Jan 28, 2022·edited Jan 28, 2022

Of course Americans are gloomy. They’re being told left, right and center just how badly Biden and company are doing, all the while the corporatists are raking it in like there’s no tomorrow. People are fed up and want someone to blame. Tucker Carlson tells them to blame Biden as do the rest of the GOP gremlins who don’t give a shit because their coffers continue to overflow. I don’t know what to say anymore because nothing is working in this administration. Now we’ve got the diplomat from the Ukraine telling Biden to dial it back as far as Russia invading its country…because he is “scaring” their countrymen and women, even as more and more Russian troops surround the country on all sides…what?? What game is going on here? In the meantime, Arizona’s poised to impose the greatest strikes against voting including voter subversion, introducing a slew of restrictive voting bills, including an omnibus bill that subverts nonpartisan election administration basically allowing any elector to request a new election be held should an audit be requested and the votes rejected. What?? Biden promised this and Biden promised that but we know as long as McConnell is around, the good Biden has planned to do for the country will never happen…not student loan forgiveness, not Build Back Anything unless it’s cut into little pieces with the hopes of the dastardly GOP throwing it a bone. Then we’ve got the insane Donald trump and his nighttime rallies, inciting the masses, telling them hellacious things like the “vote counter is more important than the candidate.” I know I’m all over the place but as we approach the midterms I foresee more of the same chaos, propaganda and lies, quite possibly foretelling the end of our democracy. And this isn’t me being cynical…just realistic.

PS…as for Starbucks, I’ve got no time for them or their bitter coffee. It was a good idea at the outset, with Howard Schultz who grew up in public housing dreaming of a better way for his employees. But as with everything else in this sad country, the corporatists moved in.

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I agree totally about Starbuck's hypocrisy. I also think most Americans are gloomy because so far - every government toadie and elected official who orchestrated 1/6/21 has not been held accountable for their actions, and too many members of Congress are constantly thumbing their noses at voters while they rake in the cash. I turn 69 next week and have never felt more demoralized about the fact that cheaters, liars and people with not one ounce of integrity continue to prosper!!

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Maybe something is brewing in the pot, and it's not coffee. And, it's not for the betterment of society and its people. What is it? 4 things, possibly, more: 1. The fear of a war with Putin and Putin stealing more land from its neighbors. 2. Covid-19 isn't dead, it's transforming itself. And, for the life of me, I still don't understand why people won't get vaxxed. 3. The American Dream has turned into a nightmare and only the wealthy can see their way through it... just stomp on the backs of all Americans that have less than you do. 4. The awful feeling that it takes so long for good to win out. Sometimes decades, but it takes less than a wink of the eye for an underhanded republican to mess up what is good about democracy.

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If there is a feature I wish Americans would embrace once more, it would be unionism. My entire family understood the power of the union in securing a living wage and benefits. Americans have been duped by “right to work” laws which have eviscerated unions across this country. Gone are the days when George Meany carried the water for working families. The Democratic Party lost its bearings when it turned away from the bread and butter issues facing American families. Thus the state of our Democracy.

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What is socially responsible about a $4.50 cup of coffee?

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“Americans are gloomy about the economy despite its record growth because most Americans haven’t shared in that growth.“ BINGO!

“But in fact, Starbucks isn’t socially responsible. Its brand is built on an edifice of faux social responsibility.” BINGO!

“Could it be that Americans are gloomy despite the economy’s record growth because the super-rich are taking home an ever-larger share of those gains while most people are getting the crumbs?” Yes, and BINGO!

I could go on, but suffice to say that once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head with this article. It is so frustrating to many of us who are either unemployed, under-employed or otherwise being taken advantage of by the likes of companies such as Starbucks.

While the economy might have grown in the past year, I think Americans wretched and excessive consumerism combined with the sheer boredom of being cooped up due to the pandemic certainly didn’t help matters. We spend money on stuff we don’t really need (including a $6.00 cup of coffee from Starbucks) and wonder why we are broke!

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Should we refer to low wage earners as serfs? I suppose this could only be effective if one had learned enough history to get the analogy.

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And a few more reasons for boiling anger: (1) Have the victims of the 2008 "crisis" - it was the most monumental robbery in history - forgotten the ravaging consequences on their lives? (2) more than 850,000 dead from Covid in the US Vs. 80,000 in China. We suffer under a system that does not work at all for the people; (3) another Big Lie: "we live in the leading democracy" Gilens and Page conclude their research with "70 % of the people are disenfranchised, have zero impact on policy decisions." The "representatives" represent the corporations, the financiers and the bomb makers, not the people. (4) we live in a system of obnoxious inequality, a kleptocracy. Do read the September 2020 Rand Corporation paper about the top 10% who siphoned-off from the bottom 90% between $25 and $47 TRILLION from 1975 to 2018. AND, with the so-called inflation, who is going to siphon-off all the help people received from the government? The "Big Lie" of the presidential election is a distraction from all the other "big Lies." We labor under a system of plunder and pillage, subjected to "The vile maxim of the masters of mankind: All for us, and nothing for the rest." Adam Smith "The Wealth of nations" 1776. And we take it!

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Honestly, my response to the McDonalds or Starbucks question would have been "neither"! These are not businesses I choose to support. I would rather see more locally owned independent restaurants and coffee shops and fewer corporate chains.

As for the economic growth, while it's true that the bulk of it is still going to the top 1%, it is also unrealistic to expect that a President or a political party can reverse 40+ years of trickle down economics with a more egalitarian model in just one year. Meanwhile, those at the bottom of the economic pile are being forced to fight over who has a bigger pile of crumbs, while the 1% are enjoying the whole cake! How do we help the blue collar class to see that it's not just the "burger flippers" who are underpaid, but also the truck drivers, warehouse workers, retail clerks, nurses (!!), office workers, and other service employees who need a boost?

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🇨🇦 As a Canadian, I am finding the state that America has found itself in has attracted me like a bottlenecker driving by an accident. I can’t take my eyes off of it.

I read a number of reputable American newsletters daily, including yours, which I very much enjoy. I do not profess to understand the intricacies of politics, history and economics of your country, but I am learning. Although I can find similarities within our own Canadian borders, I do find the American situation much more interesting.

It is disheartening to say the least, that the American people (generalizing here) do not take the time and effort to become more fully versed in what is happening in their country beyond their own personal circumstances and living situations. As with Canadians, they are interested only in their work, their wages, the price of groceries and whether they’ll get dinged at the gas pump this week. Rightly so - to an extent. Things that are not completely in their control are driving them to extremes of thinking but not in basic action. By that, I mean taking their concerns to the top and being persistent until they get meaningful change. Really persistent. The top doesn’t have to mean congress, or those particularly in control of financial distribution of wealth, but that can be a goal to work towards. Unfortunately, that takes time and effort, little of which people are actually willing to invest for their future.

I am blown away with how little mainstream media, especially reputable news outlets, report on what is actually happening (as opposed to inserting soundbites, with very little follow up). However, I am pleased to see more in general interest, especially in the area of wages. It shows an increasing awareness of the disparity between “them and us.”

I value the work you do, Mr. Reich. My hope is that you and your like can reach a far wider audience. Heck, you reached me! Keep up the great work!

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Prof. Reich, we have to hope that the people take power back by organizing into unions and cooperatives and not by organizing to overthrow a democratically elected government, as thousands did on January 6, 2021. Biden and the Dems have to reenact the child tax credit, along with paid family leave, improving health care coverage, etc., etc., etc. They also have to deliver voter protections. In short, Build Back Better and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

I am not optimistic that the Dems will deliver. I fear we will have autocratic, plutocratic, monopolistic government in the near future in this country. When the real history of the 21st century in this country gets written, Manchin and Sinema will have places of honor, along with Trump and Carlson for the overthrow of democracy in the U.S. Hopefully, the House committee investigating Jan. 6 gets enough evidence and the Justice Dept. gets enough convictions, including of Trump, before the midterm elections, and we can prevent this disastrous scenario from coming about.

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Absolutely! It's not inflation, and wouldn't matter if wages kept pace. I just saw this unfortunate story Howard Schultz tells people to explain Starbucks benefits. https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/09/business/howard-schultz-starbucks/index.html

"Schultz, who is Jewish, said a rabbi in Israel told him about the experiences of prisoners at concentration camps in Poland: They were only given a few blankets and had to share.

"'Not everyone, but most people shared their blanket with five other people,' said Schultz. 'So much of that story is threaded into what we've tried to do at Starbucks -- is share our blanket.'

"Schultz shared the story with employees in the Buffalo area Saturday. He said it illustrates Starbucks' commitment to morality, honor and humanity. He has told the story before, including during a 2016 shareholders meeting. His comments on Saturday were posted on a video on Starbucks' YouTube page.

"Reactions to his analogy have been wide-ranging. Holocaust prisoners' selflessness while facing death isn't a direct parallel to a Fortune 500 company providing benefits to its employees.

"'Felt like it wasn't a very appropriate analogy," a Starbucks employee in attendance told the New York Times. The Forward, a Jewish publication, called the remarks 'mystifying.'"

I gave up Starbucks when Schultz was running for President. He explained then that people didn't need government health care and a big country like ours couldn't afford it. I guess he didn't want us sharing hospital blankets. He continues this short-sightedness. https://www.gq.com/story/howard-schultz-health-care

"Schultz backed up his anti–universal-health-care stances by saying that Starbucks was the first company to offer health insurance to part-time workers. And that's a noble and good thing, especially in an economy where so many people are living in constant precarity, but that doesn't mean that Schultz is an authority (or even an honest broker) on health-care reform. This is a lot to untangle, but first and foremost, the U.S. absolutely can afford a single-payer health-care system. The common justification for this claim—that the country is "too big" and such systems only work in smaller nations—has it exactly backward: A country with a larger population and a greater amount of wealth is actually better positioned to pay for universal programs because it has so much more money. Schultz has deep-seated financial interests in opposing any program like that because it would require cutting into the mountains of wealth that his employees have produced and that he subsequently hoarded. What's abundantly clear now, at a time when people are starting GoFundMe pages for life-saving medicine, is that Americans can't afford to survive in a health-care system that prioritizes profit over, well, another human being's vitality." (This is from GQ, for Heavens' sakes!)

Here in Oregon, we have Dutch Brothers (with incredibly cheerful baristas), Blackrock, and Caffe Umbria outlets - all less expensive than Starbucks with (in my opinion) better coffee. I don't know if they make their workers share their blankets.

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The most socially responsible businesses are not large corporations like Starbucks, but locally owned businesses. Most care about their community and value their reputation. That's why I try to shop and do business within them as much as possible.

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Right on! Reich is not afraid to speak the bitter truth. It's heartening, though, to see an increasing awareness among workers that they need to unionize or join together to exert pressure in other ways for decent wages, safety, health care, child care and pensions.

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Most people associate the economy with their lifes. So the better question to ask is "how is your life?" its not surprising that the answer to this is "gloomy"!

And the reasons for this goes beyond the economy! But rather, the "collateral damage" that economy created supported by a political system that favors money over people.

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It's always hard to do major transformative investment while still functioning. I compare it with doing construction work on Manhattan, which is simply amazing to watch. The surroundings-- often even a building being worked on-- are braced and wrapped and continue to function while major undermining occurs and waste is removed. As a small-town-grown person, I continue to find it a quotidian wonder.

But that's what needs doing for US institutions-- and what seems to be so impossible for us to conceive-- at least, without public teaching. Which fortunately Mr. Reich does so well. And Senator Warren. And Representative Porter. But we need more communicators, small and large. We're up against pat slogans.

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