I just put up a blog post on fossil law that some may find of interest. It and the previous post, on a natural experiment in paying (some) people to get married, both came out of a talk given by a colleague discussing the clash between state marriage law and federal tax law, in the context of problems currently faced by same sex couples in doing their taxes—married (or the tax equivalent) under state law but not under federal law.
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- The disconnect between state law, especially in community property states like California, and Federal law (which now requires some unmarried couples in community property states to file a community property federal tax return) is abhorrant. Ironically for many people it results in a lower overall tax burden.Mar 30, 2012
- The earlier of my two posts was motivated by the fact that in the early years of the income tax, when it became substantial and substantially graduated to pay for WWI, a single earner high income couple paid substantially less tax in a community property state than elsewhere, since half the income was attributed to the wife and so taxed at a lower rate. I was curious whether there was any result on marriage rates in community property states, with other states as a control.Mar 30, 2012
- One way to resolve the problem of outdated laws is to implement liquid democracy and continuous voting. Of course this is not easy, both technologically and politically, but I think it is on the wave of the future.
As to having a legal age to drink, have sex, vote etc, I think that it does its job poorly, and in a world of better technological tools one could rely on having individual certifications for various things. One idea would be to have a person of say 15 being emancipated by their parents for drinking, for instance. It could be required that both parents check a box and electronically sign a form, and depending on the age and issue, maybe require that a judge, or the person his/herself, consent to the emancipation by checking and signing the form too. As long as the information is readily available, say stored in an electronic id card or cell phone, age will become a non-issue for people interacting the young person. (But age could still be the default standard, in case no emancipation happens.)
But back to our present reality, if we are to have sex/drink age and have to rely on one-size-fits-all laws, then maybe adopting a continuous approach would be more sensible. For instance, the time in jail could be proportional to the how much the young person fails to be of age; e.g. the offender stays in jail until the that person reaches legal age.Mar 31, 2012