400 Comments
founding
Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

For the same reason most people aren't calling out their workplaces for mistreatment...don't bite the hand that funds you. You can adjust this question 20 ways and it would still be the same answer...

Why aren't Democrats talking about...

who was really responsible for the Great Recession?

why so many transparently racist, misogynistic, authoritarian nutjobs (who also hate regulations) keep getting campaigns funded and getting into office?

the billions Republicans gave away to the wealthy?

the trillions that disappear through the Pentagon?

how the media has failed us repeatedly from their coverage of Bush v Gore through WMDs, the real estate crash, the endless Wall St. ponzi schemes dressed up as financial innovation, and the destruction of our rights and democracy?

The banks "frankly own the place."

Expand full comment

Ian, wow! You have laid out the challenges of the past few decades and why even Democrats haven't pushed their members to stand up to the creeping oligarchy. One way this could be slowed is limiting contributions from individuals and corporations to candidates, and dumping PACs. No one should be able to contribute even a million dollars to any campaign, even their own. I do wish Congress had enough care for this nation and our democracy to act on that one. to get that through, congress members would actually have to care and the Supreme Court would have to be expanded in include some more justices who aren't so wrapped up in their conservative Catholic beliefs they feel they have a right to create their own "Catholic money-driven nation." Courate Dems! Do better!

Expand full comment
founding
Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

At this point, I am worried we honestly do not have enough time to work through the political machinations to get campaign finance reform addressed in a meaningful way. I am becoming increasingly convinced we have to cut out the middle man and go right to the corporations and the wealth of the donors who support this madness. We need to direct the majority of our efforts at destroying the reputations of the companies that fund this corrupt system. We need sustained guerilla PR campaigns to shame every firm that lobbies against regulations, that makes millions off of tax policies and subsidies that they purchase through this legalized bribery, that continue to support treasonous officials who are trying to bring down the whole country. We need browser extensions that warn us before purchasing from a firm that is working against democracy and against life itself. And we need to get Biden to forgive all student loans so that young people in particular can fight to save the world from these corrupt companies instead of having to cast aside their morals and suck up to them so they can have some chance of affording rent, food and exorbitant loan payments.

Expand full comment

How about adding price controls to your list, especially on energy and encouraging states to enact temporary rent controls (or can he do this directly like he did with the eviction moratorium during the pandemic)? The "highest inflation rate in 40 years" would justify this, and make a real difference in people's budgets, while he continues going on the offense (that'll be the day).

Expand full comment
founding

The math makes it clear corporate profiteering is playing a major role here. A windfall tax must not only recapture those gains, but penalize them sufficiently. Anything less will ensure they just do this all again whenever possible. It's the same logic as these paltry fines for screwing over customers or the entire country with malicious financial practices....if it's a slap on the wrist, it's just an acceptable cost of doing business.

Expand full comment

Agree. Even better than price controls.

Expand full comment

Too difficult to enforce. Too controversial.

I like damages for price fixing and price gouging. I also like shareholder derivative suits for selling the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Expand full comment

Simply compare and contrast. UK went to a trickle down economy. Their inflation is worse than ours. Hire Republicans and inflation will be worse.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/19/business/uk-prices-inflation-september.html

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Obviously Keynesian economics is Greek to you.

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

And you are -- a reliable source? Give it a break, Marek.

Expand full comment

You nailed it! I think you should start a new podcast, ( The Real Truth Social )

Expand full comment

Ian ; Brilliant!

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

How about men keeping their pants on and zippers up. Women can get pregnant only at a specific point of their monthly cycles. Men can impregnate at any time. It’s well past time to get the responsibility put where it belongs on men.

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

This has nothing to do with “parties”. This has to do with your ignorant comment “Women will just have to make do keeping their legs closed.”

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Both Ian and Ruth accurately nail problem, but the solution is much more simple: tax away public or private wealth when hoarded to levels where it becomes underproductive.

We tend to forget that money is a public utility, supplied by the government to conduct the business of the nation. To do so, it must circulate to fuel economy and not simply pile up in accounts, in some public or private status- building exercise.

Expand full comment

Good ideas Bill, but to get it through both houses of Congress, we need REAL politicians, men and women who believe in the good of the Nation, not their own power and wealth. We can start by defunding the DNC, and other similar groups, flooding them with e-mails debasing their "love affair with Corporate America" It's not just the banks and brokerage firms that "own the place" It's ALL fat cat corporations, the auto manufacturers, big oil. big pharma, food giants, and so on, ad nauseum. So long as we, the people, allow the power mad, wealthy politicians from any party to control, there will be no end to the status we are in now.

Expand full comment

You said it perfectly Ian.

Expand full comment

Not only do corporate donors NOT want the Demos to blame them, factually and accurately, for ripoff price gouging, a plurality to a majority of the current Democratic Congressional caucus aren't prepared to take any regulatory action on this, even as far as lawsuits, and certainly not in the form of price caps. The Demos won't talk about this just like they won't talk about any other primary economic issues which affect their base: because they themselves have no interest whatsoever in regulating business since the in fact see themselves as the biggest boosters of corporate profit taking around.

In short, the Demos won't talk about economics and inflation's current role in that because the large part of them have long since utterly sold out their base on these issues. The Demos are pretty awful, and would be completely unelectable if the Repugnicants weren't a despicable and live danger. Did I mention that I loathe electoral politics, not least for this reason?

Expand full comment

Are you saying that the Republicans are SAINTS? They have been in the pocket of big business for a very long time.

Expand full comment

Sorry, but "the place" to which you refer has many corporate "owners". As one can see from my mini-bio, I proudly advocate for a plant-based diet for eco, health and ahimsa reasons. BigAg and BigPharma own the place!

For example, the jack-arse party thinks states like CA should have a right to set car standards for Californians. Biden & BigAg Sec'y Vilsack are supporting the SCOTUS fight against state rights when it comes to CA's crate* size law!! BigPharma gives away growth hormones and antibiotics to BigAg, so they can get more profits from selling their products to sick Americans who are addicted to heavily subsidized Factory Farm meat, dairy and eggs. [*The CA law is for all farm animals, but the SCOTUS case was brought by the Pork Producers]

Bernie is right that Americans pay the most for healthcare and have the worst results per $ spent. BigPharma and BigAg insist on this, and politicians cater to the Iowa caucus.

Expand full comment

Yes, BigPharma, BigAg and the medical complex all benefit from making sure people stay unhealthy. They pay off the politicians to keep them on their side. It’s a very corrupt system for sure!

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

I agree with your diagnosis. The challenge is how to create real change. Blaming big donors and corporations hasn't worked because it isn't persuasive to the people we need to influence. I think we need a compelling vision of something better, and some empathy around past choices.

The compelling vision has room for several components. (1) More equitable distribution is great for the economy. The smaller number in the 1% can only by so many cars, houses, appliances, college degrees, etc. Spreading wealth to people with less would increase demand leading to growth at more levels of the economy.

Investing in public goods like healthcare, childcare, and education will increase our collective standard of living and allow more skilled people to enter the workforce.

Finally we need to recognize that disparity is a root cause of political instability and violence. Corporate leaders may not understand what they are doing to themselves. Businesses will lose big as we lose our democratic norms. Thousands of Russian businessmen are in prison for not supporting Putin's kleptocracy. Is this really what corporate leaders want?

The point is for wealthy elites and corporate leaders to see their self interest differently instead of feeling blamed for what they perceive as success.

Expand full comment
founding

Well, I truly wish that were the way forward. Maybe it is, but I just don't see anything close to enough evidence that a sufficient culture change at the top is possible. I think we need to stop asking those at the top to be nicer, to see the error of their ways, to please think of the children and the trees and the future. The enemy is never the enemy in their own mind. Too many people in power have an almost religious belief that free-market fantasies and their own genius got them there. Power will not be regained from them by begging or respectfully requesting or making a strong case through facts and charts. We've tried that for decades and what looks to be the inevitable collapse of our economy, democracy, and planet is the result.

Again, I really wish actions that relied on drawing out the best in people who are in power was the way to go, but the psychological reality of how such people think and the systems that promote their behavior seem way stronger than any well-crafted pleas for more ethical treatment of people and planet can ever be. We must organize and act in ways that make those at the top afraid. We must make them fear doing the wrong things. We must make corporate death penalties a reality for firms that seek to economically and physically kill for the sake of profit.

Expand full comment

I think the political environment is changing. What's different about this time is the amount of inappropriate things being exposed. Many have always been present to some degree but now they're out in the open for all to see. This creates an opportunity to begin cleaning them up. The Democrats may (or may not) do well enough in the upcoming mid-terms. Democracy is not about what leaders do, it's about what people do.

The second point I would raise is that the ends must never justify the means because the means become the ends. If we seek to control others by fear, that's the system we'll end up with (which is what we have today). We'll need to find another way to create the transformation we want.

Exposing what's inappropriate is very much needed (thank you Dr Reich). Calling out those who would give themselves unfair advantages and speaking truth to power is needed. It's the negative attacks and cognitive distortions intended to provoke fear that I believe are less helpful.

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

Journalists at BBC World Service report on inflation and other economic woes around the world which have been happening since Covid, made worse by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. On the other hand, American news outlets, including NPR, the NYT and WP, as well as the right-wing media, of course, focus only on the United States. If Democrats want to set the story straight about the economy, they should be speaking about inflation in other countries. That way maybe, just maybe, American news outlets will finally explain that inflation and supply chain problems are a worldwide phenomenon, not caused by Joe Biden and the Democrats.

Expand full comment

Yes Karen --agree. However, Americans in general could care less about other countries. They barely acknowledge the existence or importance of any country beyond their borders and would probably view that approach by Democrats as eschewing responsibility. But you've definitely got a point.

Expand full comment

dnkarr, it is sad that Americans are so poorly informed about the world when so much of our economy depends on the rest of the world. Republicans were totally on board with shipping jobs overseas so corporations could pay workers what we would consider slave wages so we could have lower prices here, or we thought that would keep prices low. Corporations saw a great deal in this to make even higher profits they could sock away and avoid paying taxes on. They crippled the IRS so it could not have enough people to chase down the cheaters. Now Republican ads whine that the IRS is coming after working-class people when that is not what will happen, but Republicans and a lot of independents are so willing to believe the worst about our government that that lie works to persuade them to give up their rights to Republican autocracy. It is really incomprehensible to me.

Expand full comment

Ruth ; If TFG or one of his sycophants gets into the oval office they just might direct the IRS to focus on the middle/working class, even though that may not be the original policy intended. Maybe that will inspire a tax revolt. You know ; "no taxation without representation". That would be interesting.

Expand full comment

You nailed it Ruth.

Expand full comment

Chicken/egg? I think Americans "don't care" about other countries because we aren't informed about them. If we were reminded by the press, for example, that health outcomes, infant mortality, lifespan, etc. were better in European countries I think Americans would soon pay heed.

Expand full comment

Yeah Donna you're probably correct. But if the media began covering those topics, it would probably bear the curse of being labelled anti-American and/or worse -- beholden to the "globalist" agenda. That's not how the media gets its bills paid -- so good luck with that one.

Expand full comment

Perhaps. But, we can't let that stop us. Or rather, the press can't let that stop them. They are called all kinds of things already. If they don't stand up for what is factual and contextual then who's left to defend democracy.

Expand full comment

The news media in the US is right wing owned. They don't want an educated population and the average American isn't smart or worldly. They only see what is in front of their obese faces. Short attention spans and selfish to the core.

Expand full comment

This discussion makes me wonder why there's no Liberal-Progressive equivalent to Faux News.

Expand full comment

MSNBC isn't ideal, but it counters Faux News frequently.

Expand full comment

Yes, that’s true. I’d like to see a network run by Amy Goodman.

Expand full comment

So would I, Stan. By coincidence, yesterday I read a good article, "Dems Barely Messaging on Economic Issues," by Andrew Perez and David Sirota, in The Lever (on line), Oct. 14, 2022.

Expand full comment

Stan ; I think it's here!

Expand full comment

Well said and so true!

Expand full comment

Robin Cordoza ; please take it easy on the 'Average American". Especially if you want to inspire them to be informed. Respect is a two way street. Many poor people do not have the resources to travel enough to be 'worldly'. Hunger can make a person 'selfish' too. Also may shorten their attention span; especially if they are working more than one job, in addition to raising kids.

Expand full comment

Take it easy? I’m being nice. Resources? It’s called priorities. Working hard saving money to travel instead of buying material items. And selfish people come in all income brackets. Being worldly is a choice. There’s a thing called the library and books. Documentaries on television. Etc. Stop being obtuse.

Expand full comment

Obtuse? I am not blocking ideas, just weighing in with my own viewpoint. Where I came from just keeping a roof over my head was all I could afford. Travel, especially to other countries, was out of the question ; especially the kind of travel that might make one 'worldly'. Fat shaming poor people (or wealthy ones, I suppose) is harsh.

Expand full comment

Nobody is fat shaming, it's called being real. Americans are plagued by consumption. Overconsumption of food and goods they don't need which keeps them poor.

I don't come from money and I am no way near rich. When I was a teenager I made a conscious effort to travel as soon as I could. My parents have never been why and I did it on my own with my own money that I saved. I grew up in areas where it cost a lot for rent, food, etc. Much higher cost of living in Hawaii than anywhere on the mainland US. I put myself through college, paid the rent, and still made sure I found a way to travel. So maybe it's the choices we make in life that get us where we want to go?

Expand full comment

Karen, you are right about the media's need to expand coverage to include the world economically since we depend on the world economically. The only places I have heard about this global inflation is on the BBC as you mention and MSNBC. The mainstream and local news can't seem to get past blaming Biden and running ignorant quotes from Republican candidates who have no clue but since their words are broadcast, seem knowledgeable. That's just nuts from a media that has no respect from conservatives of any persuasion. We do need to stop coddling those who know nothing about economics and get people to see the bigger picture.

We Dems must do better, and do it fast.

Expand full comment

Many Americans seem to think the President of the United States has the power and authority to bring other nations to heel, so even if it is more widely reported that inflation is a global issue, such people would still blame it on Biden, or his foreign policy. What Prof. Reich says about the manufactured inflation in this country through corporate greed and price fixing remains the truth, despite global inflationary pressures. Weapons and armaments manufacturers are also lobbying Congress for eve more billions, blaming inflationary pressures. The entire thing is criminal, and there should be investigations and the prosecutions that were needed but never happened in 2008

Expand full comment

You're so right. Much of the American populace is ignorant of all of this.

Expand full comment

Including, evidently, that if they vote Republican they are voting against democracy.

Expand full comment

David Parrish ; Anyone voting for this current Republican party is voting against not only the rule of law, but Democracy itself, along with decency, sanity and life itself! And Freedom!

Expand full comment

Exactly!

But I'm going to add to this by repeating my comment located somewhere below.

"The Covid pandemic played havoc with the worldwide supply-chain workforce. But Trump-GOP politicization of Covid public health measures likely doubled US supply-chain workforce havoc. When the Trump/Biden stimulus payments reactivated our economy supply-chain problems triggered US inflation.

"The world record number of US Covid cases increased absenteeism in the domestic supply-chain workforce. Cases with symptoms, temporary disabilities, permanent disabilities, and death were all very problematic for the supply-chain. Our supply-chain included mainly manufacturing, food processing, ground cargo transportation, and seaport cargo transfer to (and from) cargo trucks. The Port of Los Angeles bottleneck is an eye-opening example of the latter disruption.

"The Port of Los Angeles bottleneck is also an example of how decades of GOP obstruction of infrastructure investment can create big supply-chain vulnerabilities.

"The Trump tariffs on Chinese imports are still in effect. And they are still increasing prices because they are still paid mostly by US consumers.

"Corporate greed is motivating a significant portion of corporate price hikes that are larger than needed to cover actual production and labor cost increases. This is a way to permanently increase profit margins under the protective rationale of 'the inflation devil made me do it' or [the ironic] 'we have to get ahead of this inflation monster'. Corporate executives only see an increased rate of inflation as an opportunity to increase profit margins."

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

And add in Democrat leadership refusing to bring to a vote the proposed ban on Congressional and Judiciary (and their family members) from stock trading, although index funds would be allowed. Blocked by Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. May be doomed after the midterms. Sick. Come on people!

Expand full comment

But wait - this was a Bipartisan effort! See, the parties can cooperate!

Expand full comment

Or is it be Corporate?

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

Heaven forbid Democrats would raise the specter of inflation being caused by flagrant corporate greed. Corporate price gouging while raking in massive profits is the cornerstone of unregulated capitalism. But hey gotta keep the donors satisfied at the expense of ordinary citizens' unmitigated economic pain. And no, there will not be mention of this fact by Democratic candidates lest they be labelled 'Socialists' -- a fate worse than death in the realm of American politics.

Expand full comment

It worked for Bernie ; he was very popular. But the powerful media alternately ignored him or disparaged him. The party he caucused with did not help either. I still hate the DNC.

Expand full comment

I agree. According to Five Thirty Eight, in 2016, poll after poll of hypothetical matchups of Bernie v Trump and Hillary v Trump, showed Bernie leading Trump 2:1 throughout 2016 until he was sandbagged by the DNC. On the other hand, even after he was sandbagged, Hillary and Trump were about even throughout 2016. And when Hillary uttered the words "basket of deplorables," I knew she was toast.

I have one word of advice for Bernie, however, or whoever takes over from him, please stop calling yourself democratic "socialist." Socialist bad word in America, don't use. Americans are really quite liberal, but "socialist" is conflated with Marxist, and remains a turnoff. I suggest "social democrat." With the platform of raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, universal healthcare (but please not Medicare-for-All, instead Medicare-for-All-Who-Want-It) and infrastructure spending, you'd defeat any Republican in a landslide.

Expand full comment

Michael: You're right, but unfortunately, changing the wording ain't gonna help. Regardless of what terminology is used, the corporate vested political interests will attack those other-named programs as being forerunners to Socialism or Communism. That's what they do. It's not a bug; it's a feature.

Expand full comment

dnkarr: Up to a point, Lord Copper. If Bernie were ever nominated by the DNC, corporate forces would use all their might to pin him to communism. While this would undoubtedly whittle down his lead, a 2:1 advantage going into the election is simply gigantic. I just suggest that the use of words remains important.

"Socialist" is a bad word, and anyway Bernie uses it incorrectly. He should take a leaf out of Elizabeth Warren's book and state up front "I am a capitalist, and I follow the views of the founder of capitalism - Adam Smith - who held that corporations and those made wealthy by his system should pay their fair share of taxes. What we have now is socialism, not for the common man, but for the wealthy. For what else is not paying taxes but government welfare for the very wealthiest Americans?"

Or something like that.

Expand full comment

Socialist is a bad word if you believe that it is.

Expand full comment

Laurie: I do indeed believe that it is. I happen to have lived it in England growing up. Simply dreadful, little better than East Germany.

The fact is that Bernie Sanders and Adam Smith are really of the same cloth. Smithian capitalism favors a congenial society, based on competition. It is the competition that renders wealth to the entire society.

The reason we've been taught otherwise is that Milton Friedman was paid by rich people to invent a new system - supply side economics - an oxymoron that led to the worst Nobel Prize.

Supply side economics rests on the assumption that Ayn Rand's BS is actually not BS: in any society there are movers and there moochers, and the movers have to be given breaks that would have been forbidden by Smith, to help not only themselves but also the moochers as well.

The solution is not socialism but Smithian capitalism, which America enjoyed for over three decades before that horse's ass Reagan, with his pathetic acolyte Friedman, stood it on its head. Time to go back to Smith.

Expand full comment

Michael: OK -- I concede.

Expand full comment

So Laurie, in essence it did not work for Bernie. Exactly the point.

Expand full comment

It worked for Bernie to the degree that it brought him to people’s attention, and got him a hell of a constituency. But in a two-party system, breaking through that last wall proved undoable. Still, the people DID hear Bernie’s message. Think what would happen if it DID come from one of the two parties — so … her point was made. As is the point that if the Dems won’t do it. It won’t get done.

Expand full comment

Pat, Bernie did bring up a lot of issues we all need to address. He did explain his concept of "Democratic Socialism," but like so many things, it takes a few minutes to explain, and American attention spans are about 30 seconds when it comes to hearing a message. I suspect that is why "Biden has caused inflation" works so well for Republican candidates even those who are totally inappropriate to hold any office. It puts together the two scary words "inflation" and "Biden." Those 30 second people can't hear that socialism means that we take care of each other, we try to see that people with more money and position don't take advantage of those who don't. Taxes pay for so many of the things we need and use every day, as well as on those rare occasions when a disaster puts us in desperate need. See what I mean, it took several lines for me to say that when "Biden caused the inflation" didn't even take one line. Americans can binge shows for hours but can't spend a minute to learn about their candidates beyond lying ads and 4-word phrases. Unbelievable!

Expand full comment

RUTH! I can’t say “heart” to that, but you’re 100% right. I have been saying everywhere I say anything {and I’m a blabbermouth, so I post in a few places} that conservatives and independents don’t want a lecture and they don’t want a history lesson. They respond to a a sound byte or a meme, whether they realize it or not [mustn’t be “condescending” — but gotta tell the truth]. I have been around journalism for decades, and one of the tenets of page-creation for newspapers is — half of the readers are only going to read the headline, so make it good. To me, that meant make it convey real and needed information, but too many people take that to mean “click bait.” And I was never good at writing headlines — short, concise, informative, ACCURATE,

You are so right. People don’t realize how much they are influenced by the short meme, but they are. George Lakoff tried to help us learn how to use “framing,” but it ain’t easy. Your own example, bingo!!

Expand full comment

Yes it actually did work for Bernie. He actually changed the entire national conversation. It also works for Katie Porter and her mentor Elizabeth Warren. The media just ignore them most of the time.

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

Since Bernie is a modern-day hero in my list of political heroic figures and indeed was/is revered by a massive contingent of the U.S. electorate -- I repeat -- Bernie Sanders is not President. It - the system - did not work for him. We live in the United States. Face it. We do not have a multi-party system. Bernie got burned to the ground by his own party. Nonetheless, Progressives will fight relentlessly to bring his/our ideas to fruition. And that's not negativity; it's channeling our disappointment and anger to the uphill work ahead.

Expand full comment

The “it” that worked for Bernie was not the system — it was not a path to “getting to be president.” What did work for him was sticking to his guns, having truth and rational thinking on his side, and speaking truth — the full and contextualized truth in all its blunt reality — and telling it well, and long, and hard. I will tell you, that worked for Bernie in Burlington, but of course, that was a small arena. But the little state of Vermont made Bernie a national name, a national brand, and a national person of real influence. “IT” did work. But not if what you’re calling “it” is “the system.” We know the system is skewed to party leadership, and they have their own tilt toward I-don’t-know-the-hell-what. I’d like to think that all the Democratic pols are not as wedded to Big Money campaign contributions and the perks of being close to power as the R’s are, but maybe I’m a fool.

Still, if you want to call what Bernie did a failure because it did not vault him into the presidency right off, you can think what you want. What Bernie did worked to change our national conversation, and it needs to be kept up so it can work some more, and finally break through to more than a Senatorial seat. Or “the system” you talk about WILL prevail. And we’ll hear a lot of empty rhetoric and stay right where we are — in the pocket of Big Money.

If we don’t assault the battlements with the truth, if we don’t try to turn one of the entrenched parties back to the light, then what? HOW will progressives [and I count myself one] fight relentlessly? With what tactics? What is your solution?

Expand full comment

I did not call Bernie a failure! He will never be a failure in my mind. He just isn't President. And sadly, even if he had got there, do you honestly think any of his policies would have been implemented by a legislative branch beholden to corporate greed. Can you imagine how many Manchimera clones would have miraculously proliferated? Haven't come up with a solution yet; working on it! Unfortunately, been working the problem since the 1950s and no breakthrough in sight. But always the optimist!

Expand full comment

dnkarr : which you have obviously missed.

Expand full comment

Yes, Dnkarr, that "S" word that terrifies every Republican and many Democrats too. They have no idea what it means but know they just can't stand it. When asked about socialist components, the people are all in. It's the word. People really are crazy!

Expand full comment
founding

@Ruth. Like in Alice in Wonderland, the word means whatever the public thinks it means. The word has been successfully attributed to "communism" and Americans hate communism. In the era of the Cold War most Americans became aware of what the Soviets called "communism", in reality nothing more than a cover for rank oligarchic domination. So Americans distrust socialism because of the negative attributions that were built up during the entire post-WWII era. It seems no amount of pointing at successful socialist democracies will undo this pejorative brand. The Republicans have used the association with communism to weaponize the word socialism. Democrats need new words! As long as they keep using the words that Republican have weaponized they will continue to trigger visceral opposition among a lot of people. This is one problem I have with Bernie, not understanding American distrust of the words. Democrats need to learn to talk in ways that don't map into the Republican culture wars.

Expand full comment

Thank you Benjamin, you really understand, I have been ranting for years that there is not now, and never has been a communist country on Earth. Names mean nothing. The Nazis called their party the Democratic Socialist something. There was neither a drop of democracy or socialism in it. Americans cringe at the word Socialism, but willingly accept Social Security and Medicare - both of which are socialist. And if you really want to talk about 'socialism' take a close look at Oil Depletion, Subsidies, Offsets etc given to Corporate America. Real socialism, with distribution of wealth more equitably divided amongst the entire population makes more wealth for the whole Country instead of the miniscule fraction that hold 99% of the wealth now

Expand full comment

Fay Reid ; well said!

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

Benjamin Stockton ; Bernie, rightly, will not be silenced. If our enemies are allowed to 'weaponize' our words, they control the conversation , or worse, end it.

Expand full comment
founding
Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

That is the Republican playroom- distort and weaponize any words/phrases that the opposition uses. New words will be spun negatively as well. Dems have to out as much money and effort into defi ING their own messages rather than letting others twist them. That is the issue here- they too are beholden to the same oligarchs- billionaires and corporate interests. Their money is power and the wield it in every arena they can buy. The only solution is a long hard grass routes effort to educate our families, neigh or and friends, who then educate their families, neighbors and friends. It will be a. Uphill battle due to the oligarchs war on facts and the truth- if they can't persuade, the next best thing is to distract you or confuse you by creating false equivalents; accusing others for the corruption they are actually perpetrating; flood the media (all forms) with misinformation and/or problems but no solutions; and discourage, if not eliminate, access to facts/history. They are preventing Dems from revealing root causes or real solutions.

Expand full comment
founding

@fyiurban. I absolutely agree with you. The risk of the running dogs of the oligarchs on media re-weaponizing new words is real and highly probable. But, the Dems can spend money on messaging too, and they need to get over the idea that a singly buzz word can encapsulate a whole political concept. Democrats need to speak in sentences. Spend the money! Don't contribute snappy phrases to the media-verse that the Repugnicans will just twist.

Expand full comment
founding

agreed, Dems have to be willing to meet the Republican's and Oligarch's efforts to spin their words, head on, with equal force (money & effort). Unfortunately, it looks like the Oligarchs will only allow them to go so far, preventing them from fighting to control the meaning of their own words and exposing the truths that will help them do so. Why... because those truths expose the real enemies/problems/culprits- the oligarchs. Money=Power and they have it in spades. They know that our power is in coalition= power-in-numbers, so they are determined to keep us fighting with each other so we wont wake up and realize THEY are out mutual enemy... i.e. Hunger Games.

Expand full comment

Exactly. Communism/Socialism, Democratic Socialism/Social Democrat, the average American doesn't understand the difference. Republicans always playing to the fear and ignorance. How about, for a change, Democrats play to at least the fear part? Fear of losing our freedoms, fear of having our wealth controlled by billionaires and monopolistic corporations, fear of a nation of uncontrollable violence, racism, and unbridled greed, with little or no access for normal and poor to a better life???

Expand full comment

Is the economy to be run for the benefit of the nation or simply to enrich a tiny elite? Greed is destroying our democracy and our institutions. These CEOs and their fantastically rapacious boards are run by men and women who have one God and that God is greed. They have zero interest in the nation and the welfare of its citizens. They really are our enemy and pretending otherwise merely emboldens them.

Expand full comment

Capitalism is driven by greed. That is why it is very important to control that greed. Why do you think it is important not to allow monopolies. Capitalism works best when there is healthy competition. I would say that we have failed to control monopolies. In the pass we had family-owned farms, now we are seeing the growth of corporate farms. Will these corporate farms control the supply of food and drive prices up to increase profits? Communist is great on paper but in practice when man is included in the equation it is bad.

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

Do Americans ever peep outside their bubble and see what is happening in the rest of the world?

Inflation is in double figures here in the UK and not much lower in the rest of Europe. Our stupid right wing government recently removed one idiot Prime Minister (Johnson) and installed a new one (Lizz Truss), a name worryingly similar to Trump, who thought she could borrow money to reduce tax, mainly for the very rich and big corporations.

This upset the markets, set off a run on the pound and interest rates rocketed.

The Bank of England had to step in and raise interest rates to prevent a pension fund disaster, but mortgage rates climbed from around 2% to 6% overnight.

Now she has fired her chancellor, been forced to climb down and reverse all the stupid tax cuts. But enormous damage has been done to the UK economy.

Meanwhile the oil and gas companies continue to reap in enormous profits, which many people here believe should be subject to a substantial ‘windfall tax’.

All this on top of the major causes of inflation, ie Covid and Putin.

Wake up America and check out what’s happening elsewhere.

Expand full comment

Yes, but at least there has been public pushback to PM Truss. Not so much here...living in a very uninformed bubble.

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

I think the reason for why Dems aren't talking about the real cause of inflation is pretty simple. The Democrats are not talking about the real cause of inflation because the majority of elected Democrats are really pro-corporate neoliberals who are keen on "protecting" corporations and provide increasing power and privilege to corporations rather than corporate-less individuals.

As an example, Obama after all, did bring us Citizens United.

Expand full comment

It’s unfair (and wrong) to blame Obama for Citizens United. It was the SCOTUS and if you remember he strongly disagreed with their decision at his SOTU speech.

Expand full comment

I agree Henry. Circular firing squad. 2 aberrant senators does not make "a majority."

Expand full comment

He didn't bring us Citizens United and the Dems have been trying to get rid of it for years. Stop. I agree about what you say except that one.

Expand full comment
founding

Not a great example (it wasn't a court of his choosing per se)... but one would still be better served trusting the protection of their individual rights to the more progressive party.

Expand full comment

Therein lies a problem. Bernies votes once he didnt win the nomination for predidency only went two places propping up a party not aggressively fighting corporate greed and the others went too Maga. Without being able to get to leadership position within the democratic party the votes to fight corprate greed and wealth accumulation get diluted to candidates who are for those things.

Expand full comment
founding

@Winfred. We too often blame the party in power for things they didn't do. It takes a careful discernment to keep things straight. The American economy and political structure is like a big wheel, it turns slowly. By the time a bad policy takes effect, a new party is in power and the people who made the bad policy joyfully blame the bad results on the new people....

Expand full comment

What! Obama brought us Citizens United! Wow, Winfred, that is a quick rewrite of history! A conservative Supreme Court under John Roberts wanted to give a boost to their rich buddies and get more conservatives in power. They did it with no help from Obama. It worked! Yes, Democrats also take corporate money because it costs to run and when one's opponent has a fortune to spend and has media assist, they can win even without the issues in their favor. Lying is now on tap as the norm for Republicans and a few Democrats.

Expand full comment

How did Obama bring us Citizens United? Hobby Lobby and SCOTUS brought us those gifts.

Expand full comment

They still have many other items to point to like Ukraine being the main reason for the fuel prices, the drought, companies having a hard time hiring employees, etc. That said, reporters, journalists, can perhaps start to report the facts about corporate gluttony instead of the latest rumor.

Expand full comment

OPEC, Saudis and Putin performed an "October surprise" in restricting production. Democrats should be on the attack. Show the public that they are fighting. Biden should ask for authority to attack price fixing and price gouging. Threaten Saudis with confiscation of US holdings.

Expand full comment

Yo Daniel, what a good idea to hold Saudi holdings in America as a "threat" to them for slowing production so markedly. They are hurting so many and will discover they will have no friends when the time of oil is past, which is coming sooner than later. They only have friends now because they have oil. They are certainly not friendly, advanced, caring of their people, interested in equality of the genders, and so much more. ?When we can get off oil. it will be relegating Saudi Arabia as a backwater (backdesert) that will have to make its income from the Haj. That's pretty much all they will have.

Expand full comment

They should copy Prof. Reich's argument, it is the truth the public deserves to hear!

Expand full comment

Except that the press is paid by corporate money

Expand full comment

Oh Stephanie, wouldn't it be great if we had some courage in the media to report on corporate gluttony and greed. We think of courage related to war correspondents, but we need to honor any correspondents in the media who stand up and report on corporate greed and its contribution to inflation and a whole lot of other problems in our society. I'd like to see some of that!

Expand full comment

As always, the answer requires one to only follow the money.

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

To give one example, 4 companies control 70-90% of global grain trade. One of these, Cargill Inc's profits are up 23 % to $165 billion. The war in Ukraine is a win for these companies.

The Democrats need to stop the price gouging by large corporations and realizes this is the real reason for inflation and the Fed raising interest rates does nothing to tackle the real inflationary causes.To use increase mortgage interest rates is the wrong tool and it shows central bankers cannot fix the inflation problem, the solution must come from politicans with the guts to call out the profiteers.

Expand full comment

And the media to call them out, too. Won't happen as long as the greedheads own that media.

Expand full comment
founding

@Jim Smith. You are probably right, but it's a scary truth. Like "military intelligence" the phrase "politicians with guts" is an oxymoron...

Expand full comment

I have no doubt that the democrats are responsible for the average voter losing faith in democracy. Forty years of allowing and being complicit with Republicans who have transferred so much wealth that many no longer have a living wage much less a middle class is demoralizing. That’s why so many republicans and a few democrats have given up on democracy and now endorse Fascism. Robert: starting the Berkeley Reich Monthly Profit Index could give us hope by educating voters, economists, and legislators and steering them towards economic equality and preservation of democracy. Put it in their face every month as your legacy

Expand full comment

Republicans hold most of the blame, as do their generous donors, who are enabled even more by Citizens United.

Expand full comment

To make democrats responsible for the average voter losing faith in democracy is to absolve Trump (or neoliberals who wasted trillions in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.)

That's CRAZY! .

Expand full comment

We are capitalist first, democracy second. Since our needs as humans are best served the other way around, this is very unfortunate. Now in particular, the biggest lever the GOP has to actually destroy democracy is inflation. We here are all old enough to recall, “it’s the economy, stupid”. Some of the DNC’s brightest stars have embraced small donations, but most have not.

Expand full comment

Obscene wealth trumps small dollar donations. Even with millions of the small dollar donors, today's wealthy, (and dark money from abroad) overwhelm Democrat's fundraising. Skullduggery finishes the job. I sincerely wish that people would stop blaming the Democrats! Here we are in a Forum of Progressives? There is so much negativity. It is depressing.

Expand full comment

I agree in large part but the Republicans dominate the media. If I were king, I'd eliminate the media extortion that requires vast advertising expenditures. Plus the Republicans get free advertising. Look at even MSNBC. Lead story is how bad inflation, polls are.

It is true that DNC has failed to develop a "ground game" which takes more "elbow grease" than anything.

Expand full comment

But WHY has the DNC failed? Because they are still adopting the "safe" rather than agressive/progressive view. They're listening to polsters more than what the grassroots would like to tell them. Movements begin from the bottom up.

Expand full comment

Also, polls can be bought.

Expand full comment
Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

More integrity too. "elbow grease" means nothing if they are beholden to the wrong 'people'.

Expand full comment

Bennett, I know there are Democratic candidates who would like to run only with small donor money, but when one is in a campaign where one's opponent has huge quantities of money, unlimited resources, small donations don't add up to anything like what is needed just to get heard. The media is Conservative Republican and can't seem to bring itself to be anything else. Their owners are in the big money crowd. Democracy for them is just a word. They have contempt for the people but the people respond to their ads anyway and vote against their personal, family, and community interests. It really is a dilemma.

Expand full comment

I agree with most of the posts here: the problem is that Democrats are just as dependent on wealthy donors as Republicans. There is also the historical problem that Democrats reacted to Reagan in fear and shifted to the right. They have never recovered. As to the wealthy donors problem, there is one at least partial solution that should be pursued. That is public funding of elections. Other democratic countries use this to limit donor power. That is not a full or perfect solution to the problem of money in politics, but it could be a start.

The Democratic Party also suffers in the current climate because, unlike the post-Reagan Republican Party, it is a coalition of people of various ideologies. While the party includes progressives, it is not a party of progressives. Some of us grew up in a time when both parties included a spectrum of ideologies. The far right used Ronald Reagan to take over the Republican Party and purge moderates and progressives. The Democrats remain a coalition. That comes with both strengths and weaknesses.

Expand full comment

Not true that Democrats are just as dependent on wealthy donors as Republicans.

Facts show that a few donors like Musk, Kochs, Thiel spend more than most Democratic donors combined in key races.

Expand full comment

Money is the golden calf that corporate executives worship these days on the altar of greed - and I agree, Democrats better start playing hardball with that message.

Expand full comment

Dee Long ; You are right! Bernie was able to say a LOT, because he was not on the take. He has Huuuge support for a reason! He could say it like it really is!

Expand full comment

Many Democrats are funded by corporations so they are mute on the subject. But they are also quiet on the slow rolling Insurrection as well. With only a few weeks to go they have to hope the Supreme Court decision on Roe and the attack on democracy is enough to allow them to remain in power. But many are not helping their cause directly.

Expand full comment

In 1977, the #1 F500 Company was Exxon, at $ 48B. #500 was Foxboro, at $ 377M. A spread of 120x - ish. Since that time, the dollar has lost 75% ish of its value - according to the stats (meh,) but in 1978, I lived in a 1200 foot 2 bedroom with my parents on 80th street, rent=$ 550. Today, that unit would fetch $ 8000. So much for the CPI. Similarly, the #1 F500 today, Walmart, is close to $ 500B (or over 10 times Exxon then) and #500 is at $ 24B, or roughly 80 times larger than its 1977 counterpart (and a spread of 20x,) - even if we divide that by 4, we're still 20 times larger. There just isn't any competition in this oligarcho-kakistocracy, where power-hungry incompetence and largesse are not just the norm, they are desirable and written about. It literally means a lower count of Presidents/CEOs with a dearth of individual style and creativity. These larger, monolithic corporations also feed politicians, and, in the immortal words of Arnold in 'Yes, Prime Minister,' 'no politician will tear down the ladder that put him where he is.' So this version (and there are many) of capitalism is utterly rotten. Putin can't get enough of pointing this out - except that his version of existence is so many orders of magnitude worse. My take is just a simplified version of the real complexities. How does this relate to RR's column, you ask, (I will subscribe, Bob, after I am whole, hopefully Jan. 23?) How do these actual people - because even Democratic Congressmen and Senators are real people - shit on corporations without killing their own coffers? AOC can rely on 85%, but Conor Lamb is on a 200-vote margin. The platitude is 'Citizens United looms large,' but that's too easy. Mergers, Acquisitions, and deregulation - Reagan and Clinton's - are to blame. It's not getting fixed before November. The candidates in question are terrified. Just how much money will Bezos (the Ork) or Musk (the cokehead) spend on attack ads if I, brave congressman from, say, Pennsylvania, use the terms 'capital gains' or, better still, 'price controls?'

Expand full comment

In Pa, the Casey family. Big tent politics works.

Expand full comment

Love the label “oligarchokakistocracy”! Permission to use it please?

Expand full comment