504 Comments

Greatly appreciate you writing about the disparity between college and non-college graduates. However, the larger picture is our school system. A young person who does not wish to go to college while they are in high school, are being left out. We need more trade schools. The direction to skilled labor such as electricians, plumbers, and mechanics is lacking.

A required two year national service after high school would help many young people figure out what their skills are. For some young people the military is not the answer. This country needs some bold thinking on how to move people to skills that are needed the do not require a college degree.

Oh, and I believe President Biden will win re-election. However, Democrats need to support him and not derail him.

Expand full comment

I went to high school in the 60s. A school I attended in San Mateo County, California, had courses in woodworking, automotive, typing and stenography, even art, and regular college prep courses. What I particularly recall was a regional competition where vehicles were placed on the high school football field by various dealerships with some deliberate issues to which high school automotive class teams competed to discover, diagnose, and repair the problem. The winning team was awarded a car for the high school’s driver ed program (a right of passage class in the 60s). Somewhere along the line there was a mantra that everyone should go to college with little regard for the effect on students disinclined in that direction. I also recall an especially gifted young lady, a year or two ahead of me, but a reputed brain who, during a fire drill, emerged from a woodworking class wearing a carpenter smock. That she was taking the class surprised a lot of the college prep students, but it was also a lesson. She later obtained a scholarship to Stanford. I know it is common for septuagenarians like myself to lament about the past...and yet some lessons from the past can serve to provide a course correction to the directions later generations seek to take.

Expand full comment
Nov 9, 2023Liked by Robert Reich

I took shop classes and Jewelry and art classes. I also took home ec. College was not for me. I guess I was “disinclined in that direction”. I also learned some great basics on tire changing and brake jobs and oil changes from my big brother. I dont hear my grandkids talking about classes like that. I learned a lot.

Expand full comment

So many things today are non-fixable due to complexity or due to deliberate design decisions by the manufacturer. So we throw it away and buy a new one. No one learns how something works by disassembling it and trying to fix it. A real loss!

Expand full comment

Wowzer

Try this one out.

My younger brother was always dragging home electronics equipment that people tossed out. He would take the stuff apart and I never really paid much attention to whether he would actually fix any of it so it would work again. I am much older than him and you know how that goes. Anyway,

he joined the Navy and went to the Electronics Technician School at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. No college for this guy but after he was discharged he went to California and worked on the color cameras that equipped the vehicle in the Pioneer Space Program. Go figure that one.

Trade school training isn’t for everyone but there are good jobs waiting for those who like to work with their hands.

Expand full comment

Those who “work with their hands” actually work with their brains — just like those who graduate from a university. “Handwork” is actually practical problem solving, which is of crucial value. Imagine: what if we had a Republican Party that was actually dedicated to solving the problem of government.

Expand full comment

We repair anything we can ourselves. Sometimes it's challenging, but their is alot of information online. You learn a lot too. Saving money to me is like making money! Last thing we fixed was our sewer line from the house to are septic tank! We saved a couple thousand dollars!

Expand full comment

There have been some new laws allowing repair on farm equipment

Expand full comment

And cell phones I beliece

Expand full comment

That's why right to repair laws are so important. I'm not sure they'll do me much good, but at least I can ask someone else.

Expand full comment

Truer words were never said, Tim.

Expand full comment

Robert, you need to be on every media outlet telling everyone this truth. You’ve been saying it for years but it’s more important than ever for folks to really understand WHY they are where they are in life. Trickle down is a joke perpetrated by the rich guys. Trump has proven the concept of repeating something regularly and loudly, even if totally false, and folks believing it. We need your voice of reason to be loud and clear.

Expand full comment

Life has long ago taught me that college is not the answer for everyone. Of our four children, the one who didn’t went into computers and makes more than the other three, with several degrees among each of them, put together.

Expand full comment

I graduated in 1982 and did one year in university, I hated every single day of it, so I worked ! I worked for a relative ( that is a whole other story ) until I wanted something more and went into a diploma program in nursing! You would have 2 weeks class then 2 weeks on the floor so you can apply what you were taught! That's what I found so helpful. Now you need Bachelors in nursing and didn't go to the floors until 3rd year! I'm sorry but you don't know if you even like nursing so I thought it does a disservice to the students!! My opinion is my own , feel free to agree or disagree! But trade schools should be an option for high school students instead of the planned indoctrination that the repugnants have planned as their new curriculum!

Expand full comment

I too went to a diploma nursing school as sitting in class all day wasn't for me at 18 years old. Graduated at 21 and started working. Later in life when I knew I wanted to be in nursing/hospital administration so I finished my bachelors and masters degrees. Agree we need to support Home Economics and Shop as well as other trades to expose children to all experiences.

Expand full comment

Even if parents would teach their kids some of those basic skills - changing a tire - changing the oil - checking the oil, changing a headlight, changing the wipers, etc. they would be better off. Too many parents just did it for their kids rather than teaching them how to do it.

Expand full comment
Nov 9, 2023·edited Nov 9, 2023

I learned how to do all of that, and much more yet, myself, without even any guidance from parents, but then I was more interested than most in cars. ;)

Ironically, given the elitist, snooty, looking at anyone who works on their own vehicle (or even has their hood up in their assigned parking spot!) as 'trash' attitude of almost all Home Owners' Associations nowadays, I am NOT ALLOWED TO work on my own car, and save that coin on prohibitively co$tly, for me at least, repair labor (which I need to EAT), and have the satisfaction of knowing the job was done CORRECTLY, by me. :( :( :(

Expand full comment

Sounds like high schools I attended In late 1960s. Vocational classes were already being snubbed by college bound students and by school administrators as well, which was unfortunate. One of the best life skills I learned was sewing in required "home ec" classes in junior high. The class was for girls only, which was not so fortunate. Boys were required to take "shop" and there were life skills I would have loved to learn in that class as well, but that class was strictly boys only. These types of classes need to be resurrected, but absolutely without the sexism, and they would need to infused with technological skills necessary for operating equipment today.

Expand full comment

I petitioned to be allowed to take a junior high school drafting class that was for boys only in the 1970s. The school board decided it was not appropriate and I was forced to take sewing instead. I would hate to slide back into those narrowed opportunities.

Expand full comment

Interesting, because when I was in charge of the mechanical engineering department at Alcoa's Davenport Works (1980's) some of our very best drafters and designers were woman. That is almost all computer aided design today but it is still an important skill set. Many of our top machinists were woman too. At least half the talent in this world is female.

Expand full comment

A couple of women acquaintances are architects. One of them got her start through initially studying art, and I am not sure about the other. I should ask them about exposure to technical drawing or drafting, though they now use computer aided design.

Expand full comment

I never realized what a backwater place I grew up in until I left. When I visit, people still worry about travel to Pittsburgh as fraught with danger, and any mention of Philadelphia is code for "Den of Iniquity." Many speak proudly of never having left the county in their lives.

Expand full comment

Drafting classes were the first to get girl students in high school. Although I have to admit a girl in a early seventies short mini-skirt on a drafting stool was a tad of a distraction to us boys. The teacher had no qualms about girls in his shop class. They were good at it and smart. I think auto shop was the next to have gender integration.

Interestingly, most people are not aware what did in the woodworking classes was strict fire code issues on dust collection systems and air pollution. Metal fabrication shop was the first to disappear in my HS. Too many weapons getting made in class.

Expand full comment
Nov 9, 2023·edited Nov 9, 2023

How unfair! What exactly would be inappropriate? Was it the subject or the behavior of a a rowdy class of male students! In our high school, students taking business courses were segregated by sex as well. Male students were taught business management skills, related to determining profit margins, understanding economic factors... those (ahem) "managerial skills." Female students were assigned to classes in shorthand, managing appointment schedules, and anything else helpful for the roles of stenographer and/or secretary in that day. (Office manager was not a term then.)

Expand full comment

I grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania. The schools were slow to provide equal access to all subjects. I think the school board felt that a drafting class for a girl would be a waste of resources. And perhaps the distraction piece, as mentioned by Michael G could have been part of their thinking (that would not have occurred to me). I did not object to sewing - I already made a lot of my own clothes, but I was considering becoming an architect and thought a drafting class might be useful. In the end I left school after my junior year - I only needed a half credit of Health to graduate, but the school board would not let me graduate without taking a full year of classes. Since I was already accepted to a University, I took the high school equivalency test and went to live in France for a year on an exchange program. No regrets.

Expand full comment

In 1965 seven of us graduated from a private school, the last to benefit from The Business Program. We learned shorthand and typing and Business Math. Learning to type was the best thing that happened to this undiagnosed (of course) dyslexic, ADHD student. I earned enough money to get myself into college 3 years later, and almost made it through... Nixon came into office and government loans dried up.

Expand full comment

As my rural high school they had college-prep type classes, and shop/home ec, but they REQUIRED the girls to take shop for a semester, and the boys to take home ec for a semester too. While I had learned a LITTLE about cooking previously, there I actually learned a lot (at least for me). I don't regret it at all.

Expand full comment

Cool!

Expand full comment

Interestingly enough, my daughter who graduated from high school in 2003, took shop in junior high and loved it. She did choose to go to college and enjoyed that experience also.

Expand full comment

I had to laugh when I saw your reference to sexism only because I took a year of typing. I was the only guy beyond the first semester but I wanted and needed to increase my speed. I did. Now, that being said, I would be lying if I was to say I was not distracted by the pretty blond to my right who made a point of typing faster. Typing in the third semester included shorthand. I did not do a third semester.

Expand full comment

I went to high school in the '60s and in my tiny little Oregon town school, both boys and girls were required to take and pass a full typing course. I enjoyed it and found it immensely useful later in college and in life.

Expand full comment
Nov 9, 2023·edited Nov 9, 2023

I took a high school typing class that was not in the business curriculum, but was taught for the purpose of producing typed papers when required. It seemed equally mixed between the sexes, but the fastest typist was a guy who happened to be a great pianist. Otherwise typing classes taught under the business curriculum were mostly girls. Going off the main topic a bit more, but In my senior year, there was one guy in the business typing class. At our 45th reunion, he explained why he took the class - 1) he could meet many young women, and 2) the draft was active for Vietnam at the time, and he expected that the skill would come in handy. When he was drafted, he listed typing as a skill, and he was assigned to various officers for administrative tasks. Worked out well.

Expand full comment

Your post made me think of a lot of car shows that I watch. The interiors of these cars are usually done by men. They use huge sewing machines. I told my husband when we were watching that I'll bet those guys are never teased for knowing how to sew! On top of that, they may have had a head start had they allowed guys to take sewing back in the day.

Expand full comment

Our son is a professor in computer science and teaches at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. (One Class he teaches is a beginning computer science class required of all engineering students. ) They have mechanical engineering students that as freshman don't know what a ball bearing is or how it is used. Hard to believe a mechanical engineering student that never worked on a bike.

Expand full comment

Very true. As a chemical engineer, I learned math, science, and engineering theory in college. I learned "practical" engineering on the job -- frequently from non-college educated technicians and mechanics (some of them who were smarter than me)! I did have my own chemistry lab as a kid and learned a lot about chemistry with a few "unintended" explosions and fires along the way. Today, access to chemicals are tightly controlled by the government due to illegal drug manufacture and safety concerns that I doubt that a kid could set up a decent chemistry lab.

Expand full comment

Potassium nitrate much ? Most boring ever: organic chemistry. Today kids can re-engineer genes however.

Expand full comment

When I went to college, organic chemistry class was intended to get rid of the premed students who didn't have what it takes to go to medical school. I remember the prof telling us on the first day that if you were still here at the end, the people sitting to the right and left of you would be gone! He was right!

Expand full comment

and what it takes is the ability to tolerate a certain level of boredom. That's true of all subjects however. Building blocks have to be learned. Different strokes for different folks.

Expand full comment

The most important thing I learned in college is that lots of other people are smarter than I am, and smarter than I first thought they were. Late 1960s, little diversity. My younger self would have been bowled over by all the smart people now that students’ backgrounds are more diverse.

Expand full comment

Is a "ball bearing" a hardball thrown at 94 PMH?

Expand full comment

What is 94 Patient's Medical History 🤔

Expand full comment

Is a "ball bearing" one that is thrown to the batter at 94 miles per hour?

Expand full comment

What's a batter? You confused me with the PMH instead of Furlongs per Fortnight, which is used in cricket. All good fun. We lived in Wales for a while and watching cricket is like watching paint dry.

God, that a nice short break from thinking about the disaster of Trump.

Expand full comment

FUGGGGHHHHH From Laval!

Expand full comment

Similar to elementary through high school system I went through in the 1960’s into the mid-1970’s in Pasadena. Everything from vocational arts shop classes to advanced gifted classes starting in the seventh grade. I believe part of this was due to an Eisenhower education program in the late 1950’s in response to Sputnik. I took both types of classes, received a vocational arts scholarship from a large (now) national bank, graduated in the top 0.1 percent of a high school class of over 1,000 and put those scholarship dollars to good use at a public California university that’s exceptionally difficult to get into.

The only thing that’s declined faster than the life expectancy of Americans is the American public education system.

Expand full comment

Public education is under attack by Republicans who don't want to fund it.

Expand full comment

And it has been since Bill Bennet under President Reagan at the federal level. Local level even worse in California. By state law K-12 public education is supposed to get the largest slice of the state budget pie, passed down to local counties and school boards on an equal per-student basis. That’s operational monies. School construction, modernizations, improvements in school libraries, internet and computer learning systems are paid by local super majority voted bonds. Republicans, especially those with kids out of the house, or old house payments so small their property tax is larger vote “no” every time.

Expand full comment

Your last sentence, especially, is primo, Michael!

Expand full comment

Amen Michael. 👏

Expand full comment

The trades can earn sufficiently comfortable incomes 👏 for sure. There’s tests to establish who can/who can’t ( where one is likely headed) would be wonderful implemented and save a lot of kids from NOT graduating or graduating without a skill.

The college prep class syndrome and inability to take shop really grated me. Going back-to-the-land demanded a better than average knowledge of basic skills , crash courses for us that did, and thoroughly depressed numbers of people who couldn’t hack the work load/lifestyle/skills required.

Basic life skills ought to be taught in school.

Thanks Jaime , good comment.

Expand full comment

My high school in Kentucky (graduated 1972) had a partnership with a vocational school, where juniors and seniors split their days between the two schools. They learned trades while earning a high school diploma. Among the trades: auto mechanics, small engine repair, business skills, bookkeeping, carpentry. I don’t think that program is in place any more, and it’s a shame.

I knew I wanted to go to college and was aware of the Vietnam era GI Bill via my older brother. So I took the military option, served 8 years, then went to college. Otherwise, given my family’s socioeconomic status, I would have needed that vocational school opportunity.

Expand full comment

I remember those we had something similar in so cal in the 70s with the best techs wining scholarships to tech schools like PIT in Phoenix plus we had ADP the adult degree program that's where I first learned to cook which led to a 40 year career.. I'm not sure if these programs are still available anymore 😕.

Expand full comment

A wonderful story of the brilliant woman. My High School blocked my taking both "college prep" and "auto shop" through an intentional schedule conflict. I took "college prep" and did well enough as an automotive engineer, but I dearly wanted both courses in high school. I imagine the "schedule conflict" is worse today.

Expand full comment
Nov 9, 2023Liked by Robert Reich

It is high time to make those talented & extremely valuable jobs far more respected by every level of society - how much do we appreciate them when we discover one of those really special people who somehow can tackle every stupid challenge in fixing a mechanical thing, or the beautiful woodwork of a dedicated carpenter, or the satisfaction of a roof well tiled & looking beautiful ? Give those people some honor - their contributions keep things running, make things look special & enhance every aspect of life, yet we give the respect to a person with a psychology degree who pontificates on why somebody is doing what they do - interesting, possibly valuable in a specific context, but hardly a huge contribution to our everyday lives ? We all know lots of highly intelligent people who simply did not go thru higher education yet have deep concepts about right & wrong, about the meaning of life, the stuff that matters, why we are here - we need to honor them too ! And finally - life itself is an education !

Expand full comment

Your comment makes me think of the last time I had my car looked at by a technician. He was very emphatic that he got through my car with me. I told him that he’s the professional, I know nothing about repairing cars, and I’m relying on his expertise to inform what’s going on. He told me that people rarely believe him when something is wrong but doesn’t present when they take their car in. He seemed pretty dejected, and having worked other people facing jobs before, I can only imagine how he’s usually treated - not well.

If I recall, NYC found out how important blue collar jobs are when the trash folks went on strike.

We’re highly dependent on each other, and should respect each other accordingly.

Expand full comment

There are at least 2 high schools I know of in St Louis where kids go to a regular school half days, then into the trade school for the other half. I was taken a tour of one trade school and it was huge with enormous facilities dedicated to automative, carpentry, etc etc . That school had by far the highest participation rate of students in the voter registration that we did on site. The school has a number of arrangements with future employers for students apprenticeships and/or full employment upon graduation.

Expand full comment

vcragain - I agree, and furthermore, as a retired shop teacher, and talking to tradesmen all the time, I can report that carpenters, plumbers, HVAC, automotive repair - these businesses cannot find kids willing to work. they all seem to want to find jobs in utube or tik tok. i wonder when AI (artificial intelligence) will learn to fix a toilet? In my last years of teaching, a federal program offered grants to schools at the middle school level to improve their industrial ed and agricultural programs. While spending at least $100 of my own money (which having no kids myself, I did not begrudge) every month for tools and supplies, I learned in the newspaper that two neighboring school districts had received substantial funds for those programs that I was trying to run (200 kids/semester) on a broken shoestring. I could never figure out why our district refused to see the importance of industrial ed. It's still frustrating me.

Expand full comment

This was a concern of mine when I heard the PBS story about more kids declining to go to college: that they had unrealistic entrpreneurial dreams about being internet influencers and the like. That story failed to talk about jobs available and the transition for high school students, other than one story about one student who wanted to be a tatoo artist. This whole area gets almost no national conversation in my experience.

Expand full comment

PBS (Re-thinking College) regularly has a pieces on non-college job opportunities. First Black female electrician with her own company, specialty carpenters, plumbers, etc. Also computer skills taught to non-grads with aptitude, paid for by big companies, with jobs offered.

Expand full comment

Thats not true. That's the old bible stuff. If you have a valuable job that people want - it's a market place - they will work. I don't have any problems - then again - I know how teach and have better management skills. Maybe consider working on business skills? Most universities have an entire college dedicated to it. Yet, I watch people go out and fail time and again at business. It's not easy and there is a 95% failure rate in 5 years.

Expand full comment

Janet, physicians who go into private practice would benefit from a business class.

Expand full comment

Are you referring to me? Nice pontification to you as well! :) I don't see the context for this comment.

Any degree is valuable what's the point here and then I can respond

Expand full comment

Totally agree!

Expand full comment

A system of Berufsschule / Gymnasium like Germany would help but they are feeling the same pain. The root is in the disparity of how salaries are allocated, higher salaries, more unionized workers, mandatory healthcare and non profit state education are key components.

The GOP is not the answer, way less military spending and ending wars like Ukraine and Gaza are also good ideas that Biden is supporting.

Expand full comment

We can’t end people’s wars for them.

Expand full comment

We can not but the US should not fuel them. The Ukraine war is the result of US policy of NATO pointless expansion. An integrated EU with Russian resources is a danger to the US economic control.

Support to Israel by the US and the UK is an exchange to have a forward operating base in the region with the most valued commodity, oil.

Expand full comment

In my case, I went through the military breifly, avoided being sent to Viet Nam, and went to school on the GI bill.

So, having a four-year degree means that , statistically, I will make it to 84.! . . .(nine years to go)

But, I'm financially secure, not entirely because I have a degree. I happened into home ownership while still in college, buying my first house out of student loan money. Renting it out while going to school leveraged me into better and better situations, over the years.

But, my skills as a handyman were essential in doing all the upkeep necessary. to maintain my homes.

At 75, I still spend most of my work time doing plumbing, drywall repair, electric servicing, etc, .

And at night I'm reading Chaucer.

We need a school system capable of providing a broad set of skills to all students.

Expand full comment

I applaud you..just be careful on those repairs..don't hurt yourself & you'll make it to 90+ & a well-read one too!

Expand full comment

I must add, food stamps and GI bill got me through when I started out, and now it's ti,me the government made pathways for everybody to succeed..

Expand full comment

Hey four foot, you are right about more trade schools and training while in high school. About 25 years ago, many of the tech programs were being shut down along with the arts programs in the schools. We educators tried to fight it, but there was no financial support to keep the programs going. Now, in our state, there are county tech schools for high schoolers, but students have to travel to them and the travel time causes them to miss important work in other classes they need. We need our "great minds" to get behind working out quality education for those not interested in college, programs that will build confidence, build skills, introduce young people to a variety of different points of view and styles of learning, and so much more. The challenge with a lot of "trade schools" is that they are expensive, often scams. A niece of mine got caught in that and owed a lot with no job to show for it and limited skills. We could fix this if we cared enough about our children and young adults.

Expand full comment

I remember attending the red and white ball in Sonoma to support its schools. The measure of success touted by the sponsor was the percentage of graduates who attended college. I suggested to the sponsor this was not a proper measure because many graduates would benefit from skill training, particularly in a wine growing area.

Expand full comment

Gerald, and the sad part is that has not changed. It is as though only college gives one value. That is also infuriating when we could do so much more to help our young people get started. If we really loved our children as so many claim to, we would fix this on behalf of our young people.

Expand full comment

Hi Ruth. We have Pell Grants and scholarships. Some folks donate to schools. Some families support the tuition of their children and grandchildren. More can be done. Advocate to your Congressperson what you want.

Expand full comment

You are so right about that. I love the idea of national service. It's like JFK's Peace Corp back in the day. In Israel, every citizen is required to have military service and then they travel when they've completed their service. Travel, itself, is an education. We, in this country, are too stuck on unbridled Capitalism to even think in those directions. It hasn't served us well.

Expand full comment

I agree Linda, except that capitalism in the U.S. is bridled by various laws and labor unions, compared to the "golden age" of the 1890s.

Expand full comment

I dunno'. "Required National Service" sounds a bit too much like North Korea or Russia . . . I would slightly tweek it: "Required Service" PERIOD.

THAT would mean more of a choice betwixt military service for two years OR medical service for two years. BOTH would help create a better-rounded American, ready to be a "good citizen."

Expand full comment

four feet is right on the ball.

As a Union member I had a safe work place with decent wages and the ability to redress problems with management without putting my job in jeopardy. I have been retired now for 17 years and have a good pension and also had an annuity account that enabled me to build my own house using that capital and the skills I learned in my carpenter apprenticeship.

As far as Union membership having a part in longevity I can suggest that the accident rate and fatalities in non-union employment speak volumes. Also safety equipment and protective gear play into this also. OSHA has the rules. Union job sites enforce those rules.

Biden has been supporting Unions and Unions will support him. Together we can get past this challenge and open a new chapter for everyone.

Expand full comment

I agree with what you say but I particularly like the idea of a mandatory 2 year national service. It would force people for all strata of society to mix with each other. WWII accomplished that and it helped the nation. Hopefully, we can do it without a war.

Expand full comment

Best thing that this country ever did.

Expand full comment

One thing missing from the equation is that our schools have taught us that those who work with their hands are losers. Young folks don't want jobs that require that they identify as such.

Those are jobs for immigrants who are grateful to have them. Until we learn to RESPECT everyone who works and contributes to society, we will continue to have this problem.

Expand full comment

I agree that we most definitely need to bridge the gap. I’m starting to see some of that come about at least in my area (NC).

Our community colleges were offering trade classes and certifications. But then Covid happened and a lot of the funding went away because the attendance was down for the obvious reasons, and that correlation between attendance and funding, somehow fell through the cracks, and they lost funding.

What was also happening pre-Covid was businesses re-engaged in apprenticeships for skilled jobs. That declined some but it’s starting to take back up. Some community colleges are now partnering with these businesses to send prepared students their way.

We’ve ended up with silos of plans & programs that can answer this problem. (And it is most definitely a problem because our plumbers and HVAC and all mechanics from autos to airlines are aging out and no one’s filling those roles). Unfortunately, these programs are not necessarily well-marketed yet so people may be unaware of them.

Another factor which I’m torn about is people want to take advantage of some of these plans in programs but their lives are not set up in way that all allows them to do so readily. Another impact of Covid was the loss of grandparents and parents who were often the free daycare that young people needed. Now they don’t have that and they’re trying to pay exorbitant daycare rates, so there goes any money and time towards education.

We also still have to deal with the rampant recreational and addicted drug use, which also takes out an entire populace from participating in training and the workplace.

There were several plants in Ohio trying to get workers through all kinds of means and no one could pass their drug test. So they brought in immigrants and then the community was in an uproar about immigrants taking the jobs but the plants were like OK we hire people, they stay for three days despite decent pay for the area and then they go or their drug test comes back positive. So what are they to do?

It gets so messy and complicated and it’s going to have to be resolved through a partnership with individuals taking ownership and responsibility for their lives, and the mess they made of them.

It’s also going to take the government helping people who are trying to help themselves by making sure we have a workable system of education, fair pay & access to healthcare which is how we create a workforce that is prepared to keep the country running.

Expand full comment

Great idea. Check out what Gov Wes Moore is doing in Maryland about service/training after high school.

Expand full comment

High schools once offered courses in wood, auto, and metal shops.

Expand full comment

There are examples of blue collar trades people who earn more than some with a college degree. And we need and should be most respectful to all those mechanics, plumbers. electrician, trash collectors, landscapers, etc. For one, I am grateful for their skills and labor.

Expand full comment

I agree with you. I am trying to renovate my house. it needs a new roof, electrical work, and some carpentry. I live in Maine, and I called four electricians. two did not answer my call, one said he could make a site visit at the end of November, but would be unable to do the work until January, and the other said that he could not come at all until January. Since I need a transfer box attached to my electrical panel so that I can use a generator this winter in case my power goes out, it is less than helpful for them to come in the middle of winter. The roofing companies I called said they were at least 6 months out. All this delay is because there is such high demand, and few tradespeople to cover that demand. There are a lot of young people out there who would be happy with learning a trade, if there were more places and encouragement to get it.

Expand full comment

As a Veteran I have access to decent Heath care however, I struggle to eat nutritiously on my SSDI. I own my own home, it’s a manufactured home in a retirement Park. The HOA is almost half what I make. If I didn't live with my brother I couldn't afford to live. I am college educated. I used to work in the Computer Industry back in the 90’s. I'm one of the few who never hit it big. I've been middle class most of my life. I'm in my sixties now. I grew up with Reaganomics. I've watched the destruction of the middle class Robert. I hope, that President Biden wins Re-election and continues his economic plans. He gives me renewed hope for the future.

Expand full comment
founding

As a veteran who has served our country we owe you a debt of gratitude which includes all of your basic necessities are met without struggle and with dignity. As the wealthiest country on the planet we easily have the capacity to support our vets to live decent lives. Our struggling disabled veterans are among the casualties of outrageous wealth disparity. You deserve better.

Expand full comment

TY Marc. I agree wholeheartedly. Our veterans deserve the best in and out of service. Re-elect Joe Biden. He gets the working class.

Expand full comment

Kathryn Sullivan, I think Joe Biden does get the working class too and is pulling for them. The question that remains is does the rest of the Democratic Party as a group get it as well. After Reagan the party abandoned the working class

Expand full comment

Hopefully the Democrats will continue the work that Joe Biden is doing. If not, another Trump like demagogue will again fill the void and this whole mess will begin again.

Expand full comment

Joe Biden never forgot about the working class. It's his mantra.

Expand full comment

The word "veteran" gets tossed around so much, but we don't always know the context - someone who was in the military for 2 to 4 years or someone who was in for the full 20 or so. I was in for 1 year then got a honorary discharge after getting pregnant. I went on to serve 6 years in the Reserves, but I don't deserve anything and I don't see the justification for anyone else serving less than 20.

Expand full comment

That's harsh. What about the vets who were exposed to toxic chemicals in Iraq, or to agent orange on Johnston Island, those who lost limbs while on duty, those who were drafted to serve as cannon fodder in Vietnam, or those who suffer from severe PTSD? They all served less han 20 years.

Expand full comment

Medical is and should continue to be given to service related injuries.

Expand full comment

Is the U.S. still the "wealthiest country on the planet" net of our national debt? Norway may be wealthier.

Expand full comment

I appreciate all veterans, my family are all veterans. But, I hope you're talking about taking care if the retired veterans. Those that served a stint did a great service but I don't believe they deserve more than the medical they get.

Expand full comment

They don't get more than medical unless they have a service connected disabilty.

Expand full comment

Your story touched my heart, veteran. I also served.

Expand full comment

Thank you for your service from one veteran to another. I hope that you're getting by a little easier in these tough times than I am.

Expand full comment

I am. Thank you.

Expand full comment

That warms my heart.

Expand full comment

Thank you all....I appreciate every sacrifice you made. I couldn't serve, but my brother, father, grandfathers, uncles served. As Veterans, I shouldn't have to see a single one of you struggle for anything. You all deserve far more than you are getting.

Expand full comment

Thank you for sharing, Ramona, and for your service to our country!! Please, as much as you possibly can- do MORE than just HOPE that Biden wins. Please get involved however you can. Volunteer or seek out a paid position for organizations working to get Biden re-elected! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!💙🇺🇸

Expand full comment
founding
Nov 9, 2023·edited Nov 9, 2023Liked by Robert Reich

When the election for President is over Joe Biden has won and possibly the Dems have gained a majority in the House we should not sit on our laurels and congratulate ourselves, but immediately turn our attention to not only repairing the damage done to democracy but at the same time be willing to reimagine a government that gives sufficient purchasing power to all so that not only does everyone have adequate food, appropriate clothing, safe housing with proper amenities, but full medical care and the ability to gain a college education without going into crushing debt.

While there are numerous things that can be done to patch up the damage done to democracy by the demagogue Republicans and other crazies, we should begin reimagine a government that is truly for the people, and by the people that empowers all workers to have a rightful say in governance. We need a system that puts economics over politics and stresses local economic strength not only by unions opposing the greedy tendency of corporations, but puts ownership of medium to large businesses into the hands of worker owned cooperatives and utilities operations into the hand of those whom they serve such as many electric cooperatives now do.

Expand full comment
founding

In regards to a college education, unfortunately trade schools with their current curriculums do not teach critical thinking nor do they assist he students to see beyond their jobs and wages. All deserve the full opportunity for four years of education beyond High School and they can “major” in a trade if that is their desire.

Expand full comment
founding

In other words, we need to reimagine the whole school system into an approach that provides the nation with a fully educated population. To make democracy work the schooling must serve its voters and not the whims of the politicians as we are witnessing now. To have politicians meddling in curriculum is dangerous and a threat to the success of democracy.

We must have a system that empowers the educators to make the curriculum and actually design the system as they are the experts, not idiots like DeSantis. the teachers that we entrust our children to for most of their waking hours should also be given proper recognition and financially supported for their demanding work. Highly skilled well paid teachers who will design the educational system are part of the long term solution.

Expand full comment
founding

Yes, Marc - and we need to listen, really listen, to our teachers. Unfortunately often their understandings and insights are not taken seriously. I know! My husband was a wonderful teacher and his careful recommendations to administration officials were almost always swept under the rug. This is next to criminal.

Expand full comment
founding

I received my Masters in Special Ed. for children with emotional disorders. All of the teachers i worked with were amazing, dedicated individuals. Unfortunately the Principal was more involved in climbing the hierarchal ladder than inspiring the teachers under him.

Expand full comment

Mark, thank you for all your comments. So insightful and right on. My parents were educators and my dad specifically worked in Special Ed (early version of IEPs as a school psychologist back in the 60s and 70s)... on another note, yet similar, my son is one who learns via youtube videos, a visual learner like me, and has taken trade classes for automotive and manufacturing at the community college. He is not one to do a 4-year academic college track, but I do wish he had gotten the benefit of classes that emphasize critical thinking. He is young and finding his way but I fear the environment he works in now colors his political beliefs, working among white disgruntled tradesmen with little education. There has to be a balance in there somewhere!

Expand full comment

12 years ago in Colorado I met a former teacher of early grades 2, 3, who told me she could not teach using the methods required by the school. The kids could not learn that way. So she shut the door and taught the way she wanted. This was an intelligent woman whose views I respected. I felt things much be out of whack in her school and perhaps a widespread problem.

Expand full comment

I can teach critical thinking skills. I learned it back in the day. I'm sorry but I see this repeated over and over again with no context. It is too much to write in a comment section. Anyone who drives a car successfully has critical thinking skills; however, most businesses (I've watched it) do not actually encourage it.

I agree with the rest of the comment. Thank you :) We deserve a decent job and our needs met.

Expand full comment

Marc, an extra 4 years could be a real hardship for many young people who find formal education difficult. We could, however have more apprentice programs and free community college programs that would continue to include and add to the many trade-related programs offered to students followed by paid internships. We Democrats could figure this one out with businesses, educators, students, and other interested parties working together to find the best ways to make it happen.

Expand full comment

And Ruth, and whoever else is reading, (I do NOT claim to be any curriculum expert by any means) but what would need to happen to have critical thinking be taught at the high school level? I realize some great teachers probably do this no matter what their subject. However, (in the “old” days when I was in school) there was a required “Civics” course. Could some kind of critical thinking be a component of that?

Expand full comment

Lori, critical thinking, that is, determining the validity and truth of what one reads, hears, or sees should be part of every subject in every grade. It can be taught simply Kindergarten through grade 5, then be more intense and careful as young people grow. It is likely the folks who hear what Trump is saying, for example, then don't examine it for truth, value, purpose of the speaker, impact, etc. probably didn't have critical thinking explicitly taught.

Expand full comment

I don't see Democrats having an interest in this. Is it happening ? Please rebut with specific examples.

Expand full comment

Marc Nevas, your message is over-the-top inspiring and hope filled. You have brought tears to my eyes. You have pushed me to think beyond the battle for our Democracy. ---- to dream, to wonder, to be excited for the out beyond ---- of what now consumes us. You have inspired even greater strength in me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Expand full comment

Totally agree!

Expand full comment

Men of questionable integrity are becoming so overwhelmed by the prospect of having Trump as our President yet again are resorting to suicide in an effort to ease their pain, and these poor souls are all Republicans.

Expand full comment

Am not sure I want to “put” companies in anyone’s hands. But I do definitely support policies that encourage and enable many many more employee owned businesses that are also employee governed.

Expand full comment

If you focus on repairing the damage to the economy - the democracy will fix itself.

Expand full comment

Our electric utility in Sacramento is SMUD, a community based non-profit. Its rates are much lower than PG&E that serves neighboring communities.

Expand full comment

All community colleges and public universities need to be free to the people as they were when I was in school in the 1960s. Period!

Expand full comment

Historically, for every dollar the government spends on vocational rehabilitation, it gets back $ seven in income taxes. .

Expand full comment
founding

Good to know, thank you David. Education in our youth and all people is an investment, not an expense.

Expand full comment

The state colleges myself and my sister graduated were from not free, but nearly so. The cost was trivial to my parents and our degrees were "tickets" to money. I won more than my sister, but her brilliance shines today brighter than it would have been without near zero cost education. The pain of high tuition and the student loan profit center must be stopped.

Expand full comment
Nov 9, 2023Liked by Robert Reich

Based on the higher per capita GDP growth rates achieved in recent years by countries like Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland and Norway compared to the slower growth in the United States, here are some policy changes the US could consider to potentially improve its growth:

• Adopt more progressive taxation and expand the social safety net - This could help reduce inequality and increase economic security for lower-income groups. The Nordic model has shown the benefits of this approach for broad-based growth.

• Increase investments in education, job training, and R&D - These countries tend to have very high skills and innovation. Increasing US investments here could boost productivity over time.

• Reform corporate governance policies - Encouraging longer-term focus and linking executive compensation to long-term results rather than short-term stock performance could support growth.

• Pursue trade policies that expand exports access but with labor protections - Many of these countries have benefited from global trade and investment flows. Export promotion could help US industries.

• Implement more family-friendly policies - Such as paid parental leave, universal pre-K, and affordable childcare. This can support labor force participation.

• Develop immigration policies to attract and retain talent - These countries utilize immigration to help offset aging demographics. Attracting skilled immigrants can benefit growth.

• Improve infrastructure through public-private partnerships - Upgrading infrastructure across transport, broadband, utilities supports commerce.

The policy mix matters, but increasing investments in people, innovation, and infrastructure while addressing inequality and middle class insecurity could help the US achieve more broadly shared growth.

The policy mix driving productivity, innovation, trade competitiveness, and sound public finances while promoting equality appears to be benefiting countries like Ireland and Switzerland. Excessive risks and imbalances in countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Germany and the US are headwinds.

Excessive deregulation enabling monopolistic corporate power requires caution, as seen in the United States.

Allowing unchecked corporate power is not an ideal structural reform and requires rebalancing to promote equitable growth. The current US situation provides a case study in the potential downsides of asymmetry between deregulation and competition policy.

Allowing increased market consolidation and insufficient antitrust regulation has likely contributed to some industries being able to leverage pricing power to increase profit margins. This represents excessive deregulation.

Insufficient consumer protection policy and price gouging monitoring enables inequitable inflationary impacts.

Tax policies like stock buybacks may be incentivizing short-term profiteering over long-term investments.

Widening inequality and poverty resulting from these dynamics can drag on growth.

Expand full comment

Excellent. But don't forget about our broken for-profit healthcare system. We need the single-payer system that other countries have. Instead of taking profit out of the system, we are adding for-profit hospice which, I believe, is seen as an under the radar way to reduce the expenses of social security and Medicare. The premise is to anticipate when one has less than a year to live, and rather than "waste" resources on those people, stop medical treatment and give them a combination of morphine and a sedative that takes away the sensations of hunger and thirst. Hospice can be a good thing for the truly terminally ill. But by making it for-profit in this now thirsty for profit system, we've opened the flood gates for stealth euthanasia. Regulating doesn't work as I've witnessed in the long-term-care system. Profit has no place in healthcare. It will always lead to greedy heartless, soulless monsters in charge and the premature deaths and suffering of the citizens who are forced to pay for it. BTW, always check the notes in your medical record after a visit. The lie about you to reduce their liability in case they make an error and they are sued.

Expand full comment

Take a good deep dive into the background of FL senator Rick Scott if you want to see an example of greed & corruption in health care. Then look at his plan today to cut off medicare..just for starters.

Expand full comment

biggest health care fraud ever.

Expand full comment

How do the Nordic countries handle healthcare?

The US has a racist faction that wants to ensure that blacks have no access to healthcare. That's the logjam for the US

Expand full comment

The best way to reduce unnecessary medical care services is through non-profit managed care. Fee-for-service payments, even though a single payer plan, will not reduce unnecessary services. Compare the cost/benefit (value) of traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage to verify my assertions.

Expand full comment

@Ted Washburne

1. Interest rates in those countries are low, so the cost to compete is less than in the US. Our Treasury could arbitrage those rates.

2. Some countries like Norway, were able to cash in from oil assets. Our economy and our national security has been undermined by OPEC/Saudi/Russia fixing oil production and thus caused inflation. The Saudis own or control a vast segment of our economy - own our largest oil refineries, control Exxon and other companies. Our government does not have authority to sue price fixers and price gougers.

Expand full comment

The US needs to go back to banning the international sale of oil produced in the US. We used to have this.

Expand full comment

Your reply is very thorough, thoughtful, and I believe so very true. Thank you for this reply.

Expand full comment

Thanks LeeAnn

Expand full comment

I recommend taxing capital gains as ordinary income.

Expand full comment

"But make no mistake. The frustrations and anger of the American working class — Trump’s MAGA base — continue to grow."

And rightfully so. The GQP is not solely to blame; the neoliberalism of the "New Democrats" abandoned the working class for Wall Street. Biden is the first President since Jimmy Carter to care about them.

Expand full comment

The working class abandoned Democrats for Republicans because "lazy black people were living on welfare."

Or do you forget Nixon beat Humphrey and McGovern and Reagan beat Carter and Mondale.

Democrats moved their policies to where the majority of voters claimed they wanted them to be.

Except of course, the voters were then shocked to discover that THEY were the ones who needed the strong social safety net.

And now it's the Democrats' fault we didn't stop the policies they voted for.

I'm afraid the only solution is to for a generational change.

Expand full comment

Channel Taylor Swift. 40% of the electorate, 70% trending Democratic, can be that generational change. https://www.npr.org/2023/09/22/1201183160/taylor-swift-instagram-voter-registration

Expand full comment

That's my hope.

For years my response to certain situations has been "Evolution only works when we let stupidity be fatal."

Because if 2007 didn't teach the American people that Republican policies and Milt Friedman were a disaster for everyone who wasn't born a Rockefeller or a Trump, I don't think anything will.

So now we have to hope the kids who lived through that took away the lesson that while government can't solve all problems, neither is it the worst solution to many of them.

Expand full comment

“Trumpism would not be threatening American democracy had we strengthened our labor unions rather than succumbed to “right-to-work” laws and Reagan-inspired union bashing.” --Robert Reich

Excellent points, professor. However, we know that the MAGA mob is frustrated and it’s only getting worse, but they are focusing their anger on the wrong people.

So the right question should be, how do we get these people to face reality? We’ve seen labor movements fail in right to work states, time and again. Volkswagen wasn’t even against organized labor in Tennessee, and the union initiative still failed to rally enough workers to organize.

As the adage goes, “you can lead a horse to water.....

The problem is the MAGAist’s are their own worse enemy as they continue to vote against their own interests.

They prefer bumper sticker slogans to actual policy positions outlined by democrats. And the more democrats take care of the Republicans who vote against our party, the more they blame democrats, and reward republicans.

Let’s face it: these people are so stupid, I highly doubt they could collectively find the ocean, if they were standing on the beach.

Just saying...:)

Expand full comment
founding

Anger is not a rational emotion - and evoking it is a tactic (deliberately undertaken to confuse and bewilder); anyone who is blind with rage won't be able to see the ocean (let alone fight the tide that is overtaking them) - and likely isn't amenable to reason: note 73+ attempts to "repeal and replace Obamacare"...

Expand full comment

Well said. A perfect example would be the British and Brexit. How quickly did they regret the decision, yet it was an overly emotional response that has annihilated their economy and worsened their status in Europe...:)

Expand full comment

Brexit has not made anything worse in Europe!

Expand full comment

I didn’t say all of Europe, I said Great Britain has suffered.

Brexit has already contributed to Britain’s particularly high inflation by introducing friction into the country’s most important trading relationship (the EU), and hitting the value of the pound, which has made imports more expensive.

A recent study by the London School of Economics found that Brexit was responsible for about a third of UK food price inflation since 2019, adding nearly £7 billion ($8.8 billion) to Britain’s grocery bill.

Bottom line: Brexit has made Britain’s economic conditions worse and post-COVID, Britain is experiencing worse inflation, and higher unemployment than the rest of the EU.

https://www.bangor.ac.uk/news/2023-06-01-why-uk-inflation-is-so-high-compared-to-eu-and-us-and-what-to-do-about-it

Expand full comment

I apologise.

I need to wake up!

All absolutely correct.

Expand full comment

No worries, I thought you might have misunderstood. I’m also guilty; once in a while...:)

Expand full comment
Nov 9, 2023·edited Nov 9, 2023

Well, maybe 73+ attempts to REPEAL Obamacre, but there was NEVER an attempt to replace it. The rEpublicrites never offered a replacement plan to the public. And thosoe 73+ attempts was no more than peeing into the wind (and they knew it because the Senate was DEmocrat-controlled or they could not overcome the Democrat filibuster.) But they did it anyway while the taxpayers gave them their cushy salaries.

Expand full comment

Well, there was the Ryan healthcare plan reintroduced that had failed before. It was pathetic. The Republicans cannot come up with a healthcare plan, because it would destroy the medical insurance companies. The national Health Service will not be as good as the for profit. But as in the UK you can pay for a top up insurance that gives you priority and access to better providers.

Expand full comment
founding

Well, not the Republicans that are elected these days, no - they cannot...

(Note that - in the 1980's, before being consumed by fealty to Grover Norquist & Leonard Leo - there was plenty of talk about a second immigration amnesty, resettling refugees, and even single-payer health insurance; however, that party was strong dollar, averse to pre-emptive foreign conflict, and had access to a balance sheet which reflected a 30% debt-to-GDP ratio. Further, there was no Fox News & the indiscretions of their Lying Liars were largely private, i.e. not conflated with concerted efforts at self-effacement regardless of harm to long-standing norms.)

Expand full comment
founding

It is not that “these people are so stupid,” but the education system has failed them in teaching critical thinking. And we as a nation have failed the education system by not elevating it to the position it deserves. A working democracy requires an educated electorate or the demagogues turn it into a “Demonocracy.” When we call the MAGA voters stupid, we are blaming the victims of demagoguery. And behind it all are the Ultra wealthy who benefit from the problems they have caused.

Expand full comment

Fair enough, my statement was a bit hyperbolic, but it’s not just a lack of critical thinking. It’s emotional responses to their frustration, and tribalism that play a big part of their dysfunction.

When people wear t-shirts that say I’d rather be Russian than a democrat, we’ve got bigger issues than just education and rational thought.

That said, I agree billionaire funded think tanks, super pacs and the right-wing media ecosystem, all add insult to injury...:)

Expand full comment

I have not seen anybody wearing the “I’d rather be Russian” shirt. Of course, if I did, I’d tell them to book a flight and move there ASAP!

Expand full comment

True, they don’t anymore. These people have moved on, but they did in the past. It was a best seller.

That said, what’s worse is the entire party is rooting for a Russian victory in Ukraine. Russia’s disinformation campaigns have been working; especially given Trump and the rest of Putin’s useful idiots, who continually do the Kremlin’s bidding.

Expand full comment

Irony on irony -- if they got a college education, they'd be better equipped to understand that Trump was not their friend. But then they wouldn't be in the uneducated demographic anymore.

Expand full comment

Agreed..:)

Expand full comment

Studies show that life expectancy is lower in concentrated areas of poverty and low education . I know way too many people (ages 30-65) who have committed suicide, died a violent death, or overdosed. In the richest country in the world, we are barely in the top 50 amongst other nations in life expectancy. Look at the nations at the top. They have affordable healthcare, free university, family leave; a support system that helps people thrive.

Expand full comment

Everything you cite about income inequality is accurate, but I think it's time we come to grips with the fact that not all these Trump supporters are for the former President because of income anxiety and worry about the state of their health...

There's an awful lot of prejudice and anger out there...People seethe, and it's not about their paycheck or fiscal prospects, it's about hate.

Expand full comment

What can be said when an overweight, out-of-shape, junkfood junkie denigrates Public Health servants while vehemently dismissing the need for vaccines? Removing requirements for motor cycle helmets, unfettered gun ownership, defunded environmental regulations with no concern for water quality, no restrictions re: use of glyphosate near homes or in our food--all those REPUG assaults for the sake of their corporate handlers--will erode life expectancy.

Ho-hum. In Nebraska, where uranium is attracted to groundwater--drinkingwater--because of agricultural nitrates, the Repug Gov. Pillen has chosen to ignore the situation--even after IT WAS REVEALED THAT HIS PIG FARM was polluting the local water supply.

You get what you vote for.

Expand full comment

Dawna, you nailed it...how many on this substack come back and read newer comments??

If the orange nightmare wins you can kiss EPA regulations goodbye...and a lot more too!

Expand full comment

A major contributor is that the quality or perhaps it's quantity of our health care has plummeted like a stone in the last two decades. Where once we had good coverage for our money, now we have increasing copays for everything and have to fight for the right to even the most basic tests. We have to go months, even years, "proving" that some pointless minimum treatment is ineffective before being allowed the procedures we need. This is the new "managed care". What's managed is the increased profits of the for-profit system. Like all forms of insurance, the goal is to take in as much money in the form of premiums and pay out as little in benefit. Sounds like organized gambling? That's because it is.

We need universal health care, unhitched from any specific job

Expand full comment

The correlation is interesting. Educated people seem more interested in protecting their health. They are less likely to smoke and eat fast food. They are more likely to protect themselves with getting vaccinated.

I am simply terrified about Trump’ “Project 2025”. He openly talks about his vengeance & the dismantling of our democracy. This was recently in the Washington Post.

https://open.substack.com/pub/joycevance/p/frogs-boiled-what-trump-is-planning?r=24p296&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post

Expand full comment

Marlo, thanks for the link!

Expand full comment

Here Come Da Bus, Here Come Da Bus, Here Come Da Bus…….Vroom, Vroom

I believe it was Ron White who said “You Can’t Fix Stupid “

It’s a daily occurrence that happens in this country! Whether you are a lawyer or a judge, a family member or just an associate of Trump, if you do something that he doesn’t like, he will throw you under the bus because he is a spoiled, petulant child who never grew up! It’s truly scary that we gave this child in a man’s body 4 years in the White House!

Remember when he said he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "fell in love" because of Kim's "beautiful letters." "I was really tough and so was he, and we went back and forth," Trump told an adoring crowd of thousands at Wesbanco Arena in Wheeling. "And then we fell in love, OK? No, really, he wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love.”

This you can take to the bank. Trump would love to rule this country like Kim Jong Un rules North Korea!

He makes no bones about which country leaders he admires. Trump aspires to become the next Dictator!

The boiling frog is an apologue describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

Well, some of the frogs are jumping out!

I believe the American people are FINALLY WAKING UP to see that the far right extremism, with funding from American Oligarchs, is slowly turning our country into an authoritarian dictatorship.

It’s high time that we stop this madness, stop the Hate and once again become the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!

Expand full comment
founding

Uh, where are people "finally waking up"? (Did you see the poll numbers for Biden yesterday? Who is leading amongst the challengers now that the third debate has taken place?)

Expand full comment

Believing in polls is the same as believing in Trump!

Expand full comment
founding

If you're willing to conduct your own, sure - but academic scholarship still relies on polling & the citing of polls... so even a profusion of... synthetic... alternatives (like Twitter) only makes up so much of the difference...

Expand full comment
founding

Political polls are no longer trustworthy.

Expand full comment

Rishi Chopra ; How can it be called a debate when the front runner does not participate? Like Putin, tfg does not want a real challenger; there are only placeholders to prevent a 'dark horse' challenger with some real ideas. Any true challenger would be met with threats or worse. Just like what Putin would do. Lock them up or make them dissappear. Or have them " go through some things".

Expand full comment
founding

He's busy! = D

Expand full comment

i'm somewhat confused, Dr Reich: you say "Nearly one out of every five American workers is in a part-time job. Two-thirds are living paycheck to paycheck". which made me ask how many americans have a 4yr college degree? googelz tells me that "In the Census Bureau's most recent 2022 findings, the percentage of people with a bachelor's degree or higher remained stable from the previous year at around 37.7%."

this suggests that at least some people with college degrees are still downwardly mobile -- failures -- which makes me ask: what makes these college educated people downwardly mobile in the first place? career choice? life choices? other events (like unavoidable health crises)? i know you don't respond to comments with a comment of your own, but i'm sure curious to know what the dealio is with these so-called "failures".

Expand full comment
founding

GrrlScientist, you have a good point. One possible reason that those with college degrees are downwardly mobile is that now many graduate with crushing debt that takes away most of their potential purchasing power. Those that get a degree in education with loans and take a job in a rural school district likely are downwardly mobile and similarly as what occurred to me, must take a job in an unrelated field to support the family.

Expand full comment

Marc Nevas ; I remember when the Obamas announced that they had just finished paying off their student loans while in the White House! There are those who are threatened with having their loan payments taken out of Social Security to finish paying them off.

Expand full comment

well, yes, you have a most excellent point. i should have been clearer in wording my question: i am curious to know why those with a 4yr college degree who graduated a decade or two ago (before crushing college debt became common) are downwardly mobile?

Expand full comment

I have met many a college grad with majors to which they served the student’s interest but led to few opportunities without a more advanced degree resulting in having to take a position with less opportunities. For example, archaeology, geography, geology. The people I knew with such degrees were happily with their field of study but became acutely aware of the limitations imposed without further study and, because of life, settled for positions with little upward mobility but provided a modicum of financial security.

Expand full comment

Hey! Leave geology out of it! I'm doing great, but...I'm a DINK who owns a house and got lucky in the stock market with my IRA. My wife went back for a masters at age 50 and it cost us $45K from a state university (and a second mortgage), for a non-STEM degree. I got my BS at 30 with $20K in college debt at 9% interest, and in 1991 that was not inconsiderable. The '70s and '80s were the heyday of cheap college, and I benefited but did not emerge unscathed.

Expand full comment

My observation is… as a 4 year college graduate, over 20 years ago, and having gone into a service profession my pay never kept up with cost of living and as Professor Reich has pointed out many times our wages never grew they were stagnate for the last 20- 30- 40 years. Wah-la! Now retired and wondering will I have enough to survive on to the end, the slide downward…

Expand full comment
founding

If you graduated 10 or 20 years ago and were a person of color an other discriminated class or a single mother, the job opportunities were even worse then they are now. (Is that possible?) Also the scourge of meth and other highly addictive drugs knows no class boundaries. Addictions and the cost of feeding an addiction also deeply cuts into purchasing power of even the very wealthy.

Expand full comment
founding

That number is misleading - as the figures look quite different when one takes into account age (e.g. excluding people over the age of 65, then over the age of 49, etc.); factoring in "some college" & associates degrees results in a number which is higher still.

Wealth is an inter-generational thing... so mobility could have something to do with access to opportunity (as Marc has mentioned); Dr. Reich can feel quite proud of Cal moving more folks from the bottom decile to the top decile than all Ivy league schools combined... but that does suggest the U.C. Berkeley effect is the exception (at least until public policy & other public universities catch up)...

Expand full comment

Trump made a speech last night in Florida near the debate city of Miami where he confused world leaders and many other facts and talked about how mad he was that his daughter was laughed at in court. Unfortunately, the attendees had no idea what he was talking about because they didn’t know there was a debate, a court case or what leaders or even countries he was talking about. Let that soak in your brain for a minute.

I’m voting for Joe Biden in 2024

and I don’t care how old he is. He has been an EXCELLENT President and continues to be for these times. VOTE BIDEN 2024!🇺🇸

Expand full comment

My hunch is the life expectancy gap is caused as much by our antediluvian health “care” system that demands the freedom of time, persistence, and a high level of literacy to navigate. Wealth helps with those, and college grads do make more money, but they are further trained to navigate complex systems, which they must do to get medical care. And they tend to live where clinics are, which is not in rural America. Universal healthcare, even more than a more easily attainable university education for all, would go a long way toward fixing this.

Expand full comment