Is Victory chocolate a human right? Tycoons and Oligarchs consecrate Universal Basic Income
Ah, the companies that care about me, and indeed, humanity, and indeeder, improving shareholder return. What a bettr* world it would be, if they had it their way, which they likely will, and massively fired its frothy workforce, moving those lives to the public pocketbook.
But, I am not a cynical type of skeptic.
Is Universal Basic Income a ‘good’ thing? Who will pay for it? Well…
Bill Gates argues that if today human workers’ income is taxed, and then a robot comes in to do the same thing, it seems logical to think that we would tax the robot at a similar level.
European Union In February, 2017, proposed legislation to regulate the rise of robots, including an ethical framework for their development and deployment, but imposing a robot tax on owners.
Noah Smith argues that the problem with Gates’ basic proposal is that it is very hard to tell the difference between new technology that complements humans and new technology that replaces them, and proposes alternative options to deal with the disruption.
Lawrence Summers thinks that robots are wealth creators, taxing them is illogical and Gates’ robot tax would amount to “protectionism against progress”.
Tyler Cowen wonders whether we should be taxing robots or rather subsidize wage labor.
Izabella Kaminska argues that a call for robot income tax is really just a call for more corporation tax and/or a wealth tax.
I have no solution to creating a fund, and then disbursement for Universal Basic Income. Who gives them money and how will that be adjusted for inflation, what if it’s not enough, what if the oligarchs and their oligarchic companies find every loophole not to pay their share?
This could be me. Adam’s salary generates income tax and social security payments that help finance government programs for less fortunate members of his community. I will be replaced by AdamR, a robot that does what I do better and cheaper and without benefits
AdamR will never negotiate a labor contract with its employer. Indeed, it will receive no income. The only way to simulate an income tax on behalf of AdamR is to use Adam’s last annual income as a reference salary and extract from his employer’s revenues income tax and social security charges equivalent to what Adam paid.
Whereas Adam’s income would have changed over time had he not been fired, the reference salary cannot change, except arbitrarily and in a manner setting the tax authorities against business. The tax office and his employer would end up clashing over impossible estimates of the extent to which Adam’s salary would have risen, or fallen, had he still been employed.
This poses a problem of ‘where no man has gone before’. The advent of robot-operated machines that have never been operated by humans means there will be no prior income to act as a reference salary for calculating the taxes these robots must pay.
How do we explain to Jeff Bezos and the world eating Amazon to pay “income” tax for AdamR but not for the work that AdamR does.
Assuming that robots cannot be made to pay income tax without creating new potential for conflict between the tax authorities and business (accompanied by tax arbitrage and corruption), what about taxing AdamR at the point of sale to his employer? That would of course be possible: the state would collect a lump-sum tax from his employer the moment he replaces Adam with AdamR.
The conceptual problem of differentiating between AdamR and the work he does would make it impossible to agree on how a robot tax should work…
and who will pay
new word I’m trying to get into the language, means ‘better but not’