Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Law Review Articles on Social Security

TaxProf Blog links to comments by Benjamin Templin on an earlier Cornell Law Review article by Neil Buchanan. Buchanan argues that we shouldn't take projections of Social Security's insolvency all too seriously; Templin replies that it makes sense to diversify the Social Security trust fund into stocks, even if we aren't yet sure if/when insolvency will take place. I commented on some of Buchanan's arguments here.

While I enjoyed both articles, it does strike me that there's a qualitative difference between law review articles on Social Security and those in policy or economic journals. There's more footnoting in law review articles, to be sure – I was shocked at how much extra citation work was requested when an article of mine was adapted for a law journal – but overall the presentation of evidence and argument strikes me as generally sloppier than what you'd find in a policy article. Maybe it's because lawyers see themselves as proponents of arguments with less obligation to present contrary evidence – I guess the opposition is supposed to supply that.

For instance, Buchanan notes "the overwhelmingly regressive effect of the Bush tax cuts." Being curious, I checked the cite: it simply references the 2001 and 2003 tax legislation, as if that's enough to establish overwhelming regressivity. Overall it just doesn't seem at the level you'd expect from a good economics or policy article, be the author from the left or the right.

No comments: