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Robert Reich on Infrastructure


Microsoft has duty to citizens as well as to shareholders

I’m a shareholder of Microsoft. Not a big one, mind you, but the money Microsoft has been spending lately lobbying has been spent on my behalf. But I’m also a US citizen, and I have goals other than maximizing the value of my stock.

I think it’s a good thing that we have a Justice Department, and that antitrust laws are enforced against powerful companies. I don’t want to live in a country dominated by the interests of big companies, even the ones I own. In short, I don’t want Microsoft to maximize the value of my shares at the expense of my values as a citizen. When I bought my tiny piece of the company, I wasn’t saying, “Take my money and do whatever’s politically necessary to give me a big return on it.” I was only asking the company to do whatever was technologically and economically necessary to give me a big return.

Microsoft’s political tactics are making an eloquent case that it and other corporate behemoths should be either more directly accountable to the public or busted up.

Source: The New York Times, Op-Ed, “A Shareholder, and a Citizen” Nov 5, 2000

Globalization and computerization widen the wage gap

For more than 15 years, people in the bottom half of the earnings distribution have lost ground. The middle class has been squeezed. The very poor have become even poorer. The wage gap is widening. Most of this is due to two great changes that started in the late 1970s-the emergence of new technologies like computers, and the knitting together of all the world’s economies. Both have been boons to well-educated professionals, but have created disasters for poorly-educated workers, who can now easily be replaced.

The same transformation has undermined the implicit social contract that once existed between companies and their employees, such that when the company did better, its workers did too. Technology and global competition have allowed investors to move capital quickly to wherever it earns the most.

The main answer is to improve education and job skills. The other part of the answer is to renew the compact between companies and their workers. Encourage profit-sharing. Strengthen unions.

Source: Locked in the Cabinet, p. 12-13 Nov 15, 1992

Other gubernatorial candidates on Infrastructure: Robert Reich on other issues:
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MA02 Gubernatorial:
Carla Howell
Jane Swift
Jill Stein
Paul Celucci
Shannon O'Brien
Steve Grossman
Tom Birmingham
Warren Tolman