Robert Reich

(Robert Bernard Reich)

Robert Reich
Robert Reich
  • Born: June 24, 1946
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Economist









Quote Topics Cited
Barack Obama would have been seen as a liberal Republican—a kind of Rockefeller Republican in the 1960s. He is at most a centrist. To think of him as somebody in the left is often almost laughable. Liberals & Conservatives
Democracy, at its best, enables citizens to debate collectively how the slices of the pie should be divided and to determine which rules apply to private goods and which to public goods. Democracies & Republics
Early childhood education packs a real wallop in terms of the return on the investment. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Free markets were supposed to lead to free societies. Instead, today’s supercharged global economy is eroding the power of the people in democracies around the globe. Welcome to a world where the bottom line trumps the common good and government takes a back seat to big business. Freedom & Liberty
I think that it is morally wrong to be an economic determinist. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
If anyone’s declared class warfare, it’s the people who inhabit the top rungs of big corporations and Wall Street … They have declared it on average workers. Miscellaneous
If you give up on politics, you give up on democracy … and then we are absolute plutocracy. Democracies & Republics
Inequality is bad for everyone, not just the middle class and the poor. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Inequality of income is bad for everyone, not just the poor and the middle class. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Progressivism has time and again added the corrective that has enabled capitalism to survive. Elderly, Aging. Old Age, Social Security & Pensions ;Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers ;Capitalism
The era of big government may be over, but the era of regulation through litigation has just begun. Regulation & Deregulation
Those who claim the economy will collapse if tax rates on the wealthy increase, do not know their history. In the Eisenhower Administration—and Eisenhower was hardly a left winger—the marginal tax rate was 91 percent. I am only suggesting that it go to 50 percent. Taxes
Truth is not half way between right and wrong; Media, Journalism & The Press
Washington thrives on scapegoats. Public Relations & Image
Who is looking out for the American worker? The answer is, Nobody! Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Who is looking out for the working class? The answer is, Nobody! Work, Workers & The Labor Force
You can't wing foreign policy. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
A Democratic president should propose a major permanent tax reduction on the middle class and working class. I suspect most of the public would find this attractive.
A leader is someone who steps back from the entire system and tries to build a more collaborative, more innovative system that will work over the long term. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
A lot of attention has been going to social values - abortion, gay rights, other divisive issues - but economic values are equally important.
A society - any society - is defined as a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions: public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on. Society
America is one of few advanced nations that allow direct advertising of prescription drugs.
America spends a fortune on drugs: more per person than any other nation on earth, even though Americans are no healthier than the citizens of other advanced nations.
America's real business leaders understand unless or until the middle class regains its footing and its faith, capitalism remains vulnerable. Religion & God ;Business, Commerce & Finance
As digital equipment replaces the jobs of routine workers and lower-level professionals, technicians are needed to install, monitor, repair, test, and upgrade all the equipment.
As income from work has become more concentrated in America, the super rich have invested in businesses, real estate, art, and other assets. The income from these assets is now concentrating even faster than income from work. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
As long as the big banks are allowed to remain big, their political leverage over Washington will remain big. And as long as their political leverage remains big, the taxpayer and economic tab for the next mess they create will be big.
As public schools deteriorate, the upper-middle class and wealthy send their kids to private ones. As public pools and playgrounds decay, the better-off buy memberships in private tennis and swimming clubs. As public hospitals decline, the well-off pay premium rates for private care.
As we segregate by income into different communities, schools in lower-income areas have fewer resources than ever.
Average working people need more fresh starts. Big corporations, banks, and Donald Trump need fewer.
Bankruptcy laws allow companies to smoothly reorganize, but not college graduates burdened by student loans.
Before the rise of the nation-state, between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the world was mostly tribal. Tribes were united by language, religion, blood, and belief. They feared other tribes and often warred against them. Religion & God
By the mid-1950s, more than a third of all America workers in the private sector were unionized. And the unions demanded and received a fair slice of the American pie.
Can we please agree that in the real world, corporations exist for one purpose and one purpose only - to make as much money as possible, which means cutting costs as much as possible? Money, Coins & Minting
Centrism is bogus.
Community colleges are great bargains. They avoid the fancy amenities four-year liberal arts colleges need in order to lure the children of the middle class.
Conservatives believe the economy functions better if the rich have more money and everyone else has less. But they're wrong. It's just the opposite. Money, Coins & Minting
Corporations aren't people. They have no brains, no consciences, no capacity for intent or guilt.
Detroit is really a model for how wealthier and whiter Americans escape the costs of public goods they'd otherwise share with poorer and darker Americans.
Drug company payments to doctors are a small part of a much larger strategy by Big Pharma to clean our pockets.
During three decades from 1947 to 1977, the nation implemented what might be called a basic bargain with American workers. Employers paid them enough to buy what they produced.
Economies are risky. Some industries rise, and others implode, like housing. Some places get richer, and others drop, like Atlantic City. Some people get new jobs that pay better, many lose their jobs or their wages.
Even if there's no way to stop U.S. corporations from shedding their U.S. identities and becoming foreign corporations, there's no reason they should retain the privileges of U.S. citizenship.
Evidence suggests jobs are crucial not only to economic well-being but also to self-esteem.
Freedom is the one value conservatives place above all others, yet time and again, their ideal of freedom ignores the growing imbalance of power in our society that's eroding the freedoms of most people. Time ;Power ;Freedom & Liberty
Globalization and free trade do spur economic growth, and they lead to lower prices on many goods.
Government subsidies to elite private universities take the form of tax deductions for people who make charitable contributions to them. Government
Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the rest of the Ivy League are worthy institutions, to be sure, but they're not known for educating large numbers of poor young people.
I wish it were simply a nightmare, but I think that any reasonable person watching American politics would come to the conclusion that a second Bush administration would in fact incorporate a more radicalized version of what we've seen in the first administration. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
If we give up on politics, we're done for. Powerlessness is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
If we want corporations to act differently, we have to force them to do so through laws that are fully enforced and through penalties higher than the economic benefits of thwarting the laws.
I'm all in favor of supporting fancy museums and elite schools, but face it: These aren't really charities as most people understand the term.
I'm not one of those who thinks the only way to fix what's wrong with American education is to throw more money at it. We also need to do it much better. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Money, Coins & Minting
In 1968, the sanitation workers of Memphis tried to form a union. The city resisted. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to support them. That was where he lost his life. Life
In America, people with lots of money can easily avoid the consequences of bad bets and big losses by cashing out at the first sign of trouble. Money, Coins & Minting
In reality, most of America's poor work hard, often in two or more jobs. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
In the 1980s, corporate raiders began mounting unfriendly takeovers of companies that could deliver higher returns to their shareholders - if they abandoned their other stakeholders.
In truth, government has been good to Wall Street and big business. Truth ;Business, Commerce & Finance
Increasingly, corporate nationality is whatever a corporation decides it is.
Instead of worrying about who's American and who's not, here's a better idea: Create incentives for any global company to do what we'd like it to do in the United States.
It is hard to bite the hands that feed you, especially when you are competing for food. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
It is impossible to fight bullies merely by saying they're going too far.
It's not government's business what people do in their private bedrooms. Government ;Business, Commerce & Finance
It's true that redistributing income to the needy is politically easier in a growing economy than in a stagnant one.
Liberals are concerned about the concentration of wealth because it almost inevitably leads to a concentration of power that undermines democracy. Power
Limits should be placed on how big big banks can become.
Media outlets that are exploiting Ebola because they want a sensational story and politicians using it to their own ends ought to be ashamed.
Median wages of production workers, who comprise 80 percent of the workforce, haven't risen in 30 years, adjusted for inflation.
Medical costs are soaring because our health-care system is totally screwed up. Doctors and hospitals have every incentive to spend on unnecessary tests, drugs, and procedures. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
Money buys the most experienced teachers, less-crowded classrooms, high-quality teaching materials, and after-school programs. Money, Coins & Minting
More people are killed by stray bullets every day in America than have been killed by Ebola here. More are dying because of poverty and hunger.
Most financiers, corporate lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants are competing with other financiers, lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants in zero-sum games that take money out of one set of pockets and put it into another. Money, Coins & Minting
Much of what's called 'public' is increasingly a private good paid for by users - ever-higher tolls on public highways and public bridges, higher tuitions at so-called public universities, higher admission fees at public parks and public museums.
Nations are becoming less relevant in a world where everyone and everything is interconnected. The connections that matter most are again becoming more personal.
News and images move so easily across borders that attitudes and aspirations are no longer especially national. Cyber-weapons, no longer the exclusive province of national governments, can originate in a hacker's garage.
No company can be expected to build a nuclear reactor, an oil well, a coal mine, or anything else that's one hundred percent safe under all circumstances. The costs would be prohibitive. It's unreasonable to expect corporations to totally guard against small chances of every potential accident.
Not only do unemployment benefits help families who are hurting; they also put money into their pockets that they'll then spend - and their spending will keep other Americans in jobs. Money, Coins & Minting
Obviously, personal responsibility is important. But there's no evidence that people who are poor are less ambitious than anyone else. In fact, many work long hours at backbreaking jobs. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Official boundaries are often hard to see. If you head north on Woodward Avenue, away from downtown Detroit, you wouldn't know exactly when you left the city and crossed over into Oakland County - except for a small sign that tells you.
On the Republican playing field, Republicans always win.
One tax dodge often used by multi-national companies is to squirrel their earnings abroad in foreign subsidiaries located in countries where taxes are lower.
Only if everyone buys insurance can insurers afford to cover people with preexisting conditions or pay the costs of catastrophic diseases.
Our moral authority is as important, if not more important, than our troop strength or our high-tech weapons. We are rapidly losing that moral authority, not only in the Arab world but all over the world.
Our young people - their capacities to think, understand, investigate, and innovate - are America's future. Future
Over the long term, the only way we're going to raise wages, grow the economy, and improve American competitiveness is by investing in our people - especially their educations.
Patagonia, a large apparel manufacturer based in Ventura, California, has organized itself as a 'B-corporation.' That's a for-profit company whose articles of incorporation require it to take into account the interests of workers, the community, and the environment, as well as shareholders.
Political scientists after World War II hypothesized that even though the voices of individual Americans counted for little, most people belonged to a variety of interest groups and membership organizations - clubs, associations, political parties, unions - to which politicians were responsive. War & Peace
Public employees should have the right to bargain for better wages and working conditions, just like all employees do.
Public fear isn't something to be played with.
Public institutions are supported by all taxpayers and are available to all.
Radical conservatives want to police bedrooms.
Rather than subsidize 'American' exporters, it makes more sense to subsidize any global company - to the extent it's adding to its exports from the United States.
So why don't nurses do home visits to Americans with acute conditions? Hospitals aren't paid for it.
Some argue shareholder capitalism has proven more efficient. It has moved economic resources to where they're most productive, and thereby enabled the economy to grow faster.
Standing up to bullies is the hallmark of a civilized society. Society
Sugary drinks are blamed for increasing the rates of chronic disease and obesity in America. Yet efforts to reduce their consumption through taxes or other measures have gone nowhere. The beverage industry has spent millions defeating them.
Tax laws favor capital over labor, giving capital gains a lower rate than ordinary income. The rich get humongous mortgage interest deductions while renters get no deduction at all.
Tea Partiers hate government more than they hate the national debt. They refuse to reduce that debt with tax increases, even with tax increases on the wealthy, because a tax increase doesn't reduce the size of government. Government
Teachers, social workers, public lawyers who bring companies to justice, government accountants who try to make sure money is spent as it should be - all need at least four years of college. Government ;Money, Coins & Minting
Technology is changing so fast that knowledge about specifics can quickly become obsolete. That's why so much of what technicians learn is on the job. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The curious thing is Americans don't mind individual mandates when they come in the form of payroll taxes to buy mandatory public insurance. In fact, that's the system we call Social Security and Medicare, and both are so popular politicians dare not touch them.
The faith that anyone could move from rags to riches - with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone - was once at the core of the American Dream. Religion & God ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The 'free market' is the product of laws and rules continuously emanating from legislatures, executive departments, and courts.
The generosity of the super-rich is sometimes proffered as evidence they're contributing as much to the nation's well-being as they did decades ago when they paid a much larger share of their earnings in taxes.
The job creators are members of America's vast middle class and the poor, whose purchases cause businesses to expand and invest.
The largest party in America, by the way, is neither the Democrats nor the Republicans. It's the party of non-voters. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The liberal ideal is that everyone should have fair access and fair opportunity. This is not equality of result. It's equality of opportunity. There's a fundamental difference. Equality & Equal Opportunity
The monied interests are doing what they do best - making money. The rest of us need to do what we can do best - use our voices, our vigor, and our votes. Money, Coins & Minting
The only way back toward a democracy and economy that work for the majority is for most of us to get politically active once again, becoming organized and mobilized. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The only way to grow the economy in a way that benefits the bottom 90 percent is to change the structure of the economy. At the least, this requires stronger unions and a higher minimum wage.
The only way to make sure no bank is too big to fail is to make sure no bank is too big.
The silent majority really is a liberal majority, even though the word liberal has taken a real beating over the last 20 years by radical conservatives.
The Tea Party grew out of indignation over the Wall Street bailout - an indignation shared by the vast majority of Americans. But the Tea Party ended up directing its ire at government rather than at big business and Wall Street. Government ;Business, Commerce & Finance
The Tea Party is but one manifestation of a widening perception that the game is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful.
There is a crisis of public morality. Instead of policing bedrooms, we ought to be doing a better job policing boardrooms.
There will always be a business cycle, and white-collar workers will get hit in the next recession like they always do in recessions. Business, Commerce & Finance
Those at the top would do better with a smaller share of a booming economy that elicits a positive politics than they will do with an ever-larger share of an anemic economy that fuels the politics of anger. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Those who take their money abroad in an effort to avoid paying American taxes should lose their American citizenship. Money, Coins & Minting
To get back to the kind of shared prosperity and upward mobility we once considered normal will require another era of fundamental reform, of both our economy and our democracy.
Too many young people graduate laden with debts that take years, if not decades, to pay off.
True patriotism isn't cheap. It's about taking on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going. Citizenship & Patriotism
Universities have to tame their budgets, especially for student amenities that have nothing to do with education. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Walmart is so huge that a wage boost at Walmart would ripple through the entire economy, putting more money in the pockets of low-wage workers. This would help boost the entire economy - including Walmart's own sales. Money, Coins & Minting
Walmart isn't your average mom-and-pop operation. It's the largest employer in America. As such, it's the trendsetter for millions of other employers of low-wage workers.
We already have an annual wealth tax on homes, the major asset of the middle class. It's called the property tax. Why not a small annual tax on the value of stocks and bonds, the major assets of the wealthy?
We do not want to live in a theocracy. We should maintain that barrier and government has no business telling someone what they ought to believe or how they should conduct their private lives. Government ;Business, Commerce & Finance
We don't have to sit by and watch our meritocracy be replaced by a permanent aristocracy, and our democracy be undermined by dynastic wealth.
We need a national infrastructure bank to rebuild our crumbling highways and water and sewer systems, thereby putting additional people back to work. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
We never used to blink at taking a leadership role in the world. And we understood leadership often required something other than drones and bombs. We accepted global leadership not just for humanitarian reasons, but also because it was in our own best interest. We knew we couldn't isolate ourselves from trouble. There was no place to hide. Leaders & Leadership
What are called 'public schools' in many of America's wealthy communities aren't really 'public' at all. In effect, they're private schools, whose tuition is hidden away in the purchase price of upscale homes there, and in the corresponding property taxes.
What someone is paid has little or no relationship to what their work is worth to society. Society ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
When I was a small boy, I was bullied more than most, mainly because I was a foot shorter than everyone else.
When times are tough, public employees should have to make the same sacrifices as everyone else.
Yes, the rich will find ways to avoid paying more taxes, courtesy of clever accountants and tax attorneys. But this has always been the case, regardless of where the tax rate is set.
You can't create a political movement out of pabulum.
You can't inspire people if you are going to be uninspiring.
You might say those who can't repay their student debts shouldn't have borrowed in the first place. But they had no way of knowing just how bad the jobs market would become.
Your most precious possession is not your financial assets. Your most precious possession is the people you have working there, and what they carry around in their heads, and their ability to work together. Work, Workers & The Labor Force