The Future Will Never Be The Same
Fast forward to the year 2033 and imagine for a moment receiving your copy of The Virtual Wall Street Journal. It is early February and the government is about to release the latest figures on the state of the US economy.
Based on the action of the futures market, the Virtual Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to open at 20752. Veteran UBS market pundit Art Cashin poetically noted how the Dow has not changed in value since February 2017. At this point candles are lit in celebration of Art’s 108th birthday. Unfortunately, the legendary voice at CNBC is the last living floor trader on the New York Stock Exchange, so no one was present for the festivities.
When asked to explain how it was possible that the value of the Dow Industrial Average could be unchanged for such a lengthy period, Art thought for a minute, scratched what was left of his comb over and remembered that after February 2018 there weren’t any industrial companies left in America. Stock exchange officials had decided to continue posting the meaningless average as a patriotic tribute. Said Art, all the action is now in the Dow Jones 30 Stock Technology Average.
At 10:00AM EST, the Labor Department is set to unveil the first edition of its new measure of employment. The new index has been in the development stage since 2024 when Congress, after another failed attempt to abolish assault weapons, outlawed unemployment instead.
Under the old employment measurement system, an individual was required to be seeking full time work in order to be counted as unemployed. The old system was never more than an idiot’s guess at what was going on in the real world in the first place. However, in 2018 the last living US job seeker gave up looking for work, which meant the labor force had effectively fallen to zero. After that any notion of an unemployment rate seemed dumber than ever.
The Labor Department’s new measure was dubbed the Holistic Accounting of Happiness or HAH for short. It measures the percent of the population employed directly in government jobs (GAHAH) or receiving full HAH government compensation (FUHAH).
For those of you that don’t see where this is going, look at it this way. The higher the HAH, the better off we are. Of course GAHAH’s get paid for doing nothing while FUHAH’s just hang out at Starbucks. The actual cost of HAH is buried somewhere deep in the Defense Budget.
Everyone I know will want to be a FUHAH. Trouble is who is going to pay for the FUHAH’s not the mention the GAHAH’s?
There Is A Solution- A Modest Proposal: 2017
One thing appears totally clear, man cannot exist solely on playing golf for an entire lifetime nor can he afford the green fees. The government cannot afford the green fees either. Right now the federal government cannot even afford the current 10 million unemployed, the 47 million on food stamps, not to mention the 60+ million retiring baby boomers.
So what is the long-term solution? TAX ROBOTS: what else could be more logical. By 2033 robots using Artificial Intelligence will control all the world’s money anyway. If we start to think of robots and other machines of labor as if they were human, we can begin the process in a calm and logical fashion.
In Europe and other parts of the world there is a VAT, or Value Added Tax. We could call ours a JET for Jobs Eliminated Tax. Start by assigning Tax ID numbers then establish tax rates based on rates of output, hell, we could even create a Medicare system to repair older robots that breakdown. There is no limit to the possibilities; we just need to get our creative juices flowing. We must begin now. Let’s not treat this with the same denial we treated the thinning of the ozone layer over Antarctica.
If we do this right, not only can we have all the time in the world for golf but also we can eliminate green fees forever.
Reality Check-An Admission
If all of this sounds a bit goofy, believe me it’s not. It is even less absurd today then it was nearly 4 years ago when I originally made this modest proposal in 2013. Why am I restating the premise again in 2017? The future arrived sooner than expected. Over my morning coffee, I opened the CNBC app to find a lead story featuring Mark Cuban, Elon Musk and Bill Gates. The topic was the future impact of technology on the labor force. After acknowledging how technology is looming problem for labor, what was their solution? An income tax on robots, what else? What a brilliant idea.
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