Former Labor Secretary also wants tech companies to be more politically active.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich believes President Donald Trump is behaving more like a sociopath than a narcissist when it comes to his personality.
Reich, who served during the Clinton administration, said Wednesday that Trump’s recent executive orders barring certain immigrants, his criticism of a federal judge who blocked it, attacks on the press, and peddling of unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud are dangerous.
He made his comments at the NewCo conference in San Francisco, where he also explained that tech companies must be more politically active if they are going to make changes to benefit society as a whole. The technology industry’s overwhelming opposition to President Trump’s executive order on immigration is a good start, he said, but there’s much more these companies can do to influence the new administration.
Instead of only lobbying on behalf of economic or trade policies that impact their own bottom line, tech companies could push to help ordinary Americans who feel forgotten by politicians, Reich said. He cited the need for a universal basic income, which he believes would provide citizens with a minimum amount of money to live off of. Reich has previously written that companies that stand to profit from technology that lead to job loss could help fund a universal basic income.
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Reich first realized the public’s discontent with the economic system and both politics during the fall of 2015 while visiting farmers in Missouri who supported either Bernie Sanders or Trump. The farmers saw these two candidates as political outsiders and voiced anger at big agriculture and fertilizer companies like Monsanto.
He felt similar resentment in places like Cincinnati and Michigan, where residents were still outraged about the federal bailout of banks in response to the 2008 financial crisis. Both the farmers and citizens in blue-collared cities felt that the government was catering to big companies instead of them, he explained.
The tech industry could also create tools to help citizens keep track of the complex web of government programs and insurance policies they might not be aware of, Reich said. These tools, he imagines, would give citizens everything they need to maintain a decent standard of living.
Asked about the fear of some citizens about artificial intelligence and automation killing jobs, Reich said that tech companies should push Washington on policies that would help displaced workers in the future. One of the policies he suggests involves a federal policy that guarantees that displaced workers get new jobs within six months that pay as much as the jobs they lost.
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These policies may sound “big governy,” Reich said, but they could help alleviate the anger and fear by helping people share in some of the prosperity enjoyed by elite and those in power. If the current economic system is not changed, “Trump is just the beginnings of our problems,” Reich said.
Reich also said he visited Google goog last week when thousands of employees protested Trump’s executive order banning immigration to seven Muslim majority countries. That protest was significant because employees were calling on their own executives to take a stand against policies they don’t agree with, he said.
“What is happening for the first time,” Reich said, is that “a lot of companies are pushed not by politics and their bottom line, but by employees and customers.”