Category Archives: Article

You Load Sixteen Tons and What Do You Get? Guest Post

This story came to me from Lee Ballinger, a former steelworker in Ohio’s Warren-Youngstown area. In the early twentieth century, the Youngstown area boasted the largest concentration of steel-making facilities per capita, and per square mile, in the world. In time, the city’s fate turned. Between 1977 and 1982 alone, five major steel mills closed—thereafter, 50,000 jobs vanished.[1] Lee’s was one of them.

I know what it’s like to depend upon coal to feed a family. Many years ago I worked at a steel mill in Ohio. My job was at the coke plant where West Virginia coal was turned into coking coal for the blast furnace. The top of the coke ovens was an area the size of a football field where monstrous machines funneled coal into the ovens. It was my job to put the heavy oven lids back on nice and tight.  It was literally as hot as hell up there. It felt like walking barefoot on hot coals. The air we breathed was truly foul but to us it was the sweet smell of something like success. We called it the smell of money because it paid the bills.  Continue reading

To Stop Dreaming Would Be Folly: Inequality in America 50 Years Since MLK Jr.

My two cents – through two stories of young black people in Cleveland – on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, now up on HuffPost.

This week we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that true equality included civil rights but also economic justice. In fact, his later writings and speeches on economic inequality and the free market are conveniently ignored by our media and education systems. He dreamt about America, after all, and criticisms of capitalism do not coincide well with the American Dream. But poverty and inequality remain the greatest demarcations of race in America today. In that vain, I am offering a snapshot of two black youths in Cleveland who embody the challenges facing blacks and lower income Americans off all colors. Read the rest at The Huffington Post!

Baffled Pill: Why We Are Killing Ourselves

I published a piece on the Huffington Post that offers a glimpse into the confusion and contradictions dogging our healthcare system and how we approach it. 

Last month, Steven Brill published an article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” which directed national attention to our health care system in a more serious way than has been the case since the 2009 debates over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It was a nuanced, comprehensive, and thoughtful account of a broken system. Yet unlike many political issues, health care is one that impacts all of us, all the time, whether or not politicians and pundits are addressing it. Every day, people live, suffer through, survive, and die in the health care system. Read the rest here!

Swing State Sorrows: The Price of a Vote that Matters

My latest article, now up on the Huffington Post, discusses the impact of Ohio’s centrality in the national elections on our state’s political culture.

We hear it time and again, enviously, bitterly, admiringly, coaxingly. It may be our sole characteristic that induces jealousy among our compatriots. It entices the world’s most powerful men to court us. Observers from Beijing to Benghazi eye us intently; from New York to California they unabashedly ogle us. We are awash — maybe drowning — in the money of millionaires. Here in Ohio, our votes matter.

By November 7, we will have determined the course of the domestic and foreign policies of a global superpower. Very soon thereafter all will forget us, and then in four years wonder again why we are so fickle. In the meantime, we will be left to attend to our wounds. Maybe we will mend them, but probably they will fester. All that is certain is that no entity could be so torn and embattled without suffering critical damage. Read the rest here! 

Let’s Disagree to Agree? Romney, Obama, and the Foreign Policy Debate

Some reflections on the final presidential debate of 2012 for Aslan.

During the final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Democratic president-and-candidate Barack Obama frequently found themselves in agreement on major foreign policy issues. Although the agreements were more apparent than in the past, thanks to the recent emergence of “Mitt the Moderate,” they could have been anticipated. When Michael Hudson and I wrote about the candidates’ stances on issues related to the Middle East, we found Mitt Romney’s stances to be vague, critical and bellicose, but largely indistinct in specifics. His philosophy may well be “speak ambiguously and carry a big stick.” Read the rest here!

The Secretary’s Setback: The Polls Will Stay Open in Ohio

In my latest piece on the Huffington Post, I talk about the early voting saga in Ohio with Ohioans themselves.

The battle over early voting in Ohio might, finally, be over. The crusader for limiting voters’ access to the polls, Secretary of State Jon Husted, took a fatal blow from the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday. They declined to hear his appeal of the decision of lower courts that favored keeping the polls open the weekend before the November 6 election. The unelected justices-for-life did democracy a favor. Read the rest here!

How Far Apart? Divisions in American Politics (Part II)

This is the second piece of my two-part series for Aslan, discussing why partisanship and anti-systemic forces have drastically divided American political culture in recent years. The first piece can be found here.

It was fine drama. The vice-presidential debate between incumbent Joe Biden and challenger Paul Ryan was substantive, engaging, and filled with tragic-comedy (at least from Biden). Unlike their running mates, Biden and Ryan displayed the divisions between the national parties that were glossed over by the surprise appearance of “Mitt the Moderate” one week prior. In a time of economic hardship, they sought to embody the two different visions of America that are meant to move us through recovery, define our future trajectory, and even redefine our past. From the left we are a nation of communal action for the betterment of all; from the right we are a nation of empowered individuals who succeed on their own merit. Read the rest here!