The Public Interest

Communication: Against a Negative Income Tax

Alvin L. Schorr & James Tobin

Fall 1966

One can only agree with the basic assumption of Professor Tobin’s article (in The Public Interest, No. 4). That is, the nation requires two complementary strategies to deal with poverty. One would educate and train our citizenry to earn as much income as they can. The other would assure income, by some system of government payments, to those who have not succeeded or cannot succeed in securing adequate income through work. Beyond that assumption, Professor Tobin’s presentation of the negative income tax is thoughtful and enlightened. It therefore offers an unusual opportunity– without necessity for detour into minutiae or underlying ideology– to identify serious limitations in the only type of plan for assuring income that has drawn public attention since the declaration of a war against poverty.

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