July 11, 2009

Article of Interest: "The Case for Banning Subprime Mortgages"

Alan White, The Case for Banning Subprime Mortgages, 77 U. Cin. L. Rev. 617 (2008).  The paper -- it may be an earlier draft -- is on SSRN here.  The abstract is below:

While the subprime mortgage boom was in full swing, its benefits to American society were widely touted. Subprime mortgages were said to have increased homeownership. The subprime effect was supposed to have been especially strong for low-income and minority families previously unable to buy homes. The democratization of credit was also attributed to subprime mortgages. 

The empirical data do not support these welfare claims. The U.S. homeownership rate increased somewhat between 1994 and 2007. Subprime mortgages, however, were mostly made to existing homeowners to refinance debt; very few were made to first-time home buyers. The number of homes lost due to subprime foreclosures significantly exceeded the new homeowners added by subprime mortgages. Subprime mortgages also displaced the safer and lower-cost FHA loans that would otherwise have been made. Conventional prime mortgages for purchases fully accounted for the observed increase in homeownership. 

The welfare harms caused by subprime mortgage lending are readily measurable. They include the direct impact of more than two million foreclosures on families, the resulting property value losses, the social and fiscal impact on cities where subprime mortgages were concentrated, the price discrimination resulting in black and Latino homeowners paying unnecessarily high rates, and the broader impacts on the credit markets and the economy. 

The disastrous consequences of subprime mortgage lending were in part the result of deregulating mortgage interest rates. Similar harms can be prevented in the future by re-imposing reasonable interest rate limits on first-lien mortgages. FHA should be restored to its role as the primary provider of mortgages to first-time, low- and moderate-income home buyers.

July 11, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 03, 2009

Article of Interest: "Tainted Loans: The Value of a Mass Torts Approach in Subprime Mortgage Litigation"

First a somewhat related news story from last month: Vivian S. Toy, "Penetrating the Maze of Mortgage Relief," New York Times, June 12, 2009 (discussing the work of housing advocates). 

Ray Brescia has posted "Tainted Loans: The Value of a Mass Torts Approach in Subprime Mortgage Litigation" (forthcoming in the Univ. of Cincinnati Law Review) to SSRN.  The abstract is below:

A poison has entered the financial bloodstream. The subprime mortgage crisis and the wider financial crisis it has spawned have caused the erosion of trillions of dollars in wealth, the destruction of whole communities and the dislocation of millions of homeowners. Yet, unlike in other situations where toxic products have caused widespread harm, to date, we have not seen an avalanche of litigation, large jury awards, massive settlements compensating victims and financial ruin for the distributors of those products. Some of this is changing, however.

Litigation arising out of the present financial crisis is hitting the courts, including suits alleging discrimination in the proliferation of subprime mortgages, securities litigation, and claims under state unfair trade practices laws and common law fraud principles. Courts may soon be inundated with these cases and will need effective tools for handling them.


With some exceptions, the litigation presently underway is an incoherent collection of random cases, however. If we view the subprime mortgage crisis and the financial crisis that has followed as the result of the proliferation of toxic products, a mass tort approach to the subprime mortgage disaster would seem inevitable. Such an approach would include utilization of the following techniques: class actions; consolidation of related cases; global settlements; and aggregation of factual, liability and damages assessments. This article makes the case that subprime litigation should adopt the techniques utilized in mass torts cases to make the prosecution of such litigation more efficient, comprehensive and effective, while bringing those most responsible for the present financial crisis to justice. It is argued that these techniques are best suited to achieve what I identify as goals for a legal response to the financial crisis: reducing the number of foreclosures; correcting for past illegality in the mortgage market; uncovering and spreading information about the presence of such illegality; promoting the modification of outstanding mortgage loans; strengthening and expanding voluntary efforts to overcome past abuses in the market; preserving home values; and complementing legislative and regulatory efforts to improve oversight of financial markets. The article also concludes that a mass torts approach in the subprime litigation context is superior in terms of meeting these goals when compared to other potential legal responses:

i.e., individual litigation, individual bankruptcy, regulation, voluntary efforts and social insurance.

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

July 3, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 30, 2009

Article of Interest: "Can't Buy Me Love"

An interesting article came out that unfortunately seems to be available only on Lexis or Westlaw. But the article is: Aly Parker, Can't Buy Me Love: Funding Marriage Promotion Versus Listening to Real Needs in Breaking the Cycle of Poverty. 18 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Soc. Just. 493 (2009). -E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

June 30, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2009

Article of Interest: "The Ethics of Poverty Tourism"

This blog has done a number of posts on poverty tourism or related activities (the debate over Slumdog Millionaire) and a new paper of interest tackles this head on: Evan Selinger & Kevin Outterson, The Ethics of Poverty Tourism (BU School of Law Working Paper No. 09-29).  The abstract is below:

Poverty tours - actual visits as well as literary and cinematic versions - are characterized as morally controversial trips and condemned in the press as voyeuristic endeavors. In this collaborative essay, we draw from personal experience, legal expertise, and phenomenological philosophy and introduce a conceptual taxonomy that clarifies the circumstances in which observing others has been construed as an immoral use of the gaze. We appeal to this taxonomy to determine which observational circumstances are relevant to the poverty tourism debate. While we do not defend all or even most poverty tourism practices, we do conclude that categorical condemnation of poverty tourism is unjustified.

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

June 24, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2009

(My) Parody Article

Excuse the self-promoting aspect of this posting!  My parody article has been published.  The article is about becoming a professor but might be of interest to readers of this blog because it includes a lengthy section on class and the legal academy (the section of the paper entitled "learning to like brie").  The article is: Ezra Rosser, On Becoming "Professor": A Semi Serious Look in the Mirror, 36 Fl. St. Univ. L. Rev. 215 (2009) and can be found on SSRN.

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

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June 18, 2009

Article of Interest: "Freedom, Want and Economic and Social Rights: Frame and Law"

Katherine Young has posted "Freedom, Want and Economic and Social Rights: Frame and Law" 24 Maryland J. of Int. L. 176 (2009) to SSRN.  Abstract below:

In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognized the aspiration for everyone to enjoy freedom from want and particular economic and social rights. Sixty years after the proclamation of the Universal Declaration, it is important to review its meaning and its effects in the context of significantly different legal, political, economic and cultural landscapes. To approach this task, this article employs the unusual device of considering a Norman Rockwell painting of "Freedom from Want". This painting, well-known in the United States, responded to the local wartime political culture, and depicted the private enjoyment of material security in patriarchal, consumerist and culturally uniform terms. This article employs the themes made evident in the painting to underscore the assumptions made in the text of the Universal Declaration. Having outlined this reading, it suggests an alternative framework for understanding economic and social rights. Firstly, economic and social rights provide an important frame around redistributive contestations that strive for universalism in expression and the location of institutional responsibility in response. Secondly, economic and social rights ground legal norms, which are in some cases enforceable and in others available to exert a different kind of pressure on legal decision-makers. As frame and as law, economic and social rights provide an important pragmatic justification for the Universal Declaration's continuing relevance.

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

June 18, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 13, 2009

Article of Interest: "No Way Out: An Analysis of Exit Processes for Gang Injunctions"

Lindsay Crawford, "No Way Out: An Analysis of Exit Processes for Gang Injunctions," 97 Cal. L. Rev. 161 (2009).  An explanation of the gang injuctions from the article: "gang injunctions restrict the activities of named gang members in a variety ways, often by prohibiting gang members from associating with one another, wearing gangrelated clothing, or from appearing in specified places and conducting certain activities."  The focus is on the need to have mechanisms to exit such injunctions. 

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

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June 12, 2009

Cornell Law Review issue on Property and Obligation

Quite interesting Cornell Law Review issue:

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

June 12, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 07, 2009

New Issue of Pathways: Going Global: Antipoverty Lessons from Around the World

Spring_2009_cover_214px_274px The Spring issue of Pathways, the poverty, inequality, and social policy magazine of The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, has now been published.  The issue (full PDF available here) includes:

Editors' Note by David Grusky and Christopher Wimer

Getting to Equal: Progress, Pitfalls, and Policy Solutions on the Road to Gender Parity in the Workplace
Have we "stalled out" in the historic march toward gender equality in the workplace? Pamela Stone weighs the evidence and makes the case for a new way forward.

New research developments
A surprising trend in wealth inequality, the biological determinants of poor children's academic performance, the long-term effects of job displacement, and other cutting-edge research.

Joshua Cohen and Charles Sabel argue that the time has come to build a 21st century labor market modeled on key principles of Denmark's "flexicurity" system.
Pro-Poor Stimulus: Lessons from the Developing World
Martin Ravallion looks to antipoverty programs in developing countries to understand how developed nations like the United States can provide stimulus while reducing long-term poverty.
Combating Poverty by Building Assets: Lessons from Around the World
Ray Boshara describes the key features of asset-building programs throughout the world and examines how the United States can apply them to achieve economic security for the poor.
Northern Exposure: Learning from Canada�s Response to Winner-Take-All Inequality
Jacob S. Hacker describes how the United States and Canada have taken two different roads and why the Canadian road provides lessons that the United States might take to heart.

Spotlight On...Growing Power and the Urban Farming Movement
In our new "Spotlight On" feature, we talk with Growing Power's Will and Erika Allen about the potential and future of urban agriculture in combating poverty

-E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu
NOTE: I am teaching in my law school's Chile Summer Program (my photos here) and for that reason have had few posts and will probably continue to for two more weeks. 

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

May 09, 2009

Article of Interest: Keith Cunningham-Parmeter on Redefining the Rights of Undocumented Workers

Keith Cunningham-Parmeter has posted his article, Redefining the Rights of Undocumented Workers, to SSRN.  The abstract is below:

Should a nation extend legal rights to those who enter the country illegally? The Supreme Court recently addressed this question when it held that unauthorized immigrants who are fired illegally for unionizing cannot recover monetary remedies. This has led to a significant decline in employment protections for unauthorized immigrants beyond the unionized sector. For example, some courts now question whether unauthorized immigrants can receive full remedies for sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, or on-the-job injuries.

Scholars have criticized these losses but have yet to formulate a coherent framework for evaluating the employment rights of unauthorized immigrants. This article does so by distilling and applying several core principles at issue when employment laws conflict with immigration laws. I begin by explaining how the text and purpose of selected immigration and employment statutes show that Congress never intended to restrict unauthorized immigrants’ employment rights. Remedial restrictions not only harm the workplace protections at issue, they fail to discourage illegal immigration. Thus, neither legislative intent nor national immigration goals justify limiting the workplace remedies available to unauthorized immigrants.

Although the future rights of unauthorized workers will turn partly on the issues of statutory purpose and immigration policy discussed in the early sections of the article, equally important are the consequences of diminished rights. Accordingly, I conclude the article by explaining why restricting workplace protections based on status harms citizens as well as immigrants. I contend that employment protections are “rights of partial inclusion” that reflect a distinctive sphere - the workplace - where unauthorized immigrants should be placed on par with citizens in pursuing collective interests. In contrast to arguments that favor limiting resources to lawful residents, partial inclusion explains how employment protections can effectively preserve national identity while simultaneously enhancing unauthorized immigrants’ incentives for social investment. In doing so, partial inclusion furthers the community’s self-definition, while providing unauthorized immigrants with a sense of belonging in a world increasingly focused on their exclusion.

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

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May 05, 2009

Symposium Issue on "New Directions in Clinical Legal Education"

The articles connected to the symposium "New Directions in Clinical Legal Education" are available on the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy's website.  Also on their site, under issue 24, is an article that I missed but that is of interest: Julie Nice, Promoting Marriage Experimentation: A Class Act? 24 Wash. Univ. J. of L. & Pol'y 31 (2007).

Lastly, for those who haven't see it (few I bet), there is a great Law Clinic blog worth checking out that follows many of the same things as this blog does: clinicians with not enough to do

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

May 5, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2009

Ray Brescia on The Community Reinvestment Act and The Financial Crisis

Ray Brescia has posted "Part of the Disease or Part of the Cure: The Financial Crisis and the Community Reinvestment Act," 60 S. Car. L. Rev. 617 (2009) to SSRN.  The abstract is below:

Some commentators charge that the federal Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) spurred the mortgage crisis and the financial fallout that has followed. Born out of the Civil Rights Movement, Congress adopted the CRA at a time when many low- and moderate-income communities, often communities of color, were denied basic banking services such as home lending and small business investment. Advocates argued that when the federal government guaranteed bank deposits through federal deposit insurance, it created a social compact that served as a justification for expecting that institutions accepting such insurance should have to meet the needs of the communities making those deposits. Federal deposit insurance made bank customers confident in their bank’s holdings, which in turn made the business of banking -lending - possible and became a justification for the adoption of the CRA.

In the thirty years since the CRA’s adoption, the banking industry has been transformed. Banks are global in their reach and their outlook. Banks, in all of their forms, are no longer brick-and-mortar institutions on Main Street that take deposits from the grocer and lend to the baker. The CRA, which Congress designed to ensure that banks would meet the credit needs of the low- and moderate-income communities from which those banks take their deposits proved a weak bulwark against the subprime mortgage crisis; unsafe and unsound lending practices carried out by mortgage companies (i.e., entities not covered by the CRA because they are not depository institutions) have decimated the same communities that the CRA was supposed to protect.
The argument that the CRA is to blame for the financial crisis is hard to reconcile under any reading of the statute’s terms and after any assessment of the CRA’s true reach. As this article explains, the CRA was not too strong, but rather too weak. Designed to fight the last war, the CRA became the financial equivalent of the Maginot Line: easily circumvented, lightly defended, and quickly overrun.

An appreciation for the true causes of the financial crisis, together with the fact that the federal government has expended billions to bail out the financial industry, offer strong justifications for expanding the reach of the CRA to cover all financial institutions, not just those that take deposits. This Article begins with a brief overview of the subprime mortgage crisis and its impacts. Following this overview, it outlines the legislative history and structure of the CRA as well as the enforcement mechanisms Congress adopted to carry out the CRA’s core purpose. Next is an assessment of whether the manner in which the Act was enforced may have contributed to the subprime mortgage crisis followed by an examination of the failure of the courts to serve as a check on weak regulatory enforcement of the CRA. It concludes with the development of a series of principles to inform efforts to modernize the CRA to bring it in line with the nature of banking in the twenty-first century. While such CRA modernization might not correct the worst abuses of the subprime mortgage market from the past, it might help to avoid similar crises in the future.

-Considering how common these CRA accusations are in the press, definitely a valuable contribution.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

April 27, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2009

Buffalo Law Review's ClassCrits Issue UPDATE

The most recent Buffalo Law Review issue (vol. 56, no. 4) focuses on class related issues, both from a theory angle and from a case-based approach.  UPDATE: The articles are available here!

-E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu  

April 19, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 18, 2009

Richard Posner on Executive Compensation

A new article of interest:

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

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April 15, 2009

Symposium Publication: The School Desegregation Cases and the Uncertain Future of Racial Equality

The Ohio State Law Journal has published Symposium: The School Desegregation Cases and the Uncertain Future of Racial Equality. The articles are:

Ruth Colker, Reflections on Race: The Limits of Formal Equality, 69 Ohio St. L.J. 1089 (2009).

Angela N. Ancheta, Science and Constitutional Fact Finding in Equal Protection Analysis, 69 Ohio St. L.J. 1115 (2009).

Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, Twenty-First Century Social Science on School Racial Diversity and Educational Outcomes, 69 Ohio St. L.J. 1173 (2009).

Kevin Brown and Jeannine Bell, Demise of the Talented Tenth: Affirmative Action and the Increasing Underrepresentation of Ascendant Blacks at Selective Higher Educational Institutions, 69 Ohio St. L.J. 1229 (2009).

Barbara J. Flagg, In Defense of Race Proportionality, 69 Ohio St. L.J. 1285 (2009).

Rachel F. Moran, Rethinking Race, Equality and Liberty: The Unfulfilled Promise of Parents Involved, 69 Ohio St. L.J. 1321 (2009).

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

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April 12, 2009

Article of Interest: A. Mechele Dickerson on the Myth of Home Ownership

The Indian Law Journal just published: A. Mechele Dickerson, The Myth of Home Ownership and Why Home Ownership Is Not Always a Good Thing, 84 Ind. L.J. 189 (2009).  The abstract is below:

Home ownership is viewed as key to achieving the “American Dream” and is now an essential element of the American cultural norm of what it means to be a success. The metastasizing mortgage crisis suggests, however, that our home ownership policies are out-dated, misguided, and largely ignore the actual market realities many potential homeowners now face. After briefly describing the current home ownership crisis, this Article argues that the United States should radically revise and restrict home ownership subsidies. Rather than encouraging universal home ownership, the Article argues that the government should replace existing home ownership subsidies with targeted subsidies that will help buyers make housing choices that are based on economics, not emotions.

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

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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

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March 07, 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

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March 02, 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:

<p>Although inequality in the United States is high by both historical and international standards, standing in some cases at pre</p>

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

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February 24, 2009

Pathways Winter 2009 Issue: focus on healthcare

Winter_2009_cover_214px_274px The newest issue of Pathways, a publication of the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, is out and focuses on healthcare.  Most of the articles are about healthcare reform but there are also articles about EITC and consumer indebtedness.  The PDF is available here

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

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February 20, 2009

Article of Interest: "Broadening the Right to Acquire Capital with the Earnings of Capital"

Robert Ashford has posted "Broadening the Right to Acquire Capital with the Earnings of Capital: The Missing Link to Sustainable Economic Recovery and Growth" to SSRN.  The abstract is below:

This article presents a proposal to broaden the right to acquire capital with the earnings of capital as a means of promoting sustainable economic recovery and growth. It would open the markets for real and financial capital acquisition more fully and competitively to poor and working people (1) to distribute more broadly the earnings of capital and (2) to profitably employ more capital and labor. 

The article notes that both the recession and the strategies advanced to promote economic recovery may be viewed as responses to the prospect of inadequate present and future earning capacity of both consumers and producers (1) to purchase what can physically be produced and (2) to repay existent and anticipated debt obligations undertaken to stimulate the economy. 

To increase the prospects of sufficient, sustainable earning capacity, the approach advanced in this article is to extend to all people the same protections and benefits presently provided by government that facilitate market transactions whereby capital is acquired with the earnings of capital primarily for people in proportion to their wealth. 

Although in theory, all people in a market economy are able to acquire capital with the earnings of capital, reliable empirical data reveal that as a practical matter, the major determinant of the ability of individuals to acquire capital with the earnings of capital is the existing distribution of capital ownership. 

The theory of "binary" economic growth (on which the proposal advanced in this article is based) holds that the market return on capital depends not only on the wage rate, the scarcity of capital, its marginal productivity, and the interest rate, but also depends on the distribution of capital acquisition with the earnings of capital. The prospect of a broader distribution of capital acquisition with the earnings of capital carries with it the prospect of more broadly distributed earning capacity in future years, which in turn will provide the market incentives to profitably employ more capital and labor in earlier years. The idea that the broader distribution of capital acquisition with the earnings of capital will promote growth is not found in any of the widely accepted theories and models of economic growth such as those proposed by Schumpeter, Solow, Roemer, and Lucas. 

By opening to all people the institutions of corporate finance, banking, insurance, government loans and guaranties, and monetary policy (the very institutions presently relied upon by the Federal Government to stimulate the economy) the practical ability to acquire capital with the earnings of capital can be more broadly extended to all people, and a more level and competitive economic playing field can be established, with the result that greatly enhanced prospects for greater and more broadly distributed earning capacity and growth can be reasonably expected and realized by all.

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

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February 13, 2009

Article of Interest: "Subprime Communities: Reverse Redlining, the Fair Housing Act and Emerging Issues in Litigation Regarding the Subprime Mortgage Crisis"

S_monopolyhouse A new and timely article of interest: Ray Brescia, Subprime Communities: Reverse Redlining, the Fair Housing Act and Emerging Issues in Litigation Regarding the Subprime Mortgage Crisis, 2 Albany Gov't L. Rev. 164 (2009).  The abstract is below:

As the nation struggles to find its bearings in the current financial crisis, and venerable pillars of Wall Street crumble, hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent to shore up the financial system and re-capitalize credit markets. While the eyes of Washington are directed towards Wall Street, there is much talk of the need to prop up Main Street as well, and nowhere is this more apparent than in communities and neighborhoods across the United States that have experienced the first wave of the financial crisis: home upon home of foreclosed properties, abandoned and neglected, their absent silence hard to ignore. Many of these communities are communities of color.

Municipalities across the United States are trying to develop effective responses to the fallout in their communities from the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, funding housing counseling programs and foreclosure mediation, and regulating the maintenance of foreclosed and abandoned homes. Another type of intervention that may prove promising is the prosecution of affirmative civil actions, designed either to punish lenders who allegedly engaged in discriminatory subprime lending practices, or those failing to maintain their portfolio of foreclosed homes. A case of the first type has been filed in Baltimore; cases of the second type have been filed in Cleveland and Buffalo. This article is an attempt to review some of the emerging issues in discrimination law, as there is a growing body of lawsuits directed at "reverse redlining": the practice of targeting borrowers of color for loans on unfavorable terms, and an evolving jurisprudence on this issue that departs in some significant ways from more traditional approaches to discrimination in the market.

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


February 13, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2009

New Article: "Tenants: Innocent Victims of the Nation's Foreclosure Crisis"

A new article of interest (though unfortunately I could only find it available through Lexis or Westlaw): Vicki Been & Allegra Glashausser, Tenants: Innocent Victims of the Nation's Foreclosure Crisis, 2 Alb. Gov't L. Rev. 1 (2009).  The article is part of an issue dedicated to the crisis.  An earlier article with Vicki Been as one of the co-authors of interest and available through SSRN is: Jenny Schuetz, Vicki Been & Ingrid Gould Ellen, Neighborhood Effects of Concentrated Mortgage Foreclosures (Working Paper July 11, 2008). 

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

February 10, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2009

Article of Interest: "Distributive Justice and Private Law"

Article of Interest:

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

February 8, 2009 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | 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 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 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 09, 2009

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

December 20, 2008

New Paper: Susan Carle on Class in Torts and Employment Law

My colleague Susan Carle has posted a new essay onto SSRN: "Short Notes on Teaching About the Micro-Politics of Class, with Examples from Torts and Employment Law Casebooks," forthcoming in the Buffalo Law Review.  The abstract is below:

This short Essay explores several potential teaching moments in which one might raise issues concerning the micro-politics of socioeconomic class status. I discuss cases found in popular casebooks for three course areas in which I teach: torts, employment, and employment discrimination law. I show how analysis of dynamics related to socioeconomic class in discussing case outcomes can help expose assumptions about the naturalness or inevitability of the law's withholding of dignity rights to persons of low socioeconomic status. Law can reinforce ideas that such subordination is natural to the workplace and market, when in fact those ideas are subject to potential challenge through law just as they are reinforced through it. I thus use case analysis to raise for classroom discussion the following question: Just as law can construct and enforce status hierarchies, might the notion of dignitary rights potentially be made to do positive work in law by disrupting the reinforcement of status hierarchies?

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

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December 19, 2008

New Paper: Spencer Rand on Clinical Teaching and Client Self-Image

Spencer Rand has posted "Creating My Client's Image: Is Case Theory Value Neutral in Public Benefits Cases?" Washington Univ. Journal of Law and Policy (2008) to SSRN.  The abstract is below:

Effective case theory demands that an attorney consider with the client the way that pursuing the theory comports with the client's self-image. This is particularly evident in public benefit cases as they are very value laden. Benefits are doled out using a two-tier system of social insurance and public assistance depending on whether we favor the reason that help is sought. People categorized as having personal traits leading to their need, like old age, blindness, and disability, benefit from our FICA social insurance system, getting higher benefits and having their welfare marketed as a pension with little stigma. People who are unemployed long term or just need help to support their families do not benefit from the FICA system, even if they have paid into it. They are confined to our public assistance system with fewer benefits and the stigma of welfare. Many people do not want to see themselves or be seen as getting welfare. Case theories that push people to into the social insurance or public assistance system fail when they do not consider this factor. 

This article uses the public benefits case to suggest a teaching a method for creating effective case theories that recognizes the need to determine if self-image is at issue for the client. Students study master narratives developed around legal issues. The master narrative surrounding public benefits is gone into in some detail. Students also study community narratives or alternative narratives that could influence personal narratives in the stories and decision making of their clients. After doing so, students are to listen for these narratives and personal narratives of their clients to develop effective case theories for their cases that comport with their client's self-image.

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

December 19, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2008

New Paper: Laura Kessler on "Getting Class"

Laura T. Kessler has posted "Getting Class" to SSRN.  The abstract is below:

Gender-based economic inequality has been a longstanding concern of feminist legal theory, particularly as it affects middle-class women. Yet much legal feminist literature remains uninterested in class analysis. How, then, can a focus on class build on and add to feminist legal theory projects? This Essay is intended to initiate a conversation around that question, more than to provide fully formed theories, strategies, or answers. The first part of this Essay briefly provides some examples of insufficient attention to class in legal feminism and other left critical theories in law. The second part explores five possible strategies for overcoming this problem, taking an intersectional approach. I choose my examples from employment discrimination and family law, but the analysis may well apply to other areas.

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

December 18, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 05, 2008

Article of Interest: "Lifting Burdens: Proof, Social Justice, and Public Assistance Administrative Hearings"

Article of interest: Lisa Ellen Brodoff, Lifting Burdens: Proof, Social Justice, and Public Assistance Administrative Hearings, 32 NYU Rev. L. & Soc. Change 131 (2008).  This SSRN link is to an earlier draft, the final version I think is only available through Lexis or Westlaw.  Abstract below:

In Lifting Burdens: Proof, Social Justice, and Public Assistance Administrative Hearings, Lisa Brodoff describes the administrative hearing system for public assistance recipients and applicants, and asserts that it is the primary social justice system for the poor. She discusses why public assistance appellants are always placed at a significant disadvantage in this system. The article proposes that the best way to even out the inequities in adjudications is to always place the burdens of production and persuasion by clear and convincing evidence on the government in these hearings. She argues that policy, efficiency, and fairness require a consistent and heavy burden on the state when it attempts to take away or deny brutal needs benefits. This article examines other administrative substantive areas where the burden is placed on the government in hearings, and shows why the policies behind the changed burden in those areas apply with equal force to public benefits hearings. She demonstrates why a new and heavy burden on the agency will not only result in more equitable adjudications but also lead to better managed public assistance programs. Finally, she suggests ways in which to implement this change.

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

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

December 04, 2008

Self-Promoting Post on Remittances

Ct_cover My article, "Immigrant Remittances," has now been published by Connecticut Law Review and the final version is now on SSRN.  The abstract is below:

Remittances, the sending of money from immigrants back to their home countries, are the newest anti-poverty, development activity of the poor to be applauded by international institutions and economists. Exceeding foreign aid and private investment to many developing countries, remittances are being hailed as a new, untapped resource with powerful poverty alleviation and potential development attributes. After presenting the poverty, developmental, and economic characteristics of this new transnational connection between immigrants and their loved ones, as well as the dangerous effects of excessive remittance regulation, this Article argues that remittances should be understood as an anti-poverty tool, but not as a route to development.

A colleague of mine, Ken Anderson, put up a post on Opinio Juris about my article and one on remittance securitization by Heather Hughes. 

The BBC has posted an 18 minute BizDaily podcast on remittances that aired on Dec. 1, 2008.  The big issue involving remittances this year is the effect that the economic troubles in the U.S. will have on remittance levels.  The Migration Policy Institute made this, "Remittance Patterns in Flux," the 3rd of the 10 biggest migration issues of 2008. 

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

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

December 03, 2008

Costs of Higher Education

A headline from the New York Times today tells the story, "College May Become Unaffordable for Most in U.S." (by Tamar Levin), Dec. 3, 2008.  The associated graphic is here.  Relatedly, on Nov. 30, Tamar Levin's article about foreign study, "Going off to College for Less (Passport Required)" was published by the NYTimes. 

For postings and articles related to the rise in law school costs, see:

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

December 3, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 01, 2008

Native American and Rural Economic Development

For those interested in economic development of Indian tribes or of Indian reservations, a new article highlights the ways in which tribes and rural communities face similar economic development challenges and that both should do more to take advantage of existing funding streams/resources.  The article is Joanna M. Wagner, Improving Native American Equal Access to Federal Funding for Economic Development Through Partnerships with Rural Communities, 32 Am. Indian L. Rev. 525 (2008).  The American Indian Law Review does not have the paper available though its site, so for now Lexis and Westlaw are the only ways to get the article. 

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

December 1, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Two new Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal articles of interest

Two articles of interest:

  1. Jane Gravelle & Jennifer Gravelle, Taxing Poor Families: The Evolution of Treatment Under the Federal Income Tax, 7 Conn. Pub. Int. L.J. 35 (2008). 
  2. Tan N. Nguyen, An Affair to Forget: Law School's Deleterious Effect on Student's Public Interest Aspirations, 7 Conn. Pub. Int. L.J. 95 (2008) [very short with a slight focus on Northeastern]. 

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

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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 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 06, 2008

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 05, 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

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November 04, 2008

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

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October 19, 2008

Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 2008

The Institute for Research on Poverty at Wisconsin has a lot of helpful resources, including recent discussion papers that were presented at the IRP Conference "Changing Poverty," May 29-30, 2008. 

-Thanks to Susan Bennett for the heads up. E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

October 19, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2008

Poverty in America & Report on Credit Impact from Wall St to Main St-- Summary from Joint Economic Committee of Congress

The Joint Economic Committee of Congress puts out occasional, brief, fact sheets and reports.  Two recent ones of note that present how Congress sees these issues are:

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

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

October 15, 2008

Focus on Working Class

Workinghard A quick report, Working Hard, Still Falling Short, was just released by the Working Poor Families Project.  Relatedly, the upcoming New York Times Sunday Magazine features the story, Matt Bai, "Working for the Working Class Vote," Oct. 15, 2008. 

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

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October 08, 2008

Article of Interest: "Lifting the Floor: Sex, Class and Education"

The paper is: Naomi Cahn & June Carbone, Lifting the Floor: Sex, Class and Education, forthcoming in U. Balt. Forum 2009 (available from SSRN).  The abstract is below:

This paper was written for a conference on third wave feminism. Third wave feminism recognizes the importance of "raising the floor," and this paper - from two second wave feminists - helps in developing an agenda for achieving that goal. After a brief exploration of two different models that we label "red families" and "blue families," this paper makes two critical points: first, it correlates the different models to the varying approaches to parental leave laws; and second, it expands our discussion of women and care beyond the workplace and child care, exploring what contributes to women's ability to care for their children (and others) - education - an outcome that is associated with deferred childbearing and higher income and the newer family model. Our conversation about third wave feminism must examine women's means of moving between classes and being able to provide better care to themselves and to others (whether it be children or parents or significant others).

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

October 8, 2008 in Books/Articles/Reports of Interest | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2008

Property article critiquing excessive reliance on law and economics

A recent property article by Eduardo M. Peñalver entitled "Land Virtues" has been posted to SSRN. The paper's focus is property law, but I think says a lot to those with a poverty/property focus.  The abstract is below:

This article has two goals. First, I explore some of the descriptive and normative shortcomings of traditional law and economics discussions of the ownership and use of land. These market-centered approaches struggle in different ways with features of land that distinguish it from other "commodities." The complexity of land - its intrinsic complexity, but even more importantly the complex ways in which human beings interact with it - undermines the notion that owners will focus on a single value, such as wealth, in making decisions about their land. Adding to the equation land's "memory," by which I mean the combined impact of the durability of land uses and the finite quantity of land, calls into question the normative assessment that owners whose behavior is guided by a unitary measure like market value are using their land wisely, or at least more wisely than other modes of decision-making might hope to accomplish. The shortcomings of traditional law and economics theories of land use point toward the benefits of a pluralist theory of property based on the Aristotelian tradition of virtue ethics. Setting forth the broad outlines of such a theory as it applies to the law of land use is the second goal of this article. Virtue theory, I will argue, is capable of incorporating the valuable insights that have made economic analysis so appealing to land use theorists without distorting our moral vision or treating economic consequences as the only considerations that ought to matter.

Personally, I think the article is great.  My own critique is a tiny one -- I think of New Institutional Economics as accomplishing more than what is acknowledged in the paper and worthy of more exploration, but that is only because I have a particular NIE interest.  If you download it you will see that Peñalver has a great section on how failure to correct for inability to pay in traditional law and economics work ends up wrongly prioritizing the desires of the wealthy versus the poor.   

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

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

October 04, 2008

Interesting Article on Post-Katrina New Orleans and the Poor

Judith Browne-Dianis & Anita Sinha, Exiling the Poor: The Clash of Redevelopment and Fair-Housing in Post-Katrina New Orleans, 51 How. L.J. 481 (2008).  Unfortunately, only available on Lexis & Westlaw. 

Related articles that are available online:

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

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