Considering Poverty with Dr. Robert Reich

This week’s essay assignment will test your ability to listen closely, take notes, and summarize.

I want you to listen to a presentation by Dr. Robert Reich, a widely respected economist, in late June, 2014, at the Aspen Institute in Colorado.  Dr. Reich is a long-time Professor of Economics at the University of California-Berkeley and was the Secretary of Labor during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJbiBWMR5Ko

Before listening to the video you should read both Chapter 2 and Chapter 13 from your textbook, plus Edelman’s 2012 book chapter….as always, taking careful notes as you do.  This is an important step because it will provide you with a vocabulary and conceptual framework to better help you understand what Dr. Reich is saying.

As you listen you may encounter terms that you are unfamiliar with.  When this happens, you should pause the video and conduct an Internet search for the term and try to better understand it.  For example, one term that he uses throughout is “zero sum”, an important concept with myriad applications.

As you listen to his presentation I want you to pay close attention to how he addresses the social problem of poverty in the United States, how levels of U.S. poverty are related to social inequality, and how poverty is currently shaped by the U.S political system.  I should note that it will be very difficult for you to gain an overarching understanding of what he is saying without taking hand-written notes as you listen.

After watching the video I want you to then write an essay in which you answer the following questions.  First, how does Dr. Reich describe poverty in U.S. society?  Is it a serious social problem? How does it compare to poverty in other societies?  Secondly, how does he explain current levels of poverty in the United States?  Why does poverty persist in the U.S.?  Why is it a more serious problem than in other modernized industrial nations?  Third, what are his key prescriptions for overcoming the social problem of poverty?  Finally, I want you to briefly react to his ideas.  Do agree with his views on U.S. poverty?  If so, why?  If no, why not?  Are there any significant theoretical intersections between the ideas of Edelman (2012) and Reich?

In writing your essays please try to be succinct and to-the-point….and don’t try to consider what you think my opinion might be.  I will assess whatever ideas youcivilly express in your essay based solely on accuracy, thoughtfulness, sincerity, and the overall quality of your writing.   Make sure that you address all of the questions I have asked here as well.

Considering Poverty with Dr. Robert Reich

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