Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.
Broadcast November 16, 2001 We hear a lot about a stimulus package coming out of Congress, eventually. Regardless of what combination of tax cuts and spending increases finally emerges, almost everyone agrees that the government has to spur the economy right now. Alan Greenspan and company can't do it alone. Cuts in short-term rates are helpful, but we can't fight this recession with one hand tied behind our back. We also need government to spend more and tax less now. But the federal government isn't the only government in American whose spending and taxing affects the economy. There are also 50 state governments and hundreds of city governments. In fact, if you add up the budgets of all of America's states and cities, you reach almost the same figure as the federal budget, in the order of some $2 trillion this year. In other words, the fiscal policy coming out of Washington is only half of America's fiscal policy. So what's the story with the other half? Are state and local...
Broadcast December 6, 2001 For years now, many management gurus have been urging companies to give their employees a larger share of the profits. The thinking was that workers who invested in their own company would work harder because there'd be a direct connection between effort and reward. This idea came just at a time when many companies were ending the old-fashioned kind of pension plan that guaranteed employees a certain fixed amount of money every month after retirement. Companies replaced those plans with 401(k) retirement accounts. Instead of a specific pension, employees, and sometimes employers, now invest a certain amount every month tax-deferred. After retirement, employees live off the cumulative investment. Combine the two ideas--workers getting a share in the profits of their own companies and 401(k) retirement accounts--and you have more and more workers investing a portion of their paychecks in 401(k) retirement plans featuring their own company's stock. Well, this...
Americans are turning against free trade. To halt the protectionist tide, government must
minimise the hardship and dislocation caused by foreign competition.
In a recent poll, 58 per cent of Americans agreed with the statement that foreign trade was
"bad for the US economy because cheap imports hurt wages". Only 32 per cent agreed with
the statement that trade was "good for the US economy; it creates foreign demand,
economic growth, and jobs".
What is particularly striking is that these anti-trade sentiments are being heard at a time
when the US economy is doing so well. Unemployment is lower than it has been in 30
years. People at the bottom of the wage ladder are beginning to see wage gains, for the
first time in several decades. If free trade inspires this much antipathy now, when the
economy is surging, what will happen when the economy slows, as it inevitably will?
The Washington Post
Suddenly, there's a new conversation among the country's movers and shakers, and
several ambitious plans for helping the bottom half share in the nation's prosperity: Give
them, literally, a share in America. Spread capitalism by spreading capital.
Consider President Clinton's proposed "Universal Savings Accounts." Families earning less
than $40,000 would get an annual $600 tax credit deposited directly into their USA account,
plus another $700 if they deposited $700 of their own money into the account. That adds
up to an annual nest egg of $2,000. If they continue doing the same thing for 40 years,
assuming a modest 5 percent rate of return on their savings, their nest egg would grow
into a brontosaurus egg of more than $250,000. That would give most families a big boost
Make no mistake. The effect of this plan would be to redistribute capital assets to
The Wall Street Journal
If you want to make a dent in the real problems of poor people around the
world, don't fund another panel of experts to do a major report on global
hunger, overpopulation, global poverty, global illiteracy, child labor or
ethnic strife. Don't create a program, institute or project staffed by earnest
young political scientists and economics postdocs. Don't convene a forum
of leading thinkers, CEOs, journalists, and statesmen at a conference
center in Aspen, Jackson Hole, Vale, Davos, Geneva or any other beautiful
locale. This has all been done, sometimes usefully, but it's not what's most
Instead, work from the bottom up. Do the 21st-century equivalent of what
Andrew Carnegie did a century ago: Build public libraries for the world's
digital have-nots. I don't mean giant marble-edificed, intimidating
Greek-columned places downtown, housing millions of tomes. I mean