Dec 13, 2013
Truthdigger of the Week: Robert Reich
Posted on Nov 11, 2011
And finally, let me just say it’s not going to be easy. Nothing worth doing, in terms of social change in this country, is easy. It’s going to take time; it’s going to take patience. I know many of you who have been involved, you’ve talked to me about sometimes you feel a little frustrated; sometimes you feel it’s just a huge amount of work; you don’t get very much credit for it; you worry that it’s just never going to change. But I’ll tell you something: There is nothing more powerful than people mobilized and organized and energized to make America stronger and better and truer to its core principles. And that’s what you are doing. [applause] This movement will not end. This movement cannot end. This movement will continue, and nobody—nobody, nothing—will be able to stop it once it has started. [applause]
Now, I want to take your questions, because you’ve got much better questions than I have answers for. … Yes, sir. I’m going to repeat the question, by the way. … Does it make sense to create a system where nobody is going homeless for any reason? The answer is, obviously, yes. We should not have an economy—this economy, the richest economy in the world—in the world. We should not have so many homeless people. Why do we have so many homeless people? We should have facilities for them; we should have provision for them. And it’s not just homeless people. Do you know, today, the chance that any family could find themselves homeless? Any family. Any family, middle-class families, professional families, if they’ve got a medical bill that is a huge medical bill; if they lose their job; if they just fall back down on their luck, they could be homeless. You know how many people are losing their homes now? They are going to be homeless! This is not just a few people. This is potentially all of us.
Another question over here. … The question is, what kind of immunity are the states trying to work out with the administration to give the bank executives immunity from all of the stuff that they did? I don’t know about that, but let me say what this movement should insist on, among other things, and that is accountability. [applause] We have a Wall Street that got totally out of control. Totally out of control. Greed knew no bounds. And then what happened? We all paid, we bailed them out, and then there was supposed to be financial regulation. Well, what did they do? The street, Wall Street and the financial sector, paid a huge amount of money for lobbyists and campaign finance, so they could create loopholes in the financial regulation bill large enough for them to drive their Lamborghinis through. And so right now, instead of the simple rules we wanted—that is, for example, resurrect Glass-Steagall [applause]; separate commercial from investment banking; a simple, simple rule—what did we get? We have 300 pages of a Volcker Rule that is gobbledygook, with all kinds of red tape and exemptions and loopholes that basically are going to allow the banks to do exactly what they did before. And you know what? Let’s be candid. The banks are basically doing exactly what they did before.
Yes, sir. … The question is, why should you support the Democratic Party? And I was president … [laughs]… I was secretary of labor—no, I wasn’t president—when Bill Clinton was president. The only thing that you said wrong: I didn’t support NAFTA. In fact, I said there should be no NAFTA unless there are strong labor and environmental side agreements. [applause] But let me just say—wait a minute, beside that—why should we support the Democratic Party? I think we should support the Democratic Party when the Democratic Party becomes us. [Applause] And you say, when will that happen? Again, we—if we are mobilized and organized, the Democratic Party will seek us out, will want us. … What is a party? A party is a group of people. Our government should be, if it’s a democracy, should be us. And so we need to have a Democratic Party that reflects us. That’s what we need; that’s what we should demand.
Yes … OK, how do we get our money back from the bailout, and how do we get some people in jail for all of this? That goes back to the question of accountability. And let me just say, not a single top executive on Wall Street has been indicted or prosecuted for what has happened on Wall Street, and that is a scandal. But how do we make sure that that scandal is reversed and we get genuine accountability? How do we do that? The same way we do everything else that I just listed: We demand it. We mobilize, we organize, we show energy. We link up with other Occupiers around this country; we make this movement the strongest and most powerful people’s movement in decades and decades. And we get everything that we want, that is necessary, and that is just.
I have about a minute left … five minutes, OK, we’ve got a chance for a couple more questions. Yes, ma’am … here’s the question: In my opinion, will Obama ever fulfill the promises he made to us in 2008? The answer is this: President Obama, if he is faced with a strong and articulate and powerful progressive movement, President Obama will go along.
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