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

Blackboard Jingle

It seems as if every conference I attend on the subject of American competitiveness (and there are many -- the competitiveness industry is surely one of America's most competitive) begins or ends with a speech by a prominent chief executive of a large American corporation about business's stake in improving the quality of the American work force. The corporate public- relations staffs who write these things must compare notes, because the speeches are virtually identical: At the start, an upbeat assessment of the current state of American industry coupled with grim warnings about foreign competitors who are gaining ground. This is followed by an assertion about the importance of the American work force to American competitiveness in the future, why skilled and educated workers are crucial, why companies have more and more need for brainpower instead of brawn, and so forth. At this point the CEO offers worrisome data about trends in the American work force. I've heard them so often I'...

An Outward-Looking Economic Nationalism

"...O ye, the wise who think, the wise who reign, From growing commerce loose her latest chain, And let the fair white-winged peacemaker fly To happy heavens under all the sky, And mix the seasons, and the golden hours, Till each man finds his own in all men's good, And all men work in noble brotherhood." -- Alfred Tennyson, "Ode for the Opening of the International Exhibition in London," 1862 The debate grows louder and more strident with each passing trade statistic: On the one side, neo-mercantilists, comprising a growing coalition of American firms and trade unions, urge that government advance American enterprise -- even at the expense of others around the globe. In this view, unless we become more assertive, foreigners will continue to increase market shares at America's expense in industry after industry -- exploiting our openness, gaining competitive advantage over us, ultimately robbing us of control over our destinies. On the other side, laissez-faire cosmopolitans,...

Suite Greed

But for the fact that Democrats are now drinking from the same campaign-finance trough as Republicans, the scandal of executive salaries would be a major issue in the 1992 campaign. The scandal has been growing for years, of course, even before the Reagan-Bush greed decade. In 1960, the chief executive of one of America's 100 largest nonfinancial corporations earned, on average, $190,000, or about forty times the wages of his (rarely hour) average factory worker. After taxes, the chief executive earned twelve times the factory worker's wages. By 1990, the chief executive earned, on average, more than $2 million, not even including stock options that hadn't yet paid out -- a sum equal to ninety-five times the wage of his average factory worker. The regressive shift in the tax burden during the Reagan-Bush years has made the disparity even more absurd. After taxes, the 1990 chief executive's compensation was seventy times that of the average factory worker. Now, after three years of bad...

The Great Bargain

The next president of the United States either will lead the world into an era of unprecedented peace and growth, in which virtually all nations are knitted together into a seamless economic web, or will watch the world fragment into three trading blocs of advanced and rapidly developing nations, and a fourth vast territory -- stretching from South America through central Africa, Eastern Europe, and central and southern Asia -- largely characterized by deepening poverty, ethnic strife, and civil chaos. The choice is not entirely up to the next president, of course, but he will be in a unique position to influence it. As the chief executive of the only remaining superpower -- the very model of democratic capitalism to which most of the rest of mankind now openly aspires -- his words and deeds will count for much. Most of the four billion people who inhabit the Southern Hemisphere, and the 400,000,000 inhabitants of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union are already experiencing sharp...

Working Principles

The Cabinet met with the president in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on a sultry day in the summer of 1996. Many of us recommended that he not sign the welfare bill that the Republican Congress had sent him (the third one it had sent, only slightly less punitive than the first two, which he had vetoed). But an election was on the horizon, and the president's political advisers urged him to sign, lest Robert Dole use the president's timidity as a battering ram. In the end, he did sign, of course, and since then he and many Democrats have celebrated the decline in America's welfare rolls without acknowledging that millions of people who are now at work but had been on welfare are not earning enough to support their families, that they are in dead-end jobs without a future, and that the greater harm will come when the economy slows and they will no longer be able to find work. This special section of The American Prospect is about "making work pay," which was to have been one of...

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