June 30, 2008
Unequal America: Cover of Harvard Alumni Magazine
Although it, naturally enough, contains a mainly citations to Harvard professors, the cover story of the Harvard alumni magazine has a brief eight page story that pretty quickly covers many of the issues of inequality in the U.S. The story is: Elizabeth Gudrais, "Unequal America: Causes and consequences of the wide--and growing--gap between rich and poor," Harvard Magazine (July-Aug 2008).
June 24, 2008
News: Rent support to avoid student turnover
The N.Y. Times today has a story on rental subsidies being paid to parents to help reduce student turnover and education disruption. Erik Eckholm, "To Avoid Student Turnover, Parents Get Rent Help," NYTimes, June 24, 2008.
Call for Papers: The Global Repercussions of the U.S. Subprime Mortgage Meltdown
Courtesy of the Legal Scholarship Blog: The Journal of Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems is hosting a symposium on "Financial Markets and Systemic Risk: The Global Repercussions of the U.S. Subprime Mortgage Meltdown," on Feb. 20, 2009, with papers published by the Journal. The deadline for Submissions: Monday July 21, 2008. Click on the above link for more info.
June 20, 2008
National Conference on Homeless Youth and the Law
From the Legal Scholarship Blog: The University of Washington School of Law, the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, the National Network for Youth, and with the support of Casey Family Programs hosted the National Conference on Homeless Youth and the Law yesterday and today. For more links see the Legal Scholarship Blog posting here.
Crime and Section 8 Placements from Atlantic Monthly
This month's Atlantic Monthly features a potentially troubling story worth checking out. Hanna Rosin, "American Murder Mystery," Atlantic Monthly, July/Aug 2008. Note, clicking through the pages of the story at the bottom of the first webpage reveals more photos and video content.
Teaser from the article: "On the merged map, dense violent-crime areas are shaded dark blue, and Section8 addresses are represented by little red dots. All of the dark-blue areas are covered in little red dots, like bursts of gunfire. ... Nobody in the antipoverty community and nobody in city leadership was going to welcome the news that the noble experiment that they’d been engaged in for the past decade had been bringing the city down, in ways they’d never expected."
-Heads up courtesy of Susan Bennett. E.R. email@example.com
June 19, 2008
Report of Interest: Making the Law Work for Everyone
The Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor of the UNDP released its final report, "Making the Law Work for Everyone." The Economist has a brief article about the report here and a video of the launch of the report can be found here.
Many more background papers and the individual chapters of the report can be found here.
June 16, 2008
Tax law review article: Democracy and Opportunity
A new tax article published of interest: James R. Repetti, Democracy and Opportunity: A New Paradigm in Tax Equity, 61 Vand. L. Rev. 1129 (2008). Also on SSRN here. Abstract below:
Although there is consensus about the need for equity, academics and policy makers disagree about the best tax system because we have ignored the need to first identify equity goals appropriate for a just government and then to design a tax system to help achieve those goals. This article proposes that the principal equity goal underlying a just government is the creation of equal opportunities for all citizens to achieve self realization, i.e. to maximize their potential. It proposes, therefore, that a tax should be designed to achieve equal opportunity for self realization as one of its principal goals. Viewing equal opportunity for self realization as a design issue leads to the identification of another principle that is foundational - the promotion of democracy. Both political philosophy and empirical literature suggest that equal access to the electoral process and participation in the community has to exist in order for equal opportunity for self realization to exist. Designing a tax system to help achieve these goals will not only increase equity, but also may provide efficiency gains that analysts have previously ignored.
To illustrate the importance of designing a tax system based upon these equity principles, this article revisits the debate about the desirability of an income tax versus a consumption tax. It argues that a progressive income tax, which limits loss deductions, is better than an ideal consumption tax in establishing the conditions for equal opportunity for self realization and democracy. A progressive income tax that limits loss deductions burdens investment income, which is a major source of political power. In contrast, a consumption tax cannot burden the disproportionate political power of the wealthy because it only burdens investment income in narrow situations and wealthy individuals only consume a small percentage of their total income. Although taxpayers can use portfolio adjustments to eliminate the burden on investment income in an ideal income tax, they have not used such adjustments in our actual income tax. This behavior may result from taxpayer concern that portfolio adjustments can decrease the after-tax return below that obtained in a fully taxable situation due to our tax system's limitations on loss deductions and changes in applicable tax rates.
This article also analyzes some other efficiency and equity claims for the two forms of taxes. The efficiency claims for an ideal consumption tax versus our existing income tax are overstated when viewed in the context of real-world systems that take into account taxpayer behavior and transition relief. Given the uncertain efficiency gains of a consumption tax in the real world, there is a strong argument that the equity goals discussed herein should govern the selection of a tax system. Such equity goals favor a progressive income tax that burdens investment income.
For those who do public-interest transactional work in the academy
TO: Faculty Members interested in Transactional Law
FROM: Planning Committee on 2009
Lisa Fairfax, University of Maryland, Chair
Victor Fleischer, University of Illinois
Peter Pitegoff, University of Maine
D. Gordon Smith, Brigham Young University
Alfred Chueh-Chin Yen, Boston College
We are planning the
About the Program: In 1994, the
Please note that the
Request for Proposals on Transactional Law Scholarship: In keeping with the conference theme, the Program will host a series of concurrent works-in-progress sessions designed to give interested faculty members an opportunity to present new scholarship related to transactional law. We are seeking works-in-progress proposals on transactional law scholarship broadly understood. Thus, we are seeking proposals on scholarship that focuses on the legal, financial, and practical implications of business transactions in a variety of different settings. In addition, we welcome proposals on the transactional side of the legal profession and the role of lawyers in consummating such transactions. We do not mean to limit the range of proposals in this area, and would welcome proposals on transactional scholarship of all types.
Request for Proposals on Innovative Methods of Teaching Transactional Law: We are planning a 75 minute plenary session on innovative methods of teaching transactional law, and are seeking proposals for faculty members interested in presenting in the session. Many law professors teach transactional skills in a variety of contexts, from stand-alone "Deals" or Business Planning courses to in-class exercises as part of doctrinal classes. A number of law schools have developed innovative courses or programs in transactional law. We are interested in hearing discussion of the various approaches with an eye towards discovering what works and what doesn't. To anchor the discussion, participants may wish to explore how they use (or choose not to use) case studies as a method for teaching transactional law. We welcome proposals from faculty members who wish to share their insights on using case studies and other innovative techniques and the manner in which those techniques enhance student development of transactional skills. As with the request for works-in-progress, we do not mean to limit the range of proposals in this area.
Submission Guidelines: Interested faculty should submit a 300-500 word written proposal of the proposed work-in-progress or proposed presentation not later than July 15, 2008. Faculty may submit proposals for both the work-in-progress and the presentation. In addition, as noted above, faculty who has submitted proposals in connection with the Business Association's Request for Proposals also may submit to the Program on Transactional Law. Please submit the description by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The presentations will not be published. Chosen presenters must register for the Workshop and will be responsible for their own travel and other expenses. Any questions should be directed to Professor Lisa M. Fairfax, University of Maryland School of Law, email@example.com.
June 12, 2008
News: Colorado has Largest Rise in Child Poverty
According to the Colorado Children's Campaign (their report is here), and reported on in the New York Times Today, "Colorado experienced the nation's largest rate of growth in impoverished children from 2000-2006" (article here with graphic of shifts in poverty here). The Denver Post's editorial responding to the report urges education as the solution: Board Editorial, "Learning how to escape poverty," June 11, 2008.
June 11, 2008
AALS Section on Poverty Law Panel Announcement
The AALS Section on Poverty Law has announced the details of the coming AALS panel.
Section on Poverty Law
“Privatization: Promise and Pitfall at the Intersection of Law, Markets and Poverty”
Friday, January 9, 2009, 3:30-5:15 pm; A meeting of the Section on Poverty Law will immediately follow the session.
This session will explore the challenges and opportunities of market-based approaches to poverty relief in light of more than a quarter century of government disinvestment from low-income neighborhoods. The panel will feature a description of San Diego's Market Creek Plaza, a 10-acre real estate partnership in a culturally diverse, underinvested neighborhood that represents one of the first commercial development projects designed, built and (ultimately) owned by community residents. Panelists will also describe innovative banking and housing efforts designed to expand tenant ownership and access to capital and credit in urban communities.
A commentator will encourage panelists and participants to consider practical,
political and philosophical pros and cons of such approaches. Are market-based
approaches the “new urban renewal?” Can the market deliver where the government
has failed? What are some of the unintended consequences of even the most
well-meaning, well-designed programs? What do these projects portend for local
residents who all too often have been the objects of reform but not its
subjects? What lessons can we draw as the country prepares to usher in a new
administration in Washington that might take seriously a renewed anti-poverty agenda?
- Susan Bennett, American University Washington College of Law
- Barbara Bezdek, University of Maryland School of Law
- Louise Howells, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law
- Jennifer Vanica, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (San Diego)
- Angela Harris, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
-Thanks to Jeff Selbin for the heads up. E.R. firstname.lastname@example.org
June 10, 2008
Brookings Report Urges Raising EITC
A new Brookings Report urges increases to the EITC, and on Friday there will be a briefing on the report. The report is: Alan Berube, David Park, Elizabeth Kneebone, Metro Raise: Boosting the Earned Income Tax Credit to Help Metropolitan Workers and Families, Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings (June 2008). The summary is here and the abstract is below:
To alleviate poverty, make work pay, and help low-wage workers and lower-income families meet rising costs of living, the federal government should expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Targeted expansions to the credit, and new options for workers to receive the EITC’s proceeds throughout the year (rather than in a lump sum), would ensure more economically inclusive growth, especially in the major metropolitan areas where the bulk of America’s working poor resides.
The briefing will be on Friday, June 13, at 10 am in Washington, DC in Room B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Panelists include: Alan Berube, Report Author and Research Director, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution; Karen Crompton, Executive Director, Voices for Utah Children; Dermot Finch, Director, Centre for Cities, London, UK; Nick Gwyn, Majority Staff Director, Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee, Ways and Means Committee; and Chauncy Lennon, Vice President for Asset Building Programs, SEEDCO, New York. Please RSVP to Laura Hayes at email@example.com.
-Thanks to Josh Nelson at the Hatcher Group for the heads up. E.R. firstname.lastname@example.org
June 9, 2008
Privatopia in India
The New York Times today published a story on privatopian communities (borrowing from Evan McKenzie) in India: Somini Sengupta, "Inside Gate, India's Good Life; Outside, the Servant's Slums)," NYTimes, June 9, 2008. Associated slideshow here.
News Coverage: Gas Prices in Rural Areas
The New York Times published a story of interest: Clifford Krauss, "Rural U.S. Takes Worst Hit as Gas Tops $4 Average," NYTimes, June 9, 2008. Linked to the story is an interactive graphic on the varying impact of gas prices (looking at the % of income spent on gas; gas prices; and distribution of income) as well as a slideshow.
June 7, 2008
Paper worth reading: Privatization, Policy Paralysis, and the Poor
David A. Super has a new paper worth checking out: David A. Super, Privatization, Policy Paralysis, and
the Poor, 96 Calif. L. Rev. 393 (2008). So far I have been unable to find an online version other than through Lexis or Westlaw so you will have to dig for it, but it is worth it. In the paper, Prof. Super looks critically at the privatization of welfare and other support service agencies (food stamps, etc.); the paper details the sort of privatization that is taking place and argues in favor of maintaining the government support bureaucracy.
June 6, 2008
More news coverage of global food crisis
The following links and stories may be of interest to those concerned or interested in the global food crisis:
- Amartya Sen, "Op-Ed: The Rich Get Hungrier," New York Times, May 28, 2008 [very good op-ed from Nobel Prize winner].
- World Bank press release connected to Rome Conference on Global Food Crisis and call for urgent action.
- New York Times Series on The Food Chain. [Lots of photos and stories.]
- Washington Post's Series on the Global Food Crisis. [A series with ongoing coverage.]
- Elisabeth Rosenthal & Andrew Martin, "Leaders Speak of Their Own Issues at a Conference Addressing Food Shortages," New York Times, June 5, 2008.
- Andrew Martin & Elisabeth Rosenthal, "U.N. Says Food Plan Could Cost $30 Billion a Year," New York Times, June 4, 2008.
Article of Interest (and conference announcement): Poverty and Violent Conflict
Violent conflicts are a substantial barrier to economic development. Almost one third of the world's population lives in conflict-affected low income countries. Yet little is known about the effects of conflict on household behaviour, household welfare and poverty. The Households in Conflict Network (HiCN) brings together researchers interested in the micro level analysis of the relationship between violent conflict and household welfare.
One paper from their website that gives a taste of the network's work is: Patricia Justino, "Poverty and Violent Conflict: A Micro-Level Perspective on the Causes and Duration of Welfare," HiCN Working Paper 46, May 2008. Abstract:
This paper argues that endogenous mechanisms linking processes of violent conflict and household poverty provide valuable micro foundations to the ongoing debate on the causes and duration of armed conflicts. Household poverty affects the onset, sustainability and duration of violent conflict due to the direct and indirect effects of violence on the economic behaviour and decisions of households in conflict areas. These effects lead to the emergence of symbiotic relationships between armed groups and households living in areas they control that may sustain the conflict for a long time. The strength of this relationship is a function of two interdependent variables, namely household vulnerability to poverty and household vulnerability to violence.
June 5, 2008
Reviving a Paper Mill - Worker Stakeholders
The New York Times today covered the revival of a paper mill, in a story that shows the value of non-owner stakeholders: Fernanda Santos, "Revived Paper Mill Brings a Town Back With It," NY Times June 5, 2008; there is also an associated slide show.
June 3, 2008
Fuel Poverty: UK and the US
A non-profit, Economic Opportunity Studies, has released a (short) report delineating the difference between the view on fuel poverty within the US and the UK. The UK, it should be noted, has stated that fuel poverty occurs when a home spends more than 10% of its income on Fuel Bills. While The US has not come to a consensus on where the fuel poverty line occurs, the following study shows the probable number of households in the US falling below this line utilizing the UK standard.
According to a recent BBC news article, talks about a new plan that the UK is proposing in order to overcome some of the energy problems faced by their poor. Although there is heavy criticism on the grounds that the plan is not enough to overcome many fuel poverty issues, there are strong proponents that point out that the plan is a large step in the right direction.
(All of this brings up Joseph Kennedy's efforts to bring lower heating costs to the poor, with the assistance of CITGO. For negative commentary on the political aspects of this Venezuelan oil, see a Heritage Foundation editorial. The New York Times Sunday Magazine also has an in depth article looking at nationalized oil, "The Perils of Petrocracy," that touches on this.)
-With thanks to Farhan Ali. E.R. email@example.com
New York Times Editorial on Immigration
The New York Times published a strong editorial, "The Great Immigration Panic," June 3, 2008 that calls attention to how history will judge our current zenophobia. It is worth reading even though more explicitly tied to the ImmigrationProf Blog.
-[In the interest of full disclosure, I am married to a Salvadoran who is now a legal permanent resident.] E.R. firstname.lastname@example.org
June 2, 2008
Millions unable to access HIV/AIDS Medication
The World Health Organization, UNAids, and Unicef have stated that they are two years behind on their access target of placing 3 million people on antiretroviral therapy (ART). The main reason behind the slow movement of these agencies is attributed to the weak healthcare systems in these low income countries coupled with lack of staff and long-term financing. For more, see related BBC story; World Health Organization report on Scaling Up Antiretroviral Therapy in Resource Limited Settings; and a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation case study on Working with Botswana to Confront Its Devastating AIDS Crisis.
-Thanks to Farhan Ali. E.R. email@example.com
Jack Kemp and George Mitchell on Poverty in the Spotlight
Of interest: Jack Kemp & George Mitchell, "Poverty Has Returned to the Public Agenda," Spotlight on Poverty. Note that if you go to the link you will also find number of other op-eds on poverty from the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.
-Thanks to Josh Nelson at the Hatcher Group for the heads up. E.R. firstname.lastname@example.org