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:
- 2008 coverage of poverty as a topic in articles concerning the presidential campaigns was more than double that of 2004.
- The key drivers of the coverage in 2008 include John Edwards and the economy, but these were responsible for less than half the stories overall (44.8%).
- Both 2007 and 2008 were high points for coverage of poverty as an issue in politics.
- Overall, coverage of poverty in politics increased 369 percent since 2003.
-Thanks to Josh Nelson at the Hatcher Group for the heads up. E.R. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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!
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:
- The ability to have flexibility in the scheduling of hours;
- The ability to have flexibility in the number of hours worked;
- The ability to have career flexibility with multiple points for entry, exit and reentry into the workforce; and
- The ability to address unexpected and ongoing personal and family needs.
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:
- Anne Marie Lofaso
- Cyrus Mehri and Ellen Eardley
- David Uhlmann
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.
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:
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):
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.
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:
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.
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. email@example.com
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.
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.
November 6, 2008
Good blog posting with audio links on the financial crisis
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:
Wendy A. Bach, Welfare Reform, Privatization and Power: Reconfiguring Administrative Law Structures from the Ground Up, 74 Brooklyn L. Rev. __ (2008). Abstract below:
November 5, 2008
'08 Mayors' Action Forum on Poverty Report
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.
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.
Stanford Press series on Social Inequality
Stanford University Press has a book series on "Social Inequality" of interest. The series includes among others:
- Wei-hsin Yu, Gendered Trajectories: Women, Work, and Social Change in Japan and Taiwan (March 2009)
- Creating Wealth and Poverty in Postsocialist China (Deborah S. Davis and Wang Feng eds, Dec. 2008)
- Stratification in Higher Education: A Comparative Study (Yossi Shavit, Richard Arum & Adam Gamoran eds, 2007)
- The Political Sociology of the Welfare State: Institutions, Social Cleavages, and Orientations (Stefan Svallfors ed. 2007)
- Poverty and Inequality (David Grusky & Ravi Kanbur, 2006) From the publisher:
- Mobility and Inequality: Frontiers of Research in Sociology and Economics (Stephan L. Morgan, David Grusky & Gary Fields eds, 2006)
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. firstname.lastname@example.org