Robert Dreyfuss

Robert Dreyfuss is a senior correspondent for The American Prospect. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. He can be reached through his website.

Recent Articles

Reform Gets Rolling

With campaign finance reform stalled in Washington, the real work of cleaning up American politics has shifted to the states. Look at what’s happened in Vermont, Massachusetts, and—of all places—Arizona.

Last November, voters in Massachusetts and Arizona added the latest tiles in a growing national mosaic of state-based campaign finance reform efforts. It all began in 1996, when Maine voters passed a sweeping reform plan aimed at replacing special interest money with a system of voluntary public financing for state elections. In 1997, defying the conventional wisdom that politicians will never vote to replace the system of campaign contributions that elected them in the first place, the Vermont legislature passed a similar measure. Then in November 1998, two-thirds of Massachusetts voters opted for radical surgery rather than tinkering to cure their money-in-politics ills, putting into place a system modeled on the so-called "Clean Money" reform adopted by their New England neighbors. But the most consequential vote may have come the same day out West, when a bare majority of voters in the conservative but quirky state of Arizona proved that publicly financed elections were not merely...

News Flash: Corporate Life Is Harsh

Is journalism the only industry whose quality is adversely affected by the capitalist drive to increase profit margins? You might think so, judging by the media response to the resignation of Jay T. Harris, publisher of the San Jose Mercury News. Harris abruptly quit his job as chief of the Knight Ridder–owned daily earlier this spring--with a public salvo aimed at his bosses. "So far," he wrote, "we have been unable to find a way to meet the new [financial] targets without risking significant and lasting harm to the Mercury News as a journalistic enterprise." Harris's action gained him widespread acclaim among editors and reporters; a few weeks after his resignation he had a starring role at the convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE). "I resigned because I was concerned about the damage to the whole of the paper," he said. "I was worried that in Knight Ridder a greater priority was being given to the business aspects of the enterprise rather than to fulfilling...

Philip Morris Money

I n Virginia, fresh-faced, environmentally minded schoolchildren gather biological samples and test water quality in rivers and waterways, part of the Izaak Walton League's Save Our Streams initiative. In Chicago, amid Tai Chi classes and body massages, families with young children enjoy performance art and teenagers flock to an all-night "rave," all part of the Museum of Contemporary Art's Summer Solstice weekend. In Minnesota hundreds of children with HIV or AIDS come together each year at Camp Heartland, where they can "escape the isolation and misunderstanding they so often face because of this illness." And all of these kids can thank the caring people at Philip Morris. It might raise eyebrows that children and youth engage in otherwise worthwhile activities while carrying brochures and leaflets bearing the Philip Morris logo, but these and scores of other programs--ranging from battered women's shelters to disaster relief programs to scholarships for African-American students at...

The New China Lobby

Who bought American indulgence of China? Surprise--multinational corporations that fly the U.S. flag.

Illustration by Bob Dahm J ust before the November election, concern about foreign influence over U.S. trade policy suddenly emerged amid revelations that the Clinton campaign had accepted (and then returned) illegal donations from wealthy East Asian nationals. But as the media focused on the connections of one fundraiser to the White House and the debate became tinged with xenophobia, a bigger story of influence-peddling got lost: the role of multinational corporations that nominally fly the American flag. see related resources below Nothing reveals this pattern better than the recent history of the U.S. relationship with China. China has been under fire for violations of both human rights and commercial rights. It routinely ignores intellectual property protections, and it closes its domestic market to much that the U.S. might export. By 1995, China's trade surplus with the United States had ballooned to an embarrassingly high total of $34 billion, heading upwards. [See Chalmers...