Robert Reich’s Revolutionary Rants
By Matthew Vadum
To distract from Barack Obama’s failing presidency and the misery it is causing millions of Americans, leftist gadfly Robert Reich is wheeling out tired old paranoid rhetoric about class warfare and “inequality.”
Using language out of the Communist Manifesto, Reich inveighs against an invisible, cartoonish, Monopoly Man-type villain. Of course, Reich has no interest in talking about the vicious war that President Obama and his allies are waging against productive members of society, those who have affordable health insurance, and those who pay the taxes used up by the nonproductive.
Long a thuggish shill of the now-dying labor movement, Reich rants that
“Opposing a minimum wage hike, blocking unemployment insurance, cutting food stamps, keeping millions from accessing Medicaid … I believe these positions are part of a concerted effort to keep struggling folks down that represents nothing less than a war on the poor and working class.”
Although poll after poll has shown that “inequality” doesn’t register on American voters’ radar screens, Reich and the Left are pushing hard to raise the federal minimum wage, a move that will hit the young, especially young people of color, the hardest. Under 3 percent of all workers in the nation (and an even lower percentage of full-time workers) earn the minimum wage.
Hiking the minimum wage has never been about helping low-income people. In fact it has racist origins and was originally used to hurt minorities. It doesn’t help fast food workers. Increasing the minimum wage would benefit wealthier, white teens at the expense of minority teens, according to American Action Forum:
“Instead of combating income inequality, an increase in the minimum wage may actually enlarge the income gap by limiting earnings from those who need them most (the jobless) and directing them to those who need it least, the top 20% of earners.”
Those living below the poverty line are more likely to be unemployed, as opposed to earning a minimum wage, so they probably wouldn’t benefit from hiking the wage rate, Doug Holtz-Eakin, head of American Action Forum and a former Congressional Budget Office director.
“Minimum wage jobs are meant to be stepping stones, in which workers find internal promotions,” Holtz-Eakin said. “The key to not being poor is work. You have to have a robustly growing economy with job opportunities and we haven’t had that over the past five years.”
“If you raise the minimum wage and stop someone from getting hired, you’re transferring wages from the unemployed to someone already working,” he said.
In Europe unsustainable employee costs are forcing restaurants to replace fast food order-takers with machines, and plans are in place for automated food preparation. It will happen here too, especially in places like SeaTac, Wash., where voters recently approved a job-killing $15-an-hour minimum wage.
The minimum wage eliminates jobs from the workforce, forcing people onto welfare, and helps unions by restricting competition among those offering their labor. People who are dependent on the government tend to support Democrats.
Raising the hourly minimum wage, whether to $9, $10.10 as President Obama proposes, or $15, isn’t really about helping people.
It’s about recruiting voters and creating dependent Americans who will help to perpetuate the power of the Democratic Party.
Like mom, apple pie, and puppies, increasing the minimum wage often scores well in opinion polls. Left-wing activist groups support raising the minimum wage because it helps them to mobilize voters and their own troops.
ACORN used to put minimum wage propositions on the ballot in order to drive up turn out among poor voters. “We would like it to become a fact of political life where every year the other side has to contend with a minimum wage law in some state,” said Jen Kern, director of ACORN’s Living Wage Resource Center.
“This is what moves people to the polls now. This is our gay marriage,” she said a few years ago in a reference to the now-abandoned conservative tactic of putting anti-same sex referendums on the ballot in order to drive up conservative voter turnout.
But facts matter little to Reich, a radical true believer and undistinguished left-wing economist with the gift of gab who served as President Clinton’s labor secretary. Reich is repackaging the arguments that “social justice” crusaders have long used to prey on the naive and ignorant.
Reich is doing this in part to promote his new movie, Inequality for All. Reich says his piece of radical agitprop is aimed at ensuring there is “upward mobility again, in our society and in our economy.”
Getting Americans politically involved will help “change the rules” that he falsely claims contributed to the recession that began under George W. Bush and has since intensified under Barack Obama.
In a new MoveOn video, Reich accuses mysterious, unnamed forces — he calls them “they” — of plotting against low-income people. This rhetorical use of the pronoun they ought to be referred to as the Paranoid Third Person. It’s a staple of conspiracy theorists, community organizers, and Saul Alinsky devotees and it’s part of the same whiny refrain we’ve been hearing from Reich and his Sixties leftover friends like Roger Hickey for decades now.
It ties in well with the current work of MoveOn, the leftist group that was created to get the neo-Marxists of the modern Democratic Party back on-message by distracting from Bill Clinton’s Oval Office sexual affair with a young intern. True to form, MoveOn is now bringing up marginal or irrelevant economic issues to bail out Barack Obama.
Invisible forces are conspiring against poor and working-class Americans, according to Reich. “What are they really after?”
In his musings, Reich urges viewers to “connect these seven dots.” Cue the violins:
“They’re against extending unemployment benefits to people who have been out of work for more than six months even though there’s still only one job for every three unemployed.
They don’t want to raise the minimum wage even though today’s federal minimum is 25 percent below what it was in 1968, adjusted for inflation.
They’re against extending Medicaid benefits to millions of low-wage workers
They want to cut food stamps.
They refuse to invest in education or job training.
They don’t want to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure or have any other jobs programs.
They’re out to bust unions.”
Like any good snake oil salesman, he offers up a simplistic solution:
“Do you see a pattern here? They’re waging a war against the poor and the working class in order to keep people down because when you’re unemployed, without any support, without any bargaining power and you have to feed your family, you’re desperate, and when you’re desperate you’ll take whatever they are willing to pay you even if it’s next to nothing. And you won’t dare make a fuss. You won’t complain about unsafe work conditions or toxic chemicals leaking out of storage tanks or anything else. You won’t run the risk of trying to form a union. You won’t get involved in politics. You won’t make a ruckus or rock the boat in any way. You’ll take whatever they choose to give you because you are sinking. Make no mistake this war against the poor and working class is designed to make sure Americans who’ve been losing ground for 30 years don’t dare do anything about it. Without extended unemployment benefits, a declining real minimum wage, no Medicaid, no food stamps, no education, job training, or jobs program, and no union, you’ll do exactly as they tell you and that’s fine with them but it’s bad for America.”
This litany of nonsense and overblown rhetoric is what we’ve come to expect from Reich and his ilk.
This is Chicken Little, Erin Brockovich-style horror propaganda that has no relationship to life in the real world. In our severely over-regulated society Americans aren’t at peril from unsafe work conditions or toxic chemicals. Americans aren’t dropping dead because of “crumbling” highways. They aren’t clamoring to join unions, which they correctly view as obstacles to progress and self-advancement. No one is trying to abolish the social safety net, get rid of food stamps, Medicaid, or government-subsidized education and job training.
But telling the truth isn’t good for recruiting.
Reich needs to sell an apocalyptic fantasy in order to hoodwink Americans into joining his cause. In fact Reich and his friends in the Obama administration are the ones waging war against the poor and workers, creating more poor people, more unemployed people, more underemployed people, and driving people out of the labor force altogether. With the national debt closing in on $17.3 trillion and the trillions of dollars wasted over the years on the War on Poverty, Americans have little to show after decades of following the policy prescriptions of the Left.
Reich’s noise-making is about the politics of distraction, misdirecting public attention, trying to change the national political conversation, moving it away from the stagnant economy, the failing Obamacare program, the political scandals that are becoming too numerous to count, and the other grave problems in American society that left-wingers have caused and exacerbated.
Given the mainstream media’s continuing love affair with the telegenic Reich, he’s likely to be in the spotlight, deceiving the American public, for a long time to come.