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Reich writes: "I have some disturbing news for you. You're paying a big price - and about to pay far more."

Robert Reich. (photo: MoveOn.org)
Robert Reich. (photo: MoveOn.org)


An Open Letter to the Republican Establishment

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

01 March 16

 

ou are the captains of American industry, the titans of Wall Street, and the billionaires who for decades have been the backbone of the Republican Party.

You’ve invested your millions in the GOP in order to get lower taxes, wider tax loopholes, bigger subsidies, more generous bailouts, less regulation, lengthier patents and copyrights and stronger market power allowing you to raise prices, weaker unions and bigger trade deals allowing you outsource abroad to reduce wages, easier bankruptcy for you but harder bankruptcy for homeowners and student debtors, and judges who will let you to engage in insider trading and who won’t prosecute you for white-collar crimes.

All of which have made you enormously wealthy. Congratulations.

But I have some disturbing news for you. You’re paying a big price – and about to pay far more.

First, as you may have noticed, most of your companies aren’t growing nearly as fast as they did before the Great Recession. Your sales are sputtering, and your stock prices are fragile.

That’s because you forgot that your workers are also consumers. As you’ve pushed wages downward, you’ve also squeezed your customers so tight they can hardly afford to buy what you have to sell.

Consumer spending comprises 70 percent of the American economy. But the typical family is earning less today than it did in 2000, in terms of real purchasing power.

Most of the economic gains have gone to you and others like you who spend only a small fraction of what they rake in. That spells trouble for the economy – and for you.

You’ve tried to lift your share prices artificially by borrowing money at low interest rates and using it to buy back your shares of stock. But this party trick works only so long. Besides, interest rates are starting to rise.

Second, you’ve instructed your Republican lackeys to reduce your and your corporation’s taxes so much over the last three decades – while expanding subsidies and bailouts going your way – that the government is running out of money.

That means many of the things you and your businesses rely on government to do – build and maintain highways, bridges, tunnels, and other physical infrastructure; produce high-quality basic research; and provide a continuous supply of well-educated young people – are no longer being done as well as they should. If present trends continue, all will worsen in years to come.

Finally, by squeezing wages and rigging the economic game in your favor, you have invited an unprecedented political backlash – against trade, immigration, globalization, and even against the establishment itself.

The pent-up angers and frustrations of millions of Americans who are working harder than ever yet getting nowhere, and who feel more economically insecure than ever, have finally erupted. American politics has become a cesspool of vitriol.

Republican politicians in particular have descended into the muck of bigotry, hatefulness, and lies. They’re splitting America by race, ethnicity, and religion. The moral authority America once had in the world as a beacon of democracy and common sense is in jeopardy. And that’s not good for you, or your businesses.

Nor is the uncertainty all this is generating. A politics based on resentment can lurch in any direction at almost any time. Yet you and your companies rely on political stability and predictability.

You follow me? You’ve hoisted yourself on your own petard. All that money you invested in Republican Party in order to reap short-term gains is now reaping a whirlwind.

You would have done far better with a smaller share of an economy growing more rapidly because it possessed a strong and growing middle class.

You’d have done far better with a political system less poisoned by your money – and therefore less volatile and polarized, more capable of responding to the needs of average people, less palpably rigged in your favor.

But you were selfish and greedy, and you thought only about your short-term gains.

You forgot the values of a former generation of Republican establishment that witnessed the devastations of the Great Depression and World War II, and who helped build the great post-war American middle class.

That generation did not act mainly out of generosity or social responsibility. They understood, correctly, that broad-based prosperity would be good for them and their businesses over the long term.

So what are you going to do now? Will you help clean up this mess – by taking your money out of politics, restoring our democracy, de-rigging the system, and helping overcome widening inequality of income, wealth, and political power?

Or are you still not convinced?


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+165 # RMDC 2016-03-01 10:02
I'm sure all billionaires know this in some abstract and idealistic way. It has been said many times. But these are people who are driven by competition of one person against another or one person against certain market statistics. They measure themselves daily to see if they can beat the market. They are sociopath and compulsive competitors. THey are profit addicts.

Reich is totally right that they have given us the Singer puppet Rubio, the vile and egomanical Trump, and the cynical social conservative Cruz.

These people won't heal themselves. They have to be controlled by the very government regulations they've been fighting against for 50 years. They need a steeply progressive tax rate so there won't be any billionaires. The one thing they don't know is that the regulations are good for them too -- as least, good for them to the extent that they are still human.
 
 
+49 # mh1224jst 2016-03-01 11:17
Quoting RMDC:

These people won't heal themselves. They have to be controlled by the very government regulations they've been fighting against for 50 years. They need a steeply progressive tax rate so there won't be any billionaires. The one thing they don't know is that they regulations are good for them too -- as least, good for them to the extent that they are still human.

Indeed. I've been waiting for this post from Reich for a long time. He is a true American hero. My book on the subject of how capitalism destroys itself is finished, close to publication. The startling thing is how quickly, and how deeply, greed and profiteering can destroy an economy and a democracy. Now we are running out of time.
Looks like we won't get Bernie, but start thinking about insisting on his economic plan for the Democratic Party platform. We need to neutralize the poisonous influence of Paul Krugman's neoclassical economics and false "progressive" ideas about how the economy works.
 
 
+15 # reiverpacific 2016-03-01 15:33
Quoting mh1224jst:
Quoting RMDC:

These people won't heal themselves. They have to be controlled by the very government regulations they've been fighting against for 50 years. They need a steeply progressive tax rate so there won't be any billionaires. The one thing they don't know is that they regulations are good for them too -- as least, good for them to the extent that they are still human.

Indeed. I've been waiting for this post from Reich for a long time. He is a true American hero. My book on the subject of how capitalism destroys itself is finished, close to publication. The startling thing is how quickly, and how deeply, greed and profiteering can destroy an economy and a democracy. Now we are running out of time.
Looks like we won't get Bernie, but start thinking about insisting on his economic plan for the Democratic Party platform. We need to neutralize the poisonous influence of Paul Krugman's neoclassical economics and false "progressive" ideas about how the economy works.


For REAL grassroots economics, if you haven't already, please check out "Capitalism hits the fan" or any of his recorded talks by Dr Richard Wolff, the people's economist.
 
 
+14 # RMDC 2016-03-01 17:03
yes, capitalism hits the fan is a very good book. Thanks for bringing it up.
 
 
+13 # RLF 2016-03-02 06:07
Billionaires don't have a country...they own where ever they are and live where ever they want. They don't give a crap about this country.
 
 
+1 # Auteur47 2016-03-07 14:28
Since I was a lad, I've wondered why all great empires like Rome had declined, then either fallen into irrelevancy or collapsed altogether. The Reich piece describes an element of the decline of the US in the current era. It seems to me that it is the human nature of the members of the elite that is driving this. In that vein it is not so anomalous to pursue short term personal gain given the opportunity to do so; even if they know it is at the expense of society in general. It is unfortunate and perhaps pathological, but that does not seem to set them so far apart from most of the rest of us. Our species has yet to evolve beyond that.
 
 
0 # James38 2016-03-09 22:20
Auteur, I see your comment in a larger scale. The "elite" are now not only destroying the US economy; by following the same path of short term gain, the entire planet is being destroyed.

These are the "final days" of the rest of us having time to figure this out, since the "elites" are not showing any sign of waking up. For example, the "elites" just put together a climate change agreement in Paris that is a classic of "too little, too late".

Whoever came up with the idea that "limiting warming to 2^o C" would somehow be OK and would prevent ongoing disasters? Even 1.5^o is too much (few realize how exquisitely balanced the climate is. Think 'no major change in temperature or sea level or glacial extent for the past 20,000 years.') The next assumption is that we could achieve these goals by the time the treaty suggests. I say that is nonsense, but an even more pressing issue is hardly being discussed at all. The present level of CO2 (let alone how much will be added before any of the supposed reductions are actually achieved) is entirely adequate to cause enough ocean acidification to bring about the extinction of most sea life in about 40 years - all that have shells or skeletons, because the acidity will remove the calcium necessary for shells and bones.

After that, inevitable sea rise will cause massive population dislocation. We must act far more quickly than we are now planning. Social disintegration may cause final unavoidable collapse.
 
 
0 # James38 2016-03-09 22:35
There are answers. They require major cooperation and global effort. One factor will be rapid deployment of Nuclear Power generation using the MSR (Molten Salt Reactor) technology that is totally fail-safe and less than half as expensive to build. While fossil fuels are being replaced, a major global program of mining and processing limestone and olivine for mixing into the oceans needs to be set in motion. Adapting former coal mining equipment, and using MSR power for the processing, on a large enough scale this will do two things. It will basify the oceans which will protect ocean life, and this will enable the oceans to absorb even more CO2. Continuing this process on a major scale would allow us to reduce atmospheric CO2 to pre-industrial levels in about 40 to 60 years. The costs would be large, but no higher than some of the schemes to build machines to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. But those schemes would not save ocean life. We have the machine already. It is the oceans. We just need to use it properly. This process is the same as the weathering of the rocks that has maintained the ocean acid balance for millennia, until we started jacking up the CO2 levels.

See timothymaloney dot net for descriptions of the MSR and LFTR thorium technology. Also on that site you will find several related articles of great relevance.

For the history of MSR and why it has been neglected read "Super Fuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future"
 
 
+88 # tswhiskers 2016-03-01 10:12
So American businesses have made themselves enormously wealthy at the expense of the average consumer and those businesses are not growing as had been hoped. SO IS ANYONE SURPRISED? There is only ONE globe (earth), with only so many people (most of them in poverty), many of them suffering from the global warming caused chiefly by big business. Is this beginning to sound a bit circular? In their ravenous greed, businesses have done their best to destroy this planet. I can't help but admire Reich's idealism. From the last paragraph one would think there may be a shred of altruism left in the hearts of the Kochs et al. Perhaps instead they think to take their wealth off to some island paradise, leaving a dead, unproductive planet behind them and spend it on --- what? The pity of it is that this article was written for grown-ups, not for spoiled, selfish 3 yr. olds.
 
 
+89 # reiverpacific 2016-03-01 10:16
Dr Reich is an economist and of course, in a good position to write this with some authority.
But ELIZABETH WARREN is the true attack-dawg AND watch-dawg, who speaks Wall Street's detliberately-o btuse lingo better than they do and therefore should be awarded a senior economic position in the next Democratic government whoever comes out on top, so that the many-headed have someone in authority to scare the shit out of these elitist greed-mongers and make them play ball.
 
 
+32 # Blackjack 2016-03-01 10:21
Never mind. These screw-the-publi c businesses will be quite comfy when HRC takes over the reins of government; or when Trump does, since that's the most likely scenario. HRC is likely to go down in flames once the Bernie Bots decide they have been marginalized at every turn and see no reason to vote in the general election. Or let's not forget, we have a likely HRC nominee who is quite capable of being taken out of the game once another negative revelation comes out right before the election. There goes the election for the Dems and then the entire scenario turns in favor of the 1%. The country is on the precipice of disaster, but who cares as long as our oligarchy becomes totally complete?
 
 
+1 # mh1224jst 2016-03-02 21:28
Blackjack, that is a truly horrifying thought. There'll be no port in the storm then. It will be worse than the Great Depression, martial law, mass starvation and rebellion. Fear for our children.
 
 
+55 # cymricmorty 2016-03-01 10:29
No matter how the repubs handle their party's leftover toxic waste, in the end the kleptocrats aren't going anywhere. How about an open letter to the Democratic establishment? They've been instrumental in enabling the repub establishment, the latest sellout being the TPP. If the repubs vaporized tomorrow, the understudy Democratic party in its current state would step in to take their place.
 
 
+29 # Shades of gray matter 2016-03-01 10:30
I think Organized Labor built the middle classes, not the Segregationist GOP. I really like RR, but he too lives inside the Berkley Bubble of privilege? The American Establishment, dominated by GOP elites, is responsible for MILLIONS of deaths worldwide since WWII. They will fight and KILL to the end to hold on to the corrupting power they have garnered.
 
 
+33 # MathGuy 2016-03-01 10:31
Infrastructure, Research, and Education represent Investments that benefit both Business and the Society at large. Social Security, Medicare, and a future Universal Health Care System are either Savings Accounts or Premiums that benefit all citizens.

All of this comes from the hated "Taxes". That word is, therefore, very misleading .
 
 
-82 # Charles3000 2016-03-01 11:00
Taxes do not and have never since 1933 paid for any government operation. If you think taxes do pay for govt operations tell me how the govt collected taxes to operate BEFORE spending the money into the economy. Taxes prevent inflation and enable the govt to move money around in the economy but they do not and canot pay for govt operations. The myth that taxes pay for govt operations is one of the most hurtful myths in current US politics.
 
 
+30 # economagic 2016-03-01 11:51
I keep hearing this nonsense, and I would appreciate it if someone would cite some sources so I can educate myself. No, seriously: I'm not saying your claim is nuts, but without a fuller explanation I can't tell what you're saying.
 
 
+20 # DaveEwoldt 2016-03-01 14:30
People like Charles3000 are simply confused, and what they're normally going on about is the personal income tax. Taxes have always been how governments fund themselves, and were integral to corporate charters. Governments granted monopolies, taxed the profits, which paid for the militaries to protect those monopolies.

There's a bit more to it than that, of course, but those are the basics.
 
 
+3 # bmiluski 2016-03-01 16:32
Unfortinately, people like Charles are typical repugs who ALWAYS believe what they are told to believe by the neo-cons.
They are very similar to uber-religious
people.
 
 
0 # moslerfan 2016-03-03 08:36
See home.hiwaay.net /~becraft/RUMLT AXES.html , or google "beardsley ruml taxes for revenue are obsolete". This 1946 paper by former New York Fed President Beardsley Ruml explains what purposes taxes serve in a nonconvertible (fiat) currency regime.

Think about this: money doesn't create itself spontaneously, it is consciously created by someone. In the case of the US, the Federal Government creates dollars in order to buy goods and services from the private sector (to achieve objectives like providing for the common defense, establishing justice, ensuring domestic tranquillity, and promoting the general welfare). For its part, the private sector accepts dollars as payment for goods and services because it must have dollars to pay taxes.

Also google "Modern Monetary Theory"
 
 
+44 # sfreeman 2016-03-01 12:00
Charles 3000, I do not know where you got these genuinely silly ideas, but you simply are wrong; and the evidence is right before your eyes almost anywhere you look. Turn on your water; flush the commode. Drive down the street; cross a bridge; get on an interstate highway; visit a public school or a public university. Our schools and universities were better when they were funded properly by government. Cutting funds for education and shifting college costs to students has damaged our education system, not improved it. As I said, you simply are wrong, completely wrong in what you assert. Please stop reacting to nonsensical propaganda and start thinking for yourself. You'll be a lot better off, and the rest of us will be too.
 
 
+15 # reiverpacific 2016-03-01 12:56
Quoting Charles3000:
Taxes do not and have never since 1933 paid for any government operation. If you think taxes do pay for govt operations tell me how the govt collected taxes to operate BEFORE spending the money into the economy. Taxes prevent inflation and enable the govt to move money around in the economy but they do not and canot pay for govt operations. The myth that taxes pay for govt operations is one of the most hurtful myths in current US politics.

So Charlie the turd-thousand; we're all agog in our ears, eyes, noses, elbows and knees, so DO spare us a small crumb of y'r enormous wisdom by givin' us some examples of y'r theorem and negate the need for an IRS, (I'd love not to have to pay the back-taxes I owe them), how the enormously bloated military and all these wars are financed and many of the boondoggles the Guv'mint wastes the $ we give them.
Where DOES it all go?
I'm an economic nincompoop but even I'm not buying' THAT without some credible and qualified backup.
 
 
+6 # bmiluski 2016-03-01 16:31
Just remember Charlie....If the middle-class ain't buying, then the upper class ain't making. Ain't makingjobs and therefore, ain't making money.
 
 
+15 # Floe 2016-03-01 10:34
Robert Reich is still in the same mindset though. Republicans, Democrats, how do they differ? Democrats live like Republicans, they don't live any differently. Many of them are as wealthy. Look at those in office for starters - John Kerry, Diane Feinstein, Mark Warner, Jay Rockefeller, they are obscenely wealthy and they are Democrats. Democrats also say they are for the climate yet they fly all over the place and have just as high a carbon and water footprint as Republicans and yet they try to tell Republicans that climate change is real. Come on Democrats! Admit it - you're just as bad but you talk a fine talk that is true. Yet you live the same way that you condemn others. And by-the-way, please stop crying the minute the Republicans do something against your party. Figure out how to counter them instead of sitting in the corner with your proverbial thumb in your mouth.

Full disclosure - I abhor Republicans even more than Democrats and believe we are all wasting our time with this stupid system when we have the technology now to lay off politicians and other "representative s" and represent ourselves in a direct democracy. It's not rocket science but do we ever hear a politician (or a Democrat) suggest they are a waste of space and show us another way?
 
 
+47 # jimmyjames 2016-03-01 10:39
I totally agree with Robert Reich's position in this article. How are the poor and middle class going to be able to buy the goods being sold if they spend all their money just trying to survive? Many corporations, such as Wal-Mart give sub-standard wages to their employees which require them to apply for Welfare. And the Republican establishment criticizes them for being Welfare recipients.

How about paying people a living wage? Then they can get off of Welfare and become productive citizens.I know several people working two low paying jobs just because they are too proud to accept Welfare from the government.Why should that even be necessary? I'll bet if corporations began paying a living wage to their employees, welfare could be cut in half. Republicans are quick to point out that 47 million people do not pay taxes. Well, duh....Maybe if they had a decent income, they would be paying some taxes. And, of course, they are paying taxes. Sales tax, energy tax, phone tax, gas tax, etc. And it's a much higher portion of their income than the filthy, rich Republican establishment.
 
 
+2 # Auteur47 2016-03-07 20:07
The key has always been and shall always be a no brainer. The more money in the hands of consumers in this consumer driven economy, the healthier an economy will be. The consumers are the true job creators!!
Duh.
And all this talk of cutting taxes for the rich and slashing regulations as a means of job creation is just so much hogwash. All that will do is to transfer even more wealth to the top and NOT create more employment or increases in wages for the many. Yet this shallow mantra is still being eaten up by the right wing true believers.
 
 
+15 # Rcomm 2016-03-01 10:41
"So what are you going to do now?"

Start another war.
 
 
+17 # JSRaleigh 2016-03-01 10:59
Quoting Rcomm:
"So what are you going to do now?"

Start another war.


Don't know how well that's going to work. We're already running out of places to bomb.
 
 
+6 # MsAnnaNOLA 2016-03-01 11:26
Yeah so they are going to start a war with Russia. Real fing smart. Just look at what is going on. We are really close to going to war with Russia. Kick Turkey out of NATO now!
 
 
0 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2016-03-01 13:20
I believe Rcomm meant "Start another revolution."
 
 
+2 # Nominae 2016-03-02 05:40
Quoting JSRaleigh:
Quoting Rcomm:
"So what are you going to do now?"

Start another war.


Don't know how well that's going to work. We're already running out of places to bomb.


Absolutely, so we are revisiting BONEHEADED Neocon errors from the past.

Hillary is HOT to start another war in Lybia, and preparations are even now being MADE to do *exactly* that, as if she was *already* in power !

"Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice..."
~ Lewis Carrol

How long will it take the public to realize that U.S. Elections are ALREADY decided before they ever start ?

F'Chrissake, it is LEGAL to buy elections now ! (Citizen's United). I recall an old adage to the effect that: "There are none so blind as those that WILL NOT see !"
 
 
+13 # economagic 2016-03-01 11:52
I believe Michael Moore has a new movie out.
 
 
+27 # REDPILLED 2016-03-01 10:47
Since Bill Clinton, the Democrats have been as accommodating to Wall Street and corporations as the Republicans. Robert Reich, who was Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, knows this. That will not change with Hillary in the White House.

Painting only one party as the party of greed and selfishness is misleading.
 
 
+9 # Realist1948 2016-03-01 11:20
Mr. Reich wrote, "You would have done far better with a smaller share of an economy growing more rapidly because it possessed a strong and growing middle class." The implication is that the wealthy will do better in the future with a smaller share of an economy that grows more rapidly.

But what if some of the rich now quietly believe that the days of economic growth are behind us? Consider:
1. The use of fossil fuels must be curtailed; no alternative energy sources are available in the quantities and at the prices of the past century. Much of the last century's growth was powered by cheap fossil fuels.
2. Growth of human population must stop. Populations in Japan and other wealthy nations are already declining. The most rapid population growth now occurs in poor countries where people neither buy nor produce much of economic value. They barely survive. Take away population growth in prosperous countries, and growth in markets is curtailed.
3. Technology is reducing the need for labor; we don't need to pay so many workers/consume rs to meet the needs of the rich.
4. Some of the rich religious conservatives really do believe that the "end times" are near.

If you believe that the conditions for economic growth are vanishing, it may seem rational to grab all you can now, buy up real estate on the high ground of some islands, and build private fortresses.

I hope this isn't the plan for the super rich, but can't help but wonder if this what some of them have in mind.
 
 
+8 # economagic 2016-03-01 12:00
I suspect that at least some of them understand the situation and either believe they can ride out the deluge in the "arks" (gated communities, guarded by well-paid legions) or are determined just to play out the game. I'm not convinced that will work, and I'm pretty sure that many of them are so psychotic from their addiction to money that they really do NOT understand the situation.

It's not likely that I will live to see the worst of it, but I would not assume that a major collapse of some kind(s) will not occur within the lifetime of many now living. In that case, self-preservati on is going to require not "self-reliance" but interdependence . Down here we're into local economy, community, awareness of the Transition Movement (and all of the other movements of which it is a part), New Economics (Schumacher), Slow Money, etc., and we're starting a class in permaculture tonight.
 
 
+12 # Krackonis 2016-03-01 11:24
I suspect you try not and think about how your actions kill people when you are that rich.
 
 
-32 # john rusnak 2016-03-01 12:03
hell,get rid of all the politicians and the teachers and the bankers and the doctors and the professors and the lawyers.just ONE wise leader.... all hail POL POT!! hip hip hooray.What I just wrote is about as good as Herr Reich has written .You all think Billionaires give a rat's ass about your pennies? silly silly you all mix up. Progressives/li berals/democrat s/republicans.. ....all the same HYPNOTIZED! WAKE UP!!
 
 
+9 # rayb-baby 2016-03-01 13:18
Wake up to what, Y O U R ignorance?
 
 
-4 # john rusnak 2016-03-02 10:00
My ignorance ? you think you are part of the game.you think you are a player. YOU are not.You are a battery nothing more to the world bankster cult.
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2016-03-01 15:36
Quoting john rusnak:
hell,get rid of all the politicians and the teachers and the bankers and the doctors and the professors and the lawyers.just ONE wise leader.... all hail POL POT!! hip hip hooray.What I just wrote is about as good as Herr Reich has written .You all think Billionaires give a rat's ass about your pennies? silly silly you all mix up. Progressives/liberals/democrats/republicans......all the same HYPNOTIZED! WAKE UP!!

So give we somnambulists some solutions instead of ringing' y'r own wakeup alarm, Bubba.
 
 
0 # john rusnak 2016-03-02 10:14
solutions? watch the parade in congress.We the people are used as the rallying cry for both sides of the isle.Yet we consistently never see any of the rewards they so vociferously shout out. our rights become privileges granted by a benevolent regime only to be taken away for our own protection.Our Constitution is a pathway,not set in stone, flexible and subject to change to grant more freedoms (licences).At each change more freedom is chipped away..Here is the first solution in my view.DEMAND that each member of congress and of the government reaffirm their will to uphold the Constitution.In any endeavor where the rules of the game can change at whim there can be no game,no besting the "enemy" by team effort, whether it be clearing the land for seed or establishing the law of the land.
 
 
+2 # bmiluski 2016-03-01 16:34
Thank you John for proving you're a troll.
 
 
+2 # Nominae 2016-03-02 05:47
Quoting bmiluski:
Thank you John for proving you're a troll.


There was ever a doubt ??
 
 
+25 # librarian1984 2016-03-01 12:10
Amen.

In the 80s business schools stopped requiring ethics classes for their majors; we got frat-capitalism -- and now we have an economic system totally detached from the community, workers, the country -- no loyalty, no sense of responsibility. They retreat to gated communities (and eventually underground bunkers) to be safe from the dirty masses they've used and spat out.

I'm embarrassed to watch Undercover Boss but it always moves me. Every CEO starts out thinking s/he is going to find out just how their workers are screwing them, who is cheating who is shirking. But instead they end up in tears when they realize their workers are .. gasp! actual people -- nice, hardworking people -- and their company's greatest asset.

Corporate America made a deal with the devil back in the 70s. They got into bed with the social conservatives and have propped them up long past their expiration date, and now those angry illiterates have a few hundred million guns. This country is a mess, and I agree the financial geniuses need to help with the cleanup.

But do they ever?

I keep expecting whites might say they're sorry about slavery. Or the South might apologize for the Civil War. That business people who got bailed out after they almost destroyed the world might say thanks. That the GOP will apologize for Reagan. And then W. And now Trump.

Still waiting.

And I don't trust that HRC is willing to take this on, though I strongly believe it NEEDS to be taken on.
 
 
0 # ahollman 2016-03-05 00:25
librarian1984 wrote: "In the 80s business schools stopped requiring ethics classes for their majors; we got frat-capitalism -- and now we have an economic system totally detached from the community, workers, the country -- no loyalty, no sense of responsibility..."

I disagree. The reality is actually worse.

Following the 1987 stock market crash, which caused the market to drop 25% in one day, millionaire businessman and Harvard Business School alumnus John Shad donated $22 million to his alma mater to teach ethics. Harvard's B-school, ditto others, changed their business curricula to -require- some instruction in ethics.

It has been since then that Gordon Gecko's "Masters of the Universe" have run the US economy (and arguably much of the world economy) into the ground.

Contributing factors have included:
1) the completely unnecessary "financializati on" of the US economy. Essentially "finance" is matchmaking parties with money to invest with people engaged in needing money. I have heard that the share of corporate profits which flowed to the financial sector has increased from 6% to 40%.

2) the deregulation of financial services

3) the attraction of "quants" - scientists from other disciplines, mostly astronomy, mathematics, and physics, many of whom had trouble finding employment - to write the necessary sofware.

4) the proliferation of excessively complex financial products, e.g. collateralized debt obligations.
 
 
+2 # Robbee 2016-03-01 12:43
interesting observations! - but foolish conjecture! # Realist1948 2016-03-01 11:20
"... If (plutocrats) believe that the conditions for economic growth are vanishing, it may seem rational to grab all (plutocrats) can now, buy up real estate on the high ground of some islands, and build private fortresses."

- here's why this won't work for plutocrats - as bernie declared 3 mondays ago - (i was in the crowd!) - after 9/11 the american middle class poured trillions! yes, trillions! into wars in iraq and afghanistan! (then bernie made the point that now we are told that we cannot afford to fix our own infrastructure!)

bernie's point is that plutocrats don't pay for our vast military conquests or occupations - we can deduce that plutocrats cannot afford to buy the army, navy or nukes of their own superpower-utop ia - it's the startup from scratch costs that are the killer!

i'm sure plutocrats would much rather live on their own small continent - or large island - protected by their own army, navy or nukes of their own superpower - but they have one big problem! - outside of america there are either too many or too few humans to operate their utopia! - america has a large, docile populace that has allowed plutocrats to run things for decades and decades!

if it were easy to start a superpower from scratch, plutocrats would already have done so! lack of plutocrat-full- protection is the deal breaker! - power to the people! - go bernie! - go reich! - proud to know ya!
 
 
+6 # Shades of gray matter 2016-03-01 13:34
It may be that the 1975-2015 way America works and thinks is beginning to show cracks, crack pots, and interesting changes. So I think we Commenters should be very modest about what we claim to know. This will be most difficult for me.
But Commenting is for sharing thoughtful analyses for critique, like a scientific journal: PLEASE point out the errors in my thinking. Peer review. It is not for Id based, ego based, vanity based, insecurity based DOMINANCE and name calling of other ANALYTICAL THINKERS. Carefully, thoughtfully, compassionately CREATE insights and analyses of how this new paradigm is unfolding, then share with no defensiveness. We must help each other dispense with oldthink, re- and reconsider our most deeply held beliefs, re-think, re-re-re analyze, re-re-re-evalua te, help each other understand. Tain't what you don't know that gets you in worst trouble. Tis what you know for sure that tain't so.
 
 
+9 # librarian1984 2016-03-01 14:09
I agree with you. We each know a part of reality, like the blind men and the elephant, so listening to each other makes sense. And I agree wholeheartedly that critiques should be thoughtful rather than personal.

But when you get to the re-re-re-stuff, at that point I'd rather be out doing something. We don't want to be navel-gazing during the revolution!

I think for too long people have been tearing things down. Ted Cruz is a prime example. I think we need to build something -- a 21st century America. I'd like to be a rational part of the world again, a good neighbor, admired rather than hated.

I'd rather put a 1000% tax on exporting guns, and become known for our chocolate and cheese and wine instead. Maybe toys.

Do you know all the things invented in America? We have some of the cleverest people. We need education to be better. I like Sanders' idea of a great daycare system that employees thousands of well-paid workers and supports families.

Let's get this show on the road. Evangelicals cause a lot of mischief in hopes of some heavenly reward. But we could have heaven right here, or something close to it.

Secondly, though, there are so many in league against us, let's be supportive. There's enough people telling us we're naive or worse.
 
 
+3 # MidwestTom 2016-03-01 14:15
With the oil industry, the biggest provider of high paying jobs for the past decade, now in depression, we are left with only the defense industry, as a huge employer with high wages. Therefore expect another war, no matter who gets elected; with the possible exceptions of Trump and Bernie. All of the so called establishment candidates will promote war.
 
 
+3 # bmiluski 2016-03-01 16:39
Did it ever occur to you Tom, that renewable energy would open a huge job market if only repug politicians (at the command of the fossil fuel industries) would stop throwing obstacles into it's path.
 
 
0 # dadhantat 2016-03-01 14:27
Shadesofgraymat ter has said the the first thing worth thinking about. I have two (in my mind) must read book suggestions(the re are others). The first, Why Nations Fail and the second The Wild Edge of Sorrow. The first is about extractive political/econo mic nations vs inclusive political/econo mic nations and the second is by a psychologist who speaks about the astronomical amount of repressed grief in this country. Both (in my mind) are central to the analysis of what is happening in the political, economic, social and psychological turmoil of this country and around the world.
 
 
+7 # PABLO DIABLO 2016-03-01 17:01
Greed never sleeps and ignorance never wakes up.
Anyone paying attention could have seen this coming with Reagan/Bush.
 
 
+5 # Elroys 2016-03-01 21:13
Bob Reich is right on the ......money. However, no one here even mentions the massive monster in the room that was created, fed and "stoked" by the extreme focus on maximizing short term profits that benefit a few at all costs. It is only the past 60 years or so - an infinitely tiny microsecond of human existence that has now brought all of humanity and life on this beautiful planet to the point of near extinction. We are indeed in the beginning (middle?) of the 6th great extinction. If we do not seriously address climate change, and now, this is a moot conversation. The greedy of the world have become so addicted to more and more, as Reich points out. Why are people like the Koch brothers allowed to continue polluting and utterly destroying our children's future? Why are the top executives from Exxon not in jail for what they have done and continue doing - they knew about oil and climate since the early 70s - yet, like those who trashed the economy they are given massive cash bonuses instead of massive jail terms. There are murderers whose ilk control public policy, and this is now legalized murder. There really is no justice or accountability for those at the top. And we wonder why so many people are so freakin' angry, why Donald Trump is their guy?
Let's face it-if we keep on doing what we've been doing the first thing we all need to do is get down on our knees and beg for forgiveness from our children. What has gone so wrong with America?
 
 
+6 # angelfish 2016-03-01 21:29
Thank you, Mr. Secretary! Sadly, too many of the These "Titans" of Wall Street, as well as the Great Unwashed are enamored of the uncouth, Loud Mouthed, anti-intellect, Bluster of the Donald, who will drive this country over the edge and put the final nail in our Coffin. There IS a Candidate who CAN turn it all around but they of little faith cling to Hillary who is just a watered down version of Trump with cleaner speech. I am grateful to God that I have no children who will be at the mercy of those who HAVE none (mercy, that is). What was it that Louis the XVI said? "Apres Mois, le deluge"? It's ALMOST upon us. Hope everyone knows how to swim!
 
 
+3 # DrQuantum 2016-03-02 00:03
I look on aghast at what is happening in the USA and wonder at the fate of the world. It seems clear that as Patricia Cori has asserted in her (admittedly) channelled work - No More Secrets, No More Lies . . . that the USA is indeed the headquarters of a dark and conspiratorial oligarchy whose only enemy is indeed humanity. According to her version their plan is nothing less than enslavement of the race. Looking at the way things are heading, I am inclined to believe her. As far fetched as her overall premise might seem, it's the only one that stands up to the light of scrutiny at the moment. Her prescription for (y)our ills? Imbibe the awful truth. Throw that bucket of cold water over yourself and WAKE UP to the fact that you have already been taken over (as it were) by a group of ruthless fascists who seek nothing less than world domination . . but in the guise of good old fashioned Yankee Doodle democracy. A wolf in sheep's clothing. And yes, they don't mind who wins the presidential. HRC or Donald Loony Tunes Trump. It's all good for them. But apparently there is a fly in the ointment of the fascist project. People are waking up. Go ahead and smell the coffee while your sense of smell is still FREE
 
 
+2 # JoaquinWalking 2016-03-02 11:25
I'm not going to fall for the "Good Democrat/Bad Republican" ruse, which is a variation of the "Good Cop/Bad Cop" ruse.

There is no political difference between the last four presidencies. I maintain they were put into office by the same two oligarchies of Standard Oil fame and AT&T fame (Rockefeller & Associates with Grosvenor & Associates) respectively.

Take a look at this video to see what I mean:

http://stormcloudsgathering.com/the-covert-origins-of-isis

Enjoy! Your tax dollars paid for it!
 
 
+5 # gordon.silverman 2016-03-02 11:39
Prof Reich has provided a description of how we have migrated from an industrial-base d capitalist state to a financial-based capitalist state with debt and interest at its base. And, the consequences are predictable (e.g., few own everything). The last leg of the model is worldwide domination which we currently pursue. This is the same path that Spain, Holland, Britain, France, and Germany followed (and same trap that China will encounter). If we do not change course - and I don't see that this is possible - we will experience the same trauma that these states underwent. We may be closer to this than we imagine.
 
 
+1 # chaucer2 2016-03-04 15:53
You've really said it all...but you are preaching to the choir. If your writing could only reach those who 'have the power', and have heretofore exercised it badly...(selfis hly) creating a third world country of our USA. Perhaps it would create somewhat of a thinking group ....who would understand that they are the monster which they have created.
 

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