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To read more about Episode 224, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:00:43] This is Rumble with Michael Moore, I’m Michael Moore. Welcome everyone. Today, in a few moments, I’ll be speaking to a guest many of you have been requesting me to have come on Rumble. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich will be my guest here. He is also an author and columnist and activist, as you know. You know him. And we’re so lucky to have him, being one of the most important progressive voices in this country. I also want to thank all of you who joined me on Sunday afternoon, this past Sunday, for the live Q&A. We had a lot of fun. It was great getting all your questions and smile on my face the rest of the day.
Michael Moore [00:01:26] So those of you are paid members on the Substack. Thank you for your support. And thanks for joining me on these Q&A’s when we have them. Also, I’ve posted my weekly Substack column. It’s called “Gun and Done” and it is part two of what I had written a week or so ago, after the school shooting in Oxford, Michigan. Please check this out, in this column in the Substack here, I say a number of things, I think that I’ve said in different ways before. But this time the gloves are off and I’m not going to wait any longer to get this awful problem of ours fixed. The violence in this country, the violence we do to ourselves, violence that we do to the world. So you just go to MichaelMoore.com. It’s free. Just mark the free box, and you can get this once a week. I put a lot of time into this. It’s important to me. I love to write, and I love to write and talk about and do the research, and all this other stuff for the issues that we’re facing right now. So you can sign up on that list. You just go to MichaelMoore.com. It’s free and all my writings and all these podcasts will be sent right directly to your email. You just click on the arrow. You don’t have to go through any kind of rigmarole, and you can hear my weekly podcast too.
Michael Moore [00:02:52] Thanks to all the people who are buying things for Christmas and the holidays in the Moore Store, our ball caps and our crew hoodies and all this other stuff, it’s been going really well. Just go to the store at MichaelMoore.com. There’s not much time left to get things sent, but you might get lucky.
Michael Moore [00:03:21] Thanks for joining us today. We have a very special guest with us. Robert Reich is one of the great progressive voices in our country, especially when it comes to labor, economic issues and the plight of the working class and the poor in this country. He’s the former U.S. secretary of Labor, a professor at Cal Berkeley, and the author of several books, most recently “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix it.” Most importantly, he is now on Substack. So, like my Substack MichaelMoore.com, you can keep up with all of Robert Reich’s writings, thinkings, even his drawings, which are incredible. And you can do that, and it’s very simple. RobertReich.Substack.com. Bob, it’s a great honor to welcome you. Thank you for coming on.
Robert Reich [00:04:19] It’s just a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Michael Moore [00:04:21] There’s so many things here I want to get into. You know, can we just start with this thing that is just driving me up the wall in the last few weeks? Inflation, inflation, inflation. And I try to explain to– like there was something out today. Inflation is up on some category, and I said, Well, yeah, but we weren’t doing that last year. Of course it’s up. It’s up over last year. It’s the same thing where they released the crime statistics in New York today, and transit crime is up 106%. That’s right, because a year ago this time, nobody was riding the subway. Very few people, the essential workers were riding it. So yes, everything’s up in that in that sense. But why is the media pounding and pounding away on this and not doing it with context? You know that, especially in the in the sense of inflation. I’m not saying that things aren’t costing more, but I think that there’s a reason for this. And I think that I’m guessing there’s a reason Biden doesn’t look too concerned, that he knows that we’re in this transition and we’ll be out of it. Is that just wishful thinking? Or– I would love to hear your take on this, because you teach this, you write about it, and you served there in the White House dealing with this.
Robert Reich [00:05:40] Yeah. Well, Michael, there’s several factors here. Number one, the media, particularly the corporate mainstream media, I think that they have wanted to consciously or unconsciously, they want to treat Biden the same way they treated Trump. I mean, it’s kind of a false equivalence. So they’re going to beat him up. Even though the economy with everything except inflation considered, the economy is going gangbusters. I mean, economic growth, job growth, everything is way up doing remarkably well. But because of this one issue of prices going up, I think the media just found something to bang over his head. Now your point about obviously, prices are going to go up because the economy is now coming back is exactly right. Because obviously, if there are a lot of people suddenly buying stuff because they feel like the pandemic may be over and they’re a little bit relieved, and they’re a little bit– they have a lot of pent up demand for what kinds of things they didn’t buy the last year and a half. Well, that’s going to create a lot of economic demand, and that demand itself is going to drive up prices, because you can’t just snap your fingers and create enough supply to meet that demand. I mean, there are going to be bottlenecks and shortages of f all kinds of things. And that obviously drives up prices temporarily. Now what does temporarily really mean? How long a price is going to be driven up? Nobody knows. But there is one other factor that nobody is talking about enough, in my view, and that is monopolization.
Michael Moore [00:07:25] Mm-Hmm.
Robert Reich [00:07:25] You’ve got you’ve got a huge number of big corporations in America that have never made as much money as they’re making now, and they’re using the excuse of inflation as a reason to raise their prices and make even more money. And that’s a big, big issue and a big problem.
Michael Moore [00:07:43] How is it that corporate America has been recording record profits during a global pandemic? What– there’s got to be an easy answer to this because, well, yeah,
Robert Reich [00:07:58] I think, Michael, the easy answer is monopolization. I mean, starting with Amazon, you know, you’ve got a pandemic. People are not going to buy in retail stores. They’re afraid to go out. So they’re going to order through Amazon and to a lesser extent, through Walmart’s online system. Well, that gives Amazon and Walmart a real a real monopoly over retail sales. And that’s exactly what’s happened. That’s driven Amazon’s and Walmart’s online profits, which have been huge. I mean, just unbelievably large. But you also have all through the economy you’ve got one or two firms dominating certain industries. I mean, look at Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark. I mean together, they basically own consumer staples. So to the extent that there’s any demand, say for toilet paper, remember the run on toilet paper at the start of the pandemic? Well, they had a monopoly. I mean, they could charge basically whatever they wanted, and they have made record profits. They announced just in April both of them simultaneously that they would start charging even more for toilet paper and for, you know, all sorts of consumer — you know, diapers, everything else. And they excused it by saying it was rising costs for raw materials. But actually, it turns out they have never made as much money. Their profit margins are huge. They don’t need to raise prices, but they’re raising prices because they can. And that means more money.
Michael Moore [00:09:37] And they did do that. And so what you’re seeing is the problem with monopolies was already a problem before the pandemic. This was — Amazon and Procter & Gamble and anybody else we could name that was already baked in to our economic system, so that when the pandemic took place, we were at the mercy of essentially a few companies and a delivery system that had taken over the former various means of delivery. And they were able to have at it and do as they wanted when it came to us, the consumers, the citizens.
Robert Reich [00:10:18] Sadly, tragically, that’s exactly right. And what the pandemic did is give them a kind of an opportunity to exercise the monopoly power they already had, but do it in a more flagrant example of that more flagrant way. I mean, half of all recent grocery price increases, for example, a lot of people know that grocery prices are going up. Half of them, of that grocery price increase in recent months, has come from beef and pork and poultry. Well, they’re just four large conglomerates that control almost all of the markets for meat processing of beef, pork and poultry, and they’ve been raising prices like mad, taking advantage of the fact that consumers basically don’t know what’s going on and they can blame it on inflation.
Michael Moore [00:11:06] So, is there anything Biden can do about this? Can he put a stop to this? This essentially is the gouging of people when they’re already suffering through a pandemic, and whether they’ve had COVID or not, whether it’s they’ve lost their job or not, or they’re having to work at home or the kids are at home because of school, you know, just I mean, you understand the massive weight that the public are carrying with all of this. Is there something that their president, the one that a majority of the Americans voted for sitting there in the Oval Office? Is there something he can do? Because it seems like if he doesn’t do anything, we’re going to be in deep trouble come the midterm elections next year.
Robert Reich [00:11:57] Yeah. Well, one thing he could do in the short term, he could do what we have done in this country during wartime. And that is that if a a major company or a major industry raises its prices beyond a baseline, that was, you know, what their prices used to be, they’ve got to pay excess profits taxes. You know, because obviously everybody knows that they’re profiteering from the war. And that’s what we did in World War II. Why? Why shouldn’t we do that again? The other thing he can and should do is to use antitrust law to basically break up these monopolies or threaten that if they continue to raise their prices using inflation as the flimsy excuse, he’s going to break them up.
Michael Moore [00:12:43] Will he do that?
Robert Reich [00:12:44] Well, he’s not going to. I don’t think he’ll go after the excess profits, the profiteering, but — or at least I haven’t heard a word said about that, not even Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren has talked about that. Too bad. I think they should. But he has talked about antitrust, and he’s strengthening antitrust authorities. The unfortunate part of that is that, you know, that takes years to actually mount an antitrust case. What he needs to do now is say: Look, Procter & Gamble or Kimberly-Clark, or you major — you know, PepsiCo or anybody else who’s ramping up prices and using the excuse of inflation to do so. Look, if you continue to do this, I’m going to crack down on you. I know you’re a monopolist. And you know, I can’t tell you we’re going to get you right away, but we’re going to we’re going to do this. You better stop.
Michael Moore [00:13:37] Why do you think that Americans right now are so unhappy with with Joe Biden? You know, his approval ratings and everything? I’m just I’m kind of surprised to see it. And maybe you’re right, this could just also be a holdover of people that have just had it from Trump, four years of Trump? Whatever one answer might also be that maybe all of our expectations were so high, and that hopes were bound to be dashed. But you know, I, you know, I was out there campaigning with Bernie and and in the primary in Michigan, I voted for Bernie, not Biden. But as soon as he was running, I and others, I think we did what we could do. And he turned out, once elected, at least what he was saying and starting to do, it leaned more towards Bernie than it did toward Joe Manchin, and I was very happy about that. And I was happy to hear things that he was saying he did. He did sign a number of executive orders, did some very good things for people to help reduce poverty and hunger. And just a little thing where he eliminated the student loan debt that disabled people were carrying, that he just got rid of that. I mean, it was just like a lot of little things like that. But now it just seems these approval ratings and the not getting the human infrastructure bill passed yet, having to cut it down so much to try and get Manchin and Sinema on board. The people are, I think the vote is getting depressed, the people who voted for him — and especially if you’re a person of color, the voting rights thing that seems to have disappeared, that we need so desperately. So I don’t know, that’s just me babbling on, but I’m just curious of what’s your take? On this with Biden and, if you were giving him counsel, what would you suggest that he do right now?
Robert Reich [00:15:55] Well, what my counsel would be, you know, give a lot of fireside chats like what Franklin D. Roosevelt used to do. You know, get out there, talk to the American people, explain why voting rights, what you said just then, Michael, are so critically important because we need to fight against the forces of fascism that are determined to take away our democracy. And this is not a problem only for people of color. This is a problem for all of us who care about democracy. I think he’s got to get out there and show himself as a fighter, not just for infrastructure. I mean, that’s good. I’m glad we got an infrastructure bill and and not just for, you know, Build Back Better and the good things that are in Build Back Better. But he’s got to show himself to be willing to get out there and express a little bit of outrage, because that’s what a lot of us feel right now. The first six months, he was doing a lot of stuff, but then he ran into a kind of roadblock. And that is Manchin and Sinema. And it’s obviously every Republican member of Congress. And you know, he’s got to, I think, convince people that he is really on their side in a very dramatic way. That’s what I would advise.
Michael Moore [00:17:15] Yeah, yeah. I don’t — we certainly don’t want him to give up, and we need, I think, that when people start to see some economic help that gets passed by Congress, immediate economic help. You remember, Obamacare took years before people got to see the benefits of that because they built that into the bill, that it wasn’t going to happen right away. And it just seems that, I don’t know, do I need to go down there and move into the basement of the White House and just kind of be there, help out, hold his hand and help with the messaging? I don’t know what you know.
Robert Reich [00:17:54] Maybe if you wouldn’t mind, Michael, doing that, you can tell him — if the guards at the door ask you, just tell him that I sent you.
Michael Moore [00:18:02] OK, that will work. I know that will work. And you know, I’ve noticed, too, that he has been listening to his granddaughters, who have been very good on all these issues. And he seems to he seems to care deeply about this next generation and what we’re leaving them with. And, you know, I just, I don’t know, you’re just hearing the frustration from me that you could hear from anybody on the street
Robert Reich [00:18:31] Look, I feel as frustrated as you do. I mean, really, I find myself, I have this the photograph, this photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt on my desk. And every morning I’m yelling at Franklin D. Roosevelt saying, What are the Democrats doing? Why aren’t they doing more? Why isn’t Biden out there? You know, like you, Franklin D. Roosevelt talking about the, you know, the captains of industry who were plotting against him and saying, as Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1936,”I welcome your anger. I welcome your hate.” But Biden, by personality, by inclination, doesn’t seem to want to do that. I do agree with you that if he gets this Build Back Better bill through despite Manchin, if he gets it through, if he gets these votes that he needs, even if it happens in January or February, that’s going to be good for a lot of people. It’s going to be important for a lot of people, it continues, for example, the child tax credits, which otherwise is going to disappear right on the 18th of January. You know, we’re talking about real people’s real lives. But Biden needs to show he’s as outraged as we are.
Michael Moore [00:19:49] Let me ask you, Secretary of Labor question here. This victory of Starbucks employees in Buffalo this past week, I think, is reverberating across America, not in the pundit class, but among the everyday average worker. And you know, you and I know and I think a lot of the public knows that what occurred at this one Starbucks store is part of a much larger pattern taking place right now with a surge in strikes and labor actions across the country. Are you hopeful for this? And is there any way that everybody listening to this can be supportive of this workforce, which is, you know, in many cases, young? It’s people of color, it’s women, you know, they’re the real foundation of what I see as a movement that is now in progress.
Robert Reich [00:20:47] Well, I’m very optimistic about this, I think that, you know, we’ve been doing and glooming about Biden and what happens in Congress or what’s not happening in Congress, but what really does make me optimistic is the activism we’re seeing at the rank and file in the labor movement, not just this one, Starbucks. I mean, this is a big deal. You have to understand how big a deal this is because Starbucks has based its entire business model for decades on avoiding unions. You know, and it talks about corporate social responsibility. It talks a good game about how wonderful Starbucks is for its community and for its workers. Well, that’s just bullshit. I mean, in point of fact, what this has revealed this labor struggle is that Starbucks just like every other corporation is just trying to make as much money as possible and keep wages as low as possible. And so I think that this one little victory is hugely important to other Starbucks outlets and stores are going to be unionizing, I think, fairly quickly. And at the same time, you’ve got companies like Kellogg’s, you know, big, big companies where the workers are striking. I think the way to we, you know, we ought to boycott Kellogg’s products. We ought to every time we walk into a Starbucks, we ought to tell the baristas and the workers, there we are with you. You ought to unionize. We want you to unionize. We should communicate. However, we can maybe boycott Amazon until Amazon really allows unionization. It’s been using terrible anti-labor techniques for years now, including what happened in Bessemer, Alabama. And I think that our voices as consumers, as citizens ought to be very loud about labor solidarity.
Michael Moore [00:22:34] Also, in addition to the labor actions taking place, it seems like this country is experiencing an unofficial general strike, because across the country, people are refusing to return to back breaking or mind numbing low wage jobs. And again, the pundit class on cable news and elsewhere on the internet. They’re just aghast that people are not coming back to work. And of course, the Republicans make speech after speech on the floor in Congress about — almost we have to punish them, to take a whip to them, to get them, to get back to work. Because we need that, we need their work and we need their work at, you know, $7.25 an hour. And people are refusing. People are saying “No, I’m not going back to that. I’m not going to do this.” This is the moment and the pandemic has given me time to think about this and take advantage of the moment. Is it wrong to say that there’s an unofficial general strike going on here? What is going on here, and how can we all either help encourage and help those most in need low wage workers to benefit from this moment?
Robert Reich [00:23:51] Well, I think it is, in fact, an unofficial general strike, and you see it not only in terms of the actual strikes that are going on, but also the extraordinary, unprecedented number of workers who are quitting their jobs. We’re saying basically, I’ve had it, you know, I’m just not going to take this anymore. Or you have a very– almost record level of low labor participation. And that means that of all of the adults of working age who could be working. You have really relatively few. About 61, almost 62 percent who are actually in jobs. But the jobs are there. They just don’t want them. And here’s an important little piece of sort of rhetorical device what you hear through the mainstream media and the conservatives and the Republicans. They all say there’s a labor shortage. Well, there’s not a labor shortage. What we have is a shortage of living wage jobs. We have a shortage of childcare. We’ve got a shortage of paid leave. We’ve got a shortage of health care for workers. I mean, these are the real shortages. This is why people are saying I’ve gone through this pandemic. It’s given me a chance to reevaluate where I am. And I’m just I’m just not going to go back to the old situation I was in before.
Michael Moore [00:25:12] You know, I read your writings in the Guardian. And I think, did you recently write something about this tax loophole, the carried interest loophole? I can’t remember, or maybe I just read it in the Guardian. But yeah, I did. OK, so I did. I read what you wrote. So, yeah, so would you explain this to people and people who are listening? Please don’t glaze over on this, because you did not tune in today to listen to us talk about a $180 billion carried interest tax loophole.
Robert Reich [00:25:41] No don’t glaze over! Every time– you see the danger here is every time we talk about taxes, you know, people think, “Oh my god, I can’t listen anymore because it’s taxes and it’s complicated.”
Michael Moore [00:25:50] Listen to this. Listen to this. Will you explain this to people because this is my problem.
Robert Reich [00:25:55] Well, this is important because the private equity industry, these are the people who are the corporate raiders who go into companies, they buy them up and then they cut jobs, they cut wages, they outsource jobs, they privatize. They basically destroy a lot of communities. This is private equity. These are the corporate raiders. These people have been subsidized for years by a special tax break for which there is absolutely no economic justification. It’s called a carried interest. I don’t want to get into their technicalities because your eyes really will glaze over. But the important thing to know is that administration after administration comes in and says, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, “we are going to get rid of the carried interest loophole.” This is what Obama said. And then nothing happened. This is what even Donald Trump, believe it or not, Donald Trump said, “I’m going to get rid of carried interest loophole.” And he had a big tax break for the wealthy and for big corporations, and he kept the carried interest there. And right now, the Democrats are trying to find ways of funding what Biden wants to do. The Build Back Better plan. Now, one of the most obvious ways of doing it is to close this notorious loophole. This carried interest loophole is $180 billion of loophole over ten years. This is not chump change. We’re chumps if we don’t close the loophole, right? But you know, it’s not even listed among the Democrats loopholes and things that they want to do, because the Democrats are so — And this is saddens me to say this, Michael, because I I am a Democrat. I’m a loyal Democrat. I think the Republicans are very dangerous. The Republican Party is a proud fascist party right now, but the Democrats are too enthralled by Wall Street’s money by private equity, money by the lobbyists and the campaign cash. And they’ve got to close this loophole.
Michael Moore [00:28:04] If people want to write or call their representatives, what’s the one line that they need to give to the person who picks up the phone at their Senator’s or their Congressperson’s office?
Robert Reich [00:28:15] Well, it’s six words. “Close the fucking private equity carried interest loophole.” Maybe that’s eight words.
Michael Moore [00:28:23] That’s eight because you went blue, but that’s OK. Now people can handle it. Yes, I really encourage people to do this. And the other thing I think a lot of people don’t understand. You constantly beat away on this, Oh, Social Security, that’s going to run out in 10 years? It’s going to run out in five years. And it’s like people do not understand. And maybe you could explain. I’ve tried to explain it, but I think it’ll come across better if you can explain that. Those of you who are working your basic job and you’re making fifty, sixty, seventy thousand a year — so you know what used to be thought of as a middle class job? No longer. And you look at your paycheck and it shows how much has been taken out for Social Security and Medicare, and your employer has to provide their match of that. But let’s just say roughly the percent changes year to year, but roughly around seven percent of your income goes to Social Security. And I don’t think a lot of people know that if you make more than, I think it’s right now about $130,000 a year. Anybody who makes more than $130,000 a year, they only pay the seven percent on the first $130,000. You have to pay it on your entire income. They only have to pay it up to $130,000. And then here’s their percentage of what they pay for everything. They make over $130,000 and that percentage that goes to Social Security is zero.
Robert Reich [00:29:55] That’s right. Well, this is one of the real regressive, regressive aspects of Social Security. There is a cap, as you said, and it goes a little bit up every year. I don’t know what it is this year, but it’s around $130,000-$135,000. Any dollar you earn above that, you don’t have to pay any Social Security tax at all. And yet you, of course, you make Social Security, you get it back when you retire. So, for example, Elon Musk finishes — to the extent that he contributes any Social Security — but he would finish contributing to Social Security, probably about eight minutes past midnight on the first of the year. Jeff Bezos, I mean, these people have such extraordinary incomes that they reach that cap very, very, very quickly. Whereas most people paid for throughout the year, and as you said, it’s seven percent of your income. Your employer is supposed to put in another seven percent if you are, you know, if you’re working, If you’re self-employed, you got to pay the whole 14 percent. But you are paying in, it is your right. But the system is rigged against you in terms of there being this cap. Get rid of the cap. There’s no reason for a cap. It’s all in all income to Social Security.
Michael Moore [00:31:15] If you, the $60,000 a year employee, have to pay seven percent on your entire income, even though you and I don’t support this kind of flat tax. Nonetheless, why shouldn’t then everybody, including the rich, have to pay seven percent of their income just to do that? Just make them pay that? I don’t know if it was you or somebody else. I read that if they asked if the wealthy and everybody over that $135,000 a year, if they had to pay that seven percent and the government had to match it, that the Social Security system would be solvent immediately until almost the 22nd century.
Robert Reich [00:32:00] Yeah, that’s exactly right. And in fact, Social Security, even as it is right now, it ought to be expanded. I mean, Bernie Sanders, when he presented to Biden a draft agenda for the Build Back Better, he said, we ought to include, you know, in Medicare and Social Security — it ought to be bigger. I mean, there ought to be a Medicare Dental and Medicare Hearing. And Social Security needs to really be larger because, you know, so many costs for elderly people like pharmaceuticals are soaring. Well, we wouldn’t have to worry about that if the Social Security system required everybody to pay, at least at least the same minimal percentage of their income. And by the way, I hear, you know, in my former life as secretary of Labor, I was a trustee of the Social Security Trust Fund, so I know that it’s not going to go out of money yet. That is that it’s not going to lose money. It’s not going to — you’re going to get your Social Security, I promise you, because look, all of the money that goes into Social Security goes into the same general fund as taxpayers money as income taxes, as every other tax into the federal government. And the only reason that Social Security is under any stress right now as a trust fund is that the federal government for years has been borrowing money from the Social Security Trust Fund. Hello?!? So, you know, in other words, not only is there this extraordinary regressive tax that caps your payments into Social Security, but also you’ve got this mythology from being propounded by Republicans and conservatives that Social Security is not going to be there for you. Well, of course, it’s going to be there for you, right?
Michael Moore [00:33:56] Well, you see that the genius, the evil genius of them trying to whip up this kind of fear, especially anybody who’s in their 50s or 60s. Now they’re getting ready to receive Social Security, and all they hear is we’re out of money. We’re going to be out of money, it’s going to close. And the government’s saying, we’re not the only ones who do this, the way that they use fear to instill fear in the population to where the people then can’t think straight. It then makes it very hard for people like you or myself or whatever to try to present the truth, the facts. And we’re not just that, but we’re trying to get you and I and others are trying to get to and presenting an alternate way that we could live. We could live better as people. We could take care of each other better in all this. And I just this is why I mean, I think your work is so valuable. And I did mention at the beginning this incredible documentary you made. What is it now? A decade– “Inequality for All.” You just type it in anywhere on the internet. You can find it. You need to watch this film. It’s still so relevant today.
Robert Reich [00:35:05] I did that with a wonderful filmmaker, talented filmmaker, my friend named Jake Kornbluth.
Michael Moore [00:35:10] Oh yes, right.
Robert Reich [00:35:11] It’s still being used in classrooms around the country. Thank you for that. But Michael, back to your main point, and that is that you’re right. Fear sells better than hope. And what conservatives and Republicans have been doing for years is getting people even more scared and more fearful than they already are. And whether it’s Social Security or anything else, I mean… The good news is that Social Security and Medicare are hugely popular. That’s why Republicans hate them, because they’re so popular, because they prove the government works. I mean, a lot of Republicans, you know, they’re fearful that they’re going to be other programs like, you know, Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, that are going to be as popular as Medicare and Social Security. And then what the Republicans are going to do, I mean, then it’s going to really be a slippery slope. They say, well, it’s not a slippery slope. American workers are treated worse than workers in any other modern advanced country in terms of what they get on the job and what they get from government.
Michael Moore [00:36:18] You wrote another amazing op-ed this week. I’m going to post the link to it here on my podcast platform site for people who are listening because I would really love for you to read this. And I was a little, I mean, I was kind of taken aback by it. Because I thought there was, you’ve made a bold statement and taken a bold stand. The title of the op-ed is “Why I don’t trust the mainstream media.” Now this is coming from somebody– you have lived a portion of your life on the mainstream media since you were the Secretary of Labor and actually before that. And we all love hearing your take on things. But explain your position here because I thought — You know, you’re right, if if we all of us and we don’t kind of put our foot down here, we just become part of the problem because we’re not addressing the fact that the public is not is not being engaged in the way — when you talk about the war we’re in now with the pandemic and how the profiteers have taken advantage of that. You know, the other war we’re in is for our democracy. As you pointed out, the proto-fascist way that those who are still trying to take it over hope to take it over next year. It’s a serious thing. People are scared and we need a free press now more than ever. But boy, this… Just give us just a taste of what you wrote in this op-ed, and I’ll encourage people to read it for themselves.
Robert Reich [00:37:56] Well, I want to be very clear about this, and that is that I certainly don’t trust the right wing crazy media. I mean, I don’t trust Fox News or, you know, all of these other, you know, imitators. I mean, those are really dangerous. But no, I don’t think the mainstream media is guilty of fake news. I think that the mainstream media — and the reason I don’t really trust them and I look elsewhere — I do read the media. I mean, I read the New York Times. I read The Washington Post. It’s not that I [don’t] think there’s very good reporting, but we can’t possibly limit ourselves to these mainstream media outlets because they favor the status quo, for one thing. I mean, constantly reporters are asking progressives like Bernie Sanders or AOC or anybody else, “How do you justify the huge costs of Medicare for all, or anything, or a Green New Deal?” Without asking how in the world can we possibly afford not having a Green New Deal or Medicare for all? In other words, they’re positing a false choice here. They’ve been looking at the other side of the equation, which is the cost of not doing something. Or the mainstream media, to take yet another example is guilty of this constant false equivalence. I mean, they’re constantly saying, well, they’re extremists on both sides. You’ve got the extremists who are the Trumpers who are trying to take over democracy and you’ve got the extremists in the Democratic Party, the AOC and the Bernie Sanders who are what? Why are they extremist? Well, they’re an extremist because they’re fighting for democracy. They’re extremists because they want to help working people. I mean, there’s no comparison. How can you compare destroying democracy on the one hand with what the Democratic Party is trying to do? And that’s also what the mainstream media keeps doing. And you know, we’ve got to be very careful about how issues are framed. I keep on telling my students and anybody else who will listen: You’ve got to read and respond critically to the news. You’ve got to ask yourself, what’s not being reported? What are the underlying assumptions that are being made that are not actually necessarily true? What do you need from the media that you are not getting and make sure you get it? There are other ways of getting it.
Michael Moore [00:40:27] What do you — where do you go for that information? What else? You know, obviously yes, The Times and The Post. And you know, there’s good things even on cable TV. But you must have other — where would you direct people suggest something to people listening to this right now?
Robert Reich [00:40:46] Well I mean, you know, there are a number of places. I mean, I spend, you know, a good amount of time early in the morning trying to keep up with what’s happening. And I do, you know, I look at the Times, I look at The Washington Post, but I also make a point of looking at the American Prospect, which, by the way, I helped found 25 years ago. I look at a number of blogs that I found very helpful over the years, like the Daily Kos. I, you know, even I would urge people, you know, I’m part of a little team called Inequality Media, and we put out a lot of material every day, every week. A lot of videos, I think I can say without fear of contradiction that these are very important explainers about what’s happening in this country. And I also look to Substack. I mean, your Substack, Michael. I hope people read my Substack. There are some very good sort of independent journalism out there.
Michael Moore [00:41:46] Yes. Yeah, it’s very true.
Robert Reich [00:41:48] I consider myself — as I think you do as well yourself — a public educator. I mean, that’s what I do. I teach at Berkeley. I do videos. I do Substack. I write for the Guardian. By the way, The Guardian, there’s also another very useful, very important, non-corporate daily source of information. I go to first thing in the morning.
Michael Moore [00:42:14] Yes, American Prospect, still David Day and they’re still doing great work, helped encourage people to check that out. And if they’re watching things on their, on their devices, on television or whatever, is there any place you want to suggest is a good place to go to be informed?
Robert Reich [00:42:31] Good question. I mean, I like many progressives, I I like MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and so on. But I mean, it’s not really. I guess what worries me is that all of these television outlets or or any and anything you see on a regular daily basis on television tends to be competing for eyeballs so much that it becomes a little bit sensationalized. So I appreciate the news sources that give me context that don’t just get me outraged. I mean, outrage is important. I want people to be outraged appropriately. But I also want them to know why they’re outraged.
Michael Moore [00:43:19] Again, I can’t thank you enough for how you keep us educated about this. And it means a lot to me. It means a lot to a lot of people listening to this. And what do we have to look forward to in the coming year? Where are you going to be? What are you going to be doing? What should we look out for?
Robert Reich [00:43:40] Well, I’m going to be doing exactly what I’ve been doing, what keep on doing. You know, writing and Substack-ing and doing videos with Inequality Media. I’ve also started to do more and more TikToks. Believe it or not. I mean, it’s a good way of getting the young people. I will do anything I possibly can in my power to educate people, particularly young people. But, next year’s going to be tricky because next year is going to be the year of the midterm elections, when you get into the gravitational pull of the midterms. I’m worried, frankly, because I am watching what the Republicans are doing at the state level in many states, many swing states. And I see that they are laying the groundwork for what could be the end of democracy. And I’m not overstating this. I don’t mean to be sensational about this.
Michael Moore [00:44:40] No, that’s not hyperbole. No, no, you’re right.
Robert Reich [00:44:44] And so next year is going to be really, really important. The midterms take on a whole new dimension.
Michael Moore [00:44:52] Well, we’ll be looking forward to seeing what you’ll be posting, doing, saying TikTok. Yes, you’re on TikTok, like I’m not even there yet.
Robert Reich [00:45:04] You got to be there. You may
Michael Moore [00:45:06] You’re just encouraging me. yes. I mean, I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions.
Robert Reich [00:45:10] Well, my son, I’ve got two sons and they say to me, “Dad, how much dignity are you willing to lose?” And I say, you know, if it educates people, I don’t care. I’m going to dance. I’m going to do anything I can to help educate young people.
Michael Moore [00:45:29] There’s no shame in doing that. So thank you. Thank you for doing it, Bob, and for coming on to Rumble here. We hear New York City behind me, one of these 60 degree days in December that we probably shouldn’t be having, but are enjoying. Thank you, and I’ve been talking to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor and now professor at Berkeley and in so many, so many great books and films — and now videos and now TikTok, and I may have to call you up for instructions.
Robert Reich [00:46:10] Oh, Michael, you listen. I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you’ve been doing. And any time you want to do it, we’ll do. We could start. You want to talk. Maybe you and I do something together on Tiktok just just to get the ball rolling.
Michael Moore [00:46:23] Oh, I love you. Is that? Is that a promise?
Robert Reich [00:46:27] Yes, absolutely.
Michael Moore [00:46:28] OK. Basel, that’s what we’re going to. That’ll be one of the early things we do in the new year. OK. Many thanks. And to all of you who are listening. Look for the links here on the podcast page to go to. Robert Reich’s wonderful work. Read his Substack too, it’s a great Substack. Bob, thank you so much.
Robert Reich [00:46:49] OK, Mike, you take care of yourself.
Michael Moore [00:46:51] OK, be well. Have a good holiday and stay warm.
Robert Reich [00:46:56] Yes. Okay. All right, bye.
Michael Moore [00:46:59] So that was just great to have Robert Reich on on Rumble here. We’ll have him on again. So you will see sometime in January. Robert Reich teaching me TikTok. No better way to begin the New Year. My thanks to our executive producer, Basel Hamdan, our editor and sound engineer Nick Kwas, the Jack of all Trades — not some of the trades, all trades– Donald Borenstein, and everyone here who’s helped us with this podcast together, and all of you for listening to it, everybody. Thanks for listening to Rumble with Michael Moore — I’m Michael Moore.