News & Politics
Harper's Magazine

Harper's Magazine August 2019

HARPER’S MAGAZINE, the oldest general interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation through such celebrated features as Readings, Annotation, and Findings, as well as the iconic Harper’s Index.

United States
Harper's Magazine Foundation
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12 Issues

in this issue

4 min.

Visible Hands Marilynne Robinson’s essay [“Is Poverty Necessary?” June] describes the quest for understanding that drove her to study the great political economists, culminating in her discovery of the contributions made by Henry George. I followed a similar path years ago, and I have attempted to inspire others to do the same through my own teaching and writing. “It would require less than the fingers of the two hands to enumerate those who from Plato down rank with him,” the philosopher John Dewey said of Henry George. Yet today George’s theories are ignored, and his remarkable body of work has been marginalized in academic economics, a discipline that was corrupted by special-interest funding while still in its infancy. I recommend serious engagement with George’s work to all who read Robinson’s article and…

12 min.
easy chair

Regarding the purported rules of English syntax, we tend to divide into mutually hostile camps. Hip, open-minded types relish the never-ending transformations of the way we speak and write. They care about the integrity of our language only insofar as to ensure that we can still roughly understand one another. In the opposite corner glower the curmudgeons. These joyless, uptight authoritarians are forever muttering about clunky concepts such as “the unreal conditional” that nobody’s ever heard of. I’ve thrown in my lot with the pedants. Yes, language is a living tree, eternally sprouting new shoots as other branches wither… blah, blah, blah. But a poorly cultivated plant can readily gnarl from lush foliage to unsightly sticks. The internet has turbo charged lexical fads (such as “turbo charge”) and grammatical decay. Rather…

13 min.
charles in charge

By Christopher Leonard, from Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America, published this month by Simon and Schuster. Every quarter, the business leaders from Koch Industries’ various divisions came to the headquarters in Wichita to report to Charles Koch. When it was time for such meetings, Charles would rise from his desk and walk across the small lobby into the boardroom, where the senior leadership team was seated around the large circular table. The boardroom was still spartan in its decoration. The puffy leather office chairs were unremarkable. The only extravagance was the leather coasters placed at each seat at the table, emblazoned with the company logo. Extra chairs lined the outside wall of the windowless room, providing seats for any support staffers. Charles Koch sat and…

2 min.
flight log

From the cockpit transcript of a Navy training flight near Seattle, in 2017. The exchange was released in May, following an investigation. Excerpts from the transcript were first published by the Navy Times. ELECTRONIC WARFARE OFFICER: Draw a giant penis. That would be awesome. PILOT: “What’d you do on your flight?” “Oh, we turned dinosaurs into sky penises.” E.W.O.: They would be like, “What the fuck?” PILOT: I could basically draw a figure eight, and turn around and come back. I’m gonna go down, grab some speed, and hopefully get out of the contrail layer, so they are not connected to each other. That would be so funny, airliners coming back on their way into Seattle. Just this big fucking giant penis. We could almost draw a vein in the middle of it too. PILOT:…

3 min.
new things in my life

By Lydia Davis, from a manuscript in progress. Her collection of essays, Essays One, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in November. It takes me so long to get used to new things in my life that when I am tired I call my husband by the name of that other husband I used to have, although it was a long time ago by now, and this new son by the name of that first son I had, who was in my life for ten long years before this one came. But it is worse than that, since when I am even more tired, I remember only the other husband and the first son. When I married that other husband, I was not yet used to being a girl of…

1 min.

By Ed Skoog, from Travelers Leaving for the City, which will be published in March of next year by Copper Canyon Press. He wants the lamp on.Night is a kind of work. He says leave it onalthough he is still in a great way asleep.I who am still asleep leave on the envoywho is always trying to be turned off.These murmurs am even I aware of them?The distance is uninterestingand the commercials get caught in the webbingof my eyebrows. Bring me the head of Ed Skoogagain. I am at the whale competition.See me in the highlight reel. Here is how you draw a face:draw anything.…