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Author: Robert Reich

Poverty, Misery, and Death: What the new American exceptionalism means during a pandemic

No other nation has endured as much death from COVID-19 nor nearly as a high a death rate as has the United States. With 4.25% of the world population, America has the tragic distinction of accounting for about 30% of pandemic deaths so far. And it is the only advanced nation where the death rate is still climbing. Three thousand deaths per day are anticipated by June 1. No other nation has loosened lockdowns and other social-distancing measures while deaths are increasing, as the US is now doing. No other advanced nation was as unprepared for the pandemic as...

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How American lives are being sold out to ensure economic profits and political interests

Donald Trump has been getting nervous. Internal polls show him losing in November unless the economy comes roaring back. So what is Trump’s reelection strategy? Ignore the warnings of public health experts and reopen the economy at all costs. Here is his lethal 4-part plan: Step 1: Remove income support, so people have no choice but to return to work. Trump’s Labor Department has decided that furloughed employees “must accept” an employer’s offer to return to work and therefore forfeit unemployment benefits, regardless of the risk of returning to work before it is safe. Forcing people to choose between contracting...

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Crowdsourcing the Truth: Facts under siege and journalism in dire need of rebuilding public trust

Guarding the independence of the press is essential to maintaining truth as a common good. And truth is essential to democracy. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Yet the press’s freedom and independence are under siege, and a growing segment of the public no longer trusts the major media. Distrust was on the rise even before Donald Trump’s demagoguery. On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, only 18% of Americans...

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Democracy vs. Oligarchy: The real American divide is not Left vs. Right

When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy. I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that some Democratic candidates may be “too far left.” But in this era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left.” A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market. But as...

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Politics and Puppets: How oligarchs profit from Trump’s division of Americans

Photo by Gage Skidmore and licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 For a century the GOP has been bankrolled by big business and Wall Street. Trump wants to keep the money rolling in. His signature tax cut has helped U.S. corporations score record profits and the stock market reach all-time highs. To spur even more corporate generosity for the 2020 election, Trump is suggesting more giveaways. Trump wants to expand his working-class base. In rallies and countless tweets he claims to be restoring the American working class by holding back immigration and trade. Incumbent Republicans and GOP candidates are mimicking...

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Amazon’s HQ2 further divides America and leaves cities like Milwaukee behind

Tomorrow’s technologies are flocking to hubs of innovation on the east and west coasts, while everyone else is left being left behind. Amazon has decided that its much-vaunted “second headquarters” will be split between Long Island City in Queens, and Crystal City, across the Potomac from Washington DC. Amazon’s decision coincides with America’s political tumult. Its main headquarters is in Seattle, one of the most liberal cities in the most liberal of states. Its picks – New York and metropolitan Washington – are liberal, too. Amazon could easily have decided to locate its second headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. After...

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