Let Them Eat Cheeseburgers

Doug Besharov’s tastefully illustrated column in the Dec. 8 Outlook section of the Washington Post suggested that our government is giving poor people too much food. They’re not hungry, and yet we’re stuffing their faces and making them fat, he says.

In reality, many Americans are hungry (3 percent of households and rising, according to the conservative calculations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture), and declining wages and insufficient government assistance can explain read more

Fear Is No Excuse

Are you scared of terrorism? Do color-coded days of danger make you anxious for your children? I’m not going to tell you that your concern is understandable but that attacking another country would be counterproductive.

No, I think it’s more important to tell you that your fear is shameful, that it is exactly what the terrorists want, and that acting out of fear is what can lead to acceptance of quick and comforting beliefs that prove counterproductive.

Let’s go to the root of read more

It's the War, Stupid!

The Washington Post on Sunday, Nov. 10, printed an article (not a column) by David Von Drehle “reporting” on the alleged fact that snobby liberal elites lost the recent elections because folksy dumb guys like George W. are much more likable.

Von Drehle didn’t discuss any particular election, didn’t name a single liberal elitist (except Adlai Stevenson, who apparently lost to Eisenhower for the same reason), and didn’t even name a single likable down-to-earth Republican, read more

Why it Takes Years to Spot Fiction in the AP

Also published at AlterNet at http://www.alternet.org and in the Tacoma Reporter.

The Associated Press recently fired a “reporter” named Christopher Newton after learning that he had invented people and institutions for his articles for two-and-a-half years. Imaginary sources at imaginary and real organizations and universities provided quotes so boring that no one paid much attention. As Jack Shafer at Slate has pointed out, it wouldn’t have made much difference if the sources read more

Only One Way to Stop This War

What if there were a way to prevent a war on Iraq, know with certainty what the Iraqi government is up to, increase funding to a wide range of important programs, and let the Bush administration know that there are limits to its power? What if a single coordinated action could accomplish all of that?

I think that one can. Here’s my plan. It requires that you sacrifice some time, that you devote yourself fulltime to this for a matter of weeks or months. And it requires putting your life at read more

There Are No Low Wage Jobs, and the Poverty Line Does Not Exist

Also published on Alternet at www.alternet.org

Also published at Democratic Underground at http://www.democraticunderground.com.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2002, the Census Bureau is expected to release its 2001 data on poverty and income. No doubt we will see an increase in the number of families living below the so-called poverty line, and no doubt part of the explanation that experts will give for this is the continuing shift in our economy away from high-paying manufacturing jobs and toward read more

Steve Forbes' Snake Oil Made Me Sick

I got an Email from Steve Forbes on September 20 titled “Getting Rich is Your Best Revenge!” I found it much more distasteful than the ones I get from Nigerian and other non-U.S. royalty. The last I’d heard from Steve Forbes was when I saw him as a presidential candidate on TV proposing a Flat Tax as a solution for foreign relations, public education, housing, and weight loss. Why was he sending me this personal Email now to help me, in particular, get rich? And against whom read more

Credit or Debit? Not Just an Annoying Question

I don’t think Visa and MasterCard wanted me in their focus group, but then they probably don’t want me in their country either. They practically write bills for Congress, such as the bankruptcy bill that might be voted on this month, and yet they still seem to want to know what people think. Either that, or they’re doing “push polling” – five of the eight people in the focus group I was part of on September 5 worked for Congress members, at least one of them read more

What Is Next for the Living Wage Movement

A six-year struggle by ACORN, SEIU, and allies in a living wage campaign to raise the minimum wage in New Orleans ended on September 4 when the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that only the state, not localities, can set wage standards. New Orleans would have been the first city in the country to enact a citywide minimum wage, a proposal that was overwhelmingly approved by public vote on February 2 and upheld by district court on March 25. Currently 86 cities and counties in the country have living read more

The Washington Post Goes to War

On Sunday, Aug. 18, 2002, the Washington Post ran an editorial, an ombudsman column, and three op-eds about a potential U.S. attack on Iraq, as well as two related articles. One article, placed on the top of the front page, reported on a memo that “Defense” Secretary Rumsfeld sent to the White House and the media. “Defense” officials were worried that countries such as Iraq or Iran could use cruise missile technology to attack “U.S. installations or the American homeland.” read more