Happy New Year.
I tried not to work over the holiday break but I did watch a six-minute (with no spoken words) video in which Robert Reich, the brilliant former Labor Secretary and long-time lion of the liberal intelligentsia, drew pictures and wrote captions offering his explanation for how we got into the economic mess of recent years.
According to Reich (and who am I to disagree), that explanation has mostly to do with what you might call reverse Robin Hood-ism, namely the successful campaign of the rich and their political arms to rig the system in their favor.
Perhaps most of you will find most of its elements familiar, but I doubt you will have seen an analysis of U.S. politico-economic history explained by Reich, a very small, very smart (and, yes, very liberal) man with the help of a black magic marker, a giant poster, a short ladder and, when he needs it, a taller ladder.
He calls it: “The Big Picture: How we got into this mess and how we get out of it.”
Yes, of course, it’s his view — a liberal view of both the history (for the first five minutes) and his recommendations for how to get out of it, anchored to and summarized to some degree by a quote from the legendary liberal lawyer and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “We can have vast wealth in the hands of a few, or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both.”
Not to be a jerk about it, and not to suggest that is any real difference, but I looked up the quote, which Reich rendered from memory, and it is ever so slightly different. The actual Brandeis quote goes: “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
Either way, I like the point, and I agree with Reich (and Brandeis) that the choice often boils down that way. If you can spare six minutes and 21 seconds to see the essence of the question summarized by a giant drawing, you can access the video here. If you do, please feel free to circle back here and let me know what you thought about it.