Friday, June 24, 2022

Fall 2022 NYU Tax Policy Colloquium speaker schedule

 Here is our schedule of public colloquium sessions with speakers for fall 2022. Assuming that COVID restrictions continue to decline, all sessions will be fully live, and will be followed by dinner nearby with the speaker and a group of about 8 people total (including interested students). All sessions will meet from 4:25 to 6:25 pm, in the NYU Law School main building, Vanderbilt Hall, room 202.

1) Tuesday, September 13: William Gale, Brookings Institution.

2) Tuesday, September 27: Jennifer Taub, Western New England University Law School.

3) Tuesday, October 11: Bridget Crawford, Pace Law School.

4) Tuesday, October 25: Alex Raskolnikov, Columbia Law School.

5) Tuesday, November 15: Goldburn Maynard, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business.

6) Tuesday, November 29: Ariel Jurow Kleiman, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

A few quick additional notes: (a) I am hoping that we will be able to offer "hybrid" attendance by people who are interested in the sessions but can't make it to our NYU site. But don't know yet how the law school will be operating in this respect.

(b) In general, these public sessions meet every other week, Each is preceded by a class-only session discussing the same paper just with the students (albeit possibly with the author's participation, in person or remotely). However, the November 15 session comes three weeks after its precursor, because Tuesday, November 8, is Election Day. Also, our first week of class is Tuesday, August 30, but this will be a general introductory session for the students, not focused on a particular paper.

(c) Back in the days when we had 14 public sessions instead of 6 -  because the semester was a week longer, and I had a co-convenor with whom to share the work - I took a certain pleasure in the concept: "And now for something completely different." In other words, each week's paper might have absolutely nothing in common with that from the week before. I both found this personally refreshing and felt that it helped to show the students just how intellectually diverse and far-ranging a field tax policy is or can be. The downside was that it could be a bit overwhelming for people.

(d) This fall, by contrast, with just 6 papers, I feel the optimal approach is a bit different. There will be greater topical continuity, and something of a general theme. Most of the papers will address issues around inequality, in one way or another - although I have told the authors that this should not entirely get in the way of their writing and presenting whatever is of greatest current interest to them (and would work for us). Still, this focus will largely hold. That said, there will be a wide diversity of approaches among our speakers, who differ greatly in their interests and methodologies. Also, inequality itself is a very broad topic, as the papers will collectively help to make clear.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Newly posted article on Stanley Surrey

 I have just posted on SSRN a  completed draft of an article that I wrote earlier this year on Stanley Surrey. You can download it here.

The abstract goes something like this:

Nearly forty years after his untimely death, Stanley Surrey, the renowned Harvard law professor (and Treasury official), remains perhaps the most important and influential tax law scholar in American history. The recent publication of his highly illuminating memoirs offers a convenient occasion for reassessing his work.
In offering such a reassessment, this essay takes its title from William F. Buckley’s 1974 observation that, while Surrey claimed to analyze tax policy issues with “scientific detachment,” in fact he was a tax “moralist,” whose policy recommendations were “based on a highly articulated set of personal value principles.” Largely agreeing with Buckley as a descriptive matter, the essay considers what Surrey’s work both gained and lost intellectually by hewing so strongly to a set of career-long, deeply held beliefs. Along the way, the essay contrasts Surrey’s moral and intellectual certainty with the skepticism and resistance to grand system-building of Boris Bittker of Yale Law School, Surrey’s only mid-century rival for intellectual leadership of the tax legal academy.

UPDATE: I somehow failed to upload a draft of the paper the first time around. Here it is, definitely with the paper available for download.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Bonfires of the American Dream

 My new book, Bonfires of the American Dream in American Rhetoric, Literature and Film, is out now. Here is the Amazon link, and here is the publisher's (Anthem Press).

Here is the publisher's description: 

How could American social solidarity have so collapsed that we cannot even cooperate in fighting a pandemic? One problem lies in how our values mutate and intersect in an era of runaway high-end inequality and evaporating upward mobility. Under such conditions, tensions rise between our egalitarian and democratic traditions on the one hand, and what we often call the “American Dream” of self-advancement and due reward on the other.

In our current Second Gilded Age, as in the first one from the late nineteenth century, the results of economic competition appear to suggest, falsely, that some of us are “winners” who deserve everything they have, while others are contemptible “losers.” The rich ostensibly owe the poor nothing – not even compassion or respect, and certainly not material aid through government.

In Bonfires of the American Dream, Daniel Shaviro develops these themes through close studies, in social context, of such classic novels and films as Atlas ShruggedThe Great GatsbyIt’s a Wonderful Life, and The Wolf of Wall Street. He thereby helps to provide a better understanding of what, apart from racism, has in recent years caused things to go so wrong culturally in America.

And here are the blurbs (none by people whom I have ever met - these are not from the network of back-scratching personal favors):

“This is a wonderful book, a page-turner about popular American thinking about the American Dream. Shaviro shows how much of our cultural experience consists of economic fantasies, and how much in turn those fantasies shape our culture and our politics. Brilliant, accurate, surprising, and unfailingly interesting.” — William Flesch, Professor of English, Brandeis University, USA.

“These readings of film and literature are subtle, convincing, and fascinating. Further, since they are written in short sentences, in plain yet lively prose, with carefully explicit conclusions, they are wholly accessible to the lay reader. Their theme is of exceptional interest to us all, in our anxious perception that American democratic values may be on course for disintegration.” — Professor Chris Fitter, Department of English and Communication, Rutgers University, USA.

“A selective but fascinating tour of American popular culture (Atlas Shrugged, The Great Gatsby, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wolf of Wall Street) that illuminates destructive discrepancies between American ideals and practices and bitter divisions between rival ideals since the founding. One wonders how America has survived—and if it should.” — Professor Steven Johnston, Political Science Department, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA.