Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.

Recent Articles

American Sweatshops

Broadcast January 18, 2001 A lot of Americans are concerned these days about sweatshops in Asia and Latin America where poor people cut and sew garments at cut-rate wages, often in unsanitary conditions. But you don't need to go to a third-world nation to find a sweatshop. You can find all the sweatshops you want right here in the United States, producing a big portion of the shirts, dresses, blouses, and skirts on the shelves of big American retailers. The U.S. Department of Labor, where I used to work, recently completed its latest survey of cutting and sewing shops in New York and Los Angeles. The places surveyed were randomly selected from lists of registered garment contractors. And here's what the Labor Department found. In Los Angeles, 61 percent of the cutting and sewing shops don't give their workers even minimum wages or overtime. In New York, 65 percent don't provide minimum wages or overtime. In other words, the vast majority of cutting and sewing shops in America s...

...And Does Anyone Know How to Define an 'American' Interest?

The Washington Post Last year I woke up to discover that I'm now working part-time for a German company named Bartelsmann AG. You see, when I wasn't looking, Bartelsmann scooped up Random House, which has published several of my books and still occasionally sends me exceedingly small royalty checks. Bartelsmann is now the largest publisher of English-language books in the world, and for all I know it may become the largest publisher of Chinese books as well. Do I care whether an American-owned publisher (which may print its books in Singapore, bind them in New Zealand and market them through Hong Kong) gains better access to China than my own Bartelsmann? Not at all, as long as the royalty checks keep coming. Don't think me either unpatriotic or selfish. It's just my way of suggesting that there's something missing in all the talk about how America will soon have its goods on Beijing's streets and will own...

No Escape

Broadcast February 2, 2001 Recently I was putting gas in my car, minding my own business, enjoying my solitude there by the gas pump, when the gas pump suddenly comes alive with a commercial -- right there, on a little liquid-crystal screen mounted on the pump. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm in the middle of filling my tank with gas. I'm a captive audience to a loud talking head who s hawking a product at me. The same thing happened the other day when I was in an elevator. The doors shut, the elevator starts to move, I m enjoying a moment of peace and quiet, and then suddenly another little screen up in the corner of the elevator starts up, with another loud commercial. I can't get out of the elevator until I reach my floor. I mean, I could have got off at the next floor and waited for another elevator, but the other one would have had a commercial, too. Have you noticed -- it s happening all over. Little commercial messages on little screens which you can't escape from. You...

A Shareholder, and a Citizen

The New York Times Soon, possibly tonight, a federal judge will rule on the Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft. But whatever the decision, it's only the first round in this and related litigation. That's why I've been spending my money lobbying Congress to cut the budget of the Justice Department's antitrust division. I've also hired a fleet of Washington lobbyists to persuade Congress that the government's lawsuit is misguided and launched a "grass roots" Internet campaign to get other people to send messages to their representatives saying the same thing. I've sent money to Republican and Democratic campaign committees, which will use it to benefit candidates sympathetic toward Microsoft. I've even organized lobbying in state capitals to get the message out to state lawmakers. You see, I'm a shareholder of Microsoft. Not a big one, mind you. Bill Gates may not even know that...

Gen. Greenspan's Timid March

We're not in a war economy yet. We're in an economy that's just plain sinking. What to do? Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has told Congress to "wait and see" what happens before enacting a stimulus package lest it create inflationary fantasies among traders of long-term bonds. In an extraordinary show of newly bipartisan gutlessness, our representatives in Washington are heeding his advice. Congress shouldn't listen to Greenspan. A stimulus is needed right now. Even before the September 11 terrorist attacks, American consumers were in a deep funk. Personal-savings rates were nearing a 70-year low and credit-card and mortgage debt were at record heights. Millions of Americans were already stepping back from the brink. In June they paid down $1.8 billion of debt and in July they took on no additional debt--the biggest two-month retreat from borrowing in nine years. Meanwhile, their jobs were disappearing. Last year the U.S. economy gained 1.76 million jobs. But since last March...

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