February 21, 2017

How much of the “productivity” of robots is derived from the fact these are not burdened by as much taxes as humans?

Sir, you write: “A direct tax on robots is not the answer… It makes no sense to penalise technological innovation that raises productivity and creates wealth. Indeed, any rich country that makes automation too expensive risks driving its manufacturers away to lower wage jurisdictions”, “Robot tax, odd as it sounds, has some logic”, February 21.

Indeed, but why does it not work for you the other way around? I mean in that sense human workers are also “penalized” in many ways, like with payroll taxes, and jobs driven away to lower wage jurisdictions.

So, in order to more efficiently allocate labor/capital resources, robots and similar automation should also generate payroll taxes.

You also hold “the bigger question is how policymakers can use the tax system to ensure that growth is more evenly shared”. And there I have my doubts. If you are going to tax robots only to increase the franchise value of the redistribution profiteers, I am not with you at all.

I much prefer all those revenues to become part of the funding of the Universal Basic Income that is needed, in order to be able to better face that structural unemployment to which I referred to, in 2012, with my “We need worthy and decent unemployments”.

PS. Anyone searching on this issue for “robots” on my TeaWithFT blog should be able to determine, just like in the case of “risk weighted” capital requirements for banks, that I have de facto been censored by the Financial Times. Do you feel proud about that Sir?