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EZ Thoughts with Edward Zelinsky Archives | OUPblog

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Add a fourth year to law school

By Edward Zelinsky
President Obama has joined with other critics of contemporary legal education in calling for the reduction of law school to a two year program. The President and these other critics are wrong. Indeed, the remedy they propose for the ills of legal education has it exactly backward.

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Metro North disruption and “employer convenience”, double taxation – again

By Edward Zelinsky
Once again, those of us who depend on Metro North’s railroad commuter service found ourselves bereft of adequate transportation to travel to work in Manhattan. Once again, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA), which runs Metro North, urged us to avoid Manhattan by telecommuting from our homes for the duration of this service disruption.

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Pension fund divestment is no answer to Russia’s homophobic policies

By Edward Zelinsky
A group of California state senators, including senate president pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, has called for California’s public employee pension plans to protest Russia’s homophobic laws and policies by ceasing to make Russian investments. While the senators are right to denounce Russia’s assault on human rights, they are wrong to call for the divestment of the Golden State’s public pension funds.

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The federalist argument for the Multi-State Worker Act

By Edward Zelinsky
The Multi-State Worker Act (the current version of the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act) would, if enacted into law, prevent states from taxing non-resident telecommuters (like me) on the days such telecommuters work at their out-of-state homes. Can someone who values the states and their autonomy (also like me) favor the Act?

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Three Attorneys General are wrong

By Edward Zelinsky
On 6 May 2013, the US Senate by a bi-partisan vote of 69-27 approved the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013. The Act would require large, out-of-state Internet and mail order sellers to collect sales taxes, just as brick-and mortar stores must collect such taxes.

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The continuing irrationality of New York’s “Convenience of the Employer” rule

By Edward Zelinsky
On Friday, 17 May 2013, two Metro-North commuter trains collided near Bridgeport, Connecticut. Through the following Tuesday, the Metro-North accident disrupted normal commuter train service between parts of Connecticut and New York City. To cope, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy asked residents of the Nutmeg State to work from their homes until rail service could be restored.

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Adopt the Marketplace Fairness Act

By Edward A. Zelinsky
The Marketplace Fairness Act, now being debated in the US Senate, is a rare phenomenon: a bill with strong bi-partisan support and an accurate title. The Act would indeed establish fairness in the marketplace by imposing on out-of-state internet and mail order sellers the same sales tax withholding requirements now imposed only on in-state brick-and-mortar businesses.

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IRS boondoggles: Star Trek videos and reasonable compensation cases

Many Americans have seen the now-infamous Star Trek video made by the IRS with taxpayer funds. It is painful to watch. Captain Kirk (known in the 21st century as William Shatner) pronounced himself “appalled at the utter waste of U.S. tax dollars.” The video’s dialogue is depressingly sophomoric. The acting talents of the IRS employees are comparable to the acting talents of law professors, that is to say, nonexistent.

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For stronger gun control laws; against the divestiture of gun stocks

By Edward Zelinsky
Even before the events in Newtown, I supported the strengthening of gun control laws. Advocates of gun rights correctly assert the need for better enforcement of existing laws as well as the urgency of confronting the violent nature of our culture. But General McChrystal is also correct. There is no compelling reason for civilians to own or possess high capacity weaponry designed for military missions.

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And the winner is… George W. Bush

By Edward Zelinsky
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 is widely understood as a victory for President Obama. However, the long-term story is more complicated than this. The Act in large measure confirms in bi-partisan fashion the tax-cutting priorities of George W. Bush.

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Responsible Wealth should oppose the GST Grandfather Exemption

By Edward Zelinsky
In the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, Congress and President Obama recently agreed that the federal estate tax will be imposed at a 40% rate on estates over $5,000,000. On 11 December 2012, a group of affluent Americans, organized under the banner of Responsible Wealth, had called for a stronger federal estate tax. In particular, Responsible Wealth urged that federal estate taxation begin at a rate of 45% on estates over $4,000,000.

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Limit the estate tax charitable deduction

By Edward Zelinsky
One widely-discussed possibility for reforming the federal income tax is limiting the deduction for charitable contributions. Whether or not Congress amends the Code to restrict the income tax deduction for charitable contributions, Congress should limit the charitable contribution deduction under the federal estate and gift taxes. Such a limit would balance the need for federal revenues with the desirability of encouraging charitable giving.

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Contraception, HSAs and the unnecessary controversy about religious conscience

By Edward Zelinsky
Among the bitter but unnecessary controversies of this election year was the dispute about the federal government’s mandate that employers provide contraception as part of their health care coverage for their employees. Employers religiously opposed to contraception believe this mandate infringes their right of Free Exercise of religion under the First Amendment. Advocates of the contraception mandate characterize it as vital to women’s health and choice.

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George McGovern

By Edward Zelinsky
On 15 November 1969, I was shivering on the Mall in Washington, D.C., surrounded by a band of self-proclaimed Maoists celebrating the prospect of a Viet Cong victory. This was the second “Moratorium” against the Vietnam War. While the first Moratorium in October had a decidedly mainstream flavor, the tone of the November event was markedly different. I was conflicted on that cold November day in Washington. I opposed the Vietnam War, as did the thousands of others standing on the Mall that day.

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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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Paul Ryan and the evolution of the vice presidency

By Edward Zelinsky
By selecting Representative Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Governor Romney confirmed the decline of the traditional role of vice presidential candidates as providers of geographic balance. Ryan’s selection reinforces the shift to a more policy-oriented definition of the vice presidency. This shift reflects the nationalization of our culture and politics and the increased importance of the general election debate between vice presidential candidates.

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