ACLU is to the Constitution as ________ is to Economics?
October 10, 2008 7:36 PM   Subscribe

ACLU is to the Constitution as ________ is to Economics?

What organizations can I join/volunteer/devote my career to that work for the rights of consumers/taxpayers/investors against the consequences of bad market and government choices?
posted by doppleradar to Law & Government (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by jtfowl0 at 7:49 PM on October 10, 2008

Essentially any organization that interprets economics according to policy preferences will fit this analogy. The ACLU isn't a one-stop individual liberty protector; they read some provisions of the constitution more closely and others more expansively in order to create a favorable constitutional backing to their policy ideas that aren't textually present either way.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:52 PM on October 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Heritage Foundation
American Enterprise Institute
Manhattan Institute

etc. if you bat right.

Brookings if you bat what is thought of as left in this country.
posted by troy at 8:06 PM on October 10, 2008

posted by lee at 8:19 PM on October 10, 2008

The Longview Institute? (About)
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 8:34 PM on October 10, 2008

Brookings if you bat what is thought of as left in this country.

Actually, Brookings is pretty much considered to be a bipartisan, moderate think tank.

Anyway, you don't really say what your particular leanings are. Troy has a good list of rightwing think tanks. Some center-left think tanks are:

Center for American Progress
Economic Policy Insitute
Progressive States

There aren't really a lot of activist groups on either side of the spectrum when it comes to these issues, probably because they are someone wonky and, until this month at least, not "sexy" to most people. However, there is the libertarian Taxpayers' League and the left-leaning USAction, which both have state chapters.
posted by lunasol at 8:40 PM on October 10, 2008

Trade unions.
posted by mendel at 8:41 PM on October 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Consumer Reports.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:11 PM on October 10, 2008

Consumers Union (and you can support them by subscribing to Consumer Reports)
Public Interest Research Group
posted by grouse at 9:13 PM on October 10, 2008

Chicago School
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:34 PM on October 10, 2008

You're going about it in a funny way. See, the American Civil Liberties Union seeks to protect rights guaranteed by the constitution and laws. Economics is a social science in that it studies how goods and money are used.

You want to work to make sure this can't happen again, yes? Okay, first you need to understand what happened. Then, decide why it happened so you can try to prevent it from reoccurring. I learned a bunch watching the News Hour on PBS. That show makes one hour feel like two. The last This American Life was great too. And, you don't need a gold medal from fuckin' Sweden to know that the Republicans have their head up their ass.
posted by spork at 11:37 PM on October 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Center for American Progress would not be a bad place to start. You can't join it per se but you can donate, and they have blogs, publications, and events like Rethinking Mortgage Finance after the Meltdown. There are a few orgs there that may merit your interest.

My family is Consumers Union going back half a century, and while they do macro stuff relating to regulatory policy, it's mostly about physical or at least retail products (e.g. debit cards). They probably will support a number of mortgage-related rule changes in the coming months, but again at a pretty basic level relating to consumer rights and not so much about (monetary) policy implications.

If you really want to be a ground-level ACLU type, NACA and some other groups that help real individual people with their mortgages would be worth looking at.
posted by dhartung at 2:09 AM on October 11, 2008

Cato Institute
posted by yclipse at 5:19 AM on October 11, 2008

URPE, trade unions, and Doug Henwood.
posted by history is a weapon at 6:19 AM on October 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're interested in both the constitution and economic liberty, check out the Institute for Justice. They're a law firm that sues the government to protect the rights of the people in areas including commercial and political speech, the right to practice one's profession without undue interference, freedom from eminent domain abuse, and school choice.
posted by decathecting at 10:53 AM on October 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In terms of lobbying, policy and research, the Center for Responsible Lending spent years and years talking about the subprime mortgage crisis, but alas, nobody listened until too late. There are also other consumer organizations such as NACA, which somebody already mentioned, and the National Consumer Law Center.

In terms of "impact" litigation (meaning, big cases that affect policy rather than individual consumer cases), Public Citizen's Litigation Group and Public Justice have lead the legal battle against preemption of state laws, including state lending laws. By abusing the doctrine of preemption, which replaces state law with weaker federal laws, mortgage lenders were able to continue to make their abusive loans until everything fell apart.

On a smaller scale of litigation, every city and region has some kind of civil legal services program for low-income individual's day-to-day problems, which will often include some kind of consumer protection program that extends to mortgage issues. One example is South Brooklyn Legal Service's Foreclosure Prevention Project.

Finally, there are many private plaintiffs' consumer law firms that litigate all sorts of consumer class actions. One of the most successful is called Lieff Cabraser, but there are smaller, three - four lawyer shops in every city.
posted by footnote at 2:14 PM on October 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

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