Merrill Goozner

Merrill Goozner is the senior correspondent for The Fiscal Times and a Prospect contributing editor. His blog can be found at http://www.gooznews.com/

Recent Articles

Medicine as a Luxury

I t's generally recognized that people have the right to eat. When famine breaks out, relief agencies rush food to the hungry. Politics and war may get in the way (indeed, they are often the causes of the famine). Sometimes relief efforts are too small or come too late. But the advanced industrial world usually acts as if it has a moral obligation to respond to a hunger crisis. In recent years, humanitarians have been taking a similar approach to global public health. Shouldn't we be rushing medicine to people who need it, no matter where they live and no matter how much money they have in their pockets? Today, microbial plagues are devastating the developing world far more than hunger is. Yet there is no rush to provide assistance. On the contrary, governments and activists have had to force drug companies to help people who are dying simply because they cannot afford the medicine that might save them. The AIDS pandemic, which has killed 22 million people worldwide and has infected...

The Porter Prescription

Michael Porter, management consultant extraordinaire, has now brought his theory of competitive advantage to the inner city. Bold new ideas -- or an old elixir in a new bottle?

PORTER AND HIS CRITICS Thomas D. Boston and Catherine L. Ross, eds., The Inner City, Urban Poverty, and Economic Development in the Next Century (Transaction Publishers, 1997). Thomas D. Boston and Catherine L. Ross, eds., "Responses to Michael Porter's Model of Inner City Redevelopment," Review of Black Political Economy, Fall 1995/Winter 1996. Bennett Harrison and Amy Glasmeier, "Response [to Porter]: Why Business Alone Won't Develop the Inner City," Economic Development Quarterly , February 1997. Michael Porter, "The Competitive Advantage of the Inner City," Harvard Business Review , May-June 1995. Michael Porter, The Competitive Advantage of Nations (Free Pess, 1990). Michael Porter, "New Strategies for Inner-City Economic Development," Economic Development Quarterly , February 1997. You can buy any linked book through our associate program with Amazon.com W ith downtowns flourishing, a handful of distressed neighborhoods mounting comebacks, and crime and welfare loads on the...

Free Market Shock

T he California energy crisis isn't over: it's only in remission, thanks to a massive statewide commitment to conservation, a mild summer, and the judicious retreat by energy conglomerates from their extortionist pricing tactics. But the state's electricity consumers have been left with permanently higher utility bills, and the state's taxpayers have been slapped with a tab of nearly $10 billion to pay for the past year's price spike. Democratic Governor Gray Davis is demanding a rebate. We'll see how far he gets with FERC, the Republican-run Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. No matter what happens in the short-term battle over rebates and price caps, however, the long-term problem in electricity markets remains, and not just in California. Two dozen states have put in place flawed deregulation schemes that essentially give producers the upper hand in determining what price consumers will pay to keep the lights on. If there's one thing we've learned from the California mess, it's...

Patenting Life

T he backlash against gene patenting is heating up, and not a moment too soon. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has already granted more than 1,000 patents on human genes or their fragments, with over 20,000 pending. The patent office plans to issue new guidelines by the end of the year: Researchers will now have to indicate a gene's function--its "specific and substantial credible utility"--and its chemical code to get a patent. (The industry successfully lobbied against applicants' having to show they could actually make something with the gene.) Though the patent office's revised guidelines represent a minor improvement over the previous open-door policy, they won't do much to slow what Francis Collins, the head of the government-run Human Genome Project , ruefully compares to a gold rush. Collins's analogy is apt. There are an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 human genes. Once they're claimed, they're gone. The prospectors' vision is too narrow...

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