Monday, December 08, 2008

Questions that trouble the Chick

Yesterday, I made my facebook status "CC wants unambiguous and substantially correct answers to ambiguous questions, in law and life."

This morning, I had a response from someone saying "No you don't, or you would have asked me already."

So I decided to give him the chance to take a crack at the questions troubling me this week.

And why would I deny you the chance to do the same?

Feel free to "pass" on the questions you don't like. We law students do it all the time.


1. How do I justify loving art and goofing off and creature comforts in a world where so many are suffering and I could feed a kid in Africa for a year on what I spent on a painting on Saturday?

2. What’s the deal with my professor asking vague multiple choice questions but insisting that there’s one right answer when sometimes reasonable arguments could be made for up to three?

3. What duties do I have to the rest of humanity? To my family in particular?

4. Could you summarize the analytical framework that goes along with the federal taxation of a company’s loans to employees and shareholders, with specifics on what gets taxed when, and what gets capitalized when if the employee is working on a long-term capital project?

5. Is that old law school maxim “A’ students become judges and ‘B’ students work for ‘C’ students” really true? Because some of us are counting on it as our backup plan…

6. I am, at heart, quite an eccentric and moody person. But I have seen before how much being an eccentric and moody person that people don’t identify with and don’t understand gets in the way of having things I want and connecting with others. What’s the proper balance between living my life as I please and being someone that other people understand and root for?

7. So what’s the deal with corporate takeovers? In general and with specifics.

8. When I come across and idea or a philosophy I don’t get or don’t agree with, I have this little-kid-with-a-broken-alarm-clock need to take it apart, figure out how it works and see what the problem is. I do this by arguing or at least asking pointed questions. Some people think that’s fun and I can talk to those people for hours. But others tend to see me as stupid or a contrarian (or a racist, or a kneejerk liberal or an elitist or… or…) when I argue with ideas that they hold dear. Right now, my solution is to mostly move that nitpicky nature to the internet, but even there are there times when I should just shut it and let people think what they want without bugging them, and agree to disagree before I’ve gotten their argument down to the premises and pissed them off?

9. Is it actually moral for the government to use taxation to socially engineer as much as they do? To what degree should I accept the argument that what the government taxes, it controls? If I should accept, isn't progressive taxation with a deduction for the personal consumption costs of enough for food, shelter and preventative medical care and no other deductions at all the ideal?


Tom (Mystics Meeting) said...

OH! how delicious!

hehehe- I cant help to keep from chuckling heartily at this post... there is so much of myself and so much not of myself in it- and those of course are the very BEST things one finds in life, right?

so, as usual, the answer to ALL of the questions you posed, could be found in the questions themselves (do you just hate it when someone says that? I hope so/not ;))

you said:
"I’ve gotten their argument down to the premises and pissed them off"

the 'answer' Im going to provide here, will be but a pointer to what I see in this forest, and as such, you are perfectly free to understand its as much for ME (all of these questions, life-circumstance-specific as they may be) as for you...

the wisest thing EVER that I have found that I can come to understand (looking VERY deeply within oneself, like a pit-bull, not letting go until it has no choice but to reveal itself) is this: "Relationship (to all things and people) is a Mirror"

so, when we say "gotten THEIR argument down to the premises", or we say "pissed THEM off"- that I think, is the very key to all which troubles our hearts... these very things that we think are about "them" are in NO POSITION to EVER be about "them"... they are in fact always always about "us" - Oneself...

the troubles begin when we see that we are looking for agreement and/or disagreement from an external source to confirm the ideas we have about ourselves- oftentimes, "they" will comply, making it all the more a muddle... but clarity does not come from the best answers, the right answers, or the clearest answers... answers only manage to strengthen ones search for more agreement (more confirmation of 'who am I')...

clarity- TRUE clarity- only comes from knowing deeply and completely, "whos asking?"... as one starts down that road, one inevitably finds a single choice that follows one down the path, but cleverly disguises itself as many choices IN the path... namely "can I see the Truth of who I am, without this?" ('this' being, whatever the thing that appears in front of one, as an object of 'agree/disagree')

put much more simply, and in so fewer words- (and I do so apologize for the length here) you will see the Truth of All of these things, when you end the debate.

whats really funny, is the last person who fully understood what Im talking about (and it changed his life for good, so he tells me) was also a lawyer... (well, thats funny to me :))

In Peace and Love of all things

Anonymous said...

After careful consideration of the serious and weighty questions that trouble you this week, I have arrived at a common response to items 1-9.

Beats the shit out of me.

Joe The Math Guy said...


If I answer "yes" to #8, may I be considered to have dealt effectively with the others as well?

Anonymous said...

As for #1: You have to have a life in order to be able to give. If everyone does nothing but give, who is left to receive? On the other hand, if the opposite were true, that would also be unbalanced. The giving and the receiving have to be balanced.
Also, if we only aim our charity at "poor people", we will have no culture: we need to support the arts in order to have arts/a culture/ a life worth living.
You have an obligation both to give and to refrain from burning yourself out. Balance, again.
I disagree with Jesus on this one -- he said to give everything. I guess it depends on what your aim is -- to be purely spiritual or to be a balanced whole person. Tantra is "householder's yoga" -- the spirituality of everyday things. That seems to make more sense to me.
On #7, corporate takeovers are a precipitate of businesspeople viewing business as a game (Monopoly, anyone?) and having a worldview with a single bottom line: money. They think they are "winning" by doing clever things for short-term gain. What are they winning? The socio-biologists say it is all, ultimately, a way to get more sex.... It's all about intimidating other men, Trophy Wives, trophy kids, passing on your genes and thus living forever.... A human is a gene's way to make another gene....

Stentor said...

On #2, sounds like you have a sloppy teacher. I've run into this problem a few times from the teacher's side and learned to be more careful. The teacher has a clear idea of what they're looking for, and it's so obvious in their mind that this particular thing is one of the things they want the students to know. So in the question they just sort of gesture in its direction, and expect the students to take the leap and know where they're going with it.

TheCSO said...

1. I disagree with the statement of this question. Once you figure in the costs of providing the security, stability, and civil institutions that are needed to make sure that food actually MAKES it to the kid, it's not so cheap anymore. Especially because peacekeepers occupying the country for a decade or so is part of what that would take in many parts of the world. We have the technical and industrial capacity to eliminate famine; at this point, the only systematic famine that remains is due to either a complete failure of civil order or governments that actively use food denial as a weapon against their opponents.

2. Probably what Stentor said. Either that, or they're looking for you to pick and firmly defend AN answer, and will at least partially accept several. But it's probably the it's-clear-for-me thing.

3. Outside of realpolitik, none. One of the greatest things about civilization is how it makes, to a large degree, your own self-interest and the overall best interests of others align much more than they would otherwise.

4. Nope. Hey, you just asked if I *could*..

5. Sigh. You'll be fine.

6. I am struggling with the same question myself.. haven't gotten very far.

7. I do want to point out that there are many GOOD reasons for mergers too, such as providing a way for a larger company, that can't take as huge a risk on a new market, moving into a new market by purchasing a company that's already there. The company that gets bought, often a startup, gets the resources of the big company to put behind its products - and the big company gets into that market. Often this lets them offer a better product or service, too.

8. I've found that with people like that, "help me understand why I'm wrong for not agreeing with you" is a less abrasive way to approach the discussion than "you're wrong, here's why". Not that I'm always willing or interested in taking that tack, but it does seem to work.

9. Taxation is a terrible means of social engineering, except for all the others. If I accept your premises, I conclude that there shouldn't be ANY taxes on individuals - why should the government get any extra control over individual's lives? The fairest taxation under that scheme would be entirely on entities such as corporations who owe their very existence to the State and have no existence outside of it. (I'm not advocating this position, just saying that it's the position I see as following from the premises you stated.)

Joel Monka said...

Corporations do not owe their existence to the state- people were coming together, pooling their capital and efforts, paying dividends to shareholders, etc., before modern governments ever existed. The "legal entity" status benefits the STATE- by providing mechanisms for controling and taxing- not the corporations.

PG said...

I agree with most of what TheCSO said. It looks like you're already married to the man with all the answers. Let me know if you ever need help shifting his body.


No, the corporate status benefits the people who came together to create the corporation because of limited liability. The same is true of LLPs and LLCs. Try being a pass-through entity (like a regular partnership) and see how much it sucks not to have that corporate status when someone is injured in the business and sues you for your personal assets, not just the business's.

But even if you didn't know that about liability, why would you think that the corporate status benefits only the state? Do you think the state forces people to form corporations? (It doesn't; in fact, it requires them to pay fees and maintain paperwork annually in order to retain the status, which disincentivizes those that doubt they're likely to have a liability situation from forming a corporation in the first place.)

In general, when people do something, it's either because the state forces them to do it (as with paying taxes) or because they perceive a benefit to themselves (as with CC's buying art). If you know the state doesn't force them to do it, you should consider what benefits they might perceive for themselves before you declare that there is no benefit to them.

Joel Monka said...

pg- yes, of course there are benefits to the corporations- though that aspect of legal liability meant less before the modern era of ambulance chasers. I didn't say that *ONLY* the state benefits. I said that the state benefits- which it does, big time, and that the corporation predates modern governments, which it does- corporations operated in ancient Rome.

PG said...

The "legal entity" status benefits the STATE- by providing mechanisms for controling and taxing- not the corporations.

did not seem compatible with

of course there are benefits to the corporations

'The "legal entity status benefits ... not the corporations' sounded distinctly like you were saying "*ONLY* the state benefits."

Will said...

#6 jumped out at me, CC. Reminds me of a line from an old Willie & Waylon song:

"And them that don't know him won't like him
And them that do sometimes won't know how to take him
He ain't wrong he's just different
but his pride won't let him do things to make you think he's right."

It's a mystery to me. Being an INTP and all.

I like your questions.