Commentary

Commentary | | Economy, Health care, Labor
Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, writing in The New York Times, wants you to believe that a worker's acceptance of a job for no more than minimum wage and an individual's acceptance of a pre-ACA, bare bones insurance policy reflect voluntary arrangements. Even a moment's consideration shows that there is nothing genuinely voluntary about either of these arrangements. Mankiw is doing nothing so much as peddling the long-discredited fiction that there is equality at the moment of contract.More
Commentary | | Agriculture, Immigration, Labor
Study commissioned by American Farm Bureau Federation (unintentionally) confirms agricultural sector's deep reliance on wildly underpaid undocumented workers. It warns that a shrinking of the labor supply would "spark a large-scale restructuring of the farm sector." But don't we need a fundamental restructuring if the current system only survives by relying so heavily on unfree labor?More
Commentary | | Politics
Yes, he’s a thug. Yes, he’s trying to change the subject. But isn’t there a lot more to report on about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie? Like the fact that he’s been guilty of wildly irresponsible and sometimes lawless behavior before.More
Commentary | | Civil rights, Housing, NYC
Deep residential segregation underlies every major social inequity we have in New York City: disparities in education, health, and employment are just three of the big ones. The de Blasio administration promises a new era of activism and community participation, but will the energy generated ultimately reduce or perpetuate segregation? A great deal hinges on the nature of the community organizing that is encouraged.More
Commentary | | Civil rights, History, Race
In the Barack Obama and Bill Clinton version of the Democratic Party, the goal is to have “conversations about race.” Or, at least, these two presidents have wanted to have intermittent conversations to the extent convenient. Once upon a time, those in favor of civil rights (as Obama and Clinton surely are) were more direct: they demanded action, not talk.More
Commentary | | NYC, Population, Urban Policy
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was ecstatic last week, announcing that the city’s population had swollen to an all-time high. Unfortunately, the mayor remains completely dissociated from the many negative consequences already arising from the city’s population “boom.”More
Commentary | | Education, History, Politics
In an address that otherwise reprised many of the noblest principles from this country's history, President Obama's remarks on education offered only a bleak vision of schools as training grounds for employers. Neither the principle that a good education is an essential requisite for developing active citizens nor the idea that education has intrinsic value independent of its utility in the job market made it into the speech.More
Commentary | | Media, Politics
Former Senator George McGovern, a life-long advocate for social justice and the 1972 Democratic candidate for president who issued a clarion call to “Come home, America,” died earlier this week. His obituary in The New York Times reflected all too well the problem of image over substance in our politics and failed — even at the distance of 40 years — to put the consequences of the 1972 election in perspective.More