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Weekly Roundup: July 31, 2020


This week at the blog…

Noah Zatz analyzed the ways in which the CARES Act does and (mostly) does not support care work. He argues that the prioritization of supporting the formal employment market makes the support for care work maddeningly indirect and even perverse, especially as the pressure builds for returning kids to school.

The Blog (well, really, Isabel Echarte) interviewed law students from around the country about their involvement in the uprisings after George Floyd’s killing.

Krystle Okafor makes the case for rent cancellation.

And our hand-picked delicacies from the cyberfields…

Caroline Parker: I am finally back home in Colorado, which may be the epicenter of privatized outdoor pleasure. Every time I drive I-70 into the Rockies  I think about the fraught politics of mountain recreation here. Personally, it was a good week to encounter a call to nationalize all the nice places.

I have read a lot of articles about the Taylorist horror of factory farming, but Alex Vettese’s piece Pigs and Capital will stay with me. It is part book review and part agricultural history that ends with a call for inter-species solidarity. Unlike most reporting on CAFO conditions, Vettese explicitly frames animal agriculture in terms of political economy. “The meat industry isn’t a macabre exception but rather is typical of contemporary capitalism.” 

I also found this paper attempting to quantify whose voices get amplified in climate coverage so satisfying to read. Across climate stories published between 1985 to 2014, sociologist Rachel Wetts found that organizations opposing climate action were more than twice as likely to be cited than climate advocates. According to Wetts, the imbalance is a result of journalistic norms that have distorted public discourse in favor of business interests. Her analysis is reminiscent of the abundant criticism of the NYT style “both-sideism” we have seen since the 2016 election. Except she made a computer read 35,000 articles to prove it.

Ure Obioma: Like many people, one day I hope to become a mother. I know exactly how many kids I want, what their names will be. I sit and imagine what their personalities might be like, based on mine. Unfortunately, I come to terms with the fact that my risk of having a complication during childbirth is higher simply because I am a Black woman. Austin Frakt’s article in the New York Times explains highlights why the health care system fails so many Black women. 

Black Americans are less likely to have access to the health system and tend to receive overall poorer care than their counterparts. In recent years, the influence and impact that racism, in the form of overt and implicit biases found in health care, has become a topic of discussion. Most importantly, Frakt does a wonderful job of linking Black women’s maternal health outcomes to the differences in state Medicaid coverage. Due to economic factors, Black women are more likely than other women to be covered by Medicaid, and unfortunately for many, they are also more likely to have their coverage canceled postpartum, a crucial time in combatting maternal mortality rates. States that refused to expand Medicaid are three times more likely to have postpartum women be uninsured compared to States that have expanded the program.

Isabel Echarte: I learned the hard way that moving to a new home during the workweek is ill-advised, so this week I present to you what I found this week but plan to read this weekend:

  • K-Sue Park shared her new working paper titled Conquest and Slavery as Foundational to the property Law Course, where she outlines how that history has been erased in property law casebooks and then shows how “onquest constituted the context in which the singular American land system and traditional theories of acquisition developed, before turning to the history of the American slave trade and the long history of resistance to Black landownership that its abolition fueled.”
  • Amy Kapczynski, with Paul Biddinger and Rochelle Walensky, wrote about how the federal government can ensure an adequate supply of a key coronavirus treatment and distribute it evenly.
  • Brent Cebul wrote about how urban renewal programs destroyed Black communities in the mid-twentieth century.
  • And I’ve been meaning to dig into this Twitter conversation between Brad Setser, Nathan Tankus, Daniela Gabor, and JW Mason about capital flows, the deficit, and probably a lot of other things (I haven’t scrolled thru yet), but I’m sure it’s good. I would read anything these four have to say!

Sarang Shah: The big news in antitrust this week was the high profile congressional hearing before the House Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday focused on Big Tech. Attended by the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, last Wednesday’s hearing trained its focus on the dominance exercised by these companies, their attempts to monopolize, and specific unfair practices that were exercises of their outsized power.

David Dayen, executive editor of The American Prospect, wrote up a blow-by-blow of the hearing on Twitter and has also written an excellent summary of these hearings, emphasizing the careful work done by several of the Democratic committee members (the GOP members were as ever focused more on conspiracy theories than substantive lines of inquiry). Dayen also notes the particular attention these hearings brought to the lack of enforcement in recent years by the DOJ and the FTC. While these agencies could do better, it is also up to the judiciary to abide by existing antitrust law and to reject the loose economic reasoning and even looser understanding of antitrust law and its history if we are ever to hold these big tech companies accountable.

Luke Herrine: Just a couple tidbits from me (beyond what my co-editors have already picked).

Over at OnLabor, Ben Sachs argues that police unions do not deserve many of the protections of collective bargaining, but reflects on the importance of justifying removing these protections in a way that does not endanger public sector unions more broadly.

I caught up on friend-of-the-blog Raúl Carrillo’s short article on the relationship between the framing of public spending as “taxpayer money” and the growth of fines and fees as ways for local governments to raise revenues, primarily from poor and black and brown communities. He argues that the valorizing people depend on their payments to the state is not only analogous to, but directly connected to, the racialized division between “deserving” and “undeserving” recipients of benefits from the state (as well as which benefits don’t even count as benefits).