May 08, 2009

Disaster Planning and Vulnerable Populations

Lakefront Supermarket It is about to be the start of hurricane season again (it may already be -- since I moved from New Orleans I don't follow it as much as I used to; where I am now the local weatherman is not a celebrity, unlike New Orleans' Bob Breck!), and the Institute for Business and Home Safety has a short, 4 page, report on disasters and vulnerable populations. The report, available here, highlights the critical need in high-risk communities to better-protect citizens who need special assistance to prepare for hazards. In this white paper, IBHS outlines how disasters often disproportionately impact the poor, elderly, disabled, non-English speakers and others, and offers solutions to limit displacement, sustain affordable housing, create economic activity and reduce the overall cost of response and recovery.

-Thanks to Greg Coppa for the heads up! E.R.

May 8, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2009

Poverty/Wealth Krugman Op-Ed on Wall Street salaries

Another Op-Ed of note: Paul Krugman, "Money for Nothing," New York Times, Apr. 26, 2009.

- Hopefully anger at the wealthy will become something more; a generalized recognition of the role of structure (and not simply or even primarily merit) in determining economic place.  E.R.

April 27, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2009

Deliberate Shrinkage of Flint

Flint, Michigan, and its long-standing efforts to deal with decline is once again (see Roger & Me) in the news: David Streitfeld, "An Effort to Save Flint, Mich, by Shrinking It," New York Times, Apr. 21, 2009.  The plan - demolishing neighborhoods that are no longer viable and that have too limited a population - is somewhat similar to ideas floated just after Hurricane Katrina.   The story also has a linked audio segment.


April 24, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 21, 2009

Interactive Map on Rising Unemployment

The Center for American Progress has put together an interactive state-by-state map of the rise in unemployment rates and on job losses.  The timeline on the page works well. 

April 21, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New York Times Op-Ed on Poor Children

Bob Herbert, "Children in Peril," New York Times, Apr. 20, 2009. 

April 21, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 07, 2009

Op-Ed on Sources of Popular Anger

The Los Angles Times has an op-ed of interest:


April 7, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 31, 2009

Eduardo M. Peñalver on Squatters

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

-Thanks to Jonathan Zimmer for the heads up! E.R.

March 31, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | 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 06, 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.

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

February 18, 2009

Mortgage Plan and Welfare

Coverage of Obama's Mortgage Plan:

Additionally, an article on welfare for fun: Robert Rector & Katherine Bradley, "Stimulus Bill Abolishes Welfare Reform and Adds New Welfare Spending," Heritage Foundation WebMemo, Feb. 11, 2009. 


February 18, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 19, 2009

Interest Rate Cuts Cause Legal Aid Layoffs

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


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

January 13, 2009

Domestic Tobin Tax - Tax on Financial Transactions

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 09, 2009

Unemployment at 7.2%

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

Somewhat related stories/op-eds:

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

December 17, 2008

Op-Ed by the President of the Legal Service Corporation

Helaine M. Barnett, President of the Legal Service Corporation, published an op-ed in the Austin American Statesman on Dec. 12, 2008, "How To Deal with the Justice Gap."  A related public hearing can be seen here.  Here is the concluding paragraph: 

In his first inaugural address, our third president, Thomas Jefferson, listed the "essential principles of our government" — first among them was "equal and exact justice to all." But the fact is that the majority of most poor Americans do not have access to justice. It requires all of us — in community organizations, in the legal community, and in state and local governments — to keep working to make the promise of equal justice a reality.

SEE ALSO, from the Center for Law and Social Policy: Alan Houseman and CLASP staff, "CLASP Federal Policy Recommendations for 2009 and Beyond: An Overview," p11-12, Oct. 16, 2008. 

-Thanks to the SC Access to Justice Weblog for calling attention to the op-ed! E.R.

December 17, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2008

Movie Recommendation: Slumdog Millionaire

Though not perhaps exactly "poverty law" material, nevertheless as a movie worth checking out for its depiction of the Mumbai slums, "Slumdog Millionaire" is great!


November 22, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2008

Return to Keynesian Economics and Bottom-Up Bailout?

What the Obama post-victory economic plan will be is not known at this moment (the campaign version is here), but could it mean a return to Keynesian economics?  Or to the New Deal--or the New New Deal (The Nation recently had a commemorative issue dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, available here).  Maybe it should be a green version of the New Deal?

China's recently announced bailout/stimulus package -- see Washington Post story here, New York Times story here -- that focuses on easing credit restrictions, expanding social services and welfare, and on infrastructure might be a model of where the U.S. could go in the future (though critics might scoff at doing what China does, they have managed a level of sustained growth that far exceeds what the U.S. has achieved -- see e.g. a Dept. of Ag. Economic Research Service report available here).  About the possibility of a new New Deal, Paul Krugman's op-ed, Franklin Delano Obama?, New York Times, Nov. 10, 2008, borrowing from Obama's book title, on the topic ends, "Progressives can only hope that he has the necessary audacity." 

Incidentally, the video of Obama's recent press conference on the economy can be found here.


November 10, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 06, 2008

Good blog posting with audio links on the financial crisis

Posted by William Henderson on the Empirical Legal Studies Blog...


November 6, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2008

Overview of the economy and the election thanks to "Good"

Readers of this blog, VOTE.  Please. 

I found a link from Starbucks of all places to "Good" which has a overview of election issues and of the economy (from the goodsheet) that might be of interest.  See also the New York Times running visual depiction of reader emotions


November 4, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 29, 2008

Thoughts on Moments of Change

This is a non-partisan blog, but that having been said, I think that come Wednesday the poverty law community might be in a situation somewhat analogous to the change in administration period between Bush Sr. and Clinton.  A wonderful article from that period captures this very well.  The article: Fran Ansley, Standing Rusty and Rolling Empty: Law, Poverty, and America's Eroding Industrial Base, 81 Geo. L.J. 1757 (1993).  Below are some excerpts that resonate strongly today (or at least perhaps by Wednesday):

"This is an important moment for anti-poverty advocates.  There are economic changes at work that threaten to exacerbate and entrench disparities that are already a disturbingly salient feature of American society. . . . The advent of a new administration in Washington, while holding out the hope of a welcome end to much that was brutal and wrong-headed in our recent national economic policy, is hardly the end of the story. . . . A strategy that used the power of the executive to give traditionally unrepresented groups an effective voice would greatly increase the executive's available options.  The nation's new leadership currently faces a set of exceedingly difficult constraints imposed by global competition, the world-wide recession, and the crippling debt burden inherited from the Reagan-Bush years, all situated in an impoverished political landscape dominated overwhelmingly by corporate interests.  The new administration does not have the tools to change that landscape alone if it wanted to, but a number of concrete steps that are within its power could help to unleash a popular energy and motion that could move toward real democratic change.  The question is whether the Administration will have the courage and the vision to follow such a strategy." 

For a decidedly partisan election related video that is great to send to friends, click here (this version attacks me but it can be customized). 


October 29, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 14, 2008

Congratulations to Paul Krugman

Given the number of times I have linked to one of Krugman's op-eds, it seems worth noting that Krugman just won a Nobel Prize in Economics!

=) E.R.

October 14, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2008

Executive Compensation and the Financial Crisis

In the wake of the financial crisis, or rather in the midst of the current crisis, there are a number of resources from various outlets on executive pay.  Below are some, but if you have others, let me know and I'll add them:


October 13, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2008

Who are rich? Krugman in connection with the political question

Dollars McCain's "disconnect" (according to emails) from most Americans was arguably on display when he, caught off guard by a question from Pastor Rick Warren, said that someone was rich when they had an income of "$5 million."  Video here.  This comment inspired Paul Krugman, "Now That's Rich," New York Times, Aug. 22, 2008.  In it he references Robert Frank's Richistan to challenge such a question by noting that there are many meanings and levels of "rich" -- personally I thought Krugman was a bit too quick to define lower Richistanis as being middle class, doing so in a way that while it may reflect the sentiments and perspective of those in that income bracket, would probably be seen as false when looking up rather than down income quintiles (as does both law professors and I assume Krugman as a syndicated author).  The best graph I could find with U.S. distribution is here, but if you know of a better one, please let me know.  Incidentally, Robert Frank has his own related blog, the Wealth Report,


August 22, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2008

House Committee on Ways and Means to hold Hearing on Establishing a Modern Poverty Measure

The Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is holding a hearing this Thursday, July 17th, on "Establishing a Modern Poverty Measure." Submissions for the record can be uploaded here.  This hearing is similar to one that took place almost a year ago, the testimony and written submissions of which are available here

Today, New York City announced, see N.Y. Times story here, it was abandoning the federal poverty line in favor of the model originally proposed by the National Academy of Sciences, a change that would define a greater number of people in New York City as poor.  The NAS report is available as a book but is also available from the Census Bureau website, here: Measuring Poverty: A New Approach.  Gordon Fisher's Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds is available here.

-Thanks to the Kojo Nnamdi show for their coverage of this.  E.R.

July 14, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2008

Principle or Campaign Driven Support of Faith-Based Delivery of Social Services?

Barack Obama announced yesterday that he wants to continue Bush's Faith-Based Initiative program and, according to a New York Times story here, he may consider "elevating the director of his Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to a cabinet-level post."  Obama's speech is available on his website here.  A Washington Post op-ed by Michael Gerson that is not very sympathetic and touches on the politics of this policy can be found here.  I expect tomorrow's papers will have many more op-eds on the topic as writers react.  The following resources look at or touch on Bush's faith-based programs:


July 2, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2008

Congressional Research Services on Child Welfare Issues in the 110th Congress

For those who don't know... Congressional Research Service is the public think tank of the nation, providing reports to members of Congress on current political issues.  For more on CRS, click hereOpen CRS provides access to CRS reports that are in the public domain... Anyway, there is a new report of interest:


April 22, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 07, 2008

Clinton Proposes "Poverty Czar"

Hillary Clinton announced that as President she would create a "Poverty Czar."  The story is covered by a  N.Y. Times article, a post, and the full speech can be found here from the Clinton website. 


April 7, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 07, 2008

Romney's gracious exit from the campaign

It is almost not worth blogging about, but after listening to Mitt Romney's withdrawal speech from the presidential campaign (Romney campaign press release here), I thought his attack on welfare was worth noting because it seemed particularly angry as well as odd; quoting from the speech, "... tolerance for pornography--even celebration of it--and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today's grim realities...".  For more, see the text of his speech, available here


February 7, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 05, 2008

Krugman on the difference between the Clinton and Obama Health Care plans

Paul Krugman (an unofficial Krugman site is here) has an interesting article on the health care proposals of Clinton and Obama and how the plans differ in terms of ensuring everyone is covered: "Clinton, Obama, Insurance" NYTimes Feb. 4, 2008.  The conclusion, that Obama's plan will leave some uninsured is not surprising if you have been following the debates, but Krugman is always worth reading. 


February 5, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 16, 2008

Candidates Obama, Edwards, and Clinton on Poverty


There is a new center for the study of poverty at Stanford, The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, and their first issue of Pathways: a magazine on poverty, inequality, and social policy edited by David Grusky and Chris Wimer is out.  The issue (available here) contains the following articles:

Letter from the Editors by David Grusky and Chris Wimer

Poorer by Comparison by Timothy M. Smeeding
The U.S. has much poverty, far more than comparable countries, like the U.K. Why?
Striking it Richer by Emmanuel Saez
A new analysis of tax data reveals an unprecedented rise at the top of the income distribution. Are capitalists or professionals the big winners?

It is time for a new war on poverty? The presidential candidates and top commentators weigh in.
Building One America by John Edwards
Pragmatic Solutions for Reducing Poverty and Inequality by Hillary Clinton
Tackling Poverty and Inequality in America by Barack Obama
How to Wage the New War on Poverty: Advising and Grading the Candidates by Rebecca Blank
Poverty and Marriage, Inequality and Brains by Charles Murray
The Pragmatic Case for Reducing Income Inequality by Robert Frank

New research developments
The gender gap in educational outcomes, debt reform and financial risk, and the surprising decline in residential segregation.

Escaping Poverty: Can Housing Vouchers Help? by Stefanie DeLuca and James E. Rosenbaum
Should poverty policy be built around housing vouchers? Making sense of the evidence.


January 16, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 17, 2007

Edward's "Two Americas" Time Article

Time Magazine recently featured the story, ""Two Americas" Enough for Edwards?" by Karen Tumulty.  It discusses Edwards' coming to focus on poverty issues and the power of his 2004 Two Americas speech. 


December 17, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack