June 6, 2013 By Jack Jodell.
Those who follow this blog regularly know I have had the tendency to focus on many of the problems our country faces as well as on those whom I believe have helped cause those problems, either through their actions or inaction. I have done so to draw attention to the many flaws we have here in America, in hopes that improvements will someday be made. I will continue doing so on a regular basis.
Every year near year’s end, I post an annual December feature, which I call “Santa’s Bozo of the Year.” It highlights some of the fools and clowns in public life whose antics were so outlandish that they were deserving of ridicule. In a similar fashion each spring, I take an opposite approach and do a different annual feature, which portrays an individual of today or yesterday whose contributions to humanity and/or our country have been so spectacular, courageous, and/or noteworthy that they should be lauded near and far as good examples of what we as humans can achieve, if we only put our minds and hearts to it. After all, not everything going on in the world is doom and gloom. So here is the fifth installment of this annual mid-year feature I call the “Head and Heart Award.” Past recipients of this award have been NICK HANAUER, VAN JONES, KEITH OLBERMANN, and MOTHER TERESA. Individuals featured here have used their head and heart to produce great things for humankind, and have shown themselves to be beacons of light in an often vast sea of darkness. This person should serve as an inspiration to us ALL to actually DO something – to take a principled stand – using OUR heads and hearts on behalf of our fellow brothers and sisters, rather than simply sitting back complacently enjoying the relatively good life we have experienced here in the United States. I have therefore chosen the recipient of this year’s award to be:
Former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, DR. ROBERT B. REICH.
Dr. Reich can now be seen offering astute political and economic commentary all over American television, from ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoolos, to MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, to CNBC’s Kudrow and Company, as well as a number of others. Any program featuring intelligent political and/or economic discussion will likely have him featured as a guest at one time or another. For Robert Reich is a former Rhodes scholar and has an extensive background in teaching. He knew Bill Clinton during Clinton’s time at Oxford, and he once even dated Hilary Rodham before she married Bill! Reich has taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Brandeis University, and the Goldman School of Public Policy at Berkeley. He is a prolific author and has published 14 books, a number of them best sellers. He has been a contributing editor for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Harvard Business Review, and The New Republic. The Robert Reich – Jacob Kornbluth documentary “Inequality for All” won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at the 2013 Sundance Film Festical held this past January in Park City, Utah. He is also chairman of Common Cause.
Reich is truly an intellectual giant, despite measuring only 4 feet, 10 1/2 inches in height. He was born with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia in 1946 to Jewish parents in Scranton, PA. The disease may have limited his height, but certainly not his intellect, nor his ambition! Aside from Oxford, he also studied at Dartmouth College and Yale Law School. He served in the administrations of Republican Gerald Ford and Democrat Jimmy Carter (for in those days, Republicans were far more sensible and moderate than they are now, and back then, no Republican who associated with or even employed a Democrat would have been ostracized, as they would be today). In 1992, Reich was picked by Bill Clinton to serve as Secretary of Labor, and he remained at that post throughout Clinton’s first term. There, he successfully achieved an increase in the minimum wage, lobbied for and saw passage of the School-to-Work Jobs Act, and implemented the Family and Medical Leave Act. He also pioneered and put forth many jobs training programs designed to train unemployed workers to use new technologies. With his tenacity, and under Clinton’s guidance, the country soon embarked on a record economic growth spurt, in which all segments of the economy were able to prosper at once, together.
Robert Reich has always displayed a keen grasp on fairness and economic reality. He is the master of economic common sense, who knows that, for the country to truly prosper, economic gains MUST occur throughout the entire economic strata, not merely at the very top. A look at some of his quotes bears this out:
“When Republicans recently charged the President with promoting ‘class warfare’, he answered it was ‘just math.’ But it is more than math. It’s a matter of morality!”
“The problem was not that Americans spent beyond their means but that their means had not kept up with what the larger economy could and should have been able to provide them. The American economy had been growing briskly, and America’s middle class naturally expected to share in that growth. But it didn’t. A larger and larger portion of the economy’s winnings had gone to people at the top.”
“It’s not government’s business what people do in their own private bedrooms.”
“The problem is that the choices we make in the market don’t fully reflect our values as citizens. We might make different choices if we understood the social consequences of our purchases or investments and if we knew all other consumers and investors would join us in forbearing from certain great deals whose social consequence were abhorrent to us.”
“Your most precious possession is not your financial assets. Your most precious possession is the people you have working there, and what they carry around in their hands, and their ability to work together.”
“True patriotism isn’t cheap. It’s about taking on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going.”
“Our moral authority is as important, if not more important, than our troop strength or our high=tech erapons. We are rapidly losing our moral authority, not only in the Arab world, but all over the world.”
“The silent majority really is a liberal majority, even though the word liberal has taken a real beating over the oast 20 years by radical conservatives.”
“A lot of attention has been going to social values – abortion, gay rights, other divisive issues – but economic values are equally important.”
In addition to his numerous books, Reich also authors his own blog. This can be found at http://robertreich.org/.
It is hard for any honest, thoughtful person to disagree with such a clear and fair-minded thinker as Dr. Robert B. Reich. He rejects reactionary Tea Party extremism, and sees a definite place at the economic table for American Labor. Because he has consistantly worked for the narrowing of our horrid wealth disparity, and has truly acted in the best interests of American workers throughout his career, he is definitely derserving of this year’s Head and Heart Award! We progressives thank you, Dr. Reich, for your unbridled passion and for the many good things you have achieved!