Robert Reich, who served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, was honored by Time magazine as one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He’s a Rhodes scholar, a best-selling author, a documentarian and a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley.
What he’s not, apparently, is a fan of billionaires clinging tightly to their riches:
That Reich jab at the Amazon AMZN, -0.37% billionaire and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos went viral this week, picking up 126,000 likes in just a couple of days. It also blew up on Reddit, where Reich was mostly applauded for his take on the wealth tax.
There were some exceptions, however.
“How about this: Jeff Bezos should fire everyone and replace them with machines. The unemployed can then look for other employers, start a business venture of their own or eat dirt,” a Reddit user identified as Prethor wrote. “It’s easy to be an entitled a—hole, it’s not so easy to create a multibillion-dollar company. Or even a small company.”
On Twitter TWTR, -0.75% , the responses often extolled a catch phrase of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign:
Warren, in a effort that Reich is clearly supportive of, has been floating a plan to tax billionaires 6 cents on every dollar of net worth above $1 billion to fund her health-care overhaul.
“If Medicare for All can be financed without any new taxes on the middle class, and instead by asking giant corporations, the wealthy, and the well-connected to pay their fair share, that’s exactly what we should do,” she said.
Meanwhile, as Warren has continued to climb the polls amid a widening of the divide between the rich and poor, there’s a bull market in billionaire bashing.
In a piece written for the Outline, Tom Whyman captured some of the resentment. “Every billionaire is thus more than a simple failure of policy,” he wrote. “Every billionaire is evidence of a basic glitch in the fabric of the moral universe.”
From the MarketWatch archives (August 2018): A 10-step plan for turning a democracy into a dictatorship, from Robert Reich