Economy

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...

Why Public Silence Greets Government Success

Hardly anyone notices when government works—so how to design policies that get credit?

(PRNewsFoto/Direct Relief)
(PRNewsFoto/Direct Relief) Offloading Ebola relief supplies from Direct Relief to aid in response efforts. This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . L ast October, Obama administration officials, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urged Americans to remain calm as Ebola first appeared in the United States. One person had died from the disease in an American hospital, while new diagnoses had appeared in both Dallas and New York City. But with each new case, critics became louder and more angry—not just at the president, who was resisting calls for travel bans and mandatory quarantines, but at the whole government apparatus, which seemed unable to stop a potentially catastrophic epidemic. “Ebola has crystallized the collapse of trust in state authorities,” columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote in The...

The Politics of Offense and Defense

Once reliably blue strongholds, Wisconsin's and Minnesota's political paths have diverged in recent years.

(AP Photo/Andy Manis)
(AP Photo/Andy Manis) Sean Conard, left, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Shyla Deacon of Milwaukee cheer during protests at the state Capitol in Madison, Saturday, February 26, 2011. In a dramatic example of the politics of defense, protests of the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights drew as many as 150,000 people in an occupation of the capitol building. This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine, as a sidebar to Ann Markusen's article, " The High Road Wins ," on the results for citizens of Minnesota and Wisconsin yielded by the opposing political ideologies of their governors. Subscribe here . Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . U ntil very recently, the political cultures of Minnesota and Wisconsin seemed pretty much in step. In the 1930s, both Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party and the Progressive Party of Wisconsin anticipated the New Deal with their own brands of...

Some More Radical Ideas for Hillary Clinton

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during the sixth annual Women in the World Summit, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New York. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . I am going to periodically suggest ideas that Hillary Clinton might consider—both to establish that she is a real-deal progressive and to rally political support from voters whom the economy is leaving behind. Clinton might even outflank some leading progressives by going beyond what is considered politically safe in the current environment. Another name for that is leadership. So if Hillary wants to show that she's a fighter, let her pick some good fights. Control Drug Costs. On Thursday, Medicare released a detailed breakdown of the staggering costs paid for drugs prescribed under Medicare Part D. That's the privatized prescription drug insurance program sponsored by the Bush administration in 2003 as a gift to the drug and insurance industries, taking advantage of Medicare's good...

How Government Policies Cemented the Racism that Reigns in Baltimore

A century of federal, state, and local policies have quarantined Charm City’s black population in isolated slums.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) A boy runs from a public housing development toward the intersection where Freddie Gray was arrested, Friday, April 24, 2015, in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van. But the unrest that followed is as much a comment on 100 years government housing policies that continue to the present day as it is about unjust policing. This article originally appeared on the website of the Economic Policy Institute , under the title, " From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government-Sponsored Segregation ". I n Baltimore in 1910, a black graduate of Yale Law School purchased a home in a previously all-white neighborhood. The Baltimore city government reacted by adopting a residential segregation ordinance , restricting African Americans to designated blocks. Explaining the policy, Baltimore’s mayor proclaimed: “Blacks should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incidence of...

Obama's Trade Deals: A Test for Hillary Clinton

Controversy over the TPP may force Hillary to get more specific on trade. 

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File) This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . O pposition to the Obama administration's proposed major trade deals is getting firmer among Democrats in Congress. Both chambers must approve trade promotion authority, better known as fast-track, in order for the deals to move forward. One Democrat who has avoided taking a position is Hillary Clinton. In the past, she has supported deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but lately she has tried to give herself some wiggle room without opposing fast-track, saying last Tuesday that any agreement has to create jobs, as well as increase prosperity, and improve security. That's pretty amorphous. Clinton, of course, does not get to vote on the measure because she is no longer a senator. But pressure is increasing from the party base to take a stand. Progressive leaders such as Senators Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are adamantly opposed to the deal, which is...

A Test for Hillary Clinton: Obama's Trade Deals

(White House photo/ Public Domain via Flickr)
(Official White House Photo via Flickr) President Barack Obama delivers remarks with then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (left) at the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue reception at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 2010. O pposition to the Obama administration's proposed major trade deals is getting firmer among Democrats in Congress. Both chambers must approve trade promotion authority, better known as fast-track, in order for the deals to move forward. One Democrat who has avoided taking a position is Hillary Clinton. In the past, she has supported deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but lately she has tried to give herself some wiggle room without opposing fast-track, saying last Tuesday that any agreement has to create jobs, as well as increase prosperity, and improve security. That's pretty amorphous. Clinton, of course, does not get to vote on the measure because she is no longer a senator. But pressure is increasing from...

What We Know Now

Twenty-five years later, the world has changed in crucial ways that factor into our thinking.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Victor Juhasz This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . I n 1990, when the two of us started this magazine with Robert Reich, we saw a need and an opportunity. The Democrats had lost three presidential elections in a row, national policy had moved sharply to the right, and liberalism was in dire need of new ideas about the direction of the country. Some of the publications that we once looked to (and wrote for) had grown ambivalent about liberal politics or uninterested in engaging practical choices and no longer provided intellectual leadership. But the Reagan era was waning, and a new generation of writers and intellectuals was ready to pick up the challenge to think through alternatives. We saw the Prospect as bridging the usual divides between journalism and the academic world, and between policy and politics—and as a way to...

Two Years After the Rana Plaza Disaster, Are Reforms Real?

A series of garment factory fires in Bangladesh spurred reforms in the industry. But will they bring meaningful change?

Rijans007/Flickr
Rijans007/Flickr T wo years ago, on the morning of April 24 th 2013, garment workers at Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh, were afraid to enter the eight-story building that housed five factories. Cracks had appeared in supporting pillars the day before and the workers had been sent home. Bank and retail stores on the ground floor did not open that day. Industrial inspectors had urged the owner of the building to keep it closed. But its well-connected landlord, Sohel Rana, got another local official to say he could inform the factory owners that the building was safe. Supervisors standing at the entrance to the building threatened workers with the loss of their month’s overtime pay (as much as half of their total earnings) if they stayed away. In an account reported by an Australian journalist, one worker was quoted as saying, “The bosses came after us with beating sticks. In the end, we were forced to go in.” Shortly after the workday began, the building collapsed. More than 1,100...

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