Anna Clark

Anna Clark is a writer and journalist living in Detroit. She maintains the literary and social justice website, Isak.

Recent Articles

Is Suze Orman's Advice Dangerous?

A conversation with Helaine Olen on her new book about personal-finance gurus

AP Photo/Matt Sayles
In Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry , Helaine Olen traces the roots of media advising us about money—a subject many find distasteful to discuss in polite company, but nonetheless spawns a billion-dollar industry of products promising guidance as we navigate the thorny territory of debt, need, and desire. Olen, a journalist who writes the “ Where Life Meets Money ” blog at Forbes, questions the “guru” model of personal-finance media, which focuses on changing the money habits of individuals with nearly no analyses of the social and economic reasons for why the gap between rich and poor is expanding beyond belief. She argues that personal-finance journalism can be revolutionary, but is often undercut by conflict-of-interest product sponsorships and simplistic solutions that are less empowering than they are appeasing. In our interview, Olen spoke about the myths perpetuated by personal-finance gurus like Suze Orman and...

It’s a Mad, Mad Michigan

Right-to-work legislation was only the beginning. State Republicans have an entire docket full of legislation set to limit rights.

(AP Photo/The Detroit News, Elizabeth Conley)
Sure, lame-duck legislatures are bound to be a bit mad. But the session that just closed in Michigan was one for the ages. Aflush with the flurry of bills sent to the desk of Governor Rick Snyder—not so much speaking to his opinion on their quality—a politics-loving friend of mine in Detroit exclaimed, “It’s like Christmas in … well, in December.” The swift passage of right-to-work in Michigan picked up national and international headlines last week. But that overhaul of labor law is only one piece of the expansive legislative plan for the state that now awaits Snyder’s go-ahead. The lame-duck session was the final and powerful display of influence by GOP and Tea Party lawmakers that had a total and triumphant win in the 2010 election. Even as Michigan’s reputation as a “swing state” is diminishing—it’s voted Democratic for president since 1992, and both its U.S. senators are Democrats—local politics remain...

Far from the Final Defeat in Michigan

The right-to-work bill may now be law, but organizers are already planning the next move.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya) Protester Paula Merwin, of Leslie, Michigan, stands with an American flag outside the George W. Romney State Building, where Governor Snyder has an office, Tuesday, December 11, 2012. The crowd is protesting right-to-work legislation passed last week. Michigan could become the 24th state with a right-to-work law next week. Rules required a five-day wait before the House and Senate vote on each other's bills; lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene Tuesday and Snyder has pledged to sign the bills into law. In Michigan, the birthplace of the labor movement, this week’s abrupt passage of a “right-to-work” law incited the largest protest in Lansing’s history: at least 12,500 people, wearing red, chanting, singing, drumming, committing civil disobedience, and otherwise battling to be heard as lawmakers in a lame-duck session overhauled the state’s labor laws without public input or committee meetings. State house Democrats’ attempts...

Holding the Stick

The National Hockey League's low-ball contract offer could cost a lot of games, and a lot of communities their seasonal income.

(Flickr/Tim Shahan)
It seems like lockouts are as ubiquitous in professional sports as the thumping chords of “Seven Nation Army.” Labor disputes led to lockouts in basketball last year, football last year and this year (players and officials), and now the National Hockey League is experimenting with the strong-arm tactic. Owners locked out players on September 16, one day after the collective-bargaining agreement expired. So far, with the season canceled through October 24, 82 games are lost. The cancellation of the preseason and the regular season’s first two weeks translates into a loss of at least $240 million for the NHL. But don’t think it’s inevitable that the season will swiftly come back to life: this is the fourth NHL lockout since 1991, and the third lockout presided over by the league’s current commissioner, Gary Bettman. Half the 1994 season was lost. The entire 2004-05 season, including the playoffs, was swallowed whole by labor discord, marking the first...

A Touchdown for Labor

In the NFL referees lockout, the union is coming out ahead.

(AP Photo/David Stluka)
One of the most significant national labor battles is playing out in an unusually public arena: under the bright lights of America’s professional football stadiums. The National Football League lockout of 119 officials has been in force since June, and as the regular season rolls toward its fourth week, the NFL remains without its team in stripes—tasked not only with enforcing the rules of the game but with ensuring player safety. Fan impatience with the union-busting replacement refs, put in their place like so many substitute teachers, is giving the union millions of new, seething supporters with every game broadcast. The NFL Referees Association never voted to strike. Contract negotiation broke down three months ago—the sticking points were salaries and benefits—and the NFL locked out its officials. In a league worth $9 billion the average salary for referees in 2011 was $149,000. Management offered a deal that would raise this average to $189,000, but the...