Although it’s hard to imagine that we could top last year’s voluminous, high quality output, we are off to an unusually good start. Last week alone, I received in the following order copies of three new books hot off the presses from our colleagues here on Elizabeth Street.
Kurt Strasser’s Myths and Realities of Business Environmentalism Good Works, Good Business or Greenwash? from Edward Elgar (2011) (192 pages) tackles an extraordinarily sensible set of questions. Businesses often tout their efforts to improve the environment. Are such efforts on balance improving environmental performance? Given the mixed records of business, and the well-documented cases in which particular companies are talking green while acting dirty, why pay so much attention to business environmentalism? Are there policies available that might channel environmentalism in positive directions? What are businesses actually doing in response to climate change? As we would expect from our level-headed colleague, Professor Strasser outlines answers that neither wholly support unbridled cynicism nor let businesses off the environmental hook. I was particularly persuaded by Kurt’s argument that government has no chance to pass and enforce enough rules to respond to our environmental challenges. Accordingly, reliance on the energy and expertise of business is crucial to a sustainable future. More specifically, exploring and improving business performance, sometimes using disclosure rules similar to consumer protection or securities regulation, may be a crucial component of contemporary environmentalism. I urge everyone to review Kurt’s work to learn more on this important topic. There will also be a workshop, now slated for October 11, at which we will hear from Dan Esty, Yale Law Professor and Connecticut’s Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, about Kurt’s new book.
Stephen Utz’s new book Inside Tax Law What Matters and Why (248 pages) is part of a series from Wolters Kluwer (2011) that offers student-friendly explanations of basic topics. We all know that few things are more difficult than distilling complex subjects into readily understandable segments. Yet in this comparatively breezy tome, Professor Utz tackles and illuminates the basic chestnuts in the field, including the definition of income, perks and benefits for employees, the elusive meaning of gift, the idea of basis for a capital asset, the time value of money, tax issues raised by debt, recognition and realization of gains and losses, and several more. As one would hope in an introductory text, the concepts are reduced to their essence and well-illustrated with examples, diagrams and sidebars. As we would also expect from our philosophically-minded colleague, insights from writers such as John Stuart Mill and Henry C. Simmons are tucked in among the introductions to the code. Who can doubt that this helpful introduction will assist countless students as they explore one of law school’s most fascinating subjects?
Richard Pomp has published the Seventh Edition (2011) of his magisterial State and Local Taxation, the undisputed bible in the field. This two-volume, 11 Chapter, 1313 page, set of cases and materials has been used in more than 90 schools, state tax administrations and major accounting firms (for internal training). Portions of the casebook have been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. It is wonderfully contemporary in feel, and provides thoughtful analysis of some of the most vexing tax issues we now confront. Consider, for example, today’s NYTimes account of California’s fierce dispute over efforts to force Amazon.com to charge sales tax. Given Rick’s recent triumphant article on the Indian Commerce Clause, see Richard D. Pomp, The Unfulfilled Promise of the Indian Commerce Clause and State Taxation, 63 The Tax Lawyer 897 (352 pages!!) (2011), it’s no surprise the book is firmly grounded in constitutional analysis and begins with an introduction to commerce clause issues. Readers will be struck anew by just how often state tax issues generate cases resolved in the United States Supreme Court. I am certain this book will continue to train, enlighten and entertain students for years to come. And I encourage everyone here to take a look, if only to see the beautiful photograph of Rick and his daughter Mai Lin, which graces the back cover.
Congratulations to Professors Strasser, Utz, and Pomp! Bravo! JP