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Weekly Roundup: March 1, 2024


At the Blog

On Monday, Ganesh Sitaraman and Morgan Ricks argued that tech platforms are the new common carriers: not only do they tend toward monopoly or oligopoly, but they have become increasingly essential to modern life. As such, following centuries of common law, these platforms should be governed by special rules, including an equal access mandate to “serve all comers” impartially, without special privileges or discrimination. They note, however, that such a designation will not itself settle debates about deplatforming. Common carriers have always had the ability to exclude people, so long as there was good reason. Acceptable justifications for exclusion included illegal behavior, harm to users, or a danger to the service itself. Nevertheless, we should not allow tech companies to evade regulation merely by denying, as Google recently has, that they qualify as a common carrier.

On Tuesday, Ilyana Kuziemko, Nicolas Longuet Marx, and Suresh Naidu attempted to answer one of the most important questions in politics: what explains the recent partisan realignment by education? In other words, over the past forty or so years, why have less educated voters gravitated away from the Democratic Party? According to their new research, much of this change can be explained by the Democratic Party’s evolution on economic policy, as the party gradually shifted away from its traditional emphasis on “predistribution policies” (favored by less-educated Americans), instead embracing redistributive tax-and-transfer policies (favored by more-educated Americans). As they show, beginning in the 1970s, concurrent with the rise of the “New Democrats,” the party promoted fewer predistributionist policies, such as minimum wage laws, pro-union policies, protectionist trade policies, and public employment. And since then, the educational gradient in Democratic partisanship has been on a constant rise: prior to 1976, every additional year of education predicted a three percentage point decrease in the likelihood of identifying as a Democrat. The exact opposite is true today—every additional year of education predicts almost a three percentage point increase in the likelihood of identifying as a Democrat. (If you want to see all their fancy charts, you gotta click the link above).

On Thursday, Etienne Toussaint argued that to realize the emancipatory potential of the 13th Amendment, we need to embrace a vision of citizenship rooted not in marketplace imaginaries but in the elusive yet powerful concept of human dignity. As he notes, Section 2 of the Thirteenth Amendment grants Congress the power to abolish all badges and incidents of slavery. But if chattel slavery was a form of political and economic society, then to abolish slavery requires not merely to do away with slavery’s formal law, but also with its underlying political economy. To do this, he argues, we need a normative conception of citizenship that contradicts, rather than preserves, the logic of racial capitalism. In the view Toussaint defends, we should view abolition as positively granting all Americans the necessary social, economic, and civic freedoms to experience equal human dignity. To demonstrate just how expansive and demanding this dignity-based re-conceptualization of citizenship (and thus abolition) is, he argues that, on this view, the normalcy of food deserts and food swamps in low-income Black communities should be seen not merely a hindrance to public health, but as a denial of equal citizenship.

In LPE Land

On Friday, March 8 at 12:10 -1:30 ET, please join the LPE Project for a lunch talk with FTC Chair Lina Khan, covering key recent initiatives at the FTC and the nature of the agency’s new approach; how the new FTC strategy is evolving in response to recent successes and challenges; and what this all suggests for academic work on these topics. This event has both in-person and livestream options.

On Wednesday, March 6 at 6 ET at NYU, Vincent Bevins will be in conversation with Analilia Mejia, discussing his recent book If We Burn: The Mass Protest Decade and the Missing Revolution.

In the Boston Review, LPE blog editor Kate Yoon reviews Marc-William Palen’s new book Pax Economica: Left-Wing Visions of a Free Trade World.

At ProMarket, Kate Andrias traces the history of labor’s relation with antitrust to show that, despite historical and contemporary tensions, there have also been deep connections between the two movements.

In Time magazine, Jocelyn Simonson and John Legend write about proposed legislation to limit, outlaw, & even criminalize bail funds in Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, & Kentucky.

In the Washington Post, Luke Messac and Astra Taylor argue that to tackle medical debt, governments need to start regulating law-breaking hospitals.

Over at On Labor, Daniel Hanley and Sandeep Vaheesan explain how, thanks to federal and state efforts, non-competes are facing extinction in 2024.

And, finally, in a new Boston Review forum, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson consider whether the Democrats increasing reliance on affluent suburbanites spells the end of a bold economic agenda. Responses galore.