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

The Butcher Is Back

Broadcast August 24, 2001 The butcher metaphors of modern management are back: cutting out the fat, slicing to the bone, getting leaner and meaner. Well, all this butchering may slow the slide of stock prices, but it's not a way to build long-term competitive strengths. The fact is, the key competitive assets of most companies these days is their people, not their machines or plants or even their patents, but their employees. Their employees' intellectual capital, knowledge about the companies' products, services and technologies. Their employees social capital, relations they built up over the years with clients and customers. And inside the company, relationships among employees who've become a team. And beyond the intellectual and social capital is what might be called trust capital, the sense among employees that the company will be there for them when times are tough, so that employees are willing to go the extra mile, make that extra commitment because they feel loyal to the...

Don't Democrats Believe in Democracy?

The Wall Street Journal If I had my way there would be laws restricting cigarettes and handguns. But 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 Clinton 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 ...

A "C" To Success

(Broadcast 5/24/01) When President Bush recently addressed Yale s graduating seniors, he gave a hearty "well done" to those who got straight A s, but consoled the C students by telling them that they, too, could be president of the United States. Apparently, he was referring to his own less than stellar academic performance as a Yale undergraduate. A C-average as the key to success? Actually the President was on to something. Studies show that students who graduate from college with straight-A s have less chance of becoming chief executives of anything, and also are less likely to become rich later in life, than are students with more modest grades. A recruiter from a major investment bank told me recently he no longer even bothers to interview straight-A students from Ivy League universities, because -- he says -- they ve spent their whole lives jumping obediently through every hoop placed in front of them. He wants young people who are out to beat the system -- who are innovative...

Regulation is out, litigation is in

USA Today Among the hottest regulatory issues today are these: How to prevent kids from smoking cigarettes? What to do about the flood of handguns? How to end sweatshop labor in the apparel industry? How to cope with new kinds of market power in high-technology industries? In the old days, state legislatures or Congress would enact laws, which would be administered by regulatory agencies. But now the era of big government is over. "Regulation" is a bad word. So how are these regulatory issues being handled? Through lawsuits. Consider tobacco. Last spring, Congress punted. It gave up on a bill to jack up the price of cigarettes. But that didn't mean tobacco companies were off the hook. The state attorneys general, who had sued the tobacco companies, settled for $246 billion. Tobacco targeted In his State of the Union Address, President Clinton announced he wanted the Justice...

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...

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