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Journal Articles

Economic inequality

2012

Legal Theory

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How The "Unintended Consequences" Story Promotes Unjust Intent And Impact., Martha T. Mccluskey Jan 2012

How The "Unintended Consequences" Story Promotes Unjust Intent And Impact., Martha T. Mccluskey

Journal Articles

In the guise of critical analysis of the limits of law reform, the familiar phrase “unintended consequences” serves to rationalize rising inequality and to undermine democratic accountability. This paper examines how the phrase promotes a story of disentitlement, using the recent financial crisis as an example. By naturalizing inequality as power beyond law’s reach, this phrase’s message that benign law is likely to bring unequal consequences dovetails with a seemingly contradictory message that benign intent, rather than harmful impact, is what primarily counts for evaluating inequality.

As part of a LatCrit XV symposium taking a “bottom-up” view of the recent …