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Robert Reich and Robert Scheer at Occupy L.A. Teach-In

Posted on Nov 10, 2011

Last weekend former Labor Secretary Reich and Truthdig Editor Scheer, who, in his own words, got a little wound up, were among the luminaries teaching in at the Occupy LA encampment.

More speakers can be found here.

Robert Reich:

Robert Scheer:

Transcript of Scheer’s talk:


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I think we just witnessed a historic moment, before, with Robert Reich. At least for me; it was incredible, it was a Jeffersonian moment. It was what, really, the Founders—for all of their imperfections, and I’m aware of them—had in mind when they thought of this whole idea of a constitutional democracy based on the individual. And here you had a guy who—by the way, I don’t know, he got a good introduction. But in the Clinton administration there was a battle of the two Bobs. There was Robert Rubin and Robert Reich. And Robert Rubin, who had come from Goldman Sachs into the Clinton administration, represented everything that has been evil about our government. He carried water for Wall Street; he’s the one who’s responsible for the repeal of Glass-Steagall; he’s the one that’s responsible for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act that ended any regulation of derivatives that have gotten us into all of this trouble. And through the legislation that he pushed through, working with Phil Gramm, working with the Republicans, getting Bill Clinton to sign off on it. And Bill Clinton, just at a conference paid for by his foundation at Georgetown University—they didn’t even mention Glass-Steagall. They didn’t even mention the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. These people have created incredible mischief for the whole world’s economy. They brought the system to its knees, and they had a conference celebrating Bill Clinton, and they didn’t even mention those sad chapters.

And in that administration, the one person—I think he was there by accident, because he had been Hillary Clinton’s professor, and he knew Bill Clinton, and he’s a brilliant man. Robert Reich was the one consistent voice in the Clinton administration who was against what was called welfare reform, which ended the federal poverty program. That’s why we have a situation now where we have 46 million Americans, 22 percent of children, living below the poverty line, and we have no federal, national program that was called welfare reform. We have another group of about 45 million Americans who the New York Times today labeled as “almost poor,” meaning they couldn’t survive in any major city. And by the way, recent studies have shown that this impovertization of America has now expanded more rapidly into the suburban community than the urban community. So this is very widespread; poverty is now as American as apple pie. It’s the norm.

And in that administration—I’ve written a book about this, and I’ve written lots of columns; some of you have read them—the one name that consistently came out was that little guy that was here before, Robert Reich. [Applause] And I remember when I was writing my book—I’m going to take a little time, since I was supposed to take 15 minutes, and then I won’t speak later, it’s OK. I’m getting wound up. [Applause] When I was writing my book, I was interviewing lots of different people. And let me just say, I used to work over there at the Los Angeles Times, and there’s still some good people there. But I remember when I was covering financial deregulation, the mass media in America not only was indifferent to the dire consequences of reversing the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; the mass media was a cheerleading component … because they wanted the Telecommunications Act that would allow them to control television and print in the same market. They were cheerleaders for deregulation. And this fantasy that Wall Street lobbyists had been pursuing ever since the ink dried on those sensible rules of the road, imposed during the Depression by Franklin Delano Roosevelt—those sensible rules of the road to save capitalism from itself, to put some limits on greed—the lobbyists had been trying to get those things changed, but for six decades they couldn’t do it. And they couldn’t even do it when Ronald Reagan was president. Reagan certainly had the fantasy. He certainly talked the game, but he also had the savings and loan crisis. And because of the savings and loan crisis, at the end of Reagan’s administration he actually had to, under tremendous pressure, tighten regulations rather than loosen them.

So going to a question that was raised about the Democratic Party before, this never could have happened were it not for Bill Clinton and his triangulation. [Applause] It’s something that we have to remember, because we’re always suckers for the lesser evil; we’re always suckers for our friends; we’re always suckers for people who talk a good game. But I’m telling you, as a matter of fact, that what happened here was not the normal flow of capitalism. It was a sting operation. It was a scam. There are lots of problems; problems of globalization, problems of global warming; yes, they’re real problems. But we are the victims of something that would have put the Mafia in jail forever. [Applause] We are the victims of a sting operation. These collateralized debt obligations; these credit default swaps; these bets upon bets upon bets. Taking people’s homes and making them gambling chips in a casino. Playing with people’s fantasies, hustling them—go down to a bank here and they say, ‘Oh, did you capture the equity in your home yet? Why don’t you try this? Have a cappuccino.’ Right down there!

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By Michael Z, November 13, 2011 at 12:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


Alan Greenspan’s testimony before the Senate’s Committee on the Budget on January 25, 2001, was SCRIPTED for him for the strategic purpose of enabling the 2001 tax legislation.

Mr. Greenspan assisted in the 2000 recession with the Fed’s increases in early 1999 to reach a 6% federal funds rate during a 2% inflation period (remember Goldilocks??).

At the end of 2000, Mr. G and the Fed panicked.

On January 3, 2001, the Fed reduced rates by 50bps. 

A brief lesson re Fed activities:
When the economics are strong, the Fed has the “tendency” to increase rates to “slow” the economy.
When the economics are weakish, the Fed has the “tendency” to reduce rates to stimulate the economy.
These incremental changes are normally 25bps (1/4 of 1%).

Since the reduction was 50bps, the Fed appeared to have perceived more than a slight weakness in the economy.

Now comes his testimony:  He said that his #1 concern was that it would be problematic when we pay off the national debt with the projected “burgeoning” surpluses!!!

The two phenomena on Jan. 3 and Jan. 25 appear to be in conflict, i.e., oxymoronish, i.e., how could there be “burgeoning” surpluses if the economics were weak???

Whereas it is possible that, during the intervening 22 days, Mr. G and the other members of the FOMC accumulated additional data that caused a change in their collective perception, EXCEPT that 6 days later, on the 31st, there was another 50bps reduction AND 300bps more during the next 8 months.

REPEATING:  The 2001 tax legislation was a setup.

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By kibitzer, November 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

Yes, Paul; and, the OWS protesters need to make sure that they are not co-opted,
and just keep the dynamic on the same level as the problem,the old action-
reaction interchange.

There is an Opportunity here to take this to a higher level of human interaction. 
To the highest level, actually.  Where we do away with money - ie, interest-
bearing money - and share goods and services with one another, and give of our
best in the process, out of a higher motive than personal gain.  Rather,  our of
gratitude to our Creator for life with meaning.

And all else will be added unto us.

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By Paul Edward Nugent, November 12, 2011 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Unspoken Message of Occupy Wall Street by Paul Nugent on October 19, 2011

Well, OK, it probably has been spoken but I’ve not heard what I believe the protesters are essentially saying which is “We don’t want your broken world. We don’t want your billion/trillion dollar debts. We don’t want your wars. We don’t want your lies and your corruption. We don’t want your inequality and your injustice towards the poor. We don’t want your big corporations dictating how we must live, and we don’t want a planet that has been raped, polluted, and tossed aside. We just don’t want it and we’re not going to take it, so you can either take it back or move aside.” To me, this is a great message which I can share. How far have we for generations moved away from the message of such Saints as Jesus Christ and the Buddha? Where would they stand in this movement? My reading of the scriptures tells me that they would squarely stand beside the underdog, the disenfranchised, the poor and the sick. Jesus’ message, when asked by a wealthy man, was to give away everything that he had to the poor. The Buddha stepped down from his kingship to become a beggar in rags. What is the moral lesson they were trying to teach mankind? How have we left their message entirely unheeded to create the rotten, spoiled, polluted, corrupt, war-faring world that we have? And this is what the younger generation are now telling us we can do with it. They don’t want it. They’re not taking it. And anyone with a conscience and a fair and balanced mind must find it very hard not to agree with them. I know I do.

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By Robert Simmons, November 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I will vote for Robert Reich for pretty much anything.

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By c-post, November 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

I love Robert Reich (and Bob), and if Elizabeth Warren can run for office, you bet that Reich can. I support the guy 99 percent, even though he doesn’t go deep enough. He missed some things—not much, but some. Here’s where he could go deeper.

1) Recognize that the condition of the environment and resource shortages is a symptom of overpopulation and the continuing addiction to growth as a meta-philosophy.

2) Jobs, education, wages, and debt aren’t just issues, they are national security issues.

3) The industries that produce paper promises (banks, The Fed, brokerages, bonds, etc) have vaulted themselves out of all proportion to their true importance. The illusion has taken over. The business of producing paper money, paper stocks, and other securities is SUPPOSED to support REAL industries in this country—industries that produce real things, real services. Unfortunately it has become an end in itself.

4) The continuing and minute-by-minute media barrage of the Dow Jones, nasdaq, bonds, interest rates, etc, etc. This is all wrong. All the newscasts are obsessed with what the 1 percent is doing. We need a minute by minute report “on the 5’s” on wages, benefits, and the status of homeless people.

The major media IS the 1 percent’s one-way communication channel with the other 99 percent. Any broadcast that runs commercials is subject to control of the 1 percent.

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By Foucauldian, November 11, 2011 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Now, this is the kind discussion of OWS which is
thoughtful, provocative and hopeful instead of the
talking points by the two kowtowing Bobs:

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David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, November 11, 2011 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

Will the two Bobs (Robert Reich & Robert Scheer) be corporate compliantly (D) voting in 2012, in hopes (again) of getting the Green Party’s policies from the corporate party’s Democrats?

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

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By larrypsy, November 10, 2011 at 11:30 pm Link to this comment

Never interested in economics until recently, I started reading material on the subject and didn’t
realize that Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin are considered key factors in our economic failure with repeal of Glass-Stegal and creation of NAFTA.  The Clinton administration always receives outstanding reviews for treasury surplus when in fact it appears he filled and kicked the can down the street.  It’s
outlandish that he published a book on the economy and today was pictured giving advise to President Obama.  I believe Obama knows better and once reelected will prove worthy of our hope for a change in America.

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By gerard, November 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

One main point that I think needs to be considered is this:  Referring to “teach-ins”—If us “oldsters” had done an adequate job of “teaching” the country wouldn’t be where it is.  We would have done more “empowering” and less theorizing; we would have been astute enough to have seen what was happening and caught it before it went viral. I feel now that the best we can do is to listen, to intuit, to “catch” how to live together and consider together and work together in new ways, and otherwise support with funds (if any), food, clothing and shelter and let the “baby” be born—naturally and without “instrumentation”—to labor the point!

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By Foucauldian, November 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

Almost poetic, Gerard.

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By Rixar13, November 10, 2011 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment

From 9% to 23.5% in 2007, the wealthy have distorted reality and sustainable wages for the working poor Americans… Thank you Robert Reich and Robert Scheer…

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By gerard, November 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment

Mariam Griffith:  You said what I should have said and didn’t.  Thank you.  I absolutely agree with you. My comments, I suppose, were mainly occasioned by the fatuousness (even if well-intentioned) remarks of Scheer and Reich which sounded so gone.
Also, the fact that I am “feeling in synch” with the OW movement and haven’t myself been able to do what I (perhaps foolishly) expect of myself—that is, to be able to “catch” the “magic” in words, somehow.
So far, I’m only able to feel the wrong words—almost insulting—like those of Scheer and Reich—as are appearing.  Best wishes.

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By Foucauldian, November 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

Soon to be in Berkeley, Gordon.  Got to see it for my own eyes. 

It’s a fucking disgrace when you think of the sixties.  Where is Joan Baez, the free speech movement and the faculty?  The kids should go on strike and quit this pro-establishment institution.

Fuck Berkeley if Berkeley can’t live up to its old name.

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By kibitzer, November 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

Indeed, Robert (Scheer): how in the world DID Barack Obama appoint Jeffrey
Immelt; and on, and on, and on??

My take on it: Because that crowd have him over a barrel.  The power elite went
to him and said, ‘You know, Barry, that we know about your background.  We
know that you were not eligible to run for the office.  We know the details of
your passport, and your various Social Security numbers, and your foreign-
national school records, and your Soviet Union connections, and your CIA
connections, and your dodgy sexual antics; we’ve got it all.  And you know what,
further?  We’re not going to do anything about it.  We’ll keep a lid on it.  Trust
us.  We can do that.  We just want a few favors; that’s all.  Nothing TOO

They made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse.  And so we have in this country,
on both sides of the nominal political aisle, a culture of crime.

They all need to go.

And Occupy Together could do it.  If they don’t sell out.  To either side of the
political theater being engaged in today.  With the same gang of thieves at the
top of the pyramid of power, that has been in place for centuries. 

You don’t REALLY think that The People are being given proper choices in life, do

Welcome to the play if you do.  Please be seated.  What?  Don’t worry - we
already have your number.

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By joell, November 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

Two Pseudo Left operatives doing their job; infiltrate and neuter any movement that threatens   the   status quo.

These “leaders”  will lead you right back to Obama &  the democratic party in 2012

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By Gordon Soderebrg, November 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert Reich should be standing with his students in Occupying UC Berkley. They are getting their asses kicked by the UC police.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, November 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

@What is Progress, did you cross over?

Here’s that link about breaking up the Too-Big-To-Fails as w/ Trusts in the early 1900s.

Robert Reich & others are on board.

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By oddsox, November 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

On Reich:
7:20 mentions the Koch Bros as rich folk using their wealth to influence the political system, but no mention of George Soros?  And while we’re naming names, how is it that Barney Frank is still around?

17:55 Campaign finance reform.  Yep, my thought is only breathing US citizens should be able to contribute.  No corporations.  No unions.  No PACs.

21:35 Corporate personhood.  Such a bogus concept. Eliminate corporate campaign contributions and reverse Citizens United.

23:00 a litmus test for future Supreme Court Justices.  Well-intentioned, but would open a Pandora’s Box.  Reich goes too far here.

26:14 The finish.  He’s right.  Long term, We The People will win out.

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By Marian Griffith, November 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

—-I wonder who is going to “have a dream” for these young Occupiers?  Who is going to verbalize their intentions?—-

Their intentions are quite clear, they do not need to be verbalised into neatly packaged soundbytes.
Luther needed 95 thesis to lay down what was wrong with the catholic church at his time. The list of grievances we have today is thousands of items long. No wonder there is no single voice, no comprehensive list. And why there is no leader when we can clearly see that our ‘leaders’ are a very large part of the problem.
But, if you want it in simple words: We want our country back and our lives, and we want social justice.
Everything else is talking about the means, not the goals, and we are very far yet from being able to discuss the means when we first have to convince the world that the goals are worth pursuing.

—-Who is going to help them clear a path through mmedia-threadbare rhetoric to selfless non-violent political creativity, issue by issue, confusion by confusion, day by day.—-

They seem to be doing that fairly well, all things considered. I can not see why anybody would need to ‘stand up’ and ‘lead them like a herd of sheep’. We have way too many sheep that mindlessly walked into the slaughter pen we find ourselves in today. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is one of the definitions of insanity. So let us try another form of insanity, any other form, just to shake things up a little.

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By Foucauldian, November 10, 2011 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

And why did Scheer have to wear fucking sunglasses?

To look “cool” to the LA crowd?

They’re all bunch of phonies, and it’s almost a waste of time to be commenting in comments spaces appended to so many lame articles.  We’re giving these guys too much credit to honor them so.  They’re no less part of the elite that OWS is fighting against, wolfs in sheep’s clothing.

Many radical here have far greater depth and penetration than these men of the media.

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By Foucauldian, November 10, 2011 at 11:32 am Link to this comment

Gerard and truedigger —exactly

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By truedigger3, November 10, 2011 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

Robert Reich is a politician and consequently he is a bullshit artist. He was the labor secretary of Bill Clinton and he and his boss were the prime sellers and movers of NAFTA and globalization that resulted in the loss of millions of US jobs and moving them off shore or to Mexico.
Yeah, he talks beatifully, just like Obama and the rest of the Democrats but in reality there is no difference between them and the republicans. They are all Wall St. water carriers and servants
Talk is cheap but actions is what count.

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By gerard, November 10, 2011 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

I wonder who is going to “have a dream” for these young Occupiers?  Who is going to verbalize their intentions? Who is going to help them clear a path through mmedia-threadbare rhetoric to selfless non-violent political creativity, issue by issue, confusion by confusion, day by day.

Excuse me for being critical, but my deepest concern forces me to say plainly that they—and we—don’t need yesterday’s speeches.  They—and we—need tomorrow’s ideas, analyses and processes.

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By Foucauldian, November 10, 2011 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

Beg to disagree.  Used to have respect for both, him and Scheer, but now all’s gone. 

Blaming our condition on the few bad apples? 

Come on!

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By oddsox, November 10, 2011 at 10:33 am Link to this comment


LISTEN to Robert Reich.
You may not agree with everything he says, I don’t.
But every time I hear him, I learn something.
You will, too.

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By Foucauldian, November 10, 2011 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

It’s a sign of the times when an old establishmentarian like Robert Reich backs OWS.

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By Wishingforsanity, November 10, 2011 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

RIGHT THE EFF ON!  Wish I had been there. Tells it ALL so succinctly.

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