Simon Rodberg

Simon Rodberg is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Odd Couple

In recent years, nearly a dozen local governments--cities, counties, and even school districts--have brought lawsuits against paint manufacturers, charging that lead-based paint has created costly public-health problems, especially affecting children. Now Rhode Island has become the first state to sue paint manufacturers. One in five children entering kindergarten in Rhode Island has elevated levels of lead in his or her blood. Ingestion of paint chips and dust causes most cases of lead poisoning. Among those named in the action are DuPont, Sherwin-Williams, and the Lead Industries Association . The industry clearly wants to head off a legal precedent that leads to expensive outcomes along the lines of the 1998 tobacco settlement with 46 states. But in April, a Rhode Island state judge denied a motion by paint manufacturers to dismiss the lawsuit. And other cases continue to pop up: Milwaukee is the latest city to file suit. Two in five children in inner-city Milwaukee have lead...

The CIO without the CIA

F or four decades, the AFL-CIO's international presence was notable less for its promotion of labor rights than for its Cold War ferocity. At global conventions, for instance, the labor federation's protocol required AFL-CIO representatives to stand up and leave the room whenever members of insufficiently anti-Communist unions like Italy's CGIL entered. The labor federation's Latin American arm, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), was especially notorious for its CIA connections and for siding with repressive governments, often against progressive unions. In the 1980s, during the reign of the death squads in El Salvador, "AIFLD threw money at the most conservative and most pro-government union factions," says the Reverend David Dyson, a longtime union activist. When the Reagan administration was supporting terror throughout Latin America, Dyson says, "we'd find AIFLD people sitting around the embassy drinking coffee like they were part of the team." In short,...

Short Items

The Year of Thinking Creatively Saying Downturn Is Possible, Bush Trumpets Tax Cut The New York Times, December 16, 2000 Buoyed by Fed Move, Bush Pushes Tax Cut The New York Times, January 4, 2001 Citing Stock Market Rebound, Bush Promotes Tax Cut The New York Times, February 29, 2001 Impressed by Unemployment Rise, Bush Plugs Tax Cut The New York Times , April 1, 2001 Touring Disaster Zone, Bush Urges Tax Cut The New York Times , May 22, 2001 Stunned by Miami Herald Vote Recount, Bush Presses Tax Cut The New York Times , June 8, 2001 Stumbling in Polls, Bush Boosts Tax Cut The New York Times , August 17, 2001 Meeting with Arafat, Bush Touts Tax Cut The New York Times , October 1, 2001 Arrested for DUI, Bush Pleads for Tax Cut The New York Times , November 8, 2001 Fearing Millennial Apocalypse, Bush Offers Tax Cut The New York Times , December 31, 2001 -- Simon Rodberg Amazon Man Has there ever been a more compulsively didactic politician than the onetime Speaker of the House Newt...

Blame Government First

The exploding Firestone tires on Ford vehicles set off significant aftershocks in the media and government. While the car company and the tire manufacturer blamed each other, the Senate Commerce Committee took both companies to task at a high-profile September hearing. Even Republican senators called for increased regulatory power and funding. One could almost sense the hard-line conservatives' knees jerking: Surely it wouldn't be long before someone tried to shift the tire-scandal focus from big corporations to big government. Sam Kazman, it turned out, was the man for the job. Kazman is general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a Washington-based think tank. Just as the Senate committee opened its hearings, Kazman weighed in on The Wall Street Journal 's editorial page to say the real safety problem was with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). He argued that NHTSA's alleged string of "regulatory disasters" proved not that the agency is...

No "Justice," No Peace:

Darryl King was the very model of a model inmate. While serving 25 years for murdering a police officer -- he continues to protest his innocence -- he earned a college degree, taught disabled inmates, opened a law library, and served as commander of his prison's chapter of the American Legion. Since his 1995 release, King, 52, has also been the very model of a model ex-offender. He worked for a state senator, and then, for five years, as a property manager for the Fifth Avenue Committee, a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in his home borough of Brooklyn. Many of the 600,000 Americans released from prison this year won't fare as well. Estimates of the national recidivism rate range from 32 percent to 60 percent, depending on the standard for counting. In New York, half of ex-offenders return to the state prison system. King knows that some see him as a once and future criminal. At a national meeting for non-profit property managers the subject of ex-offenders came up. The other...

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