Laura Maggi

Laura Maggi is a reporter in the Capital bureau of The Times-Picayune.
She is a former writing fellow for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

A Conversation with Suzanne Gordon

Suzanne Gordon ["Nurse, Interrupted," TAP Vol. 11 Issue 7] is a journalist who has been writing about nursing issues since 1986. In "Life Support: Three Nurses on the Front Lines," Gordon details the three years she spent reporting on three different nurses. Laura Maggi is a Writing Fellow at the American Prospect. Q: In your article you talk about nurses being downsized and the work becoming more taxing and less rewarding, and I was wondering when this started happening. When did the policies start changing? A: I think that nursing work has always been very difficult and nurses have always put up with stuff they shouldn't have had to put up with, for example, disrespect and poor pay. I think that the situation started to improve in the mid-'80s with the advent of primary nursing where you had one nurse for one patient. ... They got rid of this thing called social nursing where one nurse would do bed baths and another would give pills and nobody had the total patient picture or a...

The Poor Count

Determining precisely who are the poorest Americans would seem to be a simple enough things to do. But like many bureaucratic tasks, counting up the official poor is fraught with political complications. Last October the issue became front-page news when The New York Times suggested that the Census Bureau might raise the poverty level, boosting the threshold that establishes who counts as officially poor from $16,600 to $19,500 for a family of four. Actually, the Times was wrong (the bureau doesn't even have the power to change the level). But even the false assertion that the poverty level might be raised sparked a fair amount of debate. Based on a flurry of editorials written after the story, it is clear any eventual raise of the poverty level--a change long overdue--will be highly politicized and controversial. The conservative response follows a general tack: Ignore the growing gap between rich and poor, but trumpet the increasing affordability of all sorts...

Making White Elephants Fly

In the summer of 1998, after about a year of peddling its Oyster Creek nuclear plant and finding no takers, GPU Inc. appeared resigned to shutting the unit down. Aging, inefficient, and economically uncompetitive, Oyster Creek was a prime example of how nuclear power--the ultimate energy boondoggle--wouldn't survive in the new world of deregulated energy markets. But this past fall, GPU announced it had actually found a buyer. At $10 million, one-sixtieth of the plant's $600-million valuation, AmerGen Energy Company got a real bargain. In fact, the company, a joint venture between Philadelphia-based PECO Energy Company and British Energy, was formed explicitly to scavenge the nation's unwanted nuclear units. It has made similar offers on six other plants and plans to buy many more. PECO, which is merging with the Midwest's utility behemoth Unicom, is fast becoming the country's nuclear powerhouse. Another company, Entergy Corporation, is also eyeing the nuclear market and has...

Bearing Witness for Tobacco

I n 1994, before book after book documented how the tobacco industry had successfully manipulated the public's perceptions about smoking, the eminent historian and author Stephen E. Ambrose took the stand in a Louisiana case brought by Gere Covert, a Baton Rouge attorney who decided to sue after the death of his wife, a longtime smoker, from lung cancer. Testifying for the big four tobacco companies and their lobbying arm, Ambrose hammered home the industry's line: The risks of smoking have been known for decades if not centuries, so smokers who got sick made a knowing choice. Ambrose spun a compelling narrative, arguing that since Columbus first plucked tobacco from the Indians the public has had a sense that smoking can't possibly be healthy. For proof he cited the nineteenth-century anti-tobacco temperance movements, old slang like "coffin nails" and "cancer sticks," and the abundance of news stories printed in the 1950s and 1960s as scientists began to accumulate data powerfully...

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