When Good Economic Policy Isn’t Enough

August 2023 – Puzzled by the lack of positive response to economic policies that have assisted low- and middle-income families, such as the extension of the Child Tax Credit during the COVID-19 pandemic (which reduced child poverty by 46 percent), Deepak Bhargava, Shahrzad Shams, and Harry Hanbury explore the underlying dynamics that are fostering a sense of malaise among so many in the U.S. and creating an environment open to the rise of authoritarianism.

“Delivering for people on economic issues is an important goal in itself, but it is not an antivenom for the snakebite of authoritarianism.”

From “The Death of ‘Deliverism’”

They note that progressive economic policymaking must:

  • take identity, emotion, and story seriously. Policies that deliver economic benefits but do not speak to a social identity are likely to have little political impact.
  • offer ideas about issues they have tended to neglect such as violence, addiction, mental health problems, social isolation, loneliness, and a sense of social disintegration.
  • articulate not just a string of worthy policies, but a vision of a good life grounded in ideas about how we should live, who we should care about, and what makes for a meaningful life.
  • reinvigorate organizing and recruitment of new people into worker and community organizations. People are often mobilized on issues but are rarely invited to be part of a democratic community built on relationships that forge collective power.

Deepak Bhargava is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a Distinguished Lecturer at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. Shahrzad Shams is the program manager for the Race and Democracy program at the Roosevelt Institute. Harry Hanbury is a documentary filmmaker and journalist.

View last year’s grand prize winning video (*note: the contest format has changed for 2023)

The Mercy Justice Team needs you, a Mercy student, to create a short, social media style PSA (public service announcement) video – think Reels or TikTok – that reflects the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns. Put those creative ideas and video skills to work and you could win $500!

What form of injustice makes your nostrils flare every time it’s mentioned in the news?

Who do you know who’s been impacted by gun violence?

What story is yours to tell about the need for Mercy?

How do we challenge injustices in our society?

To receive information, updates and reminders about this year’s contest, complete this form and we’ll be in touch. Click here to learn rules for entry and how to upload your video.

View the grand prize winning video from 2021 (*note: the contest format has changed for 2023)


For this year’s contest we are seeking short, PSA style videos (30 to 90 seconds) that are suitable for sharing on social media platforms such as TikTok or Reels. Video entries must focus on one of these topics:

Gun Violence
  • Videos should reflect the Mercy Critical Concerns, especially the Critical Concern for Nonviolence, but do not need to identify the Critical Concerns specifically.
  • Videos should inspire action to address gun violence.
Advocating for Justice
  • Videos should reflect the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy efforts to advocate on behalf of social justice issues.
  • Videos should inspire further advocacy.
  • Videos should seek to make the idea of advocating for justice more accessible to people of all ages by explaining why is it important or showing what it looks like.

NEW! Watch our 20 minute webinar

to learn more about this year’s contest.

Who Can Enter

Any student or group of students, high school age or older, enrolled in Mercy high schools, colleges/universities, or involved in a Mercy-affiliated ministry.

Use this tip-sheet to help you as you begin the process of creating your video.


Read the complete rules

Length: 30 to 90 seconds

Language: English or Spanish

Other Requirements

1. Title. Each video must have a title. The title must be indicated on the submission form. The title does not need to be included in the video itself.

2. Credits. Credits must include the name of those involved in the creation of the video. The credits must also include citations for any images, audio, or text used in the video that is not original. The credits do not need to be included in the video itself, but must be included in the submission form.

The Sisters of Mercy may delete title and credit screens before posting videos on social media.

Entrants are strongly encouraged to use original footage and graphics as much as possible.

Important Note on Rules: In order to honor copyright protections, rules regarding use of images and music were updated for the 2022 contest and remain in effect for 2023. See the complete rules for details.


All entries must be received by April 1, 2023.


A panel of judges will use these criteria to select the winning video. Individual winners will receive financial awards. The Grand Prize Winner receives $500.

Winning entries may be featured on the Sisters of Mercy Institute web site and social media channels. Winners and their winning institution will be formally announced.


If you think you might be interested in entering this contest, fill out this form to receive contest information and updates.

Past Winners

Click here to view all of our past winners.

Each year, Mercy students are invited to enter the Social Justice Video Contest and put their creative ideas and skills to work by sharing stories of the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns. The Grand Prize Winner receives $500.

2023’s First Place Winners

Emma Lemieux, Maggie Misbach, Abigail Gomes, Katherine Grelotti and Georgia Baldini
“Are you with us?”
Mercy High School, Middletown, Connecticut

Amer Hasan Macarambon, Allyza Jane Dangga, Rianna Ysabella Dollete, Krizyl Baguhin, Susan Gayle Andales, Sittie Nihaya Umba, Fatima Rose Rivera, Atheel Villaganas, Abby Kim Suan
Holy Cross High School, Mindanao, Philippines

2023’s Honorable Mentions

Rineyri Cáceres, Isaac Blanco, Liam Schultz
“Bandera del amor”
Instituto María Regina, La Ceiba,

Ava Kolp, Katelyn McGuire, Jamie O’Donnell
“Together We Can End Gun Violence”
Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School, Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania

Grace de Klerk
“What is Justice?”
Mercy High School Farmington Hills

Shannon Talley, Maggie Baker, Alivia Chieffo
“Stop the Violence
Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School, Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania

Gracie Gavin, Maxine Schaffner
“Welcome to the Gun Zone”
Mercy High School Burlingame

Ana Sophia Butkus
“Life Is Not A Game”
Mercy High School, Middletown, Connecticut

Previous Winners


Meena Balaratna, Elizabeth Romano and Kristen Yezzi
“Protect our Earth”
Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School
Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania


Tristen Hasson, Melanie McGill, & Sydney Pasceri
“Women Make Mercy Real”
Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School
Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania


The 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic


Grace Wettengel, Morgan Lee, Michelle Delgado & Nina Bennett
Injustices in India’s Villages
College of St. Mary
Omaha, Nebraska


Alyssa Dela Cruz
Make Mercy Real
Academy of Our Lady of Guam
Hagatna, Guam


Kenzie Uhr
Change the Narrative
Mount St. Mary Catholic High School
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  USA