Paul L. Caron

Monday, May 13, 2024

Taxing Artificial Intelligence

Xavier Oberson (University of Geneva), Taxing Artificial Intelligence (2d ed. 2024):

Taxing Artificial IntelligenceIn this insightful book, a fully updated edition of the author’s Taxing Robots, Xavier Oberson explores taxing Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a potential response to rising workplace disruption and inequality as the use of AI across the economy continues to grow.

Drawing on key legal and economic principles, Xavier Oberson, who may be regarded as a pioneer of the idea of taxing robots, examines diverse tax models that could be applied to either the use of AI, such as a usage or automation tax, or to AI systems directly, and presents a novel argument in favour of taxing AI. Oberson highlights critical issues including definitions of AI and robots, the complexity of granting a tax capacity to AI, and the compatibility of AI taxes with international tax rules. In particular, this cutting-edge new edition analyses how VAT can be applied to enterprises using AI and autonomous AI systems, and reflects on the legal and technological limits facing lawmakers.

Taxing Artificial Intelligence will be essential reading for scholars, policy makers and students across law and economics. It will also be invaluable for law and tax professionals seeking to understand the latest developments in AI, automation, and the future of work.

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May 13, 2024 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Monday, April 15, 2024

How Property Taxes Drive Racism And Inequality

New York Times Op-Ed:  It’s Time to End the Quiet Cruelty of Property Taxes, by Andrew W. Kahrl (Virginia; Author,  The Black Tax: 150 Years of Theft, Exploitation, and Dispossession in America (University of Chicago Press 2024)):

Black Tax CoverProperty taxes, the lifeblood of local governments and school districts, are among the most powerful and stealthy engines of racism and wealth inequality our nation has ever produced. And while the Biden administration has offered many solutions for making the tax code fairer, it has yet to effectively tackle a problem that has resulted not only in the extraordinary overtaxation of Black and Latino homeowners but also in the worsening of disparities between wealthy and poorer communities. Fixing these problems requires nothing short of a fundamental re-examination of how taxes are distributed.

In theory, the property tax would seem to be an eminently fair one: The higher the value of your property, the more you pay. The problem with this system is that the tax is administered by local officials who enjoy a remarkable degree of autonomy and that tax rates are typically based on the collective wealth of a given community. This results in wealthy communities enjoying lower effective tax rates while generating more tax revenues; at the same time, poorer ones are forced to tax property at higher effective rates while generating less in return. As such, property assessments have been manipulated throughout our nation’s history to ensure that valuable property is taxed the least relative to its worth and that the wealthiest places will always have more resources than poorer ones.

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April 15, 2024 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, April 14, 2024

NY Times & WSJ Book Reviews: Enslaved Christians And The Making Of The Bible

Wall Street Journal Book Review: The Bible’s Hidden Contributors, by Peter Thonemann (Oxford) (reviewing Candida Ross (University of Birmingham), God's Ghostwriters: Enslaved Christians and the Making of the Bible (2024)):

God's Ghostwriters“The stupid, the lowborn, the gullible; slaves, women, and children.” For the second-century pagan writer Celsus, it was easy to sneer at the adherents of the new Christian faith as a basket of deplorables. Still, insults often contain a grain of truth. In his point-by-point rebuttal of Celsus’ anti-Christian polemic a century or so later, the theologian Origen doesn’t dispute this particular charge. Yes, the lowborn, the uneducated, the marginalized were indeed at the core of the Christian mission: That was the point. Today, most theologians would accept that Celsus was right to foreground the crucial role of women in shaping the early church. In “God’s Ghostwriters,” Candida Moss attempts to make a similar case for the role of enslaved people. It is hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t find this a thrilling, if at times infuriating, book.

Ms. Moss, a professor of theology at the University of Birmingham, is the author of several spiky and provocative revisionist studies of the early church. ... In “God’s Ghostwriters,” she sets out to recover the contributions made by enslaved men and women to the development of the church in (roughly) the first two centuries after Christ.

In fact, “God’s Ghostwriters” is by far the best account we have of the roles played by enslaved people in supporting the high literary culture of the ancient world more broadly. ... Throughout antiquity, every stage of literary composition, dissemination and reception was facilitated by enslaved letter-carriers, copyists and readers. As Ms. Moss reminds us, even reading a book generally meant listening to an enslaved person, who was himself reading from a scroll copied out by another enslaved person.

“God’s Ghostwriters” makes a more radical and specific claim: that enslaved people were integral to the formation of the New Testament.

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April 14, 2024 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Sullivan Review Of Graetz's The Antitax Movement

Martin A. Sullivan, New Graetz Book Chronicles and Critiques the Antitax Movement, 182 Tax Notes Fed. 1715 (Mar. 4, 2024) (reviewing Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), The Power to Destroy: How the Antitax Movement Hijacked America (Princeton University Press 2024):

Graetz 2Micheal J. Graetz writes fact-filled books about topics that demand more attention. In The Power to Destroy — How the Antitax Movement Hijacked America, the professor emeritus at Columbia Law School and Yale Law School masterfully describes how a cast of prominent conservative politicians and pundits over the past 50 years has galvanized the American public’s deep-seated but scattershot dislike for taxation into a resilient political movement that has moved the political center of gravity to the right and the level of the national debt skyward. ...

the book is more than a detail-laden, yet mercifully compact narrative of the past half-century of tax politics. Throughout, Graetz forcefully argues that the antitax movement has been harmful — that it has “hijacked America” — implying that the United States has veered off course from what ultimately would be a better outcome. Making that case won’t win Graetz any popularity contests, if only because most of the public naturally dislikes the financial burden of tax, fears the IRS, and loathes the complexity of complying with laws they can barely understand. Moreover, Graetz can expect that antitax movement thought leaders will respond to his critique with various policy arguments. Let’s play the role of devil’s advocate and briefly explore whether the book adequately addresses those arguments. ...

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March 21, 2024 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Purpose: What Evolution And Human Nature Imply About The Meaning Of Our Existence

Publisher's Weekly, Samuel T. Wilkinson: Humans are Meaningful by Design:

Purpose 2Imagine a book about God with no pronouns for the deity. No mention of Jesus, heaven, hell, or salvation. Is it an atheist's dream? Not really. It's a debut trade book by a psychiatrist who embraces the science of evolution with an asterisk*. The * is that evolution is actually God in action—creating humans right down to their very DNA to know and love God and each other—says Samuel T. Wilkinson [Yale], the author of Purpose: What Evolution and Human Nature Imply About the Meaning of Our Existence (Pegasus Books, Mar. 5, 2024).

Wilkinson is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University, where he also serves as associate director of the Yale Depression Research Program and has won awards for academic writings in his field. His viewpoint in the book, however, was shaped by his medical studies, his own struggle to reconcile science, the faith instilled in him as a follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and his life as the married father of five children. Yet no specific religious denomination or philosophy, East or West, and no theological stance gets mentioned in his book. Everyone fits in.

"I didn't want to leave anyone out," he tells PW. "The primary audience for the book is people who think there is something more in life — whether that is a specific belief in the New Testament God or a sense that we are not here by accident." He expresses in the book that he has observed a pervading climate of distrust, fear, cynicism, and disconnection among people, which he attributes to "a loss of faith in a benevolent God. A loss of faith in the goodness of humanity. A loss of faith in an absolute purpose and meaning to our existence," he writes.

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March 10, 2024 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times: Biblical Beauty, Human Evil, And The Idea Of Israel

New York Times: Marilynne Robinson on Biblical Beauty, Human Evil and the Idea of Israel, by Ezra Klein:

RobinsonMarilynne Robinson is one of the great living novelists. She has won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Humanities Medal, and Barack Obama took time out of his presidency to interview her at length. Her fiction is suffused with a sense of holiness: Mundane images like laundry drying on a line seem to be illuminated by a divine force. Whether she’s telling the story of a pastor confronting his mortality in “Gilead” or two sisters coming of age in small-town Idaho in “Housekeeping,” her novels wrestle with theological questions of what it means to be human, to see the world more deeply, to seek meaning in life.

In recent years, Robinson has tightened the links between her literary pursuits and her Christianity, writing essays about Calvinism and other theological traditions. Her forthcoming work of nonfiction is Reading Genesis [Mar. 12, 2024]  a close reading of the first book of the Old Testament (or the Torah, as I grew up knowing it). It’s a countercultural reading in many respects — one that understands the God in Genesis as merciful rather than vengeful and humans as flawed but capable of astounding acts of grace. No matter one’s faith, Robinson unearths wisdom in this core text that applies to many questions we wrestle with today.

We discuss the virtues evoked in Genesis — beauty, forgiveness and hospitality — and how to cultivate what Robinson calls “a mind that’s schooled toward good attention.” And we end on her reading of the story of Israel, which I found to be challenging, moving and evocative at a time when that nation has been front and center in the news.

New York Times:  No One Has Ever Read Genesis Like This, by Francis Spufford:

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March 10, 2024 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Jordan Peterson, God, And Christianity

Religion News Service, Jordan Peterson Wrestles With God:

We Who Wrestle Book CoverIn a new lecture tour to support a forthcoming book, the psychologist and public intellectual hews ever closer to Christianity, tantalizing fans who take their cues on converting from his secular but religiously curious thought.

Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian psychologist, bestselling author and champion of manhood, strode back and forth across the stage at the historic Providence Performing Arts Center in early February, matching the theater’s ornate decoration with one of his characteristically flamboyant suits — a color-blocked navy, white and orange number with yellow lining.

As he paced, his speech sometimes resembled an altar call, other times borrowed the intellectual heft of a Catholic college lecture, and at one point offered a secular, pop psychological argument for the existence of God:

Nonbelievers, he told the crowd in Providence, wrestle with God as believers do: when they’re morally outraged at suffering in the world. “That’s an emotional argument,” he said. “And it’s the kind of emotional argument that you would mount against someone that you are in relationship with.”

Peterson was in town to kick off his 51-city “We Who Wrestle With God” tour, in advance of his new book of the same name. The “we” in the tour’s title is the closest the former University of Toronto psychology professor and YouTube star has come to admitting his own belief in the God of the Bible.

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February 25, 2024 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, February 18, 2024

NY Times Op-Ed: Finding God Through The Divine Language Of Mathematics

New York Times Op-Ed: Math Is the Answer to More Than One Question, by Alec Wilkinson (Author, A Divine Language: Learning Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus at the Edge of Old Age) (2023):

Divine LanguageI am surprised at this late stage, in my 70s, to be thinking about God. In my defense, I might say that I did not arrive at these thoughts by reflecting on my own inevitable end or from a religion or a Scripture or the example of a holy figure. I arrived by means of mathematics, specifically simple mathematics — algebra, geometry and calculus, the kind of mathematics that adolescents do.

Several years ago, I decided that I needed to know something of mathematics, a subject that had roughed me up cruelly as a boy. I believed that not knowing mathematics had limited my ability to think and solve problems and to see the world in complex ways, and I thought that if I understood even a little of it, I would be smarter. My acquaintance with mathematics is still slight. I am only a mathematical tourist, but my experience has led me to believe that mathematics is rife with intimations of a divine presence.

This is no observation of my own. Mathematicians have been finding suggestions of divinity in mathematics at least since Pythagoras, in the sixth century B.C. For many mathematicians, there is no question that God is somehow involved. Newton, for example, believed that mathematics exemplified thoughts in the mind of God. ...

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February 18, 2024 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Graetz: The Power to Destroy: How The Antitax Movement Hijacked America

Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), The Power to Destroy: How the Antitax Movement Hijacked America (Feb. 13, 2024 Princeton University Press):

Graetz 2The postwar United States enjoyed large, widely distributed economic rewards—and most Americans accepted that taxes were a reasonable price to pay for living in a society of shared prosperity. Then in 1978 California enacted Proposition 13, a property tax cap that Ronald Reagan hailed as a “second American Revolution,” setting off an antitax, antigovernment wave that has transformed American politics and economic policy. In The Power to Destroy, Michael Graetz tells the story of the antitax movement and how it holds America hostage—undermining the nation’s ability to meet basic needs and fix critical problems.

In 1819, Chief Justice John Marshall declared that the power to tax entails “the power to destroy.” But The Power to Destroy argues that tax opponents now wield this destructive power. Attacking the IRS, protecting tax loopholes, and pushing tax cuts from Reagan to Donald Trump, the antitax movement is threatening the nation’s social safety net, increasing inequality, ballooning the national debt, and sapping America’s financial strength. The book chronicles how the movement originated as a fringe enterprise promoted by zealous outsiders using false economic claims and thinly veiled racist rhetoric, and how—abetted by conservative media and Grover Norquist’s “taxpayer protection pledge”—it evolved into a mainstream political force.

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February 13, 2024 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, February 11, 2024

WSJ: Abraham Lincoln’s Unchurched Faith

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  Abraham Lincoln’s Unchurched Faith, by Allen C. Guelzo (Princeton; Author, Our Ancient Faith: Lincoln, Democracy, and the American Experiment (2024)):

Lincoln 3The First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Ill., opened in 1876, but its most famous congregant never crossed the church’s threshold. Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with First Presbyterian dates to an earlier location, across town, and it was by no means an easy connection. ...

John G. Bergen, a Presbyterian missionary, arrived in 1828 and two years later had built his first church.

Bergen led the congregation until 1848, when it had grown to some 500 members. By then it had also suffered its first division. Presbyterians are the heirs of the 16th-century Protestant reformer John Calvin, who organized churches around the leadership of presbyters, or elders. The most prominent feature of Calvinist Presbyterians is their belief in God’s providential control of all human affairs and, concomitantly, the “predestination” of saints to salvation. They were also known for their resistance to royal authority in England. John Witherspoon, the only active clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence, was Presbyterian. ...

Lincoln moved to Springfield in 1837. He admitted he’d “never been to church” there and “probably shall not be soon.” He had been raised in a devout Baptist family and even imbibed a strong dose of Calvinist teaching on predestination, but rebelled nevertheless. By the time he arrived to town, Lincoln had a reputation as an “infidel” and “was skeptical as to the great truths of the Christian religion.” Even after he married Mary Todd—a niece of one of First Presbyterian’s founders—neither he nor she made any motion to join a Springfield church.

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February 11, 2024 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

WSJ: You Don’t Have To Be A Jerk To Succeed In Law And Life

Following up on my previous post, A No-Jerks Rule Can Make Your Business (And Law School) Thrive:  Wall Street Journal Saturday Essay, You Don’t Have to Be a Jerk to Succeed, by Yascha Mounk (Johns Hopkins; Google Scholar; Author, The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time (2023)):

The JerkThe message sent by popular culture is clear: If you want to get ahead, you’d better be a jerk.

Take one of the most celebrated shows of the moment: “Succession,” which just won the Emmy for best television drama for the third year in a row. In the series, everyone is a jerk to everyone else all of the time. ...

Everyone who has ever worked in an office knows the type: The go-getter who is desperate to rise through the ranks and is perfectly willing to act like a complete jerk to do so. He—and, yes, it usually is a he—constantly talks up his own accomplishments. He belittles his colleagues. Perhaps he even refuses certain tasks that are assigned to him because he considers them to be below his true level of talent or seniority or qualification.

The office jerk’s core assumption—whether conscious or unconscious—is very simple: A lot of powerful people are jerks. I want to be powerful. So I should act like a jerk. But is the assumption that being a jerk will make you successful actually true? ...

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February 11, 2024 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, February 4, 2024

WSJ: Lessons In Leadership From The Hebrew Bible

Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview, Lessons in Leadership From the Hebrew Bible:

Providence and PowerAmerica’s political class isn’t at its best. Public life lately seems to consist mainly of self-generated disasters, easily preventable crises and media-driven hysteria. Political leaders behave like spoiled children, outrage the public to no purpose, and loudly champion ideas they know to be infeasible. Worst of all are the decisions apparently calculated to achieve the opposite of their stated goals: pandemic measures that didn’t mitigate the virus and shredded the social fabric and inflicted lasting damage on children; climate regulations that punish the poor and working class but don’t affect the climate; a military withdrawal so poorly planned that it provokes a new war; billions sent to a regime that funds genocidal attacks on an American ally; ill-advised, sometimes cockamamie prosecutions of a former president that make him more likely to regain the presidency.

Do our educated VIPs and powerbrokers have the slightest idea what they’re doing? Do they care?

So aggressively counterproductive has the country’s political leadership become that one feels the need of a metaphysical explanation to make sense of it all. That was my thought when I read Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik’s Providence and Power: Ten Portraits in Jewish Statesmanship. ... The book doesn’t address today’s political controversies, but it suggests ways to think about the deeply perverse unwisdom into which so many American political leaders appear to have fallen. ...

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February 4, 2024 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, December 31, 2023

NY Times & WSJ Book Reviews: Zero At The Bone — 50 Entries On Faith, Death, And Suffering

Hamilton Cain (Author, This Boy’s Faith: Notes From a Southern Baptist Upbringing), ‘Zero at the Bone’ Review: Writing Against Darkness (reviewing Christian Wiman (Yale Divinity School), Zero at the Bone: 50 Entries Against Despair (2023)):

Zero at the BoneThe challenge of measuring the commands of religious belief against the unavoidable state of mortality and suffering goes back at least as far as Job. For years the Yale theologian and poet Christian Wiman has grappled with a cancer diagnosis and a difficult prognosis, white-knuckling through a rollercoaster of chemotherapy and pneumonias, turning to faith and family for anchorage, his notebook for emotional ballast. His medical travails are the backdrop to “Zero at the Bone: 50 Entries Against Despair,” an ardent if pious and uneven pastiche of personal anecdote, criticism, his own poetry and (many) quotes from other luminaries.

Mr. Wiman’s despair is existential, but writing, he hopes, may be the antidote. As he notes in a prologue, “I want to write a book true to the storm of forms and needs, the intuitions and impossibilities, that I feel myself to be.” And there’s the rub: The writer peers into a glass darkly, searching for God, but his own reflection stares back.

The zero in the title is oblivion, or, as Mr. Wiman describes it in one aside, “the death of all human endeavor . . . the Great No that nibbles at consciousness.” It’s this dread of death and the obliteration of consciousness that binds religions and ancestor worship across millennia. The subtitle underscores the book’s structure while also evoking Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair,” suggesting that Mr. Wiman’s literary pedigree will loom large. ...

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December 31, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Keep Complaining to God. Just Don’t Ignore Him.

Christianity Today Op-Ed:  Keep Complaining to God. Just Don’t Ignore Him., by Drew Dyck (adapted from Just Show Up: How Small Acts of Faithfulness Change Everything (2023):

Just Show UpIf you’re a Christian for long enough, you’ll notice that something sad starts to happen. A lot of the people who started the journey with you end up walking away.

They leave for various reasons and go out different doors. Some leave loudly, announcing that they no longer believe in God. Others drift away without so much as a whisper.

I wrote my first book on 20-somethings who shed their Christian identity. They had lots of reasons for leaving. Many were hurt by other Christians. Some were drawn to behaviors that were incompatible with Christian beliefs. Others were plagued by doubt. The interesting thing to me is that some of the most faithful Christians I know have experienced identical challenges.

What explains why some leave while others stay? Sometimes the only difference I could see is what they did with their trials. The first group ran away from God while the second ran toward him. Instead of letting doubt and disappointment fester in darkness, they dragged it into the light. They joined the great biblical tradition of prophets who expressed their grievances to God, often in harsh and accusatory language.

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December 31, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Inazu: GenXers And Evangelical Culture

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), GenXers and Evangelical Culture:

TestimonyToday’s post is a Q&A with Jon Ward, the chief national correspondent at Yahoo! News, and the author of Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Failed a Generation (2023).

John Inazu: Testimony is a very personal book that also enlists your journalistic gifts and training. Can you describe how you approached this kind of writing? What were the biggest surprises and the biggest challenges along the way?

Jon Ward: I’d wanted to write about my upbringing for a long time, for many years. I’d always been analyzing it, even as I lived it. I knew there was something that felt deeply, fundamentally wrong with the way I was taught to think and live. Perhaps the better way to say it was that I was taught how to not think and not live. But I also knew that there was something fiercely real that had happened to my parents and their generation in the 1970s. And I experienced good things growing up in church, of course, too. Most of the people there were good people. Or at least many were. ...

JI: Much of this book is about your own upbringing. One theme that emerges from your account of the church of your youth is how much the people your parents age wanted to build and cultivate an environment in which their kids could be deeply—and perhaps I should add, safely—formed into Christian faith. As a parent myself, I have some empathy for that desire. At the same time, I’ve been around a lot of Christian institutions that channel these concerns into fears and anxieties. Is there a way to be intentionally formational without being fearful or controlling?

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December 31, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, December 10, 2023

NY Times Op-Ed: The Power Of Faith At 1:00 A.M.

New York Times Op-Ed:  The Mystical Catholic Tradition of Jon Fosse, by Christopher Beha:

SeptologyI came to the work of the Norwegian writer Jon Fosse — who receives the Nobel Prize in Literature this week — by way of “,” a novel cycle that began appearing in English just a few years ago.

I’d been told by more than one person I trust that “Septology was Fosse’s masterpiece, but I will admit to a personal reason for finally picking up a writer I’d been meaning to read for many years. In quick succession about a decade ago, Fosse married (for the third time), quit drinking, and converted to Catholicism. “Septology” was the first thing he wrote after these life-altering events, and they are all reflected in its pages. So “Septology” was recommended to me not just as a great literary novel but as a great Catholic literary novel, and I have a special interest in the genre.

As it happens, I also married (for the first time), quit drinking, and converted to Catholicism in quick succession about a decade ago. (In my case, this “conversion” was a return to the faith in which I’d been raised.) I’m a novelist myself, though not nearly so prolific or distinguished as Fosse, and my writing life is linked to my religious life in ways that remain fairly mysterious to me. Given all this, it may seem overdetermined that “Septology” would feel from its very first pages as if it were written especially for me, but many readers who do not share these autobiographical affinities have reported the same reaction. ...

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December 10, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, November 20, 2023

Schizer Presents How To Save The World In Six Steps — Bringing Out The Best In Nonprofits Today At San Diego

David M. Schizer (Columbia) will be discussing How to Save the World in Six (Not So Easy) Steps: Bringing Out the Best in Nonprofits (2023) at a book event today at San Diego (RSVP here): 

How to Save the World 2The U.S. has over 1.5 million nonprofits, which touch our lives in countless ways. The finest are inspiring, but unfortunately, too many let us down. Luckily, there’s a solution. How to Save the World in Six (Not So Easy) Steps by expert scholar and nonprofit leader David M. Schizer is the ultimate management book for nonprofit professionals, board members, and donors.

Since the goal of nonprofits is to advance their mission—not to make money—performance can be difficult to assess. Schizer explains how this fundamental challenge makes it harder to expose unwise and self-interested choices, resolve conflicts, and evolve with the times.

In response, nonprofits need to do two challenging things really well: figure out the best way to advance the mission, and then build support for it. With entertaining anecdotes from his many years leading Columbia Law School and international humanitarian organization JDC, as well as interviews with an all-star cast of nonprofit leaders, Schizer explains how to accomplish these twin goals with the “six Ps”:

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November 20, 2023 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Was Abraham Lincoln A Christian?

Following up on my previous post, Abraham Lincoln’s Use Of The Bible In His Second Inaugural Address:  Christianity Today Book Review:  America’s ‘First Evangelical President’ Might Not Have Been a Christian at All, by Robert Tracy McKenzie (Wheaton College), (reviewing Gordon Leidner, Abraham Lincoln and the Bible (2023) & Joshua Zeitz, Lincoln's God: How Faith Transformed a President and a Nation (2023)):

Lincoln BooksTwo new books probe the mysteries of Abraham Lincoln’s public and private relationship to religion.

If Abraham Lincoln still matters to Americans in the 21st century—and he does—a major reason is that there’s much at stake politically in how we remember him. This is as true of Lincoln’s religious beliefs as for any other part of his life. In a nation deeply divided over the proper role of religion in the public square, it makes a difference whether our greatest president was a religious skeptic or an orthodox Christian, a devotee of Thomas Paine or a disciple of Jesus.

The debate began almost immediately upon his death. Although Lincoln had never joined a church, Christians typically insisted on his devout faith. Although the late president had quoted extensively from the Bible, non-Christians protested that he doubted much of what it said.

Professional historians joined the debate in the first half of the last century, but they haven’t resolved it. There are outliers, but most agree that by the time of his presidency, Lincoln was not an atheist, if he ever had been. Most agree, as well, that he was almost certainly not an orthodox Christian, if by that we mean someone able to assent wholly to one of the major Christian confessions. It’s been difficult to determine beyond this, thanks to limitations in the surviving evidence.

After his death, countless acquaintances claimed intimate knowledge of the state of Lincoln’s soul, but these testimonies are hopelessly contradictory and their objectivity is doubtful. In addition, Lincoln’s voluminous personal papers are characterized by a pervasive, seemingly intentional ambiguity. Lincoln scholars all acknowledge that he used biblical language, but the questions of why he alluded to the Bible and how much of it he believed remain unanswered—and are probably unanswerable. 

And yet we persist in asking these questions, as two major new studies of Lincoln’s religion attest.

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November 19, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Shaviro: The Rise (And Fall?) Of Neoliberalism In Tax

Daniel Shaviro (NYU; Google Scholar), The Rise (and Fall?) Of Neoliberalism in Tax (JOTWELL) (reviewing J. Bradford DeLong (UC-Berkeley; Google Scholar), Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century (2022).

SlouchingBradford DeLong’s career opus, Slouching Towards Utopia, is a very long — although, in my view, consistently illuminating and entertaining — work of economic history that only very briefly, for a few pages here and there, touches on the history of taxation. Why, then, do I regard it as offering a highly suitable subject for a Jotwell Tax column?

The broader answer to this question is that historical context is vital to understanding tax (like other) institutions and ideas and yet often is ignored, other than by tax historians. The narrower answer, illustrating this broad proposition, pertains to the particular context of the great intellectual shifts that have occurred over the last thirty-plus years, not just in legal academic thinking, including in tax, but in American intellectual and political life more generally.

Slouching Towards Utopia concerns what DeLong calls the “long twentieth century,” which he views as having run from roughly 1870 to 2010. He argues that these 140 years were “the most consequential of all humanity’s centuries” (P. 1), above all because — despite disasters along the way, such as two world wars and the Great Depression — they featured startlingly high rates of annual per capita economic growth. During this period, he estimates that annual growth averaged 2.1 percent per year, as opposed to 0.45 percent over previous centuries (P. 3), and perhaps 0.6 percent in the years since 2010 (P. 516). This rapid growth rate triggered a more than an eightfold increase in world income per capita from the beginning to the end of the “long century” — despite an immense concomitant rate of population increase — transforming everyday life around the world for the (at least materially) better, by reducing dire poverty and allowing luxury goods to be widely available, rather than being limited to people at the top of the income distribution.

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October 31, 2023 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Surprising Rebirth Of Belief In God: Why New Atheism Grew Old And Secular Thinkers Are Considering Christianity Again

Following up on last Sunday's post, America Doesn’t Need More God. It Needs More Atheists.: Christianity Today, Secular Figures Are Giving Faith a Second Look (reviewing Justin Brierley, The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God: Why New Atheism Grew Old and Secular Thinkers Are Considering Christianity Again (Foreword by N. T. Wright) (2023)):

RebirthOn one recent weekday evening, I was sitting in a circle in a concrete garage praying Compline, a traditional nighttime liturgy, by candlelight. Within our small intentional community in London, we often recite these strange, rhythmic old sentences stitched together from the Psalms.

Our visitors, though, likely found them unfamiliar. Around the flickering flames, I could see a philosopher, a Marxist (and polyamorous) political theorist, a prominent feminist, a historian of ideas, and a columnist for a major magazine. None of them would call themselves Christians, but all had willingly chosen to join this nightly ritual.

Justin Brierley’s new book, The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God, names this phenomenon, which I have experienced for several years: a new openness to spiritual matters among those we might have thought hostile. Brierley, until recently, hosted the long-standing apologetics radio program Unbelievable?, which has welcomed many serious public intellectuals. Having witnessed numerous debates between those inside and outside the church, he reports a dramatic “change in tone and substance.”

A century and a half after the poet Matthew Arnold heard the “long withdrawing roar” of the sea of faith, Brierley opens with a provocative observation: Seas don’t withdraw forever. The tides go out, and then they come back in. Brierley is betting the sea is on the turn.

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October 29, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Book Review: Rumors Of The Death Of BigLaw Are Greatly Exaggerated

W. Bradley Wendel (Cornell; Google Scholar), Rumors of the Death of BigLaw Are Greatly Exaggerated (reviewing Mitt Regan (Georgetown) & Lisa H. Rohrer (Boston University), BigLaw: Money and Meaning in the Modern Law Firm (University of Chicago Press 2021)): 

Big Law Money and MeaningMany legal profession scholars have predicted the decline, or even demise, of large law firms. But not only are they still with us, they are flourishing. Drawing from hundreds of interviews with firm partners, Mitt Regan and Lisa Rohrer offer a sophisticated explanation of the resilience of this form of organizing the delivery of legal services. Regan and Rohrer see firm managers as trying to solve a Prisoner’s Dilemma and Assurance Game in light of the risk that partners with a substantial book of business may exit the firm and take their clients to another firm. Financial and non-financial rewards, many of which are within the control of firm management, provide firm-specific capital that keep partners committed to their existing firms and prevent their defection on the lateral market. Regan and Rohrer argue that they have identified a distinctive ethical conception of lawyering associated with BigLaw that combines business logic and the logic of professionalism. This Review considers the relationship between large firm structure and compensation practices and some competing conceptions of ethical lawyering.

BigLaw is not for everyone. Regan and Rohrer do not say much about the perennial problem of work-life balance, but a few reported comments by lawyers show that families, relationships, hobbies, and even getting enough sleep are interests that must be subordinated to the firm and its clients:

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October 11, 2023 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Leipold Reviews Hamilton's Roadmap: The Law Student’s Guide To Meaningful Employment

James G. Leipold (Senior Advisor, Law School Admission Council), There Are No Shortcuts, But the Road Is Getting Shorter (reviewing Neil Hamilton (St. Thomas-MN; Google Scholar), Roadmap: The Law Student’s Guide to Meaningful Employment (ABA Books 3d ed. 2023)):

RoadmapNeil Hamilton continues to distill his roadmap for law students into ever more streamlined guidance on how to transform themselves from law students to fully fledged lawyers.

Hamilton’s third edition of his Roadmap: The Law Student’s Guide to Meaningful Employment (ABA Books, summer 2023), is a complete revision of the second edition, wherein he has wisely condensed the work from 224 pages to fewer than 50 pages to make it even more accessible to busy law students.

This new work is more akin to a workbook, with short sections of text followed by templates that law students can readily use and adapt for their own purposes, and frankly, templates that law school career services professionals can readily use and adapt for their own purposes.

The central mission of the workbook is to guide students through four essential developmental practices that are indispensable steps on the successful journey from student to professional. ...

Roadmap is a generous contribution to both law students and the law student professional identity formation movement. Hamilton and his colleagues at the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota, namely Jerry Organ and Louis Bilionis, have been generous in sharing their important work with the legal education community.

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October 7, 2023 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, September 24, 2023

McCaulley: The Streets Sent Me to the Pulpit

Christianity Today Op-Ed:  The Streets Sent Me to the Pulpit, by Esau McCaulley (Wheaton; Author, How Far to the Promised Land: One Black Family's Story of Hope and Survival in the American South (Sept. 2023):

How FarMy sophomore year of high school, I met a girl at a party. We talked on the phone for a few weeks before finally setting a date to meet up again. She lived in the Lincoln Park projects in Huntsville, Alabama. I relied on her directions when I drove to pick her up, but I couldn’t find her house. Before giving up, I decided to get out and walk, in case she spotted me.

That was a mistake. The locals noticed my car circling their block, and a group of young men came over. One of them asked, “Who are you?” His tone invited con­frontation: You have stepped into my territory. Why are you here? ...

At 16, I was a mix of compet­ing visions and possibilities, with nothing to tie them to­gether. What came next surprised even me.

“I am a Christian,” I responded.

If breath and sound could be chased down, I would have run after my words and dragged them back inside my mouth. But it was too late. I had spoken.

The boys were shocked. I could see it on their faces. They’d wanted me to say I wasn’t from there so they could be justified in resorting to violence. But to hear they were in the presence of a church kid must have thrown them off-balance. In response, they laughed and walked away.

My friends and I used to say, If you scared, go to church—meaning faith was for the weak and the cowardly who found street life too much for them. But it wasn’t fear of a violent outcome that had motivated my confession. I’d had a moment of God-given clarity. ...

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September 24, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Wheaton College Releases Report On Its History Of Racism

Christianity Today, Wheaton College Releases Report on Its History of Racism:

Wheaton Wheaton College embraced racist attitudes that “created an inhospitable and sometimes hostile campus environment for persons of color,” according to a a 122 page review of the school’s history released by trustees today.

Though the flagship evangelical institution was founded by abolitionists, over the next century and a half it turned away from concerns about racial equality. Even when the school’s leadership knew what was right, they frequently lacked the courage to “take a more vocal role in opposing widespread forms of racism and white supremacy,” the report says, and too often “chose to stay silent, equivocate, or do nothing” about racial injustice.

“We cannot be healed and cannot be reconciled unless and until we repent,” the task force concluded at the end of an 18-month study. “These sins constituted a failure of Christian love; denied the dignity of people made in the image of God; created deep and painful barriers between Christian brothers and sisters; tarnished our witness to the gospel; and prevented us from displaying more fully the beautiful diversity of God’s kingdom.”

President Philip Ryken told CT he believes the report is important and he’s glad the college will be making it publicly available.

“The record of the people of God, in so many ways, is a record of their failures as well as their successes,” he said. “I think we can be more effective in living for Jesus Christ today if we’re aware of the challenges that our brothers and sisters have faced in the past and how they have responded to the challenges and opportunities of their day.”

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September 24, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 10, 2023

WSJ: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord Of The Rings, And The Bible

Wall Street Journal, Tolkien’s Biblical Epic:

TolkienIf, in the 1930s, someone had sought to predict the bestselling English author of the 20th century, they probably would not have selected the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who died 50 years ago on Sept. 2, 1973, spent his entire professional life in the academy, yet his impact on the world reached far beyond the ivory tower. His Lord of the Rings series of novels, which launched the modern genre of fantasy literature, have sold over 150 million copies and served as the source material for the wildly successful films of Peter Jackson.

Tolkien’s fame began with a much lighter work, The Hobbit, published in 1937. A book for children, it is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a lazy creature who is suddenly startled into alacrity by a visiting wizard and an entourage of dwarves that recruit him to join their invasion of a dragon’s den. Along the way, Bilbo acquires a useful ring that allows him to turn invisible, a magical device essential to the triumph of his quest. ...

To understand the enduring enchantment of Tolkien’s works, one must comprehend a central feature of his life that the 2019 biopic Tolkien largely chose to ignore: his Catholic faith.

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September 10, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, August 27, 2023

NY Times Op-Ed: America Is Losing Religious Faith

New York Times Op-Ed:  America Is Losing Religious Faith, by Nicholas Kristof:

Great DechurchingWhile much of the rest of the industrialized world has become more secular over the last half-century, the United States has appeared to be an exception.

Politicians still end their speeches with “God bless America.” At least until recently, more Americans believed in the virgin birth of Jesus (66 percent) than in evolution (54 percent).

Yet evidence is growing that Americans are becoming significantly less religious. They are drifting away from churches, they are praying less and they are less likely to say religion is very important in their lives. For the first time in Gallup polling, only a minority of adults in the United States belong to a church, synagogue or mosque. (Most of the research is on Christians because they account for roughly 90 percent of believers in the United States.)

“We are currently experiencing the largest and fastest religious shift in the history of our country,” Jim Davis and Michael Graham write in a book published this week, The Great Dechurching: Who’s Leaving, Why Are They Going, and What Will It Take to Bring Them Back?.

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August 27, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Buchanan Reviews Stewart's Tax & Government In The 21st Century

Neil Buchanan (Florida; Google Scholar), Gender Issues in the Modern Tax State (JOTWELL) (reviewing Miranda Stewart (Melbourne), Tax & Government in the 21st Century (Cambridge University Press 2022)):

Tax & GovernmentWhy are gender and unpaid work issues continually marginalized in tax policy analysis? After all, feminist legal theorists have spent at least two generations trying to address questions that should be at the center of any analysis of government policy, no matter one’s political priors. People who want to turn the clock back to a 1950’s-style gendered hierarchy, for example, surely would want to know that their version of utopia (which, to be clear, I find positively dystopian) cannot possibly be created without understanding how government taxation and spending policies change people’s decisions about marriage and divorce, child-bearing and -rearing, the challenges of poverty (both sudden and chronic), and so on. Progressives are typically more aware of those connections, but somehow the “tax is different” mantra prevents many people from seeing that gender justice and tax justice are inseparable.

Miranda Stewart, a professor of tax law at the University of Melbourne, has long carried on important work to bring these issues to the fore. Her latest book, Tax & Government in the 21st Century, is a masterwork that covers the full range of issues that confront us, from savings and wealth, to corporate and business taxation, to the global digital economy, and every important issue in between.

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August 22, 2023 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Berg: Religious Liberty Doesn’t Have To Make Polarization Worse

Christianity Today Op-Ed:  Religious Liberty Doesn’t Have to Make Polarization Worse, by Thomas C. Berg (St. Thomas-MN; Author, Religious Liberty in a Polarized Age (Emory University Studies in Law and Religion July 2023)):

Religious LibertyAmericans support religious liberty—in general. But they are deeply polarized about how far the natural and constitutional right of individuals to respond to their conceptions of the divine should extend. And unfortunately, Americans tend to be reluctant to extend religious liberty broadly to views they find unsympathetic.

I think that’s sad. Religious liberty is for everyone and should be cherished by all. It’s also ironic, as I argue in my new book, Religious Liberty in a Polarized Age, because historically, the central social purpose of religious liberty was to reduce the fear and anger people feel when they’re threatened with penalties for living according to their religious commitments.

Americans support religious liberty—in general. But they are deeply polarized about how far the natural and constitutional right of individuals to respond to their conceptions of the divine should extend. And unfortunately, Americans tend to be reluctant to extend religious liberty broadly to views they find unsympathetic.

I think that’s sad. Religious liberty is for everyone and should be cherished by all. It’s also ironic, as I argue in my new book, Religious Liberty in a Polarized Age, because historically, the central social purpose of religious liberty was to reduce the fear and anger people feel when they’re threatened with penalties for living according to their religious commitments.

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August 20, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Legal Singularity: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Law Radically Better

Abdi Aidid (Assistant Professor, University of Toronto Faculty of Law; Specialist, Legal Innovation, Blue J Legal) & Benjamin Alarie (Osler Chair in Business Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law; CEO, Blue J Legal), The Legal Singularity: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Law Radically Better (University of Toronto Press 2023):

Legal Singularity (Wide)Law today is incomplete, inaccessible, unclear, underdeveloped, and often perplexing to those whom it affects. In The Legal Singularity, Abdi Aidid and Benjamin Alarie argue that the proliferation of artificial intelligence–enabled technology — and specifically the advent of legal prediction — is on the verge of radically reconfiguring the law, our institutions, and our society for the better.

Revealing the ways in which our legal institutions underperform and are expensive to administer, the book highlights the negative social consequences associated with our legal status quo. Given the infirmities of the current state of the law and our legal institutions, the silver lining is that there is ample room for improvement. With concerted action, technology can help us to ameliorate the problems of the law and improve our legal institutions. Inspired in part by the concept of the "technological singularity," The Legal Singularity presents a future state in which technology facilitates the functional "completeness" of law, where the law is at once extraordinarily more complex in its specification than it is today, and yet operationally, the law is vastly more knowable, fairer, and clearer for its subjects. Aidid and Alarie describe the changes that will culminate in the legal singularity and explore the implications for the law and its institutions.

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August 17, 2023 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Ed Tech, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, August 6, 2023

The Awakened Brain: Faith Makes You Happier And Healthier

NPR, This Ivy League Researcher Says Spirituality Is Good For Our Mental Health:

The Awakened Brain 3[A]ccording to Lisa Miller, a professor in the Clinical Psychology Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, having a spiritual life is good for your mental health.

Miller is a psychologist and has dedicated most of her career to the study of neuroscience and spirituality. Her newest book is called The Awakened Brain, and in it she makes some really bold claims about how holding spiritual beliefs can decrease our rates of anxiety and depression and generally make us most likely to lead happier lives. I can hear your skepticism already! I get it. I'm a spiritually inclined kind of person but it's still hard for me to understand how, scientifically speaking, believing in something bigger than yourself can make you healthier and happier. ...

Lisa Miller:  I thought a mental health system minus spirituality made no sense, and that became my life's work, to understand the place of spirituality in renewal, in recovery, in resilience, and to put this in the language of science. ...

If I were to characterize the first five years of my investigation, I would say I used the data sets that everyone else knew and trusted. I only asked one new question, which was: "What's the impact of spirituality on the DSM diagnosis of addiction and depression?" The findings were jaw dropping.

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August 6, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: Losing Our Religion — An Altar Call For Evangelical America

New York Times Op-Ed:  The State of Evangelical America, by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

MooreThere are few evangelical Christians who have gotten as much media coverage or criticism in the last decade as Russell Moore. He previously served as the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the policy wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, and became a prominent evangelical voice opposing a Trump presidency. Moore is currently the editor in chief of Christianity Today, which The Times’s Jane Coaston called “arguably the most influential Christian publication” in the United States. I asked Moore if he would speak to me about the evangelical movement and his new book, Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Tish Harrison Warren: The subtitle of your newest book is “An Altar Call for Evangelical America.” What do you mean by “evangelical America”?

Russell Moore: What I mean by “evangelical” is people who believe in the personal aspect of what it means to be a follower of Christ. That includes the way that we understand the Bible, the way that we understand the need to be born again.

In your book, you tell a story about how an evangelical person said to their pastor: “We’ve tried to turn the other cheek. It doesn’t work. We have to fight now.” Why do certain evangelicals feel so embattled now?

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August 6, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, July 2, 2023

The Bible Does Everything Critical Theory Does, But Better

Christianity Today, The Bible Does Everything Critical Theory Does, but Better:

Biblical Critical Theory 1Many people become suspicious at the mention of critical theory, especially as it applies to controversial matters of race, gender, law, and public policy. Some see the ideologies traveling under that banner as abstruse frameworks only minimally related to real-world affairs. Others see critical theory as a ruse meant to confer unearned scholarly legitimacy on highly debatable political and cultural opinions.

Christopher Watkin, an Australian scholar on religion and philosophy, wants to reorient discussions of critical theory around Scripture’s grand narrative of redemption. In Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture, he shows how God’s Word furnishes the tools for a better, more compelling critical theory—one that harmonizes the fragmentary truths advanced by its secular alternatives. Mark Talbot, professor of philosophy at Wheaton College, spoke with Watkin about his book. ...

You mention critical race theory, which has become a flash point for some Christians and a big reason why critical theory has a bad name among them. Where do we tend to go wrong in our attitudes toward critical theory?

Critical theory does have a particularly bad name among certain groups of Christians. It also has an unusually good name among others. Both responses are problematic because Christians should not expect worldly ideology to represent either a perfect ideal for the church or the Devil incarnate.

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July 2, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, June 18, 2023

NY Times Op-Ed: My Church Was Part Of The Slave Trade. This Has Not Shaken My Faith.

New York Times Op-Ed:  My Church Was Part of the Slave Trade. This Has Not Shaken My Faith., by Rachel L. Swarns (Author, The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church (2023)):

The 272 2For more than a century, Catholic priests in Maryland held Black people in bondage. They were among the largest slaveholders in the state, and they prayed for the souls of the people they held captive even as they enslaved and sold their bodies.

So after the Civil War, the emancipated Black families that had been torn apart in sales organized by the clergymen were confronted with a choice: Should they remain in the church that had betrayed them?

Over the past seven years, I’ve pieced together the harrowing origin story of the American Catholic Church, which relied on slave labor and slave sales to sustain itself and to help finance its expansion. I am a professor and a journalist who writes about slavery and its legacies. I am also a Black woman and a practicing Catholic. As I’ve considered the choices those families faced in 1864, I have found myself pondering my faith and my church and my own place in it.

I stumbled across this story in 2016 when I got a tip about the prominent Jesuit priests who sold 272 people to raise money to save the college we now know as Georgetown University, the nation’s first Catholic institution of higher learning. Witnesses described the terrors of enslavement: children torn from their parents, brothers from their sisters and desperate people forced to board slave ships that sailed to Louisiana. It was one of the largest documented slave sales of the time, and it shattered entire families. ...

Catholic priests, who relied on slavery, did more than save Georgetown. They built the nation’s first Catholic college, the first archdiocese and the first Catholic cathedral and helped establish two of the earliest Catholic monasteries. Even the clergymen who established the first Catholic seminary relied on enslaved laborers. The inherent contradictions of praying for the souls of people held in captivity left few in leadership troubled. ... Most powerful leaders of the church supported slavery until the Union victory in the Civil War made its demise a foregone conclusion.

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June 18, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, May 29, 2023

Brooks Reviews Cui's Administrative Foundations Of The Chinese Fiscal State

Kim Brooks (Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law; Google Scholar), Where Tax Law Canno Be Found, You Will Find a Robustly-Tasked Tax Administrator (JOTWELL) (reviewing Wei Cui (British Columbia; Google Scholar), The Administrative Foundations of the Chinese Fiscal State (Cambridge University Press (2022) (reviewed by David Elkins (Netanya; Google Scholar) here)):

Jotwell (2023)The hard work that went into authoring The Administrative Foundations of the Chinese Fiscal State is palpable from the first page. Cui seeks to achieve two aims: (1) to tease out aspects of Chinese taxation of general interest to policy makers and social scientists in other countries (P. 3) and (2) to offer a new framework for understanding the policies and politics of taxation in China (P. 4). Both aims are accomplished handily.

Particularly fun for those of us who like tax administration, Cui claims that ground-level tax administration is essential to understanding the Chinese tax system. Focusing on tax administration, tax collection and revenue mobilization, allows Cui to show us something new about our own tax systems. He offers us the opportunity to see more clearly our own paradigmatic orientation: one that centres the importance of rule of law.

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May 29, 2023 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, May 28, 2023

More On The Life, Death, And Legacy Of Tim Keller

Following up on last Sunday's post, The Life, Death, And Legacy Of Tim Keller

Keller MemoriamNew York Times Op-Ed:  Tim Keller Taught Me About Joy, by David Brooks:

American evangelicalism suffers from an intellectual inferiority complex that sometimes turns into straight anti-intellectualism. But Tim could draw on a vast array of intellectual sources to argue for the existence of God, to draw piercing psychological insights from the troubling parts of Scripture or to help people through moments of suffering. His voice was warm, his observations crystal clear. We all tried to act cool around Tim, but we knew we had a giant in our midst. ...

On the cross, Tim wrote, Jesus was “putting himself into our lives — our misery, our mortality, so we could be brought into his life, his joy and immortality.” He enjoyed repeating the saying “Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” ...

His focus was not on politics but on “our own disordered hearts, wracked by inordinate desires for things that control us, that lead us to feel superior and exclude those without them, that fail to satisfy us even when we get them.” ...

He offered a radically different way. He pointed people to Jesus, and through Jesus’ example to a life of self-sacrificial service. That may seem unrealistic; doesn’t the world run on self-interest? But Tim and his wife, Kathy, wrote a wonderful book, “The Meaning of Marriage,” which in effect argued that self-sacrificial love is actually the only practical way to get what you really hunger for.

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  The Many Paradoxes of Timothy J. Keller, by Kate Bachelder Odell:

Ask anyone to name a story from the Bible, and you’ll likely get the answer David and Goliath. Most Americans know it as a tale about facing your fears, steeling yourself and prevailing against long odds. “I’m here to say that’s a shallow understanding, even a deceptive understanding, of how to read the text,” Tim Keller, minister of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, told his congregation one Sunday morning in 2015.

Keller, who died May 19 at age 72, then indicted what he called “counterfeit courage”—the modern idea that the way to overcome fear is to “visualize success.” Stoicism works only in “short-term bursts, mainly on adrenaline,” and most “of the acts of courage we most admire don’t come from self-assertion and self-confidence.”

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May 28, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, May 21, 2023

WSJ Book Review: Martin Luther King, Christian Radical

Wall Street Journal, Martin Luther King, Christian Radical, by Jonathan Eig (Author, King: A Life (2023)):

King A LifeToday, almost 1,000 cities and towns in the U.S. have streets named in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and more than 100 public schools bear his name. In Washington, D.C., a 30-foot-tall MLK memorial stands within sight of the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. And each year, in January, we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday.

But in hallowing King we have hollowed out his legacy. We remember his dream of unity and justice without deeper consideration of the radical Christianity upon which that dream was built. King’s Christianity presents a challenge to liberals, who are often uncomfortable with religion in the public square, as well as to conservatives, who are more likely to embrace religion in politics but don’t align themselves with the implications of many of King’s core beliefs.

The popular version of King’s life story holds that he grew more radical in his later years—more like Malcolm X, more antagonistic to the American government in general and to materialism and militarism in particular. But that’s an oversimplification that leads us to downplay his most challenging ideas.

King adhered to the same Christian beliefs all of his adult life, views shaped by his upbringing in the Black Baptist church and the violently racist American South. If many Americans failed to notice King’s early radicalism, it was probably because they didn’t wish to see it, or were distracted by his readiness to engage respectfully with political opponents, or because his battle against Southern segregationists presented, to many observers, a clear-cut struggle between good and evil.

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May 21, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Bernie Sanders Calls For 100% Billionaire Tax Rate: ’People Can Make It On $999 Million'

Politico, Bernie Sanders Calls For Income Over $1 Billion to be Taxed at 100%: ’People Can Make it on $999 Million:

Bernie 2Longtime wealth tax advocate Sen. Bernie Sanders has argued that all earnings above $1 billion in the U.S. should be confiscated by the government.

In an interview with HBO Max’s Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, the Vermont senator was questioned about his long-standing view that billionaires should not exist.

“Are you basically saying that once you get to $999 million, the government should confiscate all the rest?” he was asked—to which Sanders responded: “Yeah.”

“You may disagree with me, but I think people can make it on $999 million,” Sanders added. “I think that they can survive just fine.”

Earlier this year, Sanders published It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism. During Friday’s show, he responded to questions on whether billionaires could actually boost the economy by creating employment.

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May 4, 2023 in Book Club, Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Entangled Histories Of Science And Religion

Christianity Today Book Review:  Conflict Between Science and Religion Is Always Possible but Never Inevitable, by Edward J. Larson (Pepperdine; Pulitizer-Prize Winning Author, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion (Basic Books 2006)) (reviewing Nicholas Spencer, Magisteria: The Entangled Histories of Science & Religion (Oneworld Publications 2023)):

MagisteriaNicholas Spencer’s latest book, Magisteria: The Entangled Histories of Science and Religion, opens and closes with references to Stephen Jay Gould’s depiction of science and religion as nonoverlapping magisteria, or “NOMA.” By this, he meant that science is about the natural, religion the supernatural, and never the twain should meet. Each is magisterial, or authoritative, in its own domain—but not beyond it.

Gould, a popular science writer and avowed secularist, advanced this concept in 1997, at the height of America’s latest public dustup over teaching so-called creation science and intelligent design. He thought NOMA could defuse the controversy while removing religion from science education.

Neither side wholly bought NOMA then. On the one hand, proponents of secular scientism like Richard Dawkins, who want science enthroned as the arbiter of all truth in the modern mind, rejected the notion that religion is magisterial anywhere. On the other hand, theists such as the noted geneticist Francis Collins denied that religion was cordoned off from the natural world—otherwise, why would believers pray for physical (or even mental or emotional) health?

Nor does Spencer, a senior fellow at London’s Theos think tank, buy NOMA now. In Magisteria, he argues from history that science and religion are (and have always been) deeply entangled. This is nothing new. Spencer begins his book by noting that, since the 1980s, historians have uncovered a complex relationship between science and religion, and he names ten leading scholars in this enterprise. (Full disclosure: I’m listed as number six.) Spencer draws on this body of scholarship to compile a narrative history of science and religion since ancient times. His story mainly covers the Christian West but also touches on the Islamic world and the Asian context.

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April 30, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Lent: The Season Of Repentance And Renewal

Christianity Today Op-Ed:  I Met God on the Mountaintop of Ritual, by Esau McCaulley (Wheaton; Author, Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal (2022)):

McCaulleyAAs someone who came from outside the liturgical expressions of Christianity, I had a certain suspicion of the whole enterprise. I thought the liturgical tradition, with its vestments, rituals, rules, and customs, was the very thing Jesus had come to destroy. I intuited that what God wanted was a broken and contrite heart. He owned the cattle on a thousand hills; he didn’t need our formalized prayers and spiritual sacrifices. ...

The liturgical life seemed, from the outside, to stifle the Spirit. ... Jesus wanted prayers from my heart that revealed my own wrestling with God, not the repeated words of those long dead. God was, of course, on the side of the informalists and against the formalists. In the language that became omnipresent during my college years, it wasn’t about religion but relationship. Religion was shorthand for any ritual activity I was uncomfortable with.

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April 2, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, March 27, 2023

Teo Presents The United Nations In Global Tax Coordination Today At British Columbia

Nikki J. Teo (University of Sydney) presents A False Start in International Tax Coordination: The Ghost of the UN’s Past today at Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia hosted by Wei Cui (email here to attend virtually over Zoom at 6:30 PM ET): 

TeoThis talk unveils the missing history of the UN’s first attempt at international tax coordination through its Fiscal Commission (1946–1954). It dispels the prevailing myths surrounding the work of that body and reveals the heated struggles by developing countries and the UN Secretariat to negotiate and formulate more equitable international tax principles for application between developed and developing countries. This vital saga sheds light on the role of politics in shaping the international tax regime and offers insights into pressing debates about inclusiveness and multilateralism in international tax norm-setting.

The United Nations in Global Tax Coordination: Hidden History and Politics (Cambridge University Press March 2023):

The United Nations in Global Tax Coordination fills the decade-long knowledge gap in international tax history concerning the UN Fiscal Commission, which functioned as the overarching fiscal authority during the early post-World War II economic order. With insights from political economy and international relations scholarship, this critical archival examination chronicles the tenacious activism by post-colonial developing countries to preserve source taxation rights, and by the UN Secretariat in championing the development of equitable tax rules. Such activism would ultimately lead developed countries to oust the UN as a forum for international tax norm setting.

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March 27, 2023 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Brooklyn Hosts A Book Talk And Discussion Today On For-Profit Philanthropy

Brooklyn hosts a hybrid Book Talk and Discussion with Dana Brakman Reiser (Brooklyn; Google Scholar) and Steven A. Dean (Brooklyn), featuring Anne-Marie Slaughter (CEO, New America; Professor Emerita, Princeton University) on For-Profit Philanthropy: Elite Power & the Threat of Limited Liability Companies, Donor-Advised Funds, & Strategic Corporate Giving (Oxford University Press 2023) today at 6:00 PM ET:

For-profit-philanthropyAbout the Book

Please join Professors Dana Brakman Reiser and Steven A. Dean for a discussion of their new book For-Profit Philanthropy (Oxford University Press, Jan. 3, 2023).

In For-Profit Philanthropy, the authors reveal that philanthropy law has long operated as strategic compromise, binding ordinary Americans and elites together in a common purpose. At its center stands the private foundation. Prophylactic restrictions separate foundations from their funders' business and political interests. And foundations must disclose more about the sources and uses of their assets than any other business or charity. The philanthropic innovations increasingly espoused by America's most privileged individuals and powerful companies prioritize donor autonomy and privacy, casting aside the foundation and the tools it provides elites to demonstrate their good faith. By threatening to displace impactful charity with hollow virtue signaling, these actions also jeopardize the public's faith in the generosity of those at the top.

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February 7, 2023 in Book Club, Books, Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, January 22, 2023

David French: How A Great American Victory Altered American Faith

David French (The Dispatch), How a Great American Victory Altered American Faith:

NonvertsLast week I read a tweet that led me to a book I’m now devouring at record speed. The tweet was from my friend Skye Jethani, and it referred to a potential link between the end of the Cold War and the rise of America’s religious nones. I’ve been thinking about the continuing influence of the Cold War on American life for a very long time. Our nation spent generations defined by the struggle against Soviet communism, and that struggle (along with its rather abrupt end) was bound to have profound effects on our national life.

The book is called Nonverts: The Making of Ex-Christian America, by a British sociologist named Stephen Bullivant. It’s not just an important book, it’s the best-written and most readable work of religious sociology that I’ve read in a very long time.

At the risk of over-simplification, Bullivant’s book attempts to explain the ... remarkable rise of religious “nones” in the United States:

French 3Source: Grid, A Mass Exodus From Christianity Is Underway in America. Here’s Why.

... In the chart above, a distinct data point stands out—the sharp rise of young “nones” begins in the early 1990s. Why? That’s when the Cold War ended, and Bullivant argues convincingly that the end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new era of American religion.

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January 22, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain Of Loss And The Comfort Of God

Tim Challies, Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God (2022):

Season of SorrowOn November 3, 2020, Tim and Aileen Challies received the shocking news that their son Nick had died. A twenty-year-old student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, he had been participating in a school activity with his fiancée, sister, and friends, when he fell unconscious and collapsed to the ground.

Neither students nor a passing doctor nor paramedics were able to revive him. His parents received the news at their home in Toronto and immediately departed for Louisville to be together as a family. While on the plane, Tim, an author and blogger, began to process his loss through writing. In Seasons of Sorrow, Tim shares real-time reflections from the first year of grief—through the seasons from fall to summer—introducing readers to what he describes as the “ministry of sorrow.”

Seasons of Sorrow will benefit both those that are working through sorrow or those comforting others:

  • See how God is sovereign over loss and that he is good in loss
  • Discover how you can pass through times of grief while keeping your faith
  • Learn how biblical doctrine can work itself out even in life’s most difficult situations
  • Understand how it is possible to love God more after loss than you loved him before

Matt McCullough (Christianity Today; Author, Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope), ‘I Will Grieve but not Grumble, Mourn but not Murmur, Weep but not Whine’: What Tim Challies Resolved in the Wake of His Son’s Sudden Death:

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January 22, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Saturday, January 21, 2023

American Inheritance: Liberty And Slavery In The Birth Of A Nation

New York Times Book Review: Can the Country Come to Terms With Its Original Sin?, by Jon Meacham (Vanderbilt) (reviewing Edward J. Larson (Pepperdine)), American Inheritance: Liberty and Slavery in the Birth of a Nation, 1765-1795 (2023):

American InheritanceIn Edward J. Larson’s “American Inheritance,” the Pulitzer-winning historian attempts to insert reason into a passionate public conversation.

Our own age has been hard on both reason and history. Too often the past has been deployed to fight the ideological wars of the moment, a tendency that reduces history to ammunition. And so Edward J. Larson’s “American Inheritance” is a welcome addition to a public conversation, in the wake of The New York Times’s 1619 Project, that has largely produced more heat than light.

“The role of liberty and slavery in the American Revolution is a partisan minefield,” Larson writes. “Drawing on a popular narrative presenting the expansion of liberty as a driving force in American history, some on the right dismiss the role of slavery in the founding of the Republic. Appealing to a progressive narrative of economic self-interest, and racial and gender bias in American history, some on the left see the defense of state-sanctioned slavery as a cause of the Revolution and an effect of the Constitution.” Larson, a prolific historian whose “Summer for the Gods” won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998, writes that this polarity “has opened the way for rigorous historical scholarship” in the tradition of Edmund Morgan and Benjamin Quarles.

American Inheritance,” then, comes to us as an effort to step into the blood-strewn chaos of the present to calm the madness of a public stage where passion has trumped reason. As Larson argues, liberty, slavery and racism — an essential element of slavery — have always been entwined. “One way or another,” he writes, “the American Revolution resulted in the first great emancipation of enslaved Blacks in the New World.”

Yet to deny that a liberty-seeking people largely denied freedom and equality to the enslaved is to deny a self-evident truth. Mindless celebration of the American past is just that — mindless. But so is reflexive condemnation. The messy, difficult, unavoidable truth of the American story is that it is fundamentally a human one. Imperfect, selfish, greedy, cruel — and sometimes noble. One might wish the nation’s story were simple. But that wish is in vain.

A key lesson from Larson’s narrative is that ages past were not benighted by a lack of knowledge of the immorality of race-based slavery. To me, Larson’s unemotional account of the Republic’s beginnings confirms a tragic truth: that influential white Americans knew — and understood — that slavery was wrong and liberty was precious, but chose not to act according to that knowledge and that understanding. ...

Wall Street Journal Book Review:  ‘American Inheritance’ Review: How Bondage Shadowed Freedom, by Harold Holzer (Hunter College):

Mr. Larson, a Pepperdine University historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for a book on the 1925 Scopes trial, submits enough evidence in his newest work to indict almost all the Southern (and some Northern) Founders for, if nothing else, insensitivity to the human beings they held in chains while rebelling against the British for enslaving the American colonies.

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January 21, 2023 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, January 16, 2023

Invitation: ABA Virtual Tax Book Club On Tax Law And The Environment

Tax Law and the EnvironmentThe next virtual meeting ABA Tax Policy and Simplification Committee Book Club will have its next meeting on Thursday, January 26, 2023 from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET (registration). The book to be discussed is Tax Law and the Environment: A Multidisciplinary and Worldwide Perspective (Roberta F. Mann (Oregon) & Tracey M. Roberts (Samford) eds. 2020):

Tax Law and the Environment: A Multidisciplinary and Worldwide Perspective takes a multidisciplinary approach to explore the ways how tax policy can is used solve environmental problems throughout the world, using a multi-jurisdictional and multidisciplinary approach. Environmental taxation involves using taxes to impose a cost on environmentally harmful activities or tax subsidies to provide preferred tax treatment to more sustainable alternatives to those harmful activities. This book provides a detailed analysis of environmental taxation, with examples from around the world. As the extraction, processing and use of energy use resources is has been a major cause of environmental harm, this book explores the taxation and subsidization of both fossil fuels and renewable energy. Its analysis of the past, present, and future potential of environmental taxation will help policymakers move economies toward sustainability, as well as and informing students, academics, and citizens about tax solutions for pressing environmental issues.


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January 16, 2023 in ABA Tax Section, Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Monday, January 2, 2023

In The New Year, We Must View Time Through A Divine Lens: To Dust We Will Return

Christianity Today:  To Dust We Will Return, by Jen Pollock Michel (Author, In Good Time: 8 Habits for Reimagining Productivity, Resisting Hurry, and Practicing Peace (2023)): 

In Good Time 6In the New Year, we must view our time through a divine lens.

Just as there once was sacred space (in the medieval cathedrals, for example), there was also once sacred time. Kairos time, as the Greeks called it: this time existing beyond the veil of a day and the standardized unit of an hour. In fact, prior to the Reformation, we looked to the monks and nuns to renounce earthly pleasures and commit themselves to prayer. They lived the Lord’s time for the rest of us.

Today, of course, no one really lives the Lord’s time. All we’re left with is chronos time and the successive moments “which we try to measure and control in order to get things done.” ... All we’re left with is ordinary time—and the relentless goad of productivity. The untested assumption today is that getting things done is an infallible good, never mind the relative worth of those “things” and the predictable irritability involved in the striving.

Perhaps one of the most important discipleship endeavors today is reforming our relationship with time—and encouraging practices of living time more fittingly, more faithfully, more joyfully, more hopefully. The habits of “higher time” don’t have much to do with traditional time management advice, tips and tricks, or techniques and tools.

There is an important difference between improved executive functioning—and the practice of time—faith.

Habits of higher time have little to do with time-savvy. Calendaring may be involved, but mostly these habits involve a “labor of vision,” to borrow a phrase from another writer. Despite our best efforts at productivity, our lives will fog, and then evaporate, like winter breath. We will die.

As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field” (Isa. 40:6, ESV throughout). We will not finish all we’ve begun, will not accomplish all we’ve intended. Life will chill, the days shorten, and our bodies will catch in death’s wind and fall like autumn leaves.

Dust to dust. We will get no second chances on mortal time and its gifts.

If we fail to see time stretching beyond the final shudder, beyond the final slow wheeze of life, we are people to be pitied.

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January 2, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Friday, December 30, 2022

The Myth Of American Income Inequality

Wall Street Journal Book Review:  Believe Your Eyes, Not the Statistics, by Charles W. Calomiris (Columbia; Google Scholar) (reviewing Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund & John Early, The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate (2022)):

Myth 3According to Mark Twain, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know that ain’t so.” “The Myth of American Inequality,” by Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund and John Early, quotes that wisdom, then offers 250 pages of analysis proving it. ...

Media commentators and politicians seem to believe that little progress has been made in raising average American living standards since the 1960s; that poverty has not been substantially reduced over the period; that the median household’s standard of living has not increased in recent years and inequality is currently high and rising (“a truth universally acknowledged,” according to the Economist magazine in 2020).

The authors—a former chairman of the Senate banking committee, a professor of economics at Auburn University and a former economist at the Bureau for Labor Statistics—show that these beliefs are false. Average living standards have improved dramatically. Real income of the bottom quintile, the authors write, grew more than 681% from 1967 to 2017. The percentage of people living in poverty fell from 32% in 1947 to 15% in 1967 to only 1.1% in 2017. Opportunities created by economic growth, and government-sponsored social programs funded by that growth, produced broadly shared prosperity: 94% of households in 2017 would have been at least as well off as the top quintile in 1967. Bottom-quintile households enjoy the same living standards as middle-quintile households, and on a per capita basis the bottom quintile has a 3% higher income. Top-quintile households receive income equal to roughly four times the bottom (and only 2.2 times the lowest on a per capita basis), not the 16.7 proportion popularly reported.

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December 30, 2022 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story Of Dan Markel's Murder

In October, I blogged the release of the fascinating book Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story of Acclaimed Law Professor Dan Markel's Murder (Oct. 9, 2022). The author, Steve Epstein, a litigation partner at Poyner Spruill (Raleigh, North Carolina), has published excerpts of the book on The Faculty Lounge:

  1. Extreme Punishment 4Friday, July 18, 2014, 10:50 a.m.

What happened in FSU law professor Dan Markel’s garage that fateful summer morning shook the Sunshine State’s capital city, Tallahassee, the entire Florida State community, and the legal academy writ large to its core.  Why on earth would a revered criminal law professor—the co-founder of PrawfsBlawg and prolific punishment theory scholar—be shot and killed in broad daylight?  Was this the act of a deranged madman or part of a coordinated plot to eliminate him?  And if the latter, who could possibly have been angry and desperate enough to do that?

To those who knew him—and there were literally thousands who did—they can recall with precision to this day, eight years later, exactly where they were and what they were doing when they received the news of Dan’s horrific slaying.  There aren’t many murder cases that result in international media attention and a cult-like following of people who devour every TV documentary, podcast, YouTube video, and news story about even the most minute pieces of evidence related to the murder or developments in the criminal case.  Yet something about this story—many things likely—have struck a chord that resonates with ordinary people as much, if not more, than those inhabiting the legal world and faculty lounge.

In EXTREME PUNISHMENT, I rewind the clock all the way back to the 1970s, when Dan Markel was growing up in Montreal and Toronto, and the 1980s, when Wendi Adelson was being raised alongside her two brothers in Coral Springs, Florida by her former schoolteacher mom, Donna, and dentist dad, Harvey.  Despite having grown up worlds apart, their paths to becoming law professors were incredibly similar, both having experienced transformative post-college fellowships and a master’s education at Cambridge University prior to attending law school.

With two Harvard degrees, a Ninth Circuit clerkship, and four published law review articles in hand, Dan had hoped and expected to land a position at an elite law school.  That he ended up at FSU—ultimately obtaining a job for Wendi there in a new legal clinic—is actually a huge part of why he ended up with two bullets in his head in July 2014.  Over the next few weeks, I will share additional snippets from EXTREME PUNISHMENT, telling just enough of this fascinating story to whet your appetite and convince you to read it all.

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December 28, 2022 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Inazu: How Can Christian Faculty Be Interfaith Leaders?

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), How Can Christian Faculty Be Interfaith Leaders?:

Proper 2In an earlier post, I discussed the importance of pursuing interfaith engagement without compromising core religious values. In contrast to some interfaith efforts that ignore or downplay differences, I suggested that meaningful interfaith relationships acknowledge and work across deep differences. This commitment grounds my friendship with Eboo Patel, the founder and president of Interfaith America.

Last month, Interfaith America (where I serve as a Senior Fellow) announced a new initiative with The Carver Project (an organization I founded five years ago). The initiative, which we’re calling the Newbigin Fellows, brings together cohorts of Christian faculty working at non-Christian institutions. These cohorts meet monthly over Zoom and then convene in person with the goal of cultivating relationships with one another, reflecting on the theory and practice of interfaith engagement, and developing interfaith activities on their respective campuses. ...

We’ve named the Newbigin Fellows after Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), who developed a theology of interfaith engagement as a missionary in South India and later in life working in a largely dechurched London. His life and work form a useful lens through which to consider the role of the fellows.

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December 18, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

May It Please The Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education

Patricia E. Salkin (Touro), May It Please the Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education (Touro University Press 2022):

May it please the campusThis is a groundbreaking study on the important and little known role that lawyers have played as leaders in higher education.

The book traces the history of lawyer campus presidents from the 1700s to present, exploring dozens of topics such as: where lawyer presidents went to law school; the percentage of lawyer presidents serving at public, private, community, HBCUs, and religiously affiliated institutions; geographic concentrations of campuses led by lawyers, women lawyer presidents, pathways to the presidency for lawyers, commonalities in backgrounds, and more. The author explores reasons for an exponential increase in lawyers serving as campus leaders examining the growth of legal education and myriad legal and regulatory issues confronting higher education.


Dr. Salkin’s important book is original, engaging, provocative, comprehensive, and data driven. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about academic leadership and the future of higher education at a time when the only constants are accelerating change, daunting (often unexpected) crises, and proliferating regulation and legal challenges. Dr. Salkin provides us an invaluable resource for finding the right kind of lawyers who have the ‘Swiss-army-knife’-type professional tool kit and temperament to handle the myriad demands of academic administrative jobs.

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December 14, 2022 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink