Category Archives: Inequality

(Texas Size) Texas Law Review Symposium: “The Constitution and Economic Inequality”

Texas Law Review Symposium: “The Constitution and Economic Inequality”

Article: “‘Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall…’: Reflections on Fairness and Housing in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Region”

Article: Palma Joy Strand, “‘Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall…’: Reflections on Fairness and Housing in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Region,” Creighton Law Review (forthcoming).

In 2016, eighty years after the federal Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) drew redlining maps that solidified existing local segregation and gave the green light to suburban development, the residential patterns of race and socioeconomics in the Omaha, Nebraska, region embody those New Deal decisions. Inspired by recent regulations from HUD that intensify the agency’s responsibility under the Fair Housing Act to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing, this article looks past current inequities in housing to the institutional structures that facilitated White suburban growth after World War II. Special districts known as Sanitary and Improvement Districts (SIDs) gave – and continue to give today – private developers access to municipal bonds without significant public oversight. Historically, these SIDs provided market-rate housing to exclusively White residents; today they provide market-rate housing to predominantly White residents. Following SID development, the City of Omaha, which has extensive annexation powers under state law, annexes the SIDs, absorbing both their tax base and their remaining debt. This article describes this SID annexation development regime and the ways in which it diffuses responsibility for providing affordable housing and access to neighborhoods of opportunity throughout the metropolitan region. The article proposes an accounting and reconsideration of the existing development regime.

Call for Papers: Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research of the University of Salzburg on “2017 Salzburg Conference in Interdisciplinary Poverty Research, Focus Theme: Religion and Poverty”

Call for Papers: Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research of the University of Salzburg on “2017 Salzburg Conference in Interdisciplinary Poverty Research, Focus Theme: Religion and Poverty,” Sept. 21-22, 2017.

The Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research of the University of Salzburg happily announces the call for papers for its 2017 Salzburg Conference in Interdisciplinary Poverty Research. The focus theme of the conference will be religion and poverty. …

The Organizing Committee invites submissions of proposals for single papers and thematic panels in all areas of poverty research but special attention will be given to those concerned with the 2017 focus theme of religion and poverty.

Possible topics [sic] for the general theme sessions are, among others, current trends in poverty, inequality and social exclusion, poverty trends of different groups (minorities, age, gender, disability, unemployment), analysis of the economic, social and cultural processes underlying poverty, the effects of poverty on health, well-being, education, and inclusion, conceptualizations of poverty, methodologies of poverty research, the effectiveness of poverty alleviation measures and policy responses, and research on safety nets and welfare.

Possible topics for the focus theme sessions are, among others, the relation of religion and poverty and inequality in different states and world regions, religion as a factor in development, faith-based organisations and poverty alleviation, extent and causes of poverty and social exclusion of religious groups and minorities, religious perspectives on poverty, and theological responses to poverty and inequality.

Please submit abstracts for single papers and panels via the submission form on the conference homepage. In case that you encounter difficulties using this form, please contact the organizers via e-mail.

The deadline for submitting abstracts for single papers and panels is 31 March 2017. Decisions will be communicated until 30 April 2017.

Contact Info: 

Gottfried Schweiger, Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research, University of Salzburg

Article: “Let Justice Roll Down: A Case Study of the Infrastructure for Water Equality and Affordability”

Article: Martha F. Davis, “Let Justice Roll Down: A Case Study of the Infrastructure for Water Equality and Affordability,” 23 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 355 (2016).

In the absence of a fundamental right to a basic level of drinking water and sanitation in the United States, this article examines the ways in which federal and local civil rights laws provide an alternative legal infrastructure to ensure baseline water and sanitation equality. The article focuses on a particular jurisdiction, Washington, D.C. However, the framework analyzed has direct relevance to other subnational settings, since many anti-discrimination laws are federal and all share common themes across jurisdictions.

Part I sets out background information on the delivery and affordability of residential water in Washington, D.C., describing a set of laws, regulations, and challenges that are similar to other localities around the country. Part II sets out the relevant civil rights laws – including federal constitutional law, federal statutory, and local legal theories – and how they might apply to a hypothetical instance of water inequality in Washington, D.C. arising from water unaffordability. Special attention is paid to the issue of discriminatory intent, a prerequisite to many civil rights claims. Part III summarizes the potential strengths and shortcomings of current antidiscrimination law as it applies to water and sanitation inequality, and identifies promising avenues for legal action. This section also describes several domestic initiatives to create a broader set of rights to augment and strengthen the existing legal infrastructure protecting water and sanitation access.

Article: “Corporate Governance and Income Inequality: The Role of the Monitoring Board”

Article: Ezra Wasserman Mitchell, “Corporate Governance and Income Inequality: The Role of the Monitoring Board,” Shanghai University of Finance and Economics School of Law (Oct. 2016).

Does corporate governance play a role in income inequality? If so, how? This paper pursues this inquiry, beginning with an examination of the causes of significant income inequality throughout twentieth and early twenty-first century American history. The parallel developments of financial practices and board structures over these periods reveal the relatively contemporaneous rises of shareholder valuism and the modern monitoring board, with the latter providing institutional structure and norm propagation for the former, thus serving as a corporate governance channel through which income inequality is perpetuated.

History further reveals the monitoring board to be an institutional component of finance capitalism, and the so-called managerial board that dominated during a period of relative income equality to be an institutional component of industrial capitalism.

Some cautious reform suggestions are offered, but the purpose of this paper primarily is diagnostic. It also serves as a cautionary tale for developing nations in the process of building their institutional structures.

Op-Ed: “The way ahead: America’s president writes for us about four crucial areas of unfinished business in economic policy that his successor will have to tackle”

Op-Ed: Barack Obama,  “The way ahead: America’s president writes for us about four crucial areas of unfinished business in economic policy that his successor will have to tackle,” The Economist, Oct. 8, 2016.

Article: “CED after #OWS: From Community Economic Development to Anti-Authoritarian Community Counter-Institutions”

Article: Michael Haber, “CED after #OWS: From Community Economic Development to Anti-Authoritarian Community Counter-Institutions,” 43 Fordham Urb. L.J. (2016).

Community Economic Development (“CED”) and community-based social justice non-profits more generally have been criticized by social justice lawyers, legal scholars, practitioners, and activists, who charge that these efforts too often overlook the structural drivers of inequality, strip social justice movements of their confrontational, activist politics, and fail to give community members meaningful control over their programs. Over the past decades, anti-authoritarian activists — perhaps most famously known through Occupy Wall Street — have developed new frameworks for social change movements based on philosophical commitments to horizontalism, autonomism, and prefigurative politics. Many anti-authoritarian activists, have turned their attention to creating community-based social change groups. These groups often engage in both activism and service provision, but do so outside of traditional frameworks for community-based organizations. These “community counter-institutions” hold the potential to address some of the critiques of CED models, and may develop to become more confrontational, democratic, and inclusive community-based social change organizations that still provide essential community services as part of their work. Transactional social change lawyers can play an important supportive role in helping anti-authoritarian activists to develop these new models.

New Article: “Racial Emotions and the Feeling of Equality”

New Article: Janine Young Kim, “Racial Emotions and the Feeling of Equality,” 87 U. Colo. L. Rev. 437 (2016).

This Article examines two distinct but related questions regarding race and emotions. The first raises the possibility that there are certain emotions that are so closely tied to racial experiences that they can be said to demonstrate and typify an emotional dimension to the construct of race. The second asks how such quintessentially racial emotions can be analyzed and evaluated, employing three theories of emotion that have developed in various disciplines within the humanities and social sciences. These theories reveal that racial emotions are not idiosyncratic and elusive, but instead relate to reason and values, to social membership and hierarchy, and to political behavior. Understanding racial emotions in these more rigorous ways can enrich our views on both race and equality and present new avenues to achieve inclusion.


News Article: “Robert Reich: What Donald Trump’s Election Really Means”

News Article: Robert Reich, “Robert Reich: What Donald Trump’s Election Really Means,” Alternet, Nov. 10, 2016.

Article: “Race, Class, and Access to Civil Justice”

Article: Sara Sternberg Greene, “Race, Class, and Access to Civil Justice,” 101 Iowa L. Rev. 1263 (2016).

Existing research indicates that members of poor and minority groups are less likely than their higher income counterparts to seek help when they experience a civil legal problem. Indeed, roughly three-quarters of the poor do not seek legal help when they experience such problems. Inaction is even more pronounced among poor blacks. This Article uses original empirical data to provide novel explanations for these puzzling and troubling statistics. This study shows, for the first time, a connection between negative past experiences with the criminal justice system and decisions to seek help for civil justice problems. For those familiar with the law, civil and criminal law are separate categories across which experiences do not generalize, any more than a negative experience of subways would lead one to avoid driving. For most respondents, though, the criminal and civil justice systems are one and the same. Injustices they perceive in the criminal system translate into the belief that the legal system as a whole is unjust and should be avoided. Second, this Article shows that past negative experiences with a broad array of public institutions perceived as legal in nature caused respondents to feel lost and ashamed, leading them to avoid interaction with all legal institutions. Third, my data and interviews suggest that respondents helped make sense of these troubling experiences by more generally portraying themselves as self-sufficient citizens who solve their own problems. Seeking help from the legal system might run counter to this self portrayal. Finally, this Article provides a novel analysis of racial differences in how much citizens use the civil legal system and argues that disparities in trust levels help to explain these differences. This Article concludes by discussing potential policy implications of the findings and identifies key areas for further research.