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November 25, 2008

Media coverage of poverty in the 2008 campaign

The Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity released a new report by Tom Freedman and John Bridgeland that looks at the coverage of poverty by the media 2003 to 2008.  "Reaching New Heights: The Issue of Poverty in the 2008 Campaign, A Study of Print Media" can be found here.  The key findings are:

-Thanks to Josh Nelson at the Hatcher Group for the heads up.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

November 25, 2008 in News Coverage of Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 24, 2008

Overworked Public Defenders Rejecting New Cases

Older story of interest: Erik Eckholm, "Citing Workload, Public Lawyers Reject New Cases," New York Times, Nov. 8, 2008. 

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

November 24, 2008 in News Coverage of Poverty | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 23, 2008

Web Resource: Chicago-Kent 2008 Financial Crisis Primer

A new very helpful compilation of materials on the crisis can be found at the Chicago-Kent 2008 Financial Crisis Primer webpage

-Thanks to Brian Leiter's Law School Reports for the heads up! E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

November 23, 2008 in Links and Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2008

Movie Recommendation: Slumdog Millionaire

Though not perhaps exactly "poverty law" material, nevertheless as a movie worth checking out for its depiction of the Mumbai slums, "Slumdog Millionaire" is great!

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

November 22, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2008

Workplace Flexibility and Workplace Fairness

The workplace is getting some attention these days.  According to Georgetown Law's Workplace Flexibility 2010 program, the definition (from the Sloan National Initiative) is:

Georgetown's program (headed by Chai Feldblum and Katie Corrigan) includes a helpful webpage listing all the laws impacting workplace flexibility.  They also have a page with a ton of great workplace flexibility links

Personally, the focus on multiple points of entry and exit seems highly relevant to the poor who often needlessly suffer lasting career effects currently from early mistakes. 

The American Constitution Society's "A Fresh Start for a New Administration: Reforming Law and Justice Policies," consisting of a couple of events and connected papers includes three on workplace fairness:

-E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu 

November 21, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2008

Downward Mobility: The Formerly Middle Class

UPDATE: my brief response to "The Formerly Middle Class" was published today as a letter to the editor

The popular press (and to some degree academics as well) likes to focus on the middle class squeeze, see House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform page on the Middle Class Squeeze here, which when combined with the economic downturn will likely create a new category of people according to recent op-ed -- David Brooks, "The Formerly Middle Class," New York Times, Nov. 17, 2008 -- who he thinks are likely to generate the "next big social movement."  An earlier op-ed has a similar focus, though it does so by focusing on particular affected individuals: Bob Herbert, "Climbing Down the Ladder," Oct. 17, 2008.  The Herbert op-ed inspired a great letter to the editor by Amy Laiken, who noted: "While not trivializing the plight of the women profiled by Mr. Hebert, it is worth noting that there has not been enough public discussion of the problems of the millions of lower income who cannot climb up the ladder to the middle class . . ."  Hopefully Daschle's appointment will be able to help. 

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

November 19, 2008 in News Coverage of Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 17, 2008

New paper on Inter-Nation Equity (through Tax)

Kim Brooks has posted "Inter-Nation Equity: The Development of an Important but Underappreciated International Tax Value" to SSRN.  Having been impressed by a related presentation by Kim Brooks at the Valparaiso Law, Poverty, & Economic Inequality Conference, the paper seems of interest.  The abstract is below:

Modern high-income states have relied on income taxes and redistributive spending to reduce inequality nationally; yet few states have considered how their national tax systems might have important implications for international income flows between high-income and low-income states and how their tax treaties might be used as a mechanism for achieving a fairer distribution of income internationally. Discussions about the possibilities of tax systems as a means of distributing income globally, and of acting in the service of the reduction of global inequality, are nascent, but not new. The foundational, and still leading, contribution to this area of scholarship is Peggy and Richard Musgrave's 1972 essay, 'Inter-Nation Equity'. 

This contribution to the conference in honor of Richard Musgrave focuses on that 1972 essay, and the work that has built on it. Part 2 reviews the 1972 essay in some detail, highlighting the Musgraves' arguments and insights into the idea of inter-nation equity. Part 3 details Peggy Musgrave's subsequent contributions to our understanding of inter-nation equity. Part 4 turns to a consideration of some of the articles that have borrowed from and built on the Musgraves' work, and Part 5 offers a description of the state of our understanding about the content of inter-nation equity and provides some reflections on the increased importance of the concept.

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

November 17, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2008

American Enterprise Institute publications of interest on poverty

The American Enterprise Institute has two newer books that might be of interest, even if their stance is not that of most of the reports posted (the political perspective of the AEI can be found here):

Prices 1. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, Prices, Poverty, and Inequality: Why Americans Are Better Off Than You Think (AEI 2008).  Abstract Below:

According to conventional wisdom, the economic well-being of all but the wealthiest Americans has stagnated or declined over the past twenty-five years. In Prices, Poverty, and Inequality: Why Americans Are Better Off Than You Think, Christian Broda and David E. Weinstein argue that this idea is based upon misleading measurements of wealth and poverty. The consumer price index used to compute official measures of real wages and poverty ignores two key sources of increased prosperity: the introduction of new and better products and consumers' ability to substitute between goods. Deflating nominal wages by a cost-of-living index that adjusts for these previously unconsidered factors of prosperity suggests that the real wages of the poor have actually risen by 30 percent since the late 1970s--and that the poverty rate in America has fallen dramatically over the last forty years.

How can we account for the discrepancy between standard measures of economic well-being--which suggest a trend of increased poverty--and alternative measures that indicate an upswing in prosperity? As Broda and Weinstein argue, product innovation has long been a key source of prosperity for American households. New and better household appliances, cellular phones, vehicle air bags, medicines, and computers are among the many product improvements that have benefited Americans, including the poor, over the last few decades. Yet current official price statistics capture only a portion of the benefits that these improved goods provide to American households. Broda and Weinstein conclude that adjusting poverty measures to fully account for the benefits of product improvements reveals that Americans in every income group are substantially better off economically than they were a quarter century ago.

Povertyrate 2. Nicholas Eberstadt, The Poverty of the "Poverty Rate": Measure and Mismeasure of Want in Modern America (AEI 2008).  AEI is hosting a book forum, info here, discussing this book on Wednesday Nov. 19, 2008.  Abstract below:

Since its inception in 1965, America's official poverty rate (OPR) has been the single most important statistic used by policymakers and concerned citizens to evaluate success or failure in the nation's ongoing struggle against material need. But in a critical new examination of this widely followed measure, Nicholas Eberstadt charges that the OPR is, in reality, "a broken compass"--a flawed index generating increasingly misleading numbers about poverty in the United States.

The OPR was originally intended to track an absolute level of poverty over time by comparing a family's reported pretax income against a corresponding poverty threshold. But for the past three decades, the OPR has reported trends that are jarringly inconsistent with other statistical indicators of material deprivation. What is the reason for this curious discrepancy? Eberstadt suggests that the OPR's most serious problem is its implicit assumption that poor families will spend no more than their reported annual incomes--in other words, that their income levels are an accurate proxy for their consumption levels. In the decades since the OPR was unveiled, the disparity between reported income and expenditures has progressively widened, making income an ever less reliable predictor of consumption patterns--and, consequently, living standards--for America's poorer families.

In The Poverty of "The Poverty Rate," Eberstadt contends that the defects of the current poverty rate are not only severe but irremediable. Income-based measures cannot offer a faithful portrait of consumption patterns or material well-being in the United States. Central though the OPR has become to antipoverty policy, this "untrustworthy yardstick" should be discarded and replaced by more accurate measures of deprivation.

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

November 15, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2008

Report of interest: Towards a Shared Recovery

Report: Towards Shared Recovery, by the Coalition on Human Needs and ActNow Emergency Campaign for America's Priorities, presents an economic package which would both boost the economy and help those most in need.  The press release is here and the summary is below:

The report calls on Congress to quickly pass an economic stimulus package that fosters a shared economic recovery by providing targeted investment in programs and services that help low-income Americans meet basic needs and find jobs during a time of growing unemployment and economic hardship. The unemployment rate in October jumped to 6.5 percent, the highest in 14 years, according to government data released on Friday. Of the 10.1 million Americans who are jobless and looking for work, 2.2 million have been out of work for at least six months - the largest number in 25 years.

-Thanks to Josh Nelson at the Hatcher Group for the heads up.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

November 11, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2008

Return to Keynesian Economics and Bottom-Up Bailout?

What the Obama post-victory economic plan will be is not known at this moment (the campaign version is here), but could it mean a return to Keynesian economics?  Or to the New Deal--or the New New Deal (The Nation recently had a commemorative issue dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, available here).  Maybe it should be a green version of the New Deal?

China's recently announced bailout/stimulus package -- see Washington Post story here, New York Times story here -- that focuses on easing credit restrictions, expanding social services and welfare, and on infrastructure might be a model of where the U.S. could go in the future (though critics might scoff at doing what China does, they have managed a level of sustained growth that far exceeds what the U.S. has achieved -- see e.g. a Dept. of Ag. Economic Research Service report available here).  About the possibility of a new New Deal, Paul Krugman's op-ed, Franklin Delano Obama?, New York Times, Nov. 10, 2008, borrowing from Obama's book title, on the topic ends, "Progressives can only hope that he has the necessary audacity." 

Incidentally, the video of Obama's recent press conference on the economy can be found here.

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

November 10, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 8, 2008

Worth Reading: Krugman on Obama and Progressive Agenda (plus editorial on shelters)

See Paul Krugman (winner of the Nobel prize), "The Obama Agenda," New York Times, Nov. 7, 2008. 

Another editorial  of note (thanks to Stephanie Humphries): Editorial, "Good Neighbors," New York Times, Nov. 7, 2008 (noting cost savings for supportive apartments versus emergency shelters).  The editorial reminded me of a couple of earlier articles: Jennifer Egan, "To Be Young and Homeless," New York Times Sunday Magazine, Mar. 24, 2002 and Malcolm Gladwell, "Million Dollar Murray," The New Yorker, Feb. 13, 2006. 

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

November 8, 2008 in News Coverage of Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 6, 2008

Good blog posting with audio links on the financial crisis

Posted by William Henderson on the Empirical Legal Studies Blog...

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

November 6, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Two new articles of interest posted to SSRN

From SSRN Economic Inequality and Law Abstracts:

William E. Forbath, The Politics of Race, Rights and Needs -- And the Perils of a Democratic Victory in Post-Welfare America, 20 Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 195 (2008).  Abstract below:

Welfare is dead; but social rights are coming back. The 2008 election has brought the right to health care, to decent education, even to decently paid work back into circulation. What forms might a rekindled social citizenship take under a Democratic administration? What are its promises and perils? And for those concerned about the perils of exclusion for poor people of color, what might be done to push an Obama administration toward more pro-poor policies? What might a poor people's movement look like in the 2010s; and what can we learn from the strategies, insights and blind spots, the achievements and shortcomings of the Welfare Rights Movement of the 1960s? This review essay offers a few reflections.

Wendy A. Bach, Welfare Reform, Privatization and Power: Reconfiguring Administrative Law Structures from the Ground Up, 74 Brooklyn L. Rev. __ (2008).  Abstract below:

Since welfare reform in 1996, privatization has led to a radical reconfiguration in the dominant mode of governance in public benefits programs. The United States has largely moved from systems controlled through law and regulation to systems controlled through contracts. With this shift has come a significant diminishment in public accountability in general and, more specifically, a diminishment in the ability of poor communities and their advocates to intervene in the making of welfare policy. At the same time, privatization has proven to be an extraordinarily effective mechanism for imposing highly punitive welfare programs on poor communities. Building upon the findings of grassroots, community-controlled research on the effectiveness of privatized welfare-to-work programs, this article argues that "collaborative" or "new governance" structures provide potentially meaningful opportunities for increasing public accountability in privatized welfare settings. However, given the long history and current practice of using welfare programs as a means of subordination, these structures must be configured in a way that makes primary and renders substantive the role of low income communities in the new collaborative governance enterprise.

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

November 6, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 5, 2008

'08 Mayors' Action Forum on Poverty Report

Mayorreport The United States Conference of Mayors' Sep. 2008 Report, "National Action Agenda on Poverty for the Next President of the United States" can be found here.  It is very short but interesting.  Thanks go to Bob Giloth, who blogged about and critiqued the report here.   

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

November 5, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 4, 2008

Overview of the economy and the election thanks to "Good"

Readers of this blog, VOTE.  Please. 

I found a link from Starbucks of all places to "Good" which has a overview of election issues and of the economy (from the goodsheet) that might be of interest.  See also the New York Times running visual depiction of reader emotions

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

November 4, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stanford Press series on Social Inequality

Stanford University Press has a book series on "Social Inequality" of interest.  The series includes among others:

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

November 4, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 1, 2008

Law and Society 2009 Denver

The annual Law and Society conference will be in Denver, May 28-May 31, 2009.  The call for papers and panels deadline is Dec. 8, 2008.  More information can be found here.  The theme this year is "Law, Power, and Inequality in the 21st Century." 

-For new (and older) law professors, law and society is a good conference that brings together a lot of people so check it out.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

November 1, 2008 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack