In a bombshell report The New York Times revealed ten years of tax information showing President Donald Trump claimed financial losses of over a billion dollars, wiping out any taxable income for those years. The Times and other media claim the revelation refutes Trump’s Art of the Deal persona as a highly successful businessman: “Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome,” while the leaked information by contrast “paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities.” Other critics question whether the losses were legitimate – and have seized on the story as an illustration of a tax system which fails to tax property owners and real estate entrepreneurs enough. New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz, for example, alleges that allowances for claiming loss on property depreciation (a reduction in value of a property asset over time) aren’t adequately balanced by gains in property value:  It’s an indefensible provision that, among other things, allows many landlords to pay no taxes on their rental income.” Without expertise in commercial real estate tax...
MM: Did you invent the profession of philosophical practitioner?   LA:  I thought I did, but after publication I was contacted by an officer of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association who liked the book and wanted me to review books for them.    MM: In his role as a philosophical practitioner, Eric helps people sort out their problems.  But he also tries to get them to accept that some of their problems are caused by mistakes in logic. In other words, thinking about something the wrong way is often the cause of a problem, and that thinking differently is the way to solve it. That makes sense to me. Does there necessarily have to be anything more to problem solving? LA: Well, after you consider psychological problems, logical errors, evasion, and substituting emotion for thinking,  you’ve pretty much covered the ground. You could make a case for including all those under the heading of errors in thinking, but I think it’s helpful to  draw attention to these particular categories. MM: You studied fiction writing with Ayn Rand when she gave a course of lectures in her home in 1958. I’ve read the book, The Art of Fiction, so I’m not going to ask you about the subject matter. I do want to say that it must have been amazing to work closely with her. What were your most important takeaways from the course? LA: The overriding importance of plot and concretization. Of course she thought characterization was important too, but she...
Editor’s Note: The Philosophical Practitioner, by Larry Abrams, is part of The Writers Series, our highly popular series that features novelists who were influenced by Ayn Rand. The following excerpt is the first chapter of Abrams' 2011 novel. The protagonist  is a philosophical practitioner - a new profession that emphasizes reason but doesn't slight emotions. His father's mind is going. His clients want to know how to live their lives. His now rich and famous old flame wants to get back together with him, but their lifestyles are very different. And a woman he's never seen before wants to kill him.  I had my feet up on my desk and my hands clasped behind my neck, trying once again to puzzle out why science progressed so much faster than everything else, when she walked into my office unannounced. Nothing wrong with that since I didn’t have a secretary. But she didn’t even bother to knock. She paused on the threshold for the space of a heartbeat while her dusky eyes ticked off the contents of the room – me, my desk, my computer, a desk clock, a coffee machine, and my client chair. I could see her adding these up to a sum that must have meant...
Chip Wilson’s dad, an athletics instructor, was coaching his son during a swim meet, with the advice: “Why don’t you just go full out from the start, instead of saving it up and looking good at the finish.”  Wilson won the race, and the advice would guide his future entrepreneurial exploits, which he recounts in his recently published memoir Little Black Stretchy Pants -- pointedly subtitled The Unauthorized Story of Lululemon, the game-changing athletic wear company he started.  The company changed the way people dress, not just for sports, but for life, with functional yet stylish clothes that could be worn outside the gym or yoga studio, launching a sartorial revolution that would later be known as athleisure (a term he dislikes, but acknowledges).  The reasons for the unauthorized subtitle reveal themselves in this account of corporate intrigue that later led to Wilson’s departure from the iconic company he started. But Wilson’s innate entrepreneurial drive and creativity manifested themselves long before Lululemon.  Even as a teen swimmer, he sensed an unarticulated demand for more diverse swimsuit options among his peers, and with the help of his mom (from whom he learned the craft of sewing and pattern design) imported colorful Speedos into Canada, and re-sold them for a tidy profit. Wilson worked a variety of odd jobs after school, including time spent on the Alaskan pipeline, where he remembers how union rules hampered productivity,...
I’m sitting in a small coffee shop near Nokomis trying to think of what to write about. I scroll through my newsfeed on my phone looking at the latest headlines of Democratic candidates calling for policies to “fix” the so-called injustices of capitalism. I put my phone down and continue to look around. I see people talking freely, working on their MacBook’s, ordering food they get in an instant, seeing cars go by outside, and it dawned on me. We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it. Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times. Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful. Our unappreciation is evident as the popularity of socialist policies among my generation continues to grow. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said to Newsweek talking about the millennial generation, “An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.” Never saw American prosperity. Let that sink...

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