Category Archives: Inequality

New Report: “World Inequality Report 2018”

wir2018-full-report-english-fcb06190New Report: “World Inequality Report 2018” [Note: this is a very professionally done report with big “coordinator” scholars behind it and has great charts.]

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Book Review: “It’s the Gap, Stupid”

Book Review: Archon Fung, It’s the Gap, Stupid, Boston Review, Sept. 1, 2017 [editorial note: worth reading].

Op-ed: “Inequality is Feeding America”

Op-ed: Jim Hightower, Inequality is Feeding America, CommonDreams, Jan. 3, 2018.

New Article: ” Universal Basic Income as a Social Rights-Based Antidote to Growing Economic Insecurity”

New Article: Philip Alston, Universal Basic Income as a Social Rights-Based Antidote to Growing Economic Insecurity, in Katharine G. Young (ed.), The Future of Social Rights (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming). Abstract below:

This chapter is premised on the view that the human rights movement needs to address and respond to the fundamental changes that are taking place in economic and social structures at the national and global levels. In this setting one of the most vibrant proposals is to replace or supplement existing social protection systems with a universal basic income (UBI). The chapter reflects on how a UBI does and should relate to analogous efforts within the framework of international human rights law. It argues that UBI offers a bold and imaginative solution to pressing problems that are about to become far more intractable as a result of the directions in which the global economy appears inexorably to be heading. While there are many objections relating to affordability in particular, the concept should not be rejected out of hand on the grounds that it is utopian. In today’s world of severe economic insecurity, creativity in social policy is necessary. The chapter concludes by calling for the debates over social protection floors and a UBI to be brought together, rather than being kept largely separate in a counter-productive and ultimately self-defeating way.

New Article: “The Bootstrap Trap”

New Article: Sara Sternberg Greene, The Bootstrap Trap, 67 Duke L.J. 233 (2017). Abstract below:

In the mid-1990s, Congress fundamentally altered the public safety net when it passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, otherwise known as welfare reform. Under the PRWORA, cash assistance was no longer an entitlement for income-qualifying families; instead, recipients faced work requirements and lifetime limits on receiving benefits. Bipartisan reformers sought to transform welfare from a program believed to trap poor mothers in a “culture of dependence” into a program that would promote a culture of “self-sufficiency” and “personal responsibility.” This shift in culture, it was argued, would ultimately lead to upward mobility. This Article shows how, ironically, over twenty years after welfare reform, the private safety net that many struggling families rely on—the credit system—disincentivizes the very self-sufficient behavior that welfare reformers had hoped to promote. Using the sociological concept of narratives, the Article shows how parents who have most internalized narratives of self-sufficiency are particularly at risk of financial ruin under the new regime. On a broader scale, this Article argues that, to better understand the relationship between law, inequality, and poverty, we need to further investigate how people experience and internalize structural conditions and how these structural conditions become sources of personal meaning and determinants of behavior. Such inquiries can lead to unexpected connections between seemingly disparate areas of law and policy, and ultimately to innovative policy interventions.

Finally, this Article moves to the prescriptive. It argues for a public financial services program, Financial Services for Family Security (FSFS). FSFS would provide services such as financial advising, no-interest small loans, and debt management help, all aimed at increasing the financial resilience of struggling families.

New Article: “The Next American Revolution”

New Article: Timothy K. Kuhner, The Next American Revolution, 39 Western New England L. Rev. 477 (2017). Abstract below:

On the whole, the scholarly literature does not go far enough in its understanding of money in politics and corporate political power — ultimately, the role of concentrated capital in democracy. The rising economic and political inequalities affecting the United States are not properly diagnosed as the excesses of a generally legitimate capitalist democracy in need, merely, of legal reforms. Rather, they are the symptoms of an overarching flaw in our political system that requires a revolution — a revolution of the non-violent, constitutional kind.

Action follows understanding. If the understanding of a problem is weak and superficial, the reform agenda will also be weak and superficial. It is true, as the call for papers states, that Supreme Court cases on money in politics “shift power to a new economic royalty.” Rather than an embellishment or exaggeration, however, this is actually the essential starting point for putting today’s plutocracy into its proper historical context, that of despotism, tyranny, and oppression.

Highlighting the thoughts of key historical figures, this essay has two purposes: first, to explore how revolutionary understandings can bring modern-day problems of economic and political inequality into sharper focus; and, second, to reveal the essential thrust of an enduring solution, a constitutional amendment to separate business and state.

News Coverage: “Shop Here, Not There: Science Says Reducing Inequality Is Almost That Simple”

News Coverage: Chris Winters, Shop Here, Not There: Science Says Reducing Inequality Is Almost That Simple, Yes Magazine, Nov. 20, 2017.

News Coverage: “The Republican tax bill will exacerbate income inequality in America”

Dylann Scott & Alvin Chang, The Republican tax bill will exacerbate income inequality in America, Vox.com, Dec. 2, 2017.

Op-Ed: “California Today: Tax Proposals Threaten Lower-Income Housing”

Connor Dougherty, Jason M. Bailey, California Today: Tax Proposals Threaten Lower-Income Housing, New York Times, November 13, 2017. [The tax proposals in Congress would make it more difficult for developers to finance affordable rental housing.]

Quiz: “You Draw It: How Family Income Predicts Children’s College Chances”

Gregor Aisch, Amanda Cox, Kevin Quealy, You Draw It: How Family Income Predicts Children’s College Chances, New York Times, May 28, 2015. [How likely is it that children who grow up in very poor families go to college? How about children who grow up in very rich families?]