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Beware of Robert Reich's Latest Op-Ed

by John Spritzler

May 28, 2013

In this blog article, Robert Reich writes:

"Charles and David Koch should not be blamed for having more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans put together. Nor should they be condemned for their petrochemical empire. As far as I know, they’ve played by the rules and obeyed the laws."

 

Robert Reich wants to be known as a good economist who stands up against evil Big Money capitalists. Thus he titles his latest Op-Ed, "Beware Capitalist Tools." But people who stand up against Big Money capitalists do not find themselves, as did Robert Reich, appointed to be Secretary of Labor in the United States, where Big Money capitalists control the government and all of the other major institutions of society.

It was Reich's buddy, Bill Clinton, who appointed him Labor Secretary. Let us not forget what Bill Clinton did. Before the election Clinton promised that if elected, he would not sign a bill implementing NAFTA unless it included additional agreements that protected labor. But the bill he signed gave us a NAFTA that has enabled countless employers to threaten workers that their jobs would be sent to Mexico unless they accepted deep cuts in pay and benefits. President Clinton also, to the dismay of his liberal supporters, “abolished welfare as we know it” to rip apart the social safety net in the U.S. Furthermore, Clinton launched a bombing and sanctions attack on Iraq that caused more than a million Iraqi deaths, half of them children under five years old whose deaths his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, famously said “were worth it.” And he bombed civilian Serbs. But he was a liberal, so the anti-war movement leaders gave him a free pass. And Robert "friend of the little guy" Reich stood solidly in Clinton's corner, loyal as could be to a literal mass murderer.

In his recent Op-Ed Reich complains about Forbes Magazine because, as he puts it, "One of its contributors, Tim Worstall, recently took me to task for suggesting that a way for citizens to gain some countervailing power over large global corporations is for governments to threaten denial of market access unless corporations act responsibly." Reich ends his Op-Ed with these words: "My modest suggestion that governments become the agents of their citizens in bargaining with global capital should hardly raise an eyebrow. But the capitalist tools at Forbes, and elsewhere, must be worried that average citizens may be starting to see what’s really going on, and might therefore take such a suggestion seriously."

So why, one might ask, do we need to beware of Reich? After all, the man is arguing for governments to become "agents of their citizens in bargaining with global capital." What's wrong with that? What's so dangerous about it that we need to "beware" of Reich?

Here's what's wrong and dangerous about Reich. Reich wants his readers to forget the things that are most important to remember if we are to have any chance at all of making the egalitarian kind of world his readers want, but which Big Money is determined to prevent at all costs. Reich a) tells us to rely on the government to solve the problems caused by Big Money and b) tells us furthermore that the way the government can solve these problems is by BARGAINING with global capital. This is Reich's way of telling us to a) forget that the government is controlled by Big Money and will remain so-controlled until it is replaced by a genuine democracy with a revolution, and b) to forget that the only way to make things better in the short run is by fighting Big Money, not by bargaining with it; and one of the best ways to fight Big Money is by building a revolutionary movement.

If one wants to live in a fairy land of pipe dreams and wishful thinking, and if one wants to hope that the United States government will act as the agent of its citizens without a revolution to make it so, and if one wants to hope that Big Money will bargain away its relentless drive to make the world more and more unequal, then one should by all means look to Robert Reich for leadership; and while one is at it one should also believe in the tooth fairy and buy bridges from friendly folks willing to sell them for amazingly cheap prices.

If one wants to view Robert Reich as a leader against Big Money one should resign oneself to following a "leader" who made a career of giving speeches to the corporate elite for big money payments. The Milwaukee Sentinel January 9, 1993 reported, "Labor Secretary-designate Robert Reich made hundreds of thousands of dollars on the lecture circuit last year while serving as a key adviser to President Clinton's campaign, his financial disclosure report showed Friday. The report to the Office of Government Ethics said Reich made $347,000 in honorariums from 31 speaking engagements." To see how much this income inflated his "regular guy" salary, note that the article continued with, "Reich reported he also earned a salary last year of $75,000 from Harvard University, where he teaches public policy at the Kennedy School of Government."

To whom does Reich speak for such large fees? He may, in fact does, speak to the little people, even at some Occupy events. But these aren't the people who pay him the big money. His big honorariums come from the upper levels of society to whom he gives keynote speechs. These audiences include the following: the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (2012); The World BPO/ITO Forum (2012), the premier thought-leadership event focusing on Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO); the World Affairs Council (2011), whose sponsors include Barklays Capital, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Chevron, Cisco Systems, Exxon/Mobil, Goldman Sachs, and many other similar "little people." If one wants to literally follow Robert Reich, then these are the kind of people in the company of whom one will find oneself.

By the way, if one looks at the transcript of Robert Reich's speech to Occupy at UC Berkeley, one can see that he is a skilled orator whose mission is to contain what is potentially an anti-capitalist movement within pro-capitalist boundaries. Thus after tossing out lines he knew would be sure to get him applause, he interjects this:

Some of you are concerned also about the increasing concentration of wealth and income in our society, an increasing concentration that has meant, for example, that the 400 richest Americans now own more of America than the bottom 150 million Americans.

(The crowd boos)

But fundamentally — and let me try to connect some of these dots — fundamentally, the problem with concentrated income wealth and fundamentally with an education system that is no longer available to so many young people and even a K-12 system that is letting so many people down — the fundamental problem is that we are losing equal opportunity in America. We are losing the moral foundation stone on which this country and our democracy are built.

Notice where the pro-capitalist content is sneaked in. He is telling the crowd that what they really want is EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. What is "equal opportunity"? It is an equal opportunity to rise to the top in a capitalist society based on INEQUALITY. "Equal opportunity" is one of the main propaganda themes of the capitalist class for co-opting the masses, who want equality, meaning no-rich-and-no-poor equality, known as egalitarianism. It was how the French pro-capitalist leaders co-opted the masses during the French Revolution, and how they got the masses to follow pro-capitalist leaders instead of the leaders who advocated egalitarianism. This is an example of how Reich is our enemy.

Don't follow Robert Reich. Beware of him; he peddles wishful thinking and naivete to make sure that his REAL friends will not be bothered by you. Instead, start Thinking about Revolution and building an egalitarian revolutionary movement as discussed at PDRBoston.org .

Postscript: In this op-ed (also here) Reich expresses his disgusting support for "Israel's security," aka a decades-long project of violent ethnic cleansing to ensure that non-Jews never become a majority of the population of Israel, which is 78% of Palestine and from which Zionists violently drove out most of the non-Jewish population in 1948 and refuses to allow them to return. This is by far and away the chief grievance of Palestinians against Israel. If the Israeli government would end its policy of ethnic cleansing the conflict would end. Reich and others like him defend the ethnic cleansing and dismiss objections to it as "anti-Semitism" or (in the case of Jews objecting to it) "Jewish self-hatred." For a fuller discussion of this see Why Our Government Supports Israel's Government and Why We Shouldn't (pdf) and SHOULD PEOPLE OPPOSED TO BIGOTRY AND ANTI-SEMITISM SUPPORT ISRAEL?

 

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