Category Archives: Books

Jotwell Review of The Poverty Industry

Ezra Rosser, Robbing the Poor, JOTWELL (Nov. 23, 2016) (reviewing Daniel L. Hatcher, The Poverty Industry: The Exploitation of America’s Most Vulnerable Citizens (2016))

Photography Book about Poverty in the United States: “American Realities”

Photography Book about Poverty in the United States: Joakim Eskildsen, American Realities (2014).  Sample of photos in this article.

Personal Reaction to “The New Trail of Tears”

the-new-trail-of-tears-how-washington-is-destroying-american-indians-307x460I decided to briefly respond to Naomi Schaefer Riley’s The New Trail of Tears (2016).  I had thought about doing a (scathing) book review on it, but the guru of all things Indian law, Matthew Fletcher, did a six part take down of the book on The Turtle Talk Blog that says much of what I would say.  As Fletcher writes, “DO NOT READ THIS BOOK if you are a supporter of tribal interests and the future of Indian people, unless you’re interested in learning about a game plan to send 21st century Indian people on a new trail of tears.”  He goes on:

The trap for readers is that TNToT seems like a reform minded book with deep sympathy for Indian people, with the federal government as the bad guy. It’s not. At best, TNToT is paternalism, termination era- and allotment era-style liberalism. NSR characterizes the Indians that live in Indian country as poor, alcoholic, suicidal rapists. Or really, really sad people who are always slowly shaking their heads (classic Vanishing Indian stuff). 

At worst, this is paid propaganda for conservative organizations that tend to support the view that the federal government is a terrible thing. For NSR, Indians are either victims or perpetrators, and need to be saved or punished. Finally, and in my view most importantly, TNToT throughout ignores tribal and Indian property rights, which is ironic given that NSR will frequently refer to property rights as a justification for her conclusions.

It is an incredibly bad book.  It is racist, it’s level of analysis is quite shallow, and it is something that I am surprised got published.  There are scholars who share some of the author’s views regarding the causes of the problems on Indian reservations but their work tends to be less problematic and better reasoned.  I couldn’t help but think as I read the book that if Donald Trump becomes President, the author is someone he might call to set Indian policy.  And for people of this mindset, setting Indian policy means embracing once again allotment and termination.  In other words, the book is filled with recommendations that involve stepping away from self-determination in favor of some of the worst moments in a history filled with bad moments in the relationship between Washington and Indian nations.  Naomi Schaefer Riley’s ultimate goal seems to be similar to that of Andrew Jackson’s, to have Indians go away or melt into the larger American society.  As I said, it is not a good book.

New Textbook: “Social Security Law, Policy, and Practice: Cases and Materials”

soc-security-bookNew Textbook: Frank S. Bloch & Jon C. Dubin, Social Security Law, Policy, and Practice: Cases and Materials (West 2016)  [Note: a teacher’s manual is also available and if you have any questions about the book or the teacher’s manual, feel free to contact Jon (at jdubin@kinoy.rutgers.edu) or Frank (at frank.bloch@law.vanderbilt.edu)].

New Textbook: “Public Welfare Law”

publicwelfarelawAn exciting announcement from Foundation Press, David Super’s new textbook, Public Welfare Law, is coming out in November 2016.  From the publisher’s website:

Public Welfare Law provides comprehensive coverage of all aspects of public benefit law. Its heaviest emphasis is on AFDC/TANF, food stamps/SNAP, Medicaid, Social Security/SSI, and unemployment compensation. It also includes both main cases and extensive note materials on a wide range of other programs, including public housing, Section 8, the Low-Income Housing Credit, LIHEAP, school meals, WIC, disaster assistance, trade adjustment assistance, foster care, veterans’ pensions, Black Lung disability, survivors’ insurance, general assistance, and lifeline communications, among others.

To help students develop transferable analytic skills, it is organized by concept rather than by program, with each conceptual chapter drawing illustrations from multiple programs. Thus, for example, chapters cover means testing, program administration, federalism, the differences between capped and open-ended programs, the amount of benefits and the form in which they are provided, work, other behavioral rules, interactions with immigration law, and challenges facing people with disabilities. Each chapter then draws on examples from multiple programs, allowing students to see both commonalities and critical differences.

Congrats to Professor Super and I can’t wait to get my copy of the book!

New Book: “The Politics of Staying Put: Condo Conversion and Tenant Right-to-Buy in Washington, DC”

New Book: Carolyn Gallaher, The Politics of Staying Put: Condo Conversion and Tenant Right-to-Buy in Washington, DC (Temple Univ. Press, 2016).

New Book: “From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America”

hintonNew Book: Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (2016).

New Book: “The Poverty Law Canon: Exploring the Major Cases”

Poverty Canon CoverI am excited to announce that The Poverty Law Canon: Exploring the Major Cases (Marie Failinger & Ezra Rosser eds., Univ. of Michigan Press, 2016) is now published and available through both the Michigan Press website and Amazon, etc (the library edition is $95 and the paperback is $39.95).

I have a bit more to say about this book, below, but first I want to highlight the contents of the book.  The book came out of a 2013 conference and features a great group of contributors as can be seen from the chapter list:

 

Introduction – Ezra Rosser

Part I: Victories

When Paupers Became People: Edwards v. California (1941) – Clare Pastore

Remaking the “Law of the Poor”: Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co. (1965)  – Anne Fleming

Sylvester Smith, Unlikely Heroine: King v. Smith (1968) – Henry Freedman

Legal Services Attorneys and Migrant Advocates Join Forces: Shapiro v. Thompson (1969)  – Elisa Alvarez Minoff

Dignity and Passion: Goldberg v. Kelly (1970) – Melanie B. Abbott

Litigating in the Zeitgeist: Rosado v. Wyman (1970) – Wendy A. Bach

Part II: Losses

A Sweeping Refusal of Equal Protection: Dandridge v. Williams (1970) – Julie A. Nice

Privacy as a Luxury Not for the Poor: Wyman v. James (1971) – Michele Estrin Gilman

A Tragedy of Two Americas: Jefferson v. Hackney (1972) – Marie A. Failinger

Denying the Poor Access to Court: United States v. Kras (1973) – Henry Rose

“The Poor People Have Lost Again”: San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973) – Camille Walsh

Part III: The Modern Era

Reflecting and Foreshadowing: Mathews v. Eldridge (1976) – John J. Capowski

Chronicle of a Debt Foretold: Zablocki v. Red Hail (1978) – Tonya L. Brito, R. Kirk Anderson, and Monica Wedgewood

The Movement for a Right to Counsel in Civil Cases: Turner v. Rogers (2011) – Kelly Terry

Public Housing as Housing of Last Resort: Department of Housing and Urban Development v. Rucker (2002) – Nestor M. Davidson

 

As with any effort to put together a list of important cases, there are cases that arguably should have been included and/or excluded; the chapters represent a combination of the importance of the cases and the interests of the contributors.  But I hope this book will be of interest to those interested in poverty or poverty law in the United States.

“The contributors include some of the best academics who write and teach about poverty. The back stories of these cases are multidimensionally interesting—the clients, the legal strategies, the lawyers themselves, the historical and political context, the effect on the law, the backstage of the Supreme Court and the role of the law clerks.” – Peter Edelman

As one of the editors, I want to thank Michigan Press for taking a chance on this book, Marie Failinger for being such a great co-editor, and all the contributors for their patience as this book made its slow way from idea to something that can be picked up.


I want to end on a personal note.  I see The Poverty Law Canon as being closely related to the Juliet Brodie, Clare Pastore, Ezra Rosser & Jeff Selbin, Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice (2014) in that both are efforts to think through and share the connection between poverty and law in a manner that hopefully will appeal to scholars and students.  The books are linked in my mind, and not only because of the work involved.  I dedicated my role on the textbook to my late father-in-law, Mario Castro, and my part of the dedication page of The Poverty Law Canon reads:

To my students and to my colleagues and mentors at American University Washington College of Law, especially Susan Bennett, Claudio Grossman, and Ira Robbins. It is a privilege to get to teach and write in your company.

Thanks for putting up with this long aside, now buy your copy and tell your librarian to do the same!  =)

Free Book: “Law and Economics, 6th edition” by Robert Cooter & Thomas Ulen

Free Book: Robert Cooter & Thomas Ulen, Law and Economics, 6th edition is available here.  [Note for those writing about law and economics, this, along with the Posner textbook, is one of the classic textbooks in the field and it is now available online for free.]

New Book: “Poverty in America—and What to Do About It”

img-poverty-in-america_151844823090-379x586New Book: American Enterprise Institute, Poverty in America—and What to Do About It (2016).  [The book can be downloaded in whole or by chapter.]

Contents

I. THE BIG PICTURE: A CONSERVATIVE SOCIAL JUSTICE
AGENDA
   

► “BE OPEN-HANDED TOWARD YOUR BROTHERS”
Arthur C. Brooks

II. THE FOCUS: POVERTY, NOT INEQUALITY     

► POVERTY, NOT INCOME INEQUALITY, IS THE CHALLENGE
WE MUST ADDRESS

Aparna Mathur

III. ANTIPOVERTY POLICY: HAND-UP SOLUTIONS FOR
POOR AMERICANS
 

► EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT DOES A BETTER JOB OF LIFTING WORKERS FROM POVERTY
Michael R. Strain

► HERE’S WHY CONSERVATIVES SHOULD WORRY MORE ABOUT LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT
Michael R. Strain

► THE PATH TO RESPONSIBILITY CAN START WITH A BROOM AND A PAYCHECK
Robert Doar

► 10 WELFARE-REFORM LESSONS
Robert Doar

IV. FAMILY AND POVERTY: WHAT’S HAPPENING AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 

► FAMILY MATTERS: WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR BLOCK SOCIAL MOBILITY? SINGLE PARENTS, SUGGESTS A NEW STUDY
W. Bradford Wilcox

► CAN ANYTHING REALLY BE DONE ABOUT FAMILY BREAKDOWN AND AMERICAN POVERTY? A Q&A WITH BRAD WILCOX
W. Bradford Wilcox and James Pethokoukis

V. OPINION AND ACTION: WHAT AMERICANS ARE SAYING AND POLITICIANS ARE DOING     

► ECONOMIC INSECURITY IN THE UNITED STATES
Karlyn Bowman, Andrew Rugg, and Jennifer K. Marsico

► FIGHT POVERTY THE CONSERVATIVE WAY
Ramesh Ponnuru