Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama's Challenge and other books.

Recent Articles

Globalism and Poverty

J ust as Watergate became a metaphor for the Nixon era and Whitewater the right's symbol for Clinton, Enron is the emblem of the Bush administration's way of life. Enron is to George W. Bush what Teapot Dome was to Warren G. Harding. Its demise should also signal the collapse of a whole economic paradigm, in which smart people were traders and those left behind in the outmoded economy were throwbacks who actually made things. Here is a checklist of the several icons that collapsed with the fall of Enron: A pension double standard. Enron's retirement plan was heavily invested in its own stock. Executives cashed out over a billion dollars, while ordinary employees were locked in. Janice Farmer, who retired with $700,000 in Enron, told a Senate hearing last week that she is left with a $63 monthly Social Security check. Senators Corzine and Boxer propose a 20 percent limit for any one stock in 401(k) plans. Bogus accounting. Since the Great Depression, the one form of regulation that...

Comment: The Enron Economy

J ust as Watergate became a metaphor for the Nixon era and Whitewater the right's symbol for Clinton, Enron is the emblem of the Bush administration's way of life. Enron is to George W. Bush what Teapot Dome was to Warren G. Harding. Its demise should also signal the collapse of a whole economic paradigm, in which smart people were traders and those left behind in the outmoded economy were throwbacks who actually made things. Here is a checklist of the several icons that collapsed with the fall of Enron: A pension double standard. Enron's retirement plan was heavily invested in its own stock. Executives cashed out over a billion dollars, while ordinary employees were locked in. Janice Farmer, who retired with $700,000 in Enron, told a Senate hearing last week that she is left with a $63 monthly Social Security check. Senators Corzine and Boxer propose a 20 percent limit for any one stock in 401(k) plans. Bogus accounting. Since the Great Depression, the one form of regulation that...

Praise the Planners for Cape's Uniqueness

TRURO Heading home from a pleasant break on Cape Cod, I have a new appreciation for the joys not just of sand, sun, and sea, but of public planning. Travelers to Cape Cod may wonder why it has been spared the relentless strip-malling that has blighted most of our vacation spots. Or why most of the Cape's magnificent shoreline is available to ordinary people who come for a day or a week, as well as those fortunate enough to own oceanfront property. The answer, of course, is far-sighted public planning. Thanks largely to Massachusetts Senators Leverett Saltonstall and John F. Kennedy, who conceived it back in 1959, Cape Cod is part National Seashore, which preserves 44,000 acres of the Outer Cape from private development. The National Seashore also guarantees general public access to pristine beaches that stretch the whole length of the Outer Cape. In many states, beachfront land is chopped up into private parcels. You have to be the property owner, or a guest of the resort, to have...

Fund High-Speed Rail, and Lose Airport Gridlock

Two weeks ago, needing to get from Boston to New York for a meeting, I decided to try Amtrak's new Acela Express. It was on time, at 3 hours and 20 minutes. Even so, the office-to-office trip took nearly two hours longer than the air shuttle ordinarily does. Last week I had to be in New York again, for a 10:30 meeting. This time I opted for the 8 a.m. air shuttle. But a brief thunderstorm passed through the New York area, closing La Guardia for less than hour. However, that was enough to cause a morning's worth of bottlenecks. At 9:30, with no takeoff time in sight, the pilot kindly let some passengers get off the plane. The rest may still be there. This country's major airports are on the verge of perpetual gridlock. Our one really successful fast train - the New York-Washington Metroliner (three hours) now has about 40 percent of the intercity air/rail business between those two cities. The Acela cuts that to two and a half hours. If Amtrak got the New York-Boston run down to two...

Comment: The End of Citizenship?

For all of the carnival aspect of the Seattle protests, something very important has been stimulated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) sessions. For the first time, a coherent opposition program has begun to challenge the dominant consensus about global trade. For more than a century, the world's ordinary citizens and their elected leaders have struggled to make market systems socially bearable. At the center of this project is elected government based on democratic citizenship. Govern ment has two basic instruments available to tame capitalism: the power to raise revenues for social purposes and the power to regulate. In the advanced countries, these have served to temper, stabilize, and even energize capitalism. But now, parading under the banner of global trade, the world's banks, investors, and corporations want to revert to capitalism circa 1890—the property rights minus the social standards and stabilizers. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, "There Is No Alternative." "Tina...

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