Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary, is currently a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. UC Berkeley should be embarrassed at the shoddy quality of Reich’s intellectual engagement. Over the weekend, he posted an “Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michelle Malkin” in reply to our criticism of his recent House testimony in favor of color-coded stimulus spending.
He indignantly accuses critics of twisting his words:
In a time like this, when tempers are riding high and many Americans are close to panic about their jobs and finances, you have a special responsibility to consider the accuracy of what you say and the consequences of inflammatory and erroneous statements. In the last few days, manifestly distorting my words and pulling them out of context, you have accused me of wanting to exclude white males from jobs generated by the stimulus package.
Anyone who takes a moment to examine what I actually said and wrote knows this to be an absurd misrepresentation of my position (see this).
Reich’s lone citation to prove his accusation? Media Matters!
Reich refuses to link my post on the subject because I provided full context for his remarks — quoting both his testimony and his blog post advocating for government racial preferences favoring unskilled and non-white workers over skilled and white workers.
Let me quote Reich again from his blog post:
The stimulus plan will create jobs repairing and upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, levees, water and sewage system, public-transit systems, electricity grid, and schools. And it will kick-start alternative, non-fossil based sources of energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and so on); new health-care information systems; and universal broadband Internet access.
It’s a two-fer: lots of new jobs, and investments in the nation’s future productivity.
But if there aren’t enough skilled professionals to do the jobs involving new technologies, the stimulus will just increase the wages of the professionals who already have the right skills rather than generate many new jobs in these fields. And if construction jobs go mainly to white males who already dominate the construction trades, many people who need jobs the most — women, minorities, and the poor and long-term unemployed — will be shut out.
What to do? There’s no easy solution to either dilemma…
People can be trained relatively quickly for these sorts of jobs, as well as many infrastructure j0bs generated by the stimulus — installing new pipes for water and sewage systems, repairing and upgrading equipment, basic construction — but contractors have to be nudged both to provide the training and to do the hiring.
I’d suggest that all contracts entered into with stimulus funds require contractors to provide at least 20 percent of jobs to the long-term unemployed and to people with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. And at least 2 percent of project funds should be allocated to such training. In addition, advantage should be taken of buildings trades apprenticeships — wich must be fully available to women and minorities.
The House testimony and exchange with Rangel make absolutely clear that Reich intends the “criteria” for the 20 percent/2 percent set-asides to be race-based:
REICH: …”I am concerned, as I’m sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers…I have nothing against white male construction workers, I’m just saying there are other people who have needs as well.”
And as you’ll note from both my post and the actual video clip, Rep. Rangel is ready, willing, and able to push the race-based program much further.
Reich now pretends that you can create exclusionary, race-based earmarks and “not exclude anyone from access:”
My goal is and has always been to create as many opportunities for as wide a group as possible, and not exclude anyone from access. There is and has never been any ambiguity about this.
Spoken like a true, smug academic living in fantasy land.
Words and ideas have real world consequences, and you have demonstrated a cavalier disregard for both.