With the upcoming midterms and so much energy put into politics, I thought it a good time to revisit the 4th talk in the Fall 2017 New Economy Law and Policy Forum. In it, Zephyr Teachout focuses on campaign finance and other reforms needed to transform politics in the US. For more resources about campaign finance reform, please visit our associated web pages.
In his latest book (and first novel), NELC Fellow, Bill McKibben, takes his resistance angst and turns it into a love letter to Vermont, local craft beer, human-scale economies and decision making like “Town Meeting Day,” and Ethan Allen. With humor, he tells a tale of seceding as a protest against the big impersonal political economic forces that brought us climate disruption and Donald Trump. You may want to fly the new flag by the time you’re finished reading it, featuring an image of Camel’s Hump and Ethan Allen’s “The gods of the valley are not the gods of the hills.” He intersperses the entertaining story with bits of insights. From the character Trance, a soldier, on strategy: “You don’t choose your opponent’s weapons.” From the character Vern, on vision: “We want farmers growing food that people want to eat – we want slaughterhouses in Vermont again, and grain mills. Not big food so we can get salmonella from some feedlot in Indiana, but small food, so we can get dinner from our neighbors. So we can have security.” And on democracy: “We all need to be reminded that democracy isn’t just voting for president every four years and then trusting him to fix things. Democracy is about getting together with your community to think together about your future. Sometimes it’s dull, and sometimes people get long-winded, and sometimes they get stiff-necked. But town meeting has been going on for three hundred years, ever since people got to Vermont. Just go see.
“…And the one thing no one ever says anymore in our public life: I think you’re wrong, but you may be right.” Try it.
Jedediah Purdy, law professor and author of a chapter in Law for the New Economy: Sustainable, Just, and Democratic, (Melissa K. Scanlan ed., May 2017), reacted to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement in his recent opinion in the New York Times. Focusing on the Supreme Court’s union-crippling decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Purdy details the Roberts Court’s role in the ongoing “dismantling of the legal legacy of the New Deal and the creation of law for a new Gilded Age.” Along with Janus, the Court’s recent decisions upholding Trump’s travel ban and Texas’ racially gerrymandered voting districts are the latest “unhappy reminders that for much of American history, the Supreme Court has been a deeply conservative institution, preserving racial hierarchy and the prerogatives of employers.” Since the 1970s, the Court has refused to address economic inequality while bolstering the outsized power of capital. With an ascendant conservative majority on the Court, Purdy argues, American democracy’s ability to confront the inequality and insecurity powering this New Gilded Age is increasingly thrown into question.
This was the first talk in the New Economy Law and Policy Forum in October of 2017. For additional resources on this topic and action steps, visit our associated web pages.
Jedediah Purdy, law professor and author of a chapter in Law for the New Economy: Sustainable, Just, and Democratic, (Melissa K. Scanlan ed., May 2017), takes aim at what he terms “crisis-of-democracy literature” in his review of five books typical of the burgeoning genre. These titles posit the Trump presidency as an unprecedented threat to the “norms” of liberal democracy. But they seldom reckon with the “perennial carnage of American capitalism” and its relation to democracy, which made Trump’s ascendance possible. Overcoming this existential crisis demands more than a slavish devotion to restoring the norms Trump so gleefully tears asunder; it warrants bold political imagination. Purdy argues a “more robust approach would have been to ask how political leadership and mobilization can open up new ideological frontiers, for better or worse.”
People are demanding change: a change to our politics, a change to our environment, a change to our economy. This fall you and your students have the opportunity to interact with leaders in the field – such as Gus Speth, former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, Frances Moore Lappe, Zephyr Teachout, Gar Alperovitz, and others – to discuss successful solutions to crafting the next steps in this country, and the greater world. I invite you to explore the four upcoming events this fall in our New Economy Law and Policy Forum at: http://go.vermontlaw.edu/new-economy-forum
You may attend in person, or via livestream, for free. So please join us however you can, encourage your students to attend, and share with your networks.
Many NELC Fellows just completed a major collaboration to produce a new book exploring the laws and policies supporting the shift to a new economy. Covering a variety of areas from food to energy to the commons and Earth rights, the book addresses the laws and values for undertaking comprehensive system change. NELC Fellows contributing to the book include NELC co-founders, Melissa Scanlan and Gus Speth, along with Shalanda Baker, David Bollier, Kevin Jones, Janelle Orsi, Laurie Ristino, Linda Sheehan, Jennifer Taub, and Mary Christina Wood. Additional authors joining the fellows are Jedediah Purdy, Mark James, Diana Winters, and Catherine Iorns Magallanes. NELC director, Melissa Scanlan, is the editor of the volume. To schedule a book talk, contact Becca Milaschewski, firstname.lastname@example.org
Law and Policy for a New Economy: Sustainable, Just, and Democratic, (Melissa K. Scanlan ed., Edward Elgar, 2017)
E-book version available here: https://www.elgaronline.com/view/9781786434517.xml
Trump’s highly anticipated Supreme Court pick, conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch, recently assumed his position in the nation’s highest court. What does this imply for environmental law going forward? New Economy Law Center Fellow Pat Parenteau provides some insight into this question in the following opinion piece for Grist.
Patrick Parenteau. “Gorsuch likely to be skeptical of environmental rules, but that could bite Trump, too,” Grist, February 3, 2017, http://grist.org/politics/gorsuch-likely-to-be-skeptical-of-environmental-rules-but-that-could-bite-trump-too/
In a new piece published in the sixth volume of Next System Project’s “New Systems: Possibilities and Proposals” series, NSP co-chair and New Economy Law Center co-founder Gus Speth presents the case for transforming our political economy, and offers a possible vision for an alternative system that prioritizes people, place, and planet over profit and power. “In the Joyful Economy, the goal of economic life is to sustain, nourish, and restore human and natural communities,” Speth writes. See the link below to read more.
This essay is also an opening chapter in the forthcoming Law and Policy for a New Economy: Sustainable, Just, and Democratic, (Melissa K. Scanlan ed., Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2017)
This Saturday, April 15th – traditionally designated as “Tax Day,” – tens of thousands of people will take to the streets in cities across the globe in protest of President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. The idea for a “Tax March” originated with Vermont Law School professor, and New Economy Law Center Fellow, Jennifer Taub. “I impulsively shot off a tweet at two in the afternoon, and by the next morning, I’d created a movement,” Taub told The Guardian. For the full story, see the link below.
Amber Jamieson. “Tax March: How a Law Professor Sparked a Global Event to Demand Trump’s Returns,” The Guardian, April 12, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/12/tax-march-trump-tax-returns-activism-jennifer-taub