James Galbraith

 

James K. Galbraith is author of Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe. He is an elected member
of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Italian national academy. 

Recent Articles

Works on Progress

Downsizing in America: Reality, Causes, and Consequences By William J. Baumol, Alan S. Blinder and Edward N. Wolff, Russell Sage Foundation, 321 pages, $29.95 The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans and Their Families By Beth Shulman, The New Press, 255 pages, $25.95 Back in 1994, the late, great Bennett Harrison published Lean and Mean: The Changing Landscape of Corporate Power in the Age of Flexibility . It is about how "giant American companies have found ways to flourish in the new, more uncertain, more competitive environment." Harrison mentions "downsizing" a few times, but it is not a theme of his book. In 1996, the late, great David M. Gordon published Fat and Mean: The Corporate Squeeze of Working Americans and the Myth of Managerial "Downsizing." Enough said about the theme of that one. Now come William J. Baumol, Alan S. Blinder and Edward N. Wolff, who offer Downsizing in America: Reality, Causes, and Consequences. According to the jacket blurb by...

Healthy Skepticism

Recently, Andrew Sullivan was good enough to quote my last column -- in which I argued for continued opposition to the war in Iraq -- on his Web site. He cited me as an example of poor military forecasting, which I don't deny. The nightmare prospect of house-to-house fighting across Baghdad made me extremely anxious, two weeks ago. Mercifully that did not happen. But then another nightmare did. A wave of looting and destruction has led to the collapse of medical care in 39 of 40 Baghdad hospitals, reduced public offices to shells, emptied shops, shattered Iraq's cultural heritage stored in the antiquities museum and the national archives -- and caused anarchy in the city's streets. The oil ministry was spared, for U.S. Marines were protecting it. What precision bombing spared, precision looting has destroyed. The events of the last several days reveal George W. Bush's priorities with great clarity. Iraq is "two oil fields and a city," as one military planner said to me. We occupied...

Still Wrong

In a recent column , TAP Online Editor Richard Just and TomPaine.com Executive Editor Nick Penniman prescribed "the only moral and practical option" for liberals quavering over the war. It is, they wrote, "to begin immediately campaigning for a more ambitious, comprehensive and compassionate reconstruction of Iraq . . . while supporting the war effort that will lay the groundwork for such plans to be enacted." Just and Penniman state two grounds for their claim to have identified the "only moral and practical option." The first is a call to consistency. Now that the war has started, they write, the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime is at hand. Liberals must support the rebuilding of Iraqi schools as much as they would the rebuilding of schools here at home. In the second argument, as it turns out, morality and practicality are a matter of votes: Well, we have news for our progressive friends. Dread isn't going to fly with the majority of American voters -- and it isn't...

Lötterdämmerung

Think of it: If God had made Strom Thurmond just six weeks older, the Senate would still be under Democratic control. It's enough to shake one's faith -- and mine was none too strong to begin with. But then it became apparent that the Almighty was, as usual, one step ahead. He had devised a divinely devious plan. First He induced Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to blackmail President George W. Bush. Lott evidently did this by threatening to resign his Senate seat if forced to abdicate the leadership. Because Mississippi has a Democratic governor, this would have put the Senate back at 50-to-50 and the Democrats within one defection of control. The device worked, of course. Bush rebuked Lott but stopped short of pushing him overboard. But that merely moved the drama on to the next scene. There are Republican senators, such as Lincoln Chafee, John McCain, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Richard Lugar, who have a certain honor to defend. Let them be reminded. Strom Thurmond ran for president...

The Unbearable Costs of Empire

T alk in Washington these days is of Rome and its imperial responsibilities. But George W. Bush is no Julius Caesar. France under Napoleon may be the better precedent. Like Bush, Napoleon came to power in a coup. Like Bush, he fought off a foreign threat, then took advantage to convert the republic into an empire. Like Bush, he built up an army. Like Bush, he could not resist the temptation to use it. But unlike Caesar's, Napoleon's imperial pretensions did not last. Analogy is cheap but the point remains. Empire is not necessarily destined to endure, least of all in the undisturbed, vapid decadence to which our emperors so evidently aspire. True, in recent times the British Empire lasted for a century (or perhaps two, depending on how you count). The Soviet Union held up for seven decades. Napoleon was finished in just 15 years. There is a reason for the vulnerability of empires. To maintain one against opposition requires war -- steady, unrelenting, unending war. And war is ruinous...

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