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

In Kosovo, Power of Tribe Outweighs Power of Technology

USA Today This week, as Congress reconvenes, President Clinton will be coming under increasing criticism for the inadequacies of NATO's bombing campaign. But the favored alternative - a ground war - is something for which we are wholly unprepared. It's not just a matter of military tactics; it's a question of national will. There are two great opposing forces in the world today. The first is technology. The second is tribalism. Technology is based on knowledge, rationality and invention. Tribalism is based on passion, ethnicity and myth. We like to think that technology is about the future, and tribalism about the distant past. Both of these great forces have been at work in the Balkans. So far, the United States and its NATO allies have waged a technological war - replete with Stealth bombers, computer-guided cruise missiles and digital satellite imaging. Serbia is waging a tribal war. President...

Working, But Not 'Employed'

The New York Times CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Linda Chavez, George W. Bush's pick for labor secretary, withdrew as the nominee Tuesday after facing a blizzard of questions concerning Marta Mercado, a Guatemalan woman who, as an undocumented alien, lived in Chavez's home during the early 1990s and did some work for the family. Chavez didn't pay Social Security taxes on Mercado's labors. Have we been here before? No, said Chavez. She never actually employed Mercado. The entire transaction between them amounted to nothing more than the woman's doing a few chores around the house and getting in return some "spending money" - no more than a couple of thousand dollars. A spokesman for Chavez said it was just a matter of helping someone "down on her luck." The distinction Chavez appeared to make turns on a definition - as do so many other pertinent legal distinctions these days. Is someone who receives free rent and a few thousand dollars for doing chores around your home an "employee" under the...

Clinton's Leap in the Dark

from the New York Times Literary Supplement Review of Robert M. Solow's "Work and Welfare" by Robert B. Reich When during his 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton vowed to "end welfare as we know it" by moving people "from welfare to work", he presumably did not have in mind the legislation which he signed into law in August 1996. The original idea had been to smooth the passage from welfare to work with guaranteed health care, child care, job training and a job paying enough to live on. As a result, former welfare recipients would gain dignity and independence, and society as a whole would have the benefit of their labours. The 1996 legislation contained none of these supports — no health care or child care for people coming off welfare, no job training, no assurance of a job paying a living wage, nor, for that matter, of a job at any wage. In effect, what was dubbed welfare "reform" merely ended the...

The New Post-Industrial Struggle

Broadcast August 10, 2001 The old industrial struggle was between companies and workers. The new struggle is between ... companies and workers. But the issue isn't exactly the same as it used to be. The new battle is over who's going to keep spending, and thereby keep the American economy going. You see, since last year, American companies have cut way back on their purchases of everything from new equipment and technology to advertising, legal services and consulting. The only reason the American economy isn't in a recession is because consumers--the vast majority of whom are employees--have not cut back their spending. In every other slowdown, it's been the other way around. First, consumers cut back on their spending and then companies cut back on theirs because sales are down. This time, companies have pulled in their belts because their top executives aren't very optimistic about the economic future. Employees, on the other hand, keep spending because they are optimistic, or at...

Three-legged trick to square vicious circle of job losses

The Guardian The central reality of our age is that globalisation and technological change have increased the demand for people with the right education, skills, and connections - and reduced the demand for those without them. The bottom third of our citizens are either paid less or have fewer job opportunities than before. The top third are doing fine. The middle third are just getting by. Different nations have responded in different ways. In the United States, there are lots of new jobs, but the wages of the bottom third continue to drop, while people at the top have never done as well. In France and Germany, the bottom third are either unemployed or in constant danger of being so, but inequality is not nearly as wide as in America. Britain stands between the two extremes. So here is the big question: are all advanced economies condemned to be somewhere on this line running from...

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