Robert B. Reich was born in 1946 and is a Professor, activist, politician, and an author. He graduated from Yale Law School, John F. Kennedy Government School, and was a Rhodes scholar studying at Oxford University. Reich served as secretary of labor in the first Clinton administration and has a reputation of being a “conciliator, who can see opposite sides” to every question and solve them (Jacobus, 287). He has written many books, such as the Next American Frontier, Work of Nations, and The Wealth of Nations.
Robert B. Reich wrote, “Why the Rich are getting Richer and the Poor, Poorer” to categorize American workers. He divided all jobs into three boats: routine producers, in person servers, and symbolic analyst. Reich continues to explain each job and how they are affecting the economic wave. In his essay, Reich use of deductive reasoning and argument proves valid in the sense that the vessels are preventing change among the social order in today’s society.
The first sinking vessel, routine producers, is the fastest sinking boats because they face competition from around the globe and from computer robots. Big companies like AT&T used routine producers in the US in the 1980’s till they found that in Singapore routine producers would do the same job for a fraction of the price (Reich, 291). They fired the US workers and used Singaporeans untill AT&T could find another country willing to pay less.
Reich’s use of evidence is apparent in the example of AT&T. The evidence pertains to wages and shows that routine producers are easily replaced and adds to Reich’s opinions of the boats. Reich also states that Singaporean replaced U.S. AT&T workers for a fraction of the cost and will eventually will be replaced by less costly and more productive means, human or otherwise. His logic shows that with each occurrence another will come about. Thus the relationship formed by Reich appeals logically to his audience about routine producers.
Continuing on, Reich depicts the second fastest sinking boat: in person servers. They do not face global competition but compete with machinery and laid off routine producers. This vessel contains people that are paid at minimum wage or slightly above (Reich 296). In-person servers are sheltered from global competition and are generally doing better than routine producers. In comparison, they also face competition from labor-saving machinery such as automated tellers, computerized cashiers, and so on.
According to Reich the demographics are in their favor because of the rate of growth in the American work force is slow and the number of elderly that will increase by the 20th century will ensure in person servers a job in catering to their needs.
Reich begins with the assumption that that the in-person servers are in better circumstances than the routine producers, yet they also face competition with machines. Though the in-person server is presented in a lukewarm sentiment, it can be inferred that this boat is not the ideal one in Reich’s opinion. The mediocrity of the in-person server is stabilized by the assumptions made by Reich. He shows that in-person servers will indeed live up to their names by serving the elderly community thus ensuring their employment and meager living standard.
Though the in-person servers do not face global competition, they face the harsh reality of being replaced by a machine. The idea of a machine replacing a human can draw many emotions. By informing his audience of the this idea, the lack of growth in the work force, and the rising number elderly, he draws appeals on two different emotions: fear and reassurance.
The rising boat is the America’s symbolic analysts. Worldwide demand for their insights is growing as the ease and speed of communicating them steadily increases. Some are at the bottom barely hanging on; others on top are doing so well they can’t keep track of their earnings. The other ones in the middle are American scientist and researchers who are selling their research and ideas to global enterprise webs. They are not limited to American workers. For example, if one refuses to pay the asking price, someone else will. As noted, American investment bankers and lawyers specializing in financial circumnavigations are selling their insights to Asians and Europeans who are eager to discover how to make large amounts of money.
Almost everyone around the world is buying the skills and insights of Americans who manipulate oral and visual symbols- musicians, sound engineers, film producers, makeup artists, directors, cinematographers, actors and actresses, boxers, writers and designers (Reich 299). The most important reason for this expanding world market and increasing global demand for the symbolic and analytic insights of Americas has been the dramatic improvement in worldwide communication and transportation technologies. Whether in the form or licensing fee, fees for service, salaries, or shares in final profits, the economic result in much the same.
Reich uses various examples of symbolic analysts to persuade his audience that this boat is better off than the others, since they use their intellect rather than their labor. The system analyst is always in demand because their thoughts and ways of seeing things are both innovative and unique. He makes the assumption that, unlike the routine producer and the in-person server, the symbolic analyst holds the power in the sense that they will always be needed. They also hold the power to ask for whatever price they see fit. His logic is evident in that he sees this boat as the only one that is truly rising.
In conclusion, Reich’s views of the American Economy are valid due to his train of thoughts, evidence, examples and facts presented throughout the essay and various assumptions about the economy today. Social orders always will exist and the degree of success will be determined by the where you choose to stand in this order.
Reich, Robert B. “Why the Rich Are Getting Richer and the Poor, Poorer.” A World Of Ideas, Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford Books, 1998. 251-275.
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