CROP and the Institute for Social Development, University of the Western Cape are hosting a conference on ”Poverty and Politics in Middle Income Countries” in Cape Town, South Africa on November 22-24, 2012. Abstracts are due Aug. 13, 2012. The call for papers can be found here.
Photo Copyright Ezra Rosser 2011
Book Review: Jared Diamond, What Makes Countries Rich or Poor?, N.Y. Review of Books, June 7, 2012.
New Article: Duncan Kennedy, African Poverty, 87 Wash. L. Rev. 205 (2012). Abstract below:
African extreme poverty is probably a function (although not solely) of the balkanized post-colonial geopolitics of Africa. It is also probably a function (although not solely) of the income distribution generated by a typically perverse African political economy, through its effect on the allocation of resources to development. As between these two causes, the second is probably much the more important. This reinterpretation puts considerably more of the blame for African poverty on the Western great powers than does the “poverty trap” analytic that is a common contemporary way of thinking about the African economic situation.
Please excuse this self-promoting post but I have two new articles posted to SSRN (one already published, the other accepted for publication) that relate to poverty law.
(1) Ezra Rosser, Poverty Offsetting, 6 Harvard Law & Policy Review 179 (2012). Abstract below:
The market now offers consumers an expanding array of options to offset the harms of their consumption. Travel websites and politicians alike sell the advantages of carbon offsetting. But offsetting options need not be limited to correcting for environmental harm; consumption is also associated with worker exploitation and people struggling with poverty. Individuals can and do respond to such poverty-related harms by altering their consumption decisions and by making voluntary supplemental payments following consumption. This Essay explores the possibility of poverty offsetting. Building upon carbon offsetting’s basic insight—that people should correct for the negative externalities of their consumption—poverty-offsetting institutions would enable individuals to correct for the poverty-related harms associated with their consumption.
(2) Ezra Rosser, The Ambition and Transformative Potential of Progressive Property, 101 California Law Review __ (forthcoming 2013). Abstract below:
The emerging progressive property school of thought champions and finds its meaning in the social nature of property. Rejecting the idea that exclusion lies at the core of property law, progressive property scholars call for a reconsideration of the relationships owners and non-owners have with property and with each other. Despite these ambitions, so far progressive property scholarship has largely confined itself to questions of exclusion and access. This paper argues that such an emphasis glosses over the race-related acquisition and distribution problems that plague American history and property law. The modest structural changes supported by progressive property scholars fail to account for this racial history and, by so doing, present a limited vision of the changes to property law that progressive scholars should support. Though sympathetic with the progressive property political and scholarly orientation and the policy arguments made regarding exclusion and access, I argue that the first priority of any transformative project of progressive property must be revisiting acquisition and distribution.
Finally, let me add a couple comments about these articles. The first article is a follow-up to my Offsetting and the Consumption of Social Responsibility, 89 Washington University Law Review 27 (2011) article and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the staff of the Harvard Law and Policy Review for their belief in the topic and their work on the article. THANK YOU! The second article will not be published until 2013 so if you have comments on the paper, please email them to me. =)
New Article: Martin Chavez, Remittances and the Charitable Deduction: A New Approach to Encouraging Development in Mexico, 14 N.Y.U. J. Leg. & Pol’y 565 (2011).
Given my own writing on immigrant remittances, this is a topic I may care about more than most readers, but the suggestion in this note — afford charitable contribution status to collective remittances but not personal remittances — seems right to me. Of course, this could already be accomplished through the right sort of charitable organization.
Self-Promoting Post — My new forthcoming article has now been posted to SSRN: Ezra Rosser, Offsetting and the Consumption of Social Responsibility, 89 Wash. U. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2011). Abstract below:
This Article examines the relationship between individual consumption and consumption-based harms by focusing on the rise in consumption offsetting. Carbon offsets are but the leading edge of a rise in consumer options for offsetting externalities associated with consumption. Moving from examples of quasi offsetting to environmental offsetting and the possibility of poverty offset institutions, I argue that offsetting provides a valuable mechanism for individuals to correct for the harms associated with consumption. This article makes two major contributions to how we understand the relationship between consumption and social responsibility. First, it identifies an emerging offsetting phenomenon in seemingly discrete market practices and gives suggestions for improving upon them. Second, it suggests that by taking seriously both consumption and externalities, progress can be made on everything from the environment to global poverty. Offsetting, while not getting at all moral or societal obligations, does root such obligations in the shared activity, and perhaps belief, of Americans: consumption.
NOTE: I am going to be on Spring Break from March 5-13, 2011 and because I am going to be spending that time at a cabin without electricity, much less internet access, my posts are on hold until March 14th.
New Article: Tracey Michelle Roberts, Mitigating the Distributional Impacts of Climate Change Policy, 67 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 209 (2010). Abstract below:
Under both a cap-and-trade system and a greenhouse gas tax, the government will regulate energy suppliers and distributors, utility companies, and large manufacturers. These parties will bear the statutory incidence of the regulation. However, the financial impacts of regulating greenhouse gas emissions will be borne primarily by consumers. Consumers will bear the economic incidence of the regulation in the form of increased costs of gasoline, electricity, and home heating fuels and in increased consumer prices for all goods manufactured or distributed using fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas regulation will also generate significant revenue. This Article addresses the question of what should be done with those revenues. Models of the economic incidence of the two systems indicate that while high-income households will bear a larger portion of the distributional impacts because they consume more, low-income households will bear a disproportionate burden as a percentage of their household income. In view of the political challenges associated with redistribution, the practical challenges associated with calculating the net burdens of environmental regulation, and the central importance of protecting the least advantaged in society, this Article proposes that the optimal regulatory regime is one that neutralizes the distributional impacts. The government may achieve this by capturing revenues from a cap-and-trade system or a greenhouse gas tax and using those revenues to issue a rebate that is proportional to household income and scaled according to household size. This Article also suggests that the most efficient method for delivering the rebate is by issuing a refundable tax credit through the income tax system, based on the institutional compatibility of that system with the regulatory and distributional goals of the policy.
News Article: Nicholas D. Kristof, D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution, N.Y. Times, Oct. 20, 2010.