At the Blog
On Monday, Ann Eisenberg kicked off a new symposium on the LPE of Rural America. If you read the New York Times or listen to certain economists, you’ve probably heard the following story: rural regions in America are economically unsustainable, irrationally resentful, and increasingly obsolete. An LPE lens can help us see why this narrative is mistaken. Eisenberg argues that if we want to understand the story of rural America, we need to begin by examining the governing choices — the laws and institutions — that have disadvantaged rural communities. By revealing the human agency that shapes our collective fates, we can see that new and better possibilities remain within our collective control.
On Tuesday, Ganesh Sitaraman, Morgan Ricks, and Christopher Serkin continued the symposium by explaining regulation’s role in geographic inequality. For decades now, we have been in an era of geographic divergence, with “superstar” cities and certain regions capturing growth, while others fall behind. Dominant explanations for this phenomenon focus largely on inexorable economic forces, such as globalization or the benefits of concentrating talent. Yet, as they argue, these explanations leave out a critical factor: the effects of specific regulatory choices on economic geography. From the Progressive and New Deal Eras through roughly the 1970s, the United States had a system of structural regulation in transportation, energy, communications, and banking that was designed to disperse economic activity. Deregulation, they suggest, naturally had the opposite effect: it concentrated economic activity and growth.
And on Thursday, Elizabeth Sepper and James Nelson examined the political economy behind the rise of public yet religious hospitals – institutions that are owned or operated by the state, but where religion permeates the halls and faith dictates the care they offer. These institutions, along with the broader trend toward privatized religious social services, threaten the the foundational commitments of secular government to equal citizenship and religious freedom. They argue that while constitutional litigation offers limited recourse, we can mitigate the risk of these arrangements by making innovative use of familiar LPE tools: antitrust, public utility regulation, and public options.
In LPE Land
Cool Job Alert #1: The Program on Law and Political Economy, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and the Center for Labor and a Just Economy invite applications for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Political Economy of Law, Technology, and Labor based at Harvard Law School. The fellowship is a one-year, residential postdoctoral position designed to support a promising early-career scholar whose work examines the interrelationships between legal institutions, technological development, and class relations. More information can be found here.
Cool Job Alert #2: The Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator (VPA) seeks applications for a fellow in the field of networks, platforms, and utilities (NPUs). The two-year NPU fellowship is designed to support individuals who are interested in becoming law professors in the field of networks, platforms, and utilities, defined broadly as including transportation, communications, energy, banking, and tech platforms, and cross-cutting issues and themes across these sectors. More information can be found here.
Cool New Paper Alert: If you’ve been enjoying our symposium on the LPE of Rural America, you won’t want to miss this new paper by Hiba Hafiz: “The Law of Geographic Labor Market Inequality,”
Interested in Health Law? The Virtual Health Law Workshop is back next Friday (March 10) at 2pm ET, with Liz Sepper and Lindsay Wiley presenting their new draft, “Religious Liberty Challenges as Health Insurance Law.” More info here.
Call for Student Accounts: A 3L at Boston College Law School is working on a project tracking the work being done teaching critical race theory and race in the law in American law schools, including the role of student activism. She is looking for stories where students demanded, created, or otherwise influenced such courses at their law schools. If you or someone you know has a story to tell, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over at Inquest, Premal Dharia kicks off a new series, ‘Beyond Gideon,’ exploring how—or whether—public defenders can work toward ending mass incarceration.
With an official end to Covid as a Public Health Emergency on May 11th, Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant reflect on the first 1200 days of the pandemic, exploring how the pandemic has been exploited by corporations and government actors to further the interests of capital, pursuing austerity often at the expense of public health, safety, and working conditions—and how this dynamic will be exacerbated as Covid is thrown to our existing, fractured health care system in the U.S.