Friday, June 22, 2012
Neil Buchanan, economist and tax prof extraordinaire, muses on how he underestimated the "non-joys" of homeowenership:
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The New York Times details how some California cities are showing an increasing respect for the property of the homeless
For years, the authorities periodically swept the banks of San Jose’s waterways, dismantling and discarding the elaborate, makeshift homes built by hundreds of homeless people. [...] The cat-and-mouse game served to check their numbers, at least enough to prevent a flood of complaints from residents nearby. But maintaining that balance has recently grown more complicated: fearing lawsuits by advocates for the homeless, the city has begun storing the belongings of people whose encampments have been cleared.
James Dwyer (William & Mary) has posted No Place for Children: Addressing Urban Blight and Its Impact on Children Through Child Protection Law, Domestic Relations Law, and 'Adult-Only' Residential Zoning (Alabama Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
For any child, residential location is a large determinant of well-being. At the negative extreme, a neighborhood can pose threats to children's well-being far exceeding those present within the home in typical cases of child protection removal. The worst neighborhoods pose direct threats to children's physical and psychological well-being, and they also adversely affect children indirectly by creating stressors that undermine parents' abilities to care for children. Pervasive crime and substance abuse, in particular, substantially elevate risks to children beyond those created just by less capable or less motivated parents. Given that a relatively high percentage of adults who live in the worst neighborhoods are marginal to begin with, in terms of their inherent capacities for giving care and maintaining safe and healthy homes, the additional threats present in the larger residential environment push the experience of most children in such neighborhoods below what most people -- including those who live in the neighborhoods -- would regard as a minimally acceptable quality of life. Because such neighborhoods are also likely to have inadequate -- even dangerous -- schools and few legal employment opportunities, living in them severely diminishes the life prospects of children forced to grow up in them.
To date, government efforts to improve the lives of these children, and scholarly writing on the topic, have focused on urban renewal and criminal law enforcement in these neighborhoods. These have mostly been unsuccessful, where they do succeed they typically do so by simply relocating the dysfunction to another neighborhood, and even if renewal efforts undertaken today might ultimately be successful that is of no help to a child born today into dangerous urban blight. The only way to ensure that children do not suffer the effects of growing up in deeply dysfunctional communities is to get them out now. Policy should shift to a strategy of separating children as early as possible from the adults who are creating toxic social environments in impoverished areas. In fact, programs that have assisted parents who wished to relocate with their children from high-poverty, inner-city neighborhoods to low-poverty areas have greatly improved the children's well-being and longterm life prospects. This Article presents a novel argument for expanding such relocation programs, an argument founded upon basic rights of children -- not rights against private actors who might harm them, though children certainly possess such rights, but rather rights against the state. I argue that the state violates basic rights of children by making certain decisions about children's lives that effectively consign many of them to living in hellish conditions. To remedy this violation of children's rights, the state should now institute reforms such as giving children first priority in distribution of housing vouchers and in provision of relocation assistance and, most controversially, making relocation out of the most dangerous neighborhoods mandatory rather than voluntary for parents who have and wish to retain custody of children. The state should no more permit parents to house children in apartments where stray bullets come through windows and drug addicts clutter the hallways outside than permit parents to take children into casinos and nightclubs. This Article argues that the state is legally free, and in fact morally and legally obligated, to adopt new legal rules and policies aimed at ensuring that no children live in the horrible neighborhoods that exist, and likely will always exist, in our society. It also presents a constitutional lever for overcoming political and community resistance to taking the necessary measures. These measures would entail changes to the law in three broad areas -- child maltreatment, domestic relations, and zoning.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Mark Roark has a delightful post on the property issues embedded in the Harry Potter series:
One of the truly interesting things about property represented in Harry Potter is the ambiguous relationship of ownership to the property. [...] Consider all the property that is described in the magical world — just about every piece of property may be reoriented to new ownership, even without the express consent of the “owner” — a choice of the chattel, we might say that alleviates the need for disputes.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
For those of you who teach Trusts & Estates, here's a slideshow of "10 Rich Dads Who Don’t Think Their Kids Deserve Their Money."
This post is long overdue, but I wanted to thank Thomas Gibbons for his recent blogging stint. His posts were insightful & informative, and we hope he'll join us again sometime soon. Reading about Thomas' take on New Zealand shows once more that U.S. property law would benefit from more cross-cultural explorations.
Tim Mulvaney, Secretary of the AALS Property Seciton, passes along a fun announcement. The AALS Section on Property intends to hold an informal gathering at the AALS Annual Meeting in January to welcome those Property scholars who recently have joined the academy. As part of a “welcome basket,” the Committee is considering including a clever, Property-themed T-shirt. “I Own Blackacre” shirts are already out there, but the Committee is wondering if anyone has a better, more creative idea. Post your property-themed slogans in the comments section or email Tim.
Monday, June 18, 2012
The NY Times details how the U.S. is finally beginning to overhaul its outdated airport infrastructure:
At a time when federal and state public works programs are stalled, the nation’s biggest airports are in the midst of major renovations or expansions that, taken together, amount to some of the largest infrastructure projects in the country. [...] New York’s three major airports, as well as the airports in Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago, are spending billions of dollars. Many of the airports have aging terminals, some built in the 1960s and 1970s, that are ill suited to the bigger planes, bigger security lanes and bigger crowds of modern-day air travel.
Ilya Somin, blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy, makes the case.
Specifically, he points to an interview with New Zealand economist Eric Cramption that recently aired on Radio New Zealand. Somin writes, "I don’t know to what extent Crampton managed to persuade the interviewer or his listeners. But it is a good sign that the idea of organ markets is now mainstream enough to be taken seriously in public debate both in the US and abroad."