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Weekly Roundup: January 20, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, the philosopher Barry Maguire revived and defended the alienation objection to efficient markets. All markets, even socialist markets, require its participants to act with a certain set of motives if they are to produce efficient outcomes. Yet these motives, he argues, are incompatible with manifesting care for one another in our productive activities. To avoid such alienation, we must decommodify the means of production and reallocate control of capital from private corporations to local workers and municipalities.

On Wednesday, Evelyn Atkinson hopped in the wayback machine, to show us what we can learn about the moral economy from a largely forgotten set of tort cases. These suits involved claims for emotional distress against telegraph corporations for failing to deliver telegrams involving the death or illness of a family member. Astonishingly, nearly half the state courts that encountered these claims allowed them, in spite of the long-established common law rule that absent physical injury, mental anguish alone could not be recognized in law. This exception was justified, in part, because the companies were seen as “public service corporations” – a monopolistic business entity that controlled access to a vital public resource and had special emotional duties to its customers.

And on Thursday, we gathered eight of the sharpest minds in the business to offer their initial reactions to the FTC’s proposed rule to ban non-compete agreements. Is it legal? Will it be effective? Is competition the right way to frame this problem? You’re not going to want to miss this one.

In LPE Land

Speaking of the FTC’s proposed rule, Matter Stoller had some interesting reflections on a recent disagreement with Herbert Hovenkamp: “The goal here, one would think, is to understand how the economy works so we can make better policy. But that is not, I suspect, what Hovenkamp seeks. His goal is to attack the FTC’s rule, because protecting a theory of how the economy works is more important than actually understanding how the economy works.” Evan Starr, meanwhile, offered some insight into the public comments made so far.

Mark your calendars, you dirty pizza rats: On Thursday, February 16, we’ll be launching LPE NYC, a new *citywide* network of students, profs, lawyers, organizers, & other people fighting for a better future. Register here to attend the event of the season.

And for you *scholarly* pizza rats, we have extra good news: the arrival of the LPE NYC Junior Scholars Workshop. Are a junior scholar in NYC? Do you have a work in progress? Readings you’d like to do with other LPE folks? Just want to build intellectual community in the city? We are convening a monthly meeting to connect folks across the city. Each month, one participant leads us in a workshop of a work-in-progress or short readings on a selected topic. Come hang out! Date and time for Spring 2023 TBD. If you’re interested, please add your name here.

If you’re worried the people in NYC are having all the fun, you need only cast your gaze north, where the Toronto LPE reading group recently held its meeting.

Have you noticed the rising price of eggs? Perhaps that’s because the largest supplier in the country jacked up their prices and saw a ten-fold increase in profits.

On Weds, January 25, Please join Benjamin Isitt and Ravi Malhotra to celebrate the the launch of their co-edited book, Class Warrior: The Selected Works of E. T. Kingsley. This is an online event.

And a reminder that next Thursday, January 26 at 12:10p ET, Physician, sociologist, and postdoctoral fellow Victor Roy (Yale School of Medicine) will be discussing his recently published Capitalizing a Curewith Amy Kapcyznski and Lenore Palladino. This is both an in-person and zoom event.

And for those in New Haven, also on Thursday, January 26 (4:00-5:30 in HQ 107), the workshop in Modern US History will be discussing a new paper by Jennifer Klein, “Wastelands: The Economic Geography of Waste, Coercion, and Incarceration in Southeastern Louisiana.”