Individual income and organizational performance are directly tied to knowledge and skills. If you have an MBA, you earn a lot more over the course of your career than someone with just a high school degree. Organizations with strong marketing, tech, human resources, strategy and other capabilities tend to greatly outperform the market.
Knowledge is a form of wealth.
As a society we tax income on a graduated scare to fairly cover the costs of having a civil society. This model puts more onus on those that hold the most wealth (unless they find loopholes). This is in part used to create a safety net for those with the lowest incomes.
Given the increased impact of knowledge on survival, do we need to think about a model of knowledge tax to provide those without knowledge with access to the time and talents of those with specific expertise?
I am not suggesting the government literally tax folks and mandate they donate X hours per year. This would be neither desirable or feasible.That said, professions should strongly consider following the lead of the legal profession and de facto setting a self-imposed knowledge tax on their membership. For lawyers it is typically 50 hours per year – one week.
AIGA recently challenged its members to commit five percent of their time to pro bono service. It is time for AMA, AIA, SHRM and other professional associations to ask themselves how they need to contribute their skills to those who can’t afford them.