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

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...

Smoking, Guns

If I had my way, there'd be laws restricting cigarettes and handguns. But this 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 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 Organizations (RICO) chapter of the Organized Crime Control Act. Justice alleges...

A Proper Global Agenda

T hese days, any official organization with the word "International," "World," or "Global" in its title has to worry about where it meets, check in with the riot police, and pray for rain. Washington is already girding itself for the International Monetary Fund's next gathering. Global protesters haven't communicated clearly to the rest of the world exactly what they're against. As a result, the protests are seen by many as part of a growing revulsion toward globalization in general. George W. Bush, meanwhile, is mounting his own protest against globalization--trashing the Kyoto treaty on climate change, junking the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, indefinitely deferring Senate ratification of the 1996 nuclear test-ban treaty and the 1993 nuclear weapons-reduction treaty, diluting a United Nations agreement to reduce illegal trafficking of small arms, and taking a decidedly low profile in Israel and other settings of ethnic violence. Since the United States is the biggest and strongest...

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