Skip to content

Weekly Roundup: May 26, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, Martha McCluskey laid out an LPE approach to taxation and climate change. She argues that though tax policy is often cast as surgical way to redistribute resources among private parties or correct market failures, it is better conceived as one tool among many to re-orient both the economy and the state. With respect to climate change, she writes, “tax strategies for subsidizing alternative energy or penalizing fossil fuel consumption are important but insufficient. Without strategies that directly disable the revenue-generating capacity of fossil fuel, the industry will further use its near-term power to make energy transition costly and divisive. The fossil fuel industry’s continued tax advantages reflect its hold on politics, and also on law, part of a larger pattern of reinvesting oil and gas wealth to weaken institutions of democracy. That political hold is strengthened by the idea that tax policy should focus on adjusting market prices, rather than on cutting off destructive market power.”

On Tuesday, we continued our series on carceral labor with Inquest by taking a look at how NYC developers have profited by exploiting formerly incarcerated workers and undercutting unions, and how one labor union is fighting back. Han Lu (of the National Employment Law Project) interviews Bernard Callegari (of Laborers’ Local 79) about the Real Reentry campaign, which has aimed to pass city- and state-level bills to bring transparency and accountability to what is often an opaque dynamic between criminal punishment and the labor market.

And on Thursday, Andrew Ross and Aiyuba Thomas discussed the past, the present, and the future of the prisoners’ rights movement in Alabama. Drawing on their recent ethnographic research, they explain how the Free Alabama Movement’s role in the recent wave of prison strikes belongs to a long history of mobilizing resistance to racial injustice in the state, and why the movement decided to expand its approach beyond work and wages. As they write, “After the 2014 and 2016 strikes, incarcerated organizers increasingly started to question their reliance on work stoppages as the primary strike tactic. Not everyone in prison worked, especially those in solitary confinement, and many who were employed in work release programs were reluctant to endanger their job placements and their earned ‘good time’ credits so close to the end of their sentence. In response, FAM circulated a call to ‘redistribute the pain.’ Prisoners who wanted to show solidarity could also participate through hunger strikes and commissary boycotts, while supporters on the outside were encouraged to protest too. The 2018 strike, encompassing all these varied tactical forms, was widely observed, stretching in reach from the Deep South states all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada.”

In LPE Land

Hot off the presses: the Journal of Law and Political Economy just released Vol. 3, Issue 3. As always, an all-star line-up on a wide variety of LPE topics.

Call for abstracts: Ryan Doerfler and Eraldo Souza dos Santos are convening a one-day online workshop on courts and politics. Abstract the deadline is June 20th.

In the NTY, Kate Redburn looks back at the history of attacks on gender nonconformity in America, and explains how trans civil rights strengthen freedom of personal expression for all.

On the latest episode of Death Panel, Gabe Winant discusses J.D. Vance’s faux class politics, how his 2016 book Hillbilly Elegy pathologizes the poor, and Vance’s adherence to the work of race scientist Charles Murray.

In the Boston Review, Liz Sepper and James Nelson explain how, due to corporate consolidation, religious restrictions have crept across public and for-profit hospitals and into doctors’ offices. For the bite-sized version, see their LPE Blog post; for the full-course meal, see their article in the Virginia Law Review.

On Monday, June 12, join LPE@HLS for a virtual book salon on New Debates in the Sociology and Political Economy of Finance. This event will convene the authors of nine (!) recent books – all published since 2020 – into a series of panel conversations. Feat. Jakob Feinig, Kimberly Kay Hoang, Simone Polillo, Donald MacKenzie, Philip Roscoe, Leon Wansleben, Fred Block and Robert Hockett, Terri Friedline, and Robert Meister. Online and no registration required.