Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, as well as 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

After The War: The Big Questions

In a year or two, and for decades afterward, historians will feel entirely free to second-guess what went so wrong both before and after Sept. 11. Why did US intelligence fail? How could we have so foolishly put our oil connection with the Saudis above our national safety? Did we respond adequately to the economic effects of the crisis? Did the bombing of Afghanistan cause fragile allied governments to unravel? In our efforts to enhance security, did we sacrifice too many civil liberties or too few? Why was our public health system allowed to deteriorate? And was George W. Bush up to the job? For now, most of these questions still await answers, and it feels almost unseemly to be debating them. In a war, it's normal to rally round the flag and the president. Add the real national outrage at the incineration of the heart of our greatest city and you appreciate the lack of appetite for second-guessing. Yet the questions are real and urgent. And in this war there is very little room for...

A Self-Sufficient Energy Policy?

Although gasoline prices are down slightly for the moment, this war against terrorism imperils America's long-term access to cheap oil. And if the Mideast conflict refocuses us on energy self-sufficiency, that would be a constructive byproduct. For one thing, world oil production will peak during this decade. An important new book, ''Hubbert's Peak,'' by the eminent oil geologist Kenneth Deffeyes, a professor at Princeton University, explains that world oil output will peak in this decade. It is following the same trajectory as US oil projection, which began earlier and then peaked more than three decades ago. We now import half our oil. ''Hubbert's Peak'' is named for the Shell Oil scientist, M. King Hubbert, who correctly calculated that US production would peak in the early 1970s. There are no short-term substitutes for gas and oil. When demand exceeds available supply, as we learned during the two oil crises of the 1970s, prices spike - with devastating effects on the rest of the...

Creating a Secure -- But Free -- US

For 20 years, the party now in power has been crusading for smaller government. But that was then. Since Sept. 11, we've gotten a rude awakening that everything from our personal and national security to the rebuilding of a stunned economy depends on an effective government. We also got a look at public workers in action - New York's police, fire, and EMT heroes - not a lazy bureaucrat among them. But as we necessarily expand government's role in this crisis, we also need to make sure that government's expanded police powers don't take away our freedoms. We got something of the same lesson after Pearl Harbor, when our war production, civil defense, and intelligence capability were all pitifully inadequate. In that crisis, government rose to the occasion and rallied the nation. (It also incarcerated hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans.) In this crisis, there is still some hesitancy to act because of the current administration's residual preference for the private...

Shame On Journalists for Forgetting Orwell

In his timeless essay ''Politics and the English Language,'' George Orwell explored how manipulation of words can change how people think. Orwell noted Stalin's use of the word ''liquidation'' as a delicate synonym for execution of political enemies among several other examples. Generations of freshman English students and aspiring journalists have read their Orwell and are supposedly alert to propagandistic euphemisms. But judging by recent successful spin-doctoring of language, many editors and writers could use a refresher course in their Orwell. Herewith, some notable examples: Prolife . All of us can be described as prolife. Most Americans don't like abortion but don't consider it murder, and support a woman's right to have one. But the antiabortion lobby has succeeded in appropriating the phrase ''right to life.'' Conventional usage has become ''prolife'' versus ''prochoice.'' Both terms are propagandistic. An accurate substitute would be antiabortion groups versus abortion-...

The Poverty of Neoliberalism

In the late 1970s, a group of one-time liberals began describing themselves as neoliberals. 'We criticize liberalism," Charles Peters, editor of the neoliberal Washington Monthly , wrote in 1983, "not to destroy it but to renew it by freeing it from its myths, from its old automatic responses..." Neoliberals often join conservatives in lambasting public programs, skewering bureaucrats, and celebrating the power of the market. They also attack special interest groups in the name of a more embracing public interest, untainted by politics. Much of their criticism is entertaining; some of it is even fair. But in the end neoliberalism often seems only to reinforce the conservative impulses of our day Where it remains liberal, it disdains constituencies that liberals need not only to address, but also to inspire. It is just the sort of politically innocent liberalism conservatives eat for lunch. Though the term "neoliberal" has not found its way into most voters' vocabulary, neoliberal...

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