Harold Meyerson

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

Recent Articles

For Me, Not for Thee

On March 28, Circuit City announced that it was laying off 3,400 of its salesclerks. Not because they had poor performance records, mind you: Their performance was utterly beside the point. They were shown the door, said the chain, simply because they were the highest-salaried salesclerks that Circuit City employed. Their positions were not eliminated. Rather, the store announced that it would hire their replacements at the normal starting salary. One can only imagine the effect of Circuit City's announcement on the morale of the workers who didn't get fired. The remaining salesclerks can only conclude: Do a good job, get promoted, and you're outta here. It was, in short, just a normal day in contemporary American capitalism. Over at Wal-Mart, the employer that increasingly sets the labor standards for millions of our compatriots, wage caps have been set for certain jobs, and many longtime employees are now required to work weekends and nights in the hope that they'll quit. A memo...

Democracy's Enemies

Listen to the apostles of free trade, and you'll learn that once consumer choice comes to authoritarian regimes, democracy is sure to follow. Call it the Starbucks rule: Situate enough Starbucks around Shanghai, and the Communist Party's control will crumble like dunked biscotti. As a theory of revolution, the Starbucks rule leaves a lot to be desired. Shanghai is swimming in Starbucks, yet, as James Mann notes in The China Fantasy , his new book on the non-democratization of China, the regime soldiers on. Conversely, the American farmers who made our revolution didn't have much in the way of consumer choice, yet they managed to free themselves from the British. In New England, however, they did have town meetings, which may be a surer guide to the coming of democratic change. It's a growing civil society -- a sphere where people can deliberate and decide on more than their coffee -- that more characteristically sounds the death knell of dictatorships. Which is why the conduct of...

Whistling Past the Graveyard

The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' hour-long meeting on sacking federal prosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took place after the election. The videoconference between leaders of the General Services Administration and Karl Rove's deputy about how to help Republican candidates in 2008, according to people who attended the meeting, took place Jan. 26 this year. During last year's congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans' message didn't really impress the public, and apparently it didn't reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election,...

The God of Double Standards

Science is stealing up on America's religious fundamentalists, causing much alarm. Consider the dilemma of the Reverand R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and a leading figure in the Southern Baptist firmament. Writing in his blog this month, Mohler acknowledged that " the direction of the research " increasingly points to the possibility that a "biological basis for sexual orientation exists." Should sexuality be determined in utero, Mohler continued, that still wouldn't justify abortion or genetic engineering. Nonetheless, as Mohler noted in a later blog post , his admission that the data suggest that homosexuality may be as genetically determined as hair color produced a torrent of irate e-mail from his fellow evangelical Christians. Up to now, the preferred theory among Christian conservatives has been that homosexuality is behaviorally induced and thus can be unlearned. That gave added moral weight to the biblical...

Wal-Mart Comes North

Wal-Mart, as everybody knows, began in the backwaters of the rural South -- though not everybody knows just how rural, how southern, how backwater. Wal-Mart's southernness, however, is precisely what sets the chain apart from the handful of other companies that once dominated the American economy: Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, General Motors, IBM. None imposed upon the nation values so parochial or living standards so threadbare as Wal-Mart's. Before Wal-Mart, no nationally dominant company had ever come from the nation's most backward region, let alone clung so stubbornly to that region's casual barbarities. Indeed, the massive resistance Wal-Mart has encountered in recent years as it has moved from the rural South to the urban North can be seen as an attempt by the North to preserve the legacy not only of the New Deal but also of its long-ago victory over the southern way of doing business. Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart in 1962 in Bentonville (still the corporation's headquarters...

Pages