Five years ago this weekend, the Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers collapsed triggering the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Today, the divide between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is as great as ever. According to one recent study, the top 1 percent has captured about 95 percent of the income gains since the recession ended. “Since the recovery, almost all of the gains have gone to the very, very top. People who are in the top 1 percent are doing even better than they did before the Great Recession, better than they have done since 1928,” says former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. “Most Americans are on a downward escalator. Median wage in the United States, adjusted for inflation, keeps on dropping.” Reich is the focus of the new film, “Inequality for All.” In this interview with Democracy Now! he also talks about Syria, the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street on September 17, Obama’s healthcare plan and Milton Friedman’s connection to the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.
ROBERT REICH: When I was a kid the bigger boys would pick on me. I think it changed my life. I had to protect people from the people who would beat them up economically. Who is actually looking out for the American worker? The answer is nobody. Workers don’t have a power if they don’t have a voice. Their wages and benefits start eroding. We are losing equal opportunity in America. Anyone of you who feels cynical, just consider where we have been.
A transcript of this interview is available at Democracy Now!