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October 29, 2007

Interesting Paper

An interesting paper by David A. Super has been loaded unto Temple's Workshop site.  The paper is, "BLOWN AWAY: Hurricane Katrina and the Collapse of the Procedural Model of Anti-Poverty Law," and the abstract is:

    Disasters accelerate and accentuate otherwise glacial processed in the
law. Society’s response to sudden poverty after a disaster provides invaluable
insights into its treatment of the chronically poor.
    Neither European-style social guarantees nor the full elimination of
public anti-poverty programs are politically realistic options. The compromise
that has held sway for the past several decades is inspired by
Goldberg v. Kelly’s procedural holdings. It seeks to enhance deliberation
in both making and executing anti-poverty policy, assuming that widelyshared
benevolent norms will advance the cause of the poor. It tolerates
extreme poverty on the assumption that public or private agencies will
intervene to accommodate vital unmet needs.
    Hurricane Katrina demonstrated this procedural model’s bankruptcy.
New Orleans officials lacked the empathy and preparation to help evacuate
the city’s 100,000 residents without the means to do so themselves.
Diffusion of responsibility among various levels of government and charities,
the lack of a clear consensus on substantive goals, and the procedural
model’s emphasis on time-consuming deliberations squandered the opportunity
that post-Katrina public sympathy presented to make lasting
changes in anti-poverty policy or even to restore the devastated lowincome
communities. These failures stranded tens of thousands of evacuees
in deplorable conditions in strange cities, in FEMA trailer parks, or in
their shattered former communities.
    An alternative basis for a moderate consensus is available based on
Goldberg’s expansion of property rights. A regime based on substantive
rights, even modest and conditional ones, would more explicitly recognize
low-income communities’ interests and respond to tragedies such as

-E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

October 29, 2007 | Permalink


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