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Robert Reich begins: "The battle has resumed in Wisconsin. The state supreme court has allowed Governor Scott Walker to strip bargaining rights from state workers."

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

FOCUS: The Republican War on Workers' Rights

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

15 June 11


RSN Special Coverage: GOP's War on American Labor


Why the Republican war on workers' rights undermines the American economy.

he battle has resumed in Wisconsin. The state supreme court has allowed Governor Scott Walker to strip bargaining rights from state workers.

Meanwhile, governors and legislators in New Hampshire and Missouri are attacking private unions, seeking to make the states so-called "open shop" where workers can get all the benefits of being union members without paying union dues. Needless to say this ploy undermines the capacity of unions to do much of anything. Other Republican governors and legislatures are following suit.

Republicans in Congress are taking aim at the National Labor Relations Board, which issued a relatively minor proposed rule change allowing workers to vote on whether to unionize soon after a union has been proposed, rather than allowing employers to delay the vote for years. Many employers have used the delaying tactics to retaliate against workers who try to organize, and intimidate others into rejecting a union.

This war on workers' rights is an assault on the middle class, and it is undermining the American economy.

The American economy can't get out of neutral until American workers have more money in their pockets to buy what they produce. And unions are the best way to give them the bargaining power to get better pay.

For three decades after World War II - I call it the "Great Prosperity" - wages rose in tandem with productivity. Americans shared the gains of growth, and had enough money to buy what they produced.

That's largely due to the role of labor unions. In 1955, over a third of American workers in the private sector were unionized. Today, fewer than 7 percent are.

With the decline of unions came the stagnation of American wages. More and more of the total income and wealth of America has gone to the very top. Middle-class purchasing power depended on mothers going into paid work, everyone working longer hours, and, finally, the middle class going deep into debt, using their homes as collateral.

But now all these coping mechanisms are exhausted - and we're living with the consequence.

Some say the Great Prosperity was an anomaly. America's major competitors lay in ruins. We had the world to ourselves. According to this view, there's no going back.

But this view is wrong. If you want to see the same basic bargain we had then, take a look at Germany now.

Germany is growing much faster than the United States. Its unemployment rate is now only 6.1 percent (we're now at 9.1 percent).

What's Germany's secret? In sharp contrast to the decades of stagnant wages in America, real average hourly pay has risen almost 30 percent there since 1985. Germany has been investing substantially in education and infrastructure.

How did German workers do it? A big part of the story is German labor unions are still powerful enough to insist that German workers get their fair share of the economy's gains.

That's why pay at the top in Germany hasn't risen any faster than pay in the middle. As David Leonhardt reported in the New York Times recently, the top 1 percent of German households earns about 11 percent of all income - a percent that hasn't changed in four decades.

Contrast this with the United States, where the top 1 percent went from getting 9 percent of total income in the late 1970s to more than 20 percent today.

The only way back toward sustained growth and prosperity in the United States is to remake the basic bargain linking pay to productivity. This would give the American middle class the purchasing power they need to keep the economy going.

Part of the answer is, as in Germany, stronger labor unions - unions strong enough to demand a fair share of the gains from productivity growth.

The current Republican assault on workers' rights continues a thirty-year war on American workers' wages. That long-term war has finally taken its toll on the American economy.

It's time to fight back.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's 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 thirteen 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 and iTunes. your social media marketing partner


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+23 # fredboy 2011-06-15 15:34
They rely on workers' ethics, including loyalty, dedication and care, to harm them. They assume no one will retaliate.
+5 # Merschrod 2011-06-15 15:54
would unions tackle the issue of the gutting of the American input-output matrix? The multipliers that used to generate employment buy buying goods and services made in the US?

Prof. Reich, please address the multiplier issue and the loss of economy to free trade taken to its "reductio ad absurdum."
+21 # Kathy Taft 2011-06-15 16:20
And how does one "fight back". It certanly feels that the money, power, therefore control to gain more money and more power has shifted to not just the republicans, but to the richest and most powerful of the republicans.
+4 # 3rdMilenium3rdEstate 2011-06-16 03:16
Prof. Reich is of course right that "The American economy can't get out of neutral until American workers have more money in their pockets to buy what they produce."
I think he's also right that Unions are a solution to this (robber barron age), as they have been in the past, via a lot of 'blood, sweat, and tears', as well as a substantial dependence upon what Buckminster Fuller used to call the levers of Legalist-Capita lism, i.e. the Court system, which (in America, not Germany) may or may not be particularly receptive to working people, vis-a-vis employers.

Perhaps a wiser strategy to pursue- in addition to and a complement of Union wars- would be Monetary Reform, taking back the money power itself from utterly unelected & unaccountable denizens of the private currency cartel. THESE are the people who pull the strings and finance the think-tanks that provide some degree of 'plausible deniability' (however thin its wearing these days) to the Kasich's & Walker's of this world, who have apparently been brainwashed into preferring to strip away more from the skeleton crew of American unions & wages, as opposed to balancing their budgets from reducing the #$%(* interest payments to Wall St.-globo-wreck ing crew banksters instead. Small change? The CBO itself estimates that, by 2020, int. payments on the fed. debt will = 100% of Congress's discretionary budget.
+37 # angelfish 2011-06-15 16:57
Their assault is not ONLY on the American Worker, Mr. Reich. It is on America itself! In their world, only the Mega-wealthy deserve ANYTHING and it should be paid for by the working, unemployed, poor, disabled, disadvantaged, elderly, infirm, black, white red, brown and yellow people of this Country! WE are their Drones who MUST work in order for THEM to maintain the Wealth to which they have become SO accustomed. Greed and Avarice are their Gods. If they do not rise from the Public Trough soon, they may find themselves experiencing the same "Deluge" Marie Antoinette and Louis found themselves in after THEIR populace had had ENOUGH!
+19 # Pickwicky 2011-06-15 17:21
How long before the United States breaks up into kingdoms and those who were once middle and working class people become serfs?
+3 # 3rdMilenium3rdEstate 2011-06-16 03:25
That answer might depend on whether we, the people, can wise up to the root of Their scam, and reclaim our government's CARDINAL DUTY to issue and protect its own currency from scamsters & thieves; just as any supposedly "sovereign" gov't should also protect its territorial integrity, militarily. A nation lacking in either one of these is not sovereign (by any meaningful standard in the real world).
+2 # giraffee2012 2011-06-18 08:41
Quoting Pickwicky:
How long before the United States breaks up into kingdoms and those who were once middle and working class people become serfs?

I wish the "religious right" would leave the USA or the rest of us would leave. I'm sick of hearing their abortion and other fanatical ideas when we have UNEMPLOYMENT and bank problems (& wars all over the place)
+14 # MidwestTom 2011-06-15 17:58
In private industry a union can strike, and the company can either negotiate and settle, or relocate. The strikers cannot fire their bosses, or hire their replacements. With government unions whether state or national, management cannot relocate the business and therefore must settle; and government employees can both hire and fire hire their bosses , by voting. Taken to the extreme this results in the recent California mess where the policemen were making $150,000, and life guards in Orange county average $120,000 per year.

Germany does not try to send everybody with half or more of a brain to college. Instead they develop real skilled craftsman and they emphasize engineering, and everybody saves and pays cash, thus making the banks far less powerful.. Their biggest advantage is that they do not have a Wall Street sucking the lifeblood out of their companies.
+24 # metcalf 2011-06-15 19:53
Love you guys who pull your facts out of thin air. Google average police salary in California. You will discover the average salary is $52,000. Not much for workers who put their lives on the line. You dance for your corporate masters when you distort workers salaries.
+10 # feloneouscat 2011-06-16 09:46
Quoting MidwestTom:
Taken to the extreme this results in the recent California mess where the policemen were making $150,000, and life guards in Orange county average $120,000 per year.

Hmmm... Just did a check on Bev. Hill and police officers get 51K/year... Hunttington Beach was 69K... Not exactly sure where the bizarro-land numbers are coming from.
+9 # matsovani 2011-06-15 17:58
They should all go on a general STRIKE!!!!
+29 # DPM 2011-06-15 18:25
Although I don't believe in violence, I think it is time to say out loud, "Our government no longer represents the people of this country." and begin looking for some kind of alternative. I am not very bright, so I haven't figured out what that is, yet, but I am smart enough to know that what we have does not work for most of our population.
We need to admit, out loud, that this is not the country we thought we lived in. Our leaders are bought and paid for. We dance to the tune of the corporate world. Things must either change or we need to learn how to become even better and more productive drones. Is that what we want for our children and grandchildren? Do we have to starve before we tell our "Marie and Louis" that we have had enough and they had better mend their ways...FAST!
+12 # MidwestTom 2011-06-15 18:57
The first things to change in this country are the rules around Wall Street. We need to return the stock market to it's core reason to exist, name a place where companies can raise money, and a place where citizens can invest for additional income via dividends. How do we do it? First raise the margin requirements to 75% or higher. Second, establish a minimum ownership time of two days. Next limit credit protection insurance to ones actual exposure to potential financial loss, thus eliminating the casino of Credit Default Swaps. Third, raise taxes on those making over $1.0 million.
-2 # feloneouscat 2011-06-16 09:50
Quoting MidwestTom:
First raise the margin requirements to 75% or higher. Second, establish a minimum ownership time of two days.

Make minimum to two years and you will see real reform. That would force people to put less money in dodgy stocks for short term gain. If the goal is to force people to think long-term (which SHOULD be the goal of any company), you make Wall Street follow the same rules.
0 # rtrues54 2011-06-25 16:28
Quoting DPM:
Although I don't believe in violence, I think it is time to say out loud, "Our government no longer represents the people of this country." and begin looking for some kind of alternative. I am not very bright, so I haven't figured out what that is, yet, but I am smart enough to know that what we have does not work for most of our population.
We need to admit, out loud, that this is not the country we thought we lived in. Our leaders are bought and paid for. We dance to the tune of the corporate world. Things must either change or we need to learn how to become even better and more productive drones. Is that what we want for our children and grandchildren? Do we have to starve before we tell our "Marie and Louis" that we have had enough and they had better mend their ways...FAST!

I don't believe in violence either.... BUT I am beginning to see little alternative. Nothing else seems to be turning this around. Democrats are sellouts, mostly. A REVOLUTION will soon be our only SURVIVAL MECHANISM. It is coming....SOON! !!
-36 # Joeconserve 2011-06-15 18:53
When Samuel Gompers was asked what he wanted for the workers he had helped unionize, his answer was simple. He said, "More!" From his time forward more was indeed achieved for the workers. What the unions fought for eventually became statutorily required across the board. The need for unions began to be less and less a benefit for the workers to the extent that most working people today are not unionized. The union leadership, however, has demanded conformance by the "rank and file" without question. The leadership has even gone so far today to try to do away with the secret ballot.

Watching the "rank and file" (what a demeaning term!) run rampant through the Wisconsin legislative building was an excellent example of chaos in the making. The union leadership must have raised their glasses of scotch in unison having sent the "rank and file" to show the world how things are done with non-thinking automatons. (My guess, given the option of staying away, those "rank and file" would have done so.) All this activity is not for the working people anymore but for the union bosses trying to keep their lofty positions.
+20 # angelfish 2011-06-16 00:49
So, you REALLY think that the American Worker should sit down, shut up and be grateful for the crumbs offered by the Mega-Millionair es who own this Country lock, stock and barrel? I think you're WRONG! Before Trade Unions, there was no recourse for workers. If the Boss-man said you work 50 or 60 hours a week, THAT'S what you did! NO benefits, No OSHA, No vacation, let alone PAID vacations. If you got injured on the job? Too bad, just don't let the door hit you in the Butt on your way out the door! Since they have out-sourced all our Industries and based their Corporate Headquarters in the TAX FREE Bahamas, workers have been decimated. Most European Countries give their workers at least 5 wks PAID vacation, provide free health care, and some even provide day care for the children of their employees. WOW! I wouldn't MIND paying taxes if I had benefits like THAT! When "Simon LeGree" becomes your Gov. and refuses to hear your grievances HOW do you get his attention? The State House BELONGS to the people. How DARE Walker keep the them from lawful assembly! He acts like the Gestapo, NOT a Governor who should LISTEN to the people of his State! This is STILL the land of the free last time I looked, but if Walker and his owners (Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, et al) have anything to say about it Wisconsinites will HAVE to sit down and shut up! I can't WAIT for the Recall Elections!
+5 # Bill bjornson 2011-06-16 19:06
Yes Sir, Angelfish. On the button. What you left out was how our grandfathers DIED on the picket lines under Pinkerton axe handles and worse to give me (early boomer) and the next generation a great life. My generation and the next, fat, stupid, and lazy, have given it all back. You are in eternal debt (neocompany store), your prospects look crappy, your government and the parasites are pumping you full of phony fear, you are so craven that you allow your young children to become accustomed to being physically molested and violated by total strangers in the airport (at your encouragement). At this moment if nothing changes, the trend is total fascism. I'll just go ahead and die but you young folks...hmmmm.. . Better learn to shoot.
-4 # boudreaux 2011-06-16 07:40
I happen to agree with you my friend Joe, putting more lobbiest in Washington isn't going to help this problem...
+12 # feloneouscat 2011-06-16 09:58
Quoting Joeconserve:
The union leadership must have raised their glasses of scotch in unison having sent the "rank and file" to show the world how things are done with non-thinking automatons.

Ah, obviously someone who has never been in a union (judging by the demeaning language used above). My wife is in a union and is a state worker. She is paid $10,000 / year less than the national average for her job. She is anything but a "non-thinking automaton".

Right now the union is doing its damnedest to prevent further erosion of benefits, because for some bizarre reason, despite the fact they do the nations work, public employees are told they are a "drain on the economy".

When you want to denigrate people, stop and think - you might be talking about someone's spouse.

And they might not be all that keen about it.
+11 # fhunter 2011-06-15 19:01
Rich Republicans destroy the consumers. This makes no sense for anybody within the country. So why do they doing it??? To sabotage Obama. Unfortunately, he worked himself to such a week position that he is powerless.
+1 # feloneouscat 2011-06-16 10:00
Quoting fhunter:
Unfortunately, he worked himself to such a week position that he is powerless.

No, he is not powerless. He is still POTUS. That is STILL a powerful position. He can still enact change, he just needs to be a little more... pushy...
+16 # universlman 2011-06-15 19:07
many on the right see unions as the enemy - breaking them down may make workers poorer but not poor enough to manufacture the cheap shiny chinese crap we love to buy from wallyworld - lets get our politicians to support our local industries for a change and our local unions
+6 # feloneouscat 2011-06-16 10:24
Quoting universlman:
many on the right see unions as the enemy

It is because the majority of unions vote for Democrats. It would only make sense for the Right to want to destroy unions (rather than change their platform and APPEAL to unions - man, talk about inability to think).

The Right needs to understand that people in unions are ALSO American citizens. And last I checked 7% is still LARGER than 1%!

So appealing to the 1% isn't exactly a winning strategy...
+11 # BishopAndrew 2011-06-15 19:17
revolution revolution revolution that is what we need or we are enslaved anew and will have no redress no recourse no resolution! We are betrayed by the very party and president that claimed to represent us!
+3 # Pickwicky 2011-06-16 09:01
No Bishop--revolut ion is not the answer. The violence and turmoil of revolution could result in overwhelming undesirable consequences. Our Constitution gives us a better option: the vote. Somehow, we must change the false beliefs of those people who vote based on misinformation coming from the Murdoch Engine and the drool from Conservative TV and radio talk shows. Middle and working class Republicans are being 'educated,' they're being 'informed' by the very people that are oppressing the middle and working classes. Surely, this can't be an impossible task.
+19 # rm 2011-06-15 20:45
Reich's comparison of the US and Germany is good. The two cultures are completely different. Germany still care about "Germany." Americans don't care about "America" at all. They are torn apart with hatred for each others. Whites in the south will work for several dollars less per hour just to keep blacks from earning a decent living. Whites would not help Hispanics or new immigrants under any circumstances. Everyone here in the US is so obsessed with hating their neighbors that they will never unionize or organize. America is a dysfunctional nation. Even our ruling elites don't care anything about the US. They ship jobs overseas for lower wages and never think for a minute about what effect this might have on American workers. In fact they hate their workers.

There are certainly some exceptions to this dysfunction, but those exceptions are small. In the mainstream America is a sick society.
+10 # wesrackley 2011-06-15 22:57
We are divided because it's politically profitable. Ignorant fervor is the lifeblood of those that want power but can't earn it legitimately. There's no reason we can't undo whats been done. What choice do we have? Now get to work. Union labor is our one long shot to dodge the impending supply side hell and the GOP is doing their dead level best to block our escape.
+9 # Red Wolf 2011-06-15 20:51
I agree my comrades, we must fight against the evil that America has become. If the laws in the country will do nothing, then we shall do something ourselves.

+15 # jwb110 2011-06-15 20:58
There will only be one way to put it all to right. A general strike across the nation would send an enormous message to this nation and the world.
A second move would be for all union workers to remove their cash from banks across the country on a Thurs and replace it on Mon.
Get them by the wallets and their hearts and minds will find soon follow.
+11 # Kootenay Coyote 2011-06-15 21:19
DPM writes:
" Do we have to starve before we tell our "Marie and Louis" that we have had enough and they had better mend their ways..."?

That's what it usually takes...
0 # 3rdMilenium3rdEstate 2011-06-16 03:42
Wising up on Public Banking and Monetary Reform is 'the American way' out of this period of crisis- not 'the French' or German way.

Read up on Bill Still, Ellen Brown, etc., and you'll see that the (best) solutions to this mess need not necessitate anything more violent than a few law changes, and perhaps (if one really wishes to fix it forever) 1 new constitutional amendment. The real problem simply seems to be that the elected reps. in Washington are on the back end of the learning curve on this matter.

Perhaps they're simply suffering from Information Overload like everyone else these days.
We, the people, need to make it nice & clear to them what needs to be done, and whom they are supposed to be working for.
That's how we do things, "American style."
+5 # m 2011-06-15 22:23


AMERICA--- The land of stores and the home of consumers with a Stuff-Always-In -Stores Provider Government of the Global Corporate by the Global Corporate for the Global Corporate.

Any one remember why Americans (i.e. Consumers who live on the North American Continent) go along with all this aside from the inconvenience of putting down the chips, turning off the Global Corporate TV and getting up off the couch after a long hard day of working for less sand less o you can pay more and more to fewer and fewer for everything so they can lots and lots more while they run the world into the ground for the sake of new yachts and things they simply want but do not need as they seek dominion over EVERYTHING and EVERYONE with the help of ONE deliberate corporate Party and ONE roll over corporate Party..???????
+8 # Dan Downie 2011-06-15 22:36
I think probably our only recourse is to stop using currency as completely as possible. Shut off your lights and your gas, walk or ride with someone else, barter for food goods & services. Eat simply and cheaply. Yes it will mean more work, but none of it will feed the great money-sucking machine. Oh, turn off the TV, even some of our beloved commentators and get their message on free internet. OFF THE GRID as much as possible. Never fly again. Ride share if you can, bus & train. IF they finally end up with no place to sell their crap, things may turn around, but even if they don't you will be happy and they will not be, since no one is buying their crap; literally or figuratively. MAKE YOUR OWN BREAD AND JOIN THE CIRCUS.
+6 # michelle 2011-06-16 10:16
Dan has the plan. We started doing exactly this a couple of years ago. Buy used if you need something, shop farmers market, use the library and grow what you can. The results will amaze you. We paid off all the debt except the house and even with the house we are looking at maybe eighteen months. We started after our neighbors turned off the TV and we noticed how much they accomplished. Instead of TV they ride bikes along the bike trail or work in the yard or read books. Healthier choices. I suggest Michael Pollen's book, In Defense of Food, to get you started on simple eating. Finally, while riding lightrail public transportation, engage others around you in progressive conversation. Use that time to recruit others. Hippies in the sixties knew all of these things. You probably can't change things or fix things so do what you can to make yourself solvent and help those around you. These behavioral changes are better for you and for the planet. Once the house is paid off we plan to pay off my son's house too. Think about the power of reintroducing the notion of extended family. It's a start.
0 # Bill Bjornson 2011-06-16 01:09

We really need to reframe the discussion from Republicans to the elite using their mostly Republican, some Democratic (BHO?), tools. This is where it's coming from. Either they simply aren't paying attention to what their machines, the corporations, are doing and how it is really undermining their viability, or, they don't care and have become insane (as a group), or, it's purposeful and an attempted return to feudalism. In any case at all, they bear the untimate benefit and therefore bear the ultimate price of their rapaciousness. We must not emphasize the tool, we must emphasize the tool user if we hope to save America. They will destroy it.
+9 # Tonto 2011-06-16 01:18
Even if we had "stronger labor unions," "as in Germany," how are workers going to "demand a fair share of the gains from productivity growth" if the jobs are overseas, where so many of them are these days? Isn't globalization and the offshoring of jobs a huge piece of the problem?
+4 # Bill Bjornson 2011-06-16 01:22
A Ghandi-like movement that would bring them down? Withhold all payment for all things until all demands are met. Might have to live w/o electricity for a month or two, et cetera, but better than being immolated by an anti-revolution ary Hellfire thermobaric missile. Although, the guillotine is sooo attractive...we certainly have more than enough justification right now.
+4 # J.Lind 2011-06-16 07:02
The comments speak for themselves.
How many of these commentors actually do the work of making the electoral system work by being informed BEFORE they vote?
How many rely on Foxnews?
How many spend an hour a day {or more} writing to their senators and representatives and informing THEM of your knowledge of how the system is SUPPOSED to work?

I do; 2 to four hours a day.
That is how you move things.

Otherwise yout comments are pointless and puerile.
+6 # feloneouscat 2011-06-16 10:29
Quoting J.Lind:
How many spend an hour a day {or more} writing to their senators and representatives and informing THEM of your knowledge of how the system is SUPPOSED to work?

And then there are the Democrats that live in Texas that are lucky if they get a response from their elected official that even makes sense. Kay Baily Hutchison was still blathering on about WMD's after no WMD's had been found (hidden bunkers?!? LOL)...

We had an environmental group visit her and she blew them off saying that she "listens to the silent majority".

0 # fredboy 2011-06-16 07:38
Kathy Taft, one way to "fight back" is to save. That's right, save and prepare.

A wise elder taught me at an early age to save and invest and build carefully. "Always have at least five years pay saved," he said, "and you will be free." To leave. To walk away. To find a better, more noble and meaningful job, career, and life.

I followed his advice and as a result left three jobs when they turned sour, finding much better and more fulfilling positions. And recently I retired early from a wonderful job that turned tragic when new, disappointing management arrived--and I am free.
+4 # Pickwicky 2011-06-16 09:08
Fredboy--it's good advice, but would it work today? Those just starting out in today's world, may find themselves locked into their job or faced with interminal unemployment.
+8 # KittatinyHawk 2011-06-16 09:42
Boycott products by reading labels. Stop buying Foreign
+7 # michelle 2011-06-16 10:19
...and stop buying nonunion American.
+7 # fredboy 2011-06-16 11:05
Pickwicky, yes it works today.

Several of my students have done it. It just takes thinking, planning, and sticking to it. Buy inexpensive, reliable autos with good warranties. Take your lunch to work. Rent, don't attend, movies. Vacation during the off season (they give Florida away in the summer, when the water is clearest and fishing is best). Rent instead of buying a house--or buy a bargain and keep your expenses low. And save.

Married and both working? Save the highest earner's complete take-home pay. All of it. It really piles up.

I know it works because we did it. And we have had fun every day. Even bought a small, used boat at one point and had a ball--didn't need an expensive one.

Think, save, and be patient. And you will be free.

Last, there are always great jobs in need of great people. Do your best to work with good, positive people. Or move on. Good people are out there. And remember to share goodness, as everyone else needs this too.

Wishing all of you great success and happiness. Make it happen.
+2 # Pickwicky 2011-06-16 14:44
I wasn't referring to saving money, Fred--that's always a good idea. I'm concerned about the lack of jobs, and trying to change jobs in present circumstances.

Also, it's worth noting that the middle class is losing ground in income--it isn't as easy to save as it could be.
+5 # Matt R 2011-06-16 13:47
I learned a lot from De Tocqueville's "Democracy in America". One is that we are a participatory form of government. We must be active in government to make it work. I think part of what brought us here, to the brink as far as workers rights, is we have for far too long been willing to think the government will fix it.

Someone above says write your reps. Yes, please do. But it is better to show up at meetings- local council meetings, community meetings, etc. Especially the democratic (repuibican if you are republican) caucuses and demand they get their backbones and fight back.

De Tocqueville also says, and this is in the 1830s, that our government is an expensive one, because we, unlike many other nations, are willing to help out and support those who need help. Nothing has changed. When the republicans decry the expense and the need to cut and destroy the unions, they are trying to undue the basic fabric of what De Tocqueville saw 170 years ago. They are the activists here.

The workers need to get active and take over the political machine. They've got the money but it's the votes that count.
+7 # bracero 2011-06-16 16:10
Professor Reich and Warren Buffett have been informing American students and the American public in the simplist and most straight forward language possible for years that we have been in class warfare.
On November 26, 2006,in the New York Times, Warren Buffet stated: "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."
For years, Professor Reich has been warning us of the destruction of our unions, our middle class, our industrial structure, our building capacity, etc., that are causing us to lose our jobs and our way of life.
Yet, we continue to re-elect the same senators and congressmen and women who support the financeers who back this economic way of life that is destroying the middle class.
We need look no further than the face in the mirror to see the cause of our problem. We do not need a revolution. We simply need someone who will turn out to vote and throw the bums out who are supporting the status quo in congress.
It is our appathy that is the problem no one elses that is causing our difficulty. We need to get out and vote and get rid senators and congressmen and women who are eating at the table of those who are bent on destroying us.
+4 # bobby t. 2011-06-17 08:44
because i am old and my memory is bad, i can't remember a good story about the cats and the mice up in canada. the story was told by a canadian politition, and his grandson is a famous american actor.
most work in america and other places is a rat or mice race. the cats are winning.but because game is zero sum, as soon all the money will dry up in america. the cats will have it all.
there have been good ideas proposed today on this blog, and they give us plenty to thing about. thanks you all the good people of america. saving is good, boycotting is good, mass action, like taking cash out of banks for ten to twenty days is also good. voting is good (i am the dem whip in my area. we got out 99 percent of the democratic vote in 2000 in broward county florida. best in the country. old people still understand the importance of the vote. however, fifty one percent of white women voted for bush over gore. what is wrong with that picture? they voted against their own best interests? and log cabin republicans? we have some really weird voters in this country. i wish i was more optimistic, but i despair for this great land. this beautiful land. the home of the free? or the brave?
+1 # VSweet 2011-06-17 11:27
If America does not awaken soon, we will become a nation ripe to be ushered into the NEW WORLD ORDER.

+2 # boudreaux 2011-06-17 15:53
A NEW WORLD ORDER just sounds so scary to me. And oh my Professor Reich you do have a following....
0 # Samuel Cutler 2011-06-19 09:01
Hello Kevin,
Unless you only shop at union stores and only buy union made products you are a hypocrite. Please respond back and tell us that you support unions, all the time, in all ways possible. Otherwise, I will believe that you are just one more academic spouting rhetoric without taking any meaningful actions.
0 # John Young 2011-07-09 19:12
Why should working families and taxpayers have to pay over and over again for debts run up to bail out reckless financiers and the econ-omy they disabled:


Let’s Demand Responsibility & Accountability

Government has been unwilling to protect consumers and investors from the financial ravages of greedy, predatory financial firms, over and over, for decades, which caused increasingly worse financial crises. This left more and more working families without the minimal financial security that a responsible government should provide through the enforcement of fair, free market rules. Instead Wall Street bought off politicians in order to fabricate ever more manipulated, rigged markets—rigged markets that they ran into the ground until the fraud was so ob-vious that there were no suckers left that they could fool, and the bubble burst.
0 # John Young 2011-07-09 19:13
Nevertheless, everybody gets to default and be bailed out by the government except working class families, who are the victims of the fraud and who, instead of being compensated for their losses, had to bail out Wall Street and the banks from their reckless loans and investments and fraud. Now those taxpayer-rescue d- fin-anciers have the arrogance to also demand that the uncompensated taxpayers who rescued them also take further cuts to their security in order to cut the deficit and debt, even though that debt resulted from the government spending to bail out the financiers and the economy they disabled. That debt should be paid by the finan-ciers who caused it and profited from it. Restoration of higher taxes on the rich and on the speculation/gam bling of hedge funds should be done immediately.

“Heads I win, tails you loose”-- not once, but over and over again--is appar-ently what a malevolent political establishment thinks working families are so downtrodden and brainwashed that they will accept. Persistent “social welfare for financial elites, rugged individualism for working families”: it is now being taken to new levels of absurdity.
0 # John Young 2011-07-09 19:14
The parts of government that still works for the people, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, should be strengthened to make up for the scourge that the financiers have caused, and to make up for the insecurity the financiers im-posed on working class families. EVEN CONSIDERING imposing additional sacri-fices on those who have already sacrificed for the reckless financial elites, is an in-sult—an unforgivable insult.

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