What’s at stake this election year? Let me put as directly as I can.

America has succumbed to a vicious cycle in which great wealth translates into political power, which generates even more wealth, and even more power.

This spiral is most apparent is declining tax rates on corporations and on top personal incomes (much in the form of wider tax loopholes), along with a profusion of government bailouts and subsidies (to Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund partners, oil companies, casino tycoons, and giant agribusiness owners, among others).

The vicious cycle of wealth and power is less apparent, but even more significant, in economic rules that now favor the wealthy.

Billionaires like Donald Trump can use bankruptcy to escape debts but average people can’t get relief from burdensome mortgage or student debt payments.

Giant corporations can amass market power without facing antitrust lawsuits (think Internet cable companies, Monsanto, Big Pharma, consolidations of health insurers and of health care corporations, Dow and DuPont, and the growing dominance of Amazon, Apple, and Google, for example).

But average workers have lost the market power that came from joining together in unions.

It’s now easier for Wall Street insiders to profit from confidential information unavailable to small investors.

It’s also easier for giant firms to extend the length of patents and copyrights, thereby pushing up prices on everything from pharmaceuticals to Walt Disney merchandise.

And easier for big corporations to wangle trade treaties that protect their foreign assets but not the jobs or incomes of American workers.

It’s easier for giant military contractors to secure huge appropriations for unnecessary weapons, and to keep the war machine going.

The result of this vicious cycle is a disenfranchisement of most Americans, and a giant upward distribution of income from the middle class and poor to the wealthy and powerful.

Another consequence is growing anger and frustration felt by people who are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, accompanied by deepening cynicism about our democracy.

The way to end this vicious cycle is to reduce the huge accumulations of wealth that fuel it, and get big money out of politics.

But it’s chicken-and-egg problem. How can this be accomplished when wealth and power are compounding at the top?

Only through a political movement such as America had a century ago when progressives reclaimed our economy and democracy from the robber barons of the first Gilded Age.

That was when Wisconsin’s “fighting Bob” La Follette instituted the nation’s first minimum wage law; presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan attacked the big railroads, giant banks, and insurance companies; and President Teddy Roosevelt busted up the giant trusts.

When suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony secured women the right to vote, reformers like Jane Addams got laws protecting children and the public’s health, and organizers like Mary Harris “Mother” Jones spearheaded labor unions.

America enacted a progressive income tax, limited corporate campaign contributions, ensured the safety and purity of food and drugs, and even invented the public high school.

The progressive era welled up in the last decade of the nineteenth century because millions of Americans saw that wealth and power at the top were undermining American democracy and stacking the economic deck. Millions of Americans overcame their cynicism and began to mobilize.

We may have reached that tipping point again.

Both the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party grew out of revulsion at the Wall Street bailout. Consider, more recently, the fight for a higher minimum wage (“Fight for 15”).

Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign is part of this mobilization. (Donald Trump bastardized version draws on the same anger and frustration but has descended into bigotry and xenophobia.)

Surely 2016 is a critical year. But, as the reformers of the Progressive Era understood more than a century ago, no single president or any other politician can accomplish what’s needed because a system caught in the spiral of wealth and power cannot be reformed from within. It can be changed only by a mass movement of citizens pushing from the outside.

So regardless of who wins the presidency in November and which party dominates the next Congress, it is up to the rest of us to continue to organize and mobilize. Real reform will require many years of hard work from millions of us.

As we learned in the last progressive era, this is the only way the vicious cycle of wealth and power can be reversed.


罗伯特·赖克总理的罗伯特·B. REICH,在美国加州大学伯克利分校公共政策教授,在克林顿政府劳工部长。 “时代”杂志评选他在上个世纪的10个最有效的内阁部长之一。 他写了13本书,其中包括畅销书“余震“和”国工作“他最新的”除了愤怒,“现在是印在纸上的。他也是美国展望”杂志​​和董事长的共同事业的创始编辑。


除了愤怒已经错了,我们的经济和我们的民主制度,以及如何解决它 -- 罗伯特罗伯特莱奇的

除了愤怒在本及时的书,罗伯特·B·德国政府认为,没有什么好通电,除非公民和组织,以确保华盛顿的公共利益的行为发生在华盛顿。 第一步是看大图。 除了愤怒的连接点,显示的比例越来越高的收入和财富的顶端已经步履蹒跚的就业和经济增长的其他人,破坏我们的民主制度造成美国人越来越怀疑公共生活,以及使许多美国人对彼此。 他还解释了为什么“回归权”的建议,是大错特错了,必须做什么,而不是提供了一个清晰的路线图。 这里有一个大家谁在乎美国的未来行动计划。

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