I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that Democratic candidates may be “too far left”.
But in an era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left”.
A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market.
But as wealth and power have concentrated at the top, everyone else – whether on the old right or the old left – has become disempowered and less secure.
I’m not suggesting we emulate the Chinese economic system. I am suggesting that we not be smug about the American economic system.
Instead of trying to get China to change, we should lessen the dominance of big American corporations over American policy.
China isn’t the reason half of America hasn’t had a raise in four decades. The simple fact is Americans cannot thrive within a system run largely by big American corporations, organized to boost their share prices but not boost Americans.
Not since Warren G. Harding’s sordid administration have as many grifters, crooks and cronies occupied high positions in Washington.
Trump has installed a Star Wars Cantina of former lobbyists and con artists, including several whose exploits have already forced them to resign, such as Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Tom Price, and Michael Flynn. Many others remain.
I keep hearing a lot about “socialism” these days, mainly from Donald Trump and Fox News, trying to scare Americans about initiatives like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, universal child care, free public higher education, and higher taxes on the super-wealthy to pay for these.
Well, I’m here to ask you to ignore the scaremongering.
It’s important to uphold the constitution through impeachment – even if it goes nowhere, even if it’s unpopular with many voters, even if it’s politically risky
Trump and his propaganda machine at Fox News have so aggressively undermined the legitimacy of Robert Mueller’s inquiry – repeatedly conjuring a “witch hunt” and maintaining a drumbeat of “no collusion” – that Mueller’s report, whatever it shows, will almost surely be overwhelmed by a fog of alt-interpretation and epistemological confusion. What’s “collusion?” What’s illegal? What’s unethical? Has Trump been vindicated or not?
The real danger is that as attention inevitably turns to the 2020 campaign, controversy over the Mueller report will obscure the far more basic issues of Trump’s competence and character.
An American president is not just the chief executive of the United States, and the office he (eventually she) holds is not just a bully pulpit to advance policy ideas. He is also a moral leader, and the office is a moral pulpit invested with meaning about the common good.
Trump wants us to believe he’s the Triumphant Individual. But in fact he’s a conman who inherited his wealth
The second tale is the Benevolent Community – neighbors and friends who pitch in for the common good.
The third tale is the Mob at the Gates – threatening forces beyond our borders. Daniel Boone fought Indians, described then in racist terms as savages. Davy Crockett battled Mexicans.
The fourth and final tale is The Rot at the Top. It’s about the malevolence of powerful elites – their corruption and irresponsibility, and tendency to conspire against the rest of us.
But the real Rot at the Top consists of concentrated wealth and power to a degree this nation hasn’t witnessed since the late 19th century. Billionaires, powerful corporations, and Wall Street have gained control over much of our economy and political system, padding their nests with special tax breaks and corporate welfare while holding down the wages of average workers.
In this, the rich have been helped by Republicans in Congress and the White House whose guiding ideology seems less capitalism than cronyism, as shown time and again through legislative and regulatory gifts to big pharma, Wall Street, big oil and coal, big agriculture and giant military contractors.
To a conservative mind, socialism is getting something for nothing. Yet this is what the president promotes for the wealthy
The only redeeming aspect to Trump’s presidency is he brings us back to basics. And what could be more basic than the difference between democracy and dictatorship?
The choice could not be clearer. Democracy is about means, while dictatorship is about ends. Trump uses any means available to achieve his own ends.
We can preserve our democracy and force Trump out of office. Or we can continue to struggle against someone who strives to thwart democracy for his own benefit.
In the months ahead, that choice will be made, one way or the other.
Trump and his appointees are on a binge of deregulation that masks another kind of trickle-down economics, in which the gains go to the top and the rest of us bear the risks and losses.
They say getting rid of regulations frees up businesses to be more profitable. Maybe. But regulations also protect you and me—from being harmed, fleeced, shafted, injured or sickened by corporate products and services.
So when the Trump administration gets rid of regulations, top executives and big investors may make more money, but the rest of us bear more risks and harm.
In Australia, a similar situation is developing. Wages growth is at an all-time low and the government seems intent on keeping them so. The problem though is that without wages growth consumers don’t have expendable income sufficient to meet consumer demand for goods and services. America has found that out. Conservatives don’t seem to comprehend that you may be able to obtain growth on the back of low wages but if the low wages prevent people from buying what you produce, you have defeated your purpose.
Of course inequality is not just confined to the United States. It is truly universal. The two countries with the highest populations have chosen to improve the quality of life of their citizens with greedy economic capitalism, which is the same system that has caused inequality in the advanced economies. The advances in China, particularly over the past forty years have been spectacular. And at the same time, it is breeding billionaires like confetti. And all on the back of a low wage work force. In 50 years or so, if they continue on the same path, they will face the same problems that the west faces now.
Robert Reich outlines a plan to resolve the issue which is sound in economic rationale.
In the absence of another economic system, capitalism is what we have. The problem with it is its inherent greed and misuse. It is a system that could be moulded and shaped for good. However, the conservative forces of the right of politics seem determined to enshrine the existing hungry evil greed of unregulated capitalism on us.
Revolutionised morally regulated capitalism could if legislated and controlled enable everyone an equitable opportunity for economic success. With equality of opportunity being the benchmark of all economic aspiration and legislation.
Even if Trump doesn’t read, can’t follow a logical argument, and has the attention span of a fruit fly, it still doesn’t follow that he’s stupid.
There’s another form of intelligence, called “emotional intelligence.”
Trump promised to drain the swamp. . . now he is surrounding himself with starving alligators expecting welfare
Source: Dear Trump voter – Salon.com
The president’s failure to accomplish little of his agenda during his first months in office is striking. But we should not forget the vast harm he has done in this short time.
As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically do these 15 things
In reality, I think President Obama has been too cooperative with Donald Trump
Today marks the 146th day since Donald Trump last held a news conference. As the Electoral College backs Trump, we speak to former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “Democracy depends on a free and independent press, which is why all tyrants try to squelch it,” Reich recently wrote. “They use seven techniques that, worryingly, President-elect Donald Trump already employs.” We speak to Reich, who discusses how Trump uses seven techniques to control the media.
My coffee with a Trump die-hard.
Trump needs attention the way normal people need food
Robert Reich explains how we can close the “Racial Wealth Gap”
Commenting on the rise of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, notes, “I don’t think Donald Trump is a conservative. I think he’s an authoritarian. And there is a difference. I don’t think he cares about democracy. … In fact, I think that Donald Trump, from everything he’s said, may view democracy as an impediment to what he wants to do.” Reich adds, “It’s particularly dangerous when we don’t have strong mediating institutions, such as labor unions and other organizations … that can soften and subdue or in any way reduce the influence of an authoritarian when so many people in America now feel so atomized, so isolated.”
A progressive era saved us from the robber barons and it can save us now, argues the former secretary of labor
Fox has a long history of attacking overtime protections, recently complaining that the then-rumored proposal amounted to “left-wing economic engineering” and was “probably going to hurt a lot of other people.”
Robert Reich blasted overtime opponents for warning of “unintended consequences” from stronger wages “without an ounce of empirical data to back it up.”
Overtime Pay Is the Minimum Wage for the Middle Class
by Robert Reich and Nick Hanauer
The Department of Labor just proposed raising the overtime threshold from $23,600 a year to $50,440, and from the fearful squawks coming from the business lobby you’d think the sky was falling. But all this trickle-down scare-talk about job-killing regulations and unintended economic consequences is just that — trickle-down scare talk — without an ounce of empirical data to back it up.
We call it: Chicken Little Economics.
In fact, far from the end of the world, middle-class Americans never did better than when the overtime threshold — the annual salary below which workers are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay — was at its peak. A half-century ago, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. But after 40 years in which the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, only about 8 percent do. If you feel like you’re working longer hours for less money than your parents did, it’s probably because you are.
Today, if you’re salaried and earn more than $23,600 dollars a year, you don’t automatically qualify for overtime: that means every extra hour you work, you work for free. But at the Obama administration’s proposed new threshold, everyone earning a salary of $50,440 a year or less would be eligible to collect time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. That would add nearly 5 million more workers to the numbers eligible, substantially increasing both middle-class incomes and employment. It’s not as high as the $69,000 threshold it would take to return to 1975 levels, but it’s a courageous step in the right direction. It’s like a minimum wage hike for the middle class.
Everybody knows Americans are overworked. A recent Gallup poll found that salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week — not the supposedly standard 40 — while 18 percent of Americans report working more than 60 hours a week. Indeed, overtime pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don’t even realize that the majority of salaried workers were once eligible. We just keep working longer and harder. And ironically, the longer and harder we work, the more we weaken the labor market, weakening our own bargaining power in the process. That helps explain why over the last 30 years, corporate profits have doubled from about 6% of GDP to about 12%, while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount. The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors leading to this worsening inequality. But a higher threshold would help reverse this trend.
Under the new salary threshold, employers would have a choice: They could either pay you time-and-half for your extra hours worked, or they could hire more workers at the standard rate to fill your previously unpaid hours. The former would put more money into your pockets. The latter would put more leisure time at your disposal while directly adding more jobs. And either would be great for workers and great for boosting economic growth.
Lower- and middle-income workers don’t stash their earnings in offshore accounts the way CEOs do — the more they’re paid the more they spend on goods and services. When workers have more money, businesses have more customers; and when businesses have more customers, they hire more workers. Whether through an increase in consumer demand or through a reduction in unpaid hours, a higher overtime threshold would increase total employment, tightening the labor market and driving up real wages for the first time since the late 1990s.
Of course, conservative pundits and politicians will attempt to preserve the status quo by warning that a return to more reasonable overtime standards would somehow cripple our economy, hurting the exact same workers we intend to help. But that’s what they always warn about every regulation — from the minimum wage, to Obamacare, to child labor laws. Yet it never turns out to be true. The sky never falls. And trickle-down economics looks more like Chicken Little Economics with every passing day.
Robert Reich served as the Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur.
ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock” and “The Work of Nations.” His latest, “Beyond Outrage,” is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All,” is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.