Wednesday, June 11, 2003

An Act of Faith

One of the best things about participating in Bar activities is that you get exposed to a group of people who have a high degree of pride in their profession. That is, for them, being a lawyer is not merely a job, but a calling as well.

Now most of those who populate these meetings are what I call "average smart guys." That is, they're people who are well-educated and very bright, but not necessarily on the intellectual level of a Brandeis or Holmes. (By the way, on my best days, I rate myself at the lower rungs of the "average smart guy" scale.) Occasionally, however, you get the opportunity to meet people who go to the top of the scale and then beyond.

Once of the people who I've had the opportunity to meet and who is beyond the category of "average smart guy" is Susan Pace Hamill. (Ok, she's not a guy, but you get the idea.)

Susan was with the I.R.S. when LLCs were in their infancy and, I suspect, did a great deal to advance their acceptance within the Service. Subsequently, she became a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. More recently, she has caused a bit of stir by publishing an article in the University of Alabama Law Review entitled An Argument for Tax Reform Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics. (Susan also has a Masters in Theology from the Beeson Divinity School.)

The article focuses on Alabama's tax system, labeling it unfair to the poor. It is easy to see, however, that a similar analysis would apply to most state and local tax regimes in this country, since, to a great degree, they all rely on regressive taxes. And the President's welfare bill for the wealthy? Although not a theologian, I think that to ask the question is to answer it.

In an editorial piece in the New York Times on Tuesday, Adam Cohen outlined the impact that Susan's article has had on tax policy in Alabama, moving even an arch-conservative governor to back tax reform. But don't hold your breath waiting for the alleged conservatives in the White House to get religion.

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