In a bid to control the natural emergence of a new reality, central planners are already trying to figure out “fair” ways to tax robots for their labor. Since robots can’t pay tax bills, the onus will fall on the robot owners. And since robot owners don’t work, plan, invest, or design for free, the cost of that robot labor will be passed on to the person who is paying for the product or service the robot worker helped create.
The article in mibiz.com will give you some ostensible reasons to justify taxing robots, such as preventing robots from becoming so less expensive than humans that they cause these humans to lose their jobs.
In reality, the bottom line is that a scheme to tax robot labor is really an attempt by central planners to control the emergence of new realities that they can’t imagine will produce ‘good’ results.
They imagine they have the capacity to predict all of the new opportunities that could be created if you simply allow robot labor to emerge the way the market will naturally find them useful, within the boundaries of the only true identifier of an authentic market, the price someone is willing to pay for an end-product or service compared to the price it costs to create that end product or service.
I guess the one question I have is this, if you believe in no taxation without representation, will robots be given the “right” to vote as well? I hope so. It’s the only decent thing to do. And God knows, robots voting can’t do any worse than people already have.
|Manufacturers bristle at concept of taxing robots|
The shift to a more automated future in which manufacturers need fewer workers to churn out products has the potential to upend how industrialized countries operate.
In bracing for the potential loss of jobs and income tax revenues, some worker advocates and philanthropists have started to float the idea that machines should be taxed as a way to ensure governments can continue to function and provide a social safety net for their citizens, including those displaced by automation equipment.
A January 2018 study from researchers at Northwestern University found that taxing automation equipment would result in some loss of efficiency for companies, but they argued it was needed to fund a lump-sum rebate that the government would provide to workers to ensure they maintain a minimum income after robots take over more of the routine jobs.
The researchers determined that a dip in the cost of automation equipment could exacerbate income and wealth inequality in the U.S. without changes to the federal tax code.
“Even though routine workers keep their jobs, their wages fall to make them competitive with the possibility of automating production. Income inequality can be reduced by raising the marginal tax rates paid by high-income individuals and by taxing robots to raise the wages of routine workers,” according to the report, which determined a tax on robotics made sense only when industry is in a state of less-than-full automation.
While most manufacturers have been quick to dismiss the notion of taxing robots, policy experts say the idea appears to have legs.
“There has to be a revenue source for (the governments),” said Jim Robey, director of regional economic planning services at the Kalamazoo-based W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. “As we evolve to more workers with higher levels of skills and more productive machines … we’re going to see higher output per worker, but not necessarily more workers.”
The discussion about a new tax scheme has only picked up after billionaire technology entrepreneur and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates argued in support of a tax on robotic equipment during an interview with the online publication Quartz early last year.
“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things,” Gates said in the interview. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”