Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has put forth a big proposal: unionizing workers at McDonalds, Walmart, and large hospitals that currently don’t have unions. Reich’s real concern isn’t union growth so much as it is finding a way to deal with growing poverty and lost income in the U.S. It’s not just the least among us who are suffering. Reich cites a study that shows the bottom 90% of American wage earners lost 1.2% between 2009-2011. He tracks the rise in worker income in the 1950s and its decline since the 1970s to the rise and fall of union membership. Workers are losing.
Who has been winning this game? The most wealthy Americans, the same people who attack unions and the poor. Reich argues that a country with more evenly distributed wealthy would help all Americans. Unfortunately, too many people don’t share his view. We live in an “I got mine and I want more” culture. Until that changes, expect more of the same.
P.S.: Writing in Think Progress, Pat Garofalo reports that nearly 50% of Americans are one financial misfortune away from poverty. Unions would help make our society more stable and secure. Of course, so many Americans have been bamboozled by the corporate media to believe in a “freedom” that leaves them at risk and makes only the super rich more secure.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich looks at today’s job report and finds not even a sliver of silver lining. While agreeing with the experts that a slowdown in the world economy has hit the U.S., he also notes that American companies have cash, which they could use to hire workers. They aren’t hiring because the American middle class isn’t spending. The American middle class isn’t spending because wages are down and jobs have no security. I wrote a few months ago that I hoped Reich’s dire outlook was wrong. His view is getting dimmer and harder to deny or hope away.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is a great economist. That said, I hope his latest column misses the mark. Reich says the American economy has “stalled.” He attributes the problem to cutbacks in government spending, which we have also seen in several European countries. Then Reich digs deeper: “But widening inequality is the underlying culprit here. As long as almost all the gains from economic growth continue to go to the top, the vast middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to boost the economy on its own.” This argument makes sense. Still, I hope he’s missing something.
Today’s Common Dreams features 3 articles that reflect our tumultuous world.
Indian writer Arundhati Roy profiles the Indian government’s crackdown on journalists, who are deported when they report on land grab schemes in the country’s central region or the never-ending conflict in Kashmir. Protestors are called Maoists or jihadis, and the government plays the “War on Terror” trump card that Americans know too well. Many American voices on the right and left criticize China for oppressing its people. Roy challenges us to look at India. Is it following a similar path?
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich argues that America is in a “jobs depression.” Reich is unapologetically partisan, but it’s difficult to dispute his facts. If the government is the employer (directly or indirectly) of last resort and Republicans will not fund job programs, expect unemployment to stay bad and probably get worse. Reich challenges President Obama to make his 2012 campaign “a bold plan to revive jobs and the American middle class.”
Finally, Chris Hedges, who has written some dark, dystopian articles over the past few months, is almost giddy about the Occupy Wall Street movement that is spreading to cities throughout the country. Hedges issues the sharpest challenge of all: “Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.” Somewhere, Joe Hill is smiling.
We live in challenging times. What will tomorrow bring?
Writing in Huffington Post, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explores the Republican Party’s strategy to pit working Americans against each other. Reich describes growing animosity between union/non-union workers as well as older workers who want to benefit from Social Security and younger works who have little faith that the program will benefit them. One way the Republicans are fueling the fire is through an attempt to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program. At the end of his piece, Reich asks a very interesting question – “What is the Democratic strategy to counter this and reclaim America for the rest of us?” A very good question.
Writing in Huffington Post, Robert Reich examines conventional wisdom on the economy. We hear again and again that the economy has recovered because the stock market is over the (new) magic number of 12,000. Reich points out that this is great news for the top 10% of income earners who benefit most from stock ownership. The rest of Americans hold a very small share in this type of investment.
For Main Streeters, the biggest investment is put in their homes. Reich writes, “Things could easily get worse on the housing front because millions of owners are in various stages of foreclosure or seriously delinquent on their mortgages. Millions more owe more than their homes are worth, and, given the downward direction of the housing market, are going to be sorely tempted to just walk away. This means even more foreclosure sales, pushing housing prices down even further.”
The government bailed out banks that caused the crisis. It gave loans to save the auto industry. Why can’t a program be put in place to help home owners? I can hear the answer from Fox and the right wing echo chamber: “That’s socialism.” Why wasn’t it socialism when we bailed out big corporations and the very wealthy people that benefit from them? Many middle class and working class American poured their income into bogus mortgage deals. They lost. We need to look at who won this game – they’re the same people that rigged the rules.
Writing in Huffington Post, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich examines the deeper implications of President Obama’s State of the Union address. Noting that the President’s language of “investment” sounds appealing, Reich asks the most basic question: Where’s the money? Corporate America isn’t investing its profits back into this country. Reich says that the President is correct in saying that the economy has improved. However, the speech left out the small point about how little of the economic improvement has “trickled down to ordinary people.”
Reich points out that Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy were in a much better position to use the language of competition and victory. They led in times when the economy was much stronger (and times when the wealthy and corporations paid a greater share of the tax burden). Reich ends by asking if government can look to do what is good for American families rather than profit-obsessed global corporation. President Obama answered Reich’s question when he made Jeffrey Immelt of GE the head of his job growth effort. Just wait, jobs will grow – in China and India.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has written an Op-Ed in The New York Times on the impact of income disparity and how it can be corrected. Rather than debate religion and immigration, we need to think about what factors made the jobs go away and who benefited from their loss. Reich shines bright light on this issue.
Writing in Common Dreams, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich analyzes the relation between corporate profits and unemployment. We’d expect companies with profits to be hiring and expanding operations. Many large companies are expanding – outside the U.S. Reich explores the dilemma of a country in which companies won’t hire until consumers spend, and consumers can’t spend if they have no jobs.