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The Rise of the Working Poor and the Non-Working Rich


The Rise of the Working Poor and the Non-Working Rich

Robert Reich

Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they’re lazy. As Speaker John Boehner has said, the poor have a notion that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.”

In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.


While it's nice to have all of these facts put together in one piece, there is absolutely nothing new in this article.

However, I'm happy that someone keeps pushing this information in front of us. We certainly aren't going to see any of this stuff in the corporate media.

But what we need Reich and others to do is to trace this problem back to its source: the control of our government and our lives by unchecked corporate interests. We all know what the problems are; we need prominent public figures putting the blame where it lies.



As the 1% continue to apply the pressure, the ranks of the non-rich continue to grow, as does the possibility that the non-rich will awaken to the necessity of organizing.

Will they be wise enough to organize nationally for the replacement of capitalism by socialism, or will they be conned into a band-aid fix for capitalism (that would later be eroded by their masters)?


Our moral disapproval seems to be focused on the freeloader, the one who just takes and does not give back. From my eyes the rich, the coupon clippers, the idle rich, the ones who as Lincoln said, told the nation," you bake the bread and I'll eat it." The trouble with our capitalist system is that it makes this predatory vice a virtue. It has made the acquisition of money a standard of character and worth. Look at characters like Trump or Diamond. They have caused unbelievable suffering visited on the middle class but are the reviled? No they are dressed up and celebrated by the very people they prey on. John Boehner comes from Cleves, a very poor town. But who do those ignorant poor, barely making it lower middle class citizens blame for their fate, not Jamie Diamond, it's those lazy good for nothing, always on welfare blacks. This is the problem with our so called democracy. It has a racially biased, ignorant sea of gullible peasants, easily distracted by whatever shinny object is put in front of them. They will never become self aware enough, enlightened enough to see their true condition or the actual tools they have to better themselves. The American people don't really deserve a democracy and guess what, they don't really have one either.


One major problem is that the boundary of the problem must be addressed in context with the situation. From an American perspective the wealth inequality as measured by the GINI index is among, if not, the greatest in the developed world. From a world perspective, America is among the highest GDP per capital. The poorest American lives much better than the poorest Indian, for instance. Returning to the American perspective, it seems immoral to have rich Americans investing in developing countries where their return on investments have much more upside potential. But if those investments "lift the boats" of the world's poor, the action may be seen as the moral thing to do.

Piketty provides a wonderful compilation of data, but limits his economics to the same old naive platform of Adam Smith. The reality is there effectively is no more frontier to exploit. No more significant lands to grab, the atmosphere is full (or dangerously so), the seas acidified. Some of the uber wealthy get these problems and are genuinely trying to address them, however this is frustrating to us as it cannot proceed in a democratic process. What may be left is a strict police state to restrict those that will not abide by bread and circuses indoctrination. Ignorance is bliss!


I've said it before and I'll say it again and again, "the rich are under absolutely no obligation to hire anyone or give anyone a raise just because they are rich." The Trickle Down Theory is a lie! In fact, it is a disincentive for the rich to hand out jobs and raises. That cuts into their profit margin. We need to move towards a cooperative economy. Perhaps these writers can start pointing out policies, institutions, laws etc that maintains the current status quo, brainstorming on how to dismantle it all, and finally discuss what may be needed to be put in place to start the cultural shift that will move us towards a cooperative, egalitarian economy/society.


This lie has been extended to Social Security which is being framed as a giveaway to older Americans instead of a repayment of the funds that they put into the system throughout their working lives.



The has to be a movement strong enough to break the corporate insistance on low wages, low taxes, deregulation and minimal employment in the interest of profit (sic).

Yes, there does need to be a movement but unless that movement is able to reach a critical mass of supporters then it will go nowhere.

The key to getting widespread support for such a cause lies in getting the US electorate to understand the true basis of our economic problems. At present, not enough of them do.

So, yes, there needs to be a movement and that movement will become effective when we educate the American voter.



► That won't happen as long as there's a free market


Dynastic wealth coupled with dynastic--Bush or Clinton family--elections. The Founders must be turning over in their graves.


This casual dismissal on your end works the same way that global warming deniers insist that there have ALWAYS been storms, floods, droughts, etc.

The class divide is growing exponentially in 2 directions with a Middle Class being deliberately eviscerated. Not since the robber baron era over a century ago were "the numbers" this bad.

In other words, like the argument used to minimize climate change/global warming, there was always a chasm between wealth and poverty, but not one this huge and pervasive. It's about intensity, degree, and overall shift.

As with many things, instead of applying an "either-or" prism, one notices gradual progress or gradual devolution. Stating that a thing has "always been thus and so" minimizes how much transition has taken place. In other words, it's not just a black-white argument. The real message comes from nothing all the shades of gray and the process that's leading the degradation.


Classic "blame the people" post.

Some people may kike John Boehner.. but your post generalizes that ALL do and them blames the lower classes for their fate because:

"It has a racially biased, ignorant sea of gullible peasants, easily distracted by whatever shinny object is put in front of them. They will never become self aware enough, enlightened enough."

Your bias identifies with the dominant paradigm.

There are plenty of educated, savvy, enlightened Black citizens but that doesn't necessarily stop a white cop's bullet, nor the racist criminal "justice" system from finding cause to incarcerate said persons.

You mistake your no doubt narrow version of enlightenment FOR political power as if they are the same thing.

The Piketty Study shows that $ is moving to the top of the fiscal food chain. Other economists have explained that today's workman's wages buy less than they did 40 years ago. It's obvious that Big Money owns the metrics of power--and that means that IT sets the agenda--in this country.

Enlightenment, race, so-called "gullible" peasants have little to do with Legacy Wealth and the systems of power it's put in place.

YOU are the one who needs to become more aware instead of sounding like a Calvinist pig blaming the poor for being por.

And to conclude that the American people don't deserve a Democracy because a certain demographic is spiritually held back by fundamentalist views is more proof positive of your military mindset.


The ironic thing is that if one had to summarize the entirety of Marx's 3-volume "Capital" in one sentence, it would be:

"The rich are the ultimate freeloaders, living off the sweat and blood and tears of those who genuinely work".


"That widening inequality — combined with the increasing numbers of people who work full time but are still impoverished and of others who have never worked and are fabulously wealthy — is undermining the moral foundations of American capitalism."

Moral foundations! Of Capitalism?!

Professor Reich STILL does not get it!

Capitalism HAS NO "moral foundations" - it is a system of material relations in a society. It is capitalism that is the foundation of any "morality" (whatever that is) that may be out there! Not the other way around. And capitalism IS the exploitation of those that work for the gain of those that don't work but rather only own the resources of an economy.

Will this fucking "economics professor" please read some Marx for crying out loud!