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The Giving Pledge and private foundations

By Edward Zelinsky
The Giving Pledge, founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, has announced that eleven more affluent families have taken the Pledge and have thereby committed to donating at least half of their wealth to charity. Among these new Pledgers is Gordon Moore, a legendary founder of Intel and the father of Moore’s Law which postulates that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles roughly every two years.

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Public Offices for Sale: The Emerging Dominance of Multimillionaire Candidates

by Edward Zelinsky
I live in Connecticut. The Nutmeg State’s 2010 election campaign is a prime example of the emerging domination of American politics by self-funding multimillionaires. This troubling trend has been exacerbated by what is euphemistically called campaign finance reform. The law of unintended consequences strikes again. There is, I suggest, a better way.
Former Connecticut congressman Rob Simmons had been the front-runner for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate until Linda McMahon declared her candidacy. Mrs. McMahon has never held public office. She is, however, along with her husband Vince, a founder of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and a multimillionaire.

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The Gaied Decision: a rare victory for tax sanity in New York

By Edward Zelinsky
In a unanimous decision, New York’s Court of Appeals, the Empire State’s highest court, recently held that John Gaied was not a New York resident for income tax purposes because he had no New York home. Mr. Gaied was domiciled in New Jersey and had a business on Staten Island to which he commuted daily.

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Legislators’ Pension Spikes as Broken Windows: The Connecticut Example

By Edward Zelinsky

Connecticut’s new governor, Dannel P. Malloy, has appointed six sitting members of the Nutmeg State’s General Assembly to positions in the executive branch. These gubernatorial appointments have engendered a fair amount of discussion since special elections will be required to fill the legislative vacancies resulting from these appointments.

There has, however, been no public discussion of the pension implications of these appointments. Under Connecticut’s retirement plans for government employees, relatively brief service in executive positions results in significant spikes in legislators’ state pensions.

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The Westboro Church and Justice Alito: the other side of the story

By Edward Zelinsky

It is noteworthy when eight ideologically diverse justices of the U.S. Supreme Court all decide a First Amendment case the same way. Thus, Snyder v. Phelps is a noteworthy decision. The Westboro Baptist Church is well-known for its demonstrations at military funerals. Indeed, the Westboro Church, led by (and, some say, principally consisting of) the Phelps family, has the rare distinction of having been denounced by both Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee.

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The belated revenge of the health care Grinches

By Edward Zelinsky
It hasn’t been fun being a health care Grinch. Until recently, we health care Grinches have been the objects of bi-partisan scorn.

We have been warning that health care cost control will be painful and will entail reduced medical services and lower payments to health care providers. “Nonsense,” retorted President Obama. Taking a page from the Republican book of bromides as he plugged his health care reforms, Mr. Obama assured the nation that health care costs can be controlled painlessly, by purging “waste” and “fraud.”

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Amend the “Giving Pledge” to Include the Federal Treasury

By Edward Zelinsky

Sixteen more billionaires have signed the “Giving Pledge” sponsored by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Signers of the Pledge commit to donating to philanthropy a majority of their wealth. New signers of the Pledge include the founders of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz.

Critics of the Giving Pledge denounce it as a public relations gimmick. Even if each Pledge signer donates a majority of his fortune to charity, his heirs will still inherent substantial wealth from what remains.

I am not one of these critics. I take Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates and the other signers at face value and applaud their charitable intentions. I do find it interesting that certain names are absent from the Pledge. For example, despite their

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The Legal and Practical Futility of State “Amazon” Laws

By Edward Zelinsky

As they scramble for tax revenue in a challenging environment, the states increasingly turn to so-called “Amazon” laws to force out-of-state internet and mail order retailers to collect tax on their sales. The Illinois General Assembly is the most recent state legislature to pass an Amazon statute. New York, Colorado, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Oklahoma have already enacted such laws while Amazon acts are pending in other state legislatures.

While they differ in important respects, all of these proposed and enacted laws share the premise that goods which are taxed when purchased in a conventional, bricks-and-mortar store should also be taxed when bought from an online or mail order retailer. This premise is compelling.

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4 Lessons from the Legacies of Washington & Lincoln

Tweet As the year draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on all the wonderful books published in 2010, and in doing so, we’ve also realized there are some classics worth revisiting. The authors and friends of Oxford University Press are proud to present this series of essays, which will appear regularly until the New […]

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