Harold Meyerson

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

Recent Articles

The Democrats in Opposition

They not only need to resist Trump. They need to build power wherever they can.

AP Photo/Nick Ut
This article appears in the Winter 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . “I do understand power, whatever else may be said about me,” Lyndon Johnson once said. “I know where to look for it and how to use it.” Of all the indictments that can be leveled against the Democratic Party, perhaps the most serious is that it no longer understands power—where to look for it, how to build it, how to hold it, how to use it. It’s not that the values that Democrats express are at odds with those of most Americans. After all, Democrats have won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. In 2017, however, Republicans will control all branches of the federal government, not to mention the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature in 25 states. The Democrats have comparable control of just six states, all of them, save California, small. Yes, there are extenuating circumstances. There’s the...

How Not to Make America Great Again

AP Photo/Claire Galofaro
trickle-downers.jpg It’s the 1950s, Donald Trump told New York Times reporter David Sanger , that is the “again” he has in mind when he speaks of making American great again. We may cavil that in the Fifties, African Americans still suffered under Jim Crow laws and women endured their own distinctive discrimination, but for the white male working class—whose heirs, today, are the core of Trump’s support—things had never been better. They were still the guys who’d won World War II, and their newfound material prosperity was the social miracle of the age, and testament to the rightness of the American way. But if Trump’s appeal to his base is his promise to restore these onetime protagonists of the American epic to their rightful place, he’ll need a radically different set of economic policies than those he now champions. Bringing back the factories won’t in itself recreate the lost economic Eden of the Eisenhower era. A...

An Alternative to Puzder

Fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary, is a big fan of robots—and not so much of humans. In an interview with Business Insider last March, Puzder had this to say about our robotic little friends: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

Correspondingly, Puzder’s record makes clear that the wants and needs of human workers repel and disgust him. He’s opposed increases to the minimum wage, and the extension of overtime eligibility to workers making more than $23,000 a year. His fast-food outlets have been penalized for violating minimum-wage laws. And as his Business Insider disquisition makes clear, things like employee vacations and slipping on the job—things that come out of Puzer’s profits, that is—drive him batty.

When the Senate convenes in January to consider Trump’s cabinet nominations, it might be prudent for the solons to apply Puzder’s tests for human frailty to the nominees—at minimum, to Puzder himself. Is he always polite? Has he been known to take vacations? Or slip? Or fall? If so, wouldn’t a robot do a better job? Any robot programmed to become labor secretary, after all, would likely understand better than Puzder that its mission is to advance rather than retard the interests of American workers.

The senators should heed Puzder’s advice: Reject his nomination and petition Trump to send them a robot, which, by any criterion, including that of human empathy, would be more qualified than the current nominee. 

What Economists Learned in 2016 -- Long After Everyone Else

Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa via AP Images
trickle-downers.jpg This week, Bloomberg’s Noah Smith published a list of “ten excellent economics books and papers” that he read in 2016. Number three on his list was the now celebrated paper, “The China Shock: Learning from Labor-Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade,” by economists David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson. Here’s Smith’s summary of the work and its consequences: This is the paper that shook the world of economics. Looking at local data, Autor et al. found that import competition from China was devastating for American manufacturing workers. People who lost their jobs to the China Shock didn’t find new good jobs—instead, they took big permanent pay cuts or went on welfare. The authors also claim that the China Shock was so big that it reduced overall U.S. employment. This paper has thrown a huge wrench into the free-trade consensus among economists. Smith’s account of the paper’s effect is...

What Workers -- Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian -- Need

(Photo: Sipa USA via AP)
trickle-downers.jpg All happy economies may be alike (there have been so few it’s hard to generalize), but each unhappy economy afflicts its victims differently. So it is for America’s working class, in which both minority and white workers suffer, but in different ways. Last week, Eduardo Porter’s New York Times column propounded the notion, supported by data from the Economic Cycle Research Institute, that despite the recovery of the past half-decade, whites in aggregate still had lost jobs, while minorities had gained them. When measured against the pre-recession employment high point of November 2007, the number of employed whites, Porter wrote, is now more than 700,000 below that apogee, while the number of employed Hispanics has increased by roughly three million, Asian Americans by 1.5 million, and blacks by one million. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones quickly lodged a smart objection : The nation’s white population has flat-lined since 2007, while those of...

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