Harold Meyerson

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

Recent Articles

Even Wal-Mart Gets The Blues

Is Wal-Mart going wobbly? Over the past couple of weeks, America's largest company -- linchpin of the low-wage, no-benefit economy that is increasingly the norm in America -- has announced some surprising reversals of course. In a series of speeches and interviews, chief executive H. Lee Scott unveiled four initiatives that he clearly hopes will polish the company's increasingly tarnished image. Wal-Mart, he said, will shift to more environmentally responsible practices -- demanding greater mileage of its truck fleet and better packaging of its products. It will offer more affordable health insurance to its employees, cutting the monthly premium in some cases to just $11. It will monitor the environmental and health and safety practices of its foreign suppliers. And it will lobby for a higher federal minimum wage. Scott's timing is anything but accidental. The sweatshop conditions in which thousands of employees of Wal-Mart's suppliers routinely work, and the depressive effect that...

Afflicting The Dry

Congress is back in session, and it's gunning for the American poor. A revolt of House conservatives has persuaded that body's Republican leadership to offset the increased federal spending going to rebuild the Hurricane Katrina–devastated Gulf Coast by reductions in Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs for the indigent. If things go according to plan, this week the House will begin to cut $50 billion from those efforts. The emerging Republican response to Katrina, apparently, is to comfort the drenched poor and afflict the dry. For a moment last week, it looked as though the Republicans were going to enact across-the-board spending cuts. That, however, would have meant less money for defense contractors and the highway industry and other contributors to congressional Republicans' campaigns. GOP committee chairmen made that point so forcefully that the idea was scrapped. The beauty of taking the cuts out of Medicaid and student loan programs, by happy contrast, is that it doesn't...

Dissing His Own

You could cut the disappointment with a knife. "This is the moment for which the conservative legal movement has been waiting for two decades," David Frum, the right-wing activist and former Bush speechwriter, wrote on his blog a few moments after the president dashed conservative hopes by nominating Harriet Miers to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Bypassing all manner of stellar Scalia look-alikes, the president settled on his own in-house lawyer, whose chief virtue seems to be that she's been the least visible lawyer in America this side of Judge Joseph Crater. Miers has authored no legal opinions that can be dissected, no Supreme Court briefs that can be parsed, no law review articles that can be torn apart. Which, I suspect, is why her selection cuts so deep in right-wing circles. The problem isn't only that Miers is not openly a movement conservative but that she's as far from a public intellectual as anyone could possibly be. In one fell swoop, Bush flouted...

Outsourcing Our Safety

Amid the horrific images that flashed across our TV screens during the past month, there was one last week that stood out because it was so unexpectedly reassuring: that of a supremely competent pilot steering a JetBlue airliner with jammed front wheels to a safe landing at Los Angeles International Airport. Since last week's landing, though, we've learned a couple of other things that aren't quite so comforting -- for instance, that this was at least the seventh time that the front wheels on an Airbus A-320 have gotten locked in the wrong position. More surprising still was the news about JetBlue's long-term maintenance of its aircraft. When the planes are inspected for damage and then reassembled, the work takes place either in Canada or El Salvador. El Salvador? When JetBlue first took to the air in 2000, rather than hire its own long-term maintenance department, the company subcontracted that work to Air Canada and the Central America-based TACA. It's certainly cheaper: According...

The Second Front

ST. LOUIS -- I have seen the future, and who knows? It may just work. America's second labor federation had its founding convention here on Tuesday, and it has definitely not created itself in the image of the AFL-CIO. The Change To Win Federation (CTW), as the new kid on the block calls itself, exists solely to foster organizing. The legislative, international-affairs, and political departments for which the AFL-CIO has been justly famed -- none of that stuff for the CTW folks. Essentially, the new federation will be a strategic organizing center, staffed by researchers who can ferret out the financial vulnerabilities of targeted employers and by organizers who can figure out how best to build support for campaigns. This is the labor equivalent of Donald Rumsfeld's new, mobile army that won't depend on those endless supply columns. And it's being entrusted to strategists with track records a lot more impressive than Rumsfeld's (not to damn with faint praise). The Change to Win...

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