The Typical Law Student: LSAT’s and SAT’s

August 2nd, 2013 No comments

I wrote a guest post at Taxprof recently. I wrote a long comment on the post too, which is equally worth reading.

At our law-and-econ lunch at Indiana University we talked about the Simkovic-McIntyre paper on the value of going to law school and the point that law students are a select bunch. My father, citing his experience in the Navy in 1945 and as a grand jury foreman in the 70’s, liked to say that university people don’t understand what ordinary people are like. So I looked up some facts, and here is my guess at what a typical law student is like.

He doesn’t go to Yale, or to Indiana. He goes to Albany Law School, a typical third-tier law school. Its 25th-75th LSAT scores are 149-155, a midpoint of 152.

– See more at: http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2013/07/rasmusen.html#sthash.OQKo9KAn.dpuf

How Liberals Think about World Events

August 2nd, 2013 No comments

I came across a very strange article in The American Prospect, “The Rise and Fall of a “Scandal”, about the IRS scandals. It’s noteworthy because it looks at the following figure and concludes that the media, though well-meaning, has unfairly blackened the reputation of the IRS by its coverage.

I look at that, and I conclude that the liberal media covered the scandal at first, but then stopped covering it in accordance with the White House strategy of denying that anything wrong had happened. Read more…

Preliminary Injunctions and Hobby Lobby

July 31st, 2013 No comments

I’ve just posted on SSRN a version of my amicus brief, “Preliminary Injunctions in the Obamacare Religious-Objection Lawsuits: An Amicus Brief for Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.” The analysis is about preliminary injunctions; I don’t say anything on the merits of Obamacare or religious freedom and corporations. I might post separately about that today too. Here’s the abstract: Read more…

“Delay until They Die”

July 29th, 2013 No comments

Professor Fleischer’s May 16 “A Dickensian Delay at the I.R.S.” at the NYT isn’t looking so good. He said,

Long delays are evidence of ineptitude and a reluctance to tackle difficult issues, not evidence of a political conspiracy. It may be the case that a couple of I.R.S. employees went rogue, as the acting I.R.S. commissioner, Steven T. Miller, suggested on Wednesday before he was ousted from the job.

Aggressive investigation of those individuals may be appropriate. But firing Mr. Miller, as President Obama did on Wednesday, is mere tokenism. The witch hunt obscures the institutional failures that Congress could actually correct.

By now we have heard the testimony of the Cincinnati people, who say Mr. Miller’s IRS was lying when it tried to blame them, Read more…

Why Are the Books of the Bible Written So As To Conceal their Writers’ Identities?

July 28th, 2013 No comments

I’ve started reading Meir Sternberg’s The Poetics of Biblical Narrative after hearing about it from Professor Atwood shortly before he left for Mongolia. It’s good. In chapter 2, he shows how similarly an ancient Rabbi and a modern Bible scholar reason in trying to establish authorship. Who wrote II Samuel? Read more…

Corporations and Religious Freedom

July 27th, 2013 No comments

Re: “Skepticism About the Third Circuit’s Rejection of Organizational Free Exercise Claims,” Will Baude, Volokh Conspiracy.

Am I correct in thinking that a for-profit sole proprietorship has religious freedom? In that case, surely a partnership does. And why not a corporation, particularly if it is 100% owned by one individual? Or is it that in each case, it is the individual as owner who must assert his rights?

The real question seems to me to be the fact question of whether the religious practice is in the interest of the stockholders. This means whether they would support it if they could, or whether it is an unjustified perk of the Board or executives. That is the same hard question that comes up with whether a corporation’s charitable donations or homosexuality policies are OK. Thus, the corporation should be allowed to have a religious practices policy, protected by the usual religious freedom rights, but subject to derivative suits by shareholders in the usual way (which means most suits lose).

LoPucski: Making Statutes Readable

July 25th, 2013 1 comment

Professor Bainbridge tells us of Professor Lopucki’s new paper on how to format and annotate statutes to make them more readable, which uses Delaware’s corporate code as an example.

LoPucki, Lynn M., The Readable Delaware General Corporation Law (July 10, 2013). UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-14. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2292236.\

Here’s an example. Read more…

“A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ” = “Another Chance to Condemn Conservatives as Secret Child Molesters”

July 24th, 2013 7 comments

What an evil document is “A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ”! It pretends to be a confession, but it actually is a condemnation of other people. But then the signers don’t dare make any specific accusations. They make general accusations that are slanderous, while helping to protect sin by careful lack of specifics. The Baylyblog does a good job of discussing the Statement and talking about what churches really ought to be doing about sexual abuse, but there’s more to be said. Here are a couple of notable sentences from the Statement:

“Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both inside and outside of the Church. These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different than from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children….Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church, various Protestant churches and missionary organizations, Penn State, Yeshiva University High School, the Boy Scouts, and all branches of our military have been rocked by allegations of abuse and of complicity in silencing the victims.”

Read more…

Categories: Ecclesiology, liberals, religion, writing Tags:

I Want Comment Triage Software

July 23rd, 2013 No comments

Nobody comments here, so it’s not a personal need, but I want to see comments on blogs and articles organized differently. First I’ll say what I want to see, and then I’ll explain why.

Each comment will be directed to one of four triage categories. These will not be the traditional “Doesn’t need treatment now”, “Needs help”, and “Too hard to help–let him die” categories. Rather, they will be: Read more…

Stock Market Returns and Risk: Returns from Various Years until 2013

July 23rd, 2013 1 comment

I’ve posted as a blog permanent “page”, a memo on “Stock Market Returns and Risk: Returns from Various Years until 2013.” I’ll repeat it here as a blog post.

This is a memo I wrote for the directors of Bloomington’s Lighthouse Christian Academy to aid them in thinking about whether it was worth putting capital account funds into the stock market, which has higher returns but also might result in a loss. It is useful for anyone wanting to know the average return on the stock market.

June 19, 2013
What investment is prudent for LCA?

Suppose LCA had $100,000 in a given year and had invested it in the S+P 500, 500 very big companies’ stock, until May 2013. What would have become of it? What would be its annual return?

S+P returns (dividends reinvested) from the given year until 2013, annualized and total, May to May:

1963: 9.7%
1973: 10.3
1983: 10.6
1993: 8.7
Read more…

Categories: decisionmaking, discounting, finance, g406 Tags:

The IRS Scandal Reaches the President

July 23rd, 2013 1 comment

First, the Administration said there was no IRS mistreatment of Tea Party groups. Second, the Administration said there was, but it was the Cincinnati office’s fault, not the IRS in Washington. Third, it became clear it was the fault of the IRS in Washington. Fourth, it became clear that it was the fault of the IRS Chief Counsel’s office in Washington. Now, we discover that the IRS Chief Counsel met with President Obama at a crucial time. An anonymous federal lawyer wrote this to TaxProf: (my boldface)

As someone who works as an attorney at an agency general counsel’s office, I think people are missing the significance of Obama meeting with the IRS chief counsel Read more…

Categories: IRS, obama Tags:

A Trayvon-Zimmerman Miscellany

July 20th, 2013 1 comment

I’ll use this post to list interesting things about the Zimmerman-TrayvonMartin case as they come up, so it will grow over time.

July 20a. Some people say that the standard should be reduced from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of evidence” or something. Wikipedia has a nice Legal Burden of Proof article with:

2.1.1 Reasonable suspicion
2.1.2 Reasonable to believe
2.1.3 Probable cause for arrest
2.1.4 Some credible evidence
2.1.5 Substantial evidence
2.1.6 Preponderance of the evidence
2.1.7 Clear and convincing evidence
2.1.8 Beyond reasonable doubt

Maybe relaxing the burden is a good idea. Read more…

Categories: crime, law, race Tags:

Idol Worship in Modern America

July 19th, 2013 No comments

anthem-short

It would be OK, perhaps, if we sang the last verse:

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I wrote an essay on this, “Should everyone put their hand on their chest, stand, and sing the national anthem while facing the flag at the sporting events of Christian schools?” An excerpt:

We Protestants feel very self-satisfied about images. Foolish Roman Catholics fall into idolatry, and the Jews were so foolish that the Bible had to give more attention to idolatry than to any other sin, but we are too modern for that to be a danger. Read more…

Categories: religion, Roman Catholicism Tags:

God before Country: Placement of the “Christian Flag”

July 19th, 2013 No comments

flags-school

christian-flag-under

“We are used to putting government above God. We are so used to it that we don’t even realize it. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), and “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2). We are careful about obeying the government. We are worse at obeying God.”

That’s an excerpt from an essay I wrote, “Should the “Christian flag” be flown below the U.S. flag on the pole in front of a Christian school?” The images are from here and here.

Categories: authority, flag burning, religion Tags:

Computer Icons Are a Stupid Idea

July 19th, 2013 No comments

I hate icons. They are a regression to the era of the cave man.

Suppose we want to have a symbol for “email” on the computer so that you know where to click to look at your email. What would we think, starting from scratch, if our designers pondered whether they should use a picture of a mailbox, or of a letter, or maybe a line with a lightning sign, or a little mailman, and brought all those symbols to the CEO for his choice. Read more…

Categories: computers, inventions Tags:

“Top Differences Between the UCC and the Common Law of Contracts”

July 17th, 2013 No comments

Prof. Cunningham has a good post, “Top Differences Between the UCC and the Common Law of Contracts” . For example:

6. Acceptance by Shipment: buyer orders for “prompt shipment” can be accepted either by promise or prompt shipment, at the seller’s election. 2-206. – See more at: http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2013/07/top-differences-between-the-ucc-and-the-common-law-of-contracts.html#more-77709

Categories: contracts Tags:

Would Zimmerman Have Been Convicted if He Were Black? — Black-on-Nonblack Killings Claiming Self Defense

July 16th, 2013 No comments

Over at Legal Insurrection, I skimmed the comment thread on ‘The “what if Trayvon were white” logical fallacy’ and did a bit of googling, and found some black kills hispanic or black kills white self-defense cases.

http://www.news-press.com/article/20100916/CRIME/9160375/Fort-Myers-killing-suspect-likely-off-hook (Black man shoots out of his window and kills a hispanic teenager. Charges dropped. ) Read more…

Categories: crime, race Tags:

Using the International Phonetic Alphabet to Learn How to Pronounce French

July 15th, 2013 No comments

Andrew Gelman tells us of a great site for learning the French accent, and other languages too. It transforms a French phrase into the International Phonetic Alphabet, e.g. Read more…

Categories: humor, Learning, quotations Tags:

Murray’s Cops and Progressives

July 15th, 2013 No comments

Charles Murray has an excellent long essay, “Simple Justice” from about 2005 that is useful for thinking about attitudes towards the Zimmerman case and to self-defense and threat and intimidation statutes generally. He distinguishes between Progressives and Cops. Progressives dislike self-defense, retribution, and punishment generally and who do not like to differentiate people into those who follow rules and those who break them. Read more…

Losing Loved Ones

July 14th, 2013 No comments

I thought about posting this yesterday, and decided against it as too personal. At church today, I changed my mind, deciding my motive was pride and that this might be helpful to some readers. It is about the accident described here.

04.11.GOOD-Grandma-Grandpa-Eliz-Thanksgiving1

July 13, 2010 5:39pm
We went up to the farm today— the Suppes farm where my parents lived their last 25 years and that Elizabeth loved to visit. Read more…

Categories: personal Tags:

“Lowering the Bar to Raise Up the Bar: Licensing Difficulty and Attorney Quality in Japan”

July 12th, 2013 No comments

Professor Ramseyer and I are circulating our new paper for comment:

“Lowering the Bar to Raise Up the Bar: Licensing Difficulty and Attorney Quality in Japan”

Under certain circumstance, a relaxation in occupational licensing standards can increase the quality of those who enter the industry. The effect turns on the opportunity costs of preparing for the licensing examination: making the test easier can increase the quality of those passing if it lowers the opportunity costs enough to increase the number of those willing to go to the trouble of taking the test. We explore the theoretical circumstances under which this can occur and the actual effect of the relaxation of the difficulty of the bar exam in Japan from 1992 to 2011. http://rasmusen.org/papers/barpass-ram-ras.pdf.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Can the President Delay Obamacare Despite the Statutory Language?

July 12th, 2013 No comments

Someone wrote to me about another Law Lunch discussion of yesterday:

“…Jefferson’s refusal to spend $50,000 for gun boats in 1803, after they were no longer needed. Better yet, compare the more recent example of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development temporarily suspending funds pending a study of whether the expenditures on low income housing were achieving the purpose Congress intended. That was upheld by the DC Circuit in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Lynn, 1974, with the court noting the fact that the reason for the impoundment was program-related. I see a fundamental difference between refusing to enforce the law because the President wishes it had never been passed and delaying enforcement because the President likes the law and wants it to achieve its substantive goals. Read more…

What Happens When a Void Appointee Gets Appointed Again, But Properly the Second Time?

July 12th, 2013 No comments

At Volokh Conspiracy John Elwood says that even if the President properly reappoints the same people to the National Labor Relations Board whose appointments the courts have ruled invalid, they can’t just redecide all the cases that are in the courts. Read more…

Categories: administrative law, authority Tags:

Fixing the FISA Court and Search Warrants Generally

July 12th, 2013 No comments

At the law lunch yesterday we were discussing the special FISA Court which has to approve certain kinds of search warrants for electronic communications, including the famous one which let the NSA see who is making phone calls to who. One topic that came up was court composition. The court is made up of ten or so federal district judges selected by the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court for 7-year terms, and no judge can serve two terms. The police or NSA go to one judge on it and ask for a warrant. Appeals are made to a special 3-judge appeals court, also appointed by the Chief Justice. Further appeals can be made to the U.S. Supreme Court, I imagine.

Problem 1. Currently almost all of the judges were created judges by Republican presidents, and this looks bad when they are also chosen by a conservative Chief Justice. Read more…

Categories: crime, judges, law, law. politics Tags:

Should Jehovah’s Witness parents have the right to refuse a blood transfusion for their daughter even though the daughter will die as a result?

July 11th, 2013 No comments

An interesting question inspired by a post at Volokh Conspiracy: “Should Jehovah’s Witness parents have the right to refuse a blood transfusion for their daughter even though the daughter will die as a result?” Let us suppose that the child is 5 years old and agrees with her parent (a child who disagrees is a separate case). Let us also suppose that we believe the parents would themselves be willing to die in place of refusing a blood transfusion.

It seems the answer in most or all states is No.

Categories: authority, children, civil rights, religion, sin Tags:

Is It Really True an IRS Employee Cannot Be Fired for Murdering Someone?

July 10th, 2013 No comments

Congressman Renacci is proposing to add to the list of offenses for which an IRS employee can be fired,

(10) performing, delaying, or failing to perform (or threatening to perform, delay, or fail to perform)
any official action (including any audit) with respect to a taxpayer for purpose of extracting personal
gain or benefit or for a political purpose.’’

I sent him a letter with some suggestions. Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Open Carry Laws

July 9th, 2013 No comments

temp

Wikipedia’s Open Carry article explains something I’ve been wondering about: what about “nonconcealed carry” for guns?

Categories: crime, law Tags:

The 2013 Hyde Park Fourth of July Parade

July 4th, 2013 No comments

hyde-park-parade2013

The McCoys again organized a 4th of July parade in our neighborhood. It’s probably a good thing when almost everybody is in the parade instead of watching it, even tho the reverse is what is common. Every neighborhood should do this— but you need the idea and the leadership.

Categories: holidays, political philosophy Tags:

Presidential Proclamations and the 4th of July

July 4th, 2013 No comments

I routinely read the Presidential Proclamation to my family and guests each Thanksgiving, and this year I thought I’d do the same with the 4th of July Proclamation. To my surprise, I find there isn’t any, and usually hasn’t been. I looked up 1933, 1947, 1958, 2013, 2012, 2011, 1965, 1978, 1982,1990, and 1998 at the American Presidency Project. There were, however, proclamations each year from 2000 to 2007 and then again in 2009 (see here). And I was not quite accurate about 1978. Jimmy Carter did issue a Presidential Proclamation on July 4— but it was titled “Quantitative Limitation on the Importation of Certain Meat,” an absurdity which typifies his entire administration.

Categories: Carter, holidays, presidents Tags:

An Amicus Brief for Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius on the Topic of Balancing the Equities for a Preliminary Injunction

July 3rd, 2013 No comments

I looked over the recent Hobby Lobby en banc decision and thought about it. Everybody seemed to be missing the most important things in the case. Then, yesterday, I realized that the deadline for submissions for the next stage was today (July 3) at 5 p.m. At 2 p.m. I rushed into action. I was able to use my draft amicus for United States v. Marshall as a template, though it’s a different circuit and Hobby Lobby is at District Court right now, for which there are no official rules. Read more…

Policy or Power?

July 3rd, 2013 No comments

It would be useful for everyone, liberal, libertarian, and conservative, to confront the issue of which they’d prefer:
1. A dictator with the right policies (welfare state, free market, or promotion of virtue) or
2. A democracy with the wrong policies (free market and traditional values for the liberal, welfare state and traditional values for the libertarian, welfare state for the conservative).

We can up the ante in either case by specifying whether the dictator or democracy uses heavy oppression to maintain itself, e.g. executing 100 political opponents per year (which a democracy is capable of doing, just like a dictatorship).

I think conservatives would have no trouble picking (1), and liberals would have a strong preference for (1) but be ashamed to admit it and so would pick (2). I don’t know about libertarians.

Why the Rich Are Underpaid

June 27th, 2013 No comments

Prof. Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution talks about Prof. Mankiw’s discussion of taxes, the top 1%, and productivity. I had a thought: The most productive employees are paid too little, including the most productive CEO’s. Read more…

Categories: a.research, business, contracts, taxes Tags:

Preliminary Injunctions and Regulatory Tyranny

June 25th, 2013 No comments

It looks to me as if something is very wrong with the law of preliminary injunctions when it comes to the executive branch misusing its power. Here is what is supposed to happen. Smith sues Jones, asking the court to do X. For example, Smith may ask the court to stop Jones from selling a dog Smith claims is Smith’s dog. If doing X right away instead of in a year or two after a trial would prevent irreparable harm to Smith but not to Jones, then Smith can ask the court to do X immediately, via a preliminary injunction. Then, after the trial, the court will undo X if Smith loses. Read more…

Categories: a.research, administrative law, law Tags:

The IRS Scandal— Picking on the Little Guys

June 25th, 2013 No comments

This isn’t the typical tax case, where a lawyer is helpful so the client can avoid breaking the law, or the somewhat rarer one where the lawyer helps the client fix a mess after the client accidentally breaks the law, or the even rarer kind where the lawyer helps the client after client purposely breaks the law. This is a case where a lawyer is helpful so the IRS doesn’t think *it* can get away with breaking the law. Read more…

Categories: administrative law, bureaucracy, IRS Tags:

Measuring the Cost of Health Care— The Effect of Price Controls

June 24th, 2013 No comments

I am puzzled by how we should think about measuring the value of output in health care, or any market, when the prices are not at the competitive level.
What if the government has a maximum price of $500 for an angiogram, but the free market price would be $900?
In a free market, we measure GDP using output and market prices. Read more…

Categories: a.research, health care, price theory Tags:

IRS Data– 2009-2010 White House Visitor Logs, and 2009-12 Bonuses

June 23rd, 2013 No comments

The White House visitor logs are actually available in spreadsheets, downloadable, on the web. I didn’t keep the address, but you can google it. I did edit the 2009-2010 one to extract just the likely IRS ones (Jonathan Davis is a common sort of name, so maybe not all of those are the IRS Chief of Staff). There may be some useful mining to be done on dates. The spreadsheet is at:

IRS-White-House-visitors2009-2010.xlsx

I already had the 2009-2012 bonus spreadsheet. I forget where I got it. Here it is, though:
bonsues2009-12IRS.xlsx

Categories: Data, IRS, obama Tags:

Fighting the Dept. of Education in Court-Declaratory Judgement

June 22nd, 2013 No comments

The Education Dept. is bullying colleges by making absurd definitions of “sexual harassment”, something that itself is not part of the federal statute they are using. See http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/06/21/ocr-official-explains-harassment-policies-skeptical-college-lawyers, http://thefire.org/article/15970.html, http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/171165/ .

Some college has to actually fight the OCR in court. But who will bell the cat? The OCR knows that college administrators are generally cowards, and so they push them around, confident that the OCR can ignore the law because it won’t go to court. Could a college association perhaps ask for a declaratory judgement on behalf of its members, or could 50 or so colleges ask together, to avoid reprisal? The suit could ask for a declaration that a college is free under the statute to violate the OCR standard stated in the Montana agreement. The colleges would win, because OCR assertions that didn’t go through notice and comment and have no basis in the statute wouldn’t get Chevron deference. And it wouldn’t cost much to file such a challenge.

It would help the case that the colleges could quote the OCR representative as saying that he’ll “take it under advisement” as to whether the Dept. of Education should follow the Administrative Procedure Act. (“the entire room broke into applause in response to the notice and comment question”)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

“How Immigration Can Hurt a Country”

June 21st, 2013 2 comments

I’ve written an informal paper called, “How Immigration Can Hurt a Country”. Thoughtful comments are welcomed. I don’t welcome comments that just give your opinion on immigration; if you wish to comment, please make it a constructive or destructive comment on the paper.

“Can immigration (or capital inflow) hurt the welfare of a country? Yes, if there are decreasing returns to the factor, as this little paper will explain. The idea is important, and probably is new— at least, I couldn’t find it by a google search— but an economics journal would say it is obvious, I think, so I probably will not try to publish it in a journal. I will post it on the web instead. I do hope it gets into the academic literature and the policy debates. If it is received favorably, I will tidy it up and put it into journal style, adding cites and superfluous generality, and checking my arithmetic. My target audience is trained economists even now, however. Please let me know if someone has already made the external diseconomy argument. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had done so back in the 1920’s….”

Categories: a.research, immigration Tags:

Immigration— The Congressional Budget Office Report (CBO on S.744)

June 21st, 2013 8 comments

I will post my little paper on the effects of immigration later today. In preparation for that, I downloaded the CBO report on the Senate bill. I find it unimpressive, except for the clarity of its writing style, which I do commend. Some notes:

1. The analysis assumes that immigration will raise total factor productivity. It alludes to increased specialization because of increased size of the economy, and increased innovation because of having extra high-skilled immigrants. Both are highly speculative. Yes, more Hyderabad programmers will increase innovation; that’s why the billionaires support the bill (they profit from those innovations— which is fine). But it’s dangerous to allow a fudge factor like “increased productivity from innovation” into an estimate— it can drive too much. It would be good to see these estimate with zero change in TFP.

2. I didn’t see anywhere how many of these immigrants are supposed to be high-skilled. I suspect that’s because it’s embarassingly small. If the report came out and said that we’d be adding 9.5 million low-skilled workers and .5 million high-skilled workers and productivity was going to rise as a result, people would laugh. Read more…

Categories: Economics, immigration Tags: