"Inequality for All": Economist Robert Reich Vs. the One Percent

In Jacob Kornbluth's documentary Inequality for All, the famed economist, UC Berkeley professor, and jovial short person Robert Reich (pronounced "Reish," like you're slurring "rice") takes us through a PowerPoint-augmented lecture about the disappearance of the middle class, and just why the One Percent has all the money. It's not actually strictly fair to call Inequality for All a lecture, because while the framing device is Reich speaking to his class along with many Errol Morris-style talking heads, it's thoroughly entertaining even while being more than a little depressing. Reich himself is charismatic and upbeat (and really likes Dolly Parton's "9 to 5"), and the points he makes will probably resonate with those who don't automatically write him off as a commie pinko. As Reich tells us, his first job was with the Ford Administration — hardly a liberal hotbed — and while he went on to work for Democratic Presidents Carter and Clinton, he also guest-hosted for Bill O'Reilly on Fox News. But Reich remained a centrist as the culture shifted around him, resisting the ever-increasing partisan battles, and we see O'Reilly recently dismissing Reich as a communist — his punishment for not toeing the pro-corporate company line. Is Inequality for All a hagiography of Reich? People who disagree with him will probably think so.

 
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2 comments
beatsynthesis
beatsynthesis

Horrible movie, unless one enjoys watching an arrogant little academic spew, one-sided, neo-liberal ideology.  Reich is an example of what happens when an intelligent man becomes immersed in neo-liberal ideology and cut off from the real world of economics and human nature. Contrary to Reich's unsupported premise, income and wealth inequality are not harmful; rather, they are evidence a healthy, moral society. People are rewarded with income based on their relative value to society. Those who create or otherwise provide value are rewarded with commensurate income. These whose contributions are minimal, are compensated with less. Executives who create innovation, efficiency and profit are appropriately paid more than low-level workers with easily replaceable skills. And, of course, as to investing and wealth management, as the old quote goes, "A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted." All of this makes not only good economic sense, it is morally fair and just. Conversely, taking wealth from some and giving it to others is theft.

Being an aloof academic, Reich does not realize how silly his ideas are to practical people. He blames the wealthy and income inequality for causing recent financial collapses. On the contrary, it is government meddling and over-regulation that cause collapses. When economic and financial prudence are replaced with neo-liberal ideology, and when risk is guaranteed by the government, even a fool (but not a neo-liberal), can predict that economic and financial harm will result. When lenders are forced by government to make loans to unqualified borrowers, common sense dictates that defaults will occur. When those defaults occur, the government (taxpayers) will be forced to make good on bad "guaranteed" loans. Without government meddling, lenders would only loan money to those with demonstrated ability to repay the loans. Similarly, societal income and wealth disparities eventually force the wealthy and business owners to make price and wage concessions to the less fortunate, so they can buy products and participate in the economy. History demonstrates that, without government meddling, the marketplace adjusts wages, price, income and wealth. All of the harmful effects of which Reich speaks are CAUSED by governmental efforts to redistribute wealth, provide more resources for the "less fortunate," and remove risk from the economy. These governmental efforts must, necessarily, result in financial ruin, because they have no basis in real-world economics and human nature. None of these facts matter in the fantasy, ideological world Reich and neo-liberal academics/politicians have created for themselves. Were Reich and the neo-liberals relegated to the halls of academia, there might be little harm from their nonsense. The problem for society is that these dangerous people have now taken control of the government and media. Despite powerful evidence of their ongoing failures, neo-liberals like Reich remain hell-bent on implementing their pernicious ideologies.

elizabethfrantes
elizabethfrantes

It's really too late to make a difference now.  Overpopulation means that more and more of us on the bottom will be fighting for less and less space, less resources, and thus, will never be able to stop the real problem.

 

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