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Global Crisis/Innovation Blog

Robert Reich Connects the Dots: What’s Wrong with America in 200 Simple Words

By Shlomo Maital




  Robert B. Reich was a Harvard U. professor and Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.  He is a liberal. Here is his ‘take’ on what’s wrong with America, in clear simple language, and in 200 words.  You can view his short talk on YouTube *.  Here is the text:

   “What’s the problem with the economy?   Let me connect the dots in less than 2 minutes.  

 ● Since 1980 the US economy has doubled in size, but most people’s wages have barely increased.   

● Almost all the gains have gone to the super-rich. The top 1% used to take hom 10% of total income, before 1980,  now it takes home more than 20%, and holds 40% of the nation’s  entire wealth.

 ● All this money at the top has given the super-rich political power, especially to lower their tax rates [and to keep Congress from restoring the “temporary” Bush tax cuts on the wealthy].  Before 1980, the top marginal income tax rate was 70%, now it is down to 35%, and much of the income of the wealthy is capital gains, 15% tax.  The Internal Revenue Service reports that the  richest 400 Americans pay only a 17% tax rate.

● Total tax revenues are down to 15% of the economy, the lowest in 60 years, so public services are being cut. Kids are crowded into classrooms, roads, bridges, health care, all are sacrificed.

●Instead of joining together for better wages and jobs, people are so scared, they compete with others for the remaining scraps.  Public workers fight private sector workers, native Americans fight immigrants, etc.   No longer does  the middle class have the purchasing power to get the economy going, so we have high unemployment and an anemic recovery.

   The only way to have a strong economy is to have a strong middle class. “

   And, Reich might have added, a militant united  fighting middle class, one able to stand up for its rights and vote out of office the scoundrels who deprive them of those rights.



Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
July 2011