New Article: Douglas L. Kriner & Francis X. Shen, Invisible Inequality: The Two Americas of Military Sacrifice, 46 Memphis L. Rev. 545 (2016).
Through a series of empirical investigations — including analysis of over 500,000 American combat casualties from World War II through Iraq and Afghanistan — we show in this Article that there is growing socioeconomic inequality in military sacrifice and that the relative invisibility of this inequality has major political ramifications. Today, unlike in World War II, the Americans who die or are wounded in war are disproportionately coming from poorer parts of the country. We argue that these Two Americas of military sacrifice constitute invisible inequality because the issue is routinely overlooked by scholars, policymakers, and the public. We then use seven original surveys of American public opinion to uncover a variety of social, legal, and political consequences of this inequality. With Congress unlikely to act, and courts unwilling to intervene, we argue that the best path forward is to generate a renewed public debate over inequality in military sacrifice. To this end, we show empirically that such a conversation could transform public opinion. Ignoring inequality in military sacrifice is both morally comforting and politically beneficial. But it is at odds with empirical reality, and, most importantly, with our American ideals of shared sacrifice.
New Article: Sarah K. Bruch, Marcia K. Meyers, Janet C. Gornick, “Separate and Unequal: The Dimensions and Consequences of Safety Net Decentralization in the U.S. 1994-2014,” Institute for Research on Poverty (Aug. 2016).
In this paper, we examine the dimensions and consequences of decentralized social safety net policies. We consider the adequacy of benefits and inclusiveness of receipt for eleven federal-state programs that constitute the core of safety net provision for working age adults and families: cash assistance, food assistance, health insurance, child support, child care, preschool/early education, unemployment insurance, state income taxes, cash assistance work assistance, disability assistance, and housing assistance. In the first part of the paper we examine the extent of cross-state inequality in social provision. We find substantial variation across states; variation that is consistent with policy design differences in state discretion; and at levels equal to or greater than variation across the European countries that have been recognized as having different welfare regimes. In the second section, we turn to an analysis of change over time (1994 to 2014) examining four dimensions of convergence: degree, location of change, direction of change, and scope. We find both decreases (retrenchment) and increases (expansions) of provision, a handful of cases of convergence (decreasing inequality) and divergence (increasing inequality), and a great deal of synchronous change and persistence in the magnitude of cross state inequalities.
Posted in Articles, Children, Economic Mobility, Education, Employment, Family, Health, housing, Inequality, Measuring Poverty, Reports, Socio-Economic Rights, Uncategorized, Welfare
New Article: Paul R. Tremblay, Rebellious Strains in Transactional Lawyering for Underserved Entrepreneurs and Community Groups, 23 Clinical L. Rev. (forthcoming 2016).
In his 1992 book Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano’s Vision of Progressive Law Practice, Gerald López disrupted the conventional understandings of what it meant to be an effective poverty lawyer or public interest attorney. His critiques and prescriptions were aimed at litigators and lawyers similarly engaged in struggles for social change. His book did not address the role of progressive transactional lawyers. Today, transactional lawyers working in underserved communities are far more common. This Essay seeks to apply López’s critiques to the work of those practitioners.
I argue here that transactional legal services, or TLS, on behalf of subordinated clients achieves many of the aims of the Rebellious Lawyering project. I separate TLS on behalf of individual entrepreneurs from a more collective TLS on behalf of community or worker groups. For practitioners working with entrepreneurs, the Essay observes that client power, control, and autonomy are more readily achieved, albeit through what López might describe as quite regnant practices. Those practices, I argue, are fully justified in this context. What TLS for entrepreneurs does not accomplish, though, is community mobilization, a downside that is regrettable but not a reason to eschew that kind of work. Collective TLS provides all of the upsides of entrepreneurial TLS while not sacrificing mobilization goals. That version of TLS, though, does present two of its own challenges, one triggered by the complexity and sophistication of the legal issues involved in may community economic development projects, and the second resulting from the nature of group representation.
New Article: Brishen Rogers, Employment Rights in the Platform Economy: Getting Back to Basics, 10 Harv. L. & Pol’y Rev. 479 (2016).
The employment status of workers for “platform economy” firms such as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and Handy has become a significant legal and political issue. Lawsuits against several such companies allege that they have misclassified workers as independent contractors to evade employment law obligations. Various lawmakers and commentators, pointing to the complexity of existing tests for employment and the costs of employment duties, have responded with proposals to limit platform companies’ liability. This article steps into such debates, using the status of Uber drivers as a test case. It argues that Uber drivers may not fall neatly into either the “employee” or the “independent contractor” category under existing tests. Nevertheless, an important principle underlying those tests — the anti-domination principle — strongly indicates that the drivers are employees. That principle also indicates that proposals to limit platform economy firms’ liabilities are premature at best and misguided at worst.
News Coverage: Damon Darlin, “A Question About Friends Reveals a Lot About Class Divides,” New York Times, Sept. 1, 2016.
News Coverage: Amrith Ramkumar, More Americans Are Dying in Poverty, Bloomberg, Aug. 1, 2016.
New Article: Steven J. Eagle, Conflation, Intractability and Affordable Housing, forthcoming Fordham Urb. L.J. Abstract below:
This Article examines the varying and often-conflicting views of “affordable housing” of different social and economic groups. It asserts that attempts to deal with affordable housing issues must take into account the shelter, cultural, and economic needs of those populations, and also the effects of housing decisions on economic prosperity. The article focuses on affordable housing goals such as making available an ample supply of housing in different price ranges; attracting and retaining residents who contribute to the growth and economic prosperity of cities; ensuring that neighborhood housing remains available for existing residents, while preserving their cultural values; and providing adequate housing in high-cost cities for low- and moderate-income persons and the overlapping concern for “fair housing” for families of all races and backgrounds.
Thereafter, the Article examines the benefits and detriments of various means of providing more affordable housing, including fair-share mandates, rent control, and inclusionary zoning (including whether that leads to impermissible government takings of private property). It then briefly considers the merits and demerits of federal subsidy programs.
The Article briefly considers conceptual and practical problems in implementing the Supreme Court’s 2015 Inclusive Communities disparate impact holding, and HUD’s 2015 regulations on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” Finally, it discusses how the concept of “affordable housing” conflates the separate issues of high housing prices and poverty, and how housing prices might be reduced through removal of regulatory barriers to new construction.
Throughout, the Article stresses that advancing affordable housing goals have both explicit and implicit costs, and that goals often are conflicting. To those ends, it employs economic and sociological as well as legal perspectives.
New Article: H. Luke Shaefer, Pinghui Wu & Kathryn Edin, Can Poverty in America Be Compared to Conditions in the World’s Poorest Countries?, July 2016. Abstract below:
Some contend that the American poor are affluent by international standards, and recent survey evidence finds that Americans have deeply divided views about the conditions faced by the poor in this country. To what extent can poverty in the United States be compared to conditions in the world’s poorest nations? Few analysts have examined this question beyond “instrumental”measures of poverty such as income and consumption that only indirectly capture wellbeing (Sen, 1999). The current paper uses available evidence to examine this question based on four direct indicators of wellbeing: 1) life expectancy; 2) infant mortality; 3) risk of homicide, and 4) risk of incarceration. By these metrics, wellbeing is highly stratified in the U.S. Among Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder, quality of life looks similar to what is experienced in countries with pe rcapita economic output that is a small fraction of that in the U.S.