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

Scrooge is Alive and Well and Living in America

Broadcast December 21, 2000 You may remember old Scrooge wasn't happy he had to give his clerk in the counting house time off for Christmas. "A poor excuse for picking a man s pocket every twenty-fifth of December! But I suppose you must have the whole day," he said. "Be here all the earlier next morning." Well, we've progressed a bit since those days, maybe. Most working Americans have a three-day weekend coming up. About 1 in 4 will have four days. And a fortunate few will take all of next week. On the other hand, if you happen to work for one of those 24/7 call centers, you may have to work on Christmas Day. Security guards will be at their stations. Many convenience store operators, too. Also hospital staffs, caterers, hotel personnel, emergency repairers of all kinds, fire fighters, police officers, even the staff at Marketplace. Even you, with your long holiday weekend coming up, may be tempted at some point to turn on the home computer and get some work done. The dirty little...

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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