Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

We Need Clarity about ISIS, and the Democratic Candidates Didn’t Provide It

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
AP Photo/Jacques Brinon Rescue workers gather at victims in the 10th district of Paris, Friday, November 13, 2015. M any Democrats—including the candidates for president at Saturday night’s debate in Iowa—are not registering the full import of the attacks in Paris. When French President Francois Hollande declared the massacre “an act of war” and ISIS claimed responsibility and announced that the attacks were the “first of a storm,” the conflict with ISIS entered a new stage. In responding to the advance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Obama administration has tried to rely on local proxies—Syrian moderates, Kurds, the Iraqi army—to do the fighting on the ground, while the United States has supplied air power, intelligence, equipment, and other resources. Obama’s reluctance to commit ground troops is understandable. But with clear evidence his strategy was insufficient, the president announced on October 30 that several dozen special operations forces would go into Syria. Although the...

A Shocking Rise in White Death Rates in Midlife -- and What It Says About American Society

Drugs, alcohol, and suicide have taken an unparalleled toll on middle-aged whites, especially those with a high school degree or less.

I n a reversal of earlier trends, death rates among white non-Hispanic Americans in midlife increased sharply between 1999 and 2013, according to a new study by economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, winner last month of the Nobel Prize for economics. The increased deaths were concentrated among those with the least education and resulted largely from drug and alcohol “poisonings,” suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. This midlife mortality reversal had no parallel in any other industrialized society or in other demographic groups in the United States. Case and Deaton’s analysis, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , also shows increased rates of illness, chronic pain, and disability among middle-aged whites. The findings have important implications for American politics and public policy, particularly for debates about economic inequality, public health, drug policy, disability insurance, and retirement income. The data also suggest...

Frustration Is Driving Both Parties' Voters Toward Radical Make-Believe

Frustration is driving voters on both sides of the partisan divide toward radical make-believe

AP Photo/Cliff Owen
AP Photo/Cliff Owen Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters during a campaign rally at Prince William Fairground in Manassas, Virginia, Monday, September 14, 2015. R epublican primary voters, we are told, are furious about the failure of their party’s elected leaders to deliver on their promises. Despite controlling Congress, those leaders have done nothing about illegal immigration and have failed to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, or prevent the agreement with Iran from going through. Fed up with career politicians and fearing dire changes in American society, the party’s rank and file have instead gravitated to candidates who have never held public office—Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina. At least, that has been the story in the early going of the presidential race. On the left, there is an analogous impatience. Just as Republicans are frustrated with the Republican Congress, so progressives are frustrated with the...

Cultures of Impunity

Whether it's corporate crime, police homicide, or sexual assault, the issue is the same: Does the law apply to everyone?

NY Daily News via Getty Images
NY Daily News via Getty Images Eric Garner died while being arrested by police in Staten Island on July 17, 2014. This article appears in the Summer 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . I t is sometimes hard for us to recognize problems in our own society that we can readily identify abroad. International human rights and anti-corruption reformers talk about “cultures of impunity” in Third World countries where murder, the looting of economic resources, and other crimes by the powerful regularly go unpunished. The police, high government officials, and their cronies in the private sector not only abuse their power; they do so knowing that they will never be held to account and that their victims know that, too. In such situations, establishing the rule of law involves far more than instituting formal legal procedures. It requires transforming everyday expectations about equality and demonstrating in practice that the powerful can and will be brought to...

Richard Leone, Capable Liberal

Remembering the public servant and liberal intellectual

The Century Foundation
L iberal intellectuals with managerial and political acumen are all too rare. Richard Leone, who passed away last week, was one of those people with an unusual combination of intellectual seriousness and practical skill, which he used to great advantage in both public service and public debate. Leone played a role on both the state and national stages. In his early 30s, as state treasurer of New Jersey, he was instrumental in bringing honest, progressive government to a state long known for its corrupt tendencies. Later, as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, he did the same for an agency that the current governor of New Jersey has flagrantly abused. And for more than two decades, Leone served as president of the Century Foundation and focused its efforts on the critical issues of our time. Always more than a neutral manager, he made the case for liberal policy in well-turned op-eds and other articles. Leone might have played a bigger role nationally. In 1978,...