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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