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

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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

  • Breakfast With My Mentor


    Wednesday, August 28, 2013

    A few days ago I had breakfast with a man who had been one of my mentors in college, who participated in the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s and has devoted much of the rest of his life in pursuit of equal opportunity for minorities, the poor, women, gays, immigrants — and also for average hard-working people who have been beaten down by the economy. Now in his mid-80s, he’s still active.

    I asked him if he thought America would ever achieve true equality of opportunity.

    “Not without a fight,” he said. “Those who have wealth and power and privilege don’t want equal opportunity. It’s too threatening to them.They’ll pretend equal opportunity already exists, and that anyone who doesn’t make it in America must be lazy or stupid or otherwise undeserving.”

    “You’ve been fighting for social justice for over half a century. Are you discouraged?”

    “Not at all!” he said. “Don’t confuse the difficulty of attaining a goal with the urgency of fighting for it.”

    “But have we really made progress? Inequality is widening. The middle class and the poor are in many ways worse off than they were decades ago.”

    “Yes, and they’re starting to understand that,” he said. “And beginning to see that the distinction between the middle class and poor is disappearing. Many who were in the middle have fallen into poverty; many more will do so.”

    “And, so?”

    He smiled. “For decades, those at the top have tried to convince the middle class that their economic enemies are minorities and the poor. But that old divide-and-conquer strategy is starting to fail. And as it fails, it will be possible to create a political coalition of the poor and the middle class. It will be a powerful coalition! Remember, demographics are shifting. Soon America will be a majority of minorities. And women are gaining more and more economic power.”

    “But the 400 richest Americans are now wealthier than the bottom 150 million Americans put together — and have more political influence than ever.”

    “Just you wait,” he laughed. “I wish I had another fifty years in me.”

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