Policy papers

Creating the New Social Contract

Roosevelt Institute White Paper (September 2016), online here.

How is technology and inequality changing the fabric of 21st century capitalism?  How can we reinvent the social contract for the new economy? This paper addresses  three major themes in today's economy, each of which demands a major reinvention of 20th century regulatory paradigms.  First, there is the problem of new forms of private power, from Uber to Google, which demand a new approach to accountability beyond old models of antitrust law and regulation.  Second, there is the problem of the eroding social contract and the changing nature of work, accelerated by the rise of the "fissured workplace" and the "on-demand” economy .  These challenges require developing a whole new approach to labor organization and the provision of basic social insurance.  Third, there is the challenge these companies pose to the provision of public services and shared infrastructure, from roads to city planning.  Here too, we need a new form of regulation and democracy to ensure accountability and equality.  I will conclude by suggesting that, like its advocates, the new economy offers the potential for a new form of economic and political freedom—but this potential can only be realized if we temper technological and economic innovation with a similarly radical push to reinvent our institutions of democracy and social policy.  


Creating an Infrastructure of Opportunity

American Constitution Society, "What's the Big Idea?" Issue brief (October 2016)

Many of the inequalities we face in today’s economy are not just a product of increased risk faced by poor families, contingent workers, and the like; rather they are products of deeper structural disparities in access to opportunities. Equal opportunity is not about fair competition or risk mitigation; rather, it is fundamentally about the freedom for each of us to develop the lives and experiences we have reason to value.  The purpose of social policies must be understood in terms of enabling access to those goods, services, and opportunities whose presence in turn enables that freedom—and whose absence narrows it. We can think of these as public goods in which our policies must invest. These public goods (like childcare, housing, healthcare, and more) are not physical infrastructure like roads or bridges; they are a kind of “social infrastructure of opportunity,” that make possible a wider array of stable, secure life pathways.  


UNTAMED: How to Check Corporate, Financial, and Monopoly Power


This White Paper presents a policy agenda for rewriting the economic rules to check the growing concentration of corporate, financial, and monopoly power, improving equity and efficiency in the process. I co-authored chapters on competition policy, and the role of accountable regulatory agencies in enforcing these new economic policies.  Read the report via the button above, or view the panel from our launch event, featuring Mike Konczal (Roosevelt Institute), Rana Foroohar (Time Magazine), Rashad Robinson (Color of Change), and myself.


Rethinking Regulation


A more inclusive economy depends on an inclusive political process. Regulatory agencies are central institutions in economic policymaking, yet regulators remain vulnerable to undue political influence from established business and industry interests. How then can we reinvent regulation to be more accountable and responsive to the public at large? This white paper provides a progressive framework for addressing the problem of regulatory reform. The paper argues that instead of seeking to undo regulations or further insulate regulators, we must instead pursue reforms that expand participation and representation for a more inclusive set of stakeholders within the regulatory process itself.


Case Study: What Worked in the Fight for Net Neutrality

Gettysburg Project for Civic Engagement (August 2015), online here.

With Edward Walker, UCLA - Sociology; Michelle Miller, CoWorker.org; and Jenny Weeks

Despite being severely outgunned, net neutrality advocates won a major victory in February 2015 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that regulate ISPs as common carriers and require them to treat all customers equally. How did Net Neutrality shift from an obscure policy issue dominated by industry interests to a major focal point for grassroots movement actors? How did these movement actors successfully drive a major policy shift? This case study explores the movemetn organizing strategies, discourses, and coordinating efforts that turned the tide in the Net Neutrality battle.