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Weekly Roundup: March 24, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, Judah Schept continued our symposium on the LPE of Rural America, by discussing the multiple crises that have converged in Eastern Kentucky to produce a carceral conjuncture in which prisons and jails serve as putative solutions to a variety of social and economic problems. With the collapse of the coal industry, prisons serve as an explicit rural jobs program, while the per-diem payments rural jails receive for housing state prisoners offset some of the impact of the decline in tax revenue. Moreover, “in multiple counties with prisons or anticipating prison construction, boards of education have developed curricula and degrees in criminal justice and built out educational spaces like gun ranges and mock courtrooms to train what they view as the next generation of workers for the region. In other words, prison construction and expansion portend a political economic reorganization – and a cultural realignment – around criminal justice.”

On Wednesday, Nicholas Stump concluded the symposium by explaining how the standard liberal conception of civil disobedience mistakenly excludes many recent anti-fossil fuel acts of resistance. While civil disobedience has long been a core dimension in the struggles against the ravages of the coal, oil, and natural gas industries in the rural United States, recent actions – which often involve property destruction and an explicit focus on movement building – do not meet the criteria set out by the standard liberal account. Stump argues that expanding the scope of civil disobedience better aligns with the views and practices of rural activists, and also bolsters these activists by connecting them with the rich history of civil disobedience.

And on Thursday, we turned our attention to everybody’s favorite subject, Silicon Valley Bank. Beyond revealing that many tech wizards were financially unsophisticated, the collapse of SVB and subsequent bailout of depositors raised fundamental questions about the stability and nature of our banking system. To help us begin to make sense of all this, we asked Christine Desan, Lev Menand, Raul Carrillo, Rohan Grey, Dan Rohde, & Hilary Allen to share their initial reactions to the unfolding drama. (Or, as one of us wanted to call the post: A Heartbreaking Work of Uninsured Deposits).

In LPE Land

In case our six bite-sized reactions left you hungry for more (and you’ve already consumed the feast of articles we recommended this past Friday), Saule Omarova made the case for public checking accounts at the Federal Reserve and for giving the public a ‘golden share’ in systemically important banks. And Morgan Ricks explained to Ezra Klein why the privatization of money has been a disaster, and how stricter regulations on “private money” can help panic-proof our financial system.

Brishen Rogers is out with a new book this week, which argues that employers are using AI as a tool of class domination, and asks how we can build a more democratic politics of workplace tech. For a taste of the argument, check out his recent piece in the Boston Review. And for more on workplace tech and collective resistance, check out our recent symposium on the subject.

Cool job alert: The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law and Policy at Harvard Law School is looking for a new Executive Director.

The University of Chicago Law Review recently published a special issue on labor market power, which includes new articles by Sanjukta Paul (On Firms) and Marshall Steinbaum and Christopher Peterson (Coercive Rideshare Practices: At the Intersection of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Law in the Gig Economy). You might recognize the latter argument from Steinbaum’s blog post this past spring.

And, finally, a friendly reminder that the event of the season – Law and Political Economy: Labor, Social Control, and Counterpower – will be taking place next weekend. Registration for in-person attendance is now closed, but you can still join virtually! Zoom links for the various panels will be posted at on the morning of March 30th!