Robert J. Samuelson

Are Workers Disposable?

When AT&T recently announced it would cut 40,000 jobs, millions of workers must have shuddered and thought: am I next? We have, it seems, entered the era of the disposable worker.

Call It The Flaky Tax

; AS A PORTENT OF THE 1996 ELECTION, THE "FLAT TAX" is the political equivalent of pulp fiction. It's an escapist evasion of the real choices about the size and the role of government that Americans face.

After Lawyer Bashing

WITH A LITTLE LUCK, THE LEGISLATION REcently passed by Congress--over President Clinton's veto--to curb frivolous securities lawsuits will start something much larger: an ongoing effort to undo the self-serving and ultimately antisocial behavior of lawyers.

Great Expectations

As the politicians posture over the budget, Americans sense that something deeper has gone wrong. They're right. Robert J. Samuelson examines the exaggerated hopes and fears of the Age of Entitlement--and what our leaders must do to instill a sense of reality. ..MR0- The paradox of our time is that we are feeling bad about doing well.

The Politics Of Ignorance

The raging debate over "Welfare Reform," now coming to a climax, is a creature of many other agendas. On the one hand, Republicans want to cut programs for the poor to balance the budget.

Facing Up To Reality

When historians contemplate the budget debate of 1995, they will conclude that it was both more and less important than it seemed at the time. They will see that the rhetoric exaggerated the differences between the Republican Congress and the Democratic president.

Surviving The Guillotine

THE AMAZING THING ABOUT THIS YEAR'S BUDGET debate is that--amid all the drama about a government shutdown and debt default--so many silly, ineffective, outdated or unimportant programs have escaped the guillotine.

Clinton's Cynical Game

WHY WAS ANYONE SURPRISED BY PRESIDENT Clinton's recent lie about taxes--telling a wealthy Houston audience that "I think I raised [your taxes] too much"? It was vintage Clinton.

What's In A Number?

The new interest in the CPI--the consumer price index, the best-known inflation indicator--attests to the power of numbers. The CPI is used to adjust government benefits (mainly social security) and taxes (the personal exemption, standard deduction and tax brackets).

Wages, Prices And Profits

We are now engaged in another shouting match over whether wages and living standards are -- or are not -- rising. In the latest version, surging profits are said to have suppressed wage increases. "Profits are up," complains Labor Secretary Robert Reich, "paychecks are not." Bunk, say critics mainly (though not exclusively) to Reich's Right.

Getting Serious

Welcome To The 21ST century, where older Americans will work longer and their government checks will be smaller. By tackling Medicare, Congress is finally confronting the essence of the "entitlement problem" -- spending on the elderly-and the implications extend well beyond the next budget.

Out Of Print

My name is Robert. And I am a numbers junkie. I compulsively scour the Statistical Abstract for intriguing indicators of our national condition--the fact, for example, that state lotteries collect $25 billion annually.

The Price Of Politics

In politics, money is not the boot of all evil, though many people think it is. In our era of casual cynicism, it's somehow comforting to think that Congress submits to those who make the biggest campaign contributions.

America The Open

If the founding fathers ever envisioned an ideal social order, it was surely a meritocracy: a system under which people succeed mainly on the basis of ability and effort.

The Recession Watch

We Are Suddenly In A Recession Watch. Economists have recently grouped themselves into two camps. "Gee," says one, "industrial production has dropped for three months.

Macho Tax Cuts

Among Republicans, cutting taxes has always been macho. Writing recently in The Wall Street Journal, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the case for tax cuts rests on the "key principle" of the "Contract With America," which is: "The American government's money does not belong to the American government.

A Nation Of Experts

There are many things in short supply in America, but experts are not among them. We are awash in experts: experts on politics, management, divorce, personal finance, terrorism, software and much more.

Global Mythmaking

Its chic to talk about the "The Global Economy" As if it were something quite new, completely unfathomable and utterly threatening. There's an undeniable international commercial culture that, at times, seems overwhelming.

Welfare Can't Be Reformed

The debate over ""welfare reform'' now shifts into high gear, as the House of Representatives considers the Republicans' welfare plan. We will hear lots of talk of block grants and work requirements.

The Myth Of Cyber Inequality

Perhaps withing a decade most Americans will have an e-mail addressm just as most now have phone numbers. The computer will become (as it is already becoming) a democratic appliance that will increasingly resemble the kitchen stove.

Corrupting The Constitution

THE CONSTITUTION IS NOT A SLEDGEHAMMER, IT EMBODIES broad principles of government and enduring national values. As such, it commands deep public respect and even reverence, There's a temptation to think that its power and mystique can bludgeon public opinion into convenient consensus on hard issues.

The Spigot Of Last Resort

The case against amtrak and many other federal programs -- programs that ought to be eliminated -- is not that they are worthless. It is that they are not the job of government, or at least the federal government.