Robert Reich is an American economist also known for his commentary on key political issues. He has served under a number of administrations during his professional career, including those of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Fold.
Reich was born on 24th June, 1946, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He received his initial education from the John Jay High School in New York, after which he joined Dartmouth College to pursue his further education. Reich completed his A.B. summa cum laude in 1968 from the institute, and in the process, earned the Rhodes Scholarship which allowed him to study politics, economics and philosophy at Oxford University. After failing to meet the requirements necessary to serve in the Vietnam War, Reich instead opted to enroll at Yale University where he managed to complete a Juris Doctorate and become editor of the prestigious Yale Law Journal. During his time at the university, Reich had the good fortune of being classmates with renowned personalities such as Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas and Hilary Clinton.
After finishing his education, Reich found a job at the U.S. Court of Appeals of the First Circuit, where he worked under Chief Judge Frank M. Coffin as his law clerk in the years 1973-74. He then quit to work as the assistant of Robert Bork, the U.S. Solicitor General, from the years 1974 to 1976. In 1979, Reich began working for the Federal Trade Commission, as then President Jimmy Carter assigned him Directorship of the Policy Planning Staff.
In the years that followed, Reich decided to take up teaching as a profession, and thus joined Harvard University where he became professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He assumed the status of a prolific writer during his time at Harvard as well, publishing a number of works which discussed the state of U.S. economy etc. Two of his most famous books of the time were The Next American Frontier and The Work of Nations. The former discussed the nation’s stalling economic progress and the factors behind it, whereas the latter identified education and human capital as the key attributes behind the competitiveness of a nation’s economy.
Reich spent 12 years teaching at Harvard, after which he was called on by Bill Clinton in 1992 to join his campaign. Reich accepted the offer, and became the leader of Clinton’s economic transition team which was driving the campaign “Putting People First”. He was later made the Secretary of Labor by Clinton. His tenure proved to be a very successful one, with Reich managing to satisfy a number of objectives, including the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the School-to-Work Jobs Act, pushing up the minimum wage and the operation of a multitude of job training programs. He also came out as a staunch advocate of new technology, and called on the nation to educate its workforce regarding its use.
Robert Reich currently works for the Goldman School of Public Policy as their Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy. He has remained contributing editor for numerous prominent journals and newspapers, such as The American Prospect, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, over the course of his career. He is often regarded as one of the great minds of his generation, with The Wall Street Journal listing him among the ‘Most Influential Business Thinkers’ in 2008.