Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. His website can be found here.

Recent Articles

The Great Bargain

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

Rejoinder: Who Do We Think They Are?

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

Blackboard Jingle

It seems as if every conference I attend on the subject of American competitiveness (and there are many -- the competitiveness industry is surely one of America's most competitive) begins or ends with a speech by a prominent chief executive of a large American corporation about business's stake in improving the quality of the American work force. The corporate public- relations staffs who write these things must compare notes, because the speeches are virtually identical: At the start, an upbeat assessment of the current state of American industry coupled with grim warnings about foreign competitors who are gaining ground. This is followed by an assertion about the importance of the American work force to American competitiveness in the future, why skilled and educated workers are crucial, why companies have more and more need for brainpower instead of brawn, and so forth. At this point the CEO offers worrisome data about trends in the American work force. I've heard them so often I'...

Is Scrooge a Democrat Now?

B y the third week of July, at its so-called "midyear budget review," the White House will unveil its new projected 10-year federal budget. Insiders tell me it's likely to show a surplus that's half a trillion dollars larger than the one now projected. Why? Because America's wealthiest 5 percent are becoming far richer, far faster than budget planners had predicted. Even with the aid of high-paid tax attorneys and planners, they're paying a lot more in income taxes and capital gains taxes than had been projected. The surplus is rising like yeasty dough. The new dough presents leading Democrats--especially Al Gore--with something of a dilemma. So far, the Gore campaign's central message has been that George W. and his fellow Republicans are spendthrifts because they intend to use most of the surplus for a whopping $1.3 trillion tax cut, while Gore represents the very model of fiscal responsibility. He'd cut taxes only moderately, spend a modest portion of the surplus on education and...

Trade: A Third Way

A s we reach the climax of the great battle over trade with China, it's worth taking a closer look at the main sticking point of this and every other major global agreement likely to arise in future years. There's widespread acceptance of the need for "global labor standards" and "global environmental standards." But apart from agreeing that no nation should permit forced labor, slave labor, employment of six-year-old children in factories seven days a week, and ocean dumping of nuclear wastes, there's almost no agreement on what labor and environmental standards actually mean. That's where the trouble begins. On one side are those who believe that workers in the third world are seriously exploited. For example, Students Against Sweatshops, backed by UNITE (the textile and apparel union), faults Nike's production in China, where workers are paid $1.50 for a pair of shoes that retail for $100 in America. And environments in poor countries are becoming depleted--consider the extent of...

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