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I finished Locked in the Cabinet earlier this month. It’s Robert Reich’s memoire of serving as Secretary of Labor during the first term of Bill Clinton’s presidency. He’s got a great sense of humor, especially for describing absurd situations. He’s also self aware, and perceptive.

As a scholar-turned-bureaucrat myself I especially appreciated his perspective on bureaucracy and how governments work.

I also enjoyed the book because I remember some of the events in it. I’d just turned 13 when Clinton was elected, so I remember debates about healthcare, the deficit, etc.

In terms of narrative the portrayal of the Clintons is fascinating, especially with Hillary Clinton running for President.

Reich’s main goal was to invest in the U.S. workforce so it could compete in the new, high-tech globalized economy. He encounters particular exampled of places where this is happening, like a priest running a training program in Detroit and a mill making specialty lumber products in Shelton, Washington. Ultimately he doesn’t get the kind of nationwide effort he’s advocating, in large part because cutting the deficit takes priority.

It also made me realize how long ago the early 90’s seem.