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The Big Chill: How Big Money Is Buying Off Criticism of Big Money


The Big Chill: How Big Money Is Buying Off Criticism of Big Money

Robert Reich

Not long ago I was asked to speak to a religious congregation about widening inequality. Shortly before I began, the head of the congregation asked that I not advocate raising taxes on the wealthy.

He said he didn’t want to antagonize certain wealthy congregants on whose generosity the congregation depended.


Prof. Reich, I really wish you would turn to the the discussion of externalities. Without folding environmental and social costs into the economic paradigm, no progress will be made. It will be business as usual up to the END.


This is why Alinsky was never able to take on as many cases as he would have liked: his funding came from the wealthy, whose first requirement was that they be treated with kid gloves. So he could organise Back Of The Yards, where the opposition was Chicago government, and the Woodlawn area, where the opposition were working-class White bigots, but he could never take on the owner class, or Capitalism itself.

Until he decided to do just that by organising the “middle class” nationally – which he announced as his intention shortly before he fell over dead on that street corner in Carmel.


I think he is discussing the negative externalities of big-money philanthropy. What he has not brought up is the unintended complicity of even average people in this obsequious behavior. His film “Inequality for All” shows a group of people walking out of a meeting called to discuss creating a union whose objective would be to protect their jobs and salaries, and a man almost apologizing for being a burden to the company. I assume because he actually wants to be paid for his work. Unbelievable. People need to reframe the discussion so that they stop begging for favors, bowing and scraping when the wealthy speak, and demand what is due them.


Gloria Steinem, whatever her political duplicity penned a significant essay 40 years ago that spoke to how women’s magazines’ content altered to placate advertisers.

Monsanto funds a good deal of university research on bio-tech products. Naturally, that taints the findings. Any independently funded studies that challenge what Monsanto’s clout puts into place is discredited.

Media is totally awash in pro-war messaging, and so much that passes for scientific content is biased to favor those who fund it.

Thank you, Mr. Reich for pointing out how pervasive this taint is.

I differed from Chris Hedges when he primarily faulted the Liberal Institutions for the sell-out. The problem is the supremacy of Capital over all other influences, resources, and factors. When everything these days costs so much–starting with rents and mortgages–groups must pay the piper to meet at all; and when most of media has been gobbled up by the same handful of empowered consortiums, it costs a fortune to run ads or get publicity for one’s cause.

I don’t blame persons caught up in a system of controls FOR those controls. The better question is how to rob Capital of its controls. Barter, underground economies, and people learning to use and live on less (an ecological necessity that is fast becoming inevitable as shown by the new water laws in California) will all factor into the net strategy.


… but is this now the time that we actually ask the Supreme Courts conservative majority is this what they meant by ensuring that the ultra wealthy had a voice ‘EQUAL’ to that of the mass of common, single, one-vote-only citizen voices that the ultra-rich are ‘NOW’ able to magnify many times above, over & beyond that of the average voter? Or did the Supreme Court conservative majority not foresee this becoming a reality at all? Which is it, in other words…?


The thing is for most of us, what are we going to be able to do? Mr. Reich is hands down my favorite writer of today, he is on message constantly about what needs to be said. A brilliant, wonderful man. My problem is that most middle class Americans may not even know who the Kochs are, I didn’t full until just recently. If the Democrat candidate is Hillary Clinton (I’m backing Warren) or whoever they have to bring up the Kochs and their shadow existence on the landscape. A marginal amount of people could tip the election just with knowing the Koch’s are out there. People simply don’t know.


I scanned the article through to the end after reading the first paragraph to get to the part where Mr Reich told his hosts he would NOT change his talk to accommodate ‘sensibilities’ and how he explained that. I found no such words. Unless Mr Reich can speak to this and tell us what he said to his hosts in response I have no more time for whatever he says. I assume he kowtowed to his hosts in both incidences until I hear otherwise…


We should thank RR for bringing to light just how miserably compromised our institutions are. Sadly,
I’m not sure we have any institutions on our side…


I really wish progressives would stop being as hard on people as they often are. I’m 56 and even I remember the problems the “New Left” encountered back in the day of McGovern. For some I’m sure George McGovern was a baby killer because he was a Navy Pilot, say like my own father who was in the WWII Navy, but popped out, surprise, a New Deal Democrat.
I bring this up for the sake of example. Mr. Reich is in an incredible position, and he’s doing incredible work, taking the risks, etc. Still, it’s often “I appreciate it but I wish you would just…” I encountered this with the University Left in the late 80’s where often NOBODY would say much of anything since they themselves were usually from pretty well off circumstances.
Yes, people should be sounding off about the environmental and social costs and they are, increasingly, Ferguson being the latest glaring example. Give it some time (admittedly, not that we really have any) but there will be a tipping point. Right now Mr.Reich is doing far more for economic equality than any high level person has in my lifetime in this country. Don’t take it for granted.