Robert Reich on America, the Global Economy, and our Future

September 6, 2012

The economic commentator and former U.S. secretary of labor looks ahead

TACOMA, Wash. – Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor, political economist, commentator, and bestselling author, who TIME magazine described as “one of the 10 most successful cabinet secretaries of the past century,” will speak at University of Puget Sound on Thursday, Oct. 4.

An exacting and popular scholar, whose wit is as sharp as his intellect, Reich is coming to Tacoma to present a talk titled “The Global Economy and the Future of Everything National.” It will start at 8 p.m. in Schneebeck Concert Hall on campus. Ticket information is below.

Reich has served under three administrations—those of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, and as secretary of labor under Bill Clinton, from 1993 to 1997. Reich and Clinton first met when the two were young Rhodes Scholars traveling by ship to Oxford, England. Years later, a telephone call from the White House ferried the labor expert and economist into what Reich described as “a very heady, very exciting time, trying to decide basically how bad the economy was, how large the deficit was.”

More recently Reich served on President Barack Obama's economic transition board. He is currently a nationally known consultant and media commentator and Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley.

Public recognitions have underlined Reich’s expansive career. In 2003 he was awarded the prestigious Václav Havel prize, in Prague, for his original contributions to economic thinking. A year later he was named one of America's three most influential opinion leaders on business and the economy, based on a study by management consultant Accenture. In 2008 The Wall Street Journal named him one of the nation’s top 10 thought leaders.

In his new e-book, Beyond Outrage (April 2012), Reich argues that the U.S. economy is paralyzed by the gridlock of competing interests, and that only ordinary Americans can ensure that Washington gets moving again. His 2011 book, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, scrutinized the economic outlook following the Great Recession and predicted what might come over the next decade. In a recent interview with The Browser, Reich pointed to income disparity as one of the major issues affecting our economy.

“You see, when you have the extraordinary moves to inequality that we’ve seen over the past 30 years, there is simply no way that democracy can be maintained,” he said. “Massive inequality is incompatible with robust democracy. Today, in the United States, the top 1 percent is taking home more than 20 percent of total income and owns at least 38 percent of total wealth. …a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people can virtually control the election result—not entirely, but have a huge impact. That’s not a democracy.”

Reich is the author of more than a dozen books including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages, and the bestsellers Locked in the Cabinet and The Future of Success. His 2007 book, Supercapitalism, warned of the perils of an underregulated financial system tenuously supported by layers of debt. Reich writes a nationally syndicated column about the economy, and he is a regular contributor to public radio and CNBC television.

The Susan Resneck Pierce Lecture in Public Affairs and the Arts series is named for the president emerita of University of Puget Sound. The series brings intellectuals, writers, and artists to the university to present challenging ideas that stimulate further exploration and discussion on campus.  

Past Pierce lecturers have included novelist and activist Carlos Fuentes; psychiatrist and author Kay Redfield Jamison; filmmaker Spike Lee; the Hon. Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J.; political commentator David Brooks; U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky; The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman; playwright Edward Albee; race and religion scholar Cornel West; composer Philip Glass; playwright Suzan-Lori Parks; and dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp.

For tickets order online at or contact Wheelock Information Center to purchase with a credit card by calling 253.879.6013. Admission is $20 for the general public. Advance booking is advised. Puget Sound students, faculty, and staff can attend for free, but tickets must be ordered in advance. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.

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Tweet this: Robert Reich @RBReich, author, economist will speak @univpugetsound #Tacoma about U.S. #economics future, Thurs. Oct. 4.

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