Category Archives: deserving/undeserving

Conservative News Article On Rural Poverty: “The White Ghetto”

Conservative Coverage of Rural Poverty: Kevin D. Williamson, “The White Ghetto,” The National Review, Jan. 9, 2014.

NOTE: for reasons that will be clear if you read this, I hesitated to post this article.  But I do think it could be good material for a classroom discussion and manages to be interesting at times and regardless of your political leanings also  offensive at other times.

Court rejects Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s drug testing of welfare applicants | The Miami Herald

Court rejects Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s drug testing of welfare applicants | The Miami Herald.

Roundtable: “Re-evaluating the “Culture of Poverty””

Here: Re-evaluating the “Culture of Poverty” » The Society Pages [featuring Mark Gold, Kaaryn Gustafson, and Mario Luis Small].

Report: “A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the Felony Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits”

Report: Marc Mauer & Virginia McCalmont, A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the  Felony Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits (Sentencing Project, Revised version 2014).

Ford Destroys Cadillac’s Rich Guy Ad – Business Insider

Ford Destroys Cadillac’s Rich Guy Ad – Business Insider.

[Both the Cadillac ad and this Ford ad could be good in the classroom as a way to talk about U.S. belief systems regarding the poor and work.]

GREAT N.Y. Times Series: “Invisible Child”

I have been resisting posting this for a while because I wanted to finish reading it, and with 5 long articles, it is a long series.  But it is worth reading!  I plan on using it in my housing law class and suggesting it in my poverty law class.

Andrea Elliot, Invisible Child, New York Times, Dec. 2013,

(As an aside, Bloomburg’s response is here.)

News Article: “On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps”

News Article: Sheryl Gay Stolberg, On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps, New York Times, Sept. 4, 2013.  

New Article: “Drug Testing Welfare Recipients as a Constitutional Condition”

New Article: Ilan Wurman, Note, Drug Testing Welfare Recipients as a Constitutional Condition, 65 Stan. L. Rev. 1153 (2013).  Abstract below:

This Note challenges the prior and current scholarship on suspicionless drug testing of welfare recipients, and the Supreme Court’s special needs doctrine more broadly, by applying the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions to the cases. It contends that the Fourth Amendment’s special needs doctrine is insufficient, because conditioning welfare benefits on drug testing may fail the special needs test but still be a constitutional condition. This Note argues that, where the unconstitutional conditions doctrine could otherwise apply, the doctrine is in fact necessary to apply; that doing so resolves certain contradictions and fictions that currently exist in the Fourth Amendment doctrine, while better explaining some of the Fourth Amendment cases; and that conditioning welfare on drug testing is more likely to be constitutional under the unconstitutional conditions doctrine than under the current Fourth Amendment approach, which would instead stop the inquiry with the special needs doctrine.

New Article: “Shadow Works and Shadow Markets: How Privatization of Welfare Services Produces an Alternative Market”

New Article: Bridgette Baldwin, Shadow Works and Shadow Markets: How Privatization of Welfare Services Produces an Alternative Market, 34 Western New England L. Rev. 445 (2012).  Abstract below:

The Author attempts to fuse Ivan Illich’s misplaced ideas of gender roles with how privatization of welfare services has legitimized a shadow economy and work through mandated community service jobs. The Article provides a historical perspective of how social services were handled, leading to the current cost/benefit legacy of welfare privatization utilized by the Wisconsin Works program (W-2). Wisconsin’s program requires women recipients to engage in volunteer work, creating a subsidized labor force for private agencies based on the presumption that work, even meaningless and menial tasks, establishes job-readiness for women on welfare. The Author suggests that we need to begin thinking about how to recreate the framework for providing public services. The community service component of W2 and its actual function powerfully demonstrates how W-2 mothers have become a reserve labor force. But at the same time the contours of W-2 make reserve labor status profitable, not for the mothers, but for the sub-contracted agencies. The relationship between W-2 mothers, the status of community service, and the position of sub-contracted agencies have generated a shadow market as a consequence of welfare privatization. The ways in which these women are held captive to a world without work, a world without skill building, and limited ways out become the grounds upon which sub-contracting agencies generate profit. Under the shroud of “cost effectiveness,” private agencies are reaping the financial windfall of “pimping” the state based on their ability to market their skills at converting welfare mothers into low-wage workers.

New Article: “Merit and Mobility: A Progressive View of Class, Culture, and the Law”

New Article: Lucille A. Jewel, Merit and Mobility: A Progressive View of Class, Culture, and the Law, SSRN 2012.  Abstract below:

Rising income inequality and financial trauma in the middle class beg the question of whether social mobility, long a part of America’s narrative identity, is truly available to Americans residing in the lower rungs of society. This paper addresses the connection between culture and social mobility, looking particularly at how culture impacts social outcomes in America’s meritocratic educational system. Analyzing culture and cultural capital from a progressive perspective, this paper concludes that culture operates subtly, helping some retain or improve their existing position but interfering with the mobility of others. The rhetoric of individual merit, however, obscures the role that culture plays in reproducing existing social structures.

In the context of merit and mobility, this paper also analyzes class disadvantage as it relates to affirmative action. As the Supreme Court is set to decide another affirmative action case this term, we are reminded that barriers of disadvantage continue to prevent educational institutions from achieving acceptable levels of diversity. Often operating in tandem with economic and racial disadvantage, cultural disadvantage obstructs mobility in a powerful way. Accordingly, cultural disadvantage, captured using a robust set of socio-economic and race-conscious factors, should be something that institutions consider when formulating diversity plans. However, affirmative action plans, while necessary, cannot be the only solution to the problem. More radical and systemic solutions are needed to reboot social mobility in this country.

Part II of this paper provides a foundational understanding of progressive cultural theory, placing it in the context of the two opposing theories most often used to explain unequal outcomes in America: individual merit versus environmental/societal factors. Progressive cultural theory posits that unequal outcomes are not fully explainable by differences in individual merit. Rather, pre-existing cultural advantages help some advance, but for others, unequal structures produce cultural barriers that impede mobility. Relying upon recent social science research, Part III of this paper examines how culture and cultural capital interact with our merit based educational system; how cultural differences within the middle class impacts social mobility; and how culture interacts with pre-existing structures of racial inequality. As diversity within higher education mostly affects individuals in the middle class, Part IV analyzes what cultural disparities within the middle class mean for the affirmative action debate. Part IV concludes that the Supreme Court, in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, should reaffirm Justice O’Connor’s diversity rationale for using race-conscious measures to achieve a critical mass of minority students but also argues that we should not be trapped into a false choice between racial diversity or class-based diversity.

In grappling with the issues of disadvantage and mobility within the affirmative action debate, I ultimately conclude that the entire merit and selectivity system should be collapsed. Thus, Part V offers some suggestions for making our merit system less insular and more inclusive, including the salvo that successful professionals who have “won” the merit game take a hard look at ourselves and ask whether we are contributing to the trend toward oligarchy.