Michael Massing

Michael Massing is the author of The Fix, a study of U.S. drug policy since the 1960s.

Recent Articles

Deal Breakers

J ews remain one of the most liberal groups in American society. And although concern about Israel's security has pushed some of them to the right, the majority have supported the peace process, including the efforts of President Clinton late in his term to bring about an agreement with the Palestinians. During and since those years, however, the two Jewish organizations with the most influence on foreign policy have had leaders who are far more conservative and hard-line than are most American Jews. One of those groups is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Long regarded as the most effective foreign-policy lobby in Washington, AIPAC has an annual budget of $19.5 million, a staff of 130, and 60,000 members. Those members constitute a powerful grass-roots network that can be activated almost instantly to press Congress to take this action or that. The other major group, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is less well known. Made up of the...

Stalled in Paradise

A quiet but profound revolution is taking place in suburban America, affecting the way people there think about government, taxes, property rights, the free market, and the idea of community itself, and it is being sparked by that most mundane of phenomena: the traffic jam. From New York, where 80,000 more cars a day enter the city than did two years ago, to Los Angeles, where it takes an average of 20 minutes to negotiate the interchange of interstates 10 and 405; from Miami, where the forever-clogged U.S. 1 has been dubbed "Useless 1," to Chicago, where a spaghetti-like section of I-290 is known as the "Hillside Strangler," Americans are spending more and more time trapped in their cars. Over the course of a year, drivers in the nation's largest cities spend about 40 hours--a full work week--stuck in traffic. And Americans, famous for loving their cars, are getting fed up. In communities across the country, lawsuits and...

Should Jews Be Parochial?

O n a warm Sunday in September, Michael Steinhardt, maverick hedge fund operator turned Jewish philanthropist, was showing a group of fellow donors around his private zoo. Located on his 51-acre estate in Mount Kisco, New York, an hour north of Manhattan, the zoo features free-range zebras, miniature horses, guinea fowl, wallabies, antelopes, blue-necked pheasants, and golden spider monkeys. Delighted at the looks of wonder on his guests' faces, Steinhardt at one point impishly led them into one of the pens. A majestic nine-foot-tall ostrich came over to greet them. Full of curiosity, the ostrich kept stretching out its long neck toward the donors, as if eager to read their name tags. When the giant bird began to get too friendly, Steinhardt quickly herded the group out of the pen. "He's very attracted to Jews," he joked. Certainly Steinhardt is. Since 1995, when he retired from Wall Street with a fortune in excess of $300 million, the 59-year-old...

From Protest to Program

L ast year, during a visit to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, I got a firsthand look at the underside of globalization. Located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, Juárez is home to more than 400 plants known as maquiladoras. Here, workers assemble parts sent by foreign companies--mainly U.S.-based corporations--for subsequent export. Most of the plants are located in industrial parks guarded by tall metal fences that insulate them from the grit and tumult of the surrounding city. The maquiladoras provide tens of thousands of jobs, helping to give Juárez one of Mexico's lowest unemployment rates. While work is easy to find, starting salaries average less than a dollar an hour, or $35 to $40 a week. Wages can increase with time, but workers seldom stay with one company long enough to benefit. The vast majority are women, and most burn out after two or three years of monotonous and exhausting work. Factory conditions tend to be grim, with poor ventilation, unsanitary bathrooms, and...

Home-Court Advantage:

"T his is a different kind of conflict," said General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Pentagon briefing in October. He was speaking of the war on terrorism. "The closest analogy would be the drug war." Since September 11, comparisons between the two wars have been rife: Both are said to involve an elusive and resourceful enemy capable of inflicting tremendous damage on the United States; both are cast as a long, drawn-out struggle that requires concentrated efforts on multiple fronts; and both are led by a powerful "czar" authorized to knock heads, challenge budgets, and mobilize resources. Heaven help us. The war on drugs has been a dismal failure. Every year, the federal government spends almost $20 billion to fight illicit drugs. It has tracked planes in Peru, sent helicopters to Colombia, installed X-ray machines along the Mexican border, and sent AWACS surveillance planes over the Caribbean. Yet drugs continue to pour into this country. Cocaine today...

Pages