Category Archives: Politics

New White House Report: Expanding Work Requirements in Non-Cash Welfare Programs (Council of Economic Advisers)

The Council of Economic Advisers released a new report, Expanding Work Requirements in Non-Cash Welfare Programs, July 2018, that has some surprising parts (a claim–from this White House!–that the War on Poverty was successful and the idea that there are not that many poor people in the United States). The Washington Post overview of the report is here. The New York Times’ news coverage is here. And Paul Krugman’s response op-ed is here.


New Article: Injury in the Unresponsive State: Writing the Vulnerable Subject into Neo-Liberal Legal Culture

New Article: Martha Albertson Fineman, Injury in the Unresponsive State: Writing the Vulnerable Subject into Neo-Liberal Culture, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming In Injury and Justice: The Cultural Politics of Harm and Redress, Bloom, Engel, and McCann Eds., Cambridge Studies in Law and Society, 2018. Abstract below:

State neglect of the needs of those individuals living in poverty or suffering under social, economic, and material disadvantage is not seen as requiring legal or political remedy. Quite the contrary: state inaction is typically viewed as the appropriate manifestation of state restraint in the face of individual liberty or autonomy rights that condemn any move toward the “redistribution” of private wealth or property. “Private” structures, such as the family, market, charity, or the workplace, are designated as the prime mediating institutions to provide for the needs of individuals. Arguably, the state may be seen as having some responsibility in regard to the conduct and operation of those institutions, but at best the state is seen as an incremental and contested residual actor when they fail. This understanding of state inaction as not constituting injury or harm is both validated and compelled by the ways in which, over the course of American political history, the political subject and social contract have been understood as anchored in liberty and autonomy.

[Self-promotion] New op-ed: Beyond “Smart”: Kavanaugh’s Credentials and the Limits of Intelligence [only tangentially about poverty]

I am once more abusing my role as editor to share this new op-ed: Ezra Rosser, Beyond “Smart”: Kavanaugh’s Credentials and the Limits of Intelligence, The Hill, July 11, 2018.

New Article: Everybody Does Better in Indian Country When Tribes are Empowered

New Article: Kevin K. Washburn, Everybody Does Better in Indian Country When Tribes are Empowered, Healing Our Divided Society: Investing in America Fifty Years after the Kerner Report (Temple University Press, 2018); UNM School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-07. Abstract below:

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson appointed a blue ribbon panel called the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to examine the causes of urban riots that happened during the summer of 1967. The Kerner Commission, as the group came to be known, produced a report on March 1, 1968, that identified some of the causes of the unrest. The Kerner Commission report found the riots to be rooted in crushing urban poverty and recommended solutions that would address those deep issues, such as job training, living wages, and funding for public schools. To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of this work and to refocus attention on these important issues, the last living member of the Kerner Commission, former U.S. Senator Fred Harris, compiled a book “Healing our Divided Society: Investing in America Fifty Years After the Kerner Report” that revisits some of these issues. Harris invited several scholars to contribute to the book, including Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Professor Washburn. Professor Washburn contributed the attached essay which highlights the changes that have occurred in federal Indian policy in the last 50 years and makes recommendations about continuing efforts to address poverty there.

Supreme Court nominee news coverage compilation: What is at stake?

Dominating the headlines this week is the news of Justice Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court. This political bombshell comes amidst the turmoil of the separation of immigrant families. In an effort to digest some of the key facets of the situation, here is a compiled list of sources discussing various aspects of the political environment surrounding the soon-to-be nomination process and it’s impact on American jurisprudence (and more immediate aspects of American life, namely reproductive rights).

If you have things that would be good to add, please email me. Feel free to send information along via Twitter also (@EzraRosser).

A. Politics

B. Opinions on the current predicament


New Article: Atlas Nods: The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income

New Article: Miranda Perry Fleischer & Daniel Jacob Hemel, Atlas Nods: The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income, 2017 Wisconsin Law Review 1189, San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 17-306, University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 821, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 644. Abstract below:

Proposals for a universal basic income are generating interest across the globe, with pilot experiments underway or in the works in California, Canada, Finland, Italy, Kenya, and Uganda. Surprisingly, many of the most outspoken supporters of a universal basic income have been self-described libertarians — even though libertarians are generally considered to be antagonistic toward redistribution and a universal basic income is, at its core, a program of income redistribution. What explains such strong libertarian support for a policy that seems so contrary to libertarian ideals?

This Article seeks to answer that question. We first show that a basic safety net is not only consistent with, but likely required by, several strands of libertarian thought. We then explain why libertarians committed to limited redistribution and limited government might support a system of unconditional cash transfers paid periodically. Delivering benefits in cash, rather than in-kind, furthers autonomy by recognizing that all citizens — even poor ones — are the best judges of their needs. Decoupling such transfers from a work requirement acknowledges that the state lacks the ability to distinguish between work-capable and work-incapable individuals. Providing payments periodically, rather than through a once-in-a-lifetime lump sum grant, ensures that all individuals can receive a minimum level of support over lifespans of variable lengths, while also allowing individuals to adjust payment flows through financial market transactions.

Although our main objective is to assess the fit between libertarian theory and a universal basic income, we also address various design choices inherent in any basic income scheme: who should receive it?; how large should it be?; which programs might it replace?; and should it phase out as market income rises? Lastly, we consider the relationship between a basic income and the political economy of redistribution. We find that the case for a basic income as a libertarian “second-best” is surprisingly shaky: libertarians who oppose all redistribution but grudgingly accept a basic income as the least-worst form of redistribution should reconsider both aspects of their position. We conclude by drawing out lessons from our analysis for non-libertarians, regardless of whether they are supportive or skeptical of basic income arguments.


New Op-Ed: How America Treats Its Own Children

New Op-Ed: Annie Lowrey, How America Treats Its Own Children, The Atlantic, June 21, 2018.

News Coverage: In the Age of Trump, Civics Courses Make a Comeback

News Coverage: Alina Tugend, In the Age of Trump, Civics Courses Make a Comeback, N.Y. Times, June 5, 2018.

[Self-promotion] New Op-ed: The Trump Administration Doesn’t Really Care About Poverty

[Self-promotion] New Op-ed: Ezra Rosser, The Trump Administration Doesn’t Really Care About Poverty, The Hill, June 25, 2018. This is a response to Niki Haley’s response to the U.N. report on U.S. poverty but was written before the official U.S. response, available here, came out.

News Coverage: Behind Trump’s Plan to Overhaul the Government: Scaling Back the Safety Net

News Coverage: Glenn Thrush & Erica L. Green, Behind Trump’s Plan to Overhaul the Government: Scaling Back the Safety Net, N.Y. Times, June 22, 2018.