Take a minute and look at your last airline ticket, your last cell phone bill or your last hotel and car rental. What does each of these have in common? The hidden taxes are staggering. Politicians sneak these little tariffs one at a time piling them on one after another until the tax rate on a car rental in New York, for example, can add to more than 25%.
How does all of this relate to robots? Those ultra productive, hyper cost effective machines that are about to dramatically reduce the role of labor should be taxed.
Don’t Fear Them, Tax Them
Tesla’s Elon Musk recently suggested the idea of a robotax. It really is nothing more than a common sense approach to solving the issue of replacing man with machine.
The idea of taxing labor is nothing new so why not tax machines. People work their entire careers paying social security taxes. And what happens then, the money actually goes to pay for the retirement benefits of others. The system is deeply dependent on a steady growing number of workers. Otherwise dooms day could occur.
If one robotically controlled machine eliminates three workers, where will the Social Security Administration get the money to pay current retirees?
Social Security is already a financial disaster. Every so often Congress sidesteps insolvency with some crafty little accounting trick, some budgetary bamboozlement, but the implication of robots could make it tuff to continue the Congressional chicanery.
The idea of robots replacing labor is hardly new. The auto industry has been shifting to robotic welding and other assembly techniques for well over a decade.
Recent events could change the public outcry for protection.
When Amazon recently offered to buy Whole Foods this grabbed the headlines and triggered prime time questions about the future of retail. Then with McDonald’s test of ordering kiosks that really pushed the limit. Taxing robots and even things like Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing.
The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Leisure
It does not however answer the question, what is man/woman to do with his/her newfound leisure? If this question were raised in a country like France where leisure is an art form to be practiced religiously, there would be a list of answers.
America is different; this is a country that is obsessed with work. Parents stress the virtues of working hard to their children. Capitalism rewards those who spend ridiculous hours every week at the office. Entrepreneurs abound in this country like no other place.
It is no exaggeration to say that Americans are married to their work and fearful of what might happen if they don’t show up everyday. It could be their massive amount of credit card debt, the monthly mortgage or something else, but Americans are totally unprepared for more leisure.
A survey published in May 2017 by Glassdoor revealed that half of the respondents utilized 50% or less of their allotted vacation time. Nearly 10% took no vacation time whatsoever. Some 23% used up all their allotted vacation but this is lower than when the survey was previously taken in 2014.
What is behind this very “un French” attitude? Well according to Glassdoor, they sight fear. The say that people are either nervous or scared that no one else can do their work and that if they fall behind it might impact their chances of getting a promotion.
Imagine when a worker is told not to worry about their work being done because a robot has replaced them? The American psyche is in store for a shock at one of its core beliefs.
It is time to start retraining our minds. Instead of spending hours at a café on the Champs Elysees watching life, go to the closest Starbucks; just leave your Smartphone and laptop at home.
Begin with 10 minutes a day and work your way up to a whole hour. It will take less than a week. Within two months you will be up to a whole day of leisure. It’s that simple. You can make the transition a success; you just have to work at it.