CC has listed some questions that trouble her . Here's the quick version of my answers; I'd be happy to elaborate or debate if desired.
1. How do I justify loving art and goofing off and creature comforts in a world where so many are suffering and I could feed a kid in Africa for a year on what I spent on a painting on Saturday? There's an old story about a new-hire lumberjack, who impressed his boss with his tremendous production right from the start... but after a few days, his production started tapering off, so the boss asked him about it. "I don't understand," the kid said, "I'm working harder than ever, but just can't seem to get anywhere." The boss said, "Here's your problem- your ax is dull! Why haven't you sharpened it?" "I was falling behind- there wasn't time to sharpen it!" Your tools, your mind, and your spirit must all be sharp to be effective- if you let your spirit grow dull, you'll become part of the problem, rather than the solution. Joy is as vital as food to being human.
2. What’s the deal with my professor asking vague multiple choice questions but insisting that there’s one right answer when sometimes reasonable arguments could be made for up to three? Because to many people, only their solution is reasonable; to your professor, the other arguments, not being his, are by definition not reasonable.
3. What duties do I have to the rest of humanity? To my family in particular? Your first duties are to yourself and your family- it does humanity no good to be less than your best, because you can give the most when you have the most to give. It's like the instruction one gets in an airplane: if the oxygen masks fall, put your own on before trying to help anyone else!
4. Could you summarize the analytical framework that goes along with the federal taxation of a company’s loans to employees and shareholders, with specifics on what gets taxed when, and what gets capitalized when if the employee is working on a long-term capital project? I have only the vaguest idea of what you're talking about, so I'll generalize: corporate and company taxation is intellectually dishonest and counterproductive; the best answer would be to not tax them in the first place.
5. Is that old law school maxim “A’ students become judges and ‘B’ students work for ‘C’ students” thing really true? Because some of us are counting on it as our backup plan… I don't know about the law, but it's true in many other professions- and I can't suggest a better plan.
6. I am, at heart, quite an eccentric and moody person. But I have seen before how much being an eccentric and moody person that people don’t identify with and don’t understand gets in the way of having things I want and connecting with others. What’s the proper balance between living my life as I please and being someone that other people understand and root for? Just come up with interesting explanations for your eccentricities, whether they're true or not, and make it clear that they are not a reaction to the people around you. People love eccentrics, as long as they're amusingly weird and not confrontational. Many people have made entire careers as an eccentric.
7. So what’s the deal with corporate takeovers? In general and with specifics. Too open ended a question for me.
8. When I come across and idea or a philosophy I don’t get or don’t agree with, I have this little-kid-with-a-broken-alarm-clock need to take it apart, figure out how it works and see what the problem is. I do this by arguing or at least asking pointed questions. Some people think that’s fun and I can talk to those people for hours. But others tend to see me as stupid or a contrarian (or a racist, or a kneejerk liberal or an elitist or… or…) when I argue with ideas that they hold dear. Right now, my solution is to mostly move that nitpicky nature to the internet, but even there are there times when I should just shut it and let people think what they want without bugging them, and agree to disagree before I’ve gotten their argument down to the premises and pissed them off? I have this tendency and problem myself. I finally decided that people have the right to be wrong, and if they insist on exercising this right, I can't stop them. I judge when they've reached this point by the amount of venom used.
9. Is it actually moral for the government to use taxation to socially engineer as much as they do? To what degree should I accept the argument that what the government taxes, it controls? If I should accept, isn't progressive taxation with a deduction for the personal consumption costs of enough for food, shelter and preventative medical care and no other deductions at all the ideal? No, it is not moral to use taxation for social engineering- it's little different from using a gun when people don't have the money to buck the system. You should totally accept the argument that what the government taxes, it controls- indeed, control is sometimes the stated reason for the tax involved. (See social engineering) If the progressive tax you're speaking of is an income tax, then no, it isn't the ideal. Consumption taxes are superior in terms of fairness and economic growth.