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Weekly Roundup: April 22, 2022


At the Blog

On Monday, Willy Forbath and Joseph Fishkin kicked off a symposium on their new book, The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution. Tracing the contours of what they call the democracy-of-opportunity tradition, they argue that progressives should take renewed interest in constitutional political economy. As they write, “In the thick of the Cold War and anti-communist purges, mid-20th century liberals set aside political economy in favor of the technocratic discipline of economics, which sidelined the old questions about the distribution of wealth and power. At the same time, inspired by Brown v. Board and enraged by the reactionary, racist campaigns of massive resistance against it, liberals became the Court’s ardent defenders and adopted a new court-centered view of constitutionalism that would have shocked their progressive forebears.” Today, modern progressives “need to articulate in a clear way what is substantively wrong with the Court’s anti-redistributive, ‘you’re-on-your-own’ political economy,” and use their own account of constitutional political economy to justify and set up confrontations with the Court.

On Tuesday, Aziz Rana continued the symposium by exploring one of the thorniest issues connected to the democracy-of-opportunity tradition: the persistent political link in historical practice between U.S. imperial power and internal economic equality. As he writes, “the problem with U.S. constitutional development has been more than a failure to live up to inclusive ideals. The historical high-tides for the domestic experience of democracy-of-opportunity have very clearly occurred during periods of territorial and global expansionism…. while there is a clear record of what amounts to imperial social democracy in the United States, a practical history of linking anti-imperialism with genuine economic transformation is far sparser.”

And on Thursday, Luke Herrine reflected on the meaning of fair price, its relation to economic and moral theory, and why price gouging laws have an important role to play in our collective response to emergencies. As he writes, “To ask about fair price is to ask how to ensure that the governance of prices in a given context appropriately balances the interests of those affected by those prices. In the real world this is an inevitably piecemeal and pragmatic inquiry. If one thinks about the matter too abstractly, it would seem that no price is fair until full justice is achieved; fair prices are just those that emerge out of a just social system. But then we’d be back where we are with neoclassical theory: painting elegant pictures of angels on pins. We need non-ideal theory. Practical efforts to police prices for fairness focus on making prices fairer, not necessarily fair in some all-things-considered sense.”

In LPE Land

On Monday, Apr 25 at 6:30 ET, join the U.S. LPE At-Large group as we discuss the realities of homelessness, the crisis in affordable housing, and competing policies for solving both. We will cover Housing First, zoning approaches, and more.

Over at the Blog of the APA, Paul Schofield argues that everyone should be guaranteed a home: “Rather than argue that housing should be provided only if one can prove themselves to be responsible, my contention is that housing is necessary for taking on normal social responsibilities. For this reason, a person who finds themselves homeless can’t be held responsible in the ways it’s normally reasonable to. To put this provocatively: housing ought to be thought of as a precondition for being an accountable person, not as a reward for being one.”

Emerging scholars! Please join us next Friday, April 29, at 4PM ET for our “informal LPE office hours” with Professor Ruqaiijah Yearby and Professor Stephen Lee.