ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock" and “The Work of Nations." His latest, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.

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COLBERT REPORT, NOVEMBER, 2013

WITH BILL MOYERS, SEPT. 2013

DAILY SHOW, SEPTEMBER 2013, PART 1

DAILY SHOW, SEPTEMBER 2013, PART 2

DEMOCRACY NOW, SEPTEMBER 2013

INTELLIGENCE SQUARED DEBATES, SEPTEMBER 2012

DAILY SHOW, APRIL 2012, PART 1

DAILY SHOW, APRIL 2012, PART 2

COLBERT REPORT, OCTOBER, 2010

WITH CONAN OBRIEN, JANUARY, 2010

DEBATING RON PAUL, JANUARY, 2010

  • Bail Out Our Schools


    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Any day now, the Obama administration will announce $4.35 billion in extra federal funds for under-performing public schools. That’s fine, but relative to the financial squeeze all the nation’s public schools now face it’s a cruel joke.

    The recession has ravaged state and local budgets, most of which aren’t allowed to run deficits. That’s meant major cuts in public schools and universities, and a giant future deficit in the education of our people.

    Across America, schools are laying off thousands of teachers. Classrooms that had contained 20 to 25 students are now crammed with 30 or more. School years have been shortened. Some school districts are moving to four-day school weeks. After-school programs have been cancelled; music and art classes, terminated. Even history is being chucked.

    Pre-K programs have been shut down. Community colleges are reducing their course offerings and admitting fewer students. Public universities, like the one I teach at, have raised tuitions and fees. That means many qualified students won’t be attending.

    Last year the nation committed $700 billion to bail out Wall Street banks, the engines of America’s financial capital, because we were told we’d face economic Armegeddon if we didn’t.

    We’ve got our priorities backwards. Our schools are the engines of our human capital, and if we don’t bail out public education we face a bigger economic Armegeddon years from now.

    Financial capital moves instantly around the globe to wherever it can earn the best return. Human capital – the skills and insights of our people – is the one resource that’s uniquely American, on which our future living standards uniquely depend.

    Starting immediately, the federal government should give states and local governments interest-free loans to make up for all school and university budget shortfalls. The loans can be repaid when the recession is over and local and state tax revenues revive.

    Over the longer term we must shift incentives away from financial capital toward human capital. A tiny one half of one percent tax on all financial transactions would generate about $200 billion a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That might put a crimp on Wall Street bonuses but it’s enough to fund early childhood education, smaller K-12 classes, and lower tuitons and fees for public higher education.

    The Street’s financial capital is important to the American economy, but over the long term the classroom’s human capital is absolutely crucial.

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