Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration and Public Health Sciences at the University of Chicago and a nonresident Fellow of the Century Foundation.

Recent Articles

I'M IN THE MOUNTAINS HUNTING THE TALIBAN, BUT I'M STILL AFRAID TO BUNK WITH SOME GAY PERSON.

By Harold Pollack When I was 16, I moved to a new high school My first day in gym class, a big bruiser tackled me and ripped my shirt. When he was done marking his territory and lumbered off, I turned to the guy next to me and commented that it was going to be a long two years. He reassured me: “Don’t worry. Everyone picks on Michael the fag.” (His name isn't really Michael.) I met Michael soon after. A slight, effeminate boy, he was the butt of ridicule and bullying pretty much every day. He would get body-checked in the hallway, have dodgeballs whipped at him in gym. I think the teachers expected him to be a man about things and to stand up for himself. How he was expected to defend himself, I’m not sure. He greeted the mistreatment with a sweet smile. It’s lucky he didn’t show up one day with a gun....

THEN THERE'S THE DRUG PROBLEM.

By Harold Pollack I was driving home late from work one night, passing the intersection of 59th street and MLK. As I rounded the corner, a run-down Corolla blocked my way. Its four grungy occupants were bantering with some guy on the sidewalk for several minutes. I started to feel quietly irritated as they kept me waiting. Suddenly, they leapt from the car, guns drawn, and chased down the pedestrian. I froze in a moment of terror as I watched a burley guy grab the him and press a gun to his face. Within a few seconds, they pushed him spread-eagled against a car hood. I felt a wave of relief, as I realized this was just another guy getting jacked up for drugs. I maneuvered around the Corolla. A few minutes later, I was engrossed in NPR, wondering whether my wife had saved me dinner. We’ve grown way too accustomed to the daily realities of the drug war.

POSTSCRIPT ON TOBACCO CONTROL.

By Harold Pollack I got some great comments on this morning's post. You folks have recapitulated the key debates here: paternalism, comparisons with alcohol and illicit drugs, the danger of a black market, regressivity. A few quick comments.

“AND CARTHAGE MUST BE DESTROYED”: THE IMPERATIVE OF TOBACCO CONTROL.

By Harold Pollack One of the commenters asked about tobacco. Cato the elder ended every speech with the admonition: “And Carthage must be destroyed!” Nothing against Carthage, but Cato was right never to let anyone to forget his simple message. Anyone blogging about public health must do the same....

SICK IN COUNTY JAIL.

By Harold Pollack I spent yesterday at Cook County Jail, a behemoth complex of buildings the size of a small neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. During a glacial wait for some Xerox copies, I stared out the window at the sidewalks marked off by high fences and ugly concertina wire. Young moms, kids in tow, tentatively pushed baby strollers along this maze of concrete walkways leading to the visiting area. Out of sight, out of mind, prisoners are a population we readily ignore when the cable TV shows are off. Yet these men and women are absolutely central to public health.

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