Monday, July 14, 2014

Reich: How to save capitalism from itself

I'm stitching several of Robert Reich's remarks together here:

In the United States, the progressive movement in the early 20th century pursued a very similar agenda: They sought a progressive income tax, limits to campaign spending, break-ups of corporate monopolies, food safety and health regulations, labor rights, etcetera. Those changes occurred not because of a cataclysm but because political reformers had enough influence to push extremely important reforms. I am looking to those historical periods for inspiration about the future. They give me hope.

[...] In the United States, we can already see the beginning of a populist and progressive reaction to the concentration of economic wealth. I disagree with the goals of the Tea Party, but it’s important to remember that the movement began as opposition to the bail-outs of Wall Street and rejected the establishment of the Republican Party. On the Left, you had the short-lived Occupy movement. But we can see the rebirth of progressivism in the election of people like Bill de Blasio or Elizabeth Warren. They were elected on explicitly progressive platforms. And if we are to believe surveys, the U.S. public is increasingly weary of concentrated economic power. The Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance are widely greeted with dismay and anger.

[...] I have nothing but admiration for Thomas Piketty’s book, but I think that it shows a lack of political sophistication if you believe that only crises can generate waves of political reform. I believe – and I think that history bears me out – that democratic capitalism has something like a balance wheel: The public becomes deeply offended by great concentrations of economic and political power. That offense quickly moves to outrage, and that can have serious political consequences. 

Interview with Martin Eiermann
June 17, 2014 | The European

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