Noted

From the executive editor:

California, we've long been told, is a trendsetter for the nation. For better or worse, its shifting demographics, its tax revolt, its forward-thinking environmental policies would be our destiny. Today, the idea that the Golden State's severe fiscal crisis and near-total political paralysis should be the country's fate is almost too terrifying to contemplate.

That crisis has its roots in the politics of the late 1970s and the first governorship of Jerry Brown. Since then, Brown has been running for office almost nonstop and now appears on the verge of reclaiming the statehouse. Joe Mathews, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, asks whether Brown will be able to resolve the crisis that began on his watch.

Elsewhere in the issue, Rich Benjamin explores a new wave of all-white communities that have emerged as the country has grown more diverse. And Arlie Hochschild, whose 2002 Prospect article "The Nanny Chain" drew attention to the globalization of child care, notes that now even fertility has gone global, as wealthy couples turn to women in India to bear their children. More familiar types of outsourcing can also take surprising forms: Barry Lynn explains how the automotive industry is not actually the competitive marketplace that we see when we buy a car but essentially a communal monopoly controlled by a few powerful suppliers of component parts.

Finally, all of us at the Prospect were deeply saddened by the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy on Aug. 25. Kennedy was an inspiration to this magazine, and we hope to continue his legacy of liberalism. -- Mark Schmitt

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A Policy Detained

At Time's Swampland blog, Michael Scherer calls Adam Serwer's report on Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad and preventive-detention policy "an excellent explanation of the issue and the steady drift of President Obama's position of detaining terrorist suspects without trial." Scherer continues, "At its most basic level, the idea behind 'preventive detention' is that there are some bad guys out there -- especially in wartime or in a time of terrorism -- that should be imprisoned even if the government cannot prove in court that they have committed a crime. ... The White House is currently seeking ways to continue the practice, which was widely employed by George W. Bush, under a different legal framework in a narrower set of circumstances."

Labor Lost

In response to Mark Schmitt's column pondering whether the left could get by without the labor movement, Michael Lind at Salon concedes that social movements for gay rights, women's rights, and black civil rights have overtaken unions as the primary "muscle of the reform coalition." However, he points out two problems: "First, unlike unions, [liberal social movements] are not membership organizations funded by dues from their members. ... Second, the members of most of these nonprofit movements are drawn disproportionately from the white college-educated professional class; their self-assignment to one or another single-issue movement does not disguise the fact that they tend to belong to the same social elite."

Reader Carol Crooks also chimes in: "I think that if you forge a progressive movement without labor, it will have the flavor of the 1920s?style, but no depth and no real power."

Public Access

On National Review's health-care blog, Michael J. New argues against Dana Goldstein's case for the inclusion of reproductive rights in the health-care bill: "In order to receive the political support of women, Goldstein encourages Congress to pursue a plan that includes reproductive health services. However, President Obama and congressional Democrats need to tread carefully on this issue, for two reasons: First, taxpayer subsidies for abortion will receive a considerable amount of attention and most Americans oppose federal funding for abortion. Second, if abortion coverage is required as part of whatever health-care reform passes, President Obama's rhetoric about reducing the number of abortions will appear very disingenuous -- especially considering that a number of studies show that subsidizing abortion increases abortion rates."

Goldstein responds, "Actually, polling on public funding for abortion is volatile. As I wrote in my piece, according to one recent poll, 71 percent of Americans support coverage for contraception under a public insurance plan, and 66 percent support coverage for abortion. That said, there is little evidence a public plan would greatly increase access to abortion. Any public plan would likely cover only a small number of women, since it would be closed to anyone with an employer-provided option. Meanwhile, 87 percent of employer-based health insurance policies already offer at least some abortion coverage. A public plan wouldn't drastically alter the landscape for reproductive health. After all, we still have a severe shortage of doctors who provide abortion."

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Correction: An article in our September issue, "Present at the Re-Creation," mistakenly referred to the private-equity fund co-founded by Eugene Keilin as Capital Partners. The firm is called KPS Capital Partners.

Write to us at letters@prospect.org or to The Editors, The American Prospect, 1710 Rhode Island Ave., NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036. Or join the conversation online at www.prospect.org

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