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.
Americans are turning against free trade. To halt the protectionist tide, government must
minimise the hardship and dislocation caused by foreign competition.
In a recent poll, 58 per cent of Americans agreed with the statement that foreign trade was
"bad for the US economy because cheap imports hurt wages". Only 32 per cent agreed with
the statement that trade was "good for the US economy; it creates foreign demand,
economic growth, and jobs".
What is particularly striking is that these anti-trade sentiments are being heard at a time
when the US economy is doing so well. Unemployment is lower than it has been in 30
years. People at the bottom of the wage ladder are beginning to see wage gains, for the
first time in several decades. If free trade inspires this much antipathy now, when the
economy is surging, what will happen when the economy slows, as it inevitably will?
The Washington Post
Suddenly, there's a new conversation among the country's movers and shakers, and
several ambitious plans for helping the bottom half share in the nation's prosperity: Give
them, literally, a share in America. Spread capitalism by spreading capital.
Consider President Clinton's proposed "Universal Savings Accounts." Families earning less
than $40,000 would get an annual $600 tax credit deposited directly into their USA account,
plus another $700 if they deposited $700 of their own money into the account. That adds
up to an annual nest egg of $2,000. If they continue doing the same thing for 40 years,
assuming a modest 5 percent rate of return on their savings, their nest egg would grow
into a brontosaurus egg of more than $250,000. That would give most families a big boost
Make no mistake. The effect of this plan would be to redistribute capital assets to
The Wall Street Journal
If you want to make a dent in the real problems of poor people around the
world, don't fund another panel of experts to do a major report on global
hunger, overpopulation, global poverty, global illiteracy, child labor or
ethnic strife. Don't create a program, institute or project staffed by earnest
young political scientists and economics postdocs. Don't convene a forum
of leading thinkers, CEOs, journalists, and statesmen at a conference
center in Aspen, Jackson Hole, Vale, Davos, Geneva or any other beautiful
locale. This has all been done, sometimes usefully, but it's not what's most
Instead, work from the bottom up. Do the 21st-century equivalent of what
Andrew Carnegie did a century ago: Build public libraries for the world's
digital have-nots. I don't mean giant marble-edificed, intimidating
Greek-columned places downtown, housing millions of tomes. I mean
G eorge W. Bush and Al Gore are talking the education talk, but neither is walking the education walk. By far the biggest obstacle to upward mobility in this prosperous nation is the lousy schools so many poorer kids attend. But neither candidate comes close to a solution. I think I have one--or the beginnings of one--but before I let it out of the bag, you need to understand the two main reasons poor kids attend lousy schools. First, there's not nearly enough money. Across America about half of school revenues come from local property taxes. Increasingly, though, Americans are segregating by income in terms of where they choose to live. Entire towns are now either rich, poor, blue collar, or middle class. That means poorer districts have lower tax bases, which translates into fewer dollars per pupil. Court-ordered state "equalization formulas" seeking to redress the financial imbalance haven't worked. A new analysis from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that most...