Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Trumpian Approach to Discourse at Florida

A few days ago Rob Rhee wrote AND SIGNED a  report that was highly critical of Florida's LLM in tax program. To be honest, the wording of the report bothered me just a bit. I like to hear the analysis but I want to come to my own conclusions. On the other hand, the general reaction to the report makes the Trump campaign look like reasoned discourse as opposed to the mob scene it is. Disgusting is one word I hear. Misrepresentations is another. And then there is the hacking-like activity of sneaking around the faculty copy machine to send out anonymously copies of the report and posting anonymous comments.

There are two reasonable responses to a report like Rob's. You can disagree with the numbers, all of which came from the Tax Department to the extent it has kept records  or the Chief Financial officer of the Law School who scores a ten in the competency and honesty departments. Or you can claim that his assumption that the tax program should general a profit is wrong.  Since I do not understand why taxpayers should subsidize a program that trains people to assist people and businesses with money to  avoid paying taxes, I personally think it needs to generate a significant profit. But we could debate that and I already know some good counter-arguments.

Privately several members of the tax faculty concede that it needs to modernize. A starting point was to assign it to classrooms that fit the number of people enrolled and to find a director to ensure the program flourished. These changes and others were unacceptable to some and the Trumpian, name calling, and accusations of distortions started. Those most terrified by change and most willing to sacrifice the program to suit their personal desires revved up alums many of whom did not need to hear both sides of the story because, like Trump, their heros could do no wrong. They had joined the ranks of true believers for whom truth was irrelevant.

Like I said, if people support the UF tax program they need to deTrump their approach and put on some evidence that disproves Rob's points or makes a compelling case that he has misunderstood what a graduate tax program should do. So far I have seen one commentator do that. Frankly I could be convinced by either approach, but as long as the best supporters can do is name call and attribute motives to Rob Rhee (who cares if he has a ax to grind if he is telling the truth) I have no choice but to assume they have nothing to say. There is plenty of "deplorable" behavior afoot but none of it is Rob's.

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