38 Astonishing Robert Reich Quotes

Robert Reich is an American political commentator, professor, and author. He served under the Administrator of President Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Known for many of his political stances and serving as the United States Secretary of Labor, here is a look at some of the most memorable Robert Reich quotes to know.

“A leader is someone who steps back from the entire system and tries to build a more collaborative, more innovative system that will work over the long term.”

“A lot of attention has been going to social values – abortion, gay rights, other divisive issues – but economic values are equally important.”

“America has become the most unequal society among advanced countries, and rich people are now free to spend as much money on political campaigns as they wish.”

“Any bank that is too big to fail is too big. Period.”

“Being critical of the nation is a far cry from being unpatriotic or anti-American. In fact, most social criticism . . . is based on a love of America’s ideals and a concern we’re not living up to them.”

“Cynicism is the last refuge of those who don’t want to do the work of creating a better society.”


“I think the big problem is you have a vicious cycle of wealth and power in America that`s just gotten completely out of control and you`ve seen it in politics.”

“I’m 40 years old. What I have seen my whole life is widening income inequality.”

“In a world where routine production is footloose…competitive advantage lies not in one-time breakthroughs but in continual improvements. Stable technologies get away.”

“Inequality is bad for everyone, not just the middle class and the poor.”

“It is a myth that higher taxes lead to less demand and slower growth. In the first three decades after World War II, US top tax rates on the wealthy were never below 70 percent.”

“Median wages of production workers, who comprise 80 percent of the workforce, haven’t risen in 30 years, adjusted for inflation.”

“Most Americans are on a downward escalator. Median wage in the United States, adjusted for inflation, keeps on dropping.”

“No economy can continue to function when the vast middle class and everybody else don’t have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing without going deeper and deeper into debt.”

“Regardless of how you interpret the facts, you have to come to the conclusion that inequality is widening in the US and in almost every other country.”

“Social change occurs when the gap between the ideals that people hold and the reality that they see every day gets too large.”

“Terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face.”

“The core corporation is increasingly a fa├žade, behind which teems an array of decentralized groups and subgroups continuously contracting with similarly diffuse working units all over the world.”

“The core principle is that we want an economy that works for everyone, not just for a small elite. We want equal opportunity, not equality of outcome.”

“The faith that anyone could move from rags to riches – with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone – was once at the core of the American Dream.”

“The key to understanding the rise in inequality isn’t technology or globalization. It’s the power of the moneyed interests to shape the underlying rules of the market.”

“The largest party in America, by the way, is neither the Democrats nor the Republicans. It’s the party of non-voters.”

“The liberal ideal is that everyone should have fair access and fair opportunity. This is not equality fo result. Its equality of opportunity. There’s a fundamental difference.”

“The only way to grow the economy in a way that benefits the bottom 90 percent is to change the structure of the economy. At the least, this requires stronger unions and a higher minimum wage”

“There is a deep desire to change the power structure.”

“True patriotism isn’t cheap. It’s about taking on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going.”

“We already have an annual wealth tax on homes, the major asset of the middle class. It’s called the property tax. Why not a small annual tax on the value of stocks and bonds, the major assets of the wealthy?”

“We are born, we grow up, we live our lives as best we can. If we are thoughtful we are good parents and good partners. If we are wise we strive for integrity and intimacy.”

“We are creating a one size fits all system that needlessly brands many young people as failures, when they might thrive if offered a different education whose progress was measured differently.”

“We do not want to live in a theocracy. We should maintain that barrier and government has no business telling someone what they ought to believe or how they should conduct their private lives.”

“We need to expand Social Security to prevent the looming retirement crisis, and we can do it simply by asking billionaires to pay their fair share.”

“We used to be so proud that our country offered far more economic opportunities than the feudal system in Great Britain, with its royal family, princesses and dukes.”

“We want to make sure that there’s upward mobility again, in our society and in our economy.”

“We’re the richest economy in the history of the world. For the majority of Americans not to get the benefits of this extraordinarily prosperous economy, there’s something fundamentally wrong.”

“When corporations get special handouts from the government, subsidies and tax breaks, it costs you.”

“When I was a kid, the bigger boys would pick on me. So I got an idea that I would make alliances with older boys, like just one or two, who would be my protectors.”

“You can’t create a political movement out of pabulum.”

“Your most precious possession is not your financial assets. Your most precious possession is the people you have working there, and what they carry around in their heads, and their ability to work together.”

Here is a talk featuring Robert Reich as he discusses his book, ‘Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few’ at this Town Hall in Seattle.