Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. His website can be found here.

Recent Articles

Reasons for Optimism

The arc of American history reveals an unmistakable pattern.

If stagnant wages, near-record inequality, climate change, nuclear buildups, assault weapons, mass killings, trade wars, opioid deaths, Russian intrusions into American elections, kids locked in cages at our border, and Donald Trump in the White House don’t at least occasionally cause you feelings of impending doom, you’re not human. But I want you to remember this: As bad as it looks right now – as despairing as you can sometimes feel – the great strength of this country is our resilience. We bounce back. We will again. Not convinced? First, come back in time with me to when I graduated college in 1968. That year, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Our cities were burning. Tens of thousands of young Americans were being ordered to Vietnam to fight an unwinnable and unjust war, which ultimately claimed over 58,000 American lives and the lives of over 3 million Vietnamese. The nation was deeply divided. And then in...

The 5 Biggest Corporate Lies About Unions

Paul Sancya/Associated Press Union members walk in the Labor Day parade in Detroit earlier this week. Wealthy corporations and their enablers have spread 5 big lies about unions in order to stop workers from organizing and to protect their own bottom lines. Know the truth and spread the truth. Lie #1: Labor unions are bad for workers. Wrong. Unions are good for all workers—even those who are not unionized. In the mid-1950s, when a third of all workers in the United States were unionized , wages grew in tandem with the economy . That’s because workers across America—even those who were not unionized—had significant power to demand and get better wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions. Since then, as union membership has declined, the middle class has shrunk as well. Lie #2: Unions hurt the economy. Wrong again. When workers are unionized they can negotiate better wages, which in turn spreads the economic gains more evenly and strengthens the middle class...

9 Ways to Stay Sane During the Primaries

Chelsea Purgahn/Tyler Morning Telegraph/Associated Press Students filled out voter registration forms at the University of Texas at Tyler prior to the 2018 elections. Once you’re registered to vote, make sure your friends and family are too. As the presidential primaries get under way, it’s easy to get burnt out or overwhelmed by all the candidates and their platforms. Here are 9 ways to stay sane through the madness of the presidential primaries. 1. Look for a candidate with the right ingredients to inspire you and others. The next president will have to be someone who can bring together Americans from all walks of life—across race, class, gender, ethnicity, and religion—into a movement against the hatred, bigotry, and cronyism that now pervades Washington. 2. Don’t get distracted by the horse race , who’s up or who’s down in the polls. Focus on the substance: what their vision is for the country and how it will affect all of our lives. 3...

The 5-Step CEO Pay Scam

Average CEO pay at big corporations topped $14.5 million in 2018. That’s after an increase of $5.2 million per CEO over the past decade, while the average worker’s pay has increased just $7,858 over the decade. Just to catch up to what their CEO made in 2018 alone, it would take the typical worker 158 years . This explosion in CEO pay relative to the pay of average workers isn’t because CEOs have become so much more valuable than before. It’s not due to the so-called free market. It’s due to CEOs gaming the stock market and playing politics. How did CEOs pull this off? They followed these five steps: First: They made sure their companies began paying their executives in shares of stock. Second: They directed their companies to lobby Congress for giant corporate tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks. Third: They used most of the savings from these tax cuts and rollbacks not to raise worker pay or to invest in the future, but to buy back the corporation’s...

The Myth of the Rugged Individual

The American dream promises that anyone can make it if they work hard enough and play by the rules. Anyone can make it by pulling themselves up by their “bootstraps.” Baloney. The truth is: In America today, your life chances depend largely on how you started— where you grew up and how much your parents earned . Everything else— whether you attend college , your chances of landing a well-paying job , even your health —hinges on this start. So as inequality of income and wealth has widened — especially along the lines of race and gender — American children born into poverty have less chance of making it . While 90 percent of children born in 1940 grew up to earn more than their parents, today only half of all American adults earn more than their parents did. And children born to the top 10 percent of earners are typically on track to make three times more income as adults than the children of the bottom 10 percent. The phrase “pulling...

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