Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a freelance writer, and former staff member of The American Prospect. A fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. She also blogs at PostBourgie.

Recent Articles

On Borrowed Time

President Obama's new student loan plan isn't enough to help students saddled with debt.

AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced its new plan for student loans: new graduates can cap their student loan repayments to 10 percent of their monthly income. After 20 years, their debt will be forgiven. Graduates already repaying their loans can consolidate and get half a percent interest rate cut. These changes will go into effect next year, two years before they were already scheduled to do so, and the administration said the move was in response to an online petition drive on its “We the People” site. The high student-debt burden—it will reach $1 trillion this year—is also a centerpiece of the Occupy protests around the country. The loan plan is clearly a move to ignite college student and recent graduate support, and it’s also a change President Obama doesn’t have to go through Congress to enact. All of which makes this move understandable from a political standpoint. The problem is that it actually doesn’t do much to help students. The administration and others will...

It's an Ad World After All

I n 2006, a commercial began to air on cable television that showed happy babies gurgling through their year-one milestones. “A baby’s first smile of recognition,” a voiceover says. “That first rollover. The first step, and first word are miracles of a baby’s life.” Over graphics of a growing brain, a narrator announces that the first five years of development are critical and tells parents to “seize this small window of opportunity” to reach another milestone with their children: learning to read. The commercials direct parents to a toll-free number to buy Your Baby Can Read, a five-disc set that costs $200. A number of educational experts considered the product a scam—babies don’t learn to read from watching DVDs because babies can’t learn to read. Prominent among the critics was Susan Linn, a 63-year-old child psychologist and founder of the watchdog group Campaign for a Commercial--Free Childhood. In April 2011, she complained to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the...

The Commons

Zipcar and Flexcar started an economic revolution in urbanized America. But how much are we willing to share?

Eric Palma
In the late 1990s, when Robin Chase and her co-founders started testing names for what would become the car-sharing network Zipcar, they quickly learned to avoid the word "sharing." "Every one that had the word 'share' in it," she says, "about 40 percent of the people hated. They thought, 'It's going to be dirty -- crummy -- like the 1960s, and I'm going to have to wait.' Imagine if hotels were called bed-sharing." If Chase found users reluctant to embrace the concept of sharing, it might have been because hers was one of the first businesses to try it. To sell the Zipcar idea, the company highlighted its convenience: Rather than check out with an agent, customers reserve a car online for however long they need it. Rentals can be as short as an hour. The cars are parked in public lots, and users unlock the vehicles by waving their membership card over an electronic reader behind the windshield. The ignition keys and a gas card are inside. When done, customers wave their card over the...

The Bachmann Mystique

How can a woman be an avatar for an evangelical movement that argues that women must obey men?

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
On August 11, at a Republican debate in Iowa held two days before she won the straw poll in Ames, Michele Bachmann deflected a question that brought boos from the audience. The moderator, Byron York of the Washington Examiner , had asked the Minnesota congresswoman whether she would be submissive to her husband in the White House. York's query was prompted by a statement Bachmann made to the congregation at the Living World Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, during her first run for Congress in 2006. After she finished law school at the conservative Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she recalled, her husband urged her to get a postdoctoral degree in tax law. "I hate taxes, why should I go and do something like that?" she said. "But the Lord says, 'Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'" The view that wives should submit to their husbands, which comes from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians, is held by many conservative Christians...

Big Mess

A lawsuit against a Utah polygamy law is a nightmare for liberals and conservatives alike.

(AP Photo/TLC, Bryant Livingston, File)
Last year, at the end of the first season of Sister Wives , a reality show about a polygamist family in Utah, Kody Brown took a fourth wife, Robyn. Rain threatened to cancel the religious ceremony. Meri, Brown's first wife and the only one to whom he is legally married, commented on the gloomy sky, "That's how my heart felt." Before then, Brown, a 43-year-old ad salesman, his three wives, and their 13 children had achieved an equilibrium of sorts. Robyn and her three kids threw this off balance, but welcoming Robyn was a nonnegotiable duty for the other women. "At that time, it really establishes itself as a patriarchal relationship," says Felice Batlan, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and a fan of the show. Bringing in a new wife did more than disrupt the family's peace. It made the Browns the target of a criminal investigation under the anti-bigamy law that Utah had to adopt in order to enter the union. As far as the state is concerned, Meri is Brown's only wife, but...