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R-Squared Rap with J-Stew … Topic? “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”

April 19, 2012

Robert Reich is the former Sec. of Labor in the Clinton Administration, and current Professor of Public Policy at UCal, Berkeley (go bears!). Reich was recognized by Time magazine as one of the top ten most influential secretaries to have served in the nation’s federal government in the past century (via Reich’s homepage).

Reich was Jon to the Stew-izzle’s featured guest kast night, promoting his new book on the economy, poltics, and a lot of other interesting stuff, Beyond Outrage. Reich is a smart dude. Every time I see him, or even hear him on the radio — being that he’s a regular contributor on NPR/APM’s Marketplace — his words seem to express what is going on that I was simply not seeing until then. Like I had all the great paintbrushes, paints, and ideas, but he swept in and pulled a Bob Ross (oh yes I did just go there). Making it look so easy, both Robert and Bob (or Bob and Robert, errrrrr**, you get it). He’s just got such a good grip on the world’s economic pulse. His dome is stuffed with history, data, variables, and patterns that he’s able to combine and sort almost instinctively. As quick as his magical membrane-wrapped cerebrum computes something it’s finding a way slung out his mouth in a fluid, digestable, and easily understood way. Brilliant guy. Having seen and heard him on a plethora of TV shows and radio pieces, and the sample size increases (oh yes, I did slide a nerdy statistics reference inhere — I think I smell spuriousness, ha!), the accuracy and reliability of the subject being tested (Reich) only increases. The rich, measured, incredibly analytic, puzzle-solving magician powers gradually become better and better with time. Yes, that is the good stuff. That is life at it’s finest. Worthy qualities of a jedi, and the jedi way. It seems like his presence just does what he does — errr, just elucidating the relevant global-to-local economic analysis in a hot Berkeley minute — without trying whatsoever. His noggin probably permeates enough heat to provide winter warmth for a village of two-hundred in Siberia in the middy (sic, ‘middy’ ~ intentional spelling/slang for ‘middle,’ errrr) of winter. His mouth just starts moving and … before you know it .. Bob Ross, errrr Reich has left the building, but he did leave a pretty sweet masterpiece.

On The Daily Show, Reich expounds on what has become a hot topic as of late, the ineffectiveness (or effectiveness, if that’s your take) of the (cue horror music) tax code. I wish Reich would’ve had a half an hour, but he has a few quick minutes. During Eisenhower’s presidency, the highest effective tax rate topped off at a whopping 91% (via/hat-tip to Reich on TDS w/ Jon Stewart). And, a little historical irony: that was when we were on the same team as the USSR, who would serve to justify (to the gov’t, not to me) the Cold War boom in the need for a military-industrial complex. PostWWII, the nation’s economy exploded, spurred by a pent-up war demand, and especially by two of the most salient industries that can rev up the economy quite easily: the automobile and the housing industries (via/hat-tip Conte and Karr, An Outline of the American Economy. Suburbs, strip malls, shopping centers, and an econ injection in it’s own right ~ the baby-boomer demographic (ding’ding’ding consumer demand — via/hat-tip, Conte and Karr, AOotAE). I could go on, and it’s actually a particular part of American history, the post WWII years from ’45 to ’78 especially, up to the year I was born. Not that I have something against the ’80s and ’90s, I love my era baby, those are the years of youth son! And, the years that the “baby’s all growns up,” (via/hat-tip, Swingers). But late ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s: such dynamic, classy but trashy, years. ‘Mad Men’ has only stoked it. I love stoking a good fire. Right before smores. Back on topic.

But, there were very distinct sets of various conditions that are very different to our world. Stewart chimes in (he’s actually a really bright guy, not that it’s assumed that he’s not, just that he’s smarter than he wants to come off as in some ways, to me) that the era consisted of a certain collective conscious, a shared societal sentiment that was very different from today’s collrctive belief. Reich slips into the pocket for a nice body blow, saying that corporations were largely based nationally, for production/supply and consumption/demand. Now almost everything is global. They don’t get into much more on this stuff. Hmmm, I’ll make a note to come back to this set of ideas, expose and explain.

Before he’s whisked away and taken to meet with Yoda and Obie One, Reich quips in that we need to invest in people. Investing in research, stocks, etc. is one thing, but for national, widespread growth, investing in people gets the biggest bang for the buck. What to spend on? Here’s a little brainstorm:

Ways to invest in people, and in society. This is a very quick, general listing. I’ll try to elaborate and add more detail, nuance, geographical economic landscapes, and sheer data. You can invest in as many ways that you can imagine, so imagine up. In education (public k-12, higher education, vo-tech, on the job training, continuing ed, etc.), social investments [health/well-being; preventative/alt medicine, conscious increase in mental health awareness/psych therapy, nutrition, taxes on soda/ciggies/alchyhol/etc., infrastructure; the obvious stuff, sure — roads, water, solar, electric/internet/wi-fi grids, agriculture in rural/metro, increased research on improvements in anything/er’thang infrastructure related; energy creation/storage/usage, better more transparent financial/energy usage/urban-rural-development/etc. planning, public spaces/works (parks, libraries, museums, partnerships through these bodies with schools and business)].* Much more on this later. That is all (via/hat-tip, That Is All, Juan ‘Bigote Barbarosita’ Hodgman

*All investments cover the entire spectrum, from the individual all the way to the national unit, as the bookends. To be clear and complete, the units in between are obvious, but here they are anyway, starting from the top; nation/regions/states/counties/metrop’s/cities/towns/hoods/neighbors/families/individuals/etc. And, random as it be, I was reading about the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Pleasant Hills, California, and I was reminded of the wondrous thing we call sister cities. Hell to the yizz-ess. You know, where two cities form a bond, a connection that well, does … what?!? Is it that we need such a public, formal connection with some distant place to help our society improve? Why not develop a set of inter/intra-nat’l/regional/municipal/etc., connections that establish and develop the country’s various units, and network? Sister cities, brother burroghs/counties, cousin counties, etc., and the connections could form mini-contracts, that last a certain amount of time, and use a simple list of a litany of areas to connect on, etc. And while I’m at it, theoretically it could apply not only to any/every unit of area, but now any unit of anything; ideas, industries, all matters cthulhu (via/h/t, That Is All, John ‘Bigote con Quesitos’ Hodgman). That is all.

**errrrr serves as a communicative device that reveals and expresses a sudden sense of ‘oooops’ or ‘uhhhh’, whereas my being sees an error (hence errrr, pretty complex, eh) in my ways of thinking. And so through the magical meaning of errrr, I see one, an error in my way, two, open my mouth and slobber at said error recognition, three, freeze ~ slobber some more, and four, close said mouth, and five, mend my ways (of thought and such). That is all (via/hat-tip to Señor John ‘Bigotote’ Hodgman)(via/hat-tip to Señora María ‘Ingenuosita’ Popova haha

Robert Reich’s homepage

Bob Ross, Inc.

¡Three Amigos! “¿A plethora of piñatas?”

That Is All, John Hodgman’s tumblr

The Curator’s Code, by maria Popova

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