Category Archives: Wealthy

New Book: “Hedged Out: Inequality and Insecurity on Wall Street”

9780520307704Hedged Out: Megan Tobias Neely, Inequality and Insecurity on Wall Street (2022). Overview below:

A former hedge fund worker takes an ethnographic approach to Wall Street to expose who wins, who loses, and why inequality endures.

Who do you think of when you imagine a hedge fund manager? A greedy fraudster, a visionary entrepreneur, a wolf of Wall Street? These tropes capture the public imagination of a successful hedge fund manager. But behind the designer suits, helicopter commutes, and illicit pursuits are the everyday stories of people who work in the hedge fund industry—many of whom don’t realize they fall within the 1 percent that drives the divide between the richest and the rest. With Hedged Out, sociologist and former hedge fund analyst Megan Tobias Neely gives readers an outsider’s insider perspective on Wall Street and its enduring culture of inequality.

Hedged Out dives into the upper echelons of Wall Street, where elite white masculinity is the standard measure for the capacity to manage risk and insecurity. Facing an unpredictable and risky stock market, hedge fund workers protect their interests by working long hours and building tight-knit networks with people who look and behave like them. Using ethnographic vignettes and her own industry experience, Neely showcases the voices of managers and other workers to illustrate how this industry of politically mobilized elites excludes people on the basis of race, class, and gender. Neely shows how this system of elite power and privilege not only sustains itself but builds over time as the beneficiaries concentrate their resources. Hedged Out explains why the hedge fund industry generates extreme wealth, why mostly white men benefit, and why reforming Wall Street will create a more equal society.

New Article: Inheriting Privilege

New Article: Allison Anna Tait, Inheriting Privilege, Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 106, 2021 (forthcoming). Abstract below:

All families may be created equal, so to speak. But differences between families in terms of economic wealth, resource networks, and access to cultural capital are both severe and stark. A large part of what shapes this scenery of economic possibility is the legal framework of wealth transfer. Wealth travels through generations and sticks, crystallizing in predictable places and shapes, thereby embedding complex forms of inequality within and between families. The family trust, in particular, is a mode of transfer that facilitates wealth preservation as well as wealth inequality. Family trusts are tailored to convey and defend complex patrimonies in ways that no other form of wealth transfer can do. Wills, the other most common form of wealth transfer, do not have the same functionality and can only effectuate a one-time transfer, making it difficult to exert long-term control over beneficiaries.

This Article’s primary goal is to excavate the myriad ways in which the family trust is a driver of inequality by explaining the family trust’s plasticity and ability to bend to the needs of high-wealth families. The Article accomplishes this by demonstrating how the family trust facilitates not only wealth inequality but also social and cultural inequality. These explorations into complex inequality and its furtherance by the family trust are useful because they help us better appreciate the significant role that family trusts play in the evolving story of class, gender, and race privilege in the United States. Attending to the practices and possibilities of the family trust also leads us to a better understanding of how trust reform might begin to dislocate the family trust from its central positioning within the legal architecture of inequality. Ultimately, the family trust does not have to be coextensive with elite family advantage; it can be reimagined to work on behalf of communities that are economically vulnerable and historically dispossessed.

New Issue: Wealth Inequality and Child Development: Implications for Policy and Practice

New Issue: Wealth Inequality and Child Development: Implications for Policy and Practice, 7 RSF J. Soc. Sci. (2021). List of Articles Within Below:

New Book: White Space, Black Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality

9780807000298New Book: Sheryll Cashin, White Space, Black Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality (2021). About the book:

Shows how government created “ghettos” and affluent white space and entrenched a system of American residential caste that is the linchpin of US inequality—and issues a call for abolition.

The iconic Black hood, like slavery and Jim Crow, is a peculiar American institution animated by the ideology of white supremacy. Politicians and people of all colors propagated “ghetto” myths to justify racist policies that concentrated poverty in the hood and created high-opportunity white spaces. In White Space, Black Hood, Sheryll Cashin traces the history of anti-Black residential caste—boundary maintenance, opportunity hoarding, and stereotype-driven surveillance—and unpacks its current legacy so we can begin the work to dismantle the structures and policies that undermine Black lives.

Drawing on nearly 2 decades of research in cities including Baltimore, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, and Cleveland, Cashin traces the processes of residential caste as it relates to housing, policing, schools, and transportation. She contends that geography is now central to American caste. Poverty-free havens and poverty-dense hoods would not exist if the state had not designed, constructed, and maintained this physical racial order.

Cashin calls for abolition of these state-sanctioned processes. The ultimate goal is to change the lens through which society sees residents of poor Black neighborhoods from presumed thug to presumed citizen, and to transform the relationship of the state with these neighborhoods from punitive to caring. She calls for investment in a new infrastructure of opportunity in poor Black neighborhoods, including richly resourced schools and neighborhood centers, public transit, Peacemaker Fellowships, universal basic incomes, housing choice vouchers for residents, and mandatory inclusive housing elsewhere.

Deeply researched and sharply written, White Space, Black Hood is a call to action for repairing what white supremacy still breaks.

Editor’s Note: I just finished reading the book and found it a worthwhile read for a number of reasons. It does a good job bringing together various strands of work exemplified by The Color of Law, Dream Hoarders, and the Ferguson Report. Indeed, Cashin’s work connecting property law with over-criminalization is probably the biggest contribution for academic readers, though I also appreciated the tone of Cashin’s writing throughout. At times indignant, upset, and hopeful, the book makes a powerful case (similar to one Alexander Polikoff made years ago) that policymakers should focus on helping African Americans trapped in poor areas–that those communities should be prioritized–given both their unique history of subjugation and the role those spaces play in the country’s ideas about race and class.

New Articles: Symposium on Michael Sandel’s The Tyranny of Merit

71UH5gZfQoLNew Articles: American Journal of Law and Equality Symposium on Michael Sandel’s The Tyranny of Merit (2021). Includes an impressive list of contributors. 

New Article: Justifying inherited wealth: Between ‘the bank of mum and dad’ and the meritocratic ideal

New Article: Liz Moor & Sam Friedman, Justifying inherited wealth: Between ‘the bank of mum and dad’ and the meritocratic ideal, Economy and Society, 2021. Abstract below:

How do people reconcile belief in meritocracy with the receipt of unearned economic gifts? Drawing on interviews with first time homeowners who had bought property with familial gifts or inheritances, we find that many downplay the intergenerational privilege associated with gifting by reporting extended family histories of working-class struggle, upward social mobility and meritocratic striving. Interviewees also draw boundaries between their own wealth and the less legitimate wealth of others, or dispute the significance of gifting compared to other inequalities. We further argue that gifting is a site where two competing logics, the ‘domestic’ and family-orientated and the ‘civic’ and meritocratic, collide. While these competing principles appear to be in conflict, we detail how many labour discursively to bring them into alignment. Here interviewees deploy a humble ‘intergenerational self’ to recast familial gifts as evidence of multigenerational meritocratic success. Yet, while some successfully reconcile these conflicting ‘orders of worth’, for others the tension remains unresolved.

Op-ed: “Since When Have Trees Existed Only for Rich Americans?”

Op-ed: Ian Leahy & Yaryna Serkez, Since When Have Trees Existed Only for Rich Americans?, N.Y. Times, June 30, 2021 [includes good graphics comparing neighborhoods]. 

Call-for-papers: Kentucky Law Journal, The Racial Wealth Gap

Call-for-papers: Kentucky Law Journal, The Racial Wealth Gap.

The Kentucky Law Journal is pleased to invite proposals for its annual symposium, which will be held in the Fall of 2021.  The KLJ symposium is entitled The Racial Wealth Gap, and will focus on the legal and historical factors that have contributed to the current state of the wealth disparity in the United States that falls largely along racial lines.  This disparity has been increasingly the focus of academic and policy research, and this Symposium aims to bring together practitioners, policy researchers, and scholars to explore this issue.  In particular, the KLJ encourages submissions that consider tax law, property law, and other legal systems that have created and reinforced the conditions that lead to White families having median wealth of approximately $188,000, while Black families have median wealth of only 15% of that amount, or approximately $24,000.  In addition to exploring the evolution of the problem, the KLJ especially encourages submissions that explore possible solutions or proposals that would ameliorate the disparity.

The KLJ expects to host this symposium in person in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky, on October 22, 2021 (date subject to change).

In addition to presentations at the symposium event,  presenters will have the opportunity to publish pieces in Volume 110 of the Kentucky Law Journal, or in the Kentucky Law Journal Online.  The editors are particularly interested in publications in the range of 8,000-12,000 words, or shorter pieces for the online edition.  In order to apply for the symposium, please submit an abstract of no more than 1,000 words, including whether or not you would like the piece to be considered for publication.  In addition, please submit a current CV.  Submissions are due by June 1, 2021, at editors@kentuckylawjournal.org.  Please send any questions to: Kelly Daniel, Editor-in-Chief of the Kentucky Law Journal, at kellydaniel@uky.edu; Kendra Craft, Kentucky Law Journal Symposium Chair, at kendra.craft@uky.edu; or Professor Jennifer Bird-Pollan, symposium faculty sponsor, at jbirdpollan@uky.edu.

-Thanks to Paul Caron and the TaxProf Blog

New Book: Aspen and the American Dream

Jenny Stuber, Aspen and the American Dream (2021). About the book:

How is it possible for a town to exist where the median household income is about $73,000, but the median home price is about $4,000,000? Boring into the “impossible” math of Aspen, Colorado, Stuber explores how middle-class people have found a way to live in this supergentrified town. Interviewing a range of residents, policymakers, and officials, Stuber shows that what resolves the math equation between incomes and home values in Aspen, Colorado—the X-factor that makes middle-class life possible—is the careful orchestration of diverse class interests within local politics and the community. She explores how this is achieved through a highly regulatory and extractive land use code that provides symbolic and material value to highly affluent investors and part-year residents, as well as less-affluent locals, many of whom benefit from an array of subsidies—including an extensive affordable housing program—that redistribute economic resources in ways that make it possible for middle-class residents to live there.

Stuber further examines how Latinos, who provide much of the service work in Aspen and who tend to live outside the town, fit into the social geography of one of the most unequal places in the country. Overall, Stuber argues that the Aspen’s ability to balance the interests of its diverse class constituencies is not a foregone conclusion; rather, it is the result of efforts by local stakeholders—citizens, government, developers, and vacationers—to preserve the town’s unique feel and value, and “keep Aspen, Aspen” in all its complex dynamics.

New Book: The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — And How We Can Fix It

9780525577324New Book: Dorothy A. Brown, The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — And How We Can Fix It (2021). Overview below:

A groundbreaking exposé of racism in the American taxation system from a law professor and expert on tax policy

“Important reading for those who want to understand how inequality is built into the bedrock of American society, and what a more equitable future might look like.”—Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist

Dorothy A. Brown became a tax lawyer to get away from race. As a young black girl growing up in the South Bronx, she’d seen how racism limited the lives of her family and neighbors. Her law school classes offered a refreshing contrast: Tax law was about numbers, and the only color that mattered was green. But when Brown sat down to prepare tax returns for her parents, she found something strange: James and Dottie Brown, a plumber and a nurse, seemed to be paying an unusually high percentage of their income in taxes. When Brown became a law professor, she set out to understand why.

In The Whiteness of Wealth, Brown draws on decades of cross-disciplinary research to show that tax law isn’t as color-blind as she’d once believed. She takes us into her adopted city of Atlanta, introducing us to families across the economic spectrum whose stories demonstrate how American tax law rewards the preferences and practices of white people while pushing black people further behind. From attending college to getting married to buying a home, black Americans find themselves at a financial disadvantage compared to their white peers. The results are an ever-increasing wealth gap and more black families shut out of the American dream.

Solving the problem will require a wholesale rethinking of America’s tax code. But it will also require both black and white Americans to make different choices. This urgent, actionable book points the way forward.