• Essay

    Trump's Tent City for Children Is a Concentration Camp

    The Mass Detention of Civilians Without Trial Is a Modern Military Tactic That Targets the Most Vulnerable

    By Andrea Pitzer

        What does it mean that the United States of America is taking children from their parents and detaining them in camps?
        News of a tent city dedicated to holding children in harsh conditions should evoke alarm, not least because child detention has a long and nasty history. For centuries, children have been used as pawns by governments seeking to control their parents or their leaders. And children have been forcibly relocated in the United States before. Under slavery they were separated from their parents to extort labor and build wealth, while ...

New at Zócalo

Connecting California

California Promised 'Preschool For All.' What I Got Was $120,000 in Tuition Fees.

For a Generation, the Golden State Has Failed to Educate Its Youngest Citizens

By Joe Mathews

    Since the 1990s, California’s leaders have promised to make preschool universal for every child.
    Maybe they’ll do it by the time I have grandchildren.
    It’s already too late for my own kids. The youngest of my three sons graduated from preschool last week. I celebrated by writing my final preschool check—for monthly tuition of $1,165. With that check, my spending on preschool tuition for all three boys, over the last seven years, totaled more than $120,000.
    All that tuition, alongside a 21st-century Southern California mortgage, has wiped away most of my family’s savings. And yet, my kids are extremely lucky because they got to go to preschool at all.
    Today, only half of California’s 4-year-olds and ...


When the U.S. Government Asked American Families to Turn in Their Gold

American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle Over Gold

By Sebastian Edwards

    At $20 trillion, the national debt of the United States is slightly bigger than the annual output of the American economy. Government shutdowns and brinksmanship about extending the country’s debt ceiling have greatly raised the risk of default. So what would happen if the U.S. actually went off the fiscal cliff, and was unable to pay its debts? To answer that question, we have one historical data point: the great debt default of 1933-1935, when Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress, and the Supreme Court agreed to wipe out more than 40 percent of America’s public and private debts. What were the consequences of that default for America and the world? And what does this history tell us about the risks of an American default today? UCLA Anderson School of Management international economist Sebastian Edwards, author of American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle Over Gold, visits Zócalo to explore ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews

  • My Plan for Building the Perfect California City

    Welcome to 'Joeville,' Where the First Rule Is Not to Play by the Rules

        Recently a startup founder in San Jose asked me a question: What would you do if you were starting a California city?
        My first answer: Get my head examined.
      &ensop; For 40 years, the state government and California voters ...

  • From Voting to Tech Innovation, California Ranks First at Second Best

    Whether in Sacramento, Silicon Valley, or El Segundo, Golden Staters Now Prefer to Follow the Leader

        The world over, people long to finish first. But in California, it’s better to be second best.
        This is the larger truth at the center of the Golden State’s June 5 first-round elections for ...

  • Even Kafka Couldn't Dream up California's Surreal Housing Crisis

    The Late Prague Novelist Visits the Golden State, Which Is Metamorphosing Into a Nightmare

        I keep hearing you Californians calling your state’s housing crisis Kafkaesque.
        You are far too kind: I never imagined a bureaucratic nightmare this cruel, absurd, and surreal. ...

  • Video Highlights

    Looking Back at Four Years of “What It Means to Be American”

    The Smithsonian/ASU/Zócalo Project on U.S. History and Identity Is Just Getting Started

    Since its launch on April 14, 2014, the "What It Means to Be American" project has convened 12 events in seven cities and published more than 300 essays on American history and identity. And we're just getting started. Here's a look back at where we've been, and where we're going.