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Sounds great! Have you alerted Congress to this opportunity?

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Perfect

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George! Thank you for your brief tongue-in-cheek comment to Robert. You nailed it.

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I am excited to learn more about these courses over the next 14 weeks. I find it interesting Bill Gates, Jeff Bezo and Elon Musk can have so much money. I find it interesting in America football players are paid millions. I find it interesting the Hollywood elite have mansions and walls built around their homes. I find it interesting some career politicians have accumulate immense wealth while serving in office for decades. But every, single day I see humans on the side of our streets begging for money. I traveled all over the world for 10 years. In every American city I saw what is called beggars, poor people, panhandlers. In the media we can now witness "camps and tents" of homelessness. What will happen when we go to digital money. How will poor people beg for dollar bills? More than anyone else, the media bear responsibility for stirring up hate, creating political division and polarizing Americans against each other. I hope your courses over the next 14 weeks gives us answers so we can help make changes for the future of our grandchildren. Gob Bless you Robert Reich for caring and your passion for America and our planet. At some point America needs to quit talking and make change happen. Its called working together. Check out the trucker convoy in Canada. People want change. They want freedom. The good news is that more and more people are waking up to the insanity, realizing where the problem actually lies. Our problem is not with each other, regardless of political affiliation. Our problem is with leadership that refuse to adhere to the U.S. Constitution, which spells out the rights of all Americans and upon which this nation was founded. Freedom is not free. Is being poor or rich a choice? I am excited to learn more. Thank you for offering these courses to us. God Bless America.

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We'll be discussing why Gates, Bezos, Musk and others are making the fortunes they are.

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I'm looking forward to learning more.

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Thank you Robert. So excited to learn.

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.. and why, perhaps, Mark/Meta is taking a hit (for fun) ..

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Gates, Bezos and Musk, how do they have so much money? Government policy, laws and protections that gives them that. Bezos paid something like 1.6% in taxes on his Amazon profits. Not to pick on Bezos, that's true of all of those billionaires/trillionaires and big corporations. Oh, and our Constitution, the rule of law? There are remedies to traitors and criminals, we have laws to reign them in. Not today. With expansive inequality comes more corruption. Scandinavian countries have a better handle on controlling poverty. This is a choice here, not happenstance.

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Claire! Thank you for pointing out that this is a studied choice, that ceos and the leaders of corporations have decided to reward themselves with perks (and tipends) the rest of us would probably refuse as too excessive, as punitive to the employees down the chain, and as not beneficial to any normal human being. I do not know how any of the people at the top can be so socially removed from life as to think that $18 million annually is somehow normal. Once in my tenure at Macy*s, then-ceo Terry (the $18 million dollar man) visited my store and we were all aamzed that Terry looked like any of us...we were encouraged to think of him as "just a regular guy," but we also knew that the regular guys we knew were making around $35,000 per year, not $18 million. I believe that the sooner we can dismantle this appalling wealth-disparity and return to taxing (fully taxing) those whose wealth depends on sending others into poverty and despair, the better for all of us. (And because it's not normal for the wealthies to garner such wealth, they also need to be sent back into normalcy, that is $45,000 a year territory.)

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Lanae, I found your commentary very compelling but, sadly, reflective of what the American worker has been living with for too many years. Who is it who said (besides Chris Hedges) "the rich aren't like you and me." They are not. Their world view, any sense of understanding about how most people live is grotesquely warped by too much money. I have long believed that the anorexic and the rich man had a psychological connection; it is, the anorexic looks in the mirror and sees too much, sees fat, the rich man looks in his portfolio and thinks it's too thin.

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Claire, You might be interested in reading a very enjoyable book of rhymes and stories by the actor John Lithgow (A Confederacy of Dumptys. Portraits of American Scoundrels in Verse), One of the scroundrels John portrays was someone I had forgotten about, someone John describes as The Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley. Leona and her husband Harry owned several hostels in Manhattan.. What Leona caused was a furor (now apparently forgotten by me and others) by announcing that: "I don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes. "(The little people being all the around $30,000 a year folks). Eventually, the IRS caught up with Leona and Harry and she was found guilty of tax evasion and fraud and thrown into jail...she still managed to leave $12 million to her dog when she died. But, well, all the rest of us (the little people) picked up the tab for this, we paid taxes for Leona and lost the crumbs the govt used to throw at us...and then we forgot it happened until recently when an even more prominent and egregious figure (named Trumpty Dumpty) topped what even The Queen of Mean managed to put out there. The question is: What can we do about it and, in questions of malfeasance, how can we bring the perpetrators to justice? I might note that John's little book is in a way encouraging as we learn that we have survived such previous disparities, scandals, and injustices and will emerge from the current variety---eventually.

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Thanks for this! I remember Leona Helmsley very well! Also thank your the words of encouragement that we will emerge from this...I am very discouraged about the United States and the corruption we're in. The fascism of the Republican Party makes my blood run cold, I feel real fear living here....so thank you for an uplifting word, need that.

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Claire! Please take comfort in the fact that we have gone through this before and will survive this Gilded Age just as those living during a previous Gilded Age managed to make it through. (Of course, they had a slightly better leader in the person of Teddy Roosevelt but I don't think we should short-change Biden. He needs a fair chance and people willing to pull together for the common good. Not criticism and doubts about his win in the election.) I am currently watching a series on the Romans and, well, what I find depressing is not that the Romans were so very different from us but that they were us. (At times I wonder how there are still Italians in the world as there was such mayhem and violence, so many assassinations and coups and foreign wars, that a good many perished.) We are an experiment in self-governance and, like all experiments, there are going to be failures and accidents along the way. I think it is a good sign that so many people turned out to vote for Biden, so many turned away from the racism and hatred, the greed and corruption, the downright incompetence of the previous administration and its, er, leader. It does feel like we dodged a bullet but we are not out of the woods because of the appalling residue of the 45th presidency. We chose Biden who has made a concerted effort to bring the opposition along in common concerns; however, I think it should be obvious by this point that the opposition has no interest whatsoever in putting societal concerns and issues ahead of partisan support for the past failed administration and its, er, leader. That means that Biden is going to have to be a bit more daring and assertive but also that our way out of the rabbit hole we've landed in is going to take more time. Sad that the extent and full weight of our plight will in all likelihood be borne by those with the fewest resources and ways to cope. But that was the way it was in the Roman Empire and that is the way it is now.

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Cecelia! The last full year I worked at Macy*s (generally seeling luggage and housewares), the ceo and head of the Manhattan based company (one Terry Lundgren) retired. My co-worker followed the stock reports coming out of the company heandquarters but Macy*s management was not at all shy about reporting the contents of Terry's retirement packages, something we hourly wage-lackeys (slaves) shared with ease other and wondered over and asked ourselves about (as in "What can a single human being do with all that money? Is it more of an obstacle to normal life and happiness than a perk?"). The package went this way: Terry's average annual salary was $18 million per year and he would be given that amount through 2017. In addition, he would be given a retirement benefit of another $18 million and, in addition, he would stay on as a consultant and his consultant annual income would be yet another $18 million. That would mean that for the coming year 2917, Terry would garner $54 million but that, thereafter, he would have to manage on $18 million for helping the new ceo Jeff to get the hang of it. The question we all asked ourselves---and each other--was: "How is poor Terry going to manage on only $18 million per year?" We were all people making less than $20.00 per hour and we were hard-pressed to manage rent, food, health care, education, braces for the kids, a nursing home for Grandma, car repairs, etc. etc. I was--despite my education--one of them and trying to manage with the rest of them. No different and certainly no better although my customers liked me well enough and still remember me for the rather careful customer service I gave. 2016 turned out to be my last full year at Macy*s but my retirement stipend was microscopic compared to Terry's and is now essentially gone due to the pandemic. My story is certainly no different than those of millions in the US. My question to one and all is: What did Terry do for the company, for its workforce, for the customers, for the IRS, for any of us that justified paying him $18 million every year? How was this allowed to develop and what can we do NOW to end such a disparity? What can we do to follow the lead of Bernie Sanders and put his ideas into effect for my benefit but, more importantly, for the benefit of all our citizens?

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Dear Lanae. You hit the nail on the head. What you describe is happening all over America with corporations. Bernie had a plan. Some of it would work and other might not. Many of the younger folks were following him and ready to vote him into office. Unfortunately it seems HRC blind ambition to be the first woman president derailed Bernie. They pushed the younger voting citizens to quit politics all together. They are now focused on Bitcoin and digital money. This next generation is the future of America. I wish people would take a look at Tulsi Gabbard. However, as long as HRC is still trying to become the first woman president Tulsi does not have a chance. Thank you for your great post. You shade the light on what is really happening in America. Washington DC lives in their own bubble. God Bless you and America.

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Cecelia! Thank you for your positive response! You know, for a long time (and certainly for my tenure at Macy*s) I kept the extent of my education a deep, dark, and slightly embarrassing secret despite the fact that, at that time, a few lawyers, accountants, and former teachers and social workers sprinkled the work force because of the same dire situations we faced and, incidentally, still face. There are going to be highly educated people in those work forces which means (I now think) that their education has taken a different turn--they are now studying how to live on modest means and keep what is really important hidden away. I decided , though to start writing about my discretionary activity and how it was a part of the family I grew up in and the communities I lived in. And in the end of my book (as yet unpublished) I decided to tackle Macy*s and the experiences I had there--which were not at all conducive to my discretionary activity. From there, I decided that I would try to use what I learned (and witnessed) at Macy*s to help other people if I could and to try to deal with income inequality. That means that I am much more blunt than I used to be but there is so much college students (and professors) don't know about what is going on--or at least they know it as statistics and reports and films and what Bernie Sanders tells them. I know it first hand and it is very telling and (I hope) helpful in encouraging folks to action. The reason I supposed (and still support) Bernie was that he consistently told the truth and describe the territory where a good many Americans attempt to live. I knew that Biden would be less effective as he would try to go-along-to-get-along with those who are basically happy with (and part of) the problem. However, we had no real choice given the alternative. It is my hope that Robert's course will open some eyes; however, I know the work environment I experienced first-hand and that may be of use to myself and others in the future. Hope so.

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Lane. You write with heart. I published a cliff note type book and it sales on Amazon. I help people with best practice tips that work out of a home office. ("Working out of a Home Office Successfully") is the title. You need to publish your book. Don't wait. I used Outskirt Press out of Colorado. They are easy to work with. We can't quit trying. America deserves much better. Career politicians like Joe Biden are the reason we are in this mess. According to Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the president must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years old, and have been a resident of the United States for 14 years. We need to update that to say no one over the age of 70 years old should run for President. That will stop HRC, Biden and Trump. Change must start now in America. This is the 21st century. Our federal government is stuck back in the 1980's. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Write you book now!

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Cecelia...I have published before but that was in an academic area and designed for university people to read. However, I am now aiming at general readers and have found a very good fit for publication of just my sort of stuff. ( This is after two very dead ends that did not acknowledge receipt of my mss.) The editor-in-chief of this publication actually responded to me personally and I will probably go there. But the deal is that the publisher has a submission period that runs from Sept to Jan so I have to wait for submissions and editors to go into action. In the meanwhile, I am working on a second book on my discretionary activity and also planning a book for young people on immigration and immigrants, something using my family's records and documents and oral history that goes back to the 16th century. The reason for this is that I want to offer some hints to young people as to why people pull up stakes and move on, I want people to view newcomers with respect and kindness, that is, in ways other than what the Trumptys of the world have demonstrated. I am greatly looking forward to Robert's course but I do know more than most what it's like to be what someone called a wage-slave; I have had experiences that don't show up in a cold table of statistics and maybe those are the experiences that count the most in the long run. I have tried to approach academic institutes and depts in the hope of sharing my experience and also in the hope of activating academics in the world beyond figures and written facts. This generally does not work well but there are many out there who might be more willing to engage if they are brought face-to-face with a reality that even such as I would like to forget or pretend never happened. But it did so I have to find the best way to disclose that reality to people who might care.

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Having taken this course, I recommend it highly. I learned a lot from the readings, from my fellow students, and from the Socratic method Prof. Reich employs. It's brilliant to offer this course online to the public. Kudos! A question came up then that we still haven't answered. If the majority of our citizens become increasingly irrelevant to our international power and prosperity, what is our trajectory?

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Your trajectory is either change the system through reforms or watch it destroy the planet in your lifetime through global warming. It couldn’t be much clearer for the younger generation today.

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Wouldn't that pronoun be "Our?"

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Well depends. At 75 Professor Reich has a life expectancy of less than 12 years. Chomsky is in his 90s. Since I’m in this category as are many readers here I don’t think we will experience the devastation of collapsing economic systems, inability to rebuild infrastructure, mass migrations, 135 degree temperatures killing off massive numbers of people that younger people are going to experience. So given my age I would say by you I mean those under 30 today and stick with that.

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So you separate yourself from others in the community on the basis that you won't experience their misery?

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No of course not. I have experienced plenty of working class misery—from digging ditches to working in fast food restaurants. I’m proud of the fact that I once worked for Arbys in the ghetto and kept miscalculating the tab in favor of the customer. A few extra fries baby. How about you?

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If you want to know what working class jobs I have done, for some kind of right to speak, I will not oblige you. If you are interested in unpacking your statement that the pronoun "our" doesn't apply to you, I'm still holding that fabric like a bulldog on a pantleg.

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Peter. I agree. This younger generation (under 25) are smart and grew up with technology. Unfortunately due to many reasons they are not able to find good jobs, buy a home, or even afford a car. Many feel a sense of desperation.

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That’s where the older generation comes in. I was in exactly their position at their age. The advice my grandma gave me was ‘don’t mess with the gorilla’. Get some skills that the capitalists will have to pay you for. Pick your fights carefully and protect your activists back, show some solidarity.

As for the older generation, don’t sit back and accept the status quo. Don’t leave change to the young and vulnerable. Don’t give your money to the DNC. Give it to the progressive candidates challenging the status quo. Next time don’t succumb to the Obama bullshitvthat gave us Biden instead of Bernie.

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With so much at stake it is mind boggling to speak with successful people who repeat FOX news talking points.

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I have to say something about this. Ordinary people don’t have the time or the critical analytic skills to do what professional journalists are supposed to do—-get the facts and present them. The public therefore has to trust the source. Fox is very good at seeking out half truths and attaching lies and misinformation to them. But once you trust a source of information because it says something that resonates with you then you are not going to do all that critical thinking. For example when Reich says something based on his experience you trust what he says. Being a reputable person he tries to give you ways to confirm what he says through your own observations. Fox listeners just listen. I don’t blame them for believing what they hear. I do believe that Bernie was right to go on Fox. It’s all about exposing ordinary people to another point of view. Incidentally best done by their own younger family members!

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You are very generous with the "half truths". Often they are "quarter truths" at best.

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So I watched Hannity interview Malone(did MRNA research). Hannity spends most of the time building up Malone’s credentials. See he is an important person and should be listened to. So I waited to hear the questions and answers I should listen to and Hannity had nothing to ask! He wasn’t capable or prepped to ask a question! He made Malone look like a high priced hockey player who couldn’t score any goals. Therefore there was nothing to talk about other than the fact he is on the team. Malone loved the attention and confirmed every viewers suspicions that he was another academic who didn’t belong in front of the camera because nothing he or Hannity could say was intelligible. Waldo the crippled penguin was better at savvy media presence.

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I believe you short-change what you call "ordinary people" by a lot. To some degree, we (all of us) are unremarkable and ordinary and prone to snap judgments that resemble your own snap judgments on what you term "ordinary people." To another degree, we are all unique with our own sets of experiences and expectations and our abilities to use critical thinking skills when it suits us and ignore them when it doesn't. I think this is why we as individuals and we as a society have moments when we shine and other moments when we ALL fail miserably. I think we have to take this in account and also note that just because we are using optimum critical thinking skills, we are still not always right. I do not waste too much time on Fox (if any time at all) but I also do not believe that more reliable journalists are free to choose their own set of beliefs/quirks/prejudices based on very different experiences in life. In some cases, those who pride themselves on their superior critical thinking skills fail to realize that those who make what seem to be faulty decisions, even decisions contrary to their supposed own self-interest, are basing such decisions on experiences that they alone may have had. I do not necessarily believe that Reich's own personal experiences can always be trusted and relied on for my own situation. He lives in another world and that world determines what he experiences and how he acts. That's true of all of us. It always irks me when outsiders claim that, from their loftier perches on the tree, ordinary people do not act in their own self-interests and that is the root of their problem. As though outsiders had a special insight into what "ordinary people"s' own self interests might be. Hint: they don't. "Ordinary people" have the right to define their own self-interests independently and act accordingly (or not). Isn't that the same right we all have?

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You seem to have gotten hung up on ordinary people. Let’s use the term more precisely. By ordinary people I mean non subject matter experts. Critical thinking is a special skill that a college liberal arts education can provide you with. It takes work. It is not the same thing as life experience. People who only act in their self interests are frankly despicable. We used to call them yuppie scum. The duty of the responsible intellectual is to provide a strategy to achieve the collective good.

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You do realize (I hope) that we are all going to be quite ordinary and non subject matter experts in certain areas. I do not believe that there are going to be many people out there who can deal equally proficiently with Van Gogh's Arles paintings and the philosophical works of Marcus Aurelius and the music of Beethoven and the plant designation system of Linneas and the plays of Ibsen and the scientific musings of Carl Sagan. I also think that you over-estimate the value of a college liberal arts education (which I have attained and gone beyond by a bit) when it comes to critical thinking skills. I believe it's safe to say that Abraham Lincoln possessed significant critical thinking skills, self-education as a lawyer, a keen interest in drama including Shakespeare, great writing skills, and empathy and concern for his fellow human beings but he did not receive much in the way of formal education, maybe a couple of years. Where would you put him? Was he ordinary because he lacked formal liberal arts education or was he exceptional because of his determination to make himself the person he wanted to be (and that includes being a lawyer)? Life experience is not the same thing as a college education and I did not suggest that it was. What I do believe is that people have the ability to learn what they want to learn (even supposedly ordinary people) and to achieve great things. This accounts for such individuals as LIncoln but it also explains those who fall short in the self-motivation department. No amount of education will change the fact that some of us set goals for ourselves that may or may not involve education and helping others and some of us do not. Have you ever worked as a teacher? If you have, you will know that some students are keen on learning what you are keen on teaching and others could care less and are just putting in the time. And it's going to be hard to motivate the ones who could care less. That does not necessarily mean that those who don't care are ordinary as they may very well have talents and skills and interests that do not fit into the liberal arts curriculum. College education is not for everyone but everyone should have an opportunity to develop the talents and skills that he/she has. Again, I am not speaking as an outsider to liberal arts education---not at all--but as a former college teacher who believes that people should pursue who they are meant to be and their own individual and unique passion. If this leads to an insular life, so be it, but if it leads to an empathetic view of one's community and community members, so much the better. Best case is if an individual decides to share what he or she is learning with others and use it to help others on their way through life.

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I get what you are addressing here and agree to a point. Many comments are saying better and more education is needed. What I tried to point out is educated people are repeating untruths that are easily dismissed. Case in point when conservatives disbelieve the seriousness of covid and yet the news is full of medical workers drowning in covid case work. I am conflicted and admit you may be correct their trusted news source may not report hospital work loads. Frustrating as it would seem some conservatives would have personal experience of this and tell their friends.

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Frank,

It’s pretty obvious there is a coming split in the Republican Party between those like Cheney and with her the base of the party(those who hate tax and spend Dems) and the Trumpers.

The Trumpers will believe what they want to believe. The regular Republicans are unlikely to be so crazy.

Dems would do well to encourage this split. This will do more to marginalize Trump. My suggestion, start an Anderson(remember him) like 3rd Party. A few billionaires like Bloomberg checking out the Trumper anti-Semitic right wing might be willing to fund that effort given that fascism always needs some group to blame everything on.

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To save democracy would it be worth combining with regular Republicans for best chance to beat Trumpsters? My fear is regretting not doing more when it is too late.

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As I recall, Martha, you got an A. (The course has evolved with the times since you took it seventy years ago, with new readings and topics, so I hope you join in.)

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70 year ago? Really.

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Yes, Robert was quite precocious, teaching at age 5.

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Martha. Great question! I look forward to hearing the answer.

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I’m looking forward to the class! Thank you for letting us in, and challenging us to think about wealth and poverty in America—something that affects us all.

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Can't wait. BTW besides DOL I worked at SSA as an administrative law judge for over ten years. SSA is where the rubber meets the road. Most workers are unaware that they have a policy worth on average more than a million dollars that protects the wage earner and dependents.

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Wow! This will be awesome. Thank you, Mr. Reich, for so generously sharing this course. Looking forward to this & will share this notice about the "class" with as many folks as I can. Hoping lots of people seize this incredible opportunity to be exposed to both your wisdom & an in-depth analysis & mentally stimulating exploration of the underpinnings of US society. Heck, just hanging out in this great space you created constantly reminds me of my class privilege & causes me to reflect on it regularly, if not daily, easily weekly -- I appreciate this "gift," a by-product of your work here, thank you.

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9 to 5 is not only one of my favorite songs but also one of my favorite movies. I thought it captured the status of the business world at the time and the greed and short-sightedness of the male corporate ruling class and showed what the possibilities of forward thinking and innovation in the workplace could mean for everyone. Too bad that except for some token changes, short-sighted greed had prevailed. Looking forward to your course!

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I loved Dolly Parton story from rags to riches the old fashion way. Love the movie and music to 9 to 5.

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I am super excited to take your class. I told a good friend of mine that I wish I could attend your lectures and now I am! Thank-you so much.

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Wonderful!! How do I sign up?

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If you receive Professor Reich's emails already, then he'll send the class directly to your inbox every Friday for 14 weeks starting this week.

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I'll be there...my 75 year old mind need more to learn...yes, seriously.

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Thank you Prof. Reich for letting us in on this course. I often fantasize about returning to college (I graduated in ‘72) and will try to be more attentive now than I was back then.

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Wow! a chance to get some real education that is non existent in most schools the working poor attend!

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This is excellent news! I'm looking forward to being a virtual student and learning how wealth inequality affects all of us. Thanks for letting us be a part of this!

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I think everyone here should watch a video on YouTube called "Requiem for the American dream" by Noam Chomsky. He parallels what Robert is saying.

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This couldn't be more timely. I was accused today of being abelist and poor shaming. I don't think so but I thought this might help me check myself.

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I have always thought that you are a fantastic teacher with your videos and newsletters, and how fun it would be to take one of your classes. I am so happy that you are providing this opportunity. Thank you so much. I am greatly looking forward to it.

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