Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the executive editor of The American ProspectHis email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

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
Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa via AP Images Protesters gathered outside a World Affairs Council meeting on the Trans Pacific Partenership with the U.S. Ambassador to Brunei in Portland, Orgon. T his 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...

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

(Photo: Sipa USA via AP)
(Photo: Sipa USA via AP) Airport workers on strike hold a protest seeking a $15 minimum wage at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on November 29, 2016. A ll 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...

Trump Presidency Could Kill Labor Unions

(Photo: AP/Wayne Parry)
(Photo: AP/Wayne Parry) Union members picket outside the Trump Taj Mahal casino on October 10, 2016. This article first appeared in The Washington Post . A s Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin—states that once were the stronghold of the nation’s industrial union movement—dropped into Donald Trump’s column on election night, one longtime union staff member told me that Trump’s victory was “an extinction-level event for American labor.” He may be right. A half-century ago, more than a third of those Rust Belt workers were unionized, and their unions had the clout to win them a decent wage, benefits, and pensions. Their unions also had the power to turn out the vote. They did—for Democrats. White workers who belonged to unions voted Democratic at a rate 20 percent higher than their non-union counterparts, and there were enough such workers to make a difference on Election Day. That’s not the case today. Nationally, about 7 percent of private-sector workers are union members,...

Can Cities Protect Their Immigrants from Trump?

(Photo: AP/Jeff Chiu)
(Photo: AP/Jeff Chiu) The Reverend Annie Steinberg-Behrman, right, holds a sign while listening to speakers at City Hall in San Francisco on November 14, 2016, where leaders and community activists reaffirmed the city's commitment to remaining a sanctuary city. A merica’s immigrants are not without defenses against Donald Trump’s pledge to ruin their lives, and their most powerful defenders are cities. Cities didn’t vote for Donald Trump. Virtually all of the nation’s major cities—27 of the 30 largest—are governed by Democrats. Cities are where immigrants have clustered, for the time-honored reason why immigrants go anywhere: that’s where the jobs are. Cities are where immigrants reside in sufficient numbers and density to have built political power. Many of the nation’s leading cities, including its two largest, New York and Los Angeles, are governed by progressive coalitions in which immigrant and minority groups play a major role. And cities—not states, not the federal government—...

Pages