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Robert Reich writes, "The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class - pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don't believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)



The Republican Strategy

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

19 February 11

 

he Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class - pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don't believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich - making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.

The strategy has three parts.

The Battle Over the Federal Budget

The first is being played out in the budget battle in Washington. As they raise the alarm over deficit spending and simultaneously squeeze popular middle-class programs, Republicans want the majority of the American public to view it all as a giant zero-sum game among average Americans that some will have to lose.

The President has already fallen into the trap by calling for budget cuts in programs the poor and working class depend on - assistance with home heating, community services, college loans, and the like.

In the coming showdown over Medicare and Social Security, House budget chair Paul Ryan will push a voucher system for Medicare and a partly-privatized plan for Social Security - both designed to attract younger middle-class voters.

The Assault on Public Employees

The second part of the Republican strategy is being played out on the state level where public employees are being blamed for state budget crises. Unions didn't cause these budget crises - state revenues dropped because of the Great Recession - but Republicans view them as opportunities to gut public employee unions, starting with teachers.

Wisconsin's Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature are seeking to end almost all union rights for teachers. Ohio's Republican governor John Kasich is pushing a similar plan in Ohio through a Republican-dominated legislature. New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie is attempting the same, telling a conservative conference Wednesday, "I'm attacking the leadership of the union because they're greedy, and they're selfish and they're self-interested."

The demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they've caused these budget crises, but it's also premised on a second lie: that public employees earn more than private-sector workers. They don't, when you take account of their education. In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education - even including health and retirement benefits. Moreover, most public employees don't have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year.

Bargaining rights for public employees haven't caused state deficits to explode. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights, such as Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, are running big deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many states that give employees bargaining rights - Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana - have small deficits of less than 10 percent.

Republicans would rather go after teachers and other public employees than have us look at the pay of Wall Street traders, private-equity managers, and heads of hedge funds - many of whom wouldn't have their jobs today were it not for the giant taxpayer-supported bailout, and most of whose lending and investing practices were the proximate cause of the Great Depression to begin with.

Last year, America's top thirteen hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion each. One of them took home $5 billion. Much of their income is taxed as capital gains - at 15 percent - due to a tax loophole that Republican members of Congress have steadfastly guarded.

If the earnings of those thirteen hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers. Who is more valuable to our society - thirteen hedge-fund managers or 300,000 teachers? Let's make the question even simpler. Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?

The Distortion of the Constitution

The third part of the Republican strategy is being played out in the Supreme Court. It has politicized the Court more than at any time in recent memory.

Last year a majority of the justices determined that corporations have a right under the First Amendment to provide unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission is among the most patently political and legally grotesque decisions of our highest court - ranking right up there with Bush vs. Gore and Dred Scott.

Among those who voted in the affirmative were Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Both have become active strategists in the Republican party.

A month ago, for example, Antonin Scalia met in a closed-door session with Michele Bachman's Tea Party caucus - something no justice concerned about maintaining the appearance of impartiality would ever have done.

Both Thomas and Scalia have participated in political retreats organized and hosted by multi-billionaire financier Charles Koch, a major contributor to the Tea Party and other conservative organizations, and a crusader for ending all limits on money in politics. (Not incidentally, Thomas's wife is the founder of Liberty Central, a Tea Party organization that has been receiving unlimited corporate contributions due to the Citizens United decision. On his obligatory financial disclosure filings, Thomas has repeatedly failed to list her sources of income over the last twenty years, nor even to include his own four-day retreats courtesy of Charles Koch.)

Some time this year or next, the Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether the nation's new healthcare law is constitutional. Watch your wallets.

The Strategy as a Whole

These three aspects of the Republican strategy - a federal budget battle to shrink government, focused on programs the vast middle class depends on; state efforts to undermine public employees, whom the middle class depends on; and a Supreme Court dedicated to bending the Constitution to enlarge and entrench the political power of the wealthy - fit perfectly together.

They pit average working Americans against one another, distract attention from the almost unprecedented concentration of wealth and power at the top, and conceal Republican plans to further enlarge and entrench that wealth and power.

What is the Democratic strategy to counter this and reclaim America for the rest of us?


Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.

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+12 # Charlie Peters 2011-02-19 11:36
Audit the federal reserve, support HR 459 Paul
 
 
+18 # Nancy Hilliard 2011-02-19 14:14
Is there a Democratic Party that is independent of corporate control? Did Obama 'accidentally' fall into the trap of blaming public spending?
 
 
-20 # Virginia 2011-02-19 15:57
Accidentally? No. As a friend of mine recently said:

"You misunderstand the dynamics.
Mr. O. is a Professor. When he was at the University, he lived in a theoretical world. Professors and instructors do not have the concern of where the next paycheck is coming from; it is automatically provided by "the administrators, " and it shows up automatically every two weeks or so in the bank account by automatic deposit. So, the Professor does not have the pressure of the ordinary worker, who is never sure if he gets paid on Friday, cashes his check and spends it, then goes to the factory on Monday to find the place shuttered, either bankrupt or seized by the IRS for tax withholding unpaid. Meanwhile the worker's paycheck goes dishonored, and now with no cash to cover the overdraft he is ruined, the bank closes his account, reports him to Chexsystems, and he can never open up another bank account anywhere because he is blacklisted in that cute little monopoly mugging.

So, Professor O can be the nicest guy on the planet, but he has no clue - because he has no personal exposure." And he is, and has been, controlled by the "administrators ."
 
 
+41 # John Hoaglund 2011-02-19 16:35
Virginia, while I agree that some (most?) professors can be "out of it" on social / political issues, don't fall into the trap of the GOP's divide-and-conq uer strategy. I am a former professor. Why former? By choice? Hell no. 3 non-tenure track positions later, each requiring a move and leading nowhere, I'm unemployed and homeless like the rest. The gutting of tenure is all part of the plan to make academia compliant and complacent, that and the hiring of foreign academics who could give a @#$@#$@ about this country in the first place anyway. My frustration with the "out of it" fellow academics was their inability to see all this coming. Now the GOP is after their pensions, and finally after 30 years, some are taking notice and actually taking to the street (Wisconsin). It's what the "public employee" battle is all about. Professors are "teachers" but unlike K-12, most are not unionized and most make LESS than a K teacher. I made $30,000 per year at U Mich in 1998, Ph.D. in hand. If it weren't for the love of academics, I would have been better off driving a bus. And God forbid there be enough security in an academic position so you can worry about a the position of a p-orbital in a pi double bond rather than labor issues.
 
 
+15 # genierae 2011-02-20 09:04
Mr. Hoaglund: You have all these scholarly qualifications, and you seem to be a self-aware person, why not use all of this to educate those ignorant people who are supporting the corporate Republicans? The best weapon against lies is the truth, and with your education and contacts, why not form an organization dedicated to informing the uninformed? I am beginning to work on this where I live, I plan to invest most of my time and effort into putting the facts into the public arena, door-to-door, setting up in public places, handing out pamphlets, etc. One thing is clear. This must be a peaceful, nonpartisan movement, dedicated only to the truth, and members must refuse to be provoked by those who don't want to hear the facts. If we could get this going nationwide, think of the great impact it would have! This would have to be a permanent, ongoing effort, just like other public-service organizations. I know that this would work, but what do you think, Mr. Hoagland?
 
 
+16 # Liberal_Lady 2011-02-19 18:17
Your friend was very wrong! President Obama has seen (and heard from) some of the poorest of the poor in his life! He even lived among them during part of his childhood in Indonesia. He didn't spend his life in a "cloistered professorial environment" such as you're depicting here! I could go on; but suffice it to say that the president is a brilliant man, much more than he's given credit for (by such as your friend & yourself) and he understands the plights of ALL the people, and the best thing of all is, HE CARES! We probably couldn't have a more rounded, more worldly, and better educated man in the White House than we are presently privileged to have at this time! We should all be happy with the overwhelming choice we've made, & content with who is sitting in the Oval Office today! The republicans should get some national pride going and forget all this unfounded nit-picking and negativity, just for the sake of hoping to make him 'look bad' so by the time 2012 rolls around, you will have 'picked him to pieces'! (BTW, it won't work in the end, anyway, & you're all just going to make yourselves 'look bad')! :-/
 
 
+12 # rf 2011-02-20 07:13
The gutting of tenure helped out by the allowed hiring of foreign students that don't complain they are getting peanuts because anything is better than what they get at home. The right has taken over college boards the same as state houses.
 
 
-4 # rf 2011-02-20 07:14
Sure! He cares about Goldman sachs making big bonuses.
 
 
+4 # trog69 2011-02-20 11:57
This is why we are so screwed. Obama can play up the "moderate" Republicans, and start the budget "negotiations" with cuts to programs that Liberals want because too he knows he will be re-elected. He gave up on us lefties a long time ago.
 
 
+1 # WilliamC. Johnson 2011-02-20 16:06
I believe it's a bit more nuanced than that, unfortunately.

Please read:

http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-72/4988-qdemocracy-uprisingq-in-the-usa
 
 
+5 # LADidier - ND70 2011-02-21 18:10
Virginia - even when "Mr O." as you put it was teaching in a U. he was only part-time. He was either working as a lawyer, a legislator or, earlier a community-activ ist trying to help poor people in the inner city. Since I also have been a community activist or teacher all of my career, he and I VERY WELL understand what it means to get by on low, sub-standard wages, and to have dictatorial bosses throw us into the street - or at least the threat of it. I suspect he relates to the "ordinary worker" far better than you ever will - and his policies indicate that.
 
 
+2 # Virginia 2011-02-19 14:17
Sounds like a good idea and has a great deal of support.

SEC. 2. AUDIT REFORM AND TRANSPARENCY FOR THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwit hstanding section 714 of title 31, United States Code, or any other provision of law, an audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal reserve banks under subsection
(b) of such section 714 shall be completed before the end of 2012.
 
 
+32 # Rosemary Timoney 2011-02-19 20:32
Terrifying, but true. WHY can someone with authority demand that Clarence Thomas declare the sources of his and his wife's incomes - all of them? The Founding Fathers devised a three-pronged form of government specifically to create a system of checks and balances. Thomas and Scalia are openly flying in the face of that intention, with an ugly and foreseeable conclusion to follow.

It may have been the bliss created by ignorance, but I grieve for the tri-partite government I believed that I grew up with fifty years ago. The current Court is a parody of the one described in the Constitution.
 
 
+20 # genierae 2011-02-20 09:14
Ms. Timoney: We were raised to be blissfully ignorant. For generations Americans were conditioned to be indifferent to the true state of affairs in our government. This was a deliberate effort by conservative forces determined to steal everything precious to us. Now that we are awake, we feel the pain of reality, and we need to use that pain as a goad to organize against the growing onslaught from the right. We need to educate ourselves and then go out and educate those who are still asleep. "Truth is the most powerful force on earth." Gandhi
 
 
+6 # Historian, amateur 2011-02-20 18:44
The history of American government has mostly been a story of Americans, from colonial days, trying to escape the age old debt-money system, perpetrated on humankind by the same people over & over again, throughout history- the largest owners of gold. That has to end someday, if we are ever to overcome the preponderance of serfdom, as slavery was abolished in the 19th century. There is no valid reason for a sovereign government like the United States to abdicate its primary duty- that of providing its citizens (or shareholders, it you will) with a sound system of currency; as opposed to 'offshoring' this cardinal obligation to some opaque cartel.
 
 
+1 # 3rdM-3rdE 2011-02-20 18:11
Right on! The problem is not so simple as a 20th century Democrat or Republican issue. $700bn in annual interest payments to these rather opaque people & their institutions cannot be rationally justified. Commontaters and other experts who don't fess up to this (most ancient of scams) are simply not talking [or perhaps thinking] straight. It doesn’t get any better until the root cause of the problem is understood and addressed.
 
 
+54 # giraffe 2011-02-19 12:19
Accuse and expose the "links" as you have just done, Robert Reich.

Then demand that the Supremes recuse themselves from deciding on any case before the court that is linked to Scalia & company.

The Dems need Anthony Weiner to be "advisor" "spokes person" "head committee for accountability/ oversight" (or somebody under his guidance. There are a few other Reps & Senators who are like-minded with Rep. Weiner and they too should be included in his committee: Prsident Obama needs this committee.

Obvious fixed: Everybody pay the same % of their income

Either start the draft or stop the wars: Private military is too expensive.

Revise (repeal)the 1947-8 Act that gives the Insurance Companies the ability to keep 70%+ - of every dollar for their profit.

Change the Tax code - That is so obviously corrupt and perseved by "we know who you are"

Quit making deals with cheaters = China who we cannot expect not to cheat (and try to rule the world)--- why give them our world.

The debt is not a one way street! Cutting spending is 1/2 = other half is equal taxes on ANY income (hedge funders to street sweepers)
 
 
+46 # Ryan Langemeyer 2011-02-19 12:22
Let the REVOLUTION BEGIN HERE!!!!!!
 
 
+10 # rf 2011-02-20 07:15
Eat the rich!!!
 
 
+12 # michelle 2011-02-20 19:53
"eat the rich" ... (I would add)
before they eat your young!!

One in four American children goes to bed hungry to keep the likes of Paris Hilton in Prada. Time for the rich to pay their fair share. After all they live here too!
 
 
+65 # Adoregon 2011-02-19 12:36
The effort to destabilize the middle and lower classes is Standard Operating Procedure for the elites who control both the Repuglicans and Democraps. What do you think our policy in Iraq and Afghanistan is all about? Stability? Democracy? Equality? AYSM? Forget the yapping and focus on the reality on the ground. The idea is to get the proles riled up over trivia while the elites steal the store.

In confusion there is profit. There are more opportunities in chaos than there are in a stable democracy governed to benefit all citizens equally. The divisive rhetoric will continue until the ruling class gets what it wants codified in law... unless the proles take control of the country back.

Good luck.
 
 
+53 # Jean D Haight 2011-02-19 12:41
It's time to get rid of Boehner and his gang of thieves. They're living of the backs of what used to be the Middle Class. They should not be allowed to accept gifts from the wealthy or banks.

They should be working for the "people" the last I heard that included the middle and poor classes. All politicians should be resticted to time limited terms. I never would have said this about the Denocrats because they work for all the people.

Our taxes pay the salaries of the congres,The Senate, and the President. "YOU ARE WORKING FOR US> WE CAN FIRE YOU in the next election.
 
 
+33 # DaveW. 2011-02-19 12:42
Sobering article. What to do? Find "real" Democrats, extract them from their own sinking ship, and create and articulate the need for a return to justice and sanity. Much of this NEVER would have happened had not many Democrats abandoned their ideals long ago. You worked for Bill Clinton Professor. Clinton signed not only NAFTA but Glass/Stegall. I believe your columns are well written and almost universally agree with you. Isn't Clinton guilty of "aiding and abetting" the very forces you write so disapprovingly of? It's third party time Professor. I think many of us know that.
 
 
-25 # johnrusnak 2011-02-19 12:52
horse hockey

the left,the right,the middle... horse hockey
if you ever followed a horse you know what I mean.

almost all are there to protect their personal interests.

demand accountability.
demand real production that creates real products.

It does not matter from which side just get real production,wher e something useful to all is made.

listening to the crap from Reich or Beck or some politician is not what we need or can live with .these are tuff times and we need solutions not bla bla
 
 
+5 # soularddave 2011-02-19 23:39
Quoting johnrusnak:
horse hockey

the left,the right,the middle... horse hockey


Your posting is well titled
 
 
+4 # rf 2011-02-20 07:17
Horse Hockey...isn't that called Polo...game of the richest???
 
 
+2 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-02-20 12:37
Polo
 
 
+41 # stonepig 2011-02-19 13:14
Well, I think the splittin has just met its match. People are realizing this everywhere. The fact that the firemen went to the streets in Madison shows solidarity in the rank and file. The repugs and dums alike have met their comeupance in the American people.
WE'RE MAD AS HELL AND WE AREN'T GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE
 
 
+48 # Milt Lauenstein 2011-02-19 13:32
To see Obama quibbling with the Republicans over which programs for the less fortunate to cut is disgusting. The proposition that this country cannot afford to take care of its sick and elderly is revolting. The underlying problem is that the top 1% are taking about a quarter of our GDP, $3 1/2 trillion, nearly as much as the entire federal budget. If they took 9%, as in 1976 , already a whopping share, they would get $2 1/4 trillion less, much more than the deficit, without cutting education, Social Security, health care or anything else.
We need better leadership to get this country back on track!
 
 
+29 # Virginia 2011-02-19 13:36
Okay, I see this great divide - but then is Obama a Republican in a Democrat suit? The Wall Street greed caused this problem and maybe it was a great overall plan - to bankrupt the states, unions and corporations they didn't like..."Buy these securities, help prop up the banks - don't worry we'll bail you out..."
The states, unions, corporate retirement and pension funds were the "investors" in the world's largest Ponzi scheme - now they've loss billions of dollars and lay-offs, cuts and programs are being sacrificed for somebody's bad investments.
Not to mention that some idiots think that by letting the banks take over America's properties and land is going to make these banskters appear more suitable for investors to come back to the table. Worthless properties with clouded titles - the new gold standard.
The ONLY way that America has even a chance at bringing back investor confidence is to take over the banks playing this dirty game and restructure their management, salaries and programs. The American PUBLIC is your greatest strength Mr. President - not the Wall Street Banks.
 
 
-23 # Alberto Portugheis 2011-02-19 13:49
Robert Reich could have written the same about the Democrats. All parties separate, divide society. It is only the "style" of doing it that changes.
 
 
+49 # Lesabre 2011-02-19 14:49
I disagree. You need to study the history of labor in this country and see what a bloody battle it was just to stop exploitation of children and dangerous work places. Who do you think was doing the exploiting? Who had the funds to hire the thugs stop organizing efforts? Who had the funds to have laws made to fit their needs? Who schemed to control the financial markets? It wasn't the workers, I can tell you that.
 
 
+12 # Capn Canard 2011-02-19 19:40
Alberto, that is a superficial analysis. Though I do agree that the Democrats are as incompetent as the Republicans. The problem here is MONEY, MONEY brings CONTROL. Why don't you go ahead and measure it? Who raises the most MONEY? Well, that would be the Party of the National Interest, the Nat'l Interest is business Not Freedom or Democracy or any of that BS. The REPUBLICAN party is the party that superficially supports freedom... a "freedom" that is limited to the freedom of entities to access the market to make wealth and that wealth that is created need not make quality lives so much as a wealthy few (a very few, you could call that an elite EXTREMELY ELITE). MONEY is how anyone can get CONTROL. The Democrats are a crude, sloppy and often ineffective opposition to this force of WEALTH which WILL CRUSH YOUR AMERICAN DREAM. I can say this with great confidence, hell, I guarantee it.
 
 
+9 # Ken Hall 2011-02-20 03:34
I think what Alberto is saying is that Dems are not fulfilling their prior role of promoting workers and middle class folk, '30s through '70s maybe. They have been subverted by monied interests. The change came with a campaign finance law, pushed through early during the RR administration, that enabled modern lobbying practices. We really could use a 3rd party now, one aligned with the interests of the common man and willing to go to bat for them. The Clinton administration was not a friend of the middle class, and Obama has not stood up for meaningful reform. Real change will only come about when people take to the streets in large numbers. Have we reached the tipping point yet?
 
 
+37 # drpjj 2011-02-19 13:50
Divide and conquer means the ones with the most money end up ruling the world. Our rich 2% here in the US have their money in off shore accounts, and don't care what happens to the rest of us. Even in Feudal times, those landowners knew to keep their villagers so busy scratching for sustenance they didn't have time to do anything but try to feed their families, and not THINK about why they are working so hard for so little.
The GOP has that mentality, and those of us 98% that vote only do so based on the sound bites and advertising we see, paid for by those rich, thanks in part to our "non partisan Supreme Court." We don't have a Democracy/Repub lic or even a world class economy. We're third world if anyone would take the time to figure that out.
We have no jobs, no education and no hope for the future as it stands now, but we are too complacent to "not take it anymore" because we want to believe in an America that ceased to exist some 20 years ago. Maybe we have to wait the requisite 30+ years, as other societies like Egypt did, before we acknowledge the sad demise of who we once were.
 
 
+29 # Miriam Devlin, M.D. 2011-02-19 13:56
Here are several simple solutions - all those concerned, become independents. That alone creates a third party without any fuss, no dues or fees, no meetings or caucuses to attend. Keep informed and show up at the polls to vote! Don't hold credit cards, except for one and only use it for emergencies. Take money from major banks and put the money in state-owned banks or credit unions. Place all your investments in socially responsible investing companies, especially those who have retirement investments, practice preventive medicine. Live off your savings and smile all the way to the Mediterranean or Carribean or Sicily!
 
 
+9 # theshift33 2011-02-19 14:32
I am an independent and try to do these things. My biggest concern is that we will still end up with the Tea Party and the Progressives (Independents) It will just be a rebranding of the two parties we've had all along. We end up with the same old stuff all remodeled and the backers will continue to buy politics.
 
 
0 # Capn Canard 2011-02-19 19:51
I agree Dr Devlin, but here is the rub: as soon as a third party gains some ground you can guarantee that both parties will gang up on said third party, or that 3rd party is then corrupted by it's new found WEALTH, in which case such a party will tighten it's control on the flow of MONEY which gave them the power in the first place ... and if that happens the focus of this 3rd party is shifted to power and control and it becomes the problem just like the Dems or GOP, especially the GOP, are the problem now. BTW, the Tea Baggers are a joke of a party at best. They are rudderless. That's my theory and I am sticking with it until something better comes along. At the very least I suggest getting rid of the Fed ... or a resource based economy with no currency other than LOCAL currency that is based on the LOCAL trade. or something like that...
 
 
+3 # DaveW. 2011-02-20 11:10
Capn Canard, Why not just come out and say it: Mankind is a corrupt, debauched species, always has been and is taking great pains to insure he/she stays that way. That's MY theory and I'm sticking with it too. You mentioned MONEY and WEALTH. You forgot the final piece of the "triumvirate of the debased"...POWE R. If I put up a sign at the local college near my home and it read "Muslims or Mexicans or Terrorists fed to Lions today at 1:00" I can bet you a bundle a bundle of "folks" would show up for the "festivities." Technology, thanks to a minute handful of individuals, has given humanity the "ability" to live in a manner he/she wouldn't begin to dream of under normal circumstances. Without that very small group of superior intellects we'd still be living much as our ancestors did many, many centuries ago. At this point in evolution, the allure of MONEY/WEALTH/PO WER is simply to great to resist and we will continue to fall prey to its pernicious effects. Until and if, and I personally don't see it ever happening, we're on the fast track to extinction/obli vion. In a world where ONE BILLION people go hungry daily, take one walk down the main drag of Vegas and tell me I'm wrong.
 
 
0 # Capn Canard 2011-02-21 18:36
Dave, taking a walk down the Vegas strip is good way to show that capitalism might very well be in a death grip. While billions die of starvation, we can't feed them because even if we could scare some billionaire into paying for it, some despot might want to keep them starving in order to keep control of them. And our Plutocratic government may find it easier and less expensive to keep that billion of starving people to continue starving. This isn't rocket science. Feeding Africa, "We are the World", was just good PR for us wealthy nations. The American myth tells us we are great. But there is little evidence of that outside of America. BTW the major difference between 100, 200, and 300 years ago and today is SANITATION. A centralized sewage system first and foremost. Most of the rest is smoke and mirrors.
 
 
+12 # theshift33 2011-02-19 14:15
A well written article and a summation
that the real political spectrum in the US is aligned by factional plutocratic interests, a rather transparent cover that is aimed at hiding the true scale of government corruption from public view. Divide and Conquer has worked for so long and people are waking up and won't fall for it anymore.
 
 
+19 # giraffe 2011-02-19 14:18
I (and you) put my money in a bank - and diversify - all to yield under 5% (even if some $ is in the "market". The banks USES that capital to "lend" (used to) and INVEST (gamble) - and the profit from their investments get taxed at 15% (called capital gains) -- Robert mentioned in this article.

That capital gain is not from their capital (it from my capital.) This is one method how the money is trickling UP to the top 1%.

TAX that "gain" at the appropriate rate (by even the present tax code) instead requesting street sweepers, teachers, fire fighters, cops (etc) to take a cut in pay (These people and private sector people too in middle class haven't increased our wage in at least a decade -- which coincides with the Supremes putting "W" in the W.H.)
 
 
+22 # wfalco 2011-02-19 14:28
The question that begs to be asked is:
Do we have the guts of the government workers in Wisconsin? What they are attempting may or may not be successful.
However, it is a certain breath of fresh air and can, hopefully, awaken the sleeping giant. If not the middle and working classes are screwed! Right now I'd bet on the latter.
 
 
+15 # Cwinslow 2011-02-19 14:40
Dear Miriam: Good political sense! I am a retired college professor, political science, and I see all kinds of ways that people can use negative power, withdrawing from the larger economic scam and let the rest of the public play games with money and work. We canned 300 quarts of vegetables from our garden last fall, and it has turned out to be very tasty. Our money is in the local credit union and the family trust investments are in socially responsible funds. People can do miracles with good will and hard work. But how do these bought Republicans live with themselves? How do they manage their insides?
 
 
+4 # Capn Canard 2011-02-19 19:55
Prof, I believe that these True Believers see only their short term gain and nothing more than that. They see only the temporary increase in the bank account
 
 
+18 # brenda 2011-02-19 15:13
This is scary stuff. But as I predicted long ago at the onset ratification of NAFTA, the filthy rich and their corporations are in the business of taking control of our government, while killing the barganig rights of the working class and cutting any and all safety net entitlements to the senior, low income, and unemployed citizen communities. The real kicker here is that the The Corporate bought and paid for Republigoons have also managed to talk to the simple minded Teabaggers into believing their lies. They've also gained the support of the foolish religious radical right wingnut institutions to go along with it as well. And let's not forget all those bought and paid for Demotraitors and Blue Mutts for lending a hand to launch the Republigoon's fraudulent and conspiracorial hidden agenda. I hate to say this, but if you aren't going th be supported by the Republigoon agenda, you should be thinking about going to war against the Republigoon bums and the Supreme Court traitor judges. Also, now is not the time to be driven by prejudice against the President either. He needs all the support he can get in order for him to battle the Republigoons.
 
 
+8 # giraffe 2011-02-19 15:46
Cwinslow: How do you stop racism -- that should answer your question "how do they live with themselves" --- I know some and as long as they can "do the things they want" --- they do not even consider the plight of a person (for example) who lost their programmer job to an H1B visa person that they trained even) -- I lost my job to one -- after 10+ years in the field + a B.S. degree in Math + Computer option.

I hear their teenage children with the same sense of entitlement and even hear the racist bigot statements heard by the parents, FAUX, etc.

I too have a garden + will use your other suggestions.
 
 
+10 # cgberling 2011-02-19 16:18
So many problems, so many solutions, many of which are coounterproduct ive as they only think of one effect. BUT there is one change that is potentially possible by changing one thing: a change of ONE Supreme Court justice, CLARENCE
THOMAS. If ever there was a possibility of a major conflict of interest, this is it!! If done soon enough, there is the
good possibility that Obama would have the opportunity to make a liberal or at least moderate appointment which could get approved. It might save our republic.
 
 
+9 # cake eater 2011-02-19 17:13
Isn't looking to democratic strategy following the expectations of an even larger shell game, that of the two-party system? We need to look to each other, talk to and inform each other. Together, break the spell of this metastasizing fascism.
 
 
+14 # tomo 2011-02-19 18:55
In effect, Reich is saying the Republican Party has declared class-war on the majority of the American people. That's so improbable it would be utterly unbelievable were it not obviously the case. The infrastructure of America is at stake. Take away the emergency rooms of public hospitals, stop doing street repairs, demonize teachers, tell firemen that haven't earned their pensions, bust what remains of unions--and pretty soon America is gone. I can feel it going. Can't you?

The one flaw in Reich's article--and it's a big one--is to say Obama "has already fallen into the trap." Obama IS the trap, dear Robert!

Either he's the stupidest man who's ever inhabited the White House--out "STUPIDing" Harding, out "STUPIDing" Grant--or he is the most successfully duplicitous President we've ever had. And I am sure I do not need to tell you, Robert, Obama isn't stupid. Entirely lacking in WISDOM maybe, but not at all stupid.

Sure, the corporatocracy and its bottom-feeders (Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, Alito) have declared class-war on the American body politic. But wake up and notice that the number-one enemy of the American people today isn't Bush II (who is off-stage in the past) or Sarah Palin (who may be off-stage in the future); the one leading the dirty work right now is Barack Obama. Give the man some credit. He KNOWS what he's doing!
 
 
+6 # Liberal_Lady 2011-02-19 19:56
I wish Robert Reich was in President Obama's cabinet, perhaps as an economic advisor?! If anyone starts a 'campaign' to try to get this proposal off the ground, show me where to sign!! He's so brilliant, and always "cuts to the chase" when he speaks or writes (& it's always 'right on')! The President needs him and David Gergen...why doesn't he woo these two out of their private positions and open the door for hem to join his cabinet?! We need them worse now, than any former president they served under in the past! Is anyone in a position of power reading this? I hope so, and hopefully the idea will beat a path to the White House's Door to 'recruit' them!!
 
 
+1 # Stanley Hanna 2011-02-19 20:12
Has anyone seen or figured out how much of the national Federal budget goes to none Americans? How much of the social security actual goes to those not even citizens here? How much of the Defense Budget goes to other countries that might use what we give them against our people someday soon? Cut this stuff Washington.
 
 
+3 # wfalco 2011-02-20 12:59
Quoting Stanley Hanna:
Has anyone seen or figured out how much of the national Federal budget goes to none Americans? How much of the social security actual goes to those not even citizens here? How much of the Defense Budget goes to other countries that might use what we give them against our people someday soon? Cut this stuff Washington.

These items you mention are small potatoes. And don't you think any "aid" we provide is for our military/indust rial best ? An axample is the 1.4 billion in aid to Egypt. What do they do with that $$$-comes right back to the U.S to purchase weapons. I am not worried at all that another country could remotely use our military assistance "abainst our people"-but certainly against "their people." For an easy example look back to Saddam Hussein in the 1980's.
 
 
+1 # Capn Canard 2011-02-21 18:46
absolutely!! Foreign aid always comes back to U.S. INTERESTS! We are not helping out third world nations, we are throwing money at very wealthy U.S. corporations. That is the nature of foreign relations. Just like the IMF and the WTO ... the job of those organizations is to put third world countries under our thumb so as to control them. They get into great debt and are unable to get out of debt. The leaders become wealthy and the people stay desperately poor. USA! USA! USA! I recommend the book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins
 
 
+10 # DRA 2011-02-19 20:24
Reich is right, the Republican strategy is to divide and conquer. But how do we stop it? First and foremost, we absolutely need to stand up for the rights of public sector workers. I could see compromise on some temporary concessions to help states get through their immediate budget crises (e.g., a pay freeze). But "NO, NO, NO" to loss of collective bargaining rights! The Republicans obviously believe they can get away with economically destroying many of the voters they need by simply keeping them fired up over right-wing social issues, like public prayer and abortion. This is what we need to expose.
 
 
+9 # Jawbone Grouch 2011-02-19 21:01
And so we end another Banana Republic which is about the level most comfortable with for ruling RepublicanTeaBa ggerParty mindset.


Trouble is we don't produce Bananas.
Can't go back to the south's cotton Plantations at this point..the Civil War Took that away.

We are kicking the Mexicans and hispanics out..so no slave labor there.

The perfect answer: The New Poor from the Old Middle Class the Republicans hated anyway.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED AFTER ALL!

Thanks George. And Dick.
 
 
+16 # WJH 2011-02-19 21:14
We need a 21st Century Magna Carta. It's time for the surfs to rise up and demand their economic rights from the artistocracy (corporatocracy ).
 
 
+11 # mikberg 2011-02-19 21:18
The poor don't bother to vote. There aren't enough liberal rich and middle class Americans to defeat the Republicans. Someone needs to organize the poor to vote as a block to defend their interests.
 
 
+9 # DPM 2011-02-19 21:25
Speak up! Speak out! Tell everyone you know that their number will come up one of these days. Unless they are very wealthy, their rights will disappear as the corporate criminals and their political lackeys see fit.
Sit back and watch and your time will come.
 
 
+15 # backtalk 2011-02-19 23:07
TV ads here in Wisconsin have been vicious, angrily pitting worker against worker, in an effort to divide and conquer. However, the energy in Madison was something else, and it was hopeful to see the masses out there in front of the state capitol building. The streets were full.
 
 
+10 # Windy126 2011-02-20 10:47
Education! Not just of our children but of our voters. I heard a group of women saying that they were going to vote for a judge just because he was pro-life. He could be the worlds worst judge but they were going to vote for him. I get into many "discussions" with complete strangers because I challenge their views. I have signs on my lawn for every election supporting those that I feel are the best qualifies to represent me. I too live in Wisconsin. From the first speech I heard Scott Walker make I knew he had been bought and paid for. When a candidate does not have a "plan" they he will revel before an election watch out. The dummies in this state voted out one of the best Senators in the country (Russ Feingold) to vote in one who never told what he planned to do for us. The first thing was to take his wife on a 3 week vacation. And incidentally I have heard of him since. I am so proud of the ones who are on the street standing up for all of the working people in this state.
 
 
+12 # genierae 2011-02-20 12:12
Windy126: Two points- First, most Republicans who are pro-life are for the death penalty, regardless of how many innocents are executed. Hypocrisy, anyone? Second, I find it very suspicious that Russ Feingold lost his election bid, and I think that its very possible that the voting machines were rigged just enough to elect the Republican.

I also honor those protesters in Wisconsin, may this be the start of something big!!
 
 
+11 # genierae 2011-02-20 10:55
The protesters in Wisconsin are very important. Even if they don't succeed, they will have accomplished a great deal just by bringing diverse groups together. And their determination to keep the protests peaceful is key. Egypt demonstrated how powerful peaceful protesting can be, if it is sustained fearlessly. Pray tell me, what is the difference between Mubarak sending in his thugs, and Walker sending in the tea party crowd? The truth is the difference is only in degree. I'm certain that he wanted to provoke a fight so that he could intervene. He was willing to call out the National Guard just as Mubarak called out his army, though the Egyptian army refused to fire on their own people. Kent State must not be forgotten, because it demonstrates that this government will fire on us and even kill us if we threaten their interests. I know it sounds dramatic, but we may have to put our lives on the line if we want to take our country back, the situation has become just that dangerous. Like Egypt, we have to decide between tyranny and freedom. I know which one I choose. How about you?
 
 
+3 # James M LeCuyer 2011-02-20 11:26
I agree with you, but can only dream of a time when fat Americans will take to the streets in any serious fashion. Only the truly desperate of the world may lead us.
 
 
+4 # genierae 2011-02-21 08:12
I agree that the truly desperate will be on the front lines, but the fed up will be right there with them. It usually takes the middle class to sustain protests, mainly because the poor are too busy trying to survive.
 
 
+9 # James M LeCuyer 2011-02-20 11:20
We have a somewhat simple-minded situation. The reduction of taxes on the rich, and the military budget and the loss of jobs and the great Wall Street/Banking ripoff have gutted our economy, allowing the rich to further attack the resources of the poor. In fact, the economy of the world is strongly unbalanced in favor of the rich. The ultra rich are ecstatic. Until there is an equitable sharing of wealth and power between rich and poor, we will remain in a catastrophic condition. Since the rich will fight to retain their wealth and power, we, the 90% of the people of the world's less wealthy, must fight, no holds barred, to take back our lives. It won't be easy, but if we do not succeed, we all (the lower 90%) will suffer and millions or billions will die. We forget the environmental disaster looming just over the horizon as we struggle through these economic issues. Equity is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it is a global issue.
 
 
+1 # bob dorn 2011-02-20 11:21
What is the Democratic strategy? If the question is necessary, then there is none. This is politics, after all, and requires a clear message.
Hillary Clinton and Frank Wisner can't be promising democracy on a gradual basis while Prof. O is promising... something else. Okay, he SAID the GOP was busting unions (in kinder words) in Wisconsin, but he needs to get out and defend them. Okay, he can't be anything other than who he is (friend to corporations, insensible wars, wiretapping and private armies) but WE CAN FIND SOME ISSUES.
Restore the Draft; Eliminate Pentagon Advertisiments and Bloated Officer Salaries; Require a Vote from Congress When We Make War; Pay People to Rebuild Roads, Bridges and Rails, to Rebuild Schools, and to Pay Teachers; Have Jimmy Carter Devise a Domestic Habitat for Humanity... and...
Drive a Wedge Between the SuperRich and the Poor Who've They've Fooled into Voting Down Taxes on Them.
WE NEED TO CAMPAIGN and TO VOTE LOCALLY
 
 
+4 # James M LeCuyer 2011-02-20 11:23
Take back power from the rich of the world. Quit making wars to rob people of oil. Fight tyranny everywhere. Our armies are made up of our children. They will help. Teach to the environment.
 
 
+2 # enrique 2011-02-20 13:58
The fact that Reich is not in Obama’s cabinet tells me that O. is up to no good. Mark my words! Do not vote for this man again! But don't vote Republican either. Kucinich is our man! We need him desperately.
 
 
-3 # hayes67351 2011-02-20 15:43
The required action to be taken:
re-establish the Glass- Steagall Act.
Then create 4 million decent paying jobs by instituting the NAWPA program.
Create another 1.5 million jobs by building 'high speed levitaion' trains to transport the required materials for NAWAPA. Get rid of Obama.
Anything less than this is a waste of time. 'Words of the village idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'
As in radio talk show hosts.
 
 
+4 # JustJim 2011-02-21 11:48
Yes. You are correct about re-establishing Glass-Steagall which prevents depository banks and Insurance companies from getting into the Investment bank business.
You maybe right about NAWAPA which diverts fresh water now flowing into the Arctic ocean to the US for irrigation, but
you destroyed your thesis by blaming Obama.
 
 
+8 # fredboy 2011-02-20 19:20
The Republican strategy continues -- punish America and starve the economy to shame the black president. It's really that simple. Surprised the whole GOP Congress brigade wasn't marching in Confederate gray in Montgomery this weekend.
 
 
+3 # Hadafakaya 2011-02-20 20:54
What the people need is food, housing and healthcare. The costs are magnified by the debt economy. Poor people are the cash cow of the money lenders. Take a look at who ends up with the money and wealth created by the working class.
 
 
-4 # some visitor 2011-02-22 05:23
I'd believe that it's all a Koch brothers conspiracy, except for one thing: I actually attended public, union schools in this country.

Look, you don't crazy right-wing radio types to convince a majority of Americans that the least-qualified university graduates (education majors), are overpaid with an outsized sense of entitlement.

Now that the money borrowed from China for stimulus is all spent, people are going to take a hard look at how those education majors got so overpaid, when the schools didn't get any better. And per Rasumussen it doesn't look like the bevy of excuses is working.

/For the record: 9th grade dropout. Self-taught.
 
 
+1 # thomachuck 2011-02-23 14:29
There are many insightful comments here, but the thing that concerns me most is the lack of knowledge about public policy, even among people who teach. A lot of people vote these individuals into office on the basis of nothing more than picking the party or candidate who they think will be on the winning side--instead of on the basis of the belief they will do the right thing and pursue the greatest good for the greatest number. In other words, social justice. Indifference begets ignorance. How many Tea Partiers are now scratching their heads, "How did all this union busting happen? I didn't want to be affiliated with those damned Republicans" (?)
 

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