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Do You See A Pattern Here?

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 5: Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich awaits his introduction to speak to Occupy Los Angeles protesters after the Move Your Money March through the downtown financial district during what is being called Bank Transfer Day, on November 5, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Occupy movement members are calling for people to move their money from banks to credit unions today in support of the 99% movement. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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Robert Reich served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. He also served in the Ford and Carter administration. He is a political economist, professor, author and political commentator.

Right now he’s on a crusade to fight a so-called war he perceives that conservatives (I guess that would be Republicans) have on the middle class and poor.

So you might ask, why someone with my limited education would be willing to debate his philosophy? The simple answer is that he’s simply wrong about how America works. Here is a link to his video with his position.

I’ll present his case and mine, and you can decide where you come down on each of these seven issues. He sees a pattern in the following — do you? Here we go.

Conservatives Are Against Extending Unemployment Benefits

Reich claims there is only one job for every three applicants so unemployment benefits have to be extended for the two who will not be hired. Ok, extend them. Why not just extend them for life?

Right now we have 99 weeks of unemployment. Do you think your skills and knowledge of your job might diminish in that length of time? And what does that worker do at the end of his 99 weeks? I would guess he goes job hunting.

Unless Robert wants to add another two years, and another two years, and another….

Conservatives Don’t Want To Raise the Minimum Wage

Reich claims that the minimum wage today is less than it was in 1968 adjusted for inflation. Things were a little different 46 years ago.

The 1968 poor didn’t have cable TV, smart phones, laptops, air conditioning, microwaves, and video games.

What would you like the minimum wage to be Robert? Ten dollars as the president suggests? More?

The minimum wage in 1968 was $1.60 per hour. In today’s dollars $1.60 would translate to $10.96 per hour. What’s the current average wage of those who are paid hourly?

In July, 2014 it was $24.45/hr. Twice what you suggest and more than twice the adjusted minimum wage from 1968.

No Medicaid Extensions for Low Wage Workers

Reich believes conservatives are just nasty, greedy folks that want to make the poor poorer. I’ll discuss the fallacy of that argument at the end of this blog. No one wants to cut anything that people need.

But, just like in your own household, states only have so much money to spread around.

Medicaid expansion is simply a cheaper way to get people off Obamacare. It’s bare bones insurance at best. Many doctors and hospitals no longer take it.

And, the decision for states to turn it down will probably end up in the Supreme Court next year.

Conservatives Want to Cut Food Stamps

The number of people on food stamps has reached heights never before seen in this country. Why do you suppose that is? One reason is that now your food stamp is a debit card. Since you couldn’t buy cigarettes or alcohol with the old paper food stamps now you can hit any ATM for cash and buy whatever you want.

People are selling their food stamp cards on street corners in every major American city. Going back to printed stamps would be more costly but it would sure keep food stamps used where they were originally intended.

Conservatives Don’t Want  to Invest in Education, Job Training, or Other Job Programs

There is no other country on earth that offers more of these things than America. Where is the refusal by anyone to invest in job training?

State residents can attend most state colleges at greatly reduced rates. We have a trillion dollar student loan program. Many employers are more than willing to train good workers.

We have 126 poverty programs in the US. Surely one of them has some job training money.

Conservatives Don’t Want to Repair America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Reich believes that conservatives are somehow against fixing roads and bridges. I suppose conservatives and their families don’t drive on those roads or cross any of those bridges.

Once again Robert, it all comes down to cold hard cash. The vast majority of roads in this country are state roads. The more we spend on entitlements the less we have for infrastructure.

Conservatives Want to Bust Unions

Reich is of the opinion that people are incapable of negotiating their own compensation. That only unions can get an employee a fair deal. Here is my blog on Unions.

Unions are fine if you don’t mind having your pay capped. Work as hard as you can and you won’t see another dime unless its somewhere in the collective bargaining agreement. As a result, since there is little chance for advancement, people work just hard enough not to get fired.

If unions are such a great deal for the worker why has union membership plummeted? Why are people not flocking to get union representation even in right to work states where you don’t have to join a union?

Some Final Thoughts

Reich feels there is some sort of nefarious plot against the poor and middle class. He sees a pattern of action that will somehow make people work for less because they are so desperate. I suppose there might be a small contingent of American workers that might buy that argument.

Let’s suppose none of the things Reich wants come to fruition. And we end up with a world the way he sees it.

Does anyone believe that workers making substandard wages, slaving in poor working conditions, with no chance for advancement and higher pay, are going to put out quality products? Reich somehow thinks they will. They will be so desperate to work they will rise to heights of production never before seen.

And where are these lowly paid people going to spend what little they have? I guess GM will have to shut down if no one can afford their cars. No more big screen TV’s I guess. No cable TV. No cell phones.

Yet somehow the CEO’s still make big bucks not selling their stuff to customers with no money. I really wish Robert would explain how that works.

I see a pattern all right— a pattern of deception and fear. FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real.  What’s your opinion? Do you see a pattern?

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