Do You Take Your Coffee With Sugar, Milk, or Guns?

In My Search of the Origins of Our Daily Elixir, I Kept Encountering Armed Men

One morning a few years ago, I met a coffee grower in an upscale apartment complex at the edge of Guatemala City. He drove a Toyota Sequoia customized as a blindaje—a vehicle armored to repel attacks. His was not just a run-of-the-mill blindaje with bulletproof glass, but a level-three, built heavily enough to withstand a one-ton bomb. Among the Guatemalan elite, these are standard-issue vehicles. You’d be crazy not to drive one.

The grower was taking me to visit a coffee farm. Riding shotgun, I noticed the well-worn butt of a …

More In: inequality

This Is How We Saved the Middle Class in the 1980s

We Faced Inequality and Unemployment 35 Years Ago. What We Did Then Could Work Again Now.

It’s easy to think that, in the world of employment and anti-poverty programs, nothing ever changes, that the same joblessness continues even as the government spends billions of dollars each …

Last Year There Were 800 Fewer Homicides in L.A. Than in 1992

The Recent Crime Surge Doesn’t Compare to the Tsunami of Violence 20 Years Ago

The recent surge in the violent crime rate in Los Angeles after more than a decade of decline, the hostility in inner cities against law enforcement, the high-profile incidents of …

Every Asthma Attack Is Its Own Perfect Storm

The More We Study the Disease, the More Complex We Understand It to Be

About a month ago, I received a call from a journalist wanting my perspective on recent data showing an increase in asthma ER visits in certain parts of California, particularly …

There Isn’t One Answer to Ending Poverty

Mid-Sized Cities Like Fresno Should Better Capitalize on Resources and Improve Existing Opportunities to Help the Poor

In 1984, Dan Whitehurst, then-mayor of Fresno, California, appeared on Late Night With David Letterman to discuss a depressing distinction: his city had been ranked the least livable in America …

Why California Should Position Itself as a Mecca for the Poor

For One, It's a Strategy That Worked for the United States of America

Fresno regularly ranks as one of the poorest metro areas in the United States. So why do people keep moving there?

The short, if incomplete, answer: Fresno is in California. And …