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The First Gen Movement

Over the past decade many elite colleges have taken great strides to admit low-income students, but there are unanticipated financial and cultural barriers to fitting in on campus that can’t easily be solved by merely giving students a foot in the door. Questions of class differences have spurred a nationwide movement of “first generation” student clubs on college campuses.

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Tax privilege, not productive work

File under: tax policy, opportunity, privilege, taxes

0 (0 votes)

From: Chuck M., Chicago, IL

A pair of complementary fiscal reforms would vastly reduce unemployment and poverty.

(1) Stop taxing productive work. That means no payroll tax and no income tax on wages or capital goods.

(2) Tax privilege at a very high rate. A big part of privilege is the private ownership of land. So this means a tax based on land value. (This preserves private ownership, while eliminating speculation.) Other kinds of privilege include valuable mineral leases, underpriced grazing rights on federal lands, electromagnetic spectrum, and a number of others. It may be desirable to place part of the land value tax not on the owner of the land, but on the holder of the mortgage.

The net result of these two changes is that effective wages go up, but the cost of hiring labor becomes cheaper, so unemployment is vastly reduced. Resources withheld for speculative purposes become available to those who want to use them productively.

This is a simple concept but has many ramifications -- more than one would likely want to read here. Many useful papers have been written to describe and explain. One good one is Fred Foldvary's "The Ultimate Tax Reform: Public Revenue from Land Rent."


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American RadioWorks |
Image: Harvard First Generation Student Union Facebook Page.

The First Gen Movement

Over the past decade many elite colleges have taken great strides to admit low-income students, but there are unanticipated financial and cultural barriers to fitting in on campus that can’t easily be solved by merely giving students a foot in the door. Questions of class differences have spurred a nationwide movement of “first generation” student clubs on college campuses.

Recent Posts

  • 04.15.15

    The Lost Children of Katrina

    In the year following Hurricane Katrina, 30 percent of displaced children were either not enrolled in school or not attending regularly. Today, Louisiana has the nation’s highest rate of young adults who are neither in school nor working. And researchers are starting to ask: could the widespread gaps in schooling after Katrina be the reason?
  • 04.08.15

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    Last month the board of Sweet Briar College announced that the school will shut its doors at the end of this term, due to financial difficulties. The announcement was made abruptly, sending the campus community into a state of shock... and then activism.
  • 04.01.15

    The Future of College

    Kevin Carey's book "The End of College" is stirring up debate in higher ed circles. This week, a response to the book by a critic.
  • 03.25.15

    The End of College or the University of Everywhere

    When education policy wonk Kevin Carey looks into the future, he sees the end of traditional colleges and universities and he says that's a good thing.