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Weekly Roundup: May 20, 2022


At the Blog

On Monday, Daniel Walters argued that to solve the longstanding puzzle of the administrative state’s democratic legitimacy, we should resist the neoliberal impulse to erase politics. Drawing on the insights of agonistic democratic theory, he suggests that we should forgo attempts to seek illusory consensus through “neutral applications of expertise,” and instead, adopt processes that facilitate opportunities for genuine contestation.

On Wednesday, Amanda Parsons described the exploitative nature of the current data economy and explained how international tax law could be reformed to mitigate these harms. As she writes, “Because the international tax system does not recognize the production role that users play when producing data, companies are able to come into countries, take advantage of government benefits and resources, extract wealth, and give back nothing. This is not, however, merely a matter of fairness between countries (or between countries and companies). The current arrangement is also unfair to the users who supply companies with their data…. Companies and their investors extract large amounts of wealth from people’s data, and these people receive no compensation in return.”

This week, two of our brilliant editors, Sam Aber and Molly Gordon, graduated from law school. Among other feats, Sam brought you the political economy-political technology symposium, a political economy approach to the war on terror, a mini-series on digital mass surveillance, and the wildly popular very brief field guild to LPE for 1Ls. Molly’s highlights include our fall symposium on cost-benefit analysis, our recent symposium on The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution, and (spoiler alert) our forthcoming symposium on Decommodifying Urban Property. Their imminent departure is the blog’s loss but the legal profession’s gain: Sam ventures to Atlanta, where he will be clerking for the Hon. Sarah Geraghty of the Northern District of Georgia, while Molly will be moving on to an EJW fellowship with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services in New Orleans, representing tenants facing housing instability due to pandemic-related rent debt.

In LPE Land

Over at the Jain Family Institute, Sparky Abraham, Jalil Mustaffa Bishop, Daniel Collier, Eduard Nilaj, Marshall Steinbaum, and Astra Taylor make a data-driven case for universal, automatic, and generous debt cancellation.

Noah Zatz lends his insight to a story about How the Construction Industry Preys on Workers Newly Released From Prison: “‘Most people think about the relationship between the criminal legal system and labor in terms of exclusion, or barriers to employment, such as discrimination against people with a criminal record,’ says Noah Zatz, a professor of law at UCLA. ​’But there’s also a kind of flip-side phenomenon, which is not one in which people are being locked out of work, but when people are being forced into work — and, in particular, forced into work on vulnerable or subordinating terms.'”

Do you need a Roman holiday? The EAEPE – INET – APPEAL Summer School (July 4 – 8) is open to PhD students and early-career researchers, with a special focus this year on labour economics and welfare, and the impact of Covid-19. Submission Deadline June 6.

Abortion Rights are Economic Rights: “The ability to delay having a child has been found to translate to significantly increased wages and labor earnings, especially among Black women, as well as increased likelihood of educational attainment. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen concluded that ‘eliminating the rights of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades.’”

Adam Tooze on What Drives Inflation: “The profit surge in the first phase of the COVID recovery only confirms the stark imbalance of our social conditions. The current debate about inflation and wage-price spirals is – more or less openly – a debate about whether that class balance might be about to shift. And if so, will that shift be merely temporary – an effect of labour market tightness for instances – or will the energy of a new generation of union organizers, impelled in part by rising prices, produce a more lasting rebalancing? It seems unlikely, but the fact that the question is posed at all is surely significant. When the question of distribution is posed as one not merely of dollars and cents but of social power, it becomes far more consequential and radical.”