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NAFTA Supporter Robert Reich Proud Of What Clinton Did
by repost
Sunday Sep 22nd, 2013 1:49 PM
Liberal Clinton Supporter Robert Reich now argues that he is proud of what Clinton did. Clinton supported the supposed "reform" of welfare and NAFTA which is been a major tool for union busters and the multi-nationals in destroying the lives of working people.
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reich_and_clinton.jpeg

NAFTA Supporter Robert Reich Proud Of What Clinton Did
http://www.sfchronicle.com/movies/article/Inequality-offers-education-on-economy-4827878.php
Q: You say in the film that when you were in the Clinton administration, "We didn't do enough." Enough of what?

Reich : "We didn't do enough to reverse these underlying trends. I'm proud of what we did do, but we set out to do much more. There's a distinction between the business cycle, the natural ups and downs of the economy, on the one hand, and these underlying structural trends.

I think we in the Clinton administration managed to help facilitate a very vigorous recovery, one of the best recoveries in American history, at least postwar. But we didn't do nearly enough to reverse widening inequality. The moment the recovery was over, we were back to the same underlying trend lines, but worse."

Reich Supported NAFTA

Gerald McEnteePresident of the 1.6 Million-Member AFSCME Union
Posted: April 18, 2008 02:09 PM


Robert Reich's Endorsement -- No Big Deal
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-mcentee/robert-reichs-endorsement_b_97450.html

Apparently, some people think it's big news that Robert Reich has decided to publicly endorse Barack Obama. We shouldn't be surprised. For months now, Reich has been criticizing Hillary Clinton on his blog and elsewhere, distorting her policies and her positions. He's criticized Senator Clinton's solutions on the foreclosure crisis, on health care and trade. He's been in the Obama camp for some time.

Despite his reputation as a liberal and a friend of working men and women, Reich knows how to walk both sides of the street. I recall that he rarely, if ever, mentioned unions during his four years as Secretary of Labor. He has no problem backing proposals that cheer business more than labor, like ending the corporate income tax. If you read his recent book, Supercapitalism, you would think Steve Forbes was the writer. But no, it's the former Secretary of Labor calling for eliminating a tax that helps keep down the tax burden on working men and women across this nation. Does Senator Obama support that Reich idea? Is eliminating the corporate income tax going to be part of the "change we can believe in"?

Reich says that corporate responsibility is counterproductive. He thinks it's a distraction. That's beautiful. Here we have a former Secretary of Labor, someone who should know better, taking the GOP line that corporations need to focus on making money and forget about everything else. The movement for social responsibility has promoted ethical decision-making in business, community development programs, day-care centers, HIV-AIDS training, family-friendly workplaces, and more. To suggest that those developments are a distraction from the responsibility of corporations to amass profits for shareholders, as Secretary Reich does in his book, is shameful.

So is his support for NAFTA. Reich says unfair trade pacts bear no responsibility for the decline in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Two months ago, Reich wrote that "it's a shame the Democratic candidates for president feel they have to make trade - specifically NAFTA - the enemy of blue-collar workers and the putative cause of their difficulties. NAFTA is not to blame." He's wrong on NAFTA, just as Obama's chief economic advisor Professor Goolsbee was wrong on NAFTA.

Now the question is: Does Senator Obama support fair trade when his friends Goolsbee and Reich say "No."


ROBERT REICH ON NAFTA

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2008/03/robert-reich-on.html
He writes:

Robert Reich's Blog: Hillary and Barack, Afta Nafta: It’s a shame the Democratic candidates for president feel they have to make trade – specifically NAFTA – the enemy of blue-collar workers.... NAFTA is not to blame.... When NAFTA took effect, Ohio had 990,000 manufacturing jobs. Two years later, in 1996, it had 1,300,000 manufacturing jobs. The number stayed above a million for the rest of the 1990s. Today, though, there are about 775,000 manufacturing jobs in Ohio.

What happened? The economy... crashed in late 2000, and the manufacturing jobs lost in that last recession never came back... employers automated the jobs out of existence, using robots and computers... [and] shipped the jobs abroad, mostly to China – not to Mexico.

NAFTA has become a symbol for the mounting insecurities felt by blue-collar Americans. While the overall benefits from free trade far exceed the costs, and the winners from trade (including all of us consumers who get cheaper goods and services because of it) far exceed the losers, there’s a big problem: The costs fall disproportionately on the losers -- mostly blue-collar workers who get dumped because their jobs can be done more cheaply by someone abroad who’ll do it for a fraction of the American wage.... Even though the winners from free trade could theoretically compensate the losers and still come out ahead, they don’t. America doesn’t have a system for helping job losers find new jobs that pay about the same as the ones they’ve lost – regardless of whether the loss was because of trade or automation. There’s no national retraining system. Unemployment insurance reaches fewer than 40 percent of people who lose their jobs.... There's no wage insurance. Nothing....

Get me? The Dems shouldn't be redebating NAFTA. They should be debating how to help Americans adapt to a new economy in which no job is safe. Okay, so back to my initial question. The answer is HRC didn't want the Administration to move forward with NAFTA... because of its timing. She wanted her health-care plan to be voted on first...

There are other, secondary causes of declining numbers of manufacturing jobs in Ohio. The Bush budget deficits certainly don't help.


‘Giving’ and Taking
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070917_giving_and_taking/

Posted on Sep 17, 2007


AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
By Chris Hedges

Bill Clinton has written a new book. It is called “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.” He will give a portion of the proceeds to charity. Giving, the former president informs us, gives us fulfilment in life and is “the fabric of our shared humanity.”

His book is the political equivalent of“Marley & Me” It is filled with a lot of vapid, feel-good stories about ordinary and wealthy Americans setting out to make the world a better place. It smacks of the philanthropy-as-publicity that characterized the largesse of the robber barons—the Mellons and the Rockefellers—and has become a pastime for our own oligarchic elite. Clinton’s call for charity is the equivalent of well-scrubbed prep school students spending a day in a soup kitchen, doling out food to the people whose jobs were outsourced by their mommies and daddies. It does little to alleviate suffering. But it is a balm to the conscience of the oligarchic class that profits handsomely from the impoverishment of the working class, globalization and our anti-democratic corporate state. The rich love to dine out on their own goodness.

The misery sweeping across the American landscape may have begun with Ronald Reagan, but it was accelerated and codified by Bill Clinton. He sold out the poor and the working class. And Clinton did it deliberately to feed the pathological hunger he and his wife have for political power. It was the Clintons who led the Democratic Party to the corporate watering trough. The Clintons argued that the party had to ditch labor unions, no longer a source of votes or power, as a political ally. Workers would vote Democratic anyway. They had no choice. It was better, the Clintons argued, to take corporate money and use government to service the needs of the corporations. By the 1990s, the Democratic Party, under Clinton’s leadership, had virtual fund-raising parity with the Republicans. In political terms, it was a success. In moral terms, it was a betrayal.

The North American Free Trade Agreement was sold to the country by the Clinton White House as an opportunity to raise the incomes and prosperity of the citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico. Goods would be cheaper. Workers would be wealthier. Everyone would be happier. I am not sure how these contradictory things were supposed to happen, but in a sound-bite society, reality no longer matters. NAFTA would also, we were told, staunch Mexican immigration into the United States.

“There will be less illegal immigration because more Mexicans will be able to support their children by staying home,” President Clinton said in the spring of 1993 as he was lobbying for the bill.

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But NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, had the curious effect of reversing every one of Clinton’s rosy predictions. Once the Mexican government lifted price supports on corn and beans for Mexican farmers, they had to compete against the huge agribusinesses in the United States. The Mexican farmers were swiftly bankrupted. At least 2 million Mexican farmers were driven off their land from 1993 through 2002. And guess where many of them went? This desperate flight of Mexicans into the United States is being exacerbated by large-scale factory closures along the border as manufacturers leave Mexico for the cut-rate embrace of China’s totalitarian capitalism.
Clinton’s welfare reform bill, which was signed on Aug. 22, 1996, obliterated the nation’s social safety net. It threw 6 million people, many of them single parents, off of the welfare rolls within three years. It dumped them onto the streets without child care, rent subsidies and continued Medicaid coverage. Families were plunged into crisis, struggling to survive on multiple jobs that paid $6 or $7 an hour, or less than $15,000 a year. But these were the lucky ones. In some states, half of those dropped from the welfare rolls could not find work. Clinton slashed Medicare by $115 billion over a five-year period and cut $25 billion in Medicaid funding. The booming and overcrowded prison system handled the influx of the poor, as well as our abandoned mentally ill.

The growing desperation provided a pool of broken people willing to work for low wages and without unions or benefits. And while Clinton was busy selling out the poor, he lowered the capital gains tax from 28 percent to 20 percent, a reduction that permitted the wealthiest 1 percent of the population to derive 80 percent of the tax savings. Clinton, like George W. Bush, also provided lavish government funding for his corporate backers, including in 1998 a $200-billion highway and transportation package for the big construction companies and a $17-billion increase in the military budget. This was the largest increase in military spending since the end of the Cold War. Corporations, flush with government aid, saw their taxes dwindle. Amway, for example, had its taxes cut during the Clinton years by an estimated $280 million. The Clinton and Bush administrations, through tax breaks and corporate bailouts, have squandered billions of our tax dollars on corporate welfare.

The appreciative oligarchs and corporate class have made Bill rich. He is fond of boasting in public about how wealthy he has become. Hillary raised $26 million in the first quarter of the year, almost three times as much as any politician previously raised at that point in a presidential election.

We face the prospect of having two families govern the country for 16 years. The system is rigged. Our democracy is a consumer fraud. The government has given up any pretence of serving the interests of citizens. The corporations rule. And for all Clinton’s charm and talent for self-promotion, he is largely to blame.

Half a century ago, corporations paid 45 percent to 50 percent of the income tax. Today they pay 6 or 7 percent. This is why our infrastructure is crumbling, there is no universal health care, our public education is in crisis, regulatory agencies are impotent and our poor and working class are desperate.

The bottom line is that the Democrats, including John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, will never govern on our behalf. They are hostage to those who put them in power. And it is not us. Until we throw our weight behind fringe candidates such as Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader, if he runs, we will continue to be fleeced by corporate pawns such as the Clintons and the Bushes. It is no longer possible to argue between the lesser of two evils. The corporate state, which is carrying out a coup d’etat in slow motion and has already shredded most of our constitutional rights, is an unmitigated evil. We do not need charity. We need justice. And all of Bill Clinton’s heart-warming stories about giving are not going to save us from the corporations who sucked out his soul and seek to imprison the rest of us.

'Inequality' offers education on economy


72 Productions

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a UC Berkeley professor, will see his message move from the lecture hall to the big screen with "Inequality for All."
By Walter Addiego

September 22, 2013

Working and middle-class Americans have a passionate advocate in Robert Reich, secretary of labor during the first Clinton administration and currently Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. He has long contended that growing income inequality is an injustice and a threat to the nation, and he makes a compelling case in a new documentary, "Inequality for All."

The film uses footage from Reich's popular "Wealth and Poverty" class at Berkeley, supplemented by interviews with others and a modicum of helpful charts. He comes across as personable and good humored, presenting facts and logic and avoiding heavy rhetoric.


Directed by Jacob Kornbluth ("Haiku Tunnel," "The Best Thief in the World"), the film won a special jury award at Sundance earlier this year, and is about to open theatrically.

Reich and Kornbluth spoke at Reich's office on the Berkeley campus.

Q: You open your lecture by saying: "I want to shake up your assumptions ... as to why the system works as it does."

Reich: People on the left tend to assume that big corporations and the rich are responsible in some malevolent way for widening inequality. People on the right, if they're worried about inequality at all - and many of them aren't - they tend to blame it on either the government or the poor.

That is, the poor have brought it on themselves. These stereotypical assumptions are both fundamentally wrong. What I try to do in the class, and what the movie tries to do, is show people that there is a system at work here, and it's a system over which we have, potentially, some control. Because it's a matter of rules and laws, and if we understand what's really going on, we have at least half a chance of changing those rules and laws.

Kornbluth: A lot of people, when they approach a film like this, think about it in partisan terms. Is this a film that's going to advocate for leftist orthodoxies or conservative ones? It was important to us to make a film that addressed the issue but that wasn't stuck in the partisan debate of the moment. That's the other way to frame that, it's to make sure that people come at it with an open mind, and if they can, don't think about it in strictly partisan terms.

Reich: One final point: The name "Inequality for All" reflects our conviction that income inequality is bad for everybody.


72 Productions

Director Jacob Kornbluth (left) and Robert Reich are the men behind "Inequality for All."
Q: You also mention "great prosperity" of the 1950s through '70s, when there was less income inequality.

Reich: We had strong unions - more than a third of all workers belonged to a union, and therefore the middle class had bargaining power to get a share of the gains from the economy. Secondly, we invested substantially in education and expanded higher education. Thirdly, we controlled Wall Street. Fourthly, we had a tax system that was far more progressive in that the top income earners paid a much higher percentage of their incomes.

All of this in turn was supported by a strong sense of social solidarity. We had been through the Depression, we had been through the war, we knew that America was far from perfect but equal opportunity was a palpable goal.

Q: You talk about globalization and technology as two "tugs" on the economy. Are governments capable of mitigating the negative effects of these overpowering forces?

Reich: Yes. Other countries are subject to the same forces. Germany would be one example. The top 1 percent in Germany, instead of taking home over 20 percent of total income, is taking home 11 percent of total income. And the median wage in Germany is much higher than the median wage here in the United States. And public goods, such as health care and education, are of higher quality and more available. So it's certainly possible to mitigate the effects of globalization and technology.

Q: Maybe the most striking chart displayed in the movie is the "suspension bridge" that shows how years of peak income inequality (1928 and 2007) preceded major economic crashes.

Reich: To both of us, the parallels were striking. Yet (the nation) went through the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 without much discussion of what happened in the 1920s, and what could be learned both from what happened then and from the dramatic changes that we made in the 1930s.

Basically, we have not made those dramatic changes this time around, so the economy continues to be sluggish, the recovery is anemic, the median wage continues to drop, adjusted for inflation, inequality by all measures continues to widen.

Kornbluth: It's a pretty clear demonstration of inequality being bad for everybody, not just for poor people or the middle class, but also for the wealthy. If the whole economy crashes when it becomes too imbalanced, when it affects the economy's ability to grow, that's a problem that's substantial enough to merit changing or fixing. That's what makes that particular graph so impactful. It's the first one I saw that made me want to make the film.

Q: The film suggests that growing income inequality leads to growing political polarization. The idea that we could be more polarized is scary.

Reich: It is scary. You look at other nations, and look historically, and see that the worse inequality becomes, the greater the public, not just divisiveness, but anger and animus and acrimony. There seems to be a direct correlation.

Q: You say in the film that when you were in the Clinton administration, "We didn't do enough." Enough of what?

Reich : We didn't do enough to reverse these underlying trends. I'm proud of what we did do, but we set out to do much more. There's a distinction between the business cycle, the natural ups and downs of the economy, on the one hand, and these underlying structural trends.

I think we in the Clinton administration managed to help facilitate a very vigorous recovery, one of the best recoveries in American history, at least postwar. But we didn't do nearly enough to reverse widening inequality. The moment the recovery was over, we were back to the same underlying trend lines, but worse.

Q: Henry Hazlitt wrote a book called "Economics in One Lesson," which has a very different outlook from yours. If you were to rewrite that book, what would be your one lesson?

Reich: I think the central lesson in modern times, starting with the great crash of 1929, is that we're all in this together. Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher - they all were fundamentally wrong. They conceived of an economy as a bunch of individuals in pursuit of maximum selfish gratification, and that's not really what we are. The rising tide really does lift all boats. The rich would do better with a smaller share of a rapidly growing economy than they are doing now, with a large share of an economy that is barely growing at all.

Q: Documentaries about issues often seem to preach to the choir. How have you tried to prevent this?

Reich: We've done a number of screenings of the film, including screenings for people who were clearly in the top 1 percent (of income), such as in Aspen, Colo. And afterward, Jake or I or both of us stay, and I've been flabbergasted at the number of very wealthy people who come up and say, "You know, I've never understood this. You've caused me to think hard. I'm shaken up. I've got to take some action."

The film is successful in doing what we set out to do. The challenge is to get people in the theater, and we're hoping that word of mouth, and reviews, and other ways of communicating will get at least the independents, and people in the middle, and, hopefully, people on the right. {sbox}

Inequality for All (PG) opens Friday at Bay Area theaters.

To see a trailer, go to http://www.inequalityforall.com.

Walter Addiego is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: waddiego [at] sfchronicle.com
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Clinton's Labor Secretary Reich Stabbed Nuke Whistleblower Varnadore In The Back
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/05/us/charles-d-varnadore-whistle-blower-at-nuclear-lab-dies-at-71.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

“The only conclusion which can be drawn from this record is that they intentionally put him under stress with full knowledge that he was a cancer patient recovering from extensive surgery and lengthy chemotherapy,” the judge, Theodor P. Von Brand, wrote in his decision. “Under the circumstances, he was particularly vulnerable to the workplace stresses to which he was subjected.”
Judge Von Brand sent the matter to the labor secretary, Robert B. Reich, so that damages could be assessed against Martin Marietta. Instead, Mr. Reich dismissed some of Mr. Varnadore’s charges on the ground that they had been filed too late, and he dismissed others because he did not believe that they had been proved conclusively. A panel appointed by Mr. Reich found that while there had been retaliation against Mr. Varnadore, it was not pervasive. It threw out the rest of Mr. Varnadore’s claims, and in 1998 a federal appeals court supported these high-level reversals."


Charles Varnadore, Whistle-Blower at Lab, Dies at 71

Ken Murray
Charles D. Varnadore at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1992.
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Published: August 4, 2013

After Charles D. Varnadore complained about safety at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where he worked as a technician, his bosses moved him to an office containing radioactive waste. When an industrial hygienist recommended that either he or the waste be moved, he was put in a room contaminated with mercury.

Mr. Varnadore fought back, publicizing questionable safety practices at Oak Ridge, a federal nuclear research center that had helped develop the atomic bomb, and his own treatment, which he characterized as retaliation for his outspokenness.

His complaints drew national attention, and he found allies in the federal government.

“I’m going to see that there’s a new day here if it’s the last thing I do on this job,” Steven Blush, an Energy Department official, told CBS News in 1992.

Later that year, the department verified 16 of 26 safety violations identified by Mr. Varnadore, and it ordered Martin Marietta Energy Systems, the contractor the government had employed to run Oak Ridge, to fix all of them.

Mr. Varnadore’s complaints also led to stronger laws and practices governing employees who dare to blow the whistle on powerful employers.

His death at 71 on March 7 drew little notice, however. It went unreported except for a classified advertisement in The Knoxville News Sentinel, and the ad made no mention of any whistle-blowing. Even a former lawyer of his, Ed Slavin, had no idea that Mr. Varnadore had died until learning about it recently. He then told The New York Times.

Mr. Varnadore died at his home in Lenoir City, Tenn., said his wife, Frances. Asked about the cause, she said, “He got tired of fighting.”

His difficulties began in 1990, after he returned to work following colon cancer surgery. He found that his replacement had shortcomings in handling lab samples, and he pointed this out to his superiors. He also complained about his new assignment, operating mechanical arms to handle radioactive materials; he had been blinded in his left eye as a child and had poor depth perception.

“I tried it and made a hell of a mess,” he told The Houston Chronicle in 1993. “I didn’t think it was right for me to make this mess and have other people exposed to it.”

Mr. Varnadore began to receive negative performance evaluations after many years of good ones. He was shunted from assignment to assignment so frequently that he was nicknamed “the technician on roller skates.” In March 1991, he was given a storage room as an office to write reports and keep records of his work as a roving technician. The room contained bags and drums of radioactive waste, as well as bags of asbestos and chemical waste.

Later that month, he appeared on the “CBS Evening News” and expressed his concern about elevated cancer rates among Oak Ridge personnel. In November that year, he filed the first of several whistle-blower complaints to the Labor Department, invoking federal statutes promising immunity.

In February 1992, the department’s wage and hour division ruled in his favor, a judgment that was strongly supported by an administrative judge in June 1993.

“The only conclusion which can be drawn from this record is that they intentionally put him under stress with full knowledge that he was a cancer patient recovering from extensive surgery and lengthy chemotherapy,” the judge, Theodor P. Von Brand, wrote in his decision. “Under the circumstances, he was particularly vulnerable to the workplace stresses to which he was subjected.”

Judge Von Brand sent the matter to the labor secretary, Robert B. Reich, so that damages could be assessed against Martin Marietta. Instead, Mr. Reich dismissed some of Mr. Varnadore’s charges on the ground that they had been filed too late, and he dismissed others because he did not believe that they had been proved conclusively. A panel appointed by Mr. Reich found that while there had been retaliation against Mr. Varnadore, it was not pervasive. It threw out the rest of Mr. Varnadore’s claims, and in 1998 a federal appeals court supported these high-level reversals.

Martin Marietta denied permitting any safety or environmental irregularities. While it did not deny the existence of radiation, mercury and other chemicals in Mr. Varnadore’s offices, it said they were not present in quantities large enough to be dangerous.

Martin Marietta merged with Lockheed in 1995 to become Lockheed Martin. Five years later, it was replaced at Oak Ridge by UT-Battelle, a partnership between the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute.

It could be said that Mr. Varnadore lost his case. But Nahum Litt, the Labor Department’s chief admin