Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

Recent Articles

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.

TAINTED BLOOD, MISTAKES BY A FUTURE CHIEF JUSTICE, AND THE MARGINALIZATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

by Harold Pollack I published a piece in the New Republic today examining America’s failures in HIV prevention. AIDS has already killed more Americans than the combined total of combat deaths in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Despite treatment advances, the deaths keep coming. In 2006, the most recent year with good records, we lost 14,627 of our fellow citizens to this terrible disease. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if our government, our most heavily affected communities, and our entire society had mobilized more quickly and more effectively. From the very beginning, social conservatives often showed palpable disregard for the main victims of this epidemic. So it is easy to chalk up our failures to the simple cruelty of social conservatives. Such cruelty was certainly terrible, but it was not the only problem. Our continuing failure to execute public health interventions was also lethal. Public health is almost always treated as the disfavored...

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