Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

Little Magazine, Big Ideas

The American Prospect began with a small circulation and great ambitions. Our aim was to rethink ideas about public policy and politics and thereby to restore plausibility and persuasiveness to American liberalism. The first issue appeared in spring 1990, a historical moment in some respects like today: Democrats had lost successive presidential elections, there was a George Bush in the White House, conservatives were pushing schemes for privatization, and liberals were in disarray. But in 1990, Congress was still in Democratic hands, the Cold War was coming to an end with the Soviet collapse, and the focus of politics was turning from foreign to domestic policy. Rising economic anxieties, it seemed, might spur political change just as a “peace dividend” could finance new initiatives. By historic good fortune, the Prospect had arrived at a time not only of global change but of “liberal opportunity,” as Arthur Schlesinger Jr., called it in the first issue, which carried a cover image...

The Price of a Free Society

These are times that try liberal spirits. On one side, the Bush administration has taken up the agenda of the Christian right and sought to use the power of the state to shape how Americans live and die. On the other, it is undermining many of the positive accomplishments of government, such as Social Security, labor and environmental regulation, consumer protections, and federal responsibilities for health care. Some of the challenges are overt, as in the privatization of Social Security. Others are less conspicuous, as in the quiet abandonment of regulatory enforcement. Conservatives love the Bush tax cuts because they have set us on a fiscal course that makes severe cutbacks in federal programs appear inexorable. Under assault is the core liberal idea that we can use government to provide for the common good and protect our safety, security, and well-being even as we prohibit government from controlling our private lives and compromising our liberties. Lately, however, in the face...

The Price of a Free Society

By Paul Starr These are times that try liberal spirits. On one side, the Bush administration has taken up the agenda of the Christian right and sought to use the power of the state to shape how Americans live and die. On the other, it is undermining many of the positive accomplishments of government, such as Social Security, labor and environmental regulation, consumer protections, and federal responsibilities for health care. Some of the challenges are overt, as in the privatization of Social Security. Others are less conspicuous, as in the quiet abandonment of regulatory enforcement. Conservatives love the Bush tax cuts because they have set us on a fiscal course that makes severe cutbacks in federal programs appear inexorable. Under assault is the core liberal idea that we can use government to provide for the common good and protect our safety, security, and well-being even as we prohibit government from controlling our private lives and compromising our liberties. Lately, however...

Their Sun Also Rises

Famously, on the last day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin pointed to an image of the sun painted on the back of George Washington's chair and said that he finally had “the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.” Ever since then, Americans have had the same happy thought: Our sun has always been rising. And today, as we conceive things, that sun shines more brightly than ever. For in the governing narrative of our time, the United States is the world's only superpower, freedom is on the march, and the superiority of the American economic model has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. What threatens us, we believe, comes from the backward regions of undemocratic or failed states and the terrorist organizations that operate from them. September 11 showed us they can do grave harm. But unlike Soviet communism, they do not represent a general ideological challenge, an alternative economic model, or a great-power rival. In our governing...

Their Sun Also Rises

Famously, on the last day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin pointed to an image of the sun painted on the back of George Washington's chair and said that he finally had “the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.” Ever since then, Americans have had the same happy thought: Our sun has always been rising. And today, as we conceive things, that sun shines more brightly than ever. For in the governing narrative of our time, the United States is the world's only superpower, freedom is on the march, and the superiority of the American economic model has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. What threatens us, we believe, comes from the backward regions of undemocratic or failed states and the terrorist organizations that operate from them. September 11 showed us they can do grave harm. But unlike Soviet communism, they do not represent a general ideological challenge, an alternative economic model, or a great-power rival. In our governing...

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