Photo: Joey Gale
It was a standing-room only crowd in Sheslow Auditorium last Thursday as Drake University students and Des Moines citizens waited for former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich to enter the room. He was there to present his speech “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future.”
Reich, one of Time Magazine’s 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century, spoke not only about the economy, but also about President Barack Obama’s job speech that was delivered just moments before Reich graced the stage. He felt the president was forceful and eloquent, and he made it very clear that he wanted Obama’s plan passed.
“Is the proposal big enough for the predicament that we are in?” Reich said. “The debt is almost entirely due to health care costs. The issue for us right now is jobs and growth.”
Junior political science major Courtney Howell agreed with Reich.
“His side makes sense regardless of what party you’re in,” she said. “He brought up a good point that we look for people who are healthy instead of those who are sick for health care. We need a more centralized version.”
Howell wanted to see the speech since she had viewed a YouTube video in which Reich spoke.
“The video was about his nonprofit action,” Reich said. “I wanted to see him in person.”
First-year journalism major Stephanie Kocer chose to see Reich to aid in her understanding of politics.
“My first-year seminar is about politics so I thought it would be helpful to see a politician’s view on things,” Kocer said.
Reich has been a part of a national administration three times and has written 13 books. One of his most notable works is “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages. Reich has also been a columnist, television personality and public radio host as well as founding editor of American Prospect Magazine. He is currently the chairman of the citizens group Common Cause, and he also teaches at the University of California, Berkley.
Most of the Drake students in attendance related to the education portion of his speech.
“We must invest wisely in education, starting with early childhood education,” Reich said. “And we have got to make college much more affordable to young people.”
Junior sociology major Pat Felker said he felt Reich’s words were truthful.
“College was always pretty much guaranteed to me, and some of my friends didn’t always have the advantages I did,” Felker said.
Howell agreed that college should be more affordable to the general public.
“It was never ‘if you go to college’ for me, it was always ‘when,’” Howell said. “College is definitely important, but some of my friends at home go to community college or just don’t go. It’s not fair that some people can’t afford to go.”
Overall, the students felt like it was a great speech. Kocer was impressed with Reich’s arguments.
“He seemed to have a lot of really good points,” she said.
Howell said the speech touched on a lot of important issues.
“It was definitely worth it,” Howell said. “It’s good to educate yourself and hear both sides before arguing about one side or the other.”