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As Maine goes, so goes Pennsylvania?

By Edward Zelinsky
In presidential elections, Nebraska and Maine today allocate one elector to the candidate who prevails in each congressional district in the state and award the remaining two electors (corresponding to the states’ U.S. Senators) to the statewide popular vote winner. All other states bestow their electoral votes as a bloc on a winner-take-all basis. In Pennsylvania, the Republican governor, senate majority leader, and speaker of the state house of representatives propose that, starting in 2012, the Keystone State emulate Nebraska and Maine and apportion one electoral vote to each of

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The case against pension-financed infrastructure

By Edward Zelinsky
Media reports have indicated that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been considering the use of public pension funds to finance the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge and to underwrite other infrastructure investments in the Empire State. This is a bad idea, harmful both to the governmental employees of the Empire State and to New York’s taxpayers. Using public pension monies in this fashion trades the immediate benefits of public construction for the long-term cost of underfunded public retirement plans.

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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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Mitt Romney’s IRA

By Edward Zelinsky
On a personal level, I enjoyed the news reports that Governor Romney holds assets worth tens of millions of dollars in his individual retirement account (IRA). These reports confirm a central thesis of The Origins of the Ownership Society, namely, the extent to which defined contribution accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k) accounts, have become central features of American life.

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Albert Pujols, Occupy Wall Street, and the Buffett Rule

By Edward Zelinsky
As every baseball fan knows, Albert Pujols has signed a ten year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Pujols, a three-time MVP who has hit 445 home runs so far in his major league career, deserves every penny he is paid. The competition for Pujols demonstrated meritocracy and markets at their best.

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Public pensions, private equity, and the mythical 8% return

By Edward Zelinsky
Public pension plans should not invest in private equity deals. These deals lack both transparency and the discipline of market forces. Private equity investments allow elected officials to assume unrealistically high rates of return for public pension plans and to make correspondingly low contributions to such plans. This is a recipe for inadequately funded pensions, an outcome good for neither public employees nor taxpayers.

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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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Casey Kasem and end-of-life planning

By Edward Zelinsky
The sad story of Casey Kasem’s last illness is now over. Casey Kasem was an American pop culture icon. Among his other roles, Mr. Kasen was the disc jockey host on the legendary radio program, American Top 40. He was also the voice of Shaggy Rogers of Scooby-Doo.

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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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The Noto decision and double state income taxation of dual residents

By Edward Zelinsky
Lucio Noto worked for Mobil and ExxonMobil in Virginia and Texas before retiring in 2001. In his retirement, Mr. Noto and his wife Joan maintain homes in Greenwich, Connecticut and in East Hampton, New York. For state income tax purposes, the Notos are residents of both Connecticut where they are domiciled and New York where they spend at least 183 days annually at their second home.

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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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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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The First Amendment and parsonage allowances

By Edward Zelinsky
Confronting an important constitutional question about religion and taxation, the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, in Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Lew, held that Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code violates the First Amendment.

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The Sister Wives make the case for abolishing civil marriage

By Edward Zelinsky
Judge Clark Waddoups of the US District Court for the District of Utah has declared unconstitutional parts of Utah’s statute outlawing polygamy. Utah’s statute was challenged in Judge Waddoups’ courtroom by the Brown family of the television show Sister Wives. Days later, Judge Robert J. Shelby, also of the US District Court for the District of Utah, declared unconstitutional Utah’s Amendment 3 which restricts Utah’s definition of marriage to a man and a woman.

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