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Bill Gates: Robots Should Pay Taxes, Too!

Bill Gates: Robots Should Pay Taxes, Too!

“Tax the robot” at a similar level as the displaced human worker

Bill Gates is arguing for a robot tax on businesses and, by clear and obvious extension, on consumers.

Fox News reports:

Bill Gates, the co-founder of  Microsoft and world’s richest man, said in an interview Friday that robots  that steal human jobs should pay their fair share of taxes.

“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, Social  Security tax, all those things,” he said. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d  think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”

Gates made the remark during an interview with Quartz. He said robot taxes could help fund projects like caring for the elderly or working with children in school. Quartz reported that European Union lawmakers considered a proposal to tax robots in the past. The law was rejected.

Recode, citing a McKinsey report, said that 50 percent of jobs performed by humans are vulnerable to robots, which could result in the loss of about $2.7 trillion in the U.S. alone.

“Exactly how you’d do it, measure it, you know, it’s interesting for people to start talking about now,” Gates said. “Some of it can come on the profits that are generated by the labor-saving efficiency there. Some of it can come directly in some type of robot tax. I don’t think the robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax. It’s OK.”

So create a new tax burden to pay for the federal government to support the people all these taxes leave penniless and in need of government assistance?

I’m not sure if his intention is to rollback the adoption of automation through high taxes that discourage technological advances that replace human workers, but given his own business, it’s hard to imagine him attempting to tamp down on technological progress.

That, however, would be the result if the tax is high enough to encourage businesses to keep human workers. Why spend R&D on building stuff no one will buy because it’s cheaper to hire humans?  If the “robot tax” is still less than replacing humans, then businesses might continue to shift to robots.

Either way, and as with all progressive ideas about new and inventive ways to raise taxes, the affect on consumers is a real problem that these progressives never consider . . . beyond “using” the money to set up new poverty programs for those they’ve impoverished.


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Bill Gates is simply a latter-day Luddite if he thinks that labor saving machinery should be taxed because – it saves labor.

Fundamentally, there’s no difference between a “robot” and a power loom or power forge operated by a water wheel in terms of their impact on eliminating tedious work driven by human muscle, magnifying the AMOUNT of productive work that can be done, plus freeing large segments of the human race from dangerous, rote labor.

Bill might as well advocate for taxing all labor-saving farm machinery and all labor-saving construction machinery as these have put FAR more manual laborer out of jobs than “robots”.

Oh, and Bill, how many legions of paper-based manual bookkeepers have PCs put out of work? Shouldn’t PCs and operating system software be taxed for saving too much manual labor?

Suppose I buy a robot nanny instead of hiring an illegal alien? What’s the correct tax rate? I’m very confused.

A Memo to Bill Gates:


Robots don’t “steal” human jobs. Rather, automation displaces workers in three basic areas:
1) Jobs that are extremely hazardous, thus eliminating the risk of human injury or death, and;
2) Jobs that are extremely repetitive that cause both boredom and repetitive motion injuries in humans, and that robots can thus perform with more precision and;
3) Jobs that humans voluntarily although unintentionally give up through unreasonable demands such as the fast food workers demanding a salary the businesses can’t afford if they wish to remain in business.

When businesses start paying the robots a wage I will be fine with taxing that wage just as we do for non-robotic workers.

Didn’t Obama complain about ATMs and bank teller jobs?

People complain about Wal-mart taking the mom & pop stores away, but don’t complain about Amazon taking business away from Wal-mart.

And now Amazon want to have more automation in their warehouses and ship via drones – aren’t they taking jobs away?

Bill Gates is an idiot and needs to shut up.