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January 29, 2009

News Topic of the Day: Wall Street Bonuses and Obama

The bonuses paid by companies that failed (or rather were in danger of failing and needed a rescue) have received a lot of attention recently, including from Obama today.  Below are stories tied to this theme. 

A GREAT POST: from Bernard Harcourt at the Faculty Blog at the University of Chicago Law School: cut a $4 Billion Check!

Personally, I'm less convinced the problem is with the companies and not with the government.  If somebody is given money without strings attached, I'm not sure how successful calls for responsibility will be absent meaningful limits on compensation (say a requirement that companies getting bailed out limit pay in a more meaningful way than what has happened so far as a condition of getting money).  They do seem to be playing a game of chicken, basically daring the government to decide not to step in. 

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

January 29, 2009 in News Coverage of Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 28, 2009

Upcoming Conference: Housing and Economic Development at Brooklyn Law, March 27, 2009



Friday, March 27, 2009

LOCATION: Brooklyn Law School; 250 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201;



Historically, all levels of government have taken an active role in housing and economic development. As the federal government undergoes a change in administrations during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, this conference will take a fresh look at two of the key roles that government plays in this arena. The two morning panels will evaluate the role of federal and state governments in housing finance, especially in light of the ongoing crisis. The two afternoon panels will explore local government innovations in the economic development sector. Panelists will explain and evaluate how government's role is changing in response to this new political and financial environment. Papers from the symposium will be published in the Journal of Law and Policy. CLE credits are available (see web site for information). RSVP: http://www.brooklaw.edu/rsvp.

January 28, 2009 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Call for Papers: Journal of Law & Public Policy at the University of Florida

The Journal of Law & Public Policy at the University of Florida Levin College of Law is currently accepting submissions for its poverty law issue. This issue will be published in August 2009 and will focus on cutting-edge poverty law topics. If you would like to submit either an article or essay, then we prefer to have your finished piece no later than March 23, 2009. For additional information or to submit an article please contact Assistant Editor-in-Chief Tiffany L. Anderson at tianderson@ufl.edu.

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

January 28, 2009 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2009

For those who couldn't make AALS: podcast of Poverty Section's panel

The podcast of the AALS Section on Poverty Law panel at the 2009 AALS annual conference is now available online.  The panel information is below:

Privatization: Promise and Pitfall at the Intersection of Law, Markets and Poverty

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?

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

January 27, 2009 in Legal Academy Info | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2009

National Prayer Service -- focus on poverty

Dsc_0020 Though most people probably have seen Obama's inaugural speech (full text here), probably fewer saw the speech given by Rev. Sharon Watkins for the National Prayer Service the day after inauguration.  It focused on poverty and the need to work on this even with the other problems the country is facing (full text here, video here). 

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

January 23, 2009 in Global Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Visiting Scholars Program at Michigan's National Poverty Center

The National Poverty Center, part of the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, has an unpaid visiting scholar program that lets you work at the Center.  There are 3 deadlines per year and the deadline for summer visits is Feb. 16, 2009.  More information here

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

January 23, 2009 in Legal Academy Info | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2009

Quigley: Letter to a Law Student Interested in Social Justice

Though somewhat dated (I only discovered and read it today), William P. Quigley has a brief article that should be of interest to many students, Letter to a Law Student Interested in Social Justice, 1 Depaul Journal for Social Justice 7 (2007).  Reading the first section on how public interest work goes against the mainstream culture and amounts to swimming upstream relative to the downstream paths to success made me think of a recent article comparing Obama and Chief Justice Roberts' careers: Linda Greenhouse, "Two Stars, Meeting Across a Bible," New York Times, Jan. 17, 2009. 

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

January 21, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2009

Interest Rate Cuts Cause Legal Aid Layoffs

Story Here: Erik Eckholm, "Interest Rate Drop Has Dire Results for Legal Aid," New York Times, Jan. 18, 2009. 

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

January 19, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2009

Lewis and Clark Indigenous Economic Development Symposium Articles

The Lewis and Clark Law Review just published the papers from its symposium, "Indigenous Economic Development: Sustainability, Culture, and Business":

ALSO, the same issue of the law review also includes this essay of interest:

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

January 17, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 15, 2009

William Mitchell Law Review seeking completed articles for a Poverty Law Issue

The William Mitchell Law Review is currently seeking completed papers that examine current issues and recent developments in Poverty Law. The William Mitchell Law Review is highly regarded both regionally and nationally.  Our Law Review recently ranked twenty-second in citations by judges and ranked fifty-seventh in citations by other law journals, culminating in an overall ranking of seventieth.  Over the years, the William Mitchell Law Review has featured the works of various scholars and practitioners such as Congressman Tim Penny, and former Vice President Walter Mondale. The William Mitchell Law Review has also published nationally known legal experts ranging from Philip Bruner, to Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Byron White, and Harry Blackmun. Please send submissions to Executive Editor Shira Shapiro at shira.shapiro@wmitchell.edu.

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

January 15, 2009 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Update on Yale's Rebellious Lawyering Conference, Feb. 20-22, 2009

Update on Yale's Rebellious Lawyering Conference, Feb. 20-22, 2009 with speakers/panel info and registration info, available here

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

January 15, 2009 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2009

New Paper: Francine Lipman on The Undocumented Immigrant Tax

Francine Lipman has posted "The Undocumented Immigrant Tax" to SSRN.  What is great about this essay is how strongly stated it is, a taste of which can be seen in the abstract below:

"Illegals do NOT pay taxes." As a law professor researching and writing about undocumented immigrants and their tax issues I see this comment in my email inbox and hear it during outreach efforts routinely. Every time I hear or read this or a similar comment, my whole body cringes. This short statement truly embodies the exploitation of the immigration debate. While this statement is often delivered from mainstream individuals, its origin can be traced to extremist rhetoric. Anti-immigrant and anti-Latino extremists have used outright bigotry to frame the immigration debate to advance their own supremacist agenda. By positioning themselves as legitimate advocates against illegal immigration in America these groups have broadened their base and mainstreamed their message. These groups "are frequently quoted in the media, have been called to testify before Congress, and often hold meetings with lawmakers and other public figures." As a result, in many American communities immigrants live in fear and suffer a toxic environment in which hateful rhetoric targeting immigrants has become an acceptable part of daily news and discourse. This Essay is an answer to this insidious vilification and arrant racism.

This Essay will debunk the short, but maladroit statement that "illegals do NOT pay taxes." First, calling a group of people "illegals" is hateful, "racially loaded, imprecise, and pejorative." Scholars, and children, understand that language and discourse can contribute to vile acts including crime, abuse and other social problems. Historical and current atrocities including the Holocaust, Darfur and the murder of Matthew Shepard are horrific examples of this intolerable truth. The term "illegals" is patently dehumanizing and inappropriate terminology, and its persistent use by extremists, as well as mainstream media and the general population, must stop now.

Second, as a low-income taxpayer and human rights advocate, I understand that pervasive misunderstanding regarding undocumented immigrants evinces the frustration and fear that many Americans feel about the challenging state of the U.S. and global economies. Restrictionists feed this frustration and fear with inflammatory propaganda about undocumented immigrants and our tax systems. Because of overwhelming complexity and lack of transparency in this system it is easy to misrepresent and distort the facts. As a result, some Americans believe the absolutely irrational and self-delusional assertion that undocumented immigrants do not pay any taxes. This gross falsehood is counterproductive for the speaker, the subject, and the U.S. and global economies.

Finally, as a tax professor I am charged with teaching tax and these comments broadcast loudly and boldly how misinformed Americans are about our tax systems. The well documented facts evidence that undocumented immigrants have paid hundreds of billions of dollars in American taxes to date. In most cases undocumented immigrants pay more in tax each year than similarly situated U.S. citizens. This additional tax, which is first exposed and labeled here as "the undocumented immigrant tax," is the subject of this Essay. This Essay will describe the depth and breadth of undocumented immigrants as a resource for tax payments made to government coffers across the country. The depth and breadth will be evinced by describing the myriad of different federal, state and local taxes undocumented immigrants are subject to and pay. But most notably this Essay will verify that not only do undocumented immigrants pay the same taxes that U.S. citizens and documented residents pay, but in addition they are subject to and pay what I am describing as "the undocumented immigrant tax." The undocumented immigrant tax is effectively an additional tax burden, a surtax or tariff on undocumented immigrants and their families. As a result, not only do undocumented immigrants pay taxes, but they bear a greater tax burden than similarly situated U.S. citizens and documented residents.

-I am sure that anybody who has had such conversations with students or even professors unsympathetic with immigrants can understand the frustration evident in the essay.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

January 14, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2009

Domestic Tobin Tax - Tax on Financial Transactions

An op-ed in the New York Times on Monday by Bob Herbert, "Where the Money Is," advocates a tax on financial transactions.  Such a tax would function similarly to proposed Tobin taxes on international flows of capital (See Amy Youngblood Avitable, Saving the World One Currency at a Time: Implementing the Tobin Tax, 80 Wash U. L.Q. 391 (2002)).  It would reward long-term investors and serve as a disincentive on short-term investment strategies because the tax would pay a big role for those seeking wealth from small swings but would have less of an impact on value investors not looking to flip stocks hourly. 

Personally, I am instinctively in favor of such taxes because they would seem to encourage productive investment and prevent skimming by the few looking at market ticks rather than at value.  Moreover, arguably such a tax would help smooth markets and pressure the financial service industry to focus more on due diligence related to prospective investment possibilities, rather than pushing the best and brightest to focus entirely on statistical stock tendencies.  Given that in theory every tax has distortionary effects (on market transactions, labor incentives, investment decisions), this one seems relatively good. 

I spoke with a friend in the finance sector who offered a number of reasons to oppose such a tax.  If short-term investors systematically are counter-cyclical, such a tax could make the market highs and lows go on for longer than they should.  Short-term investments should not be punished according to this view because they work against market fluctuations; the counter-cyclical liquidity provided by such investments justifies their skimmed profits. Through such counter-cyclical activity, they also protect other investors or market players against narrow, short-term sell/buy pressures (an example discussed in one blog that gives a sense of the positive role of such liquidity is that of municipal bonds, click here for the example). 

To justify our concern with these topics in a Poverty Law Blog, let me just note that one of Roberto M. Unger's proposals is to link capital liberation with worker liberation, where loosening limits on capital should go hand in hand, and require, simultaneous labor market liberation across nation state borders. 

-Not an easy call, but a proposal I think worthy of attention as the country looks for ways to pay for our upcoming spending.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

January 13, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 12, 2009

Two upcoming CLE programs from the ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty

The ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty is presenting "Foreclosing on the American Dream: The Housing Crisis and the Role of Lawyers and Laws in Securing Housing Justice," Friday, Feb. 13, 2009 in Boston, MA.  And on Feb. 13th in Boston they are also sponsoring "What is the Role of Lawyers and the ABA in Promoting Public School Reform for At-Risk Students," which includes a panel on the educational rights of homeless children and those on welfare. 

-Thanks to Amy E. Horton-Newell for the heads up!  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

January 12, 2009 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

National Network for Youth Symposium 2009: Celebrating Youth, Inspiring Leadership, Creating Change

Symposium Co-sponsored by the ABA's Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, Center for Children and the Law, and Commission on Youth at Risk, the 2009 Symposium of the National Network for Youth is entitled "Celebrating Youth, Inspiring Leadership, Creating Change" and takes place Jan. 25-28, 2009 in Washington, DC.  The keynote speakers include David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager.  The schedule can be found here

-Thanks to Amy E. Horton-Newell for the heads up.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

January 12, 2009 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2009

News Coverage related to the Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would help unionization, is getting a lot of attention.  The New York Times Editorial, "The Right to Unionize," March 6, 2007 in support gives a quick summary of the bill:

The most significant change in the bill is known as a majority signup, which would allow employees at a company to unionize if a majority signed cards expressing their desire to do so. Under current law, an employer can reject the majority’s signatures and insist on a secret ballot. But in a disturbingly high number of cases, the employer uses the time before the vote to pressure employees to rethink their decision to unionize.

Below are some links for those interested (the sources line up with whether they support or oppose the bill):

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

January 10, 2009 in News Coverage of Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 9, 2009

Unemployment at 7.2%

The percent of Americans unemployed increased for the 12th consecutive month, with more jobs lost in the year than in any year since 1945, or adjusted for population growth since 1982.  The NY Times story is: Louise Uchitelle, "Unemployment Hits 7.2%, 16-Year High," Jan. 9, 2009 (associated good graphic here).  The Bureau of Labor Statistics' chart is here, and the Labor Department's press release is here.  The Center for American Progress' coverage is here.   Not surprisingly, the Heritage Foundation's desired version of a stimulus package is tax cut centered

Somewhat related stories/op-eds:

January 9, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Paper: Patricia Salkin on Senior Housing Needs

Patricia Salkin has posted "A Quiet Crisis in America: Meeting the Affordable Housing Needs of the Invisible Low-Income Healthy Seniors" to SSRN.  The abstract is below:

With the rapid increase in the senior population due to the aging of the baby boomers, communities can no longer rely on federal and state government programs to deliver the necessary affordable housing stock to meet demands. Federal subsidized housing programs simply cannot add enough units to their stock to meet demand. And while other federal, state and local programs may offer limited financial assistance aimed at keeping seniors in their own homes, these efforts lack a focus on the production of affordable dwelling units or on methods designed to convert existing housing stock into more affordable options for seniors. Fortunately, this deficiency may be creatively and, perhaps more appropriately, addressed at the local government level through the exercise of existing planning and zoning authority. 

Part I of this article discusses population statistics in greater detail, exploring available financial demographics of seniors and showing that many seniors are likely to be in need of affordable housing today, and that many more will likely join this group in the future. Part II discusses the role of the federal and state governments in providing affordable senior housing and concludes that these programs have typically failed to yield effective results on a wide enough basis. Part III focuses on the impact that local governments can have immediately in helping to address the affordable senior housing crisis through the use of planning and land use regulatory authority. The article concludes in Part IV with a call for the federal and state governments to further incentivize local governments to provide front-line relief in the quest for affordable senior housing. This may, in the end, produce the quickest, most efficient and most cost effective solution to a crisis that started quietly but is about to explode with a big bang.

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

January 9, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 7, 2009

Article on Appalachian town (Huntington, WV) with poorest health

According to a (dated) Huntington Herald-Dispatch article from Nov. 2008, "Appalachian town shrugs at poorest health rating," Huntington, WV is the town with the poorest health, driven by obesity problems.  A student who forwarded the article noted that she saw a local newscast reporting the story in which the news anchor laughed when reporting the story and also laughed when noting that a high percentage of the elderly population in this area have no teeth. 

-Thanks to Stephanie Humphries for the heads up! E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

January 7, 2009 in News Coverage of Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack