Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is executive editor of The American Prospect. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Missing the Middle

Fifteen years ago this week I was inside the First AME Church, a pillar of Los Angeles's African American establishment, watching Mayor Tom Bradley's aides figuring out how they could get him safely out of the building. A few hours earlier, my colleagues and I at the L.A. Weekly had watched jurors acquit the cops whose beating of Rodney King had been recorded for all to see. The city had just been thrown headlong over a cliff, and everybody sensed that the ensuing crash would be god-awful. Bradley, who had been mayor for 19 years, was an iconic African American political leader whose success at building white-black coalitions was unrivaled in his day. But while Bradley and the other civic leaders assembled in the church were voicing outrage at the verdict and preaching nonviolence in response, shouts and shots and sirens were increasingly audible outside. With bottles flying and several nearby cars ablaze, Bradley's aides formed a flying wedge around him, and the mayor, crouching so...

Unions Gone Global

The business press has barely noticed and the usual champions of globalization have been mute, but an announcement last week in Ottawa signaled a radical new direction for the globalized economy. The United Steelworkers -- that venerable, Depression-era creation of John L. Lewis and New Deal labor policy -- entered into merger negotiations with two of Britain's largest unions (which are merging with each other next month) to create not only the first transatlantic but the first genuinely multinational trade union. Mergers among unions are nothing new, of course, and as manufacturing employment in the United States has declined, some unions -- the Steelworkers in particular -- have expanded into other industries and sectors. Today, just 130,000 of the union's 850,000 members are employed in basic steel, with the remainder in paper and rubber manufacturing and a range of service industries. British unions have gone down a similar path; of the two British unions with which the...

For Me, Not for Thee

On March 28, Circuit City announced that it was laying off 3,400 of its salesclerks. Not because they had poor performance records, mind you: Their performance was utterly beside the point. They were shown the door, said the chain, simply because they were the highest-salaried salesclerks that Circuit City employed. Their positions were not eliminated. Rather, the store announced that it would hire their replacements at the normal starting salary. One can only imagine the effect of Circuit City's announcement on the morale of the workers who didn't get fired. The remaining salesclerks can only conclude: Do a good job, get promoted, and you're outta here. It was, in short, just a normal day in contemporary American capitalism. Over at Wal-Mart, the employer that increasingly sets the labor standards for millions of our compatriots, wage caps have been set for certain jobs, and many longtime employees are now required to work weekends and nights in the hope that they'll quit. A memo...

Democracy's Enemies

Listen to the apostles of free trade, and you'll learn that once consumer choice comes to authoritarian regimes, democracy is sure to follow. Call it the Starbucks rule: Situate enough Starbucks around Shanghai, and the Communist Party's control will crumble like dunked biscotti. As a theory of revolution, the Starbucks rule leaves a lot to be desired. Shanghai is swimming in Starbucks, yet, as James Mann notes in The China Fantasy , his new book on the non-democratization of China, the regime soldiers on. Conversely, the American farmers who made our revolution didn't have much in the way of consumer choice, yet they managed to free themselves from the British. In New England, however, they did have town meetings, which may be a surer guide to the coming of democratic change. It's a growing civil society -- a sphere where people can deliberate and decide on more than their coffee -- that more characteristically sounds the death knell of dictatorships. Which is why the conduct of...

Whistling Past the Graveyard

The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' hour-long meeting on sacking federal prosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took place after the election. The videoconference between leaders of the General Services Administration and Karl Rove's deputy about how to help Republican candidates in 2008, according to people who attended the meeting, took place Jan. 26 this year. During last year's congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans' message didn't really impress the public, and apparently it didn't reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election,...

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