Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration and Public Health Sciences at the University of Chicago and a nonresident Fellow of the Century Foundation.

Recent Articles

OUR DEBT TO DESPERATE STRANGERS.

by Harold Pollack Journalists and professors share one great perk: the opportunity to travel. Not too long ago, I found myself in Paris, strolling the most beautiful city in the world. I’m still awed by the usual tourist things. I gawked at a 7-foot North African traffic policeman in white gloves and full decorative dress. I smiled at the stylish Parisians and American college kids deep in café conversation around the Louvre. Then I entered the Marais, Paris's old Jewish district. Downing a tourist-trap "Yiddish sandwich," I passed a synagogue that was dynamited on Yom Kippur, 1940 and later rebuilt. Outside a local elementary school, I listened to the joyful noise of children’s lunch play as I read a chilling plaque: On this spot, 165 children were deported by the Germans with the assistance of French police. The nearby Tomb of the Unknown Jewish Martyrs, France’s Holocaust memorial, frankly described the widespread anti-Semitism in French life and the role...

WILL VLADIMIR PUTIN KILL HEALTH REFORM?

By Harold Pollack This morning’s New York Times includes a great column by Paul Krugman, noting that our age of globalization may perish as the first did: through destructive nationalism, violence, and war. I find Krugman's analysis frightening and compelling. If history is any guide, these developments also threaten the prospects for progressive legislation here at home......

I'M IN THE MOUNTAINS HUNTING THE TALIBAN, BUT I'M STILL AFRAID TO BUNK WITH SOME GAY PERSON.

By Harold Pollack When I was 16, I moved to a new high school My first day in gym class, a big bruiser tackled me and ripped my shirt. When he was done marking his territory and lumbered off, I turned to the guy next to me and commented that it was going to be a long two years. He reassured me: “Don’t worry. Everyone picks on Michael the fag.” (His name isn't really Michael.) I met Michael soon after. A slight, effeminate boy, he was the butt of ridicule and bullying pretty much every day. He would get body-checked in the hallway, have dodgeballs whipped at him in gym. I think the teachers expected him to be a man about things and to stand up for himself. How he was expected to defend himself, I’m not sure. He greeted the mistreatment with a sweet smile. It’s lucky he didn’t show up one day with a gun......

THEN THERE'S THE DRUG PROBLEM.

By Harold Pollack I was driving home late from work one night, passing the intersection of 59th street and MLK. As I rounded the corner, a run-down Corolla blocked my way. Its four grungy occupants were bantering with some guy on the sidewalk for several minutes. I started to feel quietly irritated as they kept me waiting. Suddenly, they leapt from the car, guns drawn, and chased down the pedestrian. I froze in a moment of terror as I watched a burley guy grab the him and press a gun to his face. Within a few seconds, they pushed him spread-eagled against a car hood. I felt a wave of relief, as I realized this was just another guy getting jacked up for drugs. I maneuvered around the Corolla. A few minutes later, I was engrossed in NPR, wondering whether my wife had saved me dinner. We’ve grown way too accustomed to the daily realities of the drug war...

POSTSCRIPT ON TOBACCO CONTROL.

By Harold Pollack I got some great comments on this morning's post. You folks have recapitulated the key debates here: paternalism, comparisons with alcohol and illicit drugs, the danger of a black market, regressivity. A few quick comments.

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