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 Case (once again) for Universal Health Insurance

Forget a tax cut, other than an immediate one-year stimulus that puts money into the hands of people earning less than $50,000 a year. Forget paying down the debt. Use the federal surplus for universal health insurance. Working families won't get much out of any tax cut, and debt elimination is foolish. But working families keenly need affordable health care, now more than ever. The dirtiest little secret about the Roaring Nineties is that average working families gained almost no income, while their health care costs soared. From 1986 through 1997 (the latest year for which detailed IRS data are available), the average income of the richest 1 percent of Americans rose 89 percent, to $517,713. During these same years, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans rose 1.6 percent, to $23,815. (These figures, not incidentally, are after all federal income taxes were paid.) Meanwhile, health care costs rose faster than inflation, hitting middle-income families especially hard...

An Outward-Looking Economic Nationalism

Yes to open trade; no to laissez-faire domestic policies.

"...O ye, the wise who think, the wise who reign, From growing commerce loose her latest chain, And let the fair white-winged peacemaker fly To happy heavens under all the sky, And mix the seasons, and the golden hours, Till each man finds his own in all men's good, And all men work in noble brotherhood." -- Alfred Tennyson, "Ode for the Opening of the International Exhibition in London," 1862 The debate grows louder and more strident with each passing trade statistic: On the one side, neo-mercantilists, comprising a growing coalition of American firms and trade unions, urge that government advance American enterprise -- even at the expense of others around the globe. In this view, unless we become more assertive, foreigners will continue to increase market shares at America's expense in industry after industry -- exploiting our openness, gaining competitive advantage over us, ultimately robbing us of control over our destinies. On the other side, laissez-faire cosmopolitans,...

Suite Greed

But for the fact that Democrats are now drinking from the same campaign-finance trough as Republicans, the scandal of executive salaries would be a major issue in the 1992 campaign. The scandal has been growing for years, of course, even before the Reagan-Bush greed decade. In 1960, the chief executive of one of America's 100 largest nonfinancial corporations earned, on average, $190,000, or about forty times the wages of his (rarely hour) average factory worker. After taxes, the chief executive earned twelve times the factory worker's wages. By 1990, the chief executive earned, on average, more than $2 million, not even including stock options that hadn't yet paid out -- a sum equal to ninety-five times the wage of his average factory worker. The regressive shift in the tax burden during the Reagan-Bush years has made the disparity even more absurd. After taxes, the 1990 chief executive's compensation was seventy times that of the average factory worker. Now, after three years of bad...

The Great Bargain

The next president of the United States either will lead the world into an era of unprecedented peace and growth, in which virtually all nations are knitted together into a seamless economic web, or will watch the world fragment into three trading blocs of advanced and rapidly developing nations, and a fourth vast territory -- stretching from South America through central Africa, Eastern Europe, and central and southern Asia -- largely characterized by deepening poverty, ethnic strife, and civil chaos. The choice is not entirely up to the next president, of course, but he will be in a unique position to influence it. As the chief executive of the only remaining superpower -- the very model of democratic capitalism to which most of the rest of mankind now openly aspires -- his words and deeds will count for much. Most of the four billion people who inhabit the Southern Hemisphere, and the 400,000,000 inhabitants of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union are already experiencing sharp...

Rejoinder: Who Do We Think They Are?

Ever since I argued in the Harvard Business Review last year that we should pay less attention to corporate nationality and more attention to whether our nation's work force was gaining the skills and competences it needed to compete, I've had the curious sense of being shoved -- quite against my will -- to the conservative side of the older debate over American industrial policy My first inkling of this transmigration came when The Wall Street Journal praised me and my argument in its editorial pages. If this were not cause enough for alarm, I found myself the recipient of expressions of shock and outrage from several fellow industrial-policy travelers who accused me of abandoning the worthy cause. And now, to deepen my gloom, comes Laura Tyson. Anyone wishing to probe my detailed views on all this has only to buy my upcoming book on the subject, The Work of Nations . (Under the circumstances, the editors of this journal surely have no objection to a little blatant book promotion.)...

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