Economy

What is Reform? The Strange Case of Greece and Europe

Why creditors' demands would only prolong Greece's crisis. 

AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis
AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis Ruined EU and Greek flags fly in tatters from a flag pole at a beach at Anavissos village, southwest of Athens, on Monday, March 16, 2015. O n our way back from Berlin on Tuesday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis remarked to me that current usage of the word “reform” has its origins in the middle period of the Soviet Union, notably under Khrushchev, when modernizing academics sought to introduce elements of decentralization and market process into a sclerotic planning system. In those years when the American struggle was for rights and some young Europeans still dreamed of revolution, “reform” was not much used in the West. Today, in an odd twist of convergence, it has become the watchword of the ruling class. The word, reform, has now become central to the tug of war between Greece and its creditors. New debt relief might be possible—but only if the Greeks agree to “reforms.” But what reforms and to what end? The press has generally tossed around the...

Derailment on the Fast Track

Passing TPP just became a lot more difficult.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais President Barack Obama speaks during his meeting with leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries on the sidelines of the APEC summit, Monday, November 10, 2014 in Beijing. Editor's Note: On the afternoon of June 12, the House defeated Trade Adjustment Assistance , 302 to 126 with only 40 Democrats voting in favor. Although House Speaker John Boehner vows to hold another vote on TAA next week following the House's passage of trade promotion authority, also on June 12, the vote puts the larger Trans-Pacific Partnership into serious jeopardy. I t’s now looking increasingly like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will go down to defeat. The first hurdle is the House vote scheduled for Friday on trade promotion authority, popularly known as fast-track, giving the executive branch an up-or-down vote in Congress on its Pacific trade deal. In recent days, as President Obama turned up the heat on about a dozen House Democrats, it looked as if...

What Made the Difference at Gawker? The Boss

Management at Gawker has been open to workers' new push to organize a union. That's far from the norm. 

D oes the union victory at Gawker portend a new day for American unions? I wish. No question that the vote of three-quarters of the online media site’s employees to have the Writers’ Guild of America represent them in bargaining with Gawker management is a big deal. The victory marked a breakthrough for unions in one of those new sectors of the American economy from which organized labor has been totally absent. And the importance of the victory was magnified by the pro-union case that Gawker writers made to their readers. But did this victory among Gawker’s largely young and self-consciously hip employees signal that hitherto union-free millennials are now turning to unions? Actually, no—because every recent poll makes clear that a decisive majority of union-free millennials already support unions. Gawker’s writers and editors were simply able to do what millions of millennials would like to do. The crucial difference at Gawker was that their boss let them do it. Every year, both...

Why Voluntary Standards Won't Make the Global Garment Industry Safer

After voluntary codes of conduct failed to prevent the Rana Plaza disaster, garment companies pass the blame. 

AP Photo/A.M. Ahad
AP Photo/A.M. Ahad In this Monday, April 20, 2015 photo, Mahamudul Hasan Ridoy, 27, who worked at Rana Plaza, the garment factory building that collapsed, walks with the help of a crutch at the site of the accident in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. O n Monday, June 1, police in Bangladesh filed murder and other charges against the owners of the Rana Plaza building, the landlord of the factories that collapsed two years ago, killing at least 1,138 workers and injuring about 2,500. The collapse was a spectacular moment in a sordid history of fires and collapses in the Bangladesh and global garment industry. The cutthroat competition of that industry is a furnace that fuels thousands of deaths and injuries. Last weekend, by coincidence, a conference was held at Harvard, called Transformation Challenges and Opportunities for the Bangladesh Garment Industry. Attending were Bangladesh cabinet members and the heads of two major safety initiatives—The “Accord” and the “Alliance”—as well as...

The Tenure Conundrum

Higher education is under attack, but defending tenure is just half the battle. 

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
AP Photo/Gerry Broome Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker delivers remarks during the North Carolina Republican Party convention in Raleigh, Friday, June 5, 2015. This article orginally appeared at The Huffington Post . R epublican presidential hopeful Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, thinks he's hit political pay dirt with his proposal to gut faculty tenure protections at his state's public universities, notably the flagship University of Wisconsin, long one of the nation's best state universities. His idea is to remove tenure protection from state law, and leave the actual policy to the Board of Regents, his political appointees. For Walker, this is a three-fer. It's another attack on a public institution, in the wake of his successful campaign to weaken collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin public employees. It is a thinly disguised assault on a university perceived as a hotbed of liberals and liberalism. And it continues Walker's faux-populist theme by seemingly going...

Graduating to an Unequal Economy

The job market is improving, but prospects remain sharply divided by race. 

AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Mark Felix
AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Mark Felix T his is the time of year when thousands of college students receive their hard-won degrees after years of difficult work. What awaits them is commonly referred to as the “real world” where young people are expected to thrive and survive. But between high unemployment rates and the harsh reality of student loan debt, today’s graduate is still facing an uphill battle—especially the graduate of color. The economy is looking better today than in the dark days of 2009 when the overall unemployment rate reached a staggering 10.2 percent in the month of October. Job prospects for recent college graduates were dismal; the effects of the recession would reverberate through each graduating class for years to come. Today, the unemployment rate is a much lower 5.4 percent and the job market is looking better for college graduates—but only for some. According to a new report published by the Economic Policy Institute titled The Class of 2015 , the...

How the GOP Plans to Cut Affordable Housing (Again)

A 2008 program to help tens of thousands on housing waitlists is finally set to be funded, but House Republicans have other plans.

(Photo: AP/Bloomington Herald-Times/Jeremy Hogan)
(Photo: AP/Bloomington Herald-Times/Jeremy Hogan) Seekers of Section 8 housing line up in Bloomington, Indiana, in 2011. The National Housing Trust Fund, created in 2008, is set to finally be funded in 2016, but House Appropriations Committee Republicans just last month passed a housing and transportation bill that strips the fund to cover cuts in other housing programs, and prohibits any funding in the future. I n almost every part of the country, families struggling to pay rent and seek help find themselves at the end of a very long line. In California, I spoke to a woman who told me she was assigned a number higher than 57,000 on the waiting list when she applied for a subsidized apartment. In the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where the lottery opens every few years for Section 8, which gives recipients money to pay rent and is the biggest of the programs, only 30 or 40 of about 2,500 applicants will receive vouchers. And that’s just when local agencies are even accepting...

Gawker Changed the Internet. Can It Change Workplace Organizing?

What the site's very public union drive means for the future of digital journalism. 

Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
Scott Beale / Laughing Squid Gawker Media offices in New York City. A round 100 editorial staffers will vote next week on whether to unionize the workplace behind Gawker.com. The secret online vote, set for June 3, is a first among digital native outlets like Gawker that have dramatically recast the world of online journalism in recent years. The decision marks a new chapter for the company, and for a media landscape still grappling with the complex realities of a digital future. The union drive at Gawker began as you might expect: loudly. Six weeks ago senior writer Hamilton Nolan announced at Gawker.com that the editorial staff was in the early stages of organizing a union with the Writers Guild of America, East. The bold announcement sent shockwaves throughout the Internet for a number of reasons—primarily because it involved Gawker and people like Gawker. It also turned on its head the traditional organizing strategy of not going public until the organizing is near completion...

Our Auto Recall System is Broken. Here's How Not to Fix It

Two new state-level bills may actually make it harder for consumers to hold car companies accountable for dangerous safety flaws. 

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, displays a GM ignition switch similar to those linked to 13 deaths and dozens of crashes of General Motors small cars like the Chevy Cobalt, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. I n October 2004, 24-year-old Raechel Houck rented a Chrysler PT Cruiser from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Capitola, California, 75 miles south of San Francisco. Driving north along Highway 101 later that same day, Raechel and her sister Jacqueline were killed when the car hit an 18-wheeler and burst into flames. Unbeknownst to Raechel or her sister, 435,000 PT Cruisers, including the one they had just rented, had been recalled the previous month. The recall notice cited a leaky power steering hose, which could cause a fire. A year later their parents, Cally and Charles Houck filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Enterprise Rent-A-Car of San Francisco. After a long legal battle, a jury awarded...

The Robots Are Coming! The Robots Are Coming!

Bad economics, not automation, lies at the heart of persistent joblessness. 

Imaginechina via AP Images
Imaginechina via AP Images A Chinese worker controls a robot arm to weld components of elevators at an auto plant of XD Elevator in Lianyungang, China. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . A re robots destined to wipe out most human jobs? Is this round of automation somehow different from all previous ones? There has been a lot of commentary lately to that effect, including several books . Is there nothing to be done? Robots have indeed eliminated a great deal of factory work and are rapidly moving on to product design, medical diagnostics, research, teaching, accounting, translating, copy editing, and a great deal more. Once-secure professions are no longer safe. From that, many economists conclude that we may just have to adjust to a high plateau of unemployment. In the past, the story goes, as technology displaced some forms of work, the innovation eventually created new, mostly better jobs: fewer buggy-whip makers, more automobile assemblers; fewer telephone...

Elizabeth Warren on The American Prospect and the Prospects for America

At the Prospect's 25th anniversary gala, Senator Warren explains why we don't have to sacrifice economic justice for sustainable growth. 

Joe Gallant
Joe Gallant O n May 13, Senator Elizabeth Warren keynoted our 25th anniversary celebration here in Washington, D.C., where she laid out her vision of American economic policy that that works for all Americans. Introducing herself as a longtime reader and one time writer for the Prospect , Warren praised the magazine for its foresight and boldness. She declared: "When the top 10 percent gets 100 percent of the income growth over the course of a generation, then the America of opportunity is vanishing." Warren reminded her audience that in the postwar era we had both growth and equity, and we could have it again. Indeed, she said, not only is broadly shared prosperity consistent with growth but it is required for growth. The idea that economic justice must be sacrificed for growth, she added, “doesn’t just come from Republicans. A lot of Democrats seem to have floated along with the idea that economic growth is in direct opposition to the well being of America’s working families, and...

Grand Theft Automated

Why the crackdown on wage theft could be a sign of labor's growing strength. 

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . T he day after the New York Times published its stunning two-part exposé of labor conditions in New York City's nail salons, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, nobody's idea of a radical, discovered that he was sitting on power that he didn't know he had. Cuomo ordered a crackdown against a broad pattern of thefts of wages that were hidden in plain view, had he bothered to look. Cuomo's new efforts will collaborate with an enforcement initiative by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, two officials who don't like each other and seldom work together. The Times and writer Sarah Maslin Nir deserve immense credit for this investigative piece of work. At the same time, these broad patterns have been well-documented before. To name just two examples, organizer Kim Bobo's 2009 book, Wage Theft (2009), not only documented that theft of wages is epidemic in the low wage and casualized economy. She popularized the concept...

Little Magazine, Big Ideas: The American Prospect at 25

Reflecting on a quarter century of politics and change.

T he American Prospect began 25 years ago with a small circulation, a limited budget, and great ambitions. Our aim was to rethink ideas about public policy and politics and thereby to restore plausibility and persuasiveness to American liberalism. The first issue appeared in spring 1990, a moment when Democrats had lost three successive presidential elections, conservatives were pushing schemes for privatization, and liberals were in disarray. But in 1990, Congress was still in Democratic hands, the Cold War was coming to an end with the Soviet collapse, and the focus of politics was turning from foreign to domestic policy. Rising economic anxieties, it seemed, might spur political change just as a “peace dividend” could finance new initiatives. By historic good fortune, the Prospect had arrived at a time not only of global change but also of “liberal opportunity,” as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., called it in the first issue, which carried a cover image of an old world cracking open to...

Women as the Loyal Opposition

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Senator Elizabeth Warren, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Senator John Kerry's nomination to be secretary of state on January 24, 2014. A version of this article first appeared at The Huffington Post . L ong ago, when I began writing newspaper columns, a wise editor advised me that a column is about one thing. I am about to violate that rule. This piece is about three different things (which are connected if you look hard). One is a 25th anniversary; the second is some Mother's Day musings; the third is the latest in a string of losses for the left, namely the trouncing of the British Labour Party in Thursday's election. Let me explain. In 1990, Robert Reich, Paul Starr and I founded a new progressive magazine, The American Prospect , to try to breathe some intellectual spirit and political backbone into American liberalism. At the time, liberals were getting whacked both by...

Mother's Day, For Real

In the real America, the lives of women—especially black and brown women—are no bed of roses.

In partnership with The OpEd Project, The American Prospect presents this series, curated by Deborah Douglas, examining aspects of life unique to women, on one of greeting card industry's biggest days. (Photo © Christopher Futcher: iStock) Why There Are No Children Here: A Mother's Day Lament DEBORAH DOUGLAS “What have you ever done right?” That was the question that dominated my mind one night two years ago as I lay in my bed, surrounded by fluffy pillows and a sleepy Yorkie at the foot. This wasn’t one of those self-denigrating moments I engage in when I internally chastise myself for not writing enough that day or holding my temper tighter, or not giving one of my journalism students much-needed grace under the pressure they face to prepare for an industry that asks them to do everything at once masterfully. No, this was a true thought experiment to force myself to fully identify the things I’ve gotten right in my life as a way of charting a course to build on something righteous...

Pages