As more Robots replace Humans in the workplace, it is time for a robot tax?

robots-taking-our-jobs How to stop robots from taking more of our jobs? how about we start taxing them?

At the rate it is going, robots can probably take more than 10% of the jobs that humans currently perform, in the not too distance future. Possibly even more. For companies, this is a great thing of course, as robots can do a very accurate and great job, without having to pay them, worry about training them, getting sick etc. You just program them and they are on their way.

For us, humans, this trend is increasingly more and more concerning, as it is costing us jobs in manufacturing, automation and various other sectors.

CBS’s ’60 Minutes’  had a recent episode dedicated to this very topic: Are robots taking our jobs?

What can be done to discourage companies from using more and more robots to replace human labour?  how about tax on companies using robots? what? yes you read that correctly, and this coming from someone who doesn’t believe in too much taxation and government intervention in the free flowing of a capitalistic enterprise system. Let me explain how I could justify something as outrageous as a ‘tax on robots’ (robot head tax)

As more and more robots automate and take our jobs, we humans lose in the long term. We lose these good paying jobs and are left with these jobs at the bottom of the barrel. Jobs that pay just slightly above the minimum wage.  The government can tax companies for the usage of robots on the basis of the income they generate for the company. Just because they are non-human doesn’t mean they should be exempt from paying taxes. Individuals and companies already pay taxes on so many things such as property, cars etc. Why not robots? And to justify such a tax, it would make a lot of sense to dedicate revenues from this to fund future labor training on new technologies.  That is to fund the transition and training to new technologies needed to be ready for the new digital age.  Remember, the government is losing a lot of tax revenues when humans are eliminated by robots. Such a tax on robots would make up some of that revenue. And for companies using robots for production, paying such a tax will still generate them more profits than if they were employing humans.

Some may argue that it doesn’t make sense and is not fair to tax something just because it is helping a company save money. True, but these savings are coming at the expense of hiring human beings to perform the job.  Where does it end? when half of our jobs have been delegated to be done by robots? and as mentioned earlier, the more jobs get eliminated by robots, the less tax revenue and income is available to society, all of which will impact the economy as a whole in the long term.

If a tax is not a fair idea, how about putting a cap by the government on how much of a company’s workforce is composed of robots? And again,  this is coming from someone who believes in free enterprise and capitalism. But I believe everything has a limit and the government can and should have a role to play in this, to ensure robots don’t automate every possible job and put humans out of work.  In other words, just because a job can be done by a robot doesn’t mean it should. Humans and robots can mix in doing certain jobs.

Where does it end? Outsourcing, cyber-sourcing, robots etc. There are more and more pressures on traditional labor, where there is less need for the latter and the pay continues to dwindle. It is understandable that it is part of the realty of the 21st century and the new digital age. But we have to be careful on how we make this transition. We have to bridge the gap and not just stomp on our most valuable resource-humans-in order to make as much profits as possible. At the end of the day, if humans don’t have good paying jobs, companies will not have enough profits, never mind money for robots and automation.


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