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A student learns welding at a vocational high school in Massachusetts. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

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Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education. This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education is being reimagined.

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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 |
A student learns welding at a vocational high school in Massachusetts. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Ready to Work

Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education. This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education is being reimagined.

Recent Posts

  • 04.28.16

    “My Frain is Bried”: Shadowing a Student

    "Welcome to our world." Educators take an entire school day to shadow a student and walk in their shoes. We find out how it went for one teacher.
  • 04.21.16

    High School Job Prep

    Want a job? So does every student ever! Maybe career and technical education classes are the way to go. Shaun Dougherty says you could be more likely to graduate and earn more if you do.
  • 04.14.16

    How Tutoring Helps Students

    Private tutoring is no longer just for the rich kids. Our guest tells us how the individual attention improves student learning and graduation rates.
  • 04.07.16

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    In our last episode, Andrew Hacker argued that math courses like algebra are unnecessary for most high schoolers. This week's guest couldn't disagree more.