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

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...

...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...

Pages