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.
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg & Stephen Labaton, "Obama Calls Wall Street Bonuses 'Shameful'," New York Times, Jan. 29, 2009. And related New York Times hosted debate (worth reading).
- Michael D. Shear, "President Decries 'Shameful' Bonuses for Wall St. CEOs," Washington Post, Jan. 30, 2009.
- Ben White, "What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses," New York Times, Jan. 28, 2009. Related graphic here.
- Maureen Dowd, "Wall Street's Socialist Jet-Setters," New York Times, Jan. 27, 2009.
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.
January 28, 2009
Upcoming Conference: Housing and Economic Development at Brooklyn Law, March 27, 2009
GETTING IT RIGHT: GOVERNMENT'S ROLE IN HOUSING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL SPARER SYMPOSIUM
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 27, 2009
For those who couldn't make AALS: podcast of Poverty Section's panel
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?
January 23, 2009
National Prayer Service -- focus on poverty
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).
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.
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.
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.
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":
- Gavin Clarkson, Wall Street Indians: Information Asymmetry and Barriers to Tribal Capital Market Access, 12 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 943 (2008)
- David Haddock, To Tax Tribes or Not to Tax Tribes? That is the Question, 12 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 971(2008)
- Richard Monette, Imposing Communism, 12 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 991 (2008)
- Alex Tallchief Skibine, Tribal Sovereign Interests Beyond the Reservation Borders, 12 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 1003 (2008)
- Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Indian Tribal Businesses and the Off-Reservation Market, 12 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 1047 (2008)
- Judith V. Royster, Practical Sovereignty, Political Sovereignty, and the Indian Tribal Energy and Self Determination Act, 12 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 1065 (2008)
- Robert J. Miller, Inter-Tribal and International Treaties for American Indian Economic Development, 12 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 1103 (2008)
ALSO, the same issue of the law review also includes this essay of interest:
- Deborah N. Archer, Failing Students or Failing Schools?: Holding States Accountable for the High School Dropout Crisis, 12 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 1253 (2008)
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 email@example.com.
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.
January 14, 2009
New Paper: Francine Lipman on The Undocumented Immigrant Tax
"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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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. email@example.com
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
National Network for Youth Symposium 2009: Celebrating Youth, Inspiring Leadership, Creating Change
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. email@example.com
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:
Below are some links for those interested (the sources line up with whether they support or oppose the bill):
- Steven Greenhouse, "Bill Easing Unionizing Is Under Heavy Attack," New York Times, Jan. 8, 2009.
- Esther Kaplan, "Can Labor Revive the American Dream," The Nation, Jan. 7, 2009.
- AFL-CIO's webpage includes a page saying why the bill is needed, links to Congressional testimony, an issue brief, and a place to sign the petition in support.
- American Rights at Work also has a page dedicated to the Act.
- Richard A. Epstein, "The Employee Free Choice Act is Unconstitutional," Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Dec. 19, 2008.
- James Sherk & Paul Kersey, "How the Employee Free Choice Act Takes Away Workers' Rights," Backgrounder #2027, The Heritage Foundation, Apr. 23, 2007.
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:
- Paul Krugman, "The Obama Gap," New York Times, Jan. 8, 2009 (criticizing Obama's economic plans as not going far enough).
- Transcript of Obama's speech on the economy, Jan. 8, 2009.
- Paul Krugman, "Bigger Than Bush," New York Times, Jan. 1, 2009 (highlighting the conservative philosophies that led to where we are politically).
- Jeff Madrick, "Beyond Rubinomics," The Nation, Dec. 23, 2008 (arguing there is a need for a new, progressive, social contract).
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:
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. firstname.lastname@example.org