Sunday, April 6, 2008
Bobby L. Dexter (Chapman) presents Serfs at the Mercy of a Hungry Beast: Aggressive Regressivity, Private Equity, and the Quandary of the St. Luke Imperative today at the National Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago. Here is the abstract:
Currently, there exists a split in the U.S. Courts of Appeals with respect to whether certain amounts paid to university professors relinquishing tenure and retiring early constitute "wages" with respect to "employment." This Article addresses that split before exploring, more broadly, the troubled concepts of "wages" and "employment." Though some courts have struggled to draw discernable lines of demarcation to separate "wages" from "income" and the income tax conception of "wages" from the payroll tax conception, other courts, apparently yielding to expansive conceptual pressures and the visceral tug of the existence of the employer/employee relationship, have pursued regressive taxes from low- and mid-wage earners by embracing tangential precedent, importing broad conceptions of "wages" and "employment," and looking to shifting administrative interpretations for guidance. And yet, at the same time that Congress, certain courts, and administrative agencies have undertaken to sniff out the merest trace of low- and mid-wage earner revenue (lest the serfs take tax holiday), certain entities/individuals in the "capital-gain" Mecca of private equity have managed, in breathtaking defiance of longstanding tax principles, to survive a degree of scrutiny despite raking in billions of dollars as compensation for services rendered. Having presented commentary on this contrast, the Article turns to the impending Social Security crisis and presents rational alternatives to the enhancement of systemic inequities which would result from raising payroll tax rates, sharply increasing the FICA Wage Base, or reducing benefit levels for those who have, quite literally, earned the right to retire with financial dignity.