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My course “Wealth and Poverty” right here

See you in class!

I post the classes right here on Substack each Friday and here are the links for those I’ve already published: Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, Class 5, Class 6, Class 7, Class 8, Class 9, Class 10, Class 11, Class 12, Class 13, and the final class, Class 14.


Trumpism — the authoritarian, anti-establishment, racist, and xenophobic movement launched seven years ago by Donald J. Trump — didn’t come out of nowhere. Americans attracted to it, and to him, have experienced something unique in our nation’s history: 40 years of downward mobility. Their frustrations, anxieties, and anger have been easily manipulated and channeled into hostility toward “them” — immigrants, Black and Latino people, college-educated “coastal elites,” and an alleged “deep state” conspiracy of socialists, “Marxists,” and Democrats.

But why has the non-college white working class been on this downward slide? Why have upper-middle-class and wealthy Americans allowed or even encouraged it? What’s behind the larger economic and political forces shaping all this?

I’m now teaching a class on this — my big 750-student undergraduate course “Wealth and Poverty” — and I’m so pleased to be able to bring it you.

It’s the last time I’m teaching it before I retire in June.

Each Friday, you’ll be in my actual class this spring. You’ll have my lectures and slides, along with my stories and (attempted) humor — and you’ll see how my students respond to interactive quizzes, puzzles, and short role-playing scenarios. (I’m also posting an abbreviated syllabus so you can do the key readings, should you wish.)

The classes will be posted early Friday morning, all the way through the 14 weeks of the course. Click the links for: Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, Class 5, Class 6, Class 7, Class 8, Class 9, Class 10, Class 11, Class 12, Class 13, and Class 14.

It’s okay to be tardy for class. And I promise I won’t grade you too harshly. In fact, I won’t give you any exams.

Please spread the word!

I designed this course to give students — and now, you — a deeper understanding of why inequalities of income and wealth have widened significantly over the last 40 years in the United States, and their consequences.

Since most of the underlying factors causing this trend here are also prevalent in other nations, the lessons learned are likely to be relevant elsewhere. But we’ll also examine why such inequalities are more extreme in the United States than in other rich countries.

While I don’t believe wealth is a zero-sum game in which those at the top can only get richer if others grow poorer, I do believe that power is a zero-sum game. The more power at the top, the less of it elsewhere.

And because wealth can’t be separated from power, at a deeper level the course examines who has been gaining power in America, who has been losing it, and why.


I’m such a fan of Dolly Parton, I usually begin my class (as students are filing into the lecture hall) with her spectacular “9 to 5.” So …

See you in class!


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Robert Reich
Robert Reich
Robert Reich