Monday, October 10, 2011
Years ago, my colleague, the late, great Ed Belsheim, took me aside and revealed to me some of the secrets of his success as a law professor. One of them was this: "We're here to teach the basics. In class, by the time you say anything that's interesting to you, you've said too much." ...
As the years pass, I appreciate Ed's wisdom more and more. I call it the Belsheim Rule. There are so many interesting (at least to me) things that I'd like to say in the courses I teach -- the basic Income Tax class in particular -- but there isn't time for all of them. And succumbing to the temptation to include too many can worsen the constant problem of trying to boil the entire income tax law into 52 hours.
This blog is an attempt to avoid that pitfall. When I get out of a class session in which I've resisted the impulse to tell a good story, I'm going to reward myself by writing it down here. I'll let the students know that this site exists, but I'll make their looking at it completely optional. I hope I'll feel as though I satisfied my duty to share what I know, without gumming up the march through the syllabus with too many detours.
In many ways, I view Jack's new blog as an extension of the idea behind our Tax Stories book (Foundation Press, 2d ed. 2009). Several reviewers observed that the book provides useful nuggets for professors to incorporate into their teaching (even if they do not adopt the book for classroom use). As Jay Soled (Rutgers) noted in Tax Stories Adds Anecdotal Interest to Tax Cases, 100 Tax Notes 727 (2003):
If you share my bent toward the use of anecdotes in the classroom, reading Tax Stories should be a very rewarding experience. Indeed, after reading Tax Stories, don't be surprised if you deliver your lectures with renewed vigor, punctuated with healthy offerings of the anecdotal delights found in this book.
Jack's early posts promise that the blog will be priceless for anyone teaching the income tax course:
- The Tax Court (Aug. 31, 2011)
- United States v. Drescher (Sept. 1, 2011)
- The Present Value of Infinity (Sept. 7, 2011)
- Benaglia v. Commissioner (Sept. 8, 2011)
- Tech. Adv. Mem. 8741007 (flying on FedEx planes as employee fringe benefit) (Sept. 15, 2011)
- LoBue v. Commissioner (Sept 24, 2011)
- Justice Douglas in Tax Cases (Sept. 25, 2011)
- Eisner v. Macomber (Sept. 29, 2011)
- Inaja Land Co. (Oct. 5, 2011)