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Friday, 24 July 2015 14:01

Robert Reich: Why working people are stressed

Written by  Robert Reich, compiled by Team SCPA

Posted July 24, 2015
Economic Democracy: Inequality Matters / Money and who gets most of it, cont'd.

Widening Inequality

The key to understanding the rise in inequality isn’t technology or globalization. It’s the power of the moneyed interests to shape the underlying rules of the market.

American Prospect, by Robert Reich

This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe? Click here.

Celebrate American Prospect's 25th Anniversary with a free download of this special issue, click here.

For the past quarter-century—at least since Bob Kuttner, Paul Starr, and I founded The American Prospect—I’ve offered in articles, books, and lectures an explanation for why average working people in advanced nations like the United States have failed to gain ground and are under increasing economic stress: Put simply, globalization and technological change have made most of us less competitive. The tasks we used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.

My solution—and I’m hardly alone in suggesting this—has been an activist government that raises taxes on the wealthy, invests the proceeds in excellent schools and other means people need to become more productive, and redistributes to the needy. These recommendations have been vigorously opposed by those who believe the economy will function better for everyone if government is smaller and if taxes and redistributions are curtailed.

While the explanation I offered a quarter-century ago for what has happened is still relevant—indeed, it has become the standard, widely accepted explanation—I’ve come to believe it overlooks a critically important phenomenon: the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs. And the governmental solutions I have propounded, while I believe them still useful, are in some ways beside the point because they take insufficient account of the government’s more basic role in setting the rules of the economic game. ...

Compiled by Team SCPA


Last modified on Friday, 24 July 2015 14:20
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