Karen Paget

Karen M. Paget, a frequent foundation consultant, is currently a Soros Open Society Institute fellow. She has consulted on state and local fiscal issues for the Ford Foundation and the Twentieth Century Fund. She is the author of "The Battle for the States," in The New Majority.

Recent Articles

Citizen Organizing: Many Movements, No Majority

by Karen Paget Unless you are an activist yourself, your personal contact with the world of citizen politics probably occurs when your doorbell rings. A canvasser, usually a young person with a clipboard and leaflets, tries to engage you in a discussion of a contemporary problem, perhaps toxic waste dumps, pesticides in the food chain, or rising utility rates. If you sign a petition or contribute a few dollars, you'll receive more material. Engage in a longer conversation and you may be recruited for active membership.

The Gender Gap Mystique

Women are newly influential in politics, but those who court the gender gap on the cheap will not succeed. Women's interests, issues, and voting preferences are every bit as complex as men's -- and demand equal respect.

Ever since the Greek poet Aristophanes in 411 B.C. fired men's imaginations with the play Lysistrata, the possibility that women might band together for their own purposes has evoked strong feelings, ranging from ridicule to apprehension. Until the twentieth century, the prospect of such female solidarity remained largely fictional.

Can Cities Escape Political Isolation?

As federal funding dwindles, we need new economic arrangements and political coalitions to unite city and suburb.

In the past three decades, most cities outside the Sunbelt have experienced economic contraction, population decline, and increasing concentrations of poverty. For some, like Detroit, the descent has been catastrophic. Dozens of smaller, once vibrant manufacturing and commercial cities like Newark, Cleveland, Buffalo, and St. Louis face similar conditions. Three decades after the wave of urban conflagrations, countless neighborhoods that once housed a productive lower middle class still look as if 1968 happened yesterday. Others, such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, tell tales of two cities—glittering economic resurgence coexisting with deepening deprivation.

State of the Debate: Lessons of Right-Wing Philanthropy

It is well known that the conservative movement has for years enjoyed a decided financial advantage on the battleground of ideas -- they have far more corporate and foundation support than liberals. But conservatives don't just have more money; they spend it better, too.


Buying a Movement: Right-Wing Foundations and American Politics (People for the American Way, 1996).

Sally Covington, Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations (National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1998).

Leon Howell, Funding the War of Ideas: A Report to the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (1995).

Justice for Sale (Alliance for Justice, 1993).

Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado, No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America's Social Agenda (Temple University Press, 1996).

The Balanced Budget Trap

Absolute budget balance has become orthodoxy; a constitutional amendment to enforce it may pass Congress even if Democrats win the elections. but look at the costs.


wisdom has it that the Contract with America is defunct, killed by the

excesses of Newt Gingrich and his extremist band of Republican freshmen.

The Contract is certainly dead as a campaign manifesto, but its single

most damaging provision is lethally alive. The balanced budget amendment

failed the Senate by only one vote in March 1995, and two votes in June

1996. Earlier, in 1995, it passed easily in the House of Representatives

(300 to 116). A return engagement is likely after the November election.

Even if Democrats pick up seats, the amendment could pass, because many