Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

Yip's Rainbow

A man and his rainbow appeared Thursday on a new 37-cent stamp. "Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue," reads the text, alongside the portrait and name of its author: Yip Harburg. There was no reference to a rainbow in L. Frank Baum's classic novel, "The Wizard of Oz." But Harburg, the lyricist whom producer Arthur Freed had hired along with composer Harold Arlen to write the score for the MGM picture, was trying to square the demands of the character ("a little girl who had never seen anything beyond an arid Kansas," he was to say later) with those of a production that began in black and white and segued into glorious Technicolor. As if that weren't challenge enough, Arlen then presented him with a melody of exquisite yearning, in emotional overdrive. Arlen had been agonizing over the song for weeks. When the melody finally came to him, he called Yip to hurry over -- it was midnight, but that's standard for songwriting hours -- and Arlen "played it," Yip later recalled, "with...

Remember the Raise?

The markets are anxious. There's every sign that the world's investors have grown nervous about the continued ability of the American consumer to keep the economy perking along. Companies that sell big-ticket items are floundering: General Motors reported a $1.1 billion quarterly loss yesterday. Conversely, drug and utility stocks are doing all right; companies that rely on nondiscretionary spending remain a safe bet. Part of the problem is that gas prices are siphoning off a bigger share than usual of Americans' incomes. But the bigger problem is that Americans' incomes are stuck or even in mild decline. Though the economy grew by 4.4 percent last year and added 2.2 million jobs, real wages fell by 0.9 percent. The last time U.S. wages fell was in the recession year of 1991. Now they're falling in the middle of a recovery. Time was when wage increases tracked gains in productivity and profitability -- but that time is long gone. Since 2001 yearly productivity growth has averaged 4.1...

Greetings from Mexistan

It may be just about the most inspiring sight imaginable: hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the main square of some capital city, demanding democratic self-rule. "They're doing it in many different corners of the world," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week, "places as varied as Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and, on the other hand, Lebanon, and rumblings in other parts of the world as well. And so this is a hopeful time." It is a process in which the United States claims more than an observer's role. The business of America, says President Bush, is spreading democracy. "The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people, you must learn to trust them," Bush said in his inaugural address this January. "Start on this journey of progress and justice and America will walk at your side." Unless, of course, you're Mexican. Apparently, there are several kinds of capital city rallies. There are those in Kiev, where multitudes turned out...

Future of the Past

At first glance, it looked to be a triumph of the human spirit. There, at a joint news conference last week in Jerusalem, stood the patriarchs of the rival faiths of the Middle East -- Israel's chief rabbis, the deputy mufti of Jerusalem, leaders of the Catholic and Armenian churches -- Jews, Muslims, and Christians, together at last. And the cause that had united them? A gay pride festival scheduled for August in Jerusalem. The leaders of religious orthodoxy had come together to help ban the festival. Interreligious harmony reigned as historic enmities gave way to a common loathing of homosexuals. We have seen the future of the past. The photograph of the clerics that ran in the newspapers may some day be viewed as an artifact of the founding of the Orthodox International. Globalization is bringing modernization and the demand for equality to the doorsteps of the most traditionalist societies and enclaves. Orthodox faiths are not accustomed to interreligious cooperation -- there is...

Free Trade, Drug-Free

Spreading democracy is one thing. But do we really want America to be known for spreading the pricing practices of our drug companies? In Guatemala, the United States has become the sales rep for the pharmaceutical industry. Citing urgent public health concerns, the Guatemalan legislature enacted a law last year that permitted the marketing of generic drugs alongside their brand-name equivalents. Citing the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), whose ratification congressional committees will begin to consider next week, the U.S. trade representative then told the Guatemalans that any such drug legislation would stop CAFTA dead in its tracks. If the five Central American nations (plus the Dominican Republic) that had signed CAFTA wanted it ratified, Guatemala would have to repeal the new law. Reluctantly, Guatemala obliged. Though the rules laid down by the World Trade Organization permit generic competition, CAFTA imposes a five- to10-year waiting period on generic...

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