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Martin Luther King Jr. is jostled in Memphis as the march he's leading on March 28, 1968 turns violent. Photo courtesy University of Memphis Libraries.

Featured Documentary: King's Last March

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. More than four decades later, King remains one of the most vivid symbols of hope for racial unity in America. But that’s not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life.

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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 |
Martin Luther King Jr. is jostled in Memphis as the march he's leading on March 28, 1968 turns violent. Photo courtesy University of Memphis Libraries.

Featured Documentary: King's Last March

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. More than four decades later, King remains one of the most vivid symbols of hope for racial unity in America. But that’s not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life.

Recent Posts

  • 02.12.16

    Making Sure Learning Sticks

    If you want to really learn something before a big test, put your books down. Research shows that the traditional method of “cramming” for an exam by reading the same thing over and over again, doesn’t work. (Rerun from Oct. 2014)
  • 02.04.16

    When School Vouchers Are Not a Leg Up

    School voucher programs are controversial because they allow students to use public funds to pay for private school. A new paper is one of the first to show a school voucher program actually lowering student test scores.
  • 01.28.16

    Learning Financial Literacy

    Most teenagers are not learning about personal finance in school, according to an annual survey on financial literacy. Our guest this week says that needs to change.
  • 01.21.16

    Questioning Inequalities in Higher Ed

    College was once considered the path of upward mobility in this country, and for many people, it still is. But research shows that the higher education system can actually work against poor and minority students, because they often end up at colleges with few resources and low graduation rates.