Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.

Recent Articles

The Same Old Scare Tactic about Socialism

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. First, these initiatives are overwhelmingly supported by most Americans. Second, for the last 85 years, conservative Republicans have been yelling “socialism” at every initiative designed to help most Americans. It was the scare word used by the Liberty League, in 1935 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed Social Security. In 1952, President Harry Truman noted that “Socialism is the epithet they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years.” Truman went on to say , “Socialism is what they called public power … Social Security … bank deposit insurance .....

What Does Oligarchy Mean?

Oligarchy” means government of and by a few at the top, who exercise power for their own benefit. It comes from the Greek word oligarkhes , meaning “few to rule or command.” Even a system that calls itself a democracy can become an oligarchy if power becomes concentrated in the hands of a few very wealthy people—a corporate and financial elite. Their power and wealth increase over time as they make laws that favor themselves, manipulate financial markets to their advantage, and create or exploit economic monopolies that put even more wealth into their pockets. Modern-day Russia is an oligarchy, where a handful of billionaires who control most major industries dominate politics and the economy. What about the United States? According to a study published in 2014 by Princeton Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern Professor Benjamin Page , although Americans enjoy many features of democratic governance, such as regular elections, and freedom of speech and...

Why We Must Legalize Marijuana

The federal prohibition on marijuana has been a disaster. For decades, millions of Americans have been locked up and billions of dollars have been wasted. It’s also deepened racial and economic inequality. We must end this nonsensical prohibition. The facts are staggering. In 2017, more Americans were arrested for marijuana possession than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery combined. That’s one marijuana arrest every minute. The costs associated with enforcing this ban—including arrests, court costs, and incarceration— reach nearly $14 billion a year . Prohibition also hurts the economy in terms of lost wages. And Americans with criminal records have a harder time finding a job and getting the education they need. On the other hand, legalizing, taxing, and regulating is good for the economy and creates jobs. By simply levying a tax on marijuana like we do cigarettes and alcohol, state and local governments could raise more than $6 billion a year...

The House Now Has a Constitutional Duty to Impeach Trump

Donald Trump is causing a constitutional crisis with his blanket refusal to respond to any subpoenas. So what happens now? An impeachment inquiry in the House won’t send him packing before Election Day 2020 because Senate Republicans won’t convict him of impeachment. So the practical political question is whether a House impeachment inquiry helps send him packing after Election Day. That seems unlikely. Probably no more than a relative handful of Americans are still unsure of how they’ll vote on November 3, 2020. An impeachment is unlikely to reveal so many more revolting details about Trump that these swing voters would be swayed to vote against him, and their votes wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway. Besides, the inquiry probably wouldn’t reveal much that’s not already known, because House subpoenas will get tangled up in the courts for the remainder of Trump’s term (even though courts give more deference to subpoenas in an...

The Divider-in-Chief

Donald Trump’s goal is, and has always been, division and disunion. It’s how he keeps himself the center of attention, fuels his base and ensures that no matter what facts are revealed, his followers will stick by him. But there’s another reason Trump aims to divide—and why he pours salt into the nation’s deepest wounds over ethnicity, immigration, race and gender. He wants to distract attention from the biggest and most threatening divide of all: the widening imbalance of wealth and power between the vast majority, who have little or none, and a tiny minority at the top who are accumulating just about all. “Divide and conquer” is one of the oldest strategies in the demagogic playbook: Keep the public angry at each other so they don’t unite against those who are running off with the goods. Over the last four decades, the median wage has barely budged. But the incomes of the richest 0.1 percent have soared by more than 300 percent and the...

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