February 28, 2008
Paper on Privatization of Social Welfare, focused on Housing
A paper worth checking out that is not exactly new, but still worth checking out is the following one from Nestor Davidson, "Relational Contracts in the Privatization of Social Welfare: The Case of Housing," 24 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 263 (2006). Yale L and Pol'y Rev. does not yet have their archives up on their website, so the link is to the SSRN version. Here is the abstract:
Privatization has become a permanent and increasingly significant part of contemporary public policy, especially in the social welfare arena. Commentators are increasingly debating how to maximize privatization's potential to enhance the efficiency of service delivery while grappling with the threat that privatization holds for accountability. A recurring prescription in this debate calls for additional government control of private providers, through agreements that contain ever-more-careful terms, monitored with ever-greater care. This view reflects a model of discrete contracting that places great faith in the capacity of government entities to state requirements in complete terms and to enforce these terms through the threat of termination. This conceptual framework, however, misses the fundamentally relational nature of many of the agreements that define privatization. These agreements reflect the inherent difficulty of capturing requirements over the course of a long-term, closely entwined public-private partnership. Examining a collection of subsidized housing programs, this Article identifies the relational aspects of core agreements between the government and private providers. It then argues that embracing and enhancing the relational features of public-private partnerships holds promise to capture privatization's benefits while providing a different approach to accountability.
I met Nestor recently and he knows his property law so if you are interested in the topic as it relates to housing, do check it out. -E.R. firstname.lastname@example.org
February 27, 2008
Interesting Book: Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe: A World of Difference
There is an interesting book that might be worth checking out (it has been out for a little while but I hadn't seen it until I got a random Amazon.com ad today): Alberto Alesina & Edward L. Glaeser, Fighting Poverty in the U.S. and Europe: A World of Difference (2006). A lengthy World Bank slide show tied to the book is available here. A book review by Aaron Steelman that gives a nice two-page summary of the book is available here; another different one-page review by Miles Corak is here.
William F. Buckley Jr. died at age 82 today.
One of the pillars of American conservatism, William F. Buckley, Jr., died today. See NYTimes story here. For more on Buckley, see "The Buckley Effect," NYTimes Oct. 2, 2005. For more of his writing, on any number of issues, see the National Review's archive of his editorials.
As a complete and unnecessary aside, Buckley took me and a few other college student reporters to what was my first dinner at a fancy restaurant, and I was very impressed with the way in which he didn't talk down to us, engaged in conversation, and was very kind both in randomly inviting us out and during the dinner.
February 26, 2008
Sameer M. Ashar on Law Clinics and the Poor
Poor people are not served well by the kinds of advocacy currently taught and reinforced in most law clinics. The canonical approaches to clinical legal education - (1) a nearly exclusive focus on individual client empowerment, (2) professional skills transfer, and (3) lawyer-led impact litigation and law reform - are not sufficient to sustain effective public interest practice in the current political moment. These approaches rely on a practice narrative that does not accurately portray the conditions faced by poor people or the resistance strategies devised by groups with activist organizers. At the margins of the field, law school clinics and innovative legal advocacy organizations have played a key role in developing a new public interest practice. Lawyers and law students support and stimulate radical democratic resistance to market forces by developing litigation, legislative, and community education methods to advance collective mobilization. This article offers a typology of clinical approaches, a critique of the canon, and a description of the features of an alternative clinical model with the ultimate aim of reconfiguring public interest law.
He presented it at my school (AU) which has many of leaders of the sorts of clinical education that he critiques in the paper, and it was a great talk.
February 23, 2008
Interesting photos perhaps good for classes
An email forward with interesting photos on weekly food expenditures across countries is making its way around and has made it to a number of blogs. Here is a link to the photos. I haven't been able to find the source however on these photos, so some caution is in order.
February 20, 2008
Another Economic Mobility Project Publication AND Helpful Urban Institute Lit Review
From their email announcement (do check out the lit reviews at the end of this posting):
The Economic Mobility Project released five new chapters in its continuing series on economic mobility and the status of the American Dream. The new chapters include; (1) an overview of the issue; (2) an examination of mobility trends over time; (3) a new look into the role education plays on mobility; (4) an analysis of the impact of wealth on mobility; and (5) a comparison of mobility in the United States with that of other industrialized countries. These chapters, combined with previously released pieces on gender, race, immigration, and families, comprise the comprehensive volume: "Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America."
The new reports, written by Julia B. Isaacs, Isabel V. Sawhill and Ron Haskins, all from The Brookings Institution, present the following main findings:
- For most of our history, Americans have experienced rapid economic growth and therefore robust upward absolute mobility. Over the last generation, however, economic growth has slowed without evidence of an offsetting increase in relative mobility.
- Regardless of parental income, adult children are more likely to surpass their parents' income if they have a college degree and more likely to reach the top quintile if they have a college degree.
- For those born to parents in the bottom quintile, only 5 percent of those without a college degree make it to the top income quintile, compared to 19 percent that do have a college degree.
- The best available evidence suggests that the U.S. has less intergenerational relative mobility than many European countries, challenging the traditional view of the United States as the land of opportunity.
- While there is considerable movement throughout the income and wealth distributions, there remains considerable "stickiness" at the tails of both distributions.
SECONDLY (and perhaps most useful for professors): The Project released today are a set of 11 literature reviews on various issues
related to economic mobility. Led by a team of researchers from The Urban
Institute, the project has aggregated the best-available research to date on
various factors that might influence individual and family economic mobility,
both within and across generations. The reviews cover a broad range of
individual and family factors including education, families, health,
self-employment, and wealth, and they address a variety of social factors
including discrimination, globalization, immigration, labor market institutions,
and tax and spending policy.
February 17, 2008
Very Good Krugman Editorial
Paul Krugman has a new op-ed on poverty, "Poverty is Poison," NY Times, Feb. 18, 2008 that if I was not afraid of violating rights held by the Times I would post in its entirety. It is worth reading!
UDC Law Review Symposium on Katrina
The University of the District of Columbia Law Review is hosting, "Katrina's Wake: Emergency Preparedness and Response from the Bayou to the Beltway," on Feb. 29, 2008, and they will also be sharing photos taken in the wake of Katrina by kids through the Kid Camera Project.
February 14, 2008
SALT Teaching Conference: "Teaching for Social Change" March 14-15, 2008
"Teaching for Social Change" is the theme of this year's SALT teaching conference. Hosted at the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley, the conference will be packed with new ideas, strategies, and methodologies for making social change an essential aspect of American legal education. Here is a tentative schedule. I would try to put together a list of people presenting, but this is a big conference with lots of interesting panels it looks like, so probably best to just check out the schedule.
February 13, 2008
Library Listings of Poverty Law Resources
Many libraries have put together pages focusing on Poverty law and I am going to start making a list that I am happy to update with any additional pages that are sent to my email.
Epstein arguing against state based redistributions
Richard Epstein, I would bet will find a fairly unsympathetic audience in readers of this blog (in one of my law school classes the professor was very direct in saying that Epstein was assigned to provide the foil to the main thrust of the class, though I have found him useful for Property, as have the Dukeminier et al authors); nevertheless, I wanted to post a link to his newest paper, "Decentralized Responses to Good Fortune and Bad Luck."
ABSTRACT: Most forms of egalitarian theory impose on government (and through it other people) to redress the inequalities of fortune that result from bad luck. This Article takes issue with the various forms of this large claim, and argues that decentralized forms of assistance are likely in the long run to do better by the very standards by which egalitarians justify their own program. The alleviation of poverty depends in the first instance on increases in wealth that can only come through private innovation and technological advances. These have in fact produced major improvements in overall well-being, with disproportionate advances for the poor. But if one starts with Dworkin's unsustainable distinction between option and brute luck, or Nussbaum and Sen's capability theory, then no egalitarian theory can deliver on the promise to level differences in wealth without seriously compromising overall levels of social welfare. By expanding the scope of government regulation, these proposals open the door to selfish political forces whose political clout ensures that ill-conceived programs, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, frustrate the very goals they hope to achieve. State intervention to redistribute resources should be understood as a last resort for dealing with problems of ill fortune.
February 12, 2008
CNN on What is Middle Class
Boston Review on Ending Urban Poverty and Middle Class (Warren) issues
In their Forums and Special Issues section, the Boston Review includes a couple of articles on urban poverty plus a number of articles on the middle class:
- Dalton Conley, Ending Urban Poverty Introduction
- Patrick Sharkey, The Inherited Ghetto
- Stefanie DeLuca, Neighborhood Matters
Middle Class Principal Article: Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi, What's Hurting the Middle Class?
- Jacob S. Hacker, Economic Risk has shifted from the government and corporations to workers and their families
- Jonathan Gruber, The middle class has a higher standard of living than ever before. Who should pay for it?
- G. Marcus Cole, Consumer bankruptcy is insurance for which the insured need not save or pay
- Jeff Madrick, Why have the left and the right both distorted the central facts about consumer debt?
- Stephen Brobeck, For many, there are few attractive savings options and much opportunity to build debt
- David Crockett, A real agenda for change must take consumer culture seriously
- Chuck Collins, The middle class is picking up the slack for both tax cuts and privatized public services
- A. Mechele Dickerson, Even before the new changes, bankruptcy laws were racially biased
- Tamara Draut, The larger story is about the triumph of market values and the denigration of government
- Jared Bernstein, Male wage stagnation is the central explanation for the middle-class squeeze
- Robert D. Manning, There has been a profound transformation in how Americans define needs and wants
- Juliet Schor, As public goods decay and democracy wanes, the populace is offered SUVs, malls, and debt
- Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi, Response: So long as we talk in terms of over-consumption, we strengthen the attack on the middle
Thank you to Patrick S. O'Donnell for bringing this to my attention!
February 10, 2008
Resource on Black/White disparities & New Paper on Discrimination in Low Wage Jobs
Conference Papers posted online
The Chicago Workshop on Black-White Inequality has posted a large number of papers presented at their earlier meetings, an advantage of which is that these papers are both sorted into panel topics and cover a significant range of the issues/areas of study relevant when looking at the persistence of black/white inequality. To get to the papers, follow the links for the different session dates and then click on the topic/session that interests you and then the paper title (most of the links still work, but a few are down).
Devah Pager, Bruce Western, and Bart Bonikowski have a new paper of interest that uses testers (similar to testers used in housing discrimination studies) and investigates low wage jobs. The paper is "Race at Work: A Field Experiment of Discrimination in Low-Wage Labor Markets."
ABSTRACT: Racial progress over the past four decades has lead some researchers and policy makers to proclaim the problem of discrimination solved. But the debates about discrimination have been obscured by a lack of reliable evidence. In this study, we adopt an experimental audit approach to formally test patterns of discrimination in the low-wage labor market of New York City. By using matched teams of individuals to apply for real entry-level jobs, it becomes possible to directly measure the extent to which race/ethnicity, in the absence of other disqualifying characteristics, reduce employment opportunities among equally qualified applicants. We find that whites and Latinos are systemically favored over black job seekers. Indeed, the effect of discrimination is so large that white job seekers just released from prison do no worse than blacks without criminal records. Relying on both quantitative and qualitative data from our testers' experiences, this study presents striking evidence of the continuing significance of race in shaping the employment opportunities of low-wage workers.
February 8, 2008
LatCrit Call for Papers and Prior Conference Papers
The LatCrit conference is a good way to share work connected to Latino issues, not surprising many papers presented there (and later published in connection with the conference) have a poverty angle. The next LatCrit No. XIII is Oct. 2-4, 2008 at Seattle University School of Law, and the call for papers deadline is March 14, 2008. Papers from LatCrit XI are available online here (published by the Nevada Law Journal (2007)).
February 7, 2008
Romney's gracious exit from the campaign
It is almost not worth blogging about, but after listening to Mitt Romney's withdrawal speech from the presidential campaign (Romney campaign press release here), I thought his attack on welfare was worth noting because it seemed particularly angry as well as odd; quoting from the speech, "... tolerance for pornography--even celebration of it--and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today's grim realities...". For more, see the text of his speech, available here.
February 6, 2008
Conference Announcement: Indigenous Economic Development Apr. 3, 2008
Lewis and Clark Law School is hosting a conference on "Indigenous Economic Development: Sustainability, Culture and Business," Friday, April 4, 2008 in Portland, Oregon. The speakers are: Gavin Clarkson, Matthew Fletcher, Kevin Gover, David Haddock, Stacy Leeds, Robert Miller (also the conference organizer), Richard Monette, Judith Royster, Wenona Singel, Alex Skibine, and Kevin Washburn. More on the speakers/talks is available here, and the schedule is here.
As a personal aside, since I work on Indian stuff, I wish I could make it, but if you are at all interested in the topic, given the speakers, this is absolutely worth going to! (The photo is one I took of a new house built on the Navajo Nation using NAHASDA funding.)
Another paper by Jonathan Barry Forman
Jonathan Barry Forman, author of Making America Work, has posted "Managing the Beast: How Government Can Reduce Wealth Inequality" (forthcoming Georgetown J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y) to SSRN.
ABSTRACT: The government can, and should, intervene in the free market to reduce inequality in the distribution of wealth. We simply do not have to settle for a society where the top 5 percent of households have dozens of times as much income as the bottom 20 percent and hundreds of times as much wealth. We should combine the individual income tax and the Social Security payroll tax into a single, comprehensive income tax system with a broad base and low tax rates on earned income. We should also keep the current estate tax or, alternatively, replace it with an annual wealth tax. Even a modest annual wealth tax could raise $50 billion a year.
An earlier paper of his (see earlier posting to this blog here), "Promoting Economic Justice in the Face of Globalization," is also worth checking out.
February 5, 2008
Krugman on the difference between the Clinton and Obama Health Care plans
Paul Krugman (an unofficial Krugman site is here) has an interesting article on the health care proposals of Clinton and Obama and how the plans differ in terms of ensuring everyone is covered: "Clinton, Obama, Insurance" NYTimes Feb. 4, 2008. The conclusion, that Obama's plan will leave some uninsured is not surprising if you have been following the debates, but Krugman is always worth reading.
February 4, 2008
New Economic Mobility Project Report on Govn't Spending on Mobility
New Economic Mobility Project Report: How Much Does the Federal Government Spend to Promote Economic Mobility and for Whom?
work experience and saving enhance the opportunity for upward economic
mobility. To this end, many federal investments aim to enhance economic
mobility. But exactly how much does the federal government encourage
economic mobility? What form does the encouragement take? And who
benefits from these efforts? -E.R. email@example.com
Abstract: Education, work experience and saving enhance the opportunity for upward economic mobility. To this end, many federal investments aim to enhance economic mobility. But exactly how much does the federal government encourage economic mobility? What form does the encouragement take? And who benefits from these efforts?