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Weekly Roundup: May 12, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, Luke Herrine argued that the proposed reforms of Cost-Benefit Analysis at OIRA, while welcome in their particulars, should be understood as a recalibration, rather than a rejection or rethinking, of the prevailing framework. As he writes, “There is at least as much continuity in the new A-4 as there is change. The overall logic is still one that commensurates costs and benefits in terms of additive individual willingness to pay, that holds up market competition between capitalist firms as the presumptively optimal form of social organization, and that treats regulation as a presumptively unwarranted intrusion into the freedom of the market.”

On Tuesday, in partnership with the fine folks at Inquest, we launched a symposium on carceral labor. Erin Hatton kicked off the series by explaining how the carceral state functions as a system of labor governance—both within and beyond prison walls. As she writes, “Through compulsory and coercive labor in prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers, as well as in the pervasive job ‘preparation’ and ‘counseling’ programs to which prisoners, parolees, and probationers are subjected, carceral subjects are primed for precarious work. So, they come to expect—and sometimes embrace—low-wage, unstable, and insecure work outside of prison…. [Moreover] many Americans who are not incarcerated are compelled to maintain employment as a condition of their freedom from incarceration. This requirement effectively compels them to accept and keep any job—no matter how degraded—thereby intensifying their exploitability and socioeconomic marginality.”

And on Thursday, Ivan Kilgore continued the series by arguing that incarcerated people should resist identifying themselves as “workers,” as doing so displaces the gravity of their situation and obscures the nature of carceral violence. As he writes, “Work not only loses its human quality where made detestable by slavery, but also alienates the prisoner and prevents him/her from gaining the value of work ethic. A central contradiction of prison life, then, is that to realize the true value of work — that is, the dignity and self-improvement that come from freely doing and making things in community with others — we have no choice but to first reject the worker identity, at least in the twisted, degraded form it has assumed under present carceral conditions.”

In LPE Land

Over at the Legal History Blog, Karen Tani has posted a fascinating set of reflections on Outside In: the Oral History of Guido Calabresi, pairing it with Beth Popp Berman’s Thinking Like an Economist.

As part of Dissent’s latest issue on US climate politics after the IRA, Amna Akbar writes about the campaign against Cop City, how it builds on Occupy & Standing Rock, and why protestors are facing terrorism charges.

A fun fact for your next cocktail party conversation: A new study finds that without Supreme Court expansion, conservatives will likely control the Court until 2065. Fun!

With the debt ceiling about to crush us like the trash compactor in A New Hope, it’s a good week to revisit Rohan Grey’s interview on Odd Lots about minting a trillion dollar coin.

And at the Syllabus, Evgeny Morozov and Ekaitz Cancela interviewed Benjamin Braun about the place of finance in this #PostNeoliberalMoment.