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March 31, 2009

Eduardo M. Peñalver on Squatters

DSC_0013 A Slate.com article of interest: Eduardo M. Peñalver, "Homesteaders in the Hood," Slate.com, March 25, 2009.

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

March 31, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 26, 2009

New York Times: Cities Deal with a Surge in Shantytowns

From the New York Times:
    Jesse McKinley, "Cities Deal with a Surge in Shantytowns," New York Times, March 25, 2009. Slideshow here

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

March 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Drug Testing Beneficiaries of Unemployment or Welfare Funding

News story here: AP, "States Consider Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients," March 26, 2009.  Commentary on Dissenting Justice Blog here

-Thanks to Darren Hutchinson for the heads up. E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu.

March 26, 2009 in News Coverage of Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2009

New Book: Corey S. Schdaimah, Negotiating Justice

A new book of interest: Corey S. Schdaimah, Negotiating Justice: Progressive Lawyering, Low-Income Clients, and the Quest for Social Change (2009).  Amazon link here.  Overview below:

While many young people become lawyers for the big bucks, others are motivated by the pursuit of social justice, seeking to help poor and other marginalized people for whom legal services are financially, socially, or politically inaccessible. These progressive lawyers often bring a considerable degree of idealism to their work, and many leave the field due to insurmountable red tape and spiraling disillusionment. But what about those who stay? And what do their clients think? Negotiating Justice explores how progressive lawyers and their clients negotiate the dissonance between personal idealism and the realities of a system that does not often champion the rights of the poor.

Corey S. Shdaimah draws on over fifty interviews with urban legal service lawyers and their clients to provide readers with a compelling behind-the-scenes look at how different notions of practice and the legal system can present significant barriers for both clients and lawyers, and the concessions both often have to make as they navigate the murky and resistant terrains of the legal system and their wider pursuits of justice and power.

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

March 24, 2009 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2009

Conference: Color of Wealth 2009 Policy Summit | March 23-24, 2009 | Washington DC

From The Insight Center:

The Insight Center is proud to announce the “Color of Wealth 2009 Policy Summit: Wealth Building for All: The Foundation for Economic Growth in the Global Marketplace” to be held on March 23rd and 24th in Washington DC. This year’s Policy Summit is a gathering of OVER 75 asset-building experts of color from around the country that will engage and educate policymakers about the racial wealth gap and the need to take immediate action to help close it.  Homepage here

To learn more about the racial wealth gap, please download the Executive Summary, "Laying the Foundation for National Prosperity. The Imperative of Closing the Racial Wealth Gap.".

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

March 19, 2009 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2009

CALL FOR PROPOSALS The New Anti-Poverty Advocacy: Constructs, Strategies, and Tactics


The New Anti-Poverty Advocacy: Constructs, Strategies, and Tactics

Section on Poverty Law; Association of American Law Schools; Annual Meeting Program, January 2010; New Orleans, Louisiana

Statements of Interest Due May 1, 2009

The recent pronounced shifts in American politics and economics intensify the need for sustained reflection, as we consider how to shape legal activism, scholarship, and policy-making against poverty.  The re-emergence of the Democratic Party in national politics and the renewed support for government action simultaneously create openings for activists and advocates and invite caution.  Similarly, the failures of the American banking system, massive government deficits, and the continued restructuring and globalization of the U.S. economy cause great misery for those at the bottom and present opportunities to press for fundamental and progressive reform.  It remains unclear whether this period is one in which power will be redistributed downward and outward to poor and working people or whether the defining values and hierarchies of the political economy in the last thirty years – variously labeled neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, or free market fundamentalism – will be reinforced.  


The Section on Poverty Law seeks participants who might approach this complex and contradictory moment from differing vantage points and using diverse methods of analysis but with a shared sense of purpose and opportunity.  Proposals may focus on new developments in the areas of access to justice, legal advocacy, and law reform and policy-making.  Proposals may integrate intersecting legal frames, such as corporate law, criminal law, critical race theory, environmental law, family law, feminist theory, immigrants’ rights, international human rights, and labor and employment law.   The Section will give special attention to proposals that include consideration of the post-Katrina experience in New Orlean.  Above all, we seek presenters excited to share useful and provocative ideas that can be integrated into our teaching, practice, and scholarship.

The statements of interest should be no longer than 1 page.  We will remove all references to the name and affiliation of those who submit proposals prior to review.  Presenters will be selected on or before July 31, 2009.  The Section will seek a venue for publication of papers stemming from the panel on the basis of the interest of selected participants.

Please send statements of interest as an email attachment to Bernice Cohn at cohn@mail.law.cuny.edu.  Questions should be directed to Sameer Ashar, Chair of the Poverty Law Section, at 718-340-4180 or ashar@mail.law.cuny.edu.

-Thanks to Sameer Asher for all his hard work on this! E.R.



March 17, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

March 16, 2009

New Poll on Economic Mobility and the American Dream from the Economic Mobility Project

From the Economic Mobility Project:

In early 2009, the project commissioned a national survey and series of focus groups to provide a more accurate picture of how Americans view their own economic mobility and to better understand how their perceptions square with the reality of the project’s data. The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, seeks to answer questions such as: What defines Americans’ experience with mobility? What do we believe are the key determinants of our, and others’, mobility? How do our perceptions and perspectives on mobility differ as we look to the near future, as well as over generations, and how has this changed?

The results, released March 12, 2009, reveal that despite the current economic crisis, a strong and uniquely American undercurrent of optimism shines through. Americans believe in the their ability --- and the ability of their children --- to get ahead. Resoundingly, Americans place greater importance on ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to improve their economic standing over reducing inequality. The report provides clear insights into how the American public views the factors, institutions, circumstances and values that may aid or impede their path to future economic success. In doing so, it offers valuable perspectives for elected officials, advocates and policymakers committed to ensuring that the fundamental economic bedrock of the American Dream remains solid for generations to come.

Main Page here; Summary of Findings here; Powerpoint Summary here.  See also a related article in The Atlantic Magazine: Ronald Brownstein, "America, The (Jacksonian) Meritocracy," March 13, 2009. 

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

March 16, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 12, 2009

Americans' Household Wealth Falls by Trillions - NYTimes

Of note: Vikas Bajaj, "Household Wealth Falls by Trillions," New York Times, March 12, 2009 (does not include this year's stock market declines).

March 12, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2009

Call for Papers and Panels: LatCrit XIV, Oct 1-4, 2009, American University (DC)

LatCrit XIV is being hosted by American University Washington College of Law on Oct. 1-4, 2009.  The theme of this year's conference is: OUTSIDERS INSIDE: CRITICAL OUTSIDER THEORY AND PRAXIS IN THE POLICYMAKING OF THE NEW AMERICAN REGIME.  The conference also includes the LatCrit/SALT Junior Faculty Development Workshop.  The complete call for papers/panels is here.

Please submit your panel and paper proposals through the online process at the LatCrit website (www.law.du.edu/latcrit/index.htm) no later than MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2009. 

-Note: By way of full disclosure, I am a member of the host school's LatCrit committee.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

March 10, 2009 in Conferences and Calls for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 7, 2009

Article of Interest: "Laboratories of Destitution: Democratic Experimentalism and the Failure of Antipoverty Law"

New Article of Interest: David A. Super, Laboratories of Destitution: Democratic Experimentalism and the Failure of Antipoverty Law, 157 U. Penn. L. Rev. 541 (2008).  Abstract below:

Democratic experimentalism, the procedural component of the “new governance” movement, has won widespread acceptance in calling for decentralization, deliberation, deregulation, and experimentation. Democratic experimentalists claim that this approach offers pragmatic solutions to social problems.

Although the democratic experimentalist movement formally began only a decade ago, antipoverty law has reflected its major principles since the 1960s. This experiment has gone badly, weakening antipoverty programs. Key elements of this participatory approach to antipoverty law—decentralization, privatization, and the substitution of ad hoc problemsolving for individual rights—all contributed to the calamity that low-income people suffered during and after Hurricane Katrina. Those same features prevented the country from acting on the widely shared concern about poverty in Katrina’s wake. Indeed, almost all progress in antipoverty law has come from centralized, nonparticipatory, and non-experimentalist policy-making.

Democratic experimentalism assumes consensus on the nature of problems and the propriety of government action, reliable metrics for measuring success, the luxury of time, the lack of situations requiring centralized policymaking, and deliberation that is costless in most respects. It also requires that one side risk political capital to establish an experimentalist system. These assumptions have not been fulfilled in antipoverty law. Little suggests that they will be met in other fields either.

Further progress in antipoverty law must come from centralized policymaking based on substantive consensus among many, though not all, liberals and conservatives. This consensus will follow many substantive components of the new governance, including reliance on market incentives. Democratic experimentalism should learn from debates about deliberative democratic theory that have wrestled with its key weaknesses.

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

March 7, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 6, 2009

CLASP: Stimulus Package and Poverty

CLASP has a brief, 5-page, "Preliminary Summary of Key Provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Aimed at Improving the Lives of Low-Income Americans," Feb. 13, 2009.  It quickly runs through the funding streams in bullet points. 

-Thanks to Susan Bennett for the Heads Up! E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

March 6, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 2, 2009

Article of Interest: "Americans' Social Policy Preferences in the Era of Rising Inequality"

A new paper posted of interest: Leslie McCall, "Americans' Social Policy Preferences in the Era of Rising Inequality," available here.  The abstract is below:

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Rising income inequality has been a defining trend of the past generation, yet we know little about its impact on social policy formation. We evaluate two dominant views about public opinion on rising inequality: that Americans do not care much about inequality of outcomes, and that a rise in inequality will lead to an increase in demand for government redistribution. Using time series data on views about income inequality and social policy preferences in the 1980s and 1990s from the GSS/ISSP, we find little support for these views. Instead, Americans do tend to object to inequality and to believe government should act to redress it, but not via traditional redistributive programs. We examine several alternative possibilities and provide a broad analytical framework for reinterpreting social policy preferences in the era of rising inequality. Our evidence suggests that Americans may be unsure or uninformed about how to address rising inequality and thus swayed by contemporaneous debates. However, we also find that Americans favor expanding education spending in response to their increasing concerns about inequality. This suggests that equal opportunity may be more germane than income redistribution to our understanding of the politics of inequality.

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

March 2, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack