Friday, March 02, 2012

Academic projects

This afternoon, for the first time in at least three months, I've actually gotten to turn my attention to my long-promised, now-in-version-4, book on international tax policy, tentatively called "Fixing the U.S. International Tax Rules." [The title is a double entendre. But the title of my novel went further by being a quadruple entendre, as I explain, a couple of pages from the top, somewhere in here.]

If all goes well, I'll actually finish writing the book this year. (In word count terms I've already written more than 100%, but I've had to keep going back and starting over with a clearer orientation, which is an unusual problem for me.)

Perhaps this is mad, but I am also hoping to write three articles this year, each for a conference. For the Second Annual NYU-UCLA Tax Conference, which is planned (though not as yet entirely announced) for NYU this October, I may write something that overlaps with the book (though not to be an actual chapter in it), concerning how tariff policy and international tax policy relate to each other.

Second, I've agreed to give a lecture at another law school next year, in which I'll discuss the future of Social Security and Medicare in light of the conceptual apparatus I developed in my books concerning these programs (see here and here), with particular emphasis on the classic Samuelson model of Social Security, which is a great device for thinking both about optimal intergenerational policy and about the political economy issues. No further details for now, as I don't believe the lecture has been officially announced yet.

Third, I'm leaning towards agreeing to do a "what-we've-learned" quasi-historical review of what "we" understand about individual, corporate, and international taxation today, as opposed to what "they" understood 100 years ago when the U.S. federal income tax started. For what "they" understood, I may look forward to as late as the 1930s, and will be focusing on the leading policy writers (people such as Seligman, Simons, Fisher, and T.S. Adams), not the Washington sausage factory. Likewise, "we" refers to what I construe, no doubt to less than everyone's satisfaction, as best opinion today. But again this refers to intellectual frameworks and how to conceptualize the key policy aims and tradeoffs, rather than to bottom-line policy recommendations, much less what happens in Washington.

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