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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Smart Government

The Big Idea for Monday, April 15, 2013

The United States has one of the most complex tax systems in the world. Call it a nightmare. In today's lesson, Big Think Chief Economist Daniel Altman calls it exactly that. Altman has his sights on one particularly irrational tax: the corporate income tax.  

Economists don't even know who pays it, or who shares this burden. So what could we do to replace it?  One idea would be to change our income tax into "a sort of hybrid income and wealth tax." How would that work? Altman explains how "we would have a sliding scale where, depending on your wealth, you would pay different rates of income tax.  If you didn't have any income coming off your wealth then you wouldn't pay any tax.  But the more wealth you had, the higher tax rate you'd be liable to pay."


  1. 1 Let's End this Nightmare: The Corporate Income Tax
    Daniel Altman Econ201
  2. 2 Wanted: A New Name for “Redistribution” (a reader challenge)
    Steven Mazie Praxis
  3. 3 U.S. Tax Code is Four Times Longer Than Shakespeare's Complete Works, Not as Good
    Daniel Honan How to Think Like Shakespeare
  4. 4 It’s Time to Debate a Constitutional Landmine
    Douglas Hopkins Experts' Corner

Smart Government

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