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

How Low Can You Go? Made of Sterner Stuff

MADE OF STERNER STUFF The Lewinsky investigation has put me to reflecting about the many opportunities for rectitude that were missed in our past. Americans have now been told, all too late, about the illicit sexual behavior of presidents from Thomas Jefferson to JFK. Just think of how much better informed and more righteous the American people might have been if the methods of uncovering the truth familiar to us today had only been used when they could have really mattered. Earlier presidents, for example, were never the target of civil suits in which the attorneys for the opposite side could oblige them to answer questions about their sexual relationships. Americans would have known so much more about the true moral character of our presidents if they had been subject to such unlimited questioning. It is interesting to speculate whether Jefferson might have been induced to lie under oath about his slave Sally Hemmings or whether Franklin Roosevelt might have been tempted to shade...

How Low Can You Go?

PASS THE MALICE Five mistakes in a single sentence must be some kind of record for America's greatest newspaper. On August 17, in an article about the new White House roles of Sidney Blumenthal and Paul Begala ("Clinton Looks for Inspiration From the Left"), the New York Times quoted the New Republic as saying about Blumenthal, "A beat is just an assignment but a slut is who you've become maybe." The next day the Times admitted the following: The statement had not appeared in the New Republic . The statement was not a reference to Blumenthal. The source of the statement was, in fact, Blumenthal himself. The statement comes from a work of fiction written by Blumenthal—it is a line in a play, spoken by a reporter bemoaning his own career. The word "slut" was actually "slot." What does the Times say when it has twisted a man's own words into an insult supposedly directed at him? It says there was an "editing error." No apology necessary. As if this weren't bad enough, the same day the...

How Low Can You Go?

YOUR NAME HERE As public broadcasting has long shown, there is a thin line between philanthropy and advertising that is well on its way to being completely erased. Consider the recent proliferation of corporate logos on endowed professorships, as reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education . Stanford has a Yahoo! chair of information systems technology; the University of Arizona has a Coca Cola distinguished professor of marketing; and Washington State has a Taco Bell distinguished professor of hotel and restaurant administration. I'm impressed by what companies have done so far, but I'm waiting for William Bennett to get the General Electric Chair in Philosophy. Mere advertising isn't enough for some firms. At West Virginia University, the Kmart professor of marketing is required to spend 30 days a year training Kmart store managers. It was a condition of the gift. Whole schools are out for bid, too. According to the Economist , Columbia University will rename its business school...

How Low Can You Go? Viagravated Assault

VIAGRAVATED ASSAULT Early demand for Viagra, the new potency pill from Pfizer, has been so enormous that it has caused worries about an unexpected rise in health care expenses. Newspapers have reported the weekly sales of Viagra the way they earlier reported the gross for Titanic . In April one urologist was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "If we were in the military, I think we would call in and say our position is being overrun." Unwilling to capitulate, health insurers are insisting on a physician's diagnosis of "erectile dysfunction" ("ED" for short) and setting limits on the number of pills per month. Doctors are available who will obligingly make the diagnosis, but who would have guessed that so many men would rush to be declared impotent? Apparently the temptation of the perfect erection at someone else's expense is too great to resist. It will be interesting to see what rules the most stringent managed care companies set for covering Viagra. Why just accept a doctor's...

The Defining Issue

For liberals, it's the lost crusade. For conservatives, it's the emblematic case of overweening big government. Perhaps more clearly than in any other issue, federal action to achieve universal health coverage brings out ideological and partisan differences in America. In the early 1990s, health care became a defining conflict for the nation, and so it remains today. The uninsured figure prominently in the debates between Al Gore and Bill Bradley, but they're only a marginal issue for the Republican presidential candidates. Polls indicate that Republican as well as Democratic voters are concerned about the abuses of managed care and the affordability of drugs and health services. But the ideal of health care for all has a more powerful emotional resonance in Democratic ranks. In a generally prosperous time when many other economic issues have become more muted, universal health care remains one cause that many people feel is worth fighting an...

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