Tuesday, March 05, 2013

There and back again

I've just completed taking seven airplane flights in five days, and all of them were on time.  I guess the sequester wasn't an immediate problem for air travel after all.  (Perhaps due to the 30-day requirement for furloughing airport personnel.)  Or, per my prior post on the topic, I suppose the travel gods were still satisfied with the 2-day layover they had handed out to me when I was in Los Angeles at the start of February, and decided to let me off easy this time.

But just by a hair, as it happens.  If today's weather in the Midwest had gotten there a day earlier, I might still be stuck out there, fuming and/or cooling my heels (if one can do both simultaneously) as another winter storm rages through.  That would have caused me to miss today's NYU Tax Policy Colloquium, where we are discussing Darien Shanske's paper, Modernizing the Property Tax.  More on that, of course, in a subsequent post (since, just to get the counter-factuals straight, I am in fact back here).

How do you get into the position of taking 7 flights in 5 days?  It's quite easy, actually.  All you need to do is accept two speaking gigs within a few days of each other, neither of which is reachable from New York (or the other place) through a direct flight.  So, starting in New York last Thursday, I first flew through Atlanta to Tallahassee, where I presented my Henry Simons paper last Friday at the FSU Law School's 100 Years of the Income Tax conference.  On Saturday I then flew through Atlanta and on to Chicago.  On Sunday, I did the final outbound leg, to Champaign, IL, where on Monday I presented this year's Anne Baum Elderlaw Lecture at the University of Illinois Law School.  The lecture was based on my paper, Should Social Security and Medicare Be More Market-Based?  Then last night I made it back to NYC through Chicago.

The slides for my Simons talk in Tallahassee are here.  In case anyone is keeping score, they have been slightly revised, not only since I posted an earlier version for my USC talk on Simons, but also since I gave the talk at FSU.  The slides had a couple of small errors that I decided to fix.

I'm not sure if I should consider this a compliment or not, but a commentator at the FSU session, praising the Simons article's literary style, compared me to a skillful nurse-practitioner who is giving you a shot, and who manages things so smoothly that you don't even notice it when the needle goes in.  OK, it was all in good fun, but I am not sure what he meant by the needle.  I am straight-up in my academic writing.

The slides for my Social Security / Medicare talk are here.  This is a first-time posting.  While the slides have a lot of content and were made for a one-hour talk, they are certainly a quicker read than the article, and cover most of the same bases.

Both the slides and the paper for my Social Security / Medicare project, while perhaps less fun than the Simons project, exceed it in analytic content.  The Illinois paper is also more relevant to current policy debate - for example, the battle over Medicare design (traditional system versus Ryan plan) that played a major role in the 2012 presidential election.

Not to whine here, but I get the sense that my work on Social Security and Medicare (as well as on budget deficits) gets less attention than when I am writing about the income tax or tax reform.  People evidently find it less credible that one with my biography and public credentials would be adding value on those topics than when the issue is straight-up tax.  But the issues are really all fundamentally of the same character (apart from the fact that I make no claim to be a healthcare expert). So please read up if you are interested, although I don't mean to beg.

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