Robert J. Samuelson

Fun Ethic Vs. Work Ethic?

The transformation of labor since the creation of Labor Day a century ago tells, in many ways, the story of modern America. Paid labor was then all-consuming, generally backbreaking, done mainly by men, often dangerous and, of course, endless--that is, most men worked until they couldn't.

Is There Life In The Bubble?

It may be that the U.S. stock market is still overvalued, even after a year of losses that have left all the major indexes trading well below their historical highs of early 2000 (11,723 for the Dow, 1527 for the Standard & Poor's 500 and 5049 for the Nasdaq).

The Economics Of The Rat Race

Among the great connecting threads of American history is the precariousness of social and economic standing. From the start, Americans have had the chance of elevating their status and wealth while also facing the threat of losing both.

Straight Talk On The Surplus

In 1967 President Lyndon Johnson appointed a 16-member commission--including congressional leaders, the Treasury secretary, the head of Congress's General Accounting Office and top economists--to overhaul the presentation of the federal budget.

California's Energy Circus

Let us now consider California's electricity mess, which is increasingly a political and public-relations phenomenon. California Gov. Gray Davis is doggedly trying to shift blame to President George W.

The Illusion Of Knowledge

The economy's slide has one familiar feature: few, if any, economists predicted it. We should not be surprised. Economists routinely miss the turning points of business cycles and, indeed, have missed most of the major economic transformations of the past half century, whether for good or ill.

Is Argentina A Time Bomb?

;The great danger of any economic slowdown is that it feeds on itself. We already see signs of this in the United States. Weaker consumer spending and business investment hurt corporate profits, depressing stock prices and confidence, which then harm consumer spending and business investment.

Can America Assimilate?

The latest census seems to have been a consciousness-raising exercise--at least for the press. It has inspired a series of stories recognizing that large-scale immigration is transforming America. "Diversity" is, of course, the reigning cliche, but even while the press overuses the term, there's been a subtle and useful shift in tone and message.


The power crisis in California--rolling black-outs, two huge utilities verging on bankruptcy--is a fitting commentary on U.S. "energy policy." We Americans want it all: endless and secure energy supplies; low prices; no pollution; less global warming; no new power plants (or oil and gas drilling, either) near people or pristine places.

Looming Storm?

What George W. Bush ought to fear is Japan--not as a threat, but as a warning. A bit more than a decade ago, Japan was enjoying a phenomenal economic boom.


For some time, I have loudly and monotonously objected to large federal tax cuts. The arguments against them seemed overwhelming: the booming economy didn't need further stimulating; the best use of rising budget surpluses was to pay down the federal debt.

The Gathering Tech Carnage

Even the "information economy" (a.k.a. the "New Economy") isn't immune to the law of supply and demand. One hallmark of the economic boom has been an explosion of business investment, dominated by spending for computers, software and communications networks.

Democracy In America

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) wouldn't have been surprised by the campaign's bitterness, with one candidate (Gore) cast as a liar and the other (Bush) as an imbecile.

The Lesson Of Tough Love

We now have the results of a huge experiment in human nature that teaches a critical lesson about social progress. The lesson emerges from the 1996 welfare reform, the mandated end to bilingual education in California and seven years of school reform in Texas.