Robert Reich, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley

Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)

Long on Description – Short on Prescription

by George Kennedy

Robert Reich is among the most thoughtful and prolific of the Liberal bloggers today. Why not? If anyone speaks to and for “everywoman” and “everyman”, Reich does. He speaks a language that strikes at where most Americans live – often just barely.

In a July 2 piece “Freedom, Power, and the Conservative Mind”, Reich makes the obvious and painful point that American society concentrates income, wealth, and power at the top of America. Nothing new so far. Laws and rules “tilt the playing field ever further in the direction of corporations and the wealthy.”

The laws and rules, Reich reminds us, were not shaped democratically nor do they reflect the values and preferences of most people. He then goes on to cite specific laws that tilt in favor of the 1 percent and he concludes on the note that our “free-market” economy “is not expanding options and opportunities for most people. It’s extending them for the few who are wealthy enough to influence how the market is organized.”

My concern with this piece is that at a time when most Americans are over the economic precipice, or clinging desperately to the edge, Reich is long on description (of the problems) and abysmally short on prescriptions. Most Americans understand the impact of rules that concentrate power in the hands of the wealthy and corporations.

I would offer that most people feel powerless to effect change, or how “to influence how the market is organized.” Often, you hear a familiar lament: “I am only one person – what can I do?” Or, “I can’t change anything so why vote? They ignore me anyway.”

What would Robert Reich have “most people” do in response to the storm of inequality he describes? The economic apocalypse that engulfs millions of American households is analogous to a gathering storm visible to most but we are left to wonder, where does it end? Am I going to get hurt this time?

I may have missed the intended audience for this particular piece. If Reich believes conservatives have a “very parched view of freedom”, was his purpose then to shock conservative sensibilities in search of a misplaced conscience?

Americans are desperate and therefore less likely to find utility in being reminded of the obvious.

Mr. Reich, we may not be as eloquent as you are in describing the problems we grapple with daily but we do understand the impact of the laws and rules that increasingly discriminate against us. What we want are ideas, solutions, or relief? What would you have us do? And, please be specific!

George Kennedy

George Kennedy is a retired senior Foreign Service officer with extensive international experience. He holds a B.A. from the University of Oregon and two graduate degrees from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Mr. Kennedy was a political advisor to state and federal officials and has authored strategy pieces for Members of Congress and presidential candidates. He serves on the Advisory Board for the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona.

More Posts

Follow Me:


Is BIG Evil?

May 1, 2014

Is BIG Evil? By David Atherton I do not hate government, it is God ordained. The absence of government is anarchy.  We do not have to look far to see how horrible anarchy is.  I do not hate corporations big or small.  Big can do a lot that Little cannot do.  But, Big is not […]

Read the full article →

Hillary Has Left The Building!

February 6, 2013

Last Friday, Hillary Clinton passed the baton to her successor, John Kerry, and literally left the building at 2201 C Street, N.W. In Washington, D.C. That area is also affectionately known as “Foggy Bottom.” Hillary Clinton, the most travelled Secretary of State (visited 100 countries) ever, is, arguably the most effective Secretary of State in […]

Read the full article →

The GOP Needs To Get Better – Not Just Change Its Message

January 28, 2013

Reince Priebus was recently re-elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC).  Think about that for a minute!  The question is, does anyone seriously believe he can provide the leadership that can infuse the energy, creativity, and the spirit of a hoped-for new Republican Party in sync with a changed electorate?  Not to belabor the […]

Read the full article →

President Obama to Conservatives: We Are Continuing the Revolution!

January 23, 2013

President Obama threw down the gauntlet to his conservative critics during his second inaugural address.  With an eye on the long arc of history, Mr. Obama served notice to the Republicans the “small ball” politics underlying their unyielding opposition to his policies are unworthy of them and do disservice to the soul and aspirations of […]

Read the full article →

Building The Obama Legacy – Part Two

January 12, 2013

During a recent interview, President Obama, when speaking of his legacy, said he just wants a smarter government and a set of results that he can claim as he leaves office in early 2017.  Fair enough but, what may put him in conflict with some Democrats and the majority of Republicans is how he attempts […]

Read the full article →

Building The Obama Legacy

January 5, 2013

  A reelected President Obama now contemplates the architecture of a second term and thus his legacy as the nation’s first African-American president.  Setting aside the perennial Washington histrionics on every issue of the day, this is now the real back story.  What will be history’s judgment of this president and how broad gauged or […]

Read the full article →

Reaping The Harvest of 2016

December 8, 2012

  Should the Democrats plant the right seeds in 2013, they may well reap the presidential harvest of 2016.  Polls reflect a growing confidence in our soon-to-depart Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  A decision by Clinton to seek the nomination would be welcomed by most Americans according to a Washington Post/ABC poll released several days […]

Read the full article →

Why I Like Hillary In 2016

November 16, 2012

I like Hillary Clinton for 2016 for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, she is a well-seasoned, savvy leader with a spine of steel forged under adverse personal and professional circumstances.  She can take the well-calculated, well-delivered “political punch” and then counter-punch with the best, including President Barack Obama. Second, I like her because […]

Read the full article →

The Election Is Over – Let’s Get To Work

November 10, 2012

  President Obama was re-elected to a second term and no one should be mistaken about the coalition of interests that gave the President the edge over his Republican rival, Governor Mitt Romney:  majorities of Asians, African-Americans, Latinos, and majorities of progressive-leaning women.  That was then – this is now.  Let’s focus on the future.  […]

Read the full article →