Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the executive editor of The American ProspectHis email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Not Your Father's Detroit

In the mid-1950s, the Ford Motor Company decided that its most profitable car needed a new home. Up until then, Ford had been making Lincoln Continentals in Highland Park, the industrial enclave near the center of Detroit, where the company had first put down its roots. In 1957, though, it moved its Lincoln production line to its shiny new plant in Wixom, a rural community soon to become suburban, located about a half-hour's drive from Detroit. In short order, Wixom was not only turning out all of Ford's Lincoln models, but also that most classic of 1950s cars, the Thunderbird. Modern American manufacturing -- in some sense, modern America -- had begun in Highland Park. In 1913, Henry Ford opened his first real factory there, featuring the world's first large-scale assembly line. The following year, he announced that he'd pay his employees an unheard-of $5 a day, based on the theory that if they made Model-T's, they should be able to buy them. In fact, the purchasing power of Ford...

A Hard Bill to Swallow

Last week, even as Congress with great fanfare was protecting the American people against whatever mischief the harbor barons of Dubai were contemplating, it quietly decided to strip some long-standing protections from the same American people at the behest of our very own food industry. Last Wednesday the House passed the National Uniformity for Food Act, which might better be named the Swallow at Your Own Risk Act. In one swoop, the bill preempts roughly 200 state laws governing food safety. The theory here is that we lack uniform national standards in such areas as lead and arsenic content, milk and shellfish safety, and the stuff that goes into food coloring and additives. National standards, the bill's champions argue, would be good for the whole country. Funny thing, though. The bill doesn't set any national standards. It doesn't require that the Food and Drug Administration set such standards. It merely reserves to the FDA the right to set such standards, and negates a slew of...

Impeachment Imprudence

This may be my mother's doing. About 20 months ago, in a column I wrote at the time of her 90th birthday, I noted that Estelle had been peppering me with questions about why we weren't impeaching the president. I gave her what I thought were sufficient reasons: He could be ousted in the coming election; grotesque misconduct in office was not necessarily a high crime or misdemeanor; the Republicans controlled Congress; Dick Cheney was the guy on deck -- that sort of thing. None of it took. At her house one afternoon, talking on the phone, I reached for a pad of paper to jot down some notes and found her handwritten agenda for the day. There was a list of vegetables. Then it said, "Coca-Cola." Then it said, "Impeach Bush." Underlined. Nearly 92 now, Estelle hasn't really slowed down very much, and she must still be preaching the gospel of impeachment to her friends in her Democratic club and, I can only conclude, her Improv group as well. Because, damn -- this impeachment stuff is...

The Life and Times of Otis Chandler

In the middle of the past century, Los Angeles was both America's fastest-growing big city and a tight little town. Every year, miles of farmland were transformed into housing tracts for the immigrants who'd come west to work in the aerospace and auto plants and studios. And the immigrants weren't coming predominantly from the Midwest anymore; the new Angelenos included Jews from New York, African Americans from the South and Democrats from all over. The people who ran the town were anything but thrilled by their new neighbors. A self-appointed committee of Republican businessmen vetted elected officials and fretted about the liberals in their midst. The police department treated blacks, Latinos and the occasional Democrat as enemy aliens. And the city's main newspaper, at first glance, seemed the adjunct of the right wing of the Republican Party. On closer inspection, it was the other way around: California conservatism, and its Republican standard-bearers, were the creation of the...

Wanna Buy a Port?

We're selling our harbors to an Arab government. Our biggest Internet companies are complicit in the Chinese government's censorship of information and suppression of dissidents. Welcome to American capitalism in the age of globalization. Here the market rules. National security and freedom of speech are all well and good, but they are distinctly secondary concerns when they bump up against our highest national purpose, which is maximizing shareholder value. This is a uniquely American value. Other nations designate certain industries as too strategic to ship abroad or sell to foreign interests. Only in the United States is the corporation answerable only to its shareholders -- not to its employees, its host communities, its home nation. It wasn't always this way, of course: In the decades following World War II, you could speak, without undue smirking, about corporate responsibility. A sense of national solidarity, high rates of unionization, and a labor force that did not extend...

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