Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. His website can be found here.

Recent Articles

Three-legged trick to square vicious circle of job losses

The Guardian The central reality of our age is that globalisation and technological change have increased the demand for people with the right education, skills, and connections - and reduced the demand for those without them. The bottom third of our citizens are either paid less or have fewer job opportunities than before. The top third are doing fine. The middle third are just getting by. Different nations have responded in different ways. In the United States, there are lots of new jobs, but the wages of the bottom third continue to drop, while people at the top have never done as well. In France and Germany, the bottom third are either unemployed or in constant danger of being so, but inequality is not nearly as wide as in America. Britain stands between the two extremes. So here is the big question: are all advanced economies condemned to be somewhere on this line running from widening inequality to permanently high unemployment? The answer is no. Imagine a three legged stool...

Scrooge is Alive and Well and Living in America

Broadcast December 21, 2000 You may remember old Scrooge wasn't happy he had to give his clerk in the counting house time off for Christmas. "A poor excuse for picking a man s pocket every twenty-fifth of December! But I suppose you must have the whole day," he said. "Be here all the earlier next morning." Well, we've progressed a bit since those days, maybe. Most working Americans have a three-day weekend coming up. About 1 in 4 will have four days. And a fortunate few will take all of next week. On the other hand, if you happen to work for one of those 24/7 call centers, you may have to work on Christmas Day. Security guards will be at their stations. Many convenience store operators, too. Also hospital staffs, caterers, hotel personnel, emergency repairers of all kinds, fire fighters, police officers, even the staff at Marketplace. Even you, with your long holiday weekend coming up, may be tempted at some point to turn on the home computer and get some work done. The dirty little...

Working, But Not 'Employed'

The New York Times CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Linda Chavez, George W. Bush's pick for labor secretary, withdrew as the nominee Tuesday after facing a blizzard of questions concerning Marta Mercado, a Guatemalan woman who, as an undocumented alien, lived in Chavez's home during the early 1990s and did some work for the family. Chavez didn't pay Social Security taxes on Mercado's labors. Have we been here before? No, said Chavez. She never actually employed Mercado. The entire transaction between them amounted to nothing more than the woman's doing a few chores around the house and getting in return some "spending money" - no more than a couple of thousand dollars. A spokesman for Chavez said it was just a matter of helping someone "down on her luck." The distinction Chavez appeared to make turns on a definition - as do so many other pertinent legal distinctions these days. Is someone who receives free rent and a few thousand dollars for doing chores around your home an "employee" under the...

Smoking, Guns

If I had my way, there'd be laws restricting cigarettes and handguns. But this Congress won't even pass halfway measures. Cigarette companies have admitted they produce death sticks, yet Congress won't lift a finger to stub them out. Teenage boys continue to shoot up high schools, yet Congress won't pass stricter gun controls. The politically potent cigarette and gun industries have got what they wanted: no action. Almost makes you lose faith in democracy, doesn't it? Apparently that's exactly what's happened to the administration. Fed up with trying to move legislation, the White House is launching lawsuits to succeed where legislation failed. The strategy may work, but at the cost of making our frail democracy even weaker. The Justice Department is going after the tobacco companies with a law designed to fight mobsters--the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) chapter of the Organized Crime Control Act. Justice alleges that the tobacco companies conspired to...

A Proper Global Agenda

These days, any official organization with the word "International," "World," or "Global" in its title has to worry about where it meets, check in with the riot police, and pray for rain. Washington is already girding itself for the International Monetary Fund's next gathering. Global protesters haven't communicated clearly to the rest of the world exactly what they're against. As a result, the protests are seen by many as part of a growing revulsion toward globalization in general. George W. Bush, meanwhile, is mounting his own protest against globalization--trashing the Kyoto treaty on climate change, junking the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, indefinitely deferring Senate ratification of the 1996 nuclear test-ban treaty and the 1993 nuclear weapons-reduction treaty, diluting a United Nations agreement to reduce illegal trafficking of small arms, and taking a decidedly low profile in Israel and other settings of ethnic violence. Since the United States is the biggest and strongest...

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