protect the interests of the United States, not corporations. and we’ll convert to a peace economy. We will maintain the best military in the world but no more $1500.00 hammers or tripling of costs. One instance of illegal conduct by suppliers or defense contractors would mean the end of their ability to get government contracts.
    Thomas Jefferson once said, I’ll paraphrase, that bankers are a bigger threat to democracy than a standing army. No mas, no un mas.
    This is merely a start but it should be mandatory for all citizens to vote, democracy is not a spectator sport and all should be informed and all should participate.
    No more drug war and no more private prisons or schools,

    In a message dated 9/24/2013 11:55:17 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

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  • Kirby Judge – from Canada.

    Although I agree with everything Mr. Reich said, I’m not sure that he was the best person to have said it. He was, after-all, a prominent figure of the Clinton presidency.
    So, his lamentations over the repeal of “Glass-Steagall” might’ve prompted me, had I been Mr. Moyers, to ask Mr. Reich if he tried to talk Clinton out of doing it. And, when Mr. Reich mentioned that “we got rid of welfare in the 1990’s”, I might’ve asked the question, again – had I been Mr. Moyers.
    I understand why the host chose to remain silent: good friends are hard to come by. That’s admirable, of course. I also suspect that Moyers was waiting, as I would’ve, for Mr. Reich to offer an explanation of his influence, if any, in some of the decisions that came out of the Clinton White House.
    Up here, in the land of “Hosers”, it’s apparent that Bill Clinton contributed significantly, then, to the state of inequality, in America, now, that irks Mr. Reich so. I actually think they BOTH got some esplainin’ to do.

  • Anonymous

    It’s no contest which party has damaged this country more? Errr, I have to disagree with that, especially today with the agendas of the two parties being nearly indistinct: Endless wars, subsidies for the rich, austerity for the poor, enabling environmental destruction for the benefit of the wealthy, increasing consolidation of control and power by decreasingly few, corporate citizenship, privatization of every public good and service, warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition, disempowerment of workers, declining wages, increased power of banks, etc etc etc.

    Why, what distinctions have you uncovered?

  • aprescoup

    Let’s perhaps define centrism as neoliberalism/neoconservatism—Wall Street corporatism and the MIC. This should not be as difficult to grasp as you are suggesting.

    If you want to define leftism as socialism, then both parties and, hence, the entire political economy is right wing. In fact, it could be argued that since Clinton declared the era of “big government” to be over, not only has the political countervailing force to predatory capitalism, expressing itself through “welfare liberalism” been murdered, but the Dem party, shrouded behind the veil of a dead ideology, has been a major force behind the unleashing of capitalism’s most vile instincts.

    Dismissing “centrism” is, IMO, akin to dismissing reality…

  • JonThomas

    Yeah, I recognize that your intent is to offer options based on what is already in place…something people can wrap their heads around.

    I applaud your efforts toward, first – making suggestions, and secondly – providing an example that is along the lines of what people already accept.

    I guess my issues with any such plan are multi-fold.

    As I’m sure was evident in my comment, I am very concerned about responsibility in all aspects of life. Business is perhaps one of the most important for a number of reasons.

    I cannot control what any individual chooses to do with their life. However, as a community, business interests potentially affect extremely large numbers of people, in potentially disastrous ways. This was abundantly evidenced by the banking meltdown.

    Even though I/we cannot make decisions for other people, we can decide on rules to govern and monitor how businesses conduct themselves.

    As far as ‘Limited Liability,” here’s my issue…

    Shareholders, whether they are directly responsible for individual corporate decisions or not, are culpable for providing support.

    Responsibility goes further than who made decisions.

    Why should the business community get protections that individuals in the public sphere do not.

    Then there is this idea of ‘community involvement’ of which you speak.

    Personally, and I can only speak for myself, and those who also feel this way, I do not wish to be involved in any undertaking that I do not enter into on my own, individual accord.

    I do not subscribe to a ‘better’ or “ideal” Socialism.

    I do not subscribe to Socialism, or for that matter, any ‘ism.’

    The balance between profit and community involvement is tenuous at best.

    There is nothing wrong with the capitalist principle of profit. There is also nothing wrong with Socialized programs which work and the community decides as beneficial.

    The problem comes in when Socialism tries to make people conform to community rules that go beyond moral choices which affect neighbors.

    It is not proper to make a community corporation unless the corporation is simply a group of people coming together for a common purpose.

    I have already clearly stated my reasons for not wanting any type of corporations at all, even if not widely accepted, I think my thinking valid.

    I have nothing at all against individually owned companies where the owners (which consists of anyone who has a vested share in the outcome) take full responsibility for the actions and the results of that enterprise.

    So, if you, or even a Co-Operative arrangement of worker.owners want to engage in business, you are free do to so…as long as you realize that every single person is responsible.

    See, we sit back and wonder what we can do about economic issues, but we gloss over why we are in this situation. We are in a world that has divorced itself from responsibility and we expect people to act responsibly. It is INSANE!

    I know that I must come off as if I am putting ‘blame’ on you or trying to be contentious, but that really is not my intent.

    I just wish to make input into pre-thoughts into the discussion of re-working a failing system.

    I think nearly everyone not directly benefiting from the current situation agrees that change is needed.

    In fact, i change does not come, then we are all up the creek. I am not left wing, nor nor am I right wing in my thinking.

    I am also not ‘centrist.’

    if anything, I am a practical realist. I don’t draw distinctions based on ideology.

    There is nothing wrong with profit. There is also nothing wrong with socialized safety nets. If we as a society are going to form the rules, then we must take care of those who do not wish to, or want to play by those rules (as long as they are not acting against the rights of others.)

    For example…Right now, people are free to move, but they are not free to stop moving. This is a problem. One that we don’t want to recognize because it upsets the apple cart.

    Anyway, like I said, and I know I disagree with some of your points, but I do not wish to take the wind out of your sails…I am just offering the counterpoints. I really do respect, if not fully agree with your input. :-)

    I do apologize if I sound contentious, I think it’s my way of thinking, and of expressing myself in writing.

  • Anonymous

    Aprescoup, I appreciate your offer of a definition. You seem to mean center in the sense of kind of geophysical location, i.e., a place, where the greatest mass of political power can be found, not necessarily the mathematical mean that is typical intended. The trouble is, it seems like different people define it in different ways. Yours passes my smell test, so OK. But why not just call it what it is, fundamentally — neoliberal neoconservatism, and avoid the confusing avalanche of each person’s individual idea of what it means.

  • aprescoup

    I’d say that centrists believe in a globalized, neoliberal, world order; promoted by American hegemonic exceptionalism, backed by militarism, and lorded over by unrestrained bankster interests – the status quo, in short.

    If every time, instead of referencing terms like centrist, neoliberal, or neoconservative, you would have “us” delve into multi paragraph long definitions in order to even begin a discussion or simply make a comment, the sheer repetition would be noxious.

    You can educate yourself by consulting wiki. Beyond that, any further granularity becomes a legitimate exploration. But the onus, IMO, is on you, unless proud ignorance is your preferred mode of self identification.

  • aprescoup

    “But why not just call it what it is…”

    Because the term “neoliberal” is hardly used in American political parlance, while “centrism,” “the moderate middle,” the place where legislative sausage, laced in poison, is made is lauded as “adult.”

    Centrism, then, is the nexus of de facto political power where neoliberals(“Clintonite left”) and neoconservative (Trotskyist left-right) cohabit. The only place where they part ways is where capitalist interests are not affected: the socio-cultural realm: God, guns, gays and (putatively) race.

  • JonThomas

    Ok, I need a drink.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that we have not been served well by either party and I am disappointed in O…but:Can we really compare his economics to that of Bush/Cheney? No,,Bush gave his friends huge tax cuts, blew the surplus(on paper) and led us into the greatest downturn in 80 years. However, our boy Clinton was at the helm when Glass-Steagall was repealed and also NAFTA..Wages are down because of union busting and tax breaks to ship jobs oversees. 2 trillion bucks hiding offshore to avoid taxes, most of us don’t have that option. In my opinion any objective analysis would hold the R’s more responsible by quite a bit but that doesn’t mean the D’s are anywhere near blame free. One might argue that this time we are in began under “the great communicator”, Reagan, he just couldn’t remember what he wanted to communicate. He said the government is our enemy, that we had to be afraid and prepared to defend ourselves from government. He committed treason by trading arms for hostages with Iran. It eludes me how anyone can hold him up as a model for anything except abject incompetence.

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  • Anonymous

    Or, an author could identify their definitions by a short abbreviation at the front of their article. For instance, if one set of definitions is identified as being those of “No Difference” one might put a special marker at the beginning of the post as (perhaps) “N.D.” (But that’s just an example.) Maybe in brackets or the like. This would meme and become commonplace (why not; this kind of thing is exactly how the web evolves).

    Other authors might reference “Aquifer” or “aprescoup” etc. But preferably, we might reference far better known sources of definitions. “Wiki” might be fine, too, though I am not sure that would clarify anything:

    As far as consulting Wiki, I have many times, but there are many different opinions even there. And reading various articles by different authors gives me different, conflicting, and confusing and contradictory notions of centrism.

    You even have you own definition, which I think sounds a bit different than what Aquifer suggests. I don’t think either are wrong, but they are not consistent.

    Again, does a centrist believe in the generally Leftist tendency of classless equality as a basis for some form of democracy, or does a centrist believe in defending a RW system of inequality that protects the wealthy’s power?

  • Anonymous

    The first 2 years of Obama’s first administration was a Democratic Congress. They could have ended the Bush tax cuts but did not. They could have passed Single Payer, but they did not. They could have ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but dragged their feet and we are still in them. Drones? Obama has Bush beat on those numbers. Have the Democrats or the WH prosecuted one Wall Street CEO responsible for the economic meltdown? Has anyone from Countrywide seen the inside of a prison?

    How is this not just as complicit as the R’s?

  • moderator

    To everyone in this thread:

    Please make your points without personal attacks. Failing to do so will limit your ability to participate in the community.

    Thank You,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    You are correct, technically about the first 2 years.But let us not forget the so called “blue dogs” which are really R’s light such as Baucus, landrieu, Conrad and more. There never really was a Progressive majority, you must acknowledge that. Add to that the unprecedented number of filibusters and the disinformation campaign by big $$$..Yes, drones are not good, Gitmo, NSA, no perps walking whether it’s Countrywide or Goldman or JP Morgan, AIG and on and on.
    29 trillion was spent of our money to right the ship, not our ship mind you, the ship of those who poked holes in the ship. I believe Bush/Cheney, Rummie, Wolfowitz, Condie, Alberto, Rove and many more whould be in jail and I fault Obama for that and the Wall Street lapdog Eric Holder.
    To be absolutely fair however, O inherited the biggest nightmare of any president possibly and untold sums of money to undermine literraly everything he has tried to do. I’m not defending him necessarily but I do think we have to look at the whole picture and tell ourselves the truth. In summary, 3 words: Publicly funded campaigns!

  • aprescoup

    “Your definition sounds like RW to me.”

    Here you’re stepping into the self-same conundrum you seem to have raised an objection to when questioning the meaning of the term “centrist.’

    To even raise the possibility that a “centrist” “believe[s] in the generally Leftist tendency of classless equality as a basis for some form of democracy,” makes me question your motives of delving into these matters.

    I doubt that Bernie Sanders believes in libertarian-socialism, socialism, let alone communism. There are no “radical” leftists in the Dem party or the Green party, for that matter…

    In fact, from where I stand, “radical” leftists and even Greens would do well to start reaching out to Ike conservatives and even right-libertarians, with whom, on important core issues, they are likely to find more common ground than with the neoliberal Dem party.

  • Anonymous

    @nodifference, I have heard that argument as well and I think there’s some validity in it. Nixon is also where HMOs began and the relentless condemnation of health care for everyone (which wasn’t entirely his intention). I guess we can find faults and flaws with many Presidency’s – Jeffrey Sachs has some great graphically presented data at the back of one of his books that demonstrates how truly Reagan was if one is an advocate of equality of opportunity.

  • Anonymous

    Our country as individuals and collectively…and economically will be better off if that day arrives. I hope it does @freedomfighter.

  • Anonymous

    That would be nice – agreed:). Although, i don’t know what his motivations are for some of his actions with regard to both Wall Street and Corporate elites. e.g. Jeff immelt a job czar? wha? A feckless SEC until recently, allowing the statute of limitations to expire on Wall Street (which occurs next mo. i believe) etc. I doubt those things are done for his own legacy (people said that of Bush and many other Presidents as well) I actually think it’s indicative not of their personal psychologies but something more entrenched in the relationship between the richest and the Government.

  • Anonymous

    I think you might find that some of those “blue collar workers” are Reps – and identify with the Right, especially on social issues, and equate the Left with “commies”. That may be changing with the younger generations and I suspect that is where “salvation” lies … Methinks the newer generations may have their own definitions of Left and Right, which is why i would rather approach it in terms of what we have in common as human beings, instead of arbitrary labels …

    As for the left, one thing i would like to see it do is stop identifying with anti-religious sentiment – I think that is a mistake, considering that much of what the left purportedly holds dear has a deep routes in religious traditions ….

  • Anonymous

    You know what? The only thing I can offer, is that Obama, exactly like Clinton, is an acolyte of the Cult of American Exceptionalism, which is precisely what you would expect of a creation of the Chicago School of Economics, and in particular of the oafish Penny Pritzger. This is what makes the quick, meteoric and slickly packaged Cory Booker so ominous, because as Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report has made clear, Booker is very clearly being set up as Obama Mark II – a fake champion of the working class, and of Black and Latino communities in particular.
    Watch for him to coast into the Senate in November on wings of corporate angels, and for Democrats from coast to coast coo and fawn over him, even as he offers more defenses of the most vicious private sector predators like Bain Capital, for whom – as you likely remember – both he AND Bill Clinton carried water.
    I think the answer lies at least partially in Chris Hayes’ book “Meritocracy.” These pampered, manufactured, and minted elites truly believe in the Myth of the Big Man, in the Best and the Brightest. I’ve seen this starry-eyed devotion even in the pages of Chrystia Freeland’s “Plutocrats,” which I bought because of her appearance on this program, Moyers & Company. Far from being an expose, it’s nearly a devotional how-to. Very disappointing, if not disturbing. Immediately after that, I read Joseph Stiglitz’ book “Inequality for All” (or whatever it’s called), and realized immediately that it is the book that Freeland’s SHOULD have been.

  • freedomfighter

    Where there is hope, there is possibility. Be well, A.P.

  • Charles Shaver

    Thanks, good points but we seem to be on the same page in different languages. When I think ‘civics’ I tend to think of the American History and Social Science I did not much appreciate in grade school in the late ’50s. When I think ‘sports’ I think of the after school training at taxpayer expense of a tiny minority of students who will become ‘commercial’ (as opposed to ‘professional’) players, not a very appropriate hour a day of physical activity, exercise and/or being on a team, for sport.

    I don’t know that teaching civics in K through 5 would be very productive but I’m pretty sure it would be a good idea to teach law and procedure, from the Constitution down, starting about fifth or sixth grade.

    Humanity not entirely still being wild animals in a jungle, I believe kids need to be just kids, for a time, and a too early start in schools helps to weaken family bonds. This idea of ‘global competition’ is largely just another construct of extremist capitalism, in which extremism is the major flaw.


    I wonder how can we have anti-trust any more when we are a part of the global economy that is very far remote from even discussing the anti-trust?

  • Anonymous

    I think, in summary, this is partly about solid definitions, but also about identity politics. As you correctly point out, many people out their incorrectly identify with some group or another because they THINK it is one that represents their basic needs in life.

    Now that all of us have thoroughly beaten this topic to a pulp, I for one choose to close. Seems we are all more or less in agreement.

  • JonThomas

    There is a lot of truth in your appraisal.

    Just to focus on one aspect among many; With Unions devastated, and traditionally higher paying manufacturing jobs gone over-seas, labor costs in the U.S., and world wide are extremely low.

    As long as the estimated number of unemployed even comes close to approaching your 20% figure, and the only work available remains minimum-wage service industry jobs, then this trend you expose will continue.

    The people who need to work will do so for whatever pay they can get. If left on it’s own, that labor competition will continue to drive wages even lower.

    Using this perspective, we can even see why so many in Congress want to de-fund the safety-net.

  • Christina Hopkins

    There are so many things I would like to say as to why Robert Reich is right on the mark and I thank him for his film. It is really for those people who hate to read and would rather watch something. As for me, I was laid off twice between 2008 and 2012 for a total of almost 2 years. I have a Bachelor degree (2008) and over 20 years of work experience with a skill set that is not on the “edge”. I am a single mother. I make $10K LESS now than I did in 2008. I continue to slide backwards rather than make progress forward. This government is totally corrupt and drunk on Corporate money. In the late 70’s and 80’s Corporations moved to DC to lobby for benefits for themselves. Unions lost influence thus, the working people lost their voice. Corporations now pay no taxes or lower taxes then their workers. We must get rid of Corporate money (lobbying) in DC. We need to implement term limits. We need to take lifetime benefits away from those in government when they leave. We need to enforce insider trading laws on those in Government. We must incent the behavior that will take this Nation forward or we will continue to slip in competition globally. Frankly, I don’t want to live in the United States of today. There is a very low percentage that I will climb the ladder of prosperity (10% according to the NYTimes article a few months ago). I have no savings. I cannot pay my student loans. My cost of living continues to rise while my income continues to slip. I am angry because there is NO EXCUSE for this. I vote. I pay attention to what is going on. I wish I had more power to influence change.

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    9/20/13 Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism — “I hope journalists will ask Reich if he supports the TPP and the US-Europe trade deal. Reich could redeem his record and show he is fully on board for reversing the fallen position of the American middle class by taking a principled stand against these pacts. And if not, we’ll know he’s just a better, more sympathetic salesman of neoliberalism by dangling a bright, shiny toy in front of downtrodden workers to divert their attention from the multinational-enriching, regulation-gutting legislation that Obama is keen to implement.”

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    9/25/13 Naked Capitalism, Yves Smith: “I hope journalists will ask (Robert) Reich if he supports the TPP and the US-Europe trade deal. Reich could redeem his record and show he is fully on board for reversing the fallen position of the American middle class by taking a principled stand against these pacts. And if not, we’ll know he’s just a better, more sympathetic salesman of neoliberalism by dangling a bright, shiny toy in front of downtrodden workers to divert their attention from the multinational-enriching, regulation-gutting legislation that Obama is keen to implement.”

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    6/22/12 Moyers & Company — Susan Webber (Yves Smith) and Matt Taibbi:

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    CAPITALISM HITS THE FAN: A Lecture by Richard Wolff on the Economic Meltdown. With breathtaking clarity, renowned UMass Economics Professor Richard Wolff breaks down the root causes of today’s economic crisis, showing how it was decades in the making and in fact reflects seismic and systemic failures within American-style capitalism as a whole. Wolff traces the source of the economic crisis to the 1970s, when wages began to stagnate and American workers were forced into a dysfunctional spiral of borrowing and debt that ultimately exploded in the mortgage meltdown. By placing the crisis within this larger historical and systemic frame, Wolff argues convincingly that both the government “bailouts” and calls for increased market regulation will not be enough to address the real causes of the crisis – in the end suggesting that more fundamental changes will be necessary to avoid future catastrophes. Richly illustrated with graphics and charts, this is a superb introduction that allows ordinary citizens to comprehend, and react to, the unraveling crisis.

  • Charles Shaver

    Thanks for the reply. Please excuse my verbosity, thinking (based in large part on personal observations and election results; since first writing the U.S. DOJ of ‘flaws in the laws’ that already ‘posed a threat to national security’ in November of 2005) that most others are less well informed and need to have things more completely spelled out for them. As for my reference to Reagan, that was a particular place in time, the last time I made the mistake of voting for either a Republican or Democrat for President. It was in no way an endorsement of the Republican party or Ronald Reagan and I think Bush should have been impeached, for the war in Iraq (minimally) and several Supreme Court Justices should be impeached, for Citizens United, minimally.

    As for Florida in 2000, what that proved to me was the vast majority of voters still don’t get it; a mere million votes (as recalled) from Republican and/or non-voters to some other party could have swung the Florida victory over to the Democrats (for whatever that was worth after Gramm-Leach-Bliley) and a mere sixty million or so votes, nationally, of those who didn’t vote could have elected some other party candidate. Another option is to cast a blank presidential and/or congressional ballot while still voting for lower office candidates and on local issues. I believe the most important thing to do, first, is to purge the federal government of as many of the members of the two major crime families in the U.S., the Democrats and Republicans in high office, as soon as possible.

    You seem to be more in agreement with me on other aspects of the problem(s) and I welcome your continuing participation. A couple of things I’d like to add toward an ultimate solution is having all public funded election advertising limited to a true public broadcasting system (PBS; radio, TV and an election website with each candidate’s history [e.g., comparison with constitutional prescriptions and public service] and promises). As easily as some on the Internet can get hacked, except for the savings in money and time I don’t think it would be a good idea to vote (or have the grid) online. I agree that public officials who violate the public trust (e.g., most of today’s Congress and the President) should be severely punished. In my mind to harm a few is a crime and to harm the majority is treason (e.g., inherently ‘aids and comforts’ our real enemies).

    With our national problems now extending well beyond mere governance, I think the draft (two years; rich kids of both genders first, fewer or no wars in the long run) should be reestablished by constitutional amendment and those who don’t go right into the military after high school should be required to work a real job of some kind for two years before being allowed to attend college, to get some more accurate perspectives on working-class adult reality. Most of what is wrong is also the result of extremes of flawed dogmatic education (educational and occupational inbreeding). One last issue for me to include, for now, I believe foreign aid should come after the real needs of all Americans are met and be limited to emergency situations and poor nations that adopt our constitutional form of a democratic republican government, that includes free speech, religious tolerance, freedom from prosecution of sins of the Church and freedom from illegal search and seizure, minimally.

    There is so much wrong and I’m being verbose again, suffice it for me to write in conclusion that in my senior working-class American male opinion we don’t need any new laws to fix what’s broke, just enforce all of the U.S. Constitution (and laws truly ‘in pursuance thereof’ and treaties truly ‘under the authority of the United States,’ the majority that owns everything ‘government’) as the ‘supreme Law of the Land’ it still is and prosecute all of those who have clearly failed as real ‘public servants’ and harmed ‘We the People of the United States’ (as opposed to Ronald Reagan’s misleading ‘We the People’).

  • Charles Shaver

    Christina, as this senior working-class American male with no college degree (former primarily diagnostic industrial electrician, control system and electro-mechanical breakdowns on afternoon production shifts) has written many others before, more specifically this time about ‘Inequality for All,’ I believe most of what is presently wrong with our now failed nation-state with a self-perpetuating economic decline (as opposed to an alleged ‘great recession’) is resultant of our alleged ‘public servants’ ignoring, violating and/or usurping various provisions of the U.S. Constitution (especially the tenets prescribed by the Founders in the Preamble) on the behalf of extremist big business. The easy fix; vote the traitors (in my opinion) out of office. The problem, based on election statistics, most eligible voters either don’t vote or don’t vote wisely, for candidates for federal office other than those already proved bad by late 1999, most Democrats and Republicans.

    I’ve previously written too that all high school diplomas and college degrees should include something to the effect of: “Now is the time to question everything you’ve ever been taught.” (including what I’m writing now) across them in a large bold font of some type. I believe a large part of the problem, of the vast majority of voters not voting or voting unwisely, is now unreliable family tradition; things have changed and even most industrial computer programs have an ‘initialize’ or ‘reset.’ As for the economic hardships you are enduring as a single mom, you shouldn’t blame yourself or feel ashamed for not being able to compensate for what a criminal corporate America and a treasonous federal government have heaped upon you, too.

    I too wish I had more power to influence change, which I’ve been trying to do seriously about multiple issues that I’m personally familiar with, since late 2005. Unfortunately, even most of the major Media outlets and schools fail to accurately report or teach what is really wrong; being very convincing about ‘economic cycles’ and an alleged ‘free market,’ while continuing to distract many with frivolous and trivial behaviors and people, and false hero worship (e.g., celebrity entertainment and commercial ‘sports’ persons, and even new infant British royalty; really, in 2013, after a successful war for independence from the King of England so long ago?).

    My electrical training and experience tells me that after some 226 years of trial and error of a control system program as clear, plain and simple as the U.S. Constitution, our economic and healthcare systems should be running smoothly on ‘auto’ (e.g., stability and/or rapid minor indexing of pricing and taxing, based on real inflation) by now. If feasible, and relevant in your’s (other’s) case, I suggest declaring bankruptcy and/or defaulting on a now unwieldy mortgage, like I would have done early in 2009 had I known, then, what I learned from Moyers & Company in January of 2012, with personal follow-up research.

    Made chronically, mildly ill with U.S. FDA approved added monosodium glutamate (MSG) and partially disabled from an uncompensated non-contributory on-the-job accident prior to the economic collapse of 2008, I write this as I await scheduled foreclosure sale of my now ‘worth-less’ home of nine years (would have sold it, first, had I been able to) next month, after five years of rapid petroleum based inflation, five years of no and low cost of living increases and two most recent years of unusual personal expenses, and prepare to move. This is not our father’s and mother’s America; question everything, trust no one (perhaps, even me) and decide what’s best for yourself that is still consistent with valid law.

    Oops, I’ve gotten way too wordy again, but I believe the problem(s) addressed justify most of it.

  • Anonymous

    No problem, sorry if I sounded harsh. I too am a bit long in the tooth, 64, retired union pipefitter, 100% disabled combat vet and a Democratic Socialist. I know, the mere mention of that dreaded S word is enough to send people to their gun safes. The more I seem to learn about this dream called America, the more I realize things are not at all as they seem and most probably never were. This country was created by rich men, some very brave and good, for property owners, some of that property included human beings. I would call our present situation as essentially fascist, the merging of corporate and government interests. I do believe however that our founders did the best they could with what they had and what they knew.
    We do not have that excuse today. Most of us sit idly by while our brothers and sisters across this planet are only deemed to have importance if they have something for corporations to swindle them out of or if their geographic location is such that it is considered of “strategic” importance to America or our INTEERESTS!
    Our Interests by the way are primarily corporate interests of one sort or another and people’s worth and importance is based on an algorithm of maximum profitability.
    The mere fact that we are having a debate and threats of default over healthcare coverage for ALL Americans and I would argue for ALL people inside of our borders is a living testament of how we have placed our lust and love for money over the value of our neighbors, our fellow humans, our planet and the countless numbers of God’s expression in animal life and nature. Why does a JC Penney CEO make 53 million a year when his average employees make less than $30,000.00 per annum? Never mind the fact that JC Penney seems to be going the way of CR Anthony.
    Greed and virtually all avenues to “get your fair share” no matter the cost or harm has perversely become a virtue. We are the biggest weapons dealer in the world, spend 10 time more on defense and weaponry as our nearest rival China who spends about 70 billion. We spend way more than 700 billion and more than a trillion if we factor in the ancillary costs of this corporate IV of a continuous transfusion of taxpayer blood ( dollars) into their evil game of exploitation and manipulation.
    Every family should be safe, have a home or decent place to live, education, medical care and a never ending supply of love and hope. Instead, we destroy families over victimless crimes, drugs, imprisoning more people per capita than any other country on the planet and that ain’t cheap. Meanwhile, if one be a white collar criminal and destroys the whole financial system no problem, here’s your taxpayer supplied bonus.
    I feel the same as you in as much as both of these parties are corrupt beyond repair, but: I feel I must participate in what I consider to be reality. The fact is that for now, one of the two parties WILL supply our elected officials nationally, that’s a fact. To cast a vote for someone, however worthy knowing they have no chance of being elected is about the same as not voting and they like that. That many fewer they have to convince that they’re not crooks. Hopefully, by constant tweeking, awakening on the parts of voters who choose to be informed and maybe a little Divine help, we can nudge the process without having to have a total collapse. Time will tell.

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  • Charles Shaver

    Reading you is a lot like thinking about what I want to write. Let’s hope Professor Reich’s ‘Inequality for All’ movie wakes up a lot more of us, in time to prevent a real catastrophe.

  • Anonymous

    The cause of the crash is reasonably explained so that almost every person could understand it. Without getting into the financial details, start off by saying that Wall St, the big banks, and the big mortgage houses misrepresented their products. If a car dealer told you you were getting a Lincoln, and it was actually a Ford Fiesta, and they knew it was a Fiesta,don’t you think that the government would respond? This is, greatly simplified, what these self serving, lying, greedy thieves did, abetted of course by congress through the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and they are still running around collecting their huge multimillion dollar bonuses. Iceland responded appropriately. All their lying thieves are in prison.

  • Anonymous

    Except that too many of the employed are either underemployed, or not employed. It is the middle class, who may be making it, but who have lost considerable ground because they are not making what they used to, have not had the pay increases they used to have, and their buying power is not what it used to be – the dollar is not worth what it was.

  • Anonymous

    How productive is such blame?

  • useless eater

    “Booming” compared to what? Reich was comparing the inequality in our economy of the past 30 years, to the period prior to that. But you don’t specify the period of your comparison. But i think there is one obvious question that should be asked here- Since wages have been flat to declining, what’s fueling this boom? It must be debt. With no increase in the means to pay off the debt, i can’t see how this is a good sign.

    I’m not seeing what’s so wonderful about a population where 20% of the people have no discretionary income. Your comparison to a period where the same population is unable to participate in the economy only an indication of your acceptance of the status quo.

  • Anonymous

    Needs to be required reading and viewing by every high school and college curriculum.

  • Anonymous

    I wish Moyers had questioned him more about welfare and Glass-Steagall repeal too. From my readings of that era, regulation i.e. rules for financial institutions and corporations were “Not In Vogue”–Wall Street Finance was the powerful player. Therefore, as Clinton’s Secretary of Labor,
    Dr. Reich’s views on economy policy were unpopular with those in “power” (Clinton’s “inner circle”) and thus most of his advice was disregarded. (In essence, he was locked out of the inner circle of advisors and powerbrokers. So I doubt he had much access to Clinton as Secretary of Labor. If I recall correctly, Reich was one of the skeptics and nay-sayers re. welfare “reform” and repeal of “Glass- Steagall”. Read his memoir “Locked in the Cabinet”, which I plan to reread now that I have seen the “Inequality for All”. I recommend any and all of his recent books to one and all–in particular to high school and college students.

  • Anonymous

    “How can we reach the youngest…?” Easy, take them to see this movie. Then give them time and opportunity to discuss. You listen. Use the book “Inequality for All” and his other books as a high school I.B. Topics Unit and teach a college economics/ethics class (open to all students) using his book and this movie.) Show it to your Church or Spiritual Group’s Youth Group. Just do it!

  • Charles Shaver

    Addendum for all: no great historian myself, viewing the entire interview again (with several pauses and replays) after, first, visiting the website of the Bureau of Economic Analysis ( of the U.S. Department of Commerce, I found and noted a few relevant points that neither Professor Reich or I covered in our prior comments. Rather than challenging what was presented earlier I am simply attempting to briefly add one overlooked major (in my opinion) issue to that which was inclusively clearly stated.

    Very important, I do believe, to even CEOs of huge financial institutions, is that government statistics on annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are flawed and misleading, at best. With a ‘tipping-point’ of February 24, 2007, about 11:20 AM (for me: “Too late for USA.”), the fact that financial services (e.g., insurance policies and retirement accounts; as opposed to real ‘products’) which primarily redistribute existing wealth up to the rich, now account for about two fifths of the GDP. That should be rocking the Stock Market (gambling parlor of the rich; not a true indicator of national economic health [e.g., job numbers]; don’t bet there what you can’t afford to lose) from private retirement accounts to the bedrock below Wall Street. An apparent 2012 GDP of 2.5% (with other financial matters and values indexed therewith) is, in reality, more in the range of 1.5%; backsliding, in a population boom. Let reason prevail; enough for now while I attend to other matters of more immediate importance to me; more upon request.

  • Charles Shaver

    Thank you, back. Not to worry; ultimately a strategic default on a soured mortgage, now with multiple options and new plans in the works. And, I’m still better off than so many others who still ‘need to know.’ The best for you and yours.

  • Kirby Judge – from Canada.

    How productive is ignoring the facts?

  • Anonymous

    You seem to feel that focusing time and effort on berating Reich’s past is more productive than focusing on the message that he is speaking now, which you admit you agree with. How does harping on such facts achieve results? And are you saying that no conservatives had a hand in creating the mess we are in now? If not, why are you ignoring those facts?

    Your post had less to do with the subject matter of the video than with your apparent desire to watch Reich and Clinton squirm under your wrathful inquisition. Sounds like a personal problem.

  • Kirby Judge – from Canada.

    Buddy, Buddy, Buddy, I’m a Canuck. How on Earth could your “two Americas” be personal, to me, in any way?
    But, I agree with you. We need to know ALL the facts to possibly avoid a future repeat of mistakes made. To borrow a quote from the documentary, “Surviving Progress”, which features our David Suzuki, by the way, “Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up.”
    Perhaps it will mitigate your indignation, some, to know that my government is presently controlled by a party (conservative, so-called) which is bent on taking us down the very same road, you followed, despite where you wound up. Our unions are being busted. We’re losing our social safety net. “Big oil” is corrupting our capital city. We’ve got our very own “Dubya” named Harper – a dangerous, amoral sadist, in my humble opinion.
    What you sense, in me, is not wrath. It’s fear.

  • Anonymous

    Canada has its very own “Dubya?” You mean it has its very own Obamya, don’tya?

    Because Obamya is become more like Bush than Bush ever was; that point has been made in these Disqus forums enough already.

    As to your fear, I believe the idea is to annex the next 13 states to our North American holdings.

  • Kirby Judge – from Canada.

    You know, Mr. (or, is it Dr.?) NoDifference, I’m glad it wasn’t me that brought that up. Since it was you, I’ll only say that it’s amazing, as a Canadian, how disappointed, I wind up being, in your Democrat presidents, lately. Why? Because they prove themselves to eventually be outlandish hypocrites.
    Say what you will, and, I have, about Republicans, but, they’re generally truer to their words.
    I guess, after-all, that I’m thankful I had nothing to do with the decision to give President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, back in the day. I ask you, “What in the name of death from above was up with that?”
    PS, we won’t go down without a fight, neither!!

  • Anonymous

    We are “exceptional.” What part of that did you not get?

    Sorry to keep pestering you good folks. But we’d like our new provinces now… and please don’t keep us waiting.

  • Kylea Manning

    What is wrong with this argument??

  • Charles Shaver

    Kylea, thanks for replying. But, if your question is not just rhetorical, would you be more specific, please?

  • JonThomas

    Ah yes, the fallacy of birthright. Anyone not born with the position, ability, or luck of the draw to ‘contribute greatly to society,’ is worth nothing more than a life of slavery to the great and wonderful benefactors.

    Self-indulgent sophistry.

    In your next breath, contrary to your superiority argument, you will claim that the parallel…superiority of the body… is bad.

    A person stronger than you in muscle has no right, in that self-delusion, to claim his position.

    Yet, that is the hood-wink isn’t it?

    Do you allow yourself to be deluded with that argument, or do you truly believe it and were hoodwinked yourself?

    If you have little respect for the people you do not see as contributing, than why should they respect or accept you?

    It’s you who need Government much more than you know or will admit. You need a structure to provide shelter for your illusion.

  • Charles Shaver

    Rat, wow, where do you hail from, North Korea? Ultimately, what you are describing is total dictatorship and enslavement of the masses. Agreed, absolutely, one’s economic compensation should be commensurate with one’s ability, talent, training and intentional practical application thereof but, in the U.S. (at least), that compensation should only be proportional to one’s total real contributions (physical and financial) to self, family and nation, and only if everyone could have an equal start.

    Despite centuries of religious ideology, decades of false political propaganda and out of context quotes from the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address during recent presidential campaigns, it’s still not true that ‘all men (and/or women) are created equal,’ or even have equal opportunity (e.g., genetic traits, nurturing, housing, education, employment, etc.) and the U.S. Constitution is still the ‘supreme Law of the Land.’ And, too, when it comes to money, power and war mongering Wall Street types lobbying and bribing elected officials with campaign contributions, to tilt the playing field even more in the favor of the undeserving rich (e.g., the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, ex post facto to big bank mergers in 1998), we are talking treason, not good business and not good governance. Get real.

  • dkf2222

    Robert failed said that Wal-mart was the largest employer in the USA. Actually the government is the largest employer in the USA. He also never mentioned that with Obama care lots of businesses are cutting hours to 29 hours a week, which will reek havoc on the economy. He is blaming Wal-mart for social responsibility, but in this whole show never once mentions personal responsibility, freedom, or liberty. This isn’t a socialist country. He never mentions how the environmental regulations are killing the economy and jobs. For example the Canadian pipelines that can not be built. He really doesn’t believe in the redistribution of wealth per se……but believes that we aught to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks and raise the earned income credit a bunch more. Why don’t we raise the min wage to 600 dollars an hour and just see what happens! He believes that you should only take home 48 percent of your earnings, but should get 15 dollars an hour minimum wage. I say let you take home what you earn and Robert should keep his greedy hands off of it. Bottom line is social engineers need to go away. I can understand doing away with corruption but this guy is super fueling demagogues and socialism while pretending to mold capitalism to work for everyone.

  • Anonymous

    litlgrey, I cannot see the full context of our exchange (/sigh) so my response cannot mirror the time you extended in your reply. I’d agree President Obama is an acolyte of the Cult of American Exceptionalism. Sadly, Americans are so self-delusional to this effect that they cannot bring themselves to vote for someone who says, or suggests, American Exceptionalism is an untruth. I’d argue the Right is more entrenched in this regard because of the history of the platform – yet both parties are completely consumed by it.
    Booker – I’d agree he is being set up to make a run for the Presidency at some point. I’m not sure if he’ll be a ‘fake champion of the working class’ or not at this stage. But, i’m not optimistic given the culture of politics. As a brief aside, part of me maintains this wishful fantasy that if a leader truly spoke about why we’ve failed, why we are not exceptional etc. that they’d gain enough support to win. But, given what I’ve seen people would rather be lied to so they can promote belief and opinion as fact.

    Again, since I cannot atm see the context of our exchange I am not sure if it a strange coincidence or if I have mentioned that I have read all the books you mention. I felt Chris Hayes book was fantastic and one does not have to agree with his politics to understand how a merit based system a.)does not exist b.) cannot exist for long c.) promotes inequality of opportunity. Agreed Freeland’s book really did not merit (bit of a joke/pun) the attention it received. I felt it was filled with generalizations and, frankly, was published hastely to take advantage of momentum stemming from the Occupy Movement. One thing she articulated nicely was that in this new ‘global’ economy – borders are meaningless for the rich and they feel zero allegiance to their home countries. A book to check out james Galbraith Inequality and Instability. I think Stiglitz and Sachs have both said it’s the most exhaustive quantitative examination of inequality in existence…i’ve not finished it yet.

  • Anonymous

    I can not but functionally agree with what you’re saying, and with what you’ve been saying.
    We need to keep in touch in some way that does not include this page, as it will probably be archived before long. Facebook or anything would be just fine.

  • ellen

    Fantastic program. Mr. Reich is the greatest.

  • Charles Shaver

    Having now hastily read the article suggested and linked to by ‘evilroyslade’ as new comments keep trickling in, I find Mr. Polman (CEO, Unilever, UK), too, only delivers partial truths. Although he seems to be courageously specific about a thing or two (e.g., quarterly accounting) he still fails to rise high enough above the Pandora’s Box of his fellow capitalists to see all of its contents. Like so many domestic ‘experts’ (i.e., Robert Reich) he makes little or no mention of the ‘supreme Law of the Land’ in the U.S. while very superficially glossing over the criminal, if not treasonous, acts of a tiny minority of extremists of the past decade or two, and dully speaks more directly to ‘morality,’ which is a domain of the Church.

    ‘Legality’ is the one domain of government most relevant to this conversation. Public service and national security are two others. And, therefore, morality is no real basis for judging how ‘American’ or ‘un-American’ one is. Ultimately, Pam Rieli, with capitalism and communism just basically being opposite ends of one economic spectrum, extremism is the real problem and, for the vast majority of us, extreme capitalism is effectively the same as extreme communism; totalitarianism. Somewhere toward the middle of that spectrum is what the Founder’s prescribed in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, that which others call ‘socialism’ and I personally label in 2013 as ‘SAFE’ (Socially Acceptable Free Enterprise) government. There is both good and bad about both capitalism and communism. I propose we follow, repeat and export to other countries that which the Founders obviously intended; adopt the best of both and abandon the worst of both.

    There is a hierarchy in law as in other realms; God and/or nature, human behavior, the Constitution (U.S.) and lesser laws. Either the U.S. is a nation of reasonable laws or a nation of unreasonable outlaws; guess what? And, when it comes to solving the economic problems of our nation, what say we abandon illegal unnecessary war and non-productive redistribution of wealth up to the rich before we even think of denying healthcare to the less fortunate and entitlements to the elderly? Tea Party, ever hear of the U.S. Constitution, learn how to read?

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, that is not permitted in the US. The Constitution is now a venerated religious artifact, to be respected and worshiped regardless of many of the indignities it has created over centuries. To disagree with it is abomination in the eyes of Our RightWing Overlords; to threaten it with replacement is sacrilege and punishable by shunning from the faithful.

    Just like the Bible, it is the Word and you may not disagree with its tenets or you be damned.

  • Anonymous

    There is no amusement as interesting as watching the self indulgent attempt to justify their self indulgence, whether borne of government corruption, or cheating in business, and nepotism. Watching their awards given to each other is a lesson in how vulture capitalism works, and perhaps, why Mandela’s persona tends to be cited as unique among men.

  • Mikeguru

    I have retired from Financial Services. Meeting with families in my community confirms what Mr Reisch is saying, “Something is Wrong” and we are losing our American Dream and Equal Opportunity to benefit from the hardwork in work.
    The “Rules” have been changed that benefit the Rich at the expense of the 99% of us. Absolutely.
    Like Taxes, the Corporate Executives paid in Stock taxed at 15%, about 90% of their compensation.
    The Stock Buybacks to purchase their own stock, to boost the stock price, for their benefit. That money in the past, before the Corporate Executives were paid in stock, went to the employees for their contribution to the success of the Company.
    The low tax rate of the Elite, tied to stock and the Gamblers of the Casino Wall Street aka Capital Gains.
    We need to remove the “Gambling Mentality” of Lottery in almost every state, Gaming in the Indian Reservations, and the money that bribes our politicians and Senators like Orrin Hatch, a Corporate Lawyer who has done everything possible to destroy the Middle Class. But in the meantime, allowed to spend $25 million in media to get elected to a $174,000 a year job.
    The Media, Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Savage, and others who are hired guns to convince people who are poor to be polarized and make people feel helpless and blame the size of govenment so we don’t vote.
    Fortunately, I don’t listen to the rubbish on the Choose the Right Corporate Propaganda machine, I read books, I subscribe to magazines like Nation and Progressive and Time, and ignore the Elite Forbes and Fortune.
    These people work hard to make sure that their message is out there, “Let the Market decide (with the rules written by them and for their benefit), “Tinkle down Economics”: is a Lie.
    Until we stop the mis-information from our media, it is really going to take a strong leader, someone of the FDR mold, and so far, as I look to Washington, I see no one on the horizon.
    I was talking with a fellow the other day, tellling me how corrupt the government is, how it makes no difference with what he thinks as the government does not listen to him or anyone, He was so cynical and said he was not going to vote. He felt the answer to our problems was the AK-47 sitting in the corner of his room.
    I tried to convince him to get involved and help people get elected that will address the problems.
    I am not sure he listened. He listened as well as the 9% approval rate of Congress, who are not listening to us.
    Our Generation is experiencing what our great Grand Parents experienced in 1900 or so, Monopolies, Trusts and it took the government to fix it, the people insisted. We need strong leadership and quite frankly, if a US Senator has been in office more than two terms, they should be replaced.
    We need to get the Money out of Government and our election process.
    This is not going to be fixed over night. It is not going to be fixed by people who gripe, and sit on their butts at home.
    We need to get out and help elect people who can do something about this mess.
    We need to raise taxes, eliminate the loopholes, get Wall Street out of Compensation programs of the Corporate Executives, eliminate Stock Buybacks, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour just like Australia, Eliminate the loophole of shutting down plants in the USA and get a check from the IRS, we need to implement a Glass-steagall in our banks, and return the Fairness doctrine.
    Until we get some people in Washington, until we demand that these things be fixed, we will be like the Serfs in Russia, who for 400 years complained to the Czars about inequality and the Czars said they would do something about inequality, as generations after generations died until WWI with Germany wanting the second front stopped helping overthrow the Czar.
    Out Politicians better wise up, we can lose this Democracy as the public arms itself.

  • Anonymous

    I am so glad we have leaders finally speaking loudly about capitalism. How it has corrupted our economy and our government, how it is protected by laws, and is the root of all that is wrong in this nation. Thanks professor Reich, please keep it up, we need courageous leaders to stop the corruption of our democracy, and deliver a message to all American workers to get busy and organize unions to fight against this evil system.

  • Anonymous

    Rat, your words make no sense. We are hardwired to be social beings and to depend on each other. Your ideology makes no sense, it lacks logic. Professor Reich on the other hand, is credible because he has done the research. You simply don’t want to see it.
    Your classification of Reich as a neo – liberal from from the academy, it is really as low as a rat can get.

  • Anonymous

    So you might be superior to, say, me, then?

    If I pass you on the street, be sure to call out so I will remember to bow to you.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Sociopathy.

  • Anonymous

    Deregulation Theology, folks. Keep the world safe for sociopathy.

  • Anonymous

    Pam, this is what I call “Deregulation Theology,” the justification of so-called “Christianity” to equivocate greed and avarice.

    A 2000 year old Jewish revolutionist still cries out to be heard and is called a heretic by Jews and Christians alike.

  • Anonymous

    You DO very much believe in -isms, because you are every bit as opinionated as anyone else; get off that please. It doesn’t even sound convincing, just haughty and condescending. Unless you really, really believe you are better than the rest of the people here.

    You go off on a complete tangent about corporate accountability in the context of shareholders absorbing liability. I was talking about COMMUNITY enterprises; so please address those if you are going to respond.

    OK, if you want, every citizen is a “shareholder,” but the point is the entire community becomes liable, which is much better than some conceited, wealthy elite who can well afford the lawyers to defend them when their profits are threatened by lawsuits. Since every member of the community bears risk, they will NOT permit any of the sorts of things to happen that would result in the problems we see under your-ism.

    BTW, this model of community-owned enterprises is not limited to socialism. It could just as easily work in the current -ism, if that pleases you more.

  • JonThomas

    I tried to offer my concerns in a polite manner which also made ample room for your suggestions.

    I guess you didn’t agree, which is fine. I would ask though, if having opinions makes one a follower of an ‘ism’, which ‘ism’ do you conclude I am following?

    What if I have a favorable opinion of one aspect of Capital-ism, but unfavorable opinions of other aspects of Capital-ism?

    On top of that, what if that favorable opinion were to be mixed with what I found to be a favorable aspect of Social-ism, or maybe even Commun-ism?

    As far as my tangent… you suggest a ‘Community Enterprise.’ As I said, I applaud your suggestion, and do not wish to hinder your efforts, but my concern is exactly along the lines of my ‘tangent.’

    What if I was a member of said ‘Community’ but had no desire to be part of your enterprise? What if I were strictly and vehemently against your enterprise? Am I a shareholder of said enterprise solely because I am a member of the community? What if your enterprise caused damage? Am I responsible because I am a member of the community? Will I be able to sue you when you harmed my interests?

    In Kingdoms of the middle Ages there were many ‘Community Enterprises’ in which members of the community were born into, that doesn’t make for enlightenment or freedom.

    What is the difference between a community enterprise mandating involvement, and feudalism? Will there be an individual dictating involvement, or will it be a majority of the community? Either way, I prefer freedom.

    These are the concerns that I expressed. Such concerns should be addressed. Like I said, it’s good to see suggestions toward improved economic structures, but please do not belittle my concerns just because you do not agree.

    Private enterprise first began as successful expressions of individual freedom which were in competition with ‘Community Enterprises.’

    Search out the early history of corporations. I believe it was the Dutch markets where a person might find some interesting info.

    Do you wish to accuse me of believing I am better than others because I ask questions and raise concerns? If so, then fine. However, at the risk of looking more foolish than ever, I shall condescend to continue to express myself. I may even be ‘haughty’ enough to teach as many other people as I am able – to also ‘condescend’ by asking questions and challenging your proposed status quo.

    As you can imagine, it won’t be the first time I was accused of being arrogant enough to speak up when I felt it appropriate.

    All that said, I still do not wish to take the wind out of your sails. I just hope any ideas, from any quarter, keep the freedom, and concerns of others in mind.

    The other thing I guess I had hoped, is that until such ideas even came close to being implemented, my concerns are for rhetorical thought purposes, more than they are for argument’s sake.

  • Anonymous

    How do you compare a community-owned enterprise that is democratically controlled to the feudal system — they are entirely different. Your argument makes no sense to me.

    I think the Nazis and Hitler had some great accomplishments, like the autobahns and the VW. The trouble with praising those achievements is that… uhmmmmm… well. Y’know.

    Since there have been no real-world examples of socialism to date, it is very hard to have a conversation comparing socialism to capitalism. Until an example in the real world arises, I think such a comparison is pretty useless.

    Also, I don’t see why ANYONE would object to investing in their own community, especially if they got to participate in the decision-making process, something that never happens under the corporate model, unless you are wealthy enough to hold stock.

    As far as what you should do if the community votes for a program you don’t particularly like, well, that’s called democracy. The majority rules I guess. I suppose you could move to a different community if you prefer, or learn how to get along with people in the one you live in.

    Democracy DOES keep the concerns and freedom of others in mind. That’s the whole idea of it. Again, I have no idea what you are really arguing.

  • Charles Shaver

    Thanks for the comments, NoDifference, but my ‘call’ is: “Don’t blame Democrats; don’t blame Republicans; blame both; vote OTHER!” (e.g., blank ballot, third, fourth or fifth party or write-in candidate). What useful purpose would you bowing to me serve in an inherently self-destructing land of ‘inequality for all?’

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know. Maybe I misread your post, sorry. I am just getting ticked that so many people post sociopathic rightwing authoritarian messages here and at the Real News. I doubt many of them bother to analyze what they are reading or viewing judging by the apparent loss of information conveyed.

  • Charles Shaver

    We live in trying times; welcome to the club. Counting years to decades bipartisan injured, ticked and still trying to get the word out. Elections in November. Need majority votes for ‘OTHER(S).’

  • Anonymous

    Why do you desire bipartisan anything? Voting others makes sense, but that is NOT the same thing as bipartisan. Sorry, I am confused by what you are saying.

  • Charles Shaver

    Sorry, ND, poor phrasing (injured by bipartisanship), opposed now to Republican, Democrat and bipartisan. Who else has been running and ruining America for the last fifty years?

  • Joseph Ford

    What I find disheartening is the fact that even the political left wring their hands over the erosion of the middle class without acknowledging that the real problem is socioeconomic stratification itself. Why perpetuate class distinctions at any level? Why resuscitate a “buffer” class to mitigate the chronic malaise resulting from a perniciously unequal distribution of essential resources?

    There is a residual notion even among those styling themselves “liberals” that at least “a little inequality” is somehow essential to any functional economy. They fail to understand that a deep sense of vocation, nurtured by right education, is a far more wholesome and viable catalyst to ensure maximum productivity. Why do artists and academic adjuncts endure enormous hardships and outright penury? Because they have a passion for what they do despite the absence of adequate financial support and compensation.

    It is the role of educators to help students discover that passion and to acquire the skills necessary to maximize their full vocational potential. Instead, children are increasingly trained to man corporate hives where they will more likely than not lead lives of quiet desperation in the service of a capitalist overclass intent on crushing individuality, dissent, and ultimately, any hope of an egalitarian democracy.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. You put that well. Thank you.

  • christopherschaefer

    Search “Rosa DeLauro Exposed” and you’ll soon learn that both “liberals” and “conservatives” have corrupted our political system for personal gain.

  • Anonymous

    Before Bill Clinton in 1993, the GOP thought they “owned” government, and in like minded fashion, Dems controlled whatever pieces they could gather, mostly local elections. It was a pattern of governmental conflict destined to confront itself, as it did in 2008, the result of no term limits anywhere, not engineered, but perpetuated by Congress for the longest time.

    Before bankruptcy became the only default mechanism left, Congress altered commercial bankruptcy rules so they continued the “government under our control obsession” so that Dems (and most Americans) remained outside of the inner sanctum of government control, hence their moving the goal posts complaints so often in the news. If this sounds like “running circles around the Democrats, ” inquiry of whether the shoe fits may be needed.

    the U.S. Constitution was never meant to be owned, nor the government that flows from it, and no amount of predatory opportunism can afford to be sanctioned by the self indulgent.

  • Chris Reich

    Oh rocks. We need some good old fashioned regulation to temper the corporate power. What’s become of anti-trust? We have a handful of corporations dominating every category of commerce. Who prevents these mergers? Certainly not a court that rules corporations are people. Not a congress that needs their money to keep renewing 2 year terms for 30-40 and even 50 years. The banks “we” saved? They are back to same practices, unfettered. Wall Street is at all time highs while the majority of citizens have taken pay CUTS.

  • Chris Reich

    We need regulation. There, it’s been said in plain terms. Here, look. We just found out that Facebook has been doing mood altering experiments on its customers. Where’s the regulation? Facebook and Google are tracking this post and you who read it. Congress doesn’t even understand what Google does. That’s one industry…and it’s a whopper. Protect us please.

  • JB
  • Anonymous

    It seems to me that both liberals and conservatives could agree on one key thing. That is, if the middle class has more spending money, the economy will do better.

    This seems like a no-brainer. Pay for middle class workers has not even begun to keep pace with the increases those at the top give themselves. They keep the money, and don’t put it back into the economy via pay for their workers.

    Why is this issue even debatable?

  • Anonymous

    The best solution is to start Advanced Industrial Ecosystems. It is the Convergence of Human Science and Arts in fields including physical, chemical, mathematical, computational, engineering, and social sciences with key strategies to tackle complex challenges and achieve new and innovative solutions to provide the best long term Ecosystems for Mankind. China started this in 1983…we can too for the future irrespective of the Climate Change now. It is your choice.The President has the documents. This would not happen until people run out of all the other ideas…when that happens…your guess is as good as mine…

  • Invictus Corruptus

    Face it, corporations are evil and capitalism, the economic model most used through out the world is the beast system mentioned in the book of revelation.

    Seriously, isn’t it just a tad bit evil when an artificial, man made entity, the corporation has as many or more rights, freedom and protections then a real human being?

    Welcome to America Babylon, baby. Now go serve the corporation. Worship capitalism and bow to Mammon.

  • Anonymous

    Two months later, the solution is still the same. Read up my page at Facebook…you will see…and send letter to the President in January 2015 to start my Advanced Industrial Ecosystems…and see what happens in 6 months.

  • stacey

    Clearly you don’t understand how our government works and how little ability to stop the actions of those in power.

  • Anonymous

    When were the People protesting NAFTA, I wonder? Most people did not even know about it until it was passed into law, and even then, a lot of people heard nothing about it. Most people listen to the MSM, who are part of the cabal that benefits from laws like NAFTA and WTO and GATT, etc.

    You are probably right that a few informed people — that is, those few who listen to alternative press — were out there protesting. Trouble is, until it hits MSM (and it won’t until long after these oppressive measures are “law”), the majority of the people needed to impede them won’t know and won’t take action.

    Even when MSM DOES actually report these austerity measures (and that is really what they are, in effect), most people can’t be relied upon to take action. They will believe the syrupy sweet version they are told by MSM to hide and obscure the truth about the impending doom.

  • Anonymous

    Consider how little most people know about the TPP, and I think that underscores the problem.