Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Storm Is Brewing...

Remember Robert Reich?  We’ve written about him before.  He was Clinton’s Secretary of Labor from 1993-1997.  His biography informs us [Here] that he is currently a Professor of Public Policy at the Un. of California, Berkeley.
Reich’s academic credentials are superb.  He completed his undergraduate work at Dartmouth and then studied Economics and Public Policy at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.  He met Bill Clinton at Oxford and, like Clinton, went on to Yale Law School when he had completed his studies in England.  He received his J.D. and was also an editor of the Yale Law Journal.   He clerked for Judge Frank Coffin at the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit.  In the mid-seventies, he was Assistant to Solicitor General Robert Bork.  (Yes, indeed, this man has had extraordinary experience.)  
During the ’80’s Reich taught at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, before becoming Clinton’s first Secretary of Labor.  After Clinton’s first term, Reich returned to academia, first teaching at Brandeis.  He ran for the Democratic nomination for Gov. of Massachusetts.  Though he lost, he came in an astonishingly close second.
Reich has written many influential books pointing the way to a new liberalism and always with a particular concern for the less well-to-do.  His latest book, published last month, is Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future.”  Reich’s title suggests that this could be an American sequel to Canadian Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine.
Reich also treats us to occasional blogs which are up on his website, [Here].  After he has posted, his blogs shoot around the blogosphere and influence our political dialogue.  Many are also picked up by liberal online readers subscription sites, such as truthout and ReaderSupportedNews
Reich’s latest blog is called A Perfect Storm:
It’s a perfect storm. And I’m not talking about the impending dangers facing Democrats. I’m talking about the dangers facing our democracy.
Reich’s “storm” concerns the increasing concentration of income within a tiny strata of the American population.  He introduces us to the shocking statistic that one-tenth of one percent of Americans own almost a quarter of the income earned in the country.  
Who are they?  He states that with a few exceptions, they are the top executives of the large corporations and Wall Street, private-equity and hedge-fund managers.  
The disparity of income is bad enough but beyond that fact is their influence in the current election where those “one-tenth of one percenters” are pouring money into the campaigns of like-minded rightwingers who will do everything under the sun to keep the tax structure and the perks flowing their way.  
As Reich points out, the free-flowing money is funneled through groups run by men like Karl Rove, the Chamber of Commerce, Dick Armey, and Fred Malek, the old Nixon crony who was deputy Director of CREEP (The Committee to Reelect the President).  The Federal Election Commission has said that only one-third of campaign money is disclosed, compared to 97% in 2006.  [Here]  
This sea change is due, in small part, to a shift in principled positions by the political leadership in Congress, but in large part was made possible by The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. F. E. C., when the Roberts Court gave corporations the same free speech rights that individual citizens enjoy.   (We should note here that Reich testified against Roberts during his Senate confirmation hearing!)
The third element of Reich’s “perfect storm” is that folks are angry and hurting with high unemployment, taxation and a seemingly unresponsive government.   As Reich concludes:
We’re losing our democracy to a different system. It’s called plutocracy.
With such storm warnings from intelligent social critics such as Reich, we can only pray that the American people will wake up and recognize what is at stake, before all the social safety nets and services are stripped and crippled by the Pete Petersons, Koch brothers and anonymous reactionaries in our country.
Plutocrats.  A vicious word to add to our working vocabulary.... 

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