January 03, 2017

According to FT’s research, how much do minimum wages and absence of payroll taxes favour robots?

Sir, Vanessa Houlder writes: “When you book an Airbnb room in London, around a third of the $100 saving you make over the price of an average hotel room is due to tax advantages which favour Airbnb’s business model, according to research by the Financial Times” “Airbnb makes most of legal wiggle room to beat hotels” January 3.

Houlder goes on with: “Research from Morgan reported a higher than expected “cannibalisation of traditional hotels” over the past year, citing survey findings that 49 per cent of Airbnb users in the US, UK, France, and Germany had replaced a hotel stay with a stay booked through the online group.”

Indeed, since it is a human owner of an apartment eating up the opportunity from a human owner of a hotel room, it could be described as “cannibalization”. But, how should we describe when for instance a robot or a driverless car takes away a job opportunity from humans? If, for instance, that happens only because of minimum wages and absence of payroll taxes, is that more like human-offerings at the altar of automation and technology?