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The costs of inequality: Increasingly, it’s the rich and the rest
“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both,” Associate Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said decades ago during another period of pronounced inequality in America. Echoing the concern of the Harvard Law School (HLS) graduate, over the past 30 years myriad forces have battered the United States’ legendary reputation as the world’s “land of opportunity.” The 2008 global economic meltdown that eventually bailed out Wall Street financiers but left ordinary citizens to fend for themselves trained a spotlight on the unfairness of fiscal inequality. The issue gained traction during the Occupy Wall Street protest movement in 2011 and during the successful U.S. Senate campaign of former HLS Professor Elizabeth Warren in 2012...“Money has corrupted our political process,” said Lawrence Lessig
, the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at HLS. In Congress, he said, “They focus too much on the tiny slice, 1 percent, who are funding elections. In the current election cycle [as of October], 158 families have given half the money to candidates. That’s a banana republic democracy; that’s not an American democracy.”...Though labor rights have been eroding for decades, Benjamin Sachs
, the Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at HLS, still thinks that unions could provide an unusual way to help equalize political power nationally...To restore some balance, Sachs suggests “unbundling” unions’ political and economic activities, allowing them to serve as political organizing vehicles for low- and middle-income Americans, even those whom a union may not represent for collective bargaining purposes.
The New York Times
Communities Should Create Activists and Politicians
An op-ed by Derecka Purnell `17
. If activists decide to run for political office, the Black Lives Matter Movement will endure. One person or organization did not build this movement. Political candidacy will not break it. Agendas by groups like BYP100, Campaign Zero, Organization for Black Struggle and the Movement for Black Lives to eliminate state violence, achieve economic justice, improve black health and build black futures challenge the critique that the movement is leaderless and without goals. But it's also difficult to appeal to elected officials who are already aware of state violence, poisoned water and unequal wages, and have done little to address it.
James Madison Would’ve Backed Phoenix’s Satanists
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
The Phoenix City Council has voted to no longer to begin its meetings with a public prayer. Sounds like a victory for the separation of church and state, right? Maybe even the influence of Justice Elena Kagan’s dissent in the Town of Greece case, in which the court’s majority allowed such prayers to continue? Think again. The Phoenix City Council is banning prayer so that self-described Satanists won’t have a chance to give one. The decision isn’t about tolerance but intolerance. In the end, that’s a good thing, a sign of the establishment clause working -- and of James Madison’s First Amendment logic in action.
Clinton and Sanders Focus on the Wrong Percent
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein.
In recent years, American progressivism has been torn between two competing approaches to reducing inequality. The first focuses on the top 1 percent; the second emphasizes the bottom 10 percent. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been operating within the terms set by Top 1 Percent progressivism. For both the Democratic Party and the country, that’s the wrong focus.
The Harvard Crimson
A Step Forward Against Sexual Assault
Last week, The Crimson reported that a committee made up of graduate students, undergraduates, and professors had been created to review the University’s Title IX policies and to recommend potential changes. The committee—whose exact mandate remains unclear—is chaired by former interim Dean of the College Donald H. Pfister. Harvard announced its first University-wide sexual assault policies in July 2014 when both Harvard College and Harvard Law School were under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for repeatedly mishandling sexual assault cases. Harvard’s subsequent reforms were then hailed as a step in the right direction on an urgent and previously under-discussed issue. However, it soon became clear that the new policies had been assembled too hastily: For example, not a single Law School
professor was consulted in their drafting. The results of this failure of consultation were clear.
Even Marco Rubio’s Super Bowl Party Was a Bust
Shortly before Lady Gaga took to the stage to inaugurate Super Bowl 50, in balmy Santa Clara, California, Marco Rubio was standing on a turf field within the Ultimate Sports Academy in frigid Manchester, New Hampshire. Before him was an amalgam of supporters, hangers-on, the media, and New Hampshirites who view their state’s quadrennial primary contest as a sort of Mardi Gras, or Art Basel Miami Beach, for strong-willed and thick-accented Yankees...Rubio needed the help. Unspoken in Ultimate Sports Academy, but certainly undeniable, was his vexing performance at the previous night’s Republican debate...“There’s no correlation between being a good debater and being a good president,” said Harvard Law student Nick Mayne
“It’s been shown.”