By Steven Hill, Sacramento Bee, July 2, 2010
I recently participated in a research trip to Switzerland to study the alpine nation’s system of direct democracy (initiative and referendum, or I&R). Its model offers fresh ideas about how to repair the dysfunctional initiative process in California and San Francisco.
In California, it takes approximately 750,000 signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot — almost 3 percent of the statewide population — and about three-fifths that for a nonconstitutional statute.…
By Steven Hill, June 17, 2010, Social Europe Journal
My recent research trip to Switzerland with a group of other Americans was enlightening, in more ways than one. Besides admiring the great beauty of the Swiss mountains, lakes and picturesque cities, it was a chance to study in depth the Alpine jewel’s system of direct democracy (initiative and referendum, or I&R).…
By Steven Hill, June 8, 2010, New York Times/International Herald Tribune
With toxic black ooze spreading throughout the Gulf of Mexico, it may be time for the Obama administration to think seriously about national energy policy. It could learn plenty by looking across the Atlantic.
The average European today emits half the carbon of an average American and uses far less electricity.…
May 17, 2010, New York Daily News
Oftentimes, American-style partisanship results in Republicans and Democrats fighting like two mindless gamecocks in the ring. Well, take your seats, because nothing brings out this combative behavior more than a Supreme Court nomination.
President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court will kick off the usual bloodletting across the partisan divide.…
By Steven Hill, May 17, 2010, Social Europe Journal
With the spectre of the Greek default crisis still hanging over Europe, it may seem like Europe can’t do anything right. But with hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic black oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, the United States could learn plenty from Europe about energy policy.…
By Steven Hill, May 14, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle
Contrary to what the doomsayers have been saying, Greece’s debt crisis may turn out to be one of the best things to happen to the European Union.
While the situation has been messy, it also has signaled a badly needed wake-up call to Europe about a flaw at the heart of its monetary union.…
By Steven Hill, April 21, 2010, The Nation
A year and a half after an economic earthquake shook the world, the so-called experts are still trying to figure out what happened and how to move forward. In the shadows of that confusion, new economic models are beginning to find traction. Alternatives to Wall Street capitalism, the epicenter of the temblor, are suddenly getting a new hearing in the United States, whether it’s Paul Volcker calling for reinstatement of Glass-Steagall regulation of the banking sector, the United Steelworkers announcing an alliance with the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain to develop manufacturing cooperatives in the United States, or Cleveland-based efforts to establish worker-owned co-ops in distressed communities [see Alperovitz, Howard and Williamson, “The Cleveland Model,” March 1].…
By Steven Hill, Sacramento Bee, April 15, 2010
Most Americans seem to regard April 15 – the day income tax returns are due to the Internal Revenue Service – as a recurring tragedy akin to a biblical plague. Particularly this year, with U.S. government deficits soaring, everyone from the tea baggers to Fox News and Senate Republicans are sounding the alarm about a return to “big government.”…
By Steven Hill, April 15, 2010, Social Europe Journal
The recent battle over healthcare reform in the United States, in which the Obama administration was barely able to pass weak reform, is just further proof of how far the US has fallen behind Europe. Yet all the media has been able to obsess over for the last couple of months is – the Greek debt crisis!…
By Steven Hill, March 29, 2010, E!Sharp
Europe is going through another one of its occasional bouts of self-doubt and pessimism. The great historian Arnold Toynbee once wrote, “Countries have characters that are as distinctive as those of human beings.” The collection of countries known as Europe has never hidden its gloom very well.…
By Steven Hill, March 22, 2010, Forbes.com
Greece’s debt situation has pundits taking out their crystal balls trying to divine the future not only of Greece, but also the euro and Europe. Every news outlet from The New York Times to National Public Radio has joined the chorus of gloom and doom.…
By Steven Hill, March 19, 2010, Social Europe Journal
Every time Europe goes through one of its occasional crises, calls arise across the continent for ‘stronger leadership.’ The perception of having feeble leadership was a major factor in the push for the Lisbon Treaty, which went into effect late in 2009 and created a president for the European Council and a high representative for foreign affairs and security.…
By Steven Hill, March 18, 2010, Roll Call
Standing at the edge of the health care precipice, President Barack Obama has reached a defining point in his presidency. The recent news that Anthem Blue Cross is planning to jack up individual premiums as much as 40 percent is just the latest example of our flailing health care system.…
By Steven Hill, Feb 22, 2010, NY Times.com
Yes, President Obama should push his health care package through the Senate via the reconciliation process. Indeed, it is imperative that he do so for two reasons.
First, because the U.S. badly needs health care reform. And second, to restore the constitutional principle of “majority rule” that has been thwarted in the filibuster-gone-wild Senate.…
By Steven Hill, February 17, 2010, The Guardian (London)
Over a year ago, the world economy suffered a massive economic quake – and certain countries have been experiencing aftershocks ever since. Two such aftershocks have grabbed headlines, one recently in Greece and another last summer in California. A comparison of these two events reveals something about the respective features of the west’s two leading capitalist economies, the US and Europe.…
By Steven Hill, February 19, 2010, Social Europe Journal
After the earthquake come the aftershocks. That is a law of geophysics, and now apparently of economics. Well over a year ago, the world economy suffered a massive economic quake of 8.0 on the Richter scale. Since then different countries have been experiencing a number of aftershocks.…
By Steven Hill, January 22, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle
Do Americans really pay fewer taxes than Europeans? Contrary to conventional wisdom, the answer surprisingly is: not really.
That’s because in return for their taxes, Europeans — even those unemployed during these tough times — have access to a generous support system for families and individuals that most Americans can only imagine.…
By Steven Hill, January 18, 2010, Social Europe Journal
In recent months, Europe has learned some hard lessons about its transatlantic partner. President Barack Obama triggered great hope when he replaced George W. Bush at the American helm. But a year later, especially following Obama’s failure to produce anything of substance at Copenhagen, Europeans are realizing that Obama is going to have a difficult time delivering on a new American agenda.…
By Steven Hill, January 15, 2010, The Globalist
In the aftermath of the economic crisis, the United States needs a new economic model — one that will decentralize power and put it in the hands of the workers. As Steven Hill suggests in this excerpt from his book, “Europe’s Promise,” the United States might have a lesson to learn from post-World War II Germany.In…
By Steven Hill, January 13, 2010, The New York Times
The Copenhagen summit on climate change taught Europe a hard lesson about its trans-Atlantic partner. Great hope had greeted President Obama when he replaced George W. Bush at the American helm, but a year later Europeans are realizing that Mr. Obama is going to have a very difficult time delivering on his agenda.…
By Steven Hill, December 16, 2009, Social Europe Journal
As an American, I have been following this discussion with great interest. The predicament of social democracy strikes at the heart of several modern dilemmas that will be at the forefront of the twenty-first century. Much hangs in the balance.
From the faraway shores of San Francisco and the Pacific Rim, allow me to offer a few observations.…
By Steven Hill, December 14, 2009, Christian Science Monitor
With the nation’s unemployment rate at 10 percent, the highest in a generation, President Obama could learn a thing or two about job creation by heading to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
On display is an exhibit of New Deal-era paintings that show men building roads, laying pipe, and shoveling snow.…
By Steven Hill, November 30, 2009, Financial Times
America’s healthcare debate has been like a tennis match, bouncing from the Senate to the House of Representatives and back again. Now it is back in the Senate, as the US tries to end its status as the only advanced economy without universal healthcare for its people.…
By Steven Hill, October 13, 2009, New York Times
The health care drama in the U.S. Senate is cresting. After months of hearings–and decades of dithering–it is time to see if the United States is going to remain the only advanced industrial nation in the world that does not provide universal health care.…
By Steven Hill, October 12, 2009, Washington Post
Health-care cooperatives have gotten a bad rap. But if properly designed, they could offer quite a lot to both the left and the right, as well as to anyone interested in expanding health-care coverage and reducing costs.
According to the American Medical Association, insurance markets lack vigorous competition in more than 9 out of 10 metropolitan areas and in at least 16 states.…