Robert J. Samuelson

Is Inflation Really Dead?

I have a theory that inflation is not quite as dead as it seems, and now is as good a time as any to explain it. Just last week, the Federal Reserve declined to increase short-term interest rates - the standard weapon against rising inflation - because inflation doesn't, in fact, seem to be rising.

Telephone Straddle

THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION IS NOT A social-services agency, but you'd never know it from chairman Reed Hundt. He's an evangelist who's turned a drab subject - deregulation - into a religion.

The Culture Of Poverty

EVERYONE INVOLVED IN "WELFARE REFORM" COULD usefully read "What Money Can't Buy" (Harvard University Press), a study by economist Susan Mayer of the University of Chicago.

The Trouble With Steak

WE DON'T EAT MUCH STEAK IN OUR HOUSE. IT shows up every couple of months. There's no complaint from our three children. I admit our eating habits aren't especially interesting.

Clinton And The Cpi Mess

WE COULD CONCEIVABLY GET PAST THE CONTROVERSY over the consumer price index (CPI) with some presidential leadership, but there's been none. Clinton has been absent, and the whole episode shows him at his worst.

Crackpot Prophet

WE ALL RECALL HOW MICHAEL JORDAN DID IN baseball. He bombed. He couldn't make it into the majors, let alone become a superstar. Even at the AA Birmingham Barons, he batted a miserable .202 (88 for 486, with 114 strikeouts).

Not A New Cold War

WE CANNOT REPLAY THE COLD WAR WITH CHINA. The cold war pitted two systems against each other. This contest of political ideas and economies suited the American psyche, which prefers to see countries as good or evil.

Europe's New Nutty Money

I HAVE ALWAYS AVOIDED WRITING ABOUT SOME SUBJECTS--despite their importance--because they seem technical and irrelevant to Americans. One of these has been Europe's plans to create a single currency (the Euro) by 1999.

Imperfect Vision

IT'S A MARK OF OUR PROGRESS AGAINST INFLATION THAT the greatest need now is measuring it. Once in double digits, it's so low that we're not sure what it is.

Sounds Great, Won't Work

I AM ALL FOR PARENTING. WITH THREE CHILDREN (AGES 6, 9 and 11), homework, soccer games and car pools are the most important parts of my life. But my commitment to parenting stops well short of enthusiasm for the ""parental rights'' amendment now proposed for the Colorado state constitution.

Roosevelt Romanticized

WHY AREN'T MODERN PRESIDENTS MORE POPULAR? One reason is Franklin Roosevelt. We are now observing Roosevelt History Month, and FDR--the only man elected to the White House three times, let alone four--is being celebrated as the father of contemporary liberalism.

The Debate We Need ...

THE DEBATE WE NEED ABOUT GOVERNMENT ISN'T happening, and the fault lies largely with Bob Dole. President Clinton is running a campaign of insults and not ideas (ugly commercials mixed with self-congratulation), but who can blame him?

Confederacy Of Dunces

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER BEGAN A 10-PART SERIES last week entitled ""America: Who Stole the Dream?,'' which will attract attention. The thesis is simple: Big Government and Big Business are relentlessly reducing living standards and job security for most Americans.

A Secret Agenda?

BILL CLINTON'S LATEST SELF-APPOINTED ROLE IS AS America's futurologist. He's been telling us -- at the Democratic convention, in a new book and in interviews -- that he's building ""a bridge'' to the 21st century.

The Next Food Crisis?

WE CAN SOMETIMES LEARN A GREAT DEAL FROM things that don't happen. The present farm situation is a case in point. For those who haven't been paying attention, corn and wheat prices are now near record levels and could go higher.

The Message From 1896?

WE TAKE YOU BACK A CENTURY: A HUNDRED years ago, William Jennings Bryan delivered his ""cross of gold'' speech -- denouncing the gold standard -- at the Democratic National Convention and embarked upon what became a fateful political campaign.

Why America Creates Jobs

HENRY STIMSON, THE U.S. SECRETARY OF WAR IN WORLD War II, once observed that a capitalist country going to war had ""better let business make money out of the process or business won't work.'' America followed that advice and won the war.

Immigration And Poverty

AS A NATION, WE ARE IMPORTING POVERTY. THAT IS the clearest consequence of the surge in immigration that began in the early 1970s. I do not say this to be alarmist or to advocate any type of immigration legislation.

The Endless Road 'Crisis'

EVEN BEFORE THE AUTO AGE, AMERICANS HAD A ""CRISIS.'' At the turn of the century, writes historian Bruce Seely, there were ""good road associations'' in 18 states plugging for improved highways.

Is There A Savings Gap?

BY THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM, WE AMERICANS ARE A slothful lot. We overconsume, undersave and underinvest. Compared with the frugal Germans and Japanese, we are ruinously self-indulgent.

Who Lost The Budget?

LET'S TRY TO SETTLE THIS QUESTION BEFORE ELECTION rhetoric clouds judgments and confounds memories: who lost the balanced budget? Last fall, it seemed within grasp.

Dole's Risky Opportunity

ELECTIONS OUGHT TO ENGAGE THE ISSUES THAT shape our future. By that standard, the campaign of 1996 already looks like a bust. Everyone talks of balancing the budget and reducing government without mentioning spending for older Americanswhich is the decisive issue affecting the budget and government's size.

Capitalism Under Siege

IT CAN BE SAID OF CAPITALISM WHAT WINSTON CHURCHILL once said of democracyit is the worst possible system, except for all the others. We might ponder this now, while commentators are denouncing American capitalism.

Why Men Need Family Values

WITHOUT DOUBT, THE MOST TERRIFYING AND fulfilling part of my life is being a father. The terror is that, somehow, I am failing my children (aged 6, 9 and 11) in ways that will become clear only in retrospect.

Trading With The Enemy

IF IT WASN'T CLEAR BEFORE, IT IS NOW: CHINA--NOT Japan--is our largest trade problem. This is not mainly because the trade deficit with China has exploded or that China has rapidly emerged as one of the world's largest and fastest-growing trading nations.