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Robert Reich is familiar to many Democrats as the Secretary of Labor during the administration of President Bill Clinton.  But Reich's work didn't begin or end with the Clinton administration.  He's served three different presidents, written ten books and hundreds of articles, appears as a regular commentator on public radio's "Marketplace," and is currently a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

His book Reason:  Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America spelled out the bankruptcy of neoconservative ideology and pointed up the hunger in America for a Democratic Party willing to stand up and strongly defend progressive ideas.  Robert Reich's latest book, Supercapitalism, isn't as directly confrontational as Reason, but its calm, ordered words and well-documented numbers are, in their own way, as frightening as anything by Stephen King.  

International corporations unrestricted by any government have long been a staple of science fiction dystopias, but you don't have to wait for the world of Blade Runner to encounter these monsters.  You have only to trip down to your nearest "big box" discounter.  We've reached a position where the demand for lower prices absolutely trumps any other factor in the marketplace.  Pass a law restricting pollution?  That's okay.   Corporations will find a place where no such law exists, or where local officials can be bribed to ignore it, and manufacture their goods there.  The same thing applies to labor laws, safety regulations, and any other factor that stands between corporations and delivering a product that undercuts the completion.  Modern technology for communication and transportation allows corporations to play nations against each other and leave regulators in the dust.  To get out of this trap is going to require a significant shift in the relationship between politics and corporations.

Professor Reich has agreed to spend some time on Daily Kos today, answering your questions.  So jump in and participate.

Devilstower: For many people, democracy and capitalism are seen as so closely bound, they're inseparable.  We even view a "free market" as a prerequisite to "freedom."  But does one really promote the other?

Robert Reich: Capitalism may be necessary for democracy, but its' not sufficient. Look at modern China -- a capitalist hothouse. Or Singapore. Forty years ago, Americans assumed that capitalism and democracy went hand in glove. Indeed, we called the American system "democratic capitalism," and told the world it was the best alternative to Soviet communism. Forty years ago, there was some truth to that. Mass production begat mass consumption.

Almost everyone's income grew. Between 1945 and 1975, inequality in America shrank to the lowest it had been up to that time, or at any time since. Most Americans expressed high confidence in government. We were far from perfect -- we still had lots of rural and elderly poverty, still relegated blacks to second-class citizens, still had few opportunities for women, had a communist witch-hunt in the fifties, went to battle in Vietnam, faced more and more pollution, etcetera. But the democratic process was at least strong enough to allow us to begin tackling these problems -- a Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, new opportunities for women, Medicare, the Environmental Protection Act. We got out of Vietnam, we sought to strengthen civil liberties. Now, fast-forward forty years. Our economy is far larger. Consumers and investors have done far better. But democracy is in worse shape. Inequality is wider than it's been since the 1920s, jobs less stable, Main Streets declining, global warming threatening, poverty increasing, more de facto segregation than before, and so on. And a majority of Americans express low confidence in government. In short, our free market doesn't seem to have promoted democracy. It seems, rather, to have submerged it.

DT: Are corporations as we have them today, an integral and necessary part of a capitalist system?

RR: Corporations are simply contractual arrangements to protect investors from liability. To that extent, they're a necessary part of capitalism as it's been organized. But today's large corporation is far different from what it was a quarter century ago. Then, it directly employed vast numbers of people, organized by rank. Today, large corporations are typically global supply chains. They directly employ fewer and fewer people, and contract out most of what they do.

DT: But we often treat corporations as "super citizens," with a great deal of power and very few responsibilities.

RR: It's very important that we understand that corporations are not people. They're just pieces of paper. The "anthropomorphic fallacy" that corporations have human traits leads us to all sorts of absurd positions -- that they have legal rights, for example; that they should be represented in our political process; that they deserve legal standing to sue the government; that they can be criminally prosecuted; that American-based corporations are more "patriotic" than foreign ones; that they should act morally; that they are capable of being charitable; that they pay taxes; and so on. None of these positions has any logic behind it.

DT: Any attempt to restrict corporations is often cast as "protectionism."  Is there a way to push corporations to more responsible behavior without being subject to the shadow of 1929?

RR: Again, corporations are not people. They cannot be pushed to more responsible behavior. They are legal contracts among lots of people, often in different places around the world. But as legal contracts, there's much that the United States government could do to enact and enforce certain standards on their executives and officers -- even if those executives were operating in another country. Remember, the US is the largest and richest market in the world. Every global corporations wants to do business in America. If we say, for example, that every corporation must provide its workers with a salary that's at least half the nation's median wage, then that could have far-reaching consequence. We could also build such a requirement into every trade treaty. That's not protectionism. It's simply an attempt to make sure that the benefits of trade and growth are spread widely, not only in the US but also abroad.

DT: One of your fellow Marketplace commentators, David Frum, this week gave a commentary on how dangerous it was to not bail out corporations who had made bad decisions.  Why are government funds for corporations that are about to fail seen as acceptable, but regulations to keep those same corporations out of trouble attacked?

RR: We have a double standard in America, but it's not about corporations per se. It's about the typically wealthy people who stand behind them as executives and large investors. They get bailed out, because the institutions they run or own are "too big to fail." Look at the 1998 bailout of the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management. Or the Chrysler bailout. Or the airline bailouts after 9/11. Look at the Fed's decision just yesterday to cut short-term interest rates. Look at how easily CEOs can put their companies into bankruptcy and wipe the slate clean (including labor contracts). On the other hand, if you're an average working person, conservatives immediately condemn any move to bail you out -- using the old argument of "moral hazard" (someone who's bailed out from bad decisions will make them again). Even when GW Bush announced his tiny plan to help a small portion of the millions of home owners who may lose their homes over the next year or two because of abusive lending practices, he warned that people should not be bailed out from the consequences of their bad mistakes in buying homes they should have known they can't afford. Shouldn't have known? The people who had the most knowledge and experience about the riskiness of these loans were the mortgage lenders, bankers, credit-rating agency personnel, and hedge fund executives. But the Fed is actively bailing all of them out. And if you're an average working person who's fallen on bad luck, the new bankruptcy law makes personal bankruptcy far harder to come by. Again, double standard.

Why the double standard? Because large corporations wield extraordinary power in Washington. They, their PACs, their lobbyists, their lawyers, and their PR firms essentially run Washington.  

DT: Many studies have indicated that, despite apparently falling prices, Americans spend much more time working for the things they buy than previous generations.  Why are we so willing to jump on the "consumer treadmill?"

RR: The typical American is working harder and longer because the median wage for the typical male worker has dropped over the past thirty years (adjusted for inflation). That means he and his spouse or partner have to work harder and longer to make up for that decline. Meanwhile, the costs of energy, health care, higher education for the kids, and housing have all risen faster than inflation -- adding to the burden. Yes, of course, there's lots of advertising and marketing -- telling people they should buy more stuff. And credit cards are being pushed on everyone. But I think the basic reason has to do with the decline of male hourly wages.

DT: The philosophy of Adam Smith has been taken as a given for so long, that it's become a gospel. Is it time to revisit the basic principles?

<R>RR</R>: It's important to revisit basic principles, over and over again. The economy should work for us, rather than the other way around. And the economy doesn't exist independent of the laws and regulations that define private property, fair contracts, responsibility for accidents or injuries or bad luck, and so on. In other words, we as citizens should have it in our power to define the rules of capitalism, so that it serves our needs. That's hard to do in a small country, unless its citizens want to live like the former Albanians lived, isolated from the rest of the world, and paying the high price for autarchy. But America is the biggest market in the world. We as American citizens -- and Europeans, who live in the other biggest market in the world -- have it in our power to set new rules that better reflect our social values.

DT: Is the "supercapitalism" made possible by globalism and modern technology really the problem, or has it only exposed a basic flaw? In other words, should we be working to fix capitalism, or to replace it with something else?

RR: Other systems have been tried -- communism, socialism, fascism. The twentieth century was littered with their failures. "Democratic capitalism" emerged from the ashes of World War II, and it seemed to work. Now, we have a new system emerging in China. Call it "authoritarian capitalism." Does it work better than democratic capitalism? Is the "democratic" in democratic capitalism still realistic? Perhaps the best way to approach the question in this century is to step outside the ideological debates that have shaped the way we used to think about your question, and ask ourselves how our current system needs to be changed in order to reflect our social values. What should the rules of the game be, in order to, for example, reduce inequality and poverty, reduce global warming, rescue our Main Streets from big-box retailers, raise wages and ensure more stable jobs, and so forth? Some of the answers may require that we sacrifice as consumers and investors. That's okay, as long as we address the tradeoffs. Democracy is supposed to provide us a means for doing this.

DT: Do you think it's possible to address these issues in our political system?

RR: Not in our present political system. It represents the consumer and investor sides of our brains, rather than the citizen side. The first step is to rescue democracy. Nothing else is as important. And in order to do that, each of us needs to learn to practice citizenship. We need a democracy movement -- a movement as strong and as committed as the Civil Rights movement, the feminist movement, the gay rights movement, and the environmental movement. Because if we don't get our democracy back, we can't accomplish anything at all.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:13 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Professor Reich, (38+ / 0-)

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Do you have an opinion on the doctrine of Corporate Personhood and how it can be repealed?

    • Blog This: News Corpse
    • The Internet's Chronicle of Media Decay.

    by KingOneEye on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:10:05 AM PDT

  •  Question for Mr. Reich (9+ / 0-)

    Mr. Reich, is it not time for us to reconsider whether the philosophies of Neo-Liberalism and Globalization provide a benefit to society at large?  Wages, economic security and standard of living compared to other industrialized nations are stagnant or drifting lower.  This was not supposed to happen.  Neo-Liberalism and Globalization are not delivering what was promised to us.

    I think Sen. Clinton would make a very good president.

    by bink on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:11:09 AM PDT

    •  I'd like to know what some of the tenets of this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "neo-liberalism" are, that is, what you mean by it. Can you make a short list?

      "Chickens are decent people." - G. Carlin

      by The House on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:18:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Neo-Liberalism Is ... (7+ / 0-)

        The idea of "liberalizing" economies from government regulation and government ownership.  It emphasizes the privatization of government assets, de-regulation and so-called "free markets."

        It is, unfortunately, the economic flavor of today's Democratic party elites, who foolishly believe that this kind of economic policy has a long-term merit for the average person.  Instead -- together with Globalization -- it is resulting in a "race to the bottom" in global terms, where I believe that Americans will be expected to adopt ever-lower living standards in order to "stay relevant" in global markets.

        I think Sen. Clinton would make a very good president.

        by bink on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:23:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right-Wing (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MontanaMaven, happynz, The House

          It is basically an extremely right-wing, very risky and very speculative economic philosophy ...  The idea that the Democratic party leaders have somehow embraced it frankly blows the mind.

          I think Sen. Clinton would make a very good president.

          by bink on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:24:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Privatization has only one real (5+ / 0-)

          motivation--to get public functions out of review by the public.

          This is not a liberal or neo-liberal notion.  It's an effort to restore the conservative ideal where the "leaders" of the community disposed of public assets as it benefited them and their cronies and allies.  Making  public officials, whether they be office holders in public or private corporations, answerable to the community at large is a relatively new development which those who are affected don't much appreciate.

          It's much more pleasant to manage the people's assets without having to explain or even admit one's mistakes.

          •  Wouldn't that be considered (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ... a flavor of feudalism?

            i am jack's complete lack of surprise -- fight club

            by bustacap on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:43:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I suppose an illustration of this is the commons (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            In colonial America, the central area of a township was frequently held in common by all the settlers who then had the right to pasture their animals safely on this "common ground". The problem would arise when one citizen would have a disproportionate number of sheep and cows to graze but a concern for the commonweal would prevent an abuse of the system ideally. In a less than ideal situation, the "leaders" of the community would find ways to pasture their animals while excluding other people's animals.

            It seems that healthcare is one area where publicly owned entities such as hospitals, convert from governmental districts to 501(C)(3) status so that the decisions of its board is no longer subject to FOIA and other such sunshine laws. However, in such cases, the question is what can individuals do to stop such things?  Frequently, those who do attempt to block or at least publicize such events are punished on some level or another by those who benefit from such conversions.

            •  The public bought into the rationale (0+ / 0-)

              that privately provided services would be more efficient, probably because most people didn't pay too much attention to how facilities were actually run.  We had a municipal utility which was proposed to be privatized, but the rationales provided never made any sense and legitimate criticisms were actually easy to address without selling off the asset.  But that was really only possible because some people in the community were alert.

          •  The other motivation for privatization (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peace voter, Leap Year

            is to get tax dollars into corporate pockets.

            Government services are provided at cost. Corporations have the same costs; add profit and how is that less costly?

        •  More equality over the world population (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          means less for Americans. Can we take it?

          Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured. Primo Levi The Drowned and the Saved

          by abbeysbooks on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:04:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The vogue for neoliberalism has passed ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Leo in NJ

          It became intellectually dominant around the 1970s, and Dems did buy into it to a significant degree - both Carter and Bill Clinton on deregulation, for example, and Clinton on trade.

          Neoliberalism has now been tested and has not worked out so well, so I'd guess there's now a great deal more skepticism even among people who formerly did buy into it.

          The best fortress is to be found in the love of the people - Niccolo Machiavelli

          by al Fubar on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:25:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Professor Reich, please give us an honest . . . (10+ / 0-)

      appraisal of the Clinton, Obama, and Edwards health care Plans.

      Then please answer the following question in a direct manner without using political speak.

      Why do we not have single-payer healthcare in the United States.

      Why do companies make money on the pain and suffering of American citizens?

      Why is providing healthcare a business opportunity in the United States?

      Since our for-profit healthcare system will be 20% of GDP within 10 years, aren't all the candidates who refuse to remove the for-profits from the healthcare equation asking the American people to re-board the Titanic?

      •  nyceve: I love your writing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northsylvania, The Termite
        ... and read it every time it's on the Rec list (which is most of the time).  But I have a little correction:

        Why is providing healthcare a business opportunity in the United States?

        I personally have no problem with any health care provider or associated entity make a reasonable and healthy profit while actually providing care to sick Americans.  What I have a gigantic, screaming problem with is companies that make a profit off of not providing care to sick Americans.  And I think you do, too: your term "Murder by Spreadsheet" explains the concept vividly in only three words.

        i am jack's complete lack of surprise -- fight club

        by bustacap on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:55:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  bustacap, that's an easy one . . . (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peace voter, bustacap, gnat

          Because the health insurance companies take our money then deny us care.

          The CEO's of these monstrous companies make astronomical salaries.

          There's something called a medical/loss ratio. This is the difference between what they spend on our healthcare and their profits.

          •  Now, now (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nyceve, ohiolibrarian, 4jkb4ia

            There is nothing wrong with medical care being a business opportunity. Municipal water treatment plants are a critical part of the infrastructure, and they are not necessarily maintained exclusively by public employees. Municipalities routinely hire contractors to do maintenance and construction work in water treatment infrastructure.

            The difference is that the quality of municipal water is dictated, controlled and verified by laws which dictate what those private contractors can and cannot do. The health care has been thrown to the tender mercies of "free market" in naive faith that the market will make it right.

            I would have no problem with Wellpoint and HCA handling public contracts for hospital operation, and even MegaLife handling the necessary paperwork and what not. The key is to have them operate in accordance with rules defined by public entities that dictate the efficient delivery of care, not efficient extraction of maximum profits.

            (-3.50, -5.23) You know your empire's crumbling when people are getting more religious and less scientific, not the other way around. --David Michael Green

            by mgoltsman on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:12:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  FWIW, NGS handles the paperwork for my (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nyceve, peace voter, mgoltsman, Leo in NJ

              self-funded university insurance. My husband has been in and out of the hospital for the past two years with multiple operations. NGS has been helpful and never given me any guff because they have no financial stake in refusing claims. I certainly have no problem with them making a decent profit, but I know it would be different if they were the insuring party.

              Happy the man and happy he alone--he who can call today his own ... John Dryden

              by ohiolibrarian on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:24:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Neoliberalism and globalization (32+ / 0-)

      "Globalization" is one of those terms that have gone directly from obscurity to meaninglessness without any intervening period of coherence. If you mean the kind of globalization we have now -- which is often a race to the bottom -- I agree with the gist of your comment. But we don't need to limit ourselves to this form of globalization. If the US were to adopt the International Labor Organization's standards, and go on from there to build higher standards for international labor and the environment, we could change globalization from a race to the bottom to a race to the top. Again: The US is the largest and most powerful economic engine in the world. This won't always be the case, but right now we as American citizens have enormous potential power to alter the global rules of the game. It's a matter of getting our democracy back.

      •  Do you think that if we had incorporated (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peace voter

        economic justice into NAFTA, we would now be having the immigration hysteria debate?

        Happy the man and happy he alone--he who can call today his own ... John Dryden

        by ohiolibrarian on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:29:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  ILO isn't the ONLY answer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peace voter

        Adopting ILO standards STILL wouldn't mean that capital and labor have the same power on the global scale.  Also, how will ILO standards be enforced?  In the same way those side-agreement labor standards are right now with NAFTA?  That's really worked out well.  

        We should scrap NAFTA, CAFTA, all FTAs, and the WTO and start over - this time with some social democracy, especially in the U.S.  For every corporate executive on the committees creating these agreements, we should have a proportionate representation of workers as reflective of our economy.  We'll see what kind of trade deals we get then.

  •  How serious is the subprime meltdown? (13+ / 0-)

    Is it bad enough to throw the US into a recession?

    Netroots Nation: No Passport Required

    by pontificator on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:11:14 AM PDT

    •  Subprime meltdown (25+ / 0-)

      The odds of a recession are, in my mind, better than 50-50. The Fed's cut yesterday probably wasn't enough to unfreeze credit markets. But the point I want to make is that these periodic bubbles we've been experiencing (internet, high-tech, housing, etc) are less dramatic than the bubbles the US used to experience before globalization and technology. Don't get me wrong: Recessions are bad; and the people who get hurt the most are usually lower-income. But the bigger problem we face is how to lift wages, reduce inequality, create more stable jobs and communities, fight global warming, and so on. All these transcend the business cycle or what the Fed does or doesn't do.

      •  but in all honesty (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PAbluestater, The House

        but in all honesty why should a corporation care about the american worker any more.  They are loyal only to their shareholders.  To me this is what americans need to understand, what was once a partnership is no more.  What is good for corporations may not be good for the amercian citizen, and in reality it usually isn't.

        Corporations work in a myopic tunnel and care only about getting the cheapest labor, the easiest environmental laws, healthcare laibilities lifted,etc and that all means looking elsewhere.

        Its almost as if globalization has set the table to destroy america and its middle class.  We are too expensive to pay, we have to be given healthcare, we have to have our air and water kept somewhat clean, these are ALL liabilities in the mind of the corporation.

        Personally I think the middle class is done in this country. I can see no way it will get its footing back, short of getting all private  money out of elections.

        Generals gathered in their masses Just like witches at black masses.. Evil minds that plot destruction Sorcerers of deaths construction..........

        by pissedpatriot on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:07:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  National Healthcare Plan Question (7+ / 0-)

    Professor Reich, what effect would a National Healthcare plan, like the ones proposed by Edwards, Obama, and Clinton, have on our National Economy?  Would it ultimately aid in the competitiveness of American Industry (like car manufacturing) by providing the healthcare that industry is trying to provide now?

    •  corollary question would be (0+ / 0-)

      since most of the countries to which "American" jobs are being exported, don't offer any of the benefits afforded American workers, isn't blaming healthcare for the inability of American industry to compete really a red herring?  The American worker remains one of the most productive workforces in the world. It seems to me that excessive profittaking as opposed to profitmaking is the problem for many floundering corporations. Why should a CEO who took his company to the bottom of the pile get $10M to slink out of town, head bowed (chuckling all the way to the bank)

      •  ask any business (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Leo in NJ

        ask any business owner, putting the responsibility and huge cost of healthcare on the american business owners back is killing us.  Lets try to remember that CEOs making 10 million a year is not the typical owner and business in america.

        Generals gathered in their masses Just like witches at black masses.. Evil minds that plot destruction Sorcerers of deaths construction..........

        by pissedpatriot on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:09:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  are we talking small businesses? (0+ / 0-)

          I think only about 50% of Mom and Pops offer their workers healthcare coverage and many Mom and Pops are family affairs with one or two outside workers.

          Even the 50% that does offer healthcare coverage offers a catastrophic type of coverage with a large deductible, so that the employee's true benefit is getting the discounted rate given the carrier by the healthcare providers.  Even so, in an environment where hospital room and board locally is around $2500/day, it does not take long to burn off even a $5K deductible, in the event of a medical catastrophe.

          Depending on the average age of the employee, such catastrophic coverage is around $200/month for an individual.  Most small businesses years ago stopped the old policies with the $10 copay and $100 deductible.  Assuming the worker pays for 25% of his coverage, this is an outlay of $150/month/employee for healthcare coverage of a sort.  Since 1984, I believe the other forms of business insurance have risen as fast as health insurance and material costs and set or sunk costs have also kept pace or outstripped inflation.
          At any rate, if the employee is making $10/hr, his health insurance is $1800/yr for an employee grossing a bit over 20K per year.
          What percentage of operating costs should healthcare be for a small business, both in terms of per employee and in terms of a business' gross?
          I still think it is a red herring to throw people off.    

          •  red herring (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Trial Lawyer Richard

            its already been happening,  business in the US is saddled with healthcare and many of us simply dont offer it any more because we cant afford it.  Castrophic insurance is a bullshit rip off that protects noone and is useless.

            Generals gathered in their masses Just like witches at black masses.. Evil minds that plot destruction Sorcerers of deaths construction..........

            by pissedpatriot on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 06:30:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Then there's the question of job losses in the US (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Trial Lawyer Richard

        ...that are attributable to the fact that other countries (like Canada) are more competitive on the basis of affordable health care, and foreign companies are locating north of our border for precisely this reason.  This is something I heard; is there any truth to this?

  •  Question (5+ / 0-)

    What can be done about the environmental devastation going on in Nigeria caused by our oil corporations?

  •  I look forward to, and try to never miss (11+ / 0-)

    Robert Reich's pieces each week on Marketplace.

    I wonder if we can ever restore balance between what's "good" for corporate America and what's good for the actual working people of our country while our courts still recognize the "personhood" (and all the rights thus bestowed on them) of the corporation.  Is there any chance this could ever change and, in your view, should it?

  •  Brillant Writing thanks and a cple questions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mogolori, Fabian, The House, goon 01

    Mr. Reich,

    To your best estimation, what will labor look like under yet another Clinton Admin.?

    In Mr. Reich's book, 'Locked in the Cabinet' labor concerns were nearly completely shut down.


    Second question,

    Mr. Reich,

    Allow me to preface this with saying I'm a huge fan of Al Gore's efforts towards Global Warming awareness.

    Having said that, do you feel that his main reason for Al Gore not being an electable canidate is because of the contridiction of being such a key figure in the birth of the 'Free Market' or 'Free Trade' boom and his works as an environmental advocate?

    As many of the corporations had sought to escape the tougher (somewhat of a joke) EPA standards to set up factories in countries with lax, if any environmental accountability

    After 28 years of Conservative Presidents, it's time to give someone else a chance. So, have a seat Hillary! - in Ve-Ri-Tas I trust.

    by imtimmaaay on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:13:32 AM PDT

    •  Labor under another Clinton administration, Gore (12+ / 0-)

      Organized labor's best chance to make a resurgence is in the local service economy -- retail workers, hospital workers, restaurant workers, hotel workers, child and elder-care, and so on. These people aren't competing directly in the global economy; their jobs can't be done by someone in a developing nation (although many can be done by immigrants from developing nations) and they can't be done by technology (because personal attention is at the heart of them). Would a second Clinton administration make much of a difference? I expect that the "Employee Free Choice Act" would be signed into law -- making it harder for employers to fight unions and fire workers who want to form them.

      As to Gore, I give him enormous credit for making the issue of global warming so palpable to so many people around the world. But even he would probably admit he wasn't a great candidate for president.

      •  workers & the NAFTA (5+ / 0-)

        Hello Mr. Reich,

        I followed the NAFTA debate very closely during the Clinton administration.  Do you think it was wise to put the agreement on the fast track that prevented our congress from adding provisions to protect workers, jobs and the environment?  Do you have any regrets with respect to that agreement?


      •  Thank you, Sir. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        goon 01

        After 28 years of Conservative Presidents, it's time to give someone else a chance. So, have a seat Hillary! - in Ve-Ri-Tas I trust.

        by imtimmaaay on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:55:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's an honor (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to speak with you, Mr. Reich.

        I must respectfully disagree with you, however, on "But even he would probably admit he wasn't a great candidate for president." While any campaign makes its share of mistakes, it turns out that Gore faced substantial odds, many not of his own making. On the heels of the impeachment circus, Gore started off with trailing Bush by 15-18% points in early-mid 1999. Media, an important pillar of any function democracy, failed to do its job right, before the netroots came to exist to help set the record straight to a degree. And, Gore was forced to fight on two fronts because of Ralph Nader's third party run; in a closely polarized country, that makes a significant difference (Sr. Bush in 1992 being another  case in point; Perot gnawing away at Bush-I forced the latter to fight on two fronts, and gave the opening for Clinton-Gore to drive their message home.) Gore overcame those double digit deficits against continued odds to win the popular vote and likely FL as well (and hence the election as well). I have compiled the data and other information to support these arguments at this link: The 2000 Presidential election: A Synopsis


        Turning to the subject of flow of jobs, in a connected and inter-dependent world, given the dramatically differing wage levels betweens countries, the system clearly tempts capital to flow in the direction of reduced costs of production.

        On possible solutions for ensuring a decent level of employment security here at home, Employee Free Choice Act sounds like an excellent step in the right direction.

        Based on the vote on this this year:

        On March 1, 2007, the House of Representatives passed the act by a vote of 241 - 185. The Senate on June 26, 2007 voted 51-48 on a Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consider the bill. Because 60 votes were needed to invoke cloture, the bill is unlikely to pass during the 110th Congress.

        it appears that we not only need a Democratic President in 2009, but also closer to 60 votes in the senate for the next session.  

        Since the senate vote was along party lines except for Sen. Specter, it seems to me that labor unions and progressive activist should ramp up pressure on all of the senate candidates, Democrats and Republicans, on this issue heavily in the 2008 cycle.

        One question that I have is non trade imbalance. Do you think that imposing some conditions to maintain a healthy level of imports to exports ratio with individual countries would be a viable and effective means to regulate trade flow? Eg, Our trade with China is so unbalanced (imports over $200bn and exports only around $25bn, making for  a 8:1 imports to exports ratio), eg, is a disturbingly high trade disparity. Would imposition of tariffs when the imports/exports ratio exceeds a certain level (say imports/exports ratio exceeds 2.5) be possible and helpful? Any other solutions you propose for maintaining a healthier trade balance?

        One other thought I have is that, perhaps some sort of mandated stickers on products that give the buyer information about what percentage of that product was produced using American goods and labor could help. That way individuals can decide to help the US economy by buying products that are made mostly using goods and labor at home. i.e. individuals can employ their own finer-grain discretion in the buying choices they make. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this as well.

        Thank you for being here and for your response in advance.

      •  Gore (4+ / 0-)

        But even he would probably admit he wasn't a great candidate for president.

        Well, since he got more votes than the other guy, I'd say he was pretty great.

        Support Thom Hartmann and migratory song birds! Buy shade grown coffee from a sponsor.

        by OLinda on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:05:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  DHinMI said the following: (0+ / 0-)

      Gore developed pretty close ties with organized labor as VP.  Gore became the go-to guy in the administration when Clinton wasn't understanding or attending to their needs.  He really gets labor issues fairly well...

      In 2000 he was calling for stricter enforcement of labor and environmental standards, and had become a convert to the fair trade side of the debate.  And that partly happened because of his own change of thinking on the issue, but also with some prodding from the UAW and other unions who refused to endorse him until he advocated a position more to their liking.

      by DHinMI on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 10:01:54 AM PDT

  •  Would you be willing to support the elimination (19+ / 0-)

    of corporations a "legal person" completely?

    Why do you call for an elimination of the corporate profits tax?

  •  As Bill Maher put it... (13+ / 0-)

    Our demand for cheap stuff is so strong that they're making stuff out of "poison, mud and shit".


    Al Gore didn't lose in 2000. America did.

    by fink on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:14:13 AM PDT

  •  why don't Democratic leaders develop spines? (11+ / 0-)

    In your book, you argue that if Democrats stood up for their ideals, they'd win. The same argument is made in The Left Hand of God by Michael Lerner, and probably by other authors. People here at DK make this point all the time. Every day, we beg our leaders to pass legistation, even if Bush vetoes it. So do most of the people on Air America radio. Why is this argument not heard by our leaders? I believe that if we really stood strong for our values, we'd win. Why are our leaders such wimps?

    •  Spineless Democrats (27+ / 0-)

      Yes, the readers of this blog, and listeners of Air America, and inhabitants of Berkeley and Cambridge, and some other blue places on the American electoral map agree with one another. But why aren't our legislators listening? Because lots of other Americans don't agree with us. Part of the problem is that we're living in progressive bubbles. We're not talking enough to people who disagree with us. We're not listening to their arguments, and trying to engage them. That's what democracy is supposed to be about -- public deliberation. That's what practicing citizenship should be about. Every time I see an anti-war demonstration in Berkeley I ask myself: Who are they demonstrating to?

      •  Progressive bubbles. I like that. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, BachFan, goon 01, xysea, revelwoodie

        Ya gotta be part of the emulsion, not a bubble.  Not so profound.  Just dead right.  Thanks for playing with us today.  Thrill someone and rec a few comments!

        Because everyone has one. Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

        by SpamNunn on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:52:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Right on! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northsylvania, eaglecries, SpamNunn

        That's why I make it my business to be active in the "real world."  Call radio stations.  Write letters to your paper.  Go to council meetings and public hearings and speak out.  And most importantly, campaign for progressive candidates.

        •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          One of the most shocking political moments I've witnessed was our VERY Republican precinct chair campaigning for a Democratic candidate for school board. He did this because she took the trouble to go talk to him and, lo and behold, they agreed on enough things that he went out and worked for her campaign. She was a good progressive too.

      •  Part of the problem seems to be (5+ / 0-)

        the fractured nature of the media in the age of subscription cable.  There was a time when a demonstration in one part of the country was national news and carried into every television in the country.  Now it's unlikely to make the news on anything other than a local affiliate, and far less likely to make it onto everyone's television.  There are too many sexier channels we can switch to.

        In essence the fragmented, purely corporate, decreasingly public media makes it so that we can all live in as much of a bubble as we want...and public dialog doesn't happen, because the borders between those bubbles become harder every day.

        Because most campaign T-shirts are boring: Carl Hanna at café press.

        by Black Maned Pensator on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:54:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Respectfully disagree (8+ / 0-)

        Something like 60% want us out of Iraq, and think it was a mistake to go in the first place. There is, I believe, even more support for things like universal health care. It seems like the bubble is surrounding Congress, the president, lobbyists, media and the rest of the beltway.

        Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

        by corwin on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:54:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  we have to be careful and not assume that (5+ / 0-)

          being against the war in Iraq means 60% or 70% share all the same values we do, because quite frankly, they obviously do not.

          While we do have common ground to work from, I can testify personally from conversations with my coworkers and customers that a lot of people are very skittish about progressive values [immediate reactions  include labels like 'socialism', for example] in their discourse.

          socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

          by shpilk on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:03:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think the standing up part is what people want (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corwin, doinaheckuvanutjob, Leo in NJ

        I do live in the blue dot in a red state (Austin, Texas) but I still live in Texas. So while it is a progressive bubble, the conservative part is not that far away. Closer, when the legislature is in session.

        I hate to disagree with you, but I think that even people who disagree with us would respect us more if we waffled less.

      •  Careful there (6+ / 0-)

        The readers of this blog, listeners of Air America, and inhabitants of Berkeley and Cambridge were right about this war when it was very, very popular.  You are among, as I imagine you're starting to realize, a very diverse and very rational and very much growing population of progressives, but your words are almost caricature.  I appreciate your work and your willingness to dialogue with us, but careful not to damage your credibility by painting our opinions as marginal or fringe.  They are actually quite mainstream on many topics.

        Katrina changed everything.

        by The Termite on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:04:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Paying Attention ? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        People are not rushing off to demonstrate their lose of civil liberties etc. They are rushing home to see what happened to O.J.

        Lary Waldman

      •  You miss something here... (3+ / 0-)

        This kind of facile analysis always baffled me from people who should be smarter and know better.  

        People are not making ideological calculations when they vote.  They are feeling their way toward a choice at the ballot box, in terms of partisan identification, and even in ideological identification (in the long-run).  People with spine and backbone activate feelings in most folks that set them on a course towards the other things.

        Take rural Wisconsin for example, where I come from.  Russ Feingold always does very well - mostly because he comes out and tells it like he thinks it is, and he's not afraid to show some spine - not pussyfooting around.  They also appreciate that he engages folks seriously - like you say a democrat should.  And he's done his fair share to create more Democrats and liberals simply by communicating well (not always great, but well) what progressive, liberal values are all about and how they align with the values and beliefs most people have around here.  

        Not bad for a twice-divorced, liberal Jew who went to Harvard in Wisconsin politics.  

        Saying Democrats shouldn't stand up for their principles with some spine because some folks don't agree with them misses the knowledge and understanding of years of good poli sci research as well as decades of empirical evidence to the contrary.

      •  This is why the Clinton health plan will work. (0+ / 0-)

        Because it doesn't seek to destroy an entire industry, like single-payer would.  The reason we don't have single-payer is because the opposing interests are so entrenched, it would never pass Congress even if there were 400 Democrats in Congress.  A plan closer to the Massachusetts plan is a lot easier to pass because it's relatively painless (so I am led to understand), and it provides real competition that will raise all plans to at least an acceptable baseline.

        I tried to explain this to somebody over at Salon this morning, and it appears some people can't wrap their heads around the idea that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and just because the American economy is full of examples, like the wireless communications industry, where the only "choices" are between plans that suck and plans that suck somewhat less, this doesn't mean that given genuine choices (like Congress's health plan), competition won't ever work.

        •  SC has 5 Medicaid HMOs competing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          for business right now and from where I sit, I do not see any progress in reducing the cost of Medicaid.  The original cost centers were identified as prescription drugs, ER visits and specialist care.  Attempts to deal with these areas have not been successful since Medicaid means you are dealing with the sickest and poorest population without any significant number to cherrypick. With Medicare HMOs at least there were enough numbers to cherrypick to make the actuaries happy.

          Limiting specialist care to only those visits approved by a PCP has resulted in many specialists deciding not to bother with the HMOs and more paperwork on the PCP. However, self referral does not work either, so there appears to be no solution.

          Negotiating with pharm companies seemed like a winner until everyone realized that the formularies were going to be changing every month and even if only a few drugs change per carrier each month, it quickly becomes burdensome dealing with the changes or with the pharmacists calling about the script or with the carriers trying to get an exception to the formulary.

          ERs worked no better as hospitals depend on the Medicaid population to cover part of its sunk costs. While Medicaid pays below the cost of providing the care, it still pays above an empty ER. Also, in rural areas, physicians are unable to deal with afterhours call and weekend call in addition to their usual workload, so the ER has to take the overflow.

          So far, the major savings to Medicaid seems to be that everyone is so confused about which patient has which plan which month that not all the services provided are being captured as charges, which is a traditional niche area for carriers to find profit.  

  •  Your book "Locked in the Cabinet" (8+ / 0-)

    was hilarious.  It gave me a good picture of how the real work of an incoming president begins.  Ever since that book, I have looked a bit askance at big speeches and more at what the constraints are against the person in that office.

    Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities-Voltaire

    by hairspray on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:14:57 AM PDT

  •  How deep is the corporate corruption (8+ / 0-)

    and what can we as individual citizens do to help bring this to light as well as stop it?

    socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

    by shpilk on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:15:11 AM PDT

  •  ALan Greenspan said that he feared (13+ / 0-)

    prolonged and growing surpluses because he thought that could make a situation where government could gain a detrimental ability to influence the markets.

    Couldn't surpluses have been used for all the public works we so desperately need?

    "Chickens are decent people." - G. Carlin

    by The House on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:16:11 AM PDT

  •  Gee, maybe the world (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    really is flat?:

    We've reached a position where the demand for lower prices absolutely trumps any other factor in the marketplace.  Pass a law restricting pollution?  That's okay.   Corporations will find a place where no such law exists, or where local officials can be bribed to ignore it, and manufacture their goods there.  The same thing applies to labor laws, safety regulations, and any other factor that stands between corporations and delivering a product that undercuts the completion.  Modern technology for communication and transportation allows corporations to play nations against each other and leave regulators in the dust.


    Tom's acorn.  

    Because everyone has one. Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:17:01 AM PDT

  •  Professor, of course we'd all like to know... (7+ / 0-)

    ...your thoughts on the Democratic presidential nomination contest.

    Wouldn't it be great if you announced your preference, or at least dropped some hints as to what you're thinking about the candidates, here on Daily Kos?

    Nobody has died as a result of this comment.

    by viralvoice on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:17:43 AM PDT

  •  You, sir, are a most (4+ / 0-)

    What's so hard about Peace, Love, and Truth and Progress?

    by melvin on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:17:44 AM PDT

  •  Mr. Reich -- (4+ / 0-)

    ---I'm only part way through your book, so I apologize if this question is addressed there:

    Would you support some kind of international trade/workers' rights treaty?  What sort of provisions do you think such a treaty should include?

  •  Don't you think the 1945-1975 period is (5+ / 0-)

    better explained by a lack of competition to US manufacturing?  The rest of the world was destroyed during WWII, but we came out unscathed (and actually stronger), thus we had a huge competitive advantage and were able to dramatically increase market share during this period, which lead to higher wages.  Right around the time of the first oil crisis, the rest of the world began/caught up and ever since we have declined.

    •  The Not Quite Golden Age (14+ / 0-)

      To be sure, much of the rest of the world's advanced economy was destroyed by the war. But that was a drag on the US economy, not a help to it. No, as I say in my book, the real reason median wages rose and the wages of even those in the bottom 10 percent rose, and inequality declined, during that 1945-1975 period was the rise of labor unions. By 1955, 35 percent of American workers were unionized. Now, fewer than 8 percent in the private sector are unionized. Also, we had a pluralist system of representation (pace Nelson Polsby and Robert Dahl), countervailing power (John Kenneth Galbraith) and political parties that reached down into local political organizations. All these features of democratic capitalism between 1945 and 1975 enabled citizens to have a voice. Most are gone, now.

      •  Golden Age? (0+ / 0-)

        1975?  Whip Inflation Now and the period right after Nixon's wage and price controls was not the golden age.

        1945 to 196-something or other; depending on where you lived; was also not a golden age if you had too much melanin in your skin and could legally be paid less for the same job than someone who looks like me.

        Now Jan 1993 to Jan 2001; THAT was a Golden Age.

  •  We seen to be facing a world in which most of (10+ / 0-)

    our kids will be even less well off than we are. Is there anything that we can do to prevent this?

  •  Do you think the Fed's .5% drop in interest rates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4jkb4ia, anotherdemocrat

    is going to be enough to reverse the housing crash?  149 or so sub-prime lenders have been deep-sixed recently, but Wall Street seemed to get aroused yesterday by the .5% cut (much to the joy of the media talking heads...and of course bush will site this as a sign of our 'strong economy'...).  But really, isn't Bernanke just putting a band-aid on top of a compound-fracture?

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:19:24 AM PDT

  •  I heard Gore suggest (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, BachFan, anotherdemocrat

    eliminating the payroll tax and replacing it with a pollution tax.

    In my state, we're dependent on sin taxes to pay for government and replacing them with optional sin taxes -- lottery, tobacco, alchohol.

    I like Gore's suggestion of taxing bad habits. But does it make a government dependent on bad habits, as my state's government has become?

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

    by zic on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:19:58 AM PDT

    •  Sin taxes (16+ / 0-)

      The problem with all "sin" taxes -- pollution, gambling, alcohol, and so on -- is they're regressive. They take a bigger bite out of a poorer person's paycheck than a richer persons, even if the poorer person didn't gamble or drink or smoke or pollute more than the richer one. It's even more regressive when you realize that, sadly, the poorer you are the more likely you are to gamble, drink, and smoke. So the poor get a double-whammy from sin taxes.

      •  which is the reason lotteries have not (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        rescued the states the way they were supposed to during the Reagan years.

        I note more and more states are applying for 1155 Medicaid Waivers, which will give them more freedom to devise their own Medicaid schemes.  TennCare was one of the early examples, I believe.

        It seems the states granted the waivers are mostly using their newfound freedom to contract with private carriers to herd Medicaid recipients into HMOs or some sort of lookalike.
        If the President is successful in blocking any expansion of SCHIP and if the states do not find any new revenue sources to fund Medicaid, is there any solution for the current Medicaid crisis, outside of a single payer system?

        A cursory check on the candidates' plans does not reveal any special insights into the problems underlying the current Medicaid programs or current states' attempts to control the costs of Medicaid.  

      •  You emphasize the role of consumer choice... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        4jkb4ia a driving force, so shouldn’t we seek to increase the incentives for sustainable choices by internalizing social and environmental costs in pricing?

        While regressivity is a real problem, aren’t there ways of mitigating it?

        (Note: I'm speaking here primarily of the carbon tax.)

        "Rise like Lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number; shake your chains to earth like dew, ye are many -- they are few." -- Percy Shelley

        by Autarkh on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:28:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's this kind of Gore thinking (0+ / 0-)

      that has kept me from wanting him for pres.

      His superego is just too active. And remember Tipper was the one forcing the music industry to rate the lyrics of songs so  children wouldn't be exposed to bad words. Like that's the only place they hear them.

      Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured. Primo Levi The Drowned and the Saved

      by abbeysbooks on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:28:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you 100% (0+ / 0-)

        I like Al Gore, I think he'd make a decent president.  But replacing the payroll tax with a carbon tax is just downright bad economics.  

        You can't have sustainability without sustainable democracy - which won't happen with a class-polarized society (the endgame of getting rid of a payroll tax and income taxes).

        •  Payroll taxes are highly regressive... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...and discourage employment. In fact, it's the main direct tax paid by poor people.

          Surely we can devise something better.

          I think you're mischaracterizing Gore by suggesting that he doesn't care about class and income inequality. He never suggested doing away with the income tax.

          "Rise like Lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number; shake your chains to earth like dew, ye are many -- they are few." -- Percy Shelley

          by Autarkh on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:58:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Music industry (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The music industry should have agreed to put the text of the lyrics accessibly alongside records at their cost, which they refused. Had they agreed, there would have been no need for record labels, which are not unlike movie ratings in any event.

        Besides, Tipper was never for censorship of any kind (everyone's free to produce whatever they wanted; only that they should inform the buyers what's inside). The PMRC issue was an exaggerated and unjust manufactured attack on the Gores. Even the Zappas concurred:

        The American Prospect
        Volume 11, Issue 21.   September 24 - October 2 2000

        Mothers of Invention

             Today, Gail Zappa is a fervent Gore supporter and a top Democratic Party donor; she was a California delegate to the Democratic national convention in August. And she says she's tired of media misrepresentation. "I don't believe for an instant, nor did Frank believe for an instant, that Tipper Gore was actually for censorship," she says. "Now that he's dead, it's really disgusting to me that the media still uses Frank Zappa against Tipper Gore."

        •  Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'm married to a musician, I'm a writer, and I support Gore because Tipper did support free speech; I still believe it was censorship, however, and I laughed at the way the label actually boosted album sales. It's possible that label propelled hip hop into the dominant form of pop music for it's time.

          If Al were to announce today, I'd be torn between him, Edwards, and moving to another country -- currently my fondest dream.

          In Denmark, the government pays you to perform original music. That's something special.

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

          by zic on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 01:00:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  What can be done to revive manufacturing (14+ / 0-)

    in the US? We don't seen to make anything anymore.

    •  We can do this: (7+ / 0-)
      • Support companies that still use U.S. made products.  There aren't many left, but the worst thing we can do is ignore them and pretend they don't exist.  They need us now more than ever.
      • Do not support companies that import cheap pre-landfill mass.  This is the hard one since most retail outlets are overflowing with cheap imports.
      • Pay more for quality items that last.  Buying $5 rakes may sound like a great idea at the time but the fact is a $40 American made rake will last several times as long.

      There was a cute dress at a women's clothing store a few months ago.  The first thing I noticed about it was how flimsy it looked and felt.  The second thing I noticed was the "Made in China" label.  Someone made that dress for .30 cents an hour.  I was astonished and insulted.  

      •  But China also makes high end stuff (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        so it was the American manufacturer that set the rules for material, number of stitches per inch, quality of thread,etc. The factory is just complying, doing what they are told to do.

        Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured. Primo Levi The Drowned and the Saved

        by abbeysbooks on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:30:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          While shopping for a winter coat, I noticed that Benetton's "made in Ukraine" coat looked as if the lining was made for a different article of clothing. The C&H coat was made in China, and was acceptable. Nonetheless, I've decided to sew my own.

          •  Buy thrift and yard sale (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            northsylvania, 4jkb4ia, pkbarbiedoll

            instead. Much cheaper and better. Much much better quality.Actually I talked with a woman on a bus once who was a supervisor in a sewing factory in upstate PA. She said their jobs had gone overseas but she had hers as she was an inspector. She said they would come back with the top ones and bottom ones done very well but when you opened them in the middle they were a mess.She said they had to throw away so much that it cost them much more to have the work done overseas.

            Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured. Primo Levi The Drowned and the Saved

            by abbeysbooks on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 02:33:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  you are full of the good questions today... (6+ / 0-)

      Placing sky-high tariffs on any nation running a trade surplus with ours would be a good start.

      I've witnessed this phenomena first-hand in my former career as a guitar builder.  Only boutique instruments get made here in the US, with some notable exceptions - those exceptions being a few companies who have embraced the worst practices of their foreign competition, ie:

      -automating all the skilled work.
      -firing all the skilled, highly paid labor.
      -hiring unskilled labor for about $1 more than minimum wage, minimum benefits only.

      Breaks my heart to say it, but Taylor and Martin are the worst offenders in this regard.

      The cure?  Make it profitable to make things in this country again.  

      ANYONE can write something on a website. It doesn’t make it true just because you read it on the magical computer box.

      by arbiter on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:43:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you know anything about history or economics (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        4jkb4ia, BachFan, arbiter

        Those "sky high" tariffs will be met with retaliatory tariffs which will cripple our exporters ($1.3+ trillion and going up in 2005) and our economy.  They will also create a huge inflationary wave that will further hurt joe six pack.  I highly doubt we will ever have a manufacturing base (measured by # of employees) in this country that we had in the 1950s simply due to technology.  In order to stay on top, we must innovate and continue to promote education and research.

        •  yes, I know plenty about both - (0+ / 0-)

          and you may want to look at those countries which we run the highest trade deficits with - they tend to not import very much.  China enacting retaliatory tariffs isn't going to hurt the US.

          I agree with your statement regarding numbers of manufacturing employees; automation has taken a permanent bite out of that job market.

          ANYONE can write something on a website. It doesn’t make it true just because you read it on the magical computer box.

          by arbiter on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:30:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Our trade with China is not insignificant (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            •  No, it's not - (0+ / 0-)

              but my point is, what is that trade worth?  We're on the losing end of that exchange every time and we have been for years.  

              It's not worth it to do business for the sake of doing business.  We have to make money.  And in the case of doing business with China, they are taking more money than they are giving us, and taking American jobs to boot (I'll note that the cost of that isn't in the deficit numbers - if it were they'd be much, much higher).

              The current situation vis a vis China is that some American businessmen are making money, the Chinese Red Army's business subsidiaries are making money, and us Americans are getting screwed each and every day that we don't enact tariffs to rectify the trading imbalance that currently exists between the two nations.

              By the numbers you cite (good numbers, BTW) if we cut off all trade with China tomorrow, we would lose 55 billion dollars (I'll use the 2006 numbers as that's the last full year).  By not enacting tariffs and leaving the status quo in place, we lost 232 billion dollars last year.

              Your numbers don't lie.  If we cut off all trade with China tomorrow, we'd be far, far better off.

              ANYONE can write something on a website. It doesn’t make it true just because you read it on the magical computer box.

              by arbiter on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:34:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  We've met the enemy (16+ / 0-)

        American consumers want the best possible deals. We want low-cost flat-screen televisions. We want low-cost ipods. We want low-cost autos. We want cut-rate airlines. But where to we suppose these great deals come from? They come from companies that cut costs, mostly by cutting wages or outsourcing or fighting unions. It's very important that progressives understand that most of us (regardless of our politics) have a split brain. The consumer in our head wants the great deals. The citizen in our head is concerned about widening inequality, bad wages, unstable jobs, loss of Main Streets, global pollution, and so forth. That's why we need to take democracy back -- so we can address these contraditions, and decide what we're willing to trade off as consumers (and as investors) for the sake of certain social goods.

        •  and he is us... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          abarefootboy, sockpuppet

          The consumer in our head wants the great deals. The citizen in our head is concerned about widening inequality, bad wages, unstable jobs, loss of Main Streets, global pollution, and so forth.

          Amen.  The consumer needs a "come to Jesus" moment about what, exactly, is gained and lost by that low price purchase.  You can have low prices on consumer goods or good, well-paying jobs - pick one.

          ANYONE can write something on a website. It doesn’t make it true just because you read it on the magical computer box.

          by arbiter on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:34:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Some time back, I think it was a WSJ piece (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            detailing how Walmart persuaded Levis to cut the cost of jeans each business cycle.  The upshot was that Levi eventually pulled its manufacturing out of the US, blaming employee costs on their move to cheaper labor climes.
            It seems the problem is more complex than that. I can remember a day when people saved for what they wanted instead of borrowed to have it immediately. Whereby a deal was making something last longer or do more than would be expected and today it seems that a "deal" just means it is cheaper than a similar item at that moment.  It seems need has gone completely out of the equation as we have moved to being a nation where there are literally more cars than drivers in many households.  The one car family seems to be a dinosaur.  

            •  I recall in the '70s it was "common wisdom" (0+ / 0-)

              that buying what you wanted now was smart because it would cost more later due to inflation. Of course, nobody stopped the instant gratification when inflation went down.

              So much for common wisdom ...

              Happy the man and happy he alone--he who can call today his own ... John Dryden

              by ohiolibrarian on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:25:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  But... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

 don't address the fundamental question of how we reconcile the low-road/low-cost-and-price visceral desires with the high-road model's citizenship desires.

          What's the result of taking back democracy?

        •  The Brits do this voluntarily (0+ / 0-)

          to some extent. The media educates people about the real cost of their decisions, and educated people buy accordingly. They have two things going for them that Americans don't though. Societal peer pressure and at least a few liberal media outlets of national stature.

      •  Read your history books on the times when we had (0+ / 0-)

        high tariffs.

        Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured. Primo Levi The Drowned and the Saved

        by abbeysbooks on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:31:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Revive manufacturing (11+ / 0-)

      First off, it's important to understand that the physical side of all products -- the thing you touch or taste or carry -- is coming to be the least valuable part of it. More valuable is the design, engineering, system integration, advertising, marketing, financial services, legal service, distribution, and all the rest of the invisibles that go into such products. That's what higher-paid Americans are doing these days -- adding substantially to the value of "things" through such invisibles. Even if we were to put a giant wall around America and decide nothing we made could be done abroad, we'd still be losing manufacturing jobs. They'd mostly be done by numerically-controlled machine tools, robots, and computers. The real challenge is to give more Americans the capacity to add more value to the global economy.

  •  Welcome Professor Reich. My question is, (6+ / 0-)

    "Do you know of any method, short of aggressive Congessional investigations and hearings, to track down the missing billions in Iraq in order to bring some accountability to this historic theft?"

    Thank you....

    Thanks a lot, DICK!!! -K.O.

    by Rumarhazzit on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:21:17 AM PDT

  •  In repairing the system of Democracy... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, BachFan, Positronicus

    How would you suggest the 'Lobbyist Influence' on Congress be regulated?

    After 28 years of Conservative Presidents, it's time to give someone else a chance. So, have a seat Hillary! - in Ve-Ri-Tas I trust.

    by imtimmaaay on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:21:20 AM PDT

  •  Law? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, Positronicus

    Should the legal status of corporations be changed in order to remove their protection as legal "citizens"?

  •  You say: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, pkbarbiedoll, Positronicus

    His book Reason:  Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America spelled out the bankruptcy of neoconservative ideology and pointed up the hunger in America for a Democratic Party willing to stand up and strongly defend progressive ideas.

    I say:

    A Vote For John Edwards Is A Vote For Yourself. Iowa Underground

    by ThunderHawk13 on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:21:43 AM PDT

  •  What should the next President's (5+ / 0-)

    immediate and urgent priorities be with regard to international trade agreements?

    Molly Ivins wanted WHO for President? But WHY?

    by Positronicus on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:21:44 AM PDT

  •  Tough decisions need to be made (3+ / 0-)

    One one hand, people like my father shop at China*Box because he is a veteran living on a tight budget.  

    On the other, he has no choice but to shop at China*Box because China*Box kicked local mom & pops to the curb.  And since the passage of NAFTA they placed increased pressure on suppliers to offshore, which leads to fewer good-paying middle class jobs.

    There really isn't an easy way out of this mess.  The only realistic (and I believe only sustainable)    way is to strongly encourage localized production and discourage free-for-all globalization, which is killing America (after it killed Mexico in the 90's).

    •  Localized production (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gnat, 4jkb4ia, SherriG, revelwoodie

      I'm all in favor of producing and buying locally. But the fact is, this would cause the prices of lots of things to be much higher than they are at present. If we had a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system that caused us to pay the true cost of goods and services -- including the environmental costs -- then many more locally-produced goods and services would be attractive (because transportation costs would be much lower). But -- let's face it -- the global economy offers consumers great deals. Wal-Mart does in fact reduce the costs of lots of goods and services to many working Americans who otherwise couldn't afford them.

      •  Oooh, red color to a bull! (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, Wal-Mart gives great deals to Americans that they otherwise could not afford - at the cost of their jobs. That never appears on Wal-Mart sticker: "$9.97 + Health Insurance Coverage".

        Wal-Mart is great at optmizing all of their processes and forcing suppliers to do the same. All that needs to be done is enforce laws that prevent Wal-Mart from optimizing labor costs by shifting work from Americans to desperate slaves some place else. Same for environmental issues.

        (-3.50, -5.23) You know your empire's crumbling when people are getting more religious and less scientific, not the other way around. --David Michael Green

        by mgoltsman on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 01:05:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hi, professor Reich! (8+ / 0-)

    I'm very excited to be talking to you.  We studied your book, The Work of Nations, when I was a economics student more than 15 years ago... (man, I feel old)... and then you got to be Secretary of Labor!  I've always been a big fan of your work!

    Oh, so a question...  OK, here's a good one for ya...  You've always been an advocate of increased education an training in new technologies so that workers can adapt to the loss of manufacturing jobs.

    What do you see is the role of immigration and temporary labor (such as the H1B visa) in that expansion.  Many in the tech industry have seen our high paying jobs being usurped by lower wage, and less qualified, H1B visas holders from abroad.  American labor activists have called for a stop to this abusive practice of hiring outside labor before Americans.  Technology companies want to see the current visa restrictions reduced or even eliminated.

    With the growth of technology competence in the third world, and the ability of the Internet to connect anywhere, is the future of the American technology industry going to go the way of the American manufacturing industry?

    Ok, so that's two questions! :-)  And they are doozies!  ;-)  I look forward to your response! :-)



    •  High tech going the way of manufacturing (10+ / 0-)

      Undoubtedly, lots of high-tech jobs (especially the rather routine ones ) will continue to go to places around the globe where people can do them far more cheaply than here. But the demand for high-tech workers (I called them "symbolic analysts" in "The Work of Nations" -- was it really 15 years ago? We're all getting old) continues to increase around the world. Particular high-tech workers will get caught in the cross-fire, especially if their expertise is easily outsourced or if a "killer app" comes along that substitutes software for whatever they can do. But over all, and over the long term, I'm more optimistic. There's no limit to the ingenuity of the human mind, and no limit to the needs of humans around the world for solutions to their problems.

      •  Two bits of information that seem surreal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        1. At least one Indian firm is outsourcing high tech jobs to the U.S. according to this NPR story.
        1. A Russian firm appears poised to put a steel plant in Ohio according to this Columbus Dispatch story.

        I also wonder how the increase in energy prices (and therefore transportation costs) might affect outsourcing and location of plants/businesses/jobs. Maybe this globalization thing could work out if costs to move materials and finished products reduces the benefits that businesses get for paying less for labor so that we have more distributed globalization.

        Happy the man and happy he alone--he who can call today his own ... John Dryden

        by ohiolibrarian on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:51:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, professor Reich! (0+ / 0-)

        It was a pleasure speaking to you, even if it was only virtually! ;-)

        I also hope that you get another cabinet position... in 2009!  :-)



  •  Professor Reich: (7+ / 0-)

    I enjoy your commentaries on NPR.

    What can we feasibly do about this accelerating concentration of wealth and the ensuing gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us?  I'm not interested in punitive action against the financially successful.  I am interested in a strong, secure middle class.

    A Vote For John Edwards Is A Vote For Yourself. Iowa Underground

    by ThunderHawk13 on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:24:07 AM PDT

    •  The very rich (16+ / 0-)

      Over the long term, better education for kids from lower-income households. Over the short term, a higher marginal income tax on the very rich. People forget that under the Eisenhower Administration, the highest marginal tax rate on the richest Americans was 91 percent. Even the Kennedy tax cut put the highest marginal tax rate over 70 percent. Now, of course, it's 35 percent, and for private-equity fund managers and lots of hedge-fund managers it's 15 percent (because their incomes are treated as capital gains). In short, let's reestablish a truly progressive income tax. And while we're at it, let's also have a wealth tax -- say, one-half of one percent per year on all people with net worths over $10 million.

      •  Omigod... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SherriG, Autarkh, Leo in NJ

        ...while we're at it, let's also have a wealth tax -- say, one-half of one percent per year on all people with net worths over $10 million.

        Isn't that the "commie-sexual" agenda?

        (Sorry, I've been reading on the Right -- so you don't have to.)

        Fascism ought to more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power. - Mussolini

        by Pluto on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:37:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Net Worth is the Devil in the Details (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for small family farmers sitting on the edge of a developing area.  When farmland skyrockets from $750/acre in 1884 to $5500/acre last year for large tracts of 100 acres or more and individual lots of 3/4 acre sell for 20K, it is very easy for someone whose grandfather paid $3,000 cash in 1935 for 300 acres to find himself sitting on a paper kingdom worth millions.
        The inheritance tax is a scam, granted, but if we do start measuring net worth, there would have to be some sort of mechanism to ensure that poor people are not forced off the land.
        The increased value of land has traditionally been one method of moving the working poor off their own land to either a work for wages or sharecropping situation

        •  Millionaires (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peace voter

          The millionaires you speak of are not "poor".  They may have some cash-flow problems, but they are not poor.

          •  well, assume that a small farmer owns (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            300 acres of land and has $300K invested in equipment with some 250K in short medium and longterm debt, and 50k worth of livestock.
            On paper he is a millionaire but when he liquidates his holdings, he liquidates the means of production, whereby he is out of business for good.

            While it may appear that liquidity is the difference between him and the Donald, in truth, if he sells his equipment, he cannot work the land; if he sells the land he cannot work.  A comparison is burning the roof and walls of your home during a snowstorm because you don't have firewood.
            If he were invested in stocks and bonds, to sell them would mean that he could invest in more or different stocks and bonds. To sell off the land does not mean other land is available or that that land is suitable to raise the crops he is competent to raise.

            The example that comes to mind would be of the workman who pawns his boots on Saturday for food with no way to go to work on Monday. I would consider a millionaire someone who can sell out and buy right back into a similar situation.

            •  Efficiency (0+ / 0-)

              It may not be economically efficient for his land to be farmed if it's worth so much.  Maybe those 300 acres of land could be leased for office buildings at a price of, let's say, $1M per year.  It's less efficient for the land to be used for farming that produces only $400K in profits per year.  Land is a limited resource, and as a society we have an interest that it be used efficiently.  I won't feel too sorry for the guy if he has to live off the interest on $10M instead of farming.

              •  late response (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                but as my grandfather said, "they aren't making any more land and no one has successfully kicked the habit of eating." To suggest the land would be better in office buildings, particularly when most areas are overbuilt makes little sense and it also flies in the face of what Professor Reich suggests about local production of commodities.
                Until someone comes up with a substitute for eating, people will need food and growing food in any volume takes land. So, in the final analysis, arable land never becomes too expensive to be used for food production.

                In this country, the point of view about land being too valuable for farming ignores the annual loss of arable land in the world due to desertification, salinization, erosion, rain and wind, and other factors, natural and manmade. Right now, we are in a period of surplus farming because of two factors:

                1. petroleum based fertilizers and herbicides and insecticides so that we are able to provide fertility to the soil cheaply and control loss due to pests at a minimum cost. Increases in oil prices will obviate this advantage as input costs continue to soar.

                Outside our high tech agriculture, the South Americans are strip mining their ecology using slash and burn deforestation to provide huge fields that have high levels of natural fertility, which is exhausted within 4 years. At that time, the farmers move on to the next site.  Unfortunately, as in any strip mining, getting the benefit the first time is easy; restoration is almost impossible. It is very, very difficult to reclaim dead land back into arable land and takes years and patience and cash.
                Given that the human population is going to continue to grow and the need for food is going to increase, in the face of a decreasing reserve of arable land, it cannot be said that food production is ultimately a low value land use.  

            •  That's an old GOP canard (0+ / 0-)

              about the estate tax. The fact is that the instances of what you are talking about are so rare. Besides, if you couple that wealth tax to a cut in big agribiz subsidies, the small farmer would probably take it.

              The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility - Albert Einstein

              by theadmiral on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 04:18:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  There have been periods in our past... (8+ / 0-)

    ...where big business has embraced sober regulation, and some notable business leaders have seen regulation as a competitive advantage.  In game theory, a player who understands the rules can use them to their advantage.  Yet today it seems that big business is monolithically, mindlessly, reflexively anti-regulation, and the effects of this climate are insidious and pervasive.

    Question is this: do you ever see the business community reconsidering the deregulatory drift?  If the recent mortgage crisis has not elevated this dialogue, what will it take?

    Katrina changed everything.

    by The Termite on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:26:30 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, that'll happen (0+ / 0-)
      Question is this: do you ever see the business community reconsidering the deregulatory drift?  If the recent mortgage crisis has not elevated this dialogue, what will it take?

      Cynical and pessimistic answer: Great Depression 2.0, wherein the middle class has vanished and no one has money with which to purchase their overpriced, poor quality wares, and corporations fall by the hundreds.

      Optimistic answer leavened by caution: If the American people decide that it's in their best longterm interests to support companies that play by the rules, make a good product at a fair price, treat their workers fairly, and have a vision that extends past the balance sheet of their next quarterly earnings statement.

      i am jack's complete lack of surprise -- fight club

      by bustacap on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:37:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Business and regulation (10+ / 0-)

      Actually, business has never been anti-regulation. Businesses have always supported regulations when (1) the regulations hurt competitors more than they hurt the business that's lobbying for them, (2) when a tougher regulation is likely to be issued unless businesses get behind a weaker one, or (3) when, as now, consumers are anxious about unsafe products (i.e., toys from China) and producers who are providing higher quality goods or services are getting tainted by those who are cutting corners. You can see this today. The pharmaceutical manufacturers want a stronger FDA -- that is, an FDA that will guarantee their competitive advantage. Toy manufactures want a stronger Consumer Product Safety Commission. And so on.

  •  Katrina Question for Mr. Reich (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, PAbluestater, lorzie, Tom Enever

    What's it gonna take to get the Katrina recovery on track? What should the federal government be doing with and through FEMA to aid recovery efforts and to prepare to respond to the next major disaster?

  •  Hello, Dr. Reich, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MarketTrustee, pkbarbiedoll

    I would like to know if repealing NAFTA, CAFTA and any other free trade treaties or agreements will restore our economy and our middle-class, or has too much damage been done?  How best can we stop unilaterally the outsourcing of good jobs which American citizens could easily fill and always did until the 90s.

    The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all - JFK- 5/18/63-Vanderbilt Univ.

    by oibme on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:28:13 AM PDT

    •  Free Trade, etc. (5+ / 0-)

      Look, we need to face one unpleasant fact: The consumer in us whose hunting for the best deal from all over the world likes trade treaties that open the American economy to low-cost goods and services from all over. The citizen in us worries about the loss of good American jobs as a consequence. As I've noted above, there are ways of creating trade treaties that include minimum labor and environmental standards; to my mind, that's the only direction that makes sense in the future.

      •  Then why did you support the NAFTA? (0+ / 0-)

        "...there are ways of creating trade treaties that include minimum labor and environmental standards; to my mind, that's the only direction that makes sense in the future."

        — Robert Reich

        Do you think we're just stuck with the NAFTA - an agreement  that did not include minimum labor & environmental standards? A flawed agreement that you supported.  Why can't we scrap it & start fresh?

        It's interesting that you reference trade treaties.  Many of us believed that the NAFTA was in fact a treaty which should have been approved by a larger number of Senators than were in favor of the trade "agreement" at the time.


  •  Lower prices are like tax cuts-- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, bustacap

    a bribe to keep the public from making public and private corporations account for their behavior.

  •  Mr. Reich -- (0+ / 0-)

    Are you familiar with the Democratic Socialists of America's "Economic Justice" agenda?  If so, what are your thoughts?

  •  How do you get the horse back in the barn? n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments - Shakespeare, Sonnet 116"

    by xysea on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:30:04 AM PDT

    •  Tell him there's a bowl of pretzels in there (6+ / 0-)

      Oh, sorry, I thought you said the horse's ass.

      Katrina changed everything.

      by The Termite on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:33:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  lol (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peace voter, bustacap

        If it was only that easy.  :sigh:

        This problem with corporations - well, it's not easily solved is it?

        They now have enough $$, influence and power (all the same thing??) to prevent, block or gut legislation and/or politicians determined to stop them.

        So, now that the horse is out of the barn, down the block and has run halfway 'round the world for cheap products from China, how do we get it back and put a harness on it and start making it work for us?!


        "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments - Shakespeare, Sonnet 116"

        by xysea on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:35:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How to begin? (13+ / 0-)

          One of our greatest obstacles to creating a genuine democracy movement -- a citizen movement to take back our democracy from corporations -- is cynicism. Most Americans have no memory or knowledge of the progressive era in the first decades of the 20th century, when citizens did wrest democracy out of the hands of the machines. Few Americans today remember the New Deal, and the sense of social solidarity it engendered and depended on. Some remember the 1960s, but our memories are mainly of Vietnam, followed by Watergate, followed by the Iran-Contra scandal, and so on. But if we believe we can't take our democracy back, we have allowed cyncicism to protect us from the hard work of moving forward.

          •  How do we remind people? (0+ / 0-)

            I have been seeing lots of parallels to the situation a hundred years ago. How, though, do we go about reminding people? Nowadays, the History Channel is big business, and lots of people seem to have a lively but passive interest in hearing about history. I just don't know how to tell them, This is what it was like before, and We, The People, did something about it, and, by the way, here's how. Who has the podium to tell people these things, and how do you get them to listen, grant you that span of attention and a little sliver of hope beyond the cynicism?

            Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. - Alan Paton

            by rcbowman on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 01:18:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Hire a contractor to build a barn (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eaglecries, Pluto

      around the area he is standing and hope he doesn't move before you get the building up and the door installed?

      Either that or get a halter and leadline and get ready for a long hike because equines don't like barns compared to freedom.

  •  Professor Reich, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, abbeysbooks, Pluto

    What about AMERICAN workers in all of this?

    "The wiseest ruler is the one who empties his subjects hearts of their desires and stuffs their bellies."   Lao Tzu...695BC circa

    If we have less work here, what is America to do?

    Innovation?  Maybe, but is the mass fed?

    A hungry mass can overturn the game, sir.

    Today, 9/19/07, 3788 Americans, and untold Iraqis are dead, tens of thousands more maimed. What are YOU going to do today to help end the Bush/Republican war?

    by boilerman10 on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:30:22 AM PDT

    •  Less work? (9+ / 0-)

      The real issue isn't the number of jobs in America. We will have enough jobs. The number of jobs is a function of "aggregate demand," which depends a lot on what the Federal Reserve does. The official unemployment rate (which understates the actual rate, to be sure) is low, relative to what it's been over the last several decades. No, the real problem is the quality of jobs. Large numbers of formerly middle-class Americans are being pushed into the local service economy (retail, restaurant, hotel, hospital, etc.). They need unions to give them more bargaining leverage and higher wages. And lower-income families need better schools, health care, and other services so they and their kids can be more productive in the future.

  •  Welcome Secretary Reich (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, Tom Enever

    Of course I haven't has the opportunity to read your yet so I only know what Devilstower has written here.

    The point made that we as consumers help drive this 'price driven' globalism is an interesting view and I agree with you on that.

    My question is what can we do about that?

    Personally I dislike the quality of Chinese made products along with the unknown dangers of them that have been cropping up. But I find it hard to find consumer products made in the US anymore. So what can we as consumers do to reverse this trend?

    "You Have The Power!" - Howard Dean

    by talex on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:30:30 AM PDT

    •  Consumerism (8+ / 0-)

      The first step is to acknowledge the extent to which we as consumers (and, through our 401-K or pension plans, if we have them, as investors) are pushing the entire global capitalist system to cut costs, including labor costs. The next step is to join with other citizens in rescuing democracy, so that we can address the trade-offs between what we want as consumers and what we want as citizens. This may sound abstract, but it's not. It's today's reality at its most basic level. (I discuss this at much greater length in "Supercapitalism.")

      •  Thanks for your reply (0+ / 0-)

        The stocks we invest in make a lot of sense I agree.

        As for "rescuing democracy" are you talking about Protectionism? Personally I'm for some forms of Protectionism as I don't see many other ways to combat what is going on. I think the efforts to give businesses tax breaks to produce in the US are worthless. They will find loopholes around production and still produce off-shore but get the tax breaks.

        I look forward to reading your book. Thank you for coming here today and spending some of your time.

        "You Have The Power!" - Howard Dean

        by talex on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:14:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You should team with Prof Benjamin Barber (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and write a book with concrete legal solutions to the "contractual failings" of the modern transnational corporate entity.  You are correct that noone should have any problem altering a contract with a purely legal fiction so that the entity better functions to serve the public good rather than only itself and its shareholders.  

    Labor came before capital and without labor there is no capital.  The appropriate question should always be normative and distributive: how to fairly share the wealth created by labor's marginal productivity gains and systemic gains.  A better balance needs to be struck that gives labor a fair share.

    Like you say the system would work more equitably and I believe more efficienty on a "bubble up" true demand based model as opposed to the inefficient overconsumptive advertising created "false want trickle down" model.

    At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst. Aristotle

    by rrheard on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:30:55 AM PDT

  •  I have a question (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, bustacap, sockpuppet

    Since the economy is based on 2/3 consumption why then do companies not pay higher wages to people that will spend the money.  Wealth flow up not down.

    "Sometimes I wish I could change my nickname" Me

    by givemhellHarryR on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:31:15 AM PDT

    •  Aggregate demand (7+ / 0-)

      Henry Ford once answered the question "why do you pay your workers $5 a day?" (which was a lot of money in the early days of the 20th century, when Ford was paying it) by answering that his workers will be able to afford to buy a Ford. That logic made sense when the American economy was dominated by large oligopolies -- especially after World War II -- and when exports and imports were a very small fraction of the total economy. Today, though, no company can single-handedly engage in the same logic. Although it would be rational for all companies to pay American workers more, in the expectation they'd turn around and purchase more products, it's not rational for any single company -- especially given that almost all companies today are in intense competition to attract and keep consumers and investors. So the answer has to come from government -- in the form of, say, a larger Earned Income Tax Credit (wage subsidy), higher marginal income taxes on the very wealthy, and so on. We also need to exempt the first, say, $15,000 of income from the payroll tax (most workers pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes) and make up the difference by raising the ceiling on the payroll tax (now about $100,000).

  •  Professor Reich: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, Tom Enever

    What would be the effect of a statute like a universal minimum wage? Corporations found to be paying employees anywhere in the world a wage less than, say, half the American minimum wage suffer a variety of negative repercussions, such as, for example, higher tax rates, fines, or a warning label ("This product was made by poorly paid workers overseas"). Authority could be found under the commerce clause.

    International cooperation with progressive governments in other major countries would strengthen such a law.

    Public support could be found in conservative quarters of American society by selling the proposal not as a human rights issue, but as disincentivizing outsourcing and keeping jobs in America.

    How would corporations react? Is this constitutional? Would it be beneficial to other countries, or would it cause rampant inflation? Has it been proposed by anyone, to your knowledge? I would appreciate your perspective.

  •  Good morning, Professor! (4+ / 0-)

    I am gratified you are tackling the primary ideological battle of the century -- not the so-called Global War on Terror, but the battle between democratic and undemocratic capitalisms.

    I see little evidence since Deng declared greed to be good that its capitalist model is intrinsically generating electoral rights or freedom of expression.  That puts small "d" democrats in a precarious position worldwide.

    I've always thought Chinese democrats deserved every assistance from US IT companies to workaround CCP-imposed censorship.  Instead, we have helped the CCP build the "Great Chinese Firewall."  Do you have a regulatory strategy in mind to reverse and thwart our own undemocratic assistance to the CCP in this regard.

    Many thanks,

  •  Corporations with more prescient outlooks? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revelwoodie, Tom Enever

    Have you found examples of corporations that have sufficient foresight at the top levels and are beginning to take a pragmatic approach the ultimately self-destructive nature of the "undercutting" cycle?

    "I am the State" Louis XIV George II

    by gropo on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:33:59 AM PDT

    •  Forward-looking companies (8+ / 0-)

      No. Every publicly-held company is dependent on the stock market for obtaining more capital. Its stock price reflects the present discounted value that investors place on its future profits and dividends. No matter how far-sighted a company claims it is being, it must watch its stock price; if that price falls too low, investors will either leave the company, causing the price to fall further, or some investors will take over the company. It's very important for progressives to understand that there is no moral company. Companies are not and cannot be socially responsible if that means sacrificing profits. To assume otherwise is to buy into corporate public relations, and to deflect attention away from the far more important job of pushing for new laws and regulations that force companies to act in the public interest and not solely in the interests of shareholders and consumers.

  •  Matt Bai says the Dems (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revelwoodie, Tom Enever

    need to have ideas and right now all we're doing is fighting to win elections. He says the ideas come first. You're saying we need to save Democracy first. How can you promote ideas without winning elections? And how can you improve the country without ideas like yours? Seems like we have to do both.

    •  Doing both (9+ / 0-)

      Your question reminds me of a debate I used to have with Dick Morris in 1996. I argued that if Clinton represented nothing more than "school uniforms" and TV gadgets that allowed parents to screen out sex and violence, there was no point in being reelected because he'd have no mandate to do anything in his second term. Morris snapped back that if he had a more ambitious agenda, he wouldn't be reelected.

      Democratic candidates have become almost as cyncial as the political consultants around them. They know they have to put out some "ideas" and some "policies" so they satisfy the public's and the media's desire for some "beef," but they want those ideas and policies to be relatively uncontroversial. Frankly, I don't buy this strategy. I think the public wants candidates who have the courage of their convictions, and will stand for things they believe in -- bold ideas, even if controversial.  

      •  Hey thanks for answering my question (0+ / 0-)

        that was cool. If you're still looking at this thread, what Dems running for office do you think have the bold visions, or do you agree with Bai that the ideas will come from the people who are not running for office?

  •  Wow... the hive mind is hungry this morning. (6+ / 0-)

    We might have to suspend the ol' perfessor's aging process to get a full complement of answers from him.

  •  Where does America's crumbling infrastructure ... (6+ / 0-)

    rank on the list of National Priorities? Would it make any sense to establish a National Public Infrastructure Corps - an organization that could be used to engage and employ young Americans that are simply looking for something to connect to and to challenge them - something more than mininmum wage jobs and schools that in to many instances neither educate nor inspire.

    •  Are you suggesting something like the WPA or CCC? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, 4jkb4ia

      The infrastructure problem is now, given the years of neglect, at what point do you scrap what is in place and just start over and do we have the economic wherewithal to do such a thing?  After all, it is frequently cheaper to build a new road than it is to renovate an older road, for example trying to widen from two to four lanes.

      I see infrastructure deterioration is one aspect of the current grain price run up, as grain cannot be transported efficiently from one place to another and this morning, I understand from the news that Americans may spend 60 to 70 hours a year sitting in traffic due to either insufficient or deteriorated infrastructure.  Infrastructure may be our next "silent" crisis.  

    •  Infrastructure (6+ / 0-)

      Good idea. Here's another: Instead of spending billions each year on earmarks and other infrastructure projects that help representatives back in their home districts and states but make no sense from the standpoint of national priorities, we should have a national infrastructure budget that priorities that major infrastructure needs of the nation -- which roads, bridges, ports, tunnels, and other infrastructure is in greatest danger, where money is most needed, and so on. How do we do this? We can't unless we get our democracy back.

  •  my question to Professor Reich (4+ / 0-)

    regards this latest financial news blip


    Congress Asked to Lift Debt Ceiling

    Wednesday September 19, 1:19 pm ET
    By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

    Paulson Tells Congress the Current Debt Ceiling Will Be Hit on Oct. 1

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Congress on Wednesday that the federal government will hit the current debt ceiling on Oct. 1.

    He urged quick action to increase the limit, saying it was essential to protect the "full faith and credit" of the country, especially at a time of financial market turmoil.

    The current debt limit is $8.965 trillion. Unless Congress votes to raise that ceiling, the country would be unable to borrow more money to keep the government operating and to pay debt obligations coming due. The United States has never defaulted on a debt payment but the decision on whether to raise the debt ceiling often sparks a prolonged political battle in Congress.

    In his letter to congressional leaders, Paulson said that according to data now available, the Treasury expects to hit the current debt ceiling on Oct. 1 -- the first day of the new federal budget year. However, that projection does not take into account maneuvers the government often has to employ of withdrawing investments from certain trust funds to create room for extra borrowing until Congress finally approves a debt increase.

    "The full faith and credit of the United States, to which we all remain committed, is a national asset and a cornerstone of the global financial system," Paulson said in his letter. "In light of current developments in financial markets, which would be exacerbated by uncertainty in the Treasuries market, I urge the Senate to pass the legislation reported by the Finance Committee to increase the debt limit as soon as possible."

    This letter from Paulson leaves me a little queasy within the conext of a decidely unstable world economic market...

    so my question is:

    How long can America sustain this level of spending, and what can we do about it?

    Thanks for your time.

    •  America's debt (7+ / 0-)

      We continue to borrow about $2 billion a day from the rest of the world. Obviously, this can't continue forever. But to say that Americans are living beyond our means (the borrowing indirectly reflects persona, corporate, and government indebtedness) begs the important question of how we begin to become more fiscally responsible without reducing the living standards of many Americans who are barely holding on. Again, I think we have to consider a major increase in marginal income taxes on the highest incomes, along with a wealth tax.

  •  Dr. Reich, quick question: (5+ / 0-)

    You state that the enormous pressure on corporations to deliver cheaper goods is causing the ethical nightmares that progressives wish to control through regulation.

    How do you square that notion with the fact that corporate profits are at their highest level in 40 years, and CEO pay so drastically dwarfs that of a median employee?  Shouldn't the idea that corporations are doing everything possible to provide the lowest cost to consumers mean that they would be operating on thin margins?

    •  Corporate profits and CEO pay (9+ / 0-)

      Corporate profits are high, to be sure, and that's reflected (indirectly) in the Dow Jones Industrial Average -- which has soared over the last thirty years. Corporations are also investing lots in new products and services, R&D, and so on. But none of this changes the central fact that companies are competing more intensely than ever for consumers and investors. The competition is driving them toward ever better consumer deals and ever higher profits (and share prices). I'm not defending this; I'm just explaining what's going on. Consumers and investors are the drivers here.

      CEO pay is out of control, to be sure. But don't count on investors to control it. CEO pay has risen sixfold over the last thirty years, adjusted for inflation. But so has the Dow Jones Industrial Average. CEOs are more like rock stars or move stars these days. Investors are willing to pay them these ridiculous sums because investors are quite happy with their returns. So how to control CEO pay? How to control the even higher pay of hedge-fund managers (some of whom are raking in over a billion dollars a year)? How to control the pay of celebrities like Tom Hanks, who rakes in $20 million a move? Well, here I'm back to a higher marginal income tax rate on the highest incomes.

      •  investors can not control CEO pay (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Excessive CEO pay is a symptom of a broken corporate governance structure in America.  Various state governments in their zeal for corporate franchise fees have created various structures that make management extremely unaccountable to shareholders.  Delaware is the worst offender in this regard and thus it's not surprising most large companies are Delaware corporations.

        Congress should step in and preempt state tender offer regulation with a set of balanced rules that do not give advantage to either the bidder or management.  The Williams Act attempted to set a level playing field but did not preempt state regulation and thus poison pills and other contrivances have tipped the playing field entirely towards management.

        No doubt there will howling here if this happens since more successful tender offers means more takeovers and more layoffs in the short term.  At the end of the day, Americans or any body else for that matter can not have a higher standard of living than the value they create.  Since many of us will be relying on 401Ks for our retirement, it's entirely prudent that be concerned that investors having a level playing when it comes dealing with corporate management.

        I do not see the problem with hedge fund manager pay.  The wealthy individuals and institutions that invest in hedge funds have plenty of other investment options if they think the fees are excessive.  However, the taxation rules are broken.  There is no reason what so ever that the "carry" should be treated as a capital gain.

        While I have a lot of respect for Professor Reich, I'm troubled that he thinks it's necessary to control anyone's pay.  If the market is functioning properly and wants to pay Tom Hanks $20M a movie, it's truly anti-capitalist to object.

        "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." -Stephen Colbert

        by Monkey In Chief on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 04:07:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Rock stars? (0+ / 0-)

        CEOs are more like rock stars or move stars these days. Investors are willing to pay them these ridiculous sums because investors are quite happy with their returns.

        Or you might better say, they are like sports stars. Those who are perceived as the winningest ones, who are most capable of bringing success to 'our' side, simply have money thrown at them.

        Higher marginal income tax rate is fine, and necessary, but this problem needs much more than that to adjust it back to sanity.

        Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. - Alan Paton

        by rcbowman on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 01:32:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  P. Reich, thanks for many years of thoughtful (0+ / 0-)

    work in the sanity department.  The theme of your new book reminded me of this article:

    Customers want it cheap, workers pay heavy price
    By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
    Updated: 2006-06-07 05:49
    SHANGHAI: As the quality control manager of Joyfaith, a company in suburban Shanghai that makes clothing for pets, Luo Guogong has two difficult choices: Either force workers to put in long periods of overtime, which could endanger their health, or fail to meet the deadlines of the company's clients.

    What particularly bothers him was a report in Southern Metropolis Daily last month, which said a 35-year-old textile worker in South China's Guangdong Province died of exhaustion after she was forced to work excessive overtime for four days in a row.

    Overtime is common at Joyfaith's factory, which has more than 100 workers, but Luo knows there's no easy solution.

    "I feel very sad when I read such articles in newspapers," Luo said. "But it seems impossible not to have overtime, because, as a garment exporter, we have to meet the demands of our clients multinational firms and they constantly seek price cuts and shorter lead times."

    In fact, many business owners in the Yangtze and Pearl River deltas, where most labour-intensive businesses are located, share Luo's problem. What's more, other parts of China will soon face the same issue as the concept of corporate social responsibility spreads from coastal areas to the hinterlands.

    Factories are increasingly urged to comply with codes of conduct on labour, health, safety and environmental standards as China, widely regarded as the world's factory, is becoming a major target of the global corporate social responsibility campaign.

    All the while, Western buyers continually demand goods at lower prices delivered at faster speed, squeezing the profits of Chinese suppliers and tempting them to violate the codes of conduct.

    "The conflict of price and cost is one headache for Chinese factories," Liu Zhexin, a researcher for the Shanghai-based China Executive Leadership Academy, said at a symposium on corporate social responsibility.

    Chinese factories, positioned at the lower end of the industry supply chain, have few negotiating chips, poor negotiating skills and the problem of intense domestic competition when dealing with multinationals.

    He cited a recent tour to a State-owned textile factory in Taian, East China's Shandong Province.

    At the request of the Japanese retailer, the factory exposes the cloth it produces to a 1,000-kilowatt light to find defects. And if there's a dark spot, which means the cloth is not evenly weaved, the Japanese buyer withdraws the order.

    The T-shirts made from such high quality cloth are sold at only US$1 to the Japanese trader, which in turn charges US$15 for Japanese consumers.

    "Most profits have gone to the multinational firms, but that fact does not prevent them from trying harder to demand price cuts from Chinese suppliers," Liu said.

    When Liu visited the factory a second time one month later, he found the price was reduced to 60 US cents a piece because of intense competition.

    But the income from charging 60 cents apiece was not sufficient to cover labour and material costs, Liu said, let alone other costs such as equipment depreciation.

    But managers would not reject the order because with the order, the factory, which employs hundreds of workers, could go bankrupt more slowly, but without it the business would shut down right away.

    "It's a matter of dying sooner or dying later," Liu said.

    "Corporate social responsibility is essentially a kind of yielding of interests and rights from corporate shareholders to corporate stakeholders, but how can these shareholders protect workers' rights and the environment if the company's profits are so meagre that they even cannot cover the costs?"

    Also, if China raises prices for most consumer goods to adhere to corporate social responsibility, multinationals are likely to move their purchase and investment to other developing countries with cheaper labour, weakening China's international competitiveness, Liu said.

    The second problem faced by Chinese factories is the contradiction of working overtime and increasingly short delivery deadlines, he said.

    According to Liu, in the past five years multinationals have been demanding increasingly shorter production lead times.

    "Working overtime is unavoidable when an order comes," he said. "Generally speaking we have only at most two weeks to engage in production, and each worker on average has to make about 50 pieces of clothes in a week," said Luo, who acknowledged the requirement was excessive.

    Tang Xiran - a senior manager of a company called Intertek Labtest, which provides international consumer product testing, inspection and certification services and sponsored the symposium - said it is a regular practice for multinationals to deliver an order with short lead times because they want to minimize storage costs.

    "For instance, if they need a batch of toys for Christmas, multinational firms will send the order to Chinese suppliers only in late November to keep down logistics costs," Tang said.

    But the short lead time jacks up the workload of Chinese factories, which must, in turn, force their workers to work overtime to complete the order.

    "If the factories could receive the order in October, the situation would be much better," Tang said.

    He also said that only about 5 to 10 per cent of the factories his company surveyed for strict adherence to other items regulated by the code of conduct could ensure workers regular work hours, simply because they have enough lead times.

    A third issue confronted by Chinese exporters is illustrated by what Liu Zhexin, the academy researcher, calls "the three-fire-extinguisher-nail problem."

    Because of the lack of a consistent standard for corporate social responsibility in China, firms that provide products to several multinational retailers have to meet different, sometimes conflicting, demands.

    For instance, three multinationals asked a firm in Shenzhen, in South China's Guangdong Province, to hang their fire extinguishers at different places on the wall, Liu said.

    So the firm had to fix three nails in the wall and move the extinguishers when inspectors from different companies arrived for testing.

    The endless factory audits and "certifications," along with the clean supply chain movement launched by multinationals, increase the burden on Chinese suppliers, which struggle to make any profits given the price cuts and shorter lead time.


    Liu says multinationals should pay more to allow Chinese factories to meet a standard of corporate responsibility to its workers.

    Multinationals, to protect their image, are imposing ever-growing requirements on Asian factories, which include issues such as overtime, salaries and workplace safety.

    But at the same time, they're also demanding price cuts and production against short lead times, Liu said.

    "The multinationals have two alternatives: Cheat, or share the cost," Liu said.

    He also cited a comment given by the Financial Times of London published in April 2005: "The fundamental reason why labour exploitation exists in China is that China is a poor country. They need money to solve this problem, which can only be made by raising product prices before the raising of productivity. Western consumers should no longer feel at ease enjoying overly low-priced commodities."

    Liu said to take the corporation responsibility may weaken competitiveness because of rising costs, but the trend of a worldwide campaign toward responsibility may also strengthen competitiveness. In Liu's eyes, this is two sides of the same coin.

    (China Daily 06/07/2006 page1)


    My main worry about this train of thought is not that it's wrong, but that as the $USD loses credibility and monetary mistakes and shortages lead to higher prices, the Rightists will claim it's the liberals' fault

    "Yes dear. Conspiracy theories really do come true." (tuck, tuck)

    by tribalecho on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:48:16 AM PDT

    •  Declining dollar (7+ / 0-)

      Yes, of course, the right will blame everything on the left. So what? That's always been the case. Look: The dollar is dropping because its so laden with debt. Why would anyone willingly accept a piece of paper (a dollar) that's so weighed down with obligations? Of course it's dropping. And at some point, many international traders will stop using it as the major international currency and start using euros. Big investors in the US are already shifting their savings out of dollars and into euros. So what's the answer? See my comment above.

  •  Thanks for visiting, Dr. Reich. (5+ / 0-)

    My intention isn't to be shallow or silly here, but I was wondering if you'd comment on whether or not you think my hero, Al Gore, will enter the presidential race?

    Would you nudge him to jump into the fray, on behalf of the millions of Democrats who respect him?


    Al Gore for President!

    by VickiStein on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:48:37 AM PDT

  •  Yet Another Question for Professor Reich (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sir, can you please address -- for a moment -- the much smaller picture of the typical American family.

    What can we expect in our economic lives for the next 6 to 24 months -- given the unstoppable policies and economic realities that we must endure?

    What will we most likely experience?

    What can we do to lessen the personal pain?

    How can we best -- proactively -- protect ourselves right now to weather the immediate and coming consequences of the socioeconomic punishment that the American people are facing in the short term?

    Fascism ought to more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power. - Mussolini

    by Pluto on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:48:38 AM PDT

  •  Capitalist Nerds Without Conscience (0+ / 0-)

    Check out a recent story on the nerd/geek giant blog "Slashdot" about a videogame salesman who was fired for requiring kids show decent grades to get their fix.

    Look at how many of the people discussing the story don't take into consideration how the salesman's conscience is admirable. They're just interested in defending the corporate policy, or getting their videogames, even if they're not (chronologically) still children.

    Even the people defending the salesman aren't mentioning the simple human compassion at work.

    Corporations aren't human - they shouldn't be "people", with any "rights", as if rights were created by the government. Their continuing reign over real people is turning people more inhuman. It's time we cut these corporations down to size as second class (at best) citizens behind humans.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:55:06 AM PDT

    •  Corporate enemies? (7+ / 0-)

      If we're being cyncially political about it, yes, of course, make big corporations into enemies and campaign against them. But look more closely and you'll see that corporations don't exist. They're legal fictions. Behind them are executives who are fighting against other executives in other companies for market share and for investors. And behind THEM are we consumers and investors, who have more choices than ever before, and better comparative information, and can switch on a dime. In other words, if we're being competely honest with one another, corporations aren't the enemy. In a sense, the side of our brains that demands great deals is the enemy.

      •  No, Mr. Reich (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. It's our fault for wanting bargains?

        No, the problem is how we've arranged our society - large corporations control the choices citizens can make (or, is there a neighborhood power company I haven't heard of?), their news media excercises huge control over what information we can know about, their advertising controls how we feel about ourselves and how we define what it is to be an American.

        So, yes, on a level of abstraction that would seem obtuse to the Scholastic monks of the middle ages, corporations are a paper fiction: in terms of the lived experienced of the average citizen in the US these days, corporations have created an immersive, ambient environment that it is exceedingly hard to put your mind outside of.

        Want a raise? Unionize.

        by mftalbot on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 01:41:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Competitors are Enemies? (0+ / 0-)

        I didn't call corporations "enemies", you did. But I did describe them as competition to humans. The executives who you say are really who the corporations are are different from other people whose actions aren't shielded by a corporation from liability. So while corporations are in fact a legal fiction, they "don't exist" about as much as, say, "police" don't exist: they're just more people, but with a badge and a gun, right?

        The problem is that in the legal plane, which includes essential economics like tax expenses and subsidies as well as coercion like seizures and arrest on suspicion or conviction. In all of which corporations have the complete advantage over the mere humans who compete with them.

        If you want to reduce all that to "equity owners and executives/directors" vs "employees and everyone else", I suppose you can, but the laws of transitive identity mean we're talking about the same thing. We're talking about corporate people vs unincorporated people, and the corporate people, through their corporations, have the upper hand. Some of which corporations don't abuse their unrightful privilege. But all too many do, and consequently most humans must make up the difference in lost economic and political benefits.

        The demand for bargains isn't the enemy, either. It's not even a competitor. It's common to everyone, corporate or otherwise. If that "bargain instinct" is related to an "enemy" here, the enemy is the corporate privileges that encourage that greed from corporations by protecting it, even when that instinct helps create an unsustainable corporate economy of greed, waste and artificial advantage, seemingly at all costs. Humans have the instinct, but without the protection from liability and all the extra benefits, mere naked human greed has little power in itself to do disproportionate damage. And even if it did, we'd at least all be equal in that jungle, and I hope subject to equal protection (and liability) under law that corporations are designed to evade.

        Corporations are privileged more than people. That distorts the market. And that privilege is based on a fraudulent decision, SC County v SP RR, to which I linked. There is nothing natural, or legitimate, about them, and they are causing lots of damage. So the final proof that they exist is in their results, which are undeniable - and net bad. I'd like to see a more cogent defense from them than just imagining they don't exist, as if that would just make them go away.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 02:16:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dr. Reich, (5+ / 0-)

    What do you think of Al Gore’s proposal to internalize the cost of global warming pollution by replacing FICA with a revenue neutral carbon tax? If you support it, what do you think would be the best way to mitigate its regressivity?

    You mentioned in another comment that you would like to see globalization take a different form. Besides labor and environmental standards, would you like to see an international Tobin tax implemented? How do you feel about the inclusion of "intellectual property" protection provisions that harm developing countries efforts to combat AIDS, or allow patents on genes, in international trade agreements?

    "Rise like Lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number; shake your chains to earth like dew, ye are many -- they are few." -- Percy Shelley

    by Autarkh on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:55:27 AM PDT

    •  Carbon Tax? Tobin Tax? Developing nations and IP? (7+ / 0-)
      1. I don't see any easy way to mitigate the regressive effects of a carbon tax, other than a law that stipulates that all such receipts will be distributed to all Americans equally. Actually, I'd prefer a carbon auction, which requires all big companies to bid for the air they want to pollute (under a total pollution ceiling set by government).\
      1. A tobin tax (a small tax on all international transactions) is a good idea, to the extent it puts a bit of sand in the gears and thereby gives people a bit more time to adapt to change.
      1. I'm in favor of IP provisions in trade treaties that allow developing nations to utilize American IP at low fees; and also legal rulings that allow developing nations to utilize American IP where equity demands it.
    •  Autarkh, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      good question and response by Prof. Reich. It would be great if you're able to post some diaries on the topic of carbon taxes. I suggest this as you seem to be qualified for exploring and presenting this subject in depth.

  •  Welcome to DailyKos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, xysea

    Peter Drucker credits the invention of American management techniques for the allied victory in WWII, and suggested it was that period of American history that gave rise to the managerial system and structures still in place today.

    In addition to your observations about corporations, do you see the need for the American practice of management to be re-imagined and re-invented to meet the challenges we face? If so, are Liberals capable of doing that work right now or not?

    (Thanks for your answer and for taking time to dip into the comment thread...)

    Support progressive writing! Buy a copy of Framing the Debate...

    by Jeffrey Feldman on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:56:14 AM PDT

    •  American management (6+ / 0-)

      The real question is whether American managers can and should be given the skills and training to respond not just to consumer wants and investor demands but also to social needs. Frankly, I don't think so. I don't want our social needs to be decided by corporate executives. I'd rather our democracy worked better, and that we had a more accountable system for determining and addressing those needs.

      •  Um... (0+ / 0-)

        I don't want our social needs to be decided by corporate executives.

        With all due respect... the sun has already risen on that reality.

        Big pharm, bank-backed bankruptcy laws, for-profit HMOs -- see my tagline.

        Fascism ought to more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power. - Mussolini

        by Pluto on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:39:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Professor Reich: (4+ / 0-)

    Four years ago you wrote the following in CIO Magazine:

    The U.S. government should not try to protect or preserve IT jobs in America, or block efforts by American companies to outsource. That would only put American companies at a competitive disadvantage. Their rivals in other advanced economies would continue to have access to low-cost IT services from developing nations.

    The best approach is to ensure that American schools and universities continue to provide the best problem-solving education anywhere in the world, so that we continue to generate IT managers and programmers who are creative and adaptive. American companies will also need to invest more in developing the skills of their IT workers, which requires more than just training in the latest computer language. Millions of people around the world can and will learn the necessary computer language.

    In order to justify their high salaries, America’s future IT workers will need to be more like management consultants, strategists and troubleshooters. They’ll need an intimate understanding of the business so that they can devise new IT solutions. They’ll help decide which IT work can most efficiently be outsourced; and they’ll be liaisons between the work that goes offshore, the work that’s subcontracted to other companies in the United States and the IT work done in-house.

    The transition will not be entirely smooth. But if we handle it right, American organizations will be stronger and more competitive, and American IT professionals will have rewarding opportunities for years to come.

    This quote makes the following assumptions, that I have also seen made by authors such as Thomas Friedman:

    • American workers do not have the educational background to meet current corporate needs. You partially answer this by stating that said workers need to move into more management-oriented jobs. But,
    • companies that actually do the work will be content to take direction from American managers. Given the current state of the American economy, I don't think that will be likely much longer; and
    • there is something unique about American managerial jobs that makes them immune to outsourcing. An American company is going to hire an American manager to oversee Indian workers rather than a lower-cost, on-site, Indian manager.

    It's been four years since you wrote this, and there has been no sign of a recovery in the American IT industry, as outsourcing trends continue to accelerate. Businessmen such as Bill Gates call for increased H1-B quotas at the same time that the unemployment rate among engineers and IT professionals remains high.

    I would like to know if you still agree with the views expressed in your article, or if you would care to modify them.

    - What happens on DailyKos, stays on Google.

    by Jon Meltzer on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:58:56 AM PDT

    •  American IT workers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Take a look at what's happened to the wages and benefits of college-educated Americans over the last ten years, relative to non-college educated Americans. The gap continues to widen. Undoubtedly some college-educated workers are seeing their jobs move overseas, and some of them call themselves "IT" specialists. But so far the movement of knowledge-worker jobs overseas hasn't diminished the trend toward higher real wages for the college-educated and lower real wages for the non-college. Yes, I'm concerned about what's happened to lots of IT workers. But the answer isn't to stop outsourcing. Technological advances in software have had as great if not greater negative impact on IT workers as outsourcing, and I don't think we should embrace neo-ludditism and smash the new software. Many IT workers can and will stay ahead of the curve. It's lower-income Americans -- especially those without college degrees, who find themselves in the local service eocnomy -- who are in the biggest trouble.

    •  Like any other job that can be done... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PAbluestater another country, it will be.  That's a fact of globalization.  The reason IT workers are at such higher risk is that they generally have no other skills.  A blue collar or service industry worker can change trades much more easily.  An IT worker who has devoted many years of education to his field has a harder time adapting.

      My husband is an IT worker, and his job has been outsourced to India many times.  Every year or two, he has to look for another job.  His skills are very specific, and at the age of 38, starting school (and life) over again is a daunting prospect, even if we could afford it.

  •  On Main Street America (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4jkb4ia, Pluto

    Yes, it's going down. The stores are empty. There is nothing cooking. No pun intended.

    But I live in a neon red town on the upper floor of my commercial building. The commercial part is a used bookstore where I do most of my business on the internet as no one here wants books unless they are bodice ripper romances or western bang bangs. Again no pun intended.

    I think it is the fault of the storekeepers. The ones here for ages who own their own buildings have large inventories, family employees, and they are really just an excuse for them to have a place to go to each day to talk with their friends, have coffee with them, and gossip. They provide no real addition to the community as they are the more wealthy ones, so the people go to Wal-Mart.

    The restaurants serve greasy bad food that is inedible.  A new coffee shop opened last week that I had high hopes for. The coffee stinks and the stuffed baked potato was simply a lumpy plain baked potato. And expensive. So I won't go back. The main street auto repairs are way too expensive, the beauty salons also and not good. The dollar store does great. The insurance companies limp along, the newspaper prints a lot of school lunches, and the rest have no imagination at all. And they don't want suggestions or advice. I'll do it my way thank you.

    So at least here in Seymour Missouri, they deserve just what they are getting. I have no compassion for them. They voted for Bush and are still defending him. Too dumb. Too unconscious. Too bad.

    Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured. Primo Levi The Drowned and the Saved

    by abbeysbooks on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:00:32 AM PDT

    •  they deserve lumpy plain baked potatoes? (0+ / 0-)

      the stuffed baked potato was simply a lumpy plain baked potato

      Seems a little harsh.

    •  Punishment May be Necessary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      So at least here in Seymour Missouri, they deserve just what they are getting. I have no compassion for them. They voted for Bush and are still defending him. Too dumb. Too unconscious. Too bad.

      You know... as unpopular as this thought might be -- my first principle of politics is that Americans get exactly what they deserve.

      It's painful like a spanking -- but if the population is not harshly punished as a consequence of voting like imbeciles -- how will they ever to learn to vote in their own self-interest?

      We live in a nation of "Manchurian Voters" -- programmed by the corporations to vote against their own well-being and survival (and against yours, as well).

      Economic electroshock therapy may be our only salvation, Obi Wan.

      Fascism ought to more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power. - Mussolini

      by Pluto on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:51:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Kunstler's weekly rant is about this. The mortgage collapse and that those taking out big mortgages on a wing and a prayer deserve it. But while they get it in the ass the hedge funds, the wall streeters that packaged these anomilies, the banks that promoted and sold them get govt bailout. How fair is that?

        Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured. Primo Levi The Drowned and the Saved

        by abbeysbooks on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 02:17:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not Fair (0+ / 0-)

          I was referring to people voting corporate and ideological "operatives" as their representatives in congress -- and as their president.

          Fascism ought to more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power. - Mussolini

          by Pluto on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 04:14:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Main Streets (7+ / 0-)

      Well, I'm not going to defend lousy food or careless shopkeepers. All I want to say is that America's main streets used to be places where Americans met one another, where the fabric of local communities was sewn together, where democracy and commerce intertwined. Since the advent of big-box retailers, to which consumers have flocked, many of these social benefits have been lost. The answer isn't to preserve and protect main streets at any cost, but to acknowledge that our main streets do provide social goods, and therefore deserve some public subsidy (and/or mixed-use zoning, and/or good parks and infrastructure) and that perhaps those big box retailers on the edge of town ought to be taxed in a way that reflects the social costs they're generating.

      •  My personal experience with Main Street (0+ / 0-)

        in the Ozarks iis that they held consumers captive and milked them until Wal-Mart came to town. Then without their captive profits they folded up and went away. Oh, there is a very good photographer here that rents a storespace. But there is plenty tht could be done and no imagination to do it.

        The owners of the buildings still want high rents and the ones in business just provide more of the same-old, same-old.

        Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured. Primo Levi The Drowned and the Saved

        by abbeysbooks on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 02:20:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Question re incentives to cut carbon emissions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, 4jkb4ia

    Professor Reich, two much-discussed proposals for reducing carbon emissions are a "cap-and-trade" system and a carbon tax.

    Would either of these plans work? And what policies, in your opinion, would be most effective in cutting emissions?

    "A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."--Thomas Mann

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:00:38 AM PDT

  •  Your opinion? Ending supercapitalism in one step: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Supercapitalism can be stopped with one simple SEC regulation that would prohibit publicly-traded corporations from achieveing a market capitalization [(number of shares)x(share price)] in excess of a threshhold amount, say $10B, by capping the price of its stock once the threshhold is achieved.

    This solution could be seen as anti-capitalist, but hear me out, Sec. Reich.

    A supercorporation approaching the threshhold price would know it well in advance, and mangament would take steps to prepare for the price ceiling by breaking up the supercorporation into smaller pieces.

    The stocks of these spinoffs would be allocated proportionately among the supercorporate shareholders and could, as a basket, continue increase in aggragate value beyond the thresshold limit.

    Of course, the shares of the spinoffs would be traded independently of each other, and the fittest would survive.

    Think of this like the 1984 AT&T breakup, only without a judge ordering it to be. In the end, the telecom industry exploded in value for shareholders and convenience for the consumer.

    The idea needs more thought than I (a math professor) am educated enough to give it, which is why I'm offering it to you, Sec. Reich. Do with it what you will.

    I can live with doubt and uncertainty. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. -- Richard Feynman

    by Jimdotz on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:02:23 AM PDT

    •  Big is bad? (6+ / 0-)

      But you're assuming that the problem of supercapitalism lies in the large size of its major players. I don't think you're right. Wal-Mart is huge, but it's competing intensively with Target and other rivals for consumers and for investors. Microsoft is gigantic but it's competing ever more furiously with Google et al. The baby bells are gigantic, but they're competing with all sorts of telecom companies for consumers and investors. No, the size of these behemoths isn't the problem. It's that intensifying competition has spilled over into the political realm. That's why Google, when it went public, hired a platoon of Washington lobbyists; because Microsoft and Yahoo had platoons there, and Google was understandably worried that Microsoft and Yahoo would get a competitive advantage out of laws governing trade, intellectual property, and antitrust (among others) unless Google was there to fight for its own competitive position. You see? It's an arm's race in Washington. That's the nub of the problem.

  •  Dr Reich - On Adam Smith. Many give Smith (0+ / 0-)

    a bad rap, but most who quote him ignore his work on morality (i.e. - Theory on Moral Sentiments) and its necessity in the market place.   To me Smith always intended these as companion pieces, and yet we are left with a legacy of the invisible hand not guided by temperance and prudence. Based on my reading of his texts, I doubt he intended corporations to act immorally in pursuit of their rational interests.

    Can you comment?

    •  Adam Smith and corporations (4+ / 0-)

      Adam Smith was indeed a moral philosopher, and he understood the importance of sentiments like trust and empathy in a society and an economy. (The field of economics used to be inextricably bound up with politics and moral philosophy until Alfred Marshall wrote his "Principles" of economics in 1890, and took economics out of its context.) But Smith had no idea what corporations would become, obviously. The question I address in Supercapitalism is why we shouldn't expect corporations to act in "moral" ways; why the rules of the game that reflect our common morality should be established through the democratic process.

  •  Don't have time to participate right now but will (0+ / 0-)

    read the whole discussion with huge interest later.

    I hope you are able to get to answering this question, but if not thanks for stopping by to offer your insight on so many others.

    My quetsion is regarding your assertion that consumers are at least partly responsible for the pressure of lowering prices on consumer products and are one of driving forces behind globalization.

    In my mind, this point of view is akin to communist dogma in a way. Communism expected every member of the society to be responsible for contributing as much as they can and for not consuming more than they absolutely need. In other words, communism will triumph as soon as all humans abandon their innate laziness and greed. Maybe many generations from now, but at this point human society has not evolved to that point.

    Same can be said about expecting consumers in the society to spontaneously forego the opportunity to get more for less because there is a possible or even likely negative consequence associated with that opportunity. Individual consumers may be far-sighted enough to buy "American" or "green" or "fair-trade" or any other type of products, but the society as a whole behaves more in accordance with the basic instinct of greed, and it is unrealistic to expect anything else.

    This is precisely why we elect representative governments - to charge some of us with looking at bigger picture and crafting laws for all of us that would control our more destructive behaviors to the same degree. For instance, we have laws against dumping chemicals into public waterways and laws against using unsafe vehicles on the streets - to ensure the restrictions on individual greed and laziness in order to prevent harm to the society. In my mind, the only meaningful way to counter the pressure to deliver the lowest price consequences be damned is not to shame the public but to enact laws that establish the minimum operational requirements at which the lowest price can be delivered to consumers.

    This came out more as a rebuttal than as a question, but I would really like to hear your thoughts on that nonetheless. Thank you very much in advance.

    (-3.50, -5.23) You know your empire's crumbling when people are getting more religious and less scientific, not the other way around. --David Michael Green

    by mgoltsman on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:05:32 AM PDT

  •  Hi, Dr. Reich (0+ / 0-)

    I was just at East-Bank of University of Minnesota; where we had student political gatherings from all works of life.  Majority of the students were in the UofM COLLEGE DEMOCRATS desk and I can tell you it was great to see so many young people interested with progressive ideals and movements.  Here is my question...Colleges are under attack from conservative groups....what should be done? And how should the Dems counter-attack on this?

    Ever heard being original? Too bad, look it up in the dictionary...

    by Dem Soldier on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:06:33 AM PDT

    •  Colleges under attack? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I would welcome conservative points of view -- in fact, go out of my way to give conservatives as large an audience as possible. That's what colleges  are for -- to examine first principles, to debate and discuss. Progressives won't learn a thing -- as college students or as full-fledged adults -- if all we talk with are other progressives.

  •  does world hunger increase profits (0+ / 0-)

    do some people/corporations exploit the desperate to increse profits?

    " what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil " -- Alan Greenspan

    by carlos oaxaca on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:13:47 AM PDT

    •  Exploit? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There's the word. We have lots of different views about what "expoit" means. I think lots of what's happening in the private sector is "exploitative." Mortgage lenders and bankers exploited the poor in selling them home loans they couldn't possibly pay back when interest rates turned up. So how to we avoid this? With laws and rules that make such "exploitation" illegal. Alan Greenspan and company reduced interest rates to 1 percent after 9/ll and the Enron scandal, but failed to acknowledge that cheap money would inevitably lead to exploitative lending practices, and therefore failed to monitor what banks and mortgage lenders were doing. I fault him for this.

  •  Do you support single-payer health care? (0+ / 0-)

    I haven't read all of the questions that have been put to you Professor Reich.  Do you support a single-payer for a universal, national health care policy.

    I also hope that you will answer my question about NAFTA.  

    Thanks for being here.


    •  Single-payer (4+ / 0-)

      Yes, I support it. It's the only way to guarantee affordable health care, and get some control over the insurance and drug companies (and their shareholders, which may include some of us in our pension plans).

      I hope I responded to your NAFTA question; my answer is above, somewhere.

      •  thanks for your reply re single payer... (0+ / 0-)

        and thanks for spending so much time here today.  No, you did answer my questions about NAFTA - I've actually asked some additional questions & they're scattered throughouth this comment thread.  I did see you write about the need for provisions to protect workers and the environment on future trade treaties.  And that just begs the question.  Since the NAFTA did not contain provisions to protect workers and the environment, why did you support it?

        Anyway.  Here's that first question again:

        I followed the NAFTA debate very closely during the Clinton administration.  Do you think it was wise to put the agreement on the fast track that prevented our congress from adding provisions to protect workers, jobs and the environment?  Do you have any regrets with respect to that agreement?


  •  last one... Meet the Press (stinks)/ would you... (0+ / 0-)

    With weekly wrap-up shows like Meet the Press and This Week with George S. that are aweful and do not represent how many people view the truth of many current events...

    Would you consider hosting a weekly Sunday wrap-up show with a similiar format with a co-host such as Noam Chomsky and/or Al Gore (Broadcast from your area, of course)?

    After 28 years of Conservative Presidents, it's time to give someone else a chance. So, have a seat Hillary! - in Ve-Ri-Tas I trust.

    by imtimmaaay on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:16:57 AM PDT

  •  Fox News Perpetuates misinformation about the (0+ / 0-)

    economy all the time.

    Shouldn't we have a disassembling of Traditional Media outlets from within the clutches of individuals like Rupert Murdoch?

    Reports on the economy should be fair and balanced (forgive me) shouldn't they?

    I mean, how can news outlets tell Americans the economic sun is shining when everyone is standing it the rain.

    Don't assume anything...Verify! It's as easy as 3.14159265

    by Mr SeeMore on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:18:20 AM PDT

    •  How Cynical! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I been watching ALL the news channels this morning -- and I am now convinced that OJ Simpson holds all the answers to the problems that face America -- from Iraq to the US economy.

      There is no other news. OJ Simpson is bigger than 9/11!

      Fascism ought to more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power. - Mussolini

      by Pluto on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:59:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How do you keep a pos attitude in this climate? (11+ / 0-)

    The Senate votes against reinstating habeas corpus.

    "Moderate" Republican turncoats refuse to help end the war.

    Bush wants to expand illegal spying and retroactively be pardoned for breaking the law.

    Record deficits.

    Crumbling infrastructure.

    Cheney and the neocons pushing for war with Iran.

    The housing bubble goes "pop!"

    Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

    How do you keep a positive attitude about the direction in which our country is going?  Do you see us getting back to our fundamental values again, or are we destined to remain a paranoid police state, scared of our own shadows yet too complacent by TV and shopping to really care what happens?


    "Judge me on the content of my character, not the underwear on my head."

    by Bill in Portland Maine on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:18:22 AM PDT

    •  How to remain positive (4+ / 0-)

      As bad as it is now, we've seen much worse. Depression. World War. Joe McCarthy and communist witch hunts. Richard Nixon. But keep in mind that when Americans understand the nature of a problem, we almost invariably roll up our collective sleeves and get on with whatever has to be done. We are not ideological at heart. Most Americans now know the Iraqi war should never have been started; that Bush and the Bush White House represent incompetence bordering on criminal negligence; that we need to fight global warming and we need national health care; we need better schools for our kids; we have to restore America's moral authority in the world. These are not just progressive values.

      Again, I want to emphasize: Our largest obstacle is cynicism that anything good can come out of our efforts.    

  •  Prof. Reich: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    I'm an admirer and I found most of your responses right on the money. This one, however have to admit stood out:

    Yes, the readers of this blog, and listeners of Air America, and inhabitants of Berkeley and Cambridge, and some other blue places on the American electoral map agree with one another. But why aren't our legislators listening? Because lots of other Americans don't agree with us.

    I think you'd be surprised how many here are not from Berkeley or Cambridge, nor have anywhere near the kind of homogeneity you imply. First, I understand your basic point, I'm from Berkeley, essentially, and I have the same feeling as you sometimes since having lived in other parts of the country and the world.

    However, the current disconnect between what Americans see being said and done in Congress and what we think and believe ourselves goes way beyond this, in my opinion.

    Let me ask it this way: Were someone to try and understand the feelings of the American people about Iraq by listening to and watching the members of congress who purport to represent them, would it give a representative picture? If Aliens came down to Earth and watched congress, they would have the impression that a clear majority preferred that we basically carry on there, for the time being, that this thinking is dominant.

    A clear majority of Americans polled, on the other hand, want the US out of Iraq. It doesn't matter if this reflects both those who want out immediately along with others,  I don't think either case is reflected in what we see happening in Congress or in the media who report to us on it. There's a feeling in the population that the Democrats who were elected are still not getting it in large enough numbers. I personally think this will lead to even more Republicans losing seats in the next election, along with Democrats who don't get it, and at least one independent who so doesn't get his constituency that he's scaring the pants off them at the moment. But that's another story.

    Thanks again,

    NB The opening lines of your book were among the funniest and most clever I've read, it instantly won me over and I was hooked until the end.

    •  you're obviously from Berkeley (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, FishBiscuit


      Yeah, I hear you:

      I thought that swipe at Berkeley (I'm not from there by the way) was just gratuitous and beside the point: people are protesting the war all over America, even in "red zones," and the polls bear that out.

      We need to stop buying the "that's only a concern of the Birkenstok wearing liberal elite" meme.

      Nine times out of ten it's just not true, but we've been brainwashed by the Faux News Police to think it is.

      •  People's Republic of (0+ / 0-)

        as it was known locally. Maybe still is.

        No, I understood the point he was making with that, I suppose it's a bit of a cliche to use Berkeley but at least he threw in Cambridge for coastal parity ;)

        But I do think there's something bigger than that going on here, and the news media plays a big part in it, missing the degree to which DC and the rest are out of step.

        The clearest proof of all this is what happened in the last Congressional election. They didn't understand how out of whack things had gotten then either, and they paid the price.

        •  Bush used it against Kerry (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          timelad, FishBiscuit

          in the debates with the "Massachussetts liberal" line.

          It's just tired, lazy red/blue stereotyping, and DailyKos for one is not just a reflection of blue enclaves: a lot of regular people here post from deep in so-called red states, etc.  

    •  Responsiveness of Congress (5+ / 0-)

      Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that Congress and the White House are responsive to what a majority of Americans want. In fact, I'm saying quite the opposite: That the only way toward reform -- whether the issue be Iraq or health care or anything else -- is to take back democracy. But we can't create a movement to take back democracy unless progressives engage with people who disagree with us, and create a truly national movement. (I suggested last night to an audience in San Francisco, only half in jest, that SF seek a "sister city" in a red state, perhaps Oklahoma City, and connect on a person-to-person basis (email, phone, eventually visits) to discuss goals and values across ideological lines.  

  •  Conservatives Love a different country (0+ / 0-)

    Not the country we love - not the ideals and vision we love - and we're both in the same country.  And you can't live and let live with a group that's vowed to convert your or kill you.  

    I think we're screwed.


    This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone might be proud of us.

    by marthature on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:43:39 AM PDT

  •  Re: deficit spending vs. progressive spending (0+ / 0-)

    A few months back there was a strenuous debate that featured your and Robert Rubin about whether deficit reduction of progressive spending should take precedence for democrats.

    At some point I made a proposal here, to wit:

    This is a false dilemma.  We don't have to choose between reducing budget deficits and spending on social programs.  We can and should do both.  Krugman wants us to keep running yearly budget deficits of ~3% just as Reagan, Bush 1, and now Bush 2 have done.  Congress has pledged itself, as it did during the latter Bush 1 and Clinton years, to "pay-go", meaning every new dollar spent on a social program must be matched by a budget cut somewhere else.  But there is room for compromise.

       I propose that Democrats in Congress and the next Democratic president adopt a "1 for 1" approach, namely:
       for every dollar saved on deficit reduction, one new dollar must be allocated to a needed social program.
       for every new dollar allocated to a social program, one dollar must be saved on deficit reduction.

    Thus, for example, if/when Bush's tax cuts expire in 2010, there will be approximately $300 billion in additional revenues available to the Federal government.  A perfectly viable compromise is to allocate $150 billion of that to deficit reduction, and the other $150 billion to, for example, the college affordability and healthcare programs Reich mentions in his piece.

    Would you be willing to go along with that sort of compromise?

    "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

    by New Deal democrat on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:46:57 AM PDT

    •  Public investment and the deficit (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      acquittal, 4jkb4ia, JCWilmore, LillithMc

      The trouble with any such formulae is they take our attention away from the real issue, which is this: There's an important difference between spending and investing. Any family understands the difference. Spending money on an ocean cruise has different consequences than spending it on a college education for the kids. It's the same with the federal budget. Spending for today should be balanced with tax receipts. But investing in the future productivity of the nation -- education, job training, infrastructure, and so forth -- is wise, as long as the social return on such investment is at least as great as the cost of the accompanying debt.

  •  question FROM Robert Reich (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    timelad, Pluto, not my leg

    "Don't you people have jobs?"

  •  H.R. 1752 - 1852 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Mr. Reich,
    Congress has passed legislation to alter rules binding FHA insurance of consumer mortgages. These rules entail risk assessment of borrowers by market segment (e.g. subprime grade), limits on principal, re-financing credit facilites offered by lenders, and variable rate of interest collected, among other purposes duly noted.

    Ostensibly, these changes will benefit an 80K-250K homeowners who face either foreclosure or untenable ARM resets from now through 2008. Last month in separate addresses Mr. Bush and Mr. Bernanke announced the administrations intent to implement such changes in FHA governance. Democrats have now endorsed this legislation over Republican members by an overwhelming margin.

    How do you envision the affect of this guarantee on capital market investment behavior and consumer confidence and job creation domestically?  

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by MarketTrustee on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 11:59:18 AM PDT

  •  What is the impact of illegal immigration (0+ / 0-)

    on many of the middle-class blue-collar-trades' wages in this current corporate climate, in your opinion?  

    In my construction industry, I'm seeing wages decline back to about a 1991 level for many of the trades, like roofing, concrete/paving work, framing, flooring, electrical, plumbing, etc.  It appears to me in my area that the cause of this is the sudden  mass-influx of cheap, illegal labor competing with the local established tradespeople for an increasingly smaller pool of work.

    We often see "studies" and "reports" posted here at Daily Kos purporting to show the benefits to the U.S. economy of having this cheap labor source, specifically the illegal-immigrant labor pool.  What is your opinion about the short-term and long-term effects of this new milieu for the blue-collar working Middle Class?  (I hope I've made sense with this query.)

    Thanks so much for your time here on Daily Kos.  You answers have been most interesting to read.

  •  Authoritarian Capitalism = Capitalism's Conclusio (0+ / 0-)

    Authoritarian Capitalism is the logical conclusion towards which corporate capitalism drives. Simply put, it's what happens when you make the government a corporation, too, whether privately held or not.

    Rather than going on a rant, I'll just post a link to this tragically relevant flick on despotism.

    •  Vulgar Marxism (0+ / 0-)

      I don't believe that authoritarian capitalism is necessary or inevitable. That's the whole point of my book. We as citizens have the capacity to take back our democracy and make capitalism work for us, rather than the other way around.

  •  Prof. Reich (0+ / 0-)

    I have long been an admirer of yours.  Thank you for being here today.

    Any plans to go on The Daily Show to promote the book?

    "...I think, time wounds all heels." John Lennon

    by SherriG on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:30:11 PM PDT

  •  Professor Reich, (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to answer so many questions. Really, I'm impressed.

    Here at DK we sometimes talk around and around in circles, pressure our representatives, work to effect change in elections, and generally dream about revolution. However, I'm very interested in small concrete steps each of us can take on our daily lives to take back our democracy and implement some of your excellent suggestions.

    Where do we start?

  •  This is the Best (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Devilstower, Tom Enever

    Live blogging diary I have experienced at DailyKos.

    [Of course, the economy is my favorite topic.]

    Thank you Robert Reich! (You're never on the news shows long enough.) I never expected you to answer all the questions.

    You rock, sir.

    Fascism ought to more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power. - Mussolini

    by Pluto on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:55:08 PM PDT

  •  Public Service Suggestion: Support Our Troops (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Here's a great way to support our troops:  put together a care package with all the traditional care package items (snacks, candy, games) and slip a copy of Robert Reich's "Reason:  Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America" or Al Franken's "The Truth (with jokes)" into the box.

    Our troops are bombarded with right wing propaganda 24/7.  Slipping them a little something different to read--like Robert Reich or Al Franken--and think about is a public service that could save our Democracy.

  •  Have to go. (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks, everyone, who joined us today. I'm sorry I have to leave the discussion. Here comes the commercial: I hope you do get a chance to read "Supercapitalism," because in it I deal with several of the themes we engaged in today. Please keep on working for a better society and a better world. Avoid cynicism as an excuse for not practicing democracy. And keep your sense of humor.

    -- Bob Reich

  •  Is supercapitalism by definition (0+ / 0-)


    "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here." MLK, Letter from Birmingham Jail.

    by robokos on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 01:44:32 PM PDT

  •  Devilstower - that was fantastic! (0+ / 0-)

    thanks so much to you and everyone else who was involved in arranging it with Prof. Reich.

  •  Will Cal finally win the Rose Bowl this year? (0+ / 0-)

    Please tell me all economic indicators say yes :)

    ...Seriously though, I always enjoy listening to your segments on "Marketplace" as I drive home in the evenings.  I look forward to reading your book.

    Clinton '08 // Putting People First

    by Berkeley Vox on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 04:34:23 PM PDT

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