Re: What is your counsel?
Richard Posner is an influential legal theorist and author and currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Posner attended Yale as an undergraduate, and was first in his class at Harvard Law School. Following his graduation from Harvard, Posner clerked for Justice William J. Brennan Jr.; he later worked as assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. In 1969, Posner began teaching at the University of Chicago Law School, where he remains a Senior Lecturer to this day. In 1981, Posner was appointed to Seventh Circuit's Court of Appeals. Posner helped found the law and economics movement, which argues that the primary goal of law should be outcomes that are economically sensible and efficient rather than "just." Known for his eclectic mix of beliefs, Posner can't be pigeonholed as a liberal or a conservative: he has written that marijuana should be legalized and also that there are times when "torture should be used." Posner was the founding editor of the Journal of Legal Studies and (with Orley Ashenfelter) the American Law and Economics Review. Posner is the author of dozens of books, including Public Intellectuals, and The Problems of Jurisprudence, and How Judges Think, which was published in April 2008. His next book A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent into Depression will be released May 2009.
Question: What is your counsel?
Richard Posner: Well I don’t have the knowledge to give a responsible answer. But I would like to actually to see very heavy carbon taxes. And I’d also like to see larger government expenditures devoted to a range of defensive measures against catastrophe. But I think actually it’s kind of hearsay, but I think the American people are under taxed. You know we have very low tax rates relative to most countries, and I think too low. I think only government can deal with these catastrophic risks – not that the government has to do any of the research or anything; but the resources required, I think, for effective protection against them require a large-scale government spending.
I think we’ve skimped on government expenditures too. It’s partly a diversion. It’s the diversion of Iraq which has been so extraordinarily expensive. But if we were ever able to extricate ourselves from Iraq, which costs about $100 billion a year, I’d certainly want that $100 billion to be devoted to other national protection and not given back to the taxpayer.
Recorded on: Nov 21, 2007.
Judge Posner would like to see heavier carbon taxes and that Americans in general are under-taxed.
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