On this day in history, in 1921, William Howard Taft was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after having served a term as president ten years prior. Taft remains the only person to have been both president and a Supreme Court Justice, much less Chief Justice.
William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1857. He graduated from Yale University and Cincinnati Law School, then began his career in private practice. He served as an assistant prosecutor, a judge, and the Solicitor General of the United States. In 1901, he was named Civilian Governor of the Philippines, and in 1904, he became Secretary of War. In 1908, he was elected President of the United States, and served one term. After leaving the White House, he taught constitutional law at Yale University and served as Joint Chairman of the War Labor Board. In 1921, he was nominated Chief Justice of the United States, and served in that role until his death in 1930.
And, before you ask, no, there is no evidence that Taft ever got stuck in a bathtub. The story is a myth that has been around for many years, but there is no proof that it actually happened.Taft was a large man, weighing over 300 pounds, and comments about his weight were common..
In fact, there is some evidence that suggests that the story is not true. It is known that Taft had a custom-made bathtub installed in the White House, which was specifically designed for him. Taft was a middling president and a … just okay jurist.
Donald Trump and his aide, Walt Nauta, have asked a federal court in Florida to postpone their criminal trial in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Prosecutors had already asked for a delay until December 11, but Trump's lawyers said that would not give them enough time to prepare. They argued that a December trial would be untenable in view of the logistical demands of Trump's presidential election bid, the potentially large amount of evidence they might need to review, and other cases he faces.
The documents case will unfold under a strict set of rules prescribed by the Classified Information Procedures Act. Trump's lawyers said that the government's requested schedule was "unrealistic" and that the court should withdraw the current order setting trial and postpone any consideration of a new trial date. The U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., declined to extend workplace protections to a Mexican citizen in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program who claimed ExxonMobil Corp. unlawfully used his immigration status to rescind a paid internship offer. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower court order dismissing a proposed class action lodged by DACA recipient Aldo De Leon Resendiz. The lower court correctly found that DACA isn't protected by federal anti-bias law, and Exxon's hiring policy treats job applicants according to their immigration status. De Leon also cited the US Supreme Court's June 2021 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. to bolster their discrimination claims.
Texas leaders have reached a $18 billion deal to cut property taxes and reduce the franchise tax. The compromise plan includes reducing the school property tax rate for homeowners and business properties, creating a tax-credit pilot program for non-homesteaded properties, and providing relief on the franchise tax for businesses. The bills and a constitutional amendment to enact the tax cuts are expected to pass in both chambers this week. Governor Greg Abbott will sign the legislation, which would provide the largest property tax cut in Texas history. The tax plan would double the franchise tax exemption to $2.47 million, benefiting nearly 67,000 businesses.
Additionally, the bill eliminates a "nuisance-tax" requirement for taxpayers who file no-tax-due forms for franchise taxes. The measure also includes a provision for reducing the property tax rate for the maintenance and operation component of school district taxation. Non-homesteaded real property valued at $5 million and under will receive a 20% circuit-breaker on appraised value increases as a three-year pilot project. A property tax so-called “circuit breaker” is just a refund given to low income individuals when their property tax liability exceeds a given threshold of their income – here, 20%.
The owners of generative artificial intelligence models are seeking to improve them by asking for forgiveness rather than permission. Two lawsuits were filed against OpenAI last month, one over scraped private data and another over copyrighted books. The problem is, if creators of books and other media cannot be readily identified in such lawsuits, they won't be able to receive compensation – and even if they are, they’ll be paid pennies. Only a tax on AI can recapture some of the value generated by unidentifiable creators and redistribute toward projects furthering social good.
Ameliorating externalities is a major goal of tax policy, as they are adjunct transactional costs not considered in the exchange between the transaction's parties. For example, if a builder negotiates a price for building a shed, they may not consider the cost of sourcing lumber if they are sourcing it from the local park, absent being compelled to do so. They are being paid for labor and lumber, but only truly owed for labor. In the case of a large language model like GPT-4, the algorithm is the labor, but the data it has ingested to "learn" about language is the lumber.
Furthermore, the remuneration owed to creators shouldn't be keyed to the market value of those works, as the works are intangible property and aren't being reproduced in their entirety by the model. They aren’t displacing a purchase of the material in the marketplace, they’re being used for something heretofore not considered – something new. Remunerating society for the use of these works is the wheelhouse of tax policy, not individual infringement suits or the copyright regime writ large.
The pursuit of ad-hoc lawsuits or class action lawsuits allows OpenAI or owners of similar models the ability to pay one time and gain access to all the world's knowledge. This incentive encourages them to move quickly and infringe things to maximize the value they can gain in exchange for whatever settlement would be.
I argue a nimble 'data crawl' tax policy is needed to address the challenges of taxing AI parameters and determining the percentage of the value to be taxed for crawled public data. One possibility is to tax models according to their parameters, which can be thought of as bits of knowledge derived by the model from data it has been shown.