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Trump has hardly championed the average American worker

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Or why the denizens of Wall Street, who in the 1950s and 1960s earned comparatively modest sums, are now paid tens or hundreds of millions annually.

And it can't account for the decline in the starting wages of recent college graduates. A college education is now a prerequisite for joining the middle class but no longer a sure means for gaining ground once admitted to it.

To attribute all of this to the impersonal workings of the market, and to assume it's because most workers aren't "worth" as much as before, is to ignore the increasing ability of moneyed interests to alter the system for their own benefit -- demolishing trade unions, turning full-time employees into contract workers, and monopolizing industry.

America's economic and political elites could have used their growing political and economic clout to help workers get ahead -- through better schools and more affordable college, comprehensive job retraining, wage insurance, better public transportation and expanded unemployment insurance.

They could have pushed for universal health insurance.

They could have paid for all this by accepting, even lobbying for, higher taxes on themselves.

They could have sought to reduce their own political clout by demanding limits on campaign spending.

But they did the reverse: They spent more and more of their ever-growing wealth and power on rigging the game to their own advantage.

As a result, trust in all the major institutions of our society has plummeted.

In 1964, more than 60 percent of Americans thought government was "run for the benefit of all the people," while just 29 percent said government was "pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves."

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