Kathryn Lewis

Recent Articles

Poor Standards

Thirty-five million Americans are living in poverty, yet they're not necessarily idle. Many of them are like Caroline, who earns $7.50 an hour in a New Hampshire factory, or Candalaria, who earns three-quarters of a cent for each zipper she sews on jeans at a Los Angeles sweatshop.

David K. Shipler, a former New York Times reporter, walks us through their ranks in his new book, The Working Poor.

Good Signs

Living in Washington, I've come to expect poorly attended marches -- but this weekend proved to be a pleasant surprise. A consortium of antiwar groups, spearheaded by International A.N.S.W.E.R., brought thousands to town on Saturday to protest George W. Bush's Iraq policies. While the streets were peppered with the usual suspects -- black-clad anarchists, radical cheerleaders, giant puppets -- the collection of protesters at this march appeared larger and more diverse than the crowd at September's anti-globalization rallies. It was also more focused on a single message -- not to mention unencumbered by the sideshow of confrontation and mayhem that accompanied the September protests.

Hard Luck and Welfare

Hands to Work: The Stories of Three Families Racing the Welfare Clock

By LynNell Hancock. William Morrow, 320 pages, $25.95

Devil in the Details:

It took all of seven days to shut down the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence -- roughly the same amount of time that anyone actually knew it existed.

Controversy over OSI originally heated up following a New York Times story suggesting the office might spread false reports to the foreign press or run "black" propaganda campaigns.  After taking a beating over this -- as critics barked that the U.S. shouldn't lie to the rest of the world -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pulled the plug.  Indeed, it was all over so quickly, the debate over OSI didn't really progress far enough for anyone to bother asking whether office would actually have been very good at duping anyone.  

Devil in the Details

According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, Enron workers lost between 70 and 90 percent of their retirement plans as the company's stock collapsed. Cumulatively, workers lost more than a billion dollars in retirement assets. The ensuing outrage has thrust pension reform onto the political agenda. President Bush has advanced a plan that would expand workers' rights to cash in on their company's stock options and encourage companies to provide professional investment advice to employees. Meanwhile, Democrats Barbara Boxer and Jon Corzine are calling for a 20 percent limit on the amount of company stock workers can apply to pension plans.