In The Work of Nations, he argues that a nation's competitiveness depends on the education and skills of its people and the infrastructure that connects them—rather than on the profitability of companies headquartered within it. Private capital, he says, is increasingly global and footloose—while a nation's people—its human capital—constitutes the one resource on which a nation's future standard of living uniquely dependes. He urges policy makers to make such public investments the cornerstone of economic policy.
Bill Clinton incorporated Reich's thinking into his 1992 campaign platform, "Putting People First," and after being elected, invited Reich to head his economic transition team. Reich later joined the administration as Secretary of Labor. During his tenure, he implemented the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), successfully promoted increasing the minimum wage, successfully lobbied to pass the School-to-Work Jobs Act, and launched a number of job training programs.
In addition, Reich used the office as a platform for focusing national attention on the need for American workers to adapt to the new economy. He advocated that the country provide more opportunities for workers to learn more technology.
Reich is diagnosed with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, also known as Fairbanks disease, and stands 4 feet 10.5 inches (1.486 m).
After the Clinton administration
In 1996, between Clinton's re-election and second inauguration, Reich decided to leave the department to spend more time with his sons, then in their teen years. He published his experiences working for the Clinton administration in Locked in the Cabinet. After publication of the book, Reich received criticism for embellishing events with invented dialogue. The paperback release of the memoir revised or omitted the inventions.
Reich became a professor at Brandeis University, teaching courses for undergraduates as well as in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. In 2003, he was elected the Professor of the Year by the undergraduate student body.
In 2002, he ran for Governor of Massachusetts. He also published an associated campaign book, I'll Be Short. Reich was the first Democratic candidate for a major political office to support same-sex marriage. He also pledged support for abortion rights and strongly condemned capital punishment. His campaign staff was largely made up of his Brandeis students. Although his campaign had little funding, he surprised many and came in a close second out of six candidates in the Democratic primary with 25% of the vote.
In 2003, he was awarded the prestigious Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97 Prize, by the former Czech President, for his writings in economics and politics.
In 2004, he published Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America, a book on how liberals can forcefully argue for their position in a country increasingly dominated by what he calls "radcons", or radical conservatives.
In addition to his professorial role, he is a weekly contributor to the American Public Media public radio program Marketplace, and a regular columnist for the American Prospect, which he co-founded in 1990. He is also a frequent contributor to CNBC's Kudlow & Company and On the Money.
In early 2005, there was speculation that Reich would once again seek the Democratic nomination for Governor of Massachusetts. He instead endorsed the then-little-known candidacy of Deval Patrick, who had previously served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Clinton Administration. Patrick won the party's endorsement, a three-way primary with nearly 50% of the vote, and the general election in November 2006.
In September 2005 Reich testified against John Roberts at his confirmation hearings for Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
On January 1, 2006 Reich joined the faculty of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Policy. Since then, he has taught a popular course called Wealth and Poverty, which he developed during his tenure at Brandeis. In addition to his professorship, Reich is also a Member of the Board of Trustees for the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley. The Center is focused on finding solutions to address the crisis of extreme poverty and disease in the developing world.
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