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LPE Originals

The Vicious Spiral of Political and Economic Inequality

Reagan’s 1986 Tax Reform Act, which slashed the highest marginal tax rate from 50 to 28 percent, was one of the largest and most regressive tax cuts in the history of the United States. New research shows that it also caused an increase in campaign contributions among the wealthy – demonstrating how rising economic and political inequality reinforce one another through public policy.

LPE Originals

The Political Economy of Employment Status Disputes

Regulators at both the NLRB and Department of Labor have recently rolled back Trump-era employment status rules. To an outsider, these changes can seem pedantic and inconsequential. A political economy perspective, however, reveals a deeper logic to the new rules, which address three pernicious trends in employment classification — the ability of businesses to manipulate the inherent ambiguity in treating employment like a contract, the ascension of the ideology of human capital, and the norm of the arbitrage economy.

LPE Originals

The Real Lessons We Should Draw from Claudine Gay’s Resignation

Free speech at universities hangs in the balance. But defending it will require much more than just resisting the assaults coming from billionaires and right-wing influencers. It will require reconnecting with the purposes and highest aims of the academy and building a political economy of higher education that can begin to truly deliver on them.

LPE Originals

Early Edition: (More of) the Best New LPE and LPE-Adjacent Scholarship

Some people head to the pumpkin patch. Others drink from the unholy fountain of the pumpkin spice latte. But here at the Blog, our favorite autumnal activity is decidedly less gourd-based: we scour the internet for the most exciting forthcoming LPE and LPE-adjacent articles. Covering tech, labor, housing, the administrative state, criminal justice, family law, religious freedom, finance, legal theory, and so much more, this scouting report is not to be missed.

LPE Originals

How to Protect Federal Agencies through Collaborative Bargaining

Collective bargaining agreements offer the chance to proactively build in protections for federal workers that will be vital if a dangerously anti-administrative candidate like Trump or DeSantis takes office. But to take advantage of this opportunity, agency leadership must be conciliatory and collaborative in negotiations.

LPE Originals

Jackson, Mississippi, and the Contested Boundaries of Self-Governance

This past year, Jackson has been the site of two separate yet related crises: a failed water system that has left approximately 150,000 residents without access to safe drinking water, and the takeover of the city’s police and court functions by white officials in the state government. Assessed together, these two episodes offer lessons about the challenges of local self-governance in a country awash with material inequality and the importance of pursuing political equality across as well as within jurisdictions.

LPE Originals

The Origins of the Nonprofit Industrial Complex

Despite receiving more revenue from the U.S. government than from private donors, the nonprofit sector is often cast as an independent realm that stands apart from both state and market. This picture is not merely misleading, but dangerous, as it naturalizes the idea that the needs of certain citizens are best met by private supplement, rather than by more expansive, more equal government provision.

LPE Originals

Some Short Circuits in the Rewiring of Regulatory Review

As Sabeel Rahman highlighted last week, OIRA’s proposed update to its notorious Circular A-4 incorporates a long list of improvements. But let’s not get too caught up in the moment. 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. A recalibration, rather than a rejection or rethinking, of that basic framework.

LPE Originals

Rewiring Regulatory Review

Last month, the Biden Administration released a long-awaited overhaul of the regulatory review process. Although these changes are aimed at a highly technical and behind-the-scenes process, their importance is hard to overstate. From lowering the social discount rate, to providing a method for income weighting, to incorporating hard-to-quantify impacts into agency decision-making, these revisions will affect government policymaking across nearly every domain. They also signal overdue recognition that an inclusive political economy requires a transformation not just in the substance of public policy, but also in its process, in the machinery of how policy is designed, analyzed, coordinated, and ultimately made impactful.

LPE Originals

Putting Rural Communities on the (Broadband) Map

Broadband access in rural areas in the United States is not only a market failure, but a market disaster, as private providers have little interest in serving expensive, hard-to-reach places. In its most recent attempt to bridge the rural-urban digital divide, Congress allocated $42.5 billion for broadband deployment, the distribution of which is to be determined by the FCC’s national broadband maps. Yet these maps, which themselves have been outsourced to private actors, have consistently exaggerated broadband availability, depriving many rural communities of much-needed funding and a voice in this critical infrastructural issue.

LPE Originals

Networks, Platforms, and Utilities: Law and Policy

This week at the blog, we’re sharing a few of our favorite posts from Notice & Comment’s recent symposium on Networks, Platforms, and Utilities, a new casebook by Morgan Ricks, Ganesh Sitaraman, Shelley Welton, and Lev Menand. First up: the authors explain why it’s time to revive the field of “regulated industries” and to recover the idea that public interest demands a substantial measure of public control over society’s infrastructural resources.