Harold Meyerson

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

Recent Articles

Taking On the Hotels

Company by company, in quickening succession, the social contract in America implodes. Verizon and IBM scrap their pensions; Delphi floats a tidy two-thirds cut in pay; profits surge while wages sag and benefits vanish in broad daylight. City by city, in a now-steady drumbeat, labor and other working-class advocates fight back, with living-wage ordinances, health care mandates on employers and, now coming at the state level, universal health coverage for children. With the federal government supremely uninterested in such minutiae, the battle for a life of middle-class dreams and security is fought region by region, even town by town. Time was, of course, when it was fought contract by contract, but that was in an America where unions mattered, where they represented one-third of the private-sector workforce rather than today's anemic 8 percent. In a global economy, the conventional wisdom would have it, the bargaining power of unions is the ultimate spent force. But not all of our...

Visibility and Vision in L.A.

As the local Chamber of Commerce has long been aware, the most breathtaking days in La-La Land are those that follow the midwinter rains. The smog is washed away and the snow-topped mountains that ring the city are abruptly visible, though it may be a balmy 70 degrees throughout the flatlands. On such days, it's easy to understand why America's first filmmakers decided to set up shop here 90 years ago (well, that and the dearth of unionized labor), and why generations of urban visionaries were inspired to sketch grand plans for the City of Angels. What defines this city, though, is that virtually none of those grand plans came to fruition. Los Angeles set the template for unplanned, sprawling, privatized growth. Time and again, the private defeated the public in the construction of L.A. The city became home to the largest number of backyard swimming pools and the smallest number of public parks. The great architects -- Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright -- designed private homes, not...

A Gentler Capitalism

On the field of ideology, 2005 was a lousy year for the American right. Twice -- in the president's proposal to privatize Social Security and in the government's failure to save New Orleans -- it confronted the public with the prospect of a radically reduced government. Twice, the public recoiled at the sight. In retrospect the year's biggest mystery is how George W. Bush thought he could privatize Social Security. Essentially Bush assumed the role of the national CEO who tells his workers he's dumping their defined-benefit pensions for some ill-defined 401(k) investment schemes. And essentially the American people responded with the same anger and anxiety that airline and auto employees have shown when their bosses reneged on their commitments of a secure retirement. The difference, of course, is that the American people have a lot more power as voters than they do as workers. Bush's plan to scuttle Social Security was in tatters when Hurricane Katrina blew ashore. For Bush this was...

The War on Immigrants

The conventional wisdom is still unpersuaded that the Republican Party is about to mount a full-force attack on American's undocumented immigrants -- of whom, by some counts, there are 11 million. After all, the Republicans are the party of employers -- large (agribusiness), medium (construction companies), and small (restaurateurs) -- who have long depended on immigrants for cheap labor. The cheap labor sectors of American capitalism are a huge source of donations for the GOP. How could the Republicans turn their back on them? But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Republicans are coming up on a midterm election in which their control of both houses of Congress is very much at stake. Their advantage in foreign and military policy has been diminished by the president's stunningly inept handling of the war in Iraq. And on the domestic and economic fronts, they have nothing to offer at all -- save only a greater zeal than the Democrats possess to “do something about immigration.” With...

An All-American Christmas

The white Christmases that Irving Berlin dreamed of weren't the earliest ones he used to know. He spent his first five Christmases in czarist Russia, and his only recollection of that time, at least the only one he'd acknowledge as an adult, was that of watching his neighbors burn his family's house to the ground in a good old-fashioned, Jew-hating pogrom. So it's no surprise that when Berlin got around to writing his great Christmas song in 1941, nearly half a century after his family had fled the shtetl of Mohilev for New York's Lower East Side, it was flatly devoid of Christian imagery. It is, for all that, a religious song. It's just that Berlin's religion was America. "White Christmas" is an achingly nostalgic ballad, evoking a rural America where treetops glisten and sleigh bells ring. This was Currier and Ives country, an idealized winter landscape created for an urban nation that was busily shipping its young men overseas to fight Hitler and Japan. Amid the unprecedented...

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