The Backlash against Bill Gates' Call for a Robot Tax

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    I feel like Gates was just shooting the shiet during that robot-tax interview, but I guess you can’t be a billionaire without people looking for a reason to put you down. Economists and other important folks are basically calling him a luddite whose ideas would hold back progress. But wait, isn’t this the same Bill who practically made computing mainstream and is on course to eradicate four major diseases? How about no more robots, problem solved.

    …the idea drew a lot of complaints that he was being naive. While Microsoft is a leader in artificial intelligence research, Gates’ critics label his tax notion as opposing progress, a neo-Luddite prescription for a 21st century dilemma. (The Luddites were British workers in cotton and wool mills who destroyed machinery they thought threatened their jobs.) “That’s how it comes across,” as a Luddite solution, said economist Dean Baker, co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. This “is a tax on productivity growth.” The 1947-1973 period and the late 1990s were times of “mostly low unemployment and rapid wage growth” amid pell-mell productivity expansion, he noted.
     
  2. kring

    kring Limp Gawd

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    This is an absolute must-do, shouldn't even be up for debate. if you want to replace a human with a robot and autonomous vehicles, they should be taxes just like the human... eventually things will come into balance, but the world is going to fall apart if we don't start off with a heavy tax on robots. Think about.. no more taxis, no more drivers, no more car sales.. the majority of manual labor jobs are literally going to vanish in a very short period of time leaving 10's of millions of people unemployed and NOT PAYING TAXES.... where do you think the offset is going to be? If I owned a delivery service and was paying $85K a year for a driver, and now I decided to get a self-driving truck on my next lease, paying little to no additional money for the vehicle.. but now have eliminated $85K a year, why shouldn't I be taxed $25K a year for that? savings is still $60K a year... it's a win win win win.. no one looses here. the unemployed driver now has a robotic job elimination tax forgiveness period where for a year or so he is not subject to any taxes even on his new job. help him retrain and shift careers and get his wage back up in the $85K area..

    Looking long-term, when we have millions of robots and autonomous vehicles all contributing their share of taxes, the tax burden on the humans drops tremendously... it's possible at some point, we work 30 hours a week, have 60 days of vacation and retire at 45 years old because the robots are paying the required taxes and robots/autonomous vehicles are doing various state funded manual work so even lowering the overall amount of taxes required to fund the government.

    win win win win win...

    So, we'll completely screw this up and in 5 years from now we'll have 40 million homeless and 50 million unemployed people and those that remain working will be taxed at 95% to offset the burden.. suicide climbs to 1:10 people, jails are bursting at seams due to insane crime rate. The apocalypse is coming if we don't tax.

    We have a chance to do this right.... from the start, taxing robots and commercial autonomous vehicles is the ONLY solution.
     
  3. Ultima99

    Ultima99 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Plenty of MS and Bill haters around here even though, ironically, many of us here probably owe the guy a huge debt of gratitude for where things are today.
     
  4. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    That's what is interesting about the economic people claiming he'd hold back progress. That may very well be true, but not all progress is good progress. The faster we replace our job force, the faster we have to figure out our new economic structure.

    Do we go full in on nobels (the rich machine owners) and peasants (everyone else) again? How will these companies make money if their consumer base is shrunk?

    The jobs (and middle class wealth) these machines create will not offset the jobs they replace. And it's not just factory, fast food, customer service, and kiosk jobs they'll be replacing. We're talking high paying jobs in the stock market, financial sector jobs [accounting], doctors, and the like - AI/robotics has the a potential to upset the job market like we've never seen before.

    I spent the last week at the ConAg Expo here in Vegas. A good amount of the technology being shown off is designed to reduce the one major expense, labor. We're talking fully automated cranes, dirt movers, and the like. Why pay 5 guys to run 5 bulldozers when I can pay one guy to build the waypoint/grade model and have the machines produce a better product? It's also how I assume SkyNet begins .. with a massive fully automated Caterpillar D11T Bulldozer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  5. Wrecked Em

    Wrecked Em [H]ardness Supreme

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    Lmao. This is the same argument people made when businesses started bringing in computers. Society didn't crumble. People were just expected to be that much more productive.
     
  6. TrailRunner

    TrailRunner Limp Gawd

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    Where do we start with this taxing of automation and labor saving? It's safe to assume that most of us here are involved in IT, and the WHOLE PURPOSE of IT is to replace people's jobs. I work at a software company, and my company's software allows our partners to not hire people because it automates certain workflows. So, should companies that use our solution be taxed because they use business software that lets one person do the work of 15? If a small business uses Quickbooks, negating the need for an in-house accountant, should they be taxed? Or maybe it's not fair to tax the companies that are using the software, so let's tax the companies that write the software instead. That will do wonders for the American tech industry.

    Or maybe we can make a ton of regulations, if you are using a solution that automates an arbitrary amount of work, then you can be taxed, but less than that, less tax. Or a graduated tax. This will be great.

    Bulldozers and heavy machinery and their operators. I'm going to point out that when you have an operator running power machinery, that one person is doing the job of many people. Instead of 50 people digging a ditch, there's one person operating a machine. So, that should obviously be taxed!

    I am asking in all seriousness, if we take this 'labor saving devices should be taxed' for granted, where should it start, and where should it end?
     
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  7. Wrecked Em

    Wrecked Em [H]ardness Supreme

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    Remake imminent
     
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  8. sirmonkey1985

    sirmonkey1985 [H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010

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    thing is economic people only care about their bottom line, they couldn't give two shits about the people it effects as long as their profit margins increase.
     
  9. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    Problem now is that tech really can replace a huge % of the human populations jobs, can do the job better, faster, and for less cost.
    This makes money for a few people and their investors only.
    Lots of the limits have been broken down or are just about to be.
    Its not an issue that should be sidelined, talks on it are overdue.
     
  10. Chunder

    Chunder Gawd

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    When AI replaces economist, when 3D printers replace construction workers, when self driving cars replace taxi drivers and commercial drivers, when AI replaces pilots, when postal workers are replaced by drones, when cashiers are replaced with self-checkouts, when doctors and nurses are replaced by error proof robotic surgeons and diagnostic robots, when automated farms replace farmers, when warehouses and factories are human free, and so on... The world is going to need to make a very important decision on what to do with the hundreds of millions, if not billions, that'll be unemployed across the world.

    Capitalism only works when consumers (the real and ONLY job creators) spend money, and government only works when it can collect taxes from businesses profit, people's income, and spending. If hundreds of millions-billions of people are unemployed, they won't be spending money, which means businesses will go under even with automation, and government won't be able to provide earned benefits, along with funding other government services, with a severely weakened tax base. There's only 3 possible choices for the world to make.

    The first, is to say "tough luck" to these people, tell them they should've picked a better profession or should've been born into a wealthy family, cut their benefits, and wait for the eventual violent civil unrest to hit the world as people are fed up and angry over not being able to provide for themselves or their families while a select few live comfortably thanks to others hard work. (Global French Revolution with an unknown outcome, and possibility of Hitler like people raising to power around the world blaming foreigners/outsiders for their nations problems)

    The second, is to implement a basic universal income that gives every human a set living wage per month, funded by corporate taxes, and a tax on automation. This would provide money for rent, food, all utilities, and some extra for leisure activities/personal spending. This all ontop of Universal Healthcare, Universal Education, etc. (Basically continue todays system, but largely funds someones paycheck and well being by taxes)

    The third, which would probably be the hardest to implement today, is to ditch capitalism, have the 1% lose their extra stolen privileges and move to a money free system, where our machines and technology does most of the manual work and provides for every human. (This may need option 1 to happen first in order to "burn down" the old)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
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  11. -PK-

    -PK- [H]ard|Gawd

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    It would better to tax income/profits to prevent discrimination of which companies are taxed. Then create universal healthcare and universal basic income, such as the minimum amount to live with the minimum essentials in a rural area or low-income urban housing. The top 10% of American families make up 51% of the net worth in America, 50% of American families make up the bottom 1%, and the lowest 20% of families have a negative net worth due to recurring debts. The wealth inequality is absolutely unsustainable, but like every other metric, we aren't going to do anything about it until homelessness affects the white middle class.
     
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  12. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    A lot of people get confused and think this is the same thing as the industrial revolution or the rise of computers. It's not. Computers and the internet replaced jobs, but they also opened up a ton of new opportunities by creating new jobs that weren't possible before. The sole purpose of robots is to replace workers. The only opportunities created by this will be for programming and maintaining them, which by definition has to be a lower amount of jobs being displaced. I've yet to hear a single person tell me any of the new job opportunities that will come from replacing workers with robots. It really is going to cause problems on a scale we haven't seen before.

    We have a winner!
     
  13. hardboner

    hardboner Limp Gawd

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    human labor is expensive.
    If one robot could replace 5 people, goods better be 1/5 the price
     
  14. Koolthulu

    Koolthulu Gawd

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    Well when the 99% is out of a job and can't afford to buy anything, a robot tax won't matter anyway because there won't be many businesses left to pay taxes. But what does that matter? Companies need to replace more workers so their stock price can go up a penny tomorrow.
     
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  15. c_porter

    c_porter [H]Lite

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    Assuming this thread is representative (which is a big assumption), I find it hilarious that a tech forum like [H] is filled to the brim with Luddites.
     
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  16. nightfly

    nightfly 2[H]4U

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    While MS has done some good, it's also done a ton of bad. And if they're going to take credit for the good, they have to take responsibility for the bad, as well. The companies driven out of business by Bill and crew's marketing tactics probably don't think of him kindly.
    That's not how it works. The company producing/owning the robot doesn't use their cost to establish price; they use market value, and will charge as much as the market will allow. Think, diamonds. Careful marketing manipulation, stockpiling inventory, as well as getting the market to believe things about diamonds (scarcity, inherent value) which are false, drastically inflates the cost. Has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of the rocks.

    Besides, none of the utopian things will ever occur until people stop wanting to take advantage of other people. The perpetual 'I'm better than you, so I deserve more/better things' belief will probably never change. The population problem (too many people for the available jobs) won't change either, as men still often insist on their right to have as many children as they want...and no one's going to just let those children starve because daddy's an asshole. So we'll always have too many people (unless some natural disaster or epidemic of fatal disease wipes out enough of them).
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  17. c3k

    c3k 2[H]4U

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    And the cotton gin!!!

    C'mon. This "tax the new form of production because it'll put workers on the street" is soooo tired. Worse, it's a total economic fallacy.

    More efficient production will lead to improved standards of living. Why have a human laboring on repetitive tasks which are more suited to a machine? Let that human perform something more appropriate to the creativity and flexibility inherent in being a human being. I mean, laundry machines? NOOO. Let them pound my dirty clothes with rocks down at the stream. And then wring them out. I want halls filled with ironing women, heating them up on woodstoves. Gah! No electric ironing or pressing machines. Nope. Gotta keep them working in that steam-filled sweatshop. Because it's good for them???

    After all, in the end, Keynes did die.
     
  18. nightfly

    nightfly 2[H]4U

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    Who's going to convince the rich guy who owns the company to pay that human to do something that's not making money for him? Gotta be productive, right? Not every person has the creative talents to think up great ideas that make money. No brainy ideas to make money for me? Why am I paying you? You're fired. Now we're back where we started.
     
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  19. MartinX

    MartinX One Hour Martinizing While You Wait

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  20. Krab

    Krab Limp Gawd

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    I don't see this as a near term proposition but something is going to have to happen eventually. You can't have a ballooning population with robots doing 90% of the work unless you want the entire world to look like central Africa.




    This is a weak ad hominem strawman and you should feel bad.
     
  21. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    I'm with you 100% on wanting these jobs gone. The more menial the job, the more I'd be happy to let a robot have it and get rid of having all these people do unfulfilling and tedious work. The big question though is what happens after that?
     
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  22. DukenukemX

    DukenukemX [H]ardness Supreme

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    Eh, likely no. We're slowly moving away from an economy based society, and painfully. Those in power want to stay in power. Taxing robots is a good short term solution, but eventually we may need to go Star Trek like future, in terms of money.

     
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  23. Twisted Kidney

    Twisted Kidney 2[H]4U

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    The day someone design a versatile android there will be a massive shift in our civilisation. Maybe even the dawn of a post-economic society.
     
  24. mesyn191

    mesyn191 2[H]4U

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    The future will not be exactly like the past and new automation/software allows things that weren't possible before.
     
  25. mesyn191

    mesyn191 2[H]4U

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    Even at 1/5th the price the price may be too high if the economy goes into a death spiral from a lack of people able to buy anything but the very bare necessities. Or possibly not even that.
     
  26. mesyn191

    mesyn191 2[H]4U

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    History has no inevitable end point though and problems of this sort don't solve themselves.

    Remember people once upon a time (late 1800's/early 1900's) had to fight, strike, and bleed in order to get basic safety regulations in place so that they wouldn't get killed or maimed in the work place. People take that for granted now but they really shouldn't.
     
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  27. mesyn191

    mesyn191 2[H]4U

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    No here in thread has argued for a return to Luddism. Redistributive taxation has nothing to do with Luddism at all.

    edit: Luddism would be if people in thread, or if Bill Gates, had argued to destroy the automation.

    People here are fine with automation they just want the automation to be done in a ethical and fair manner that keeps society intact or perhaps even betters it.

    Ultimately isn't that what tech is supposed to be there for? To make our lives better in some fashion?
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  28. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    It is a serious problem, because concentration of wealth (even worse than now) is inevitable, since only a few people would own the means to production.

    We see this in China already, where you have a billion peasants that are happy just to have food on their plate, while you have rich factory owners that give Lamborghini's to their 16 year old kids to wreck that they have sent off to expensive American schools overseas.

    An equal problem though is how do you motivate entitled millennials to get off their asses and reach for the clouds? You also still need some kind of carrot reward system, so just collecting taxes and then distributing them based on votes (and lobbyists) to empower some politicians, and creating a dependent class isn't really a great solution either. I mean, look at what happened in Detroit.

    Its definitely a new challenge that society needs to face and find a solution to.
     
  29. mesyn191

    mesyn191 2[H]4U

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    Millenials are anything but entitled and are generally poorer and have less opportunities for higher paying work than their fathers or grandfathers did.

    What happened to Detroit has nothing to do with Millenials or a lack of economic incentivization. Detroit began to fall apart back in the late 60's/early 70's, well before the first Millenials were even born. And the reasons it fell apart was White Flight/city tax evasion (which starved the city of tax revenue as Whites fled en masse to surrounding suburbs/counties that they voted to not help fund the city) and the economic shifts that began the formation of the Rust Belt around the same time period an in general decimated American manufacturing permamently.
     
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  30. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Then how do you explain the popularity of Bernie Sanders with millennials?
    Sorry if I was vague there, but obviously I didn't mean that Detroit had anything to do with Millennials, as it was a craphole long before they were born. It had to do with the population being replaced by a dependent class that relied on the government for handouts, and this resulted in the lack of pride for their neighborhoods and lack of ambition and drive to create and grow businesses and maintain, yet alone build upon, the strong foundations present.

    Government dependent welfare class generally breeds squalor. So we need to find a way to fairly distribute mechanized labor while still encouraging people to work hard. That's easier said than done.
     
  31. snowcrash

    snowcrash Gawd

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    This is just bandages in the interim as jobs get replaced by robots. Eventually the whole world will need to figure out how to feed the masses as jobs will become a perk for the elite class.

    Too bad I won't be around to see it. It will be a world that is depicted in movies now. A ruling class at the top with all the perks and misery for the rest of the population. Or what is going on now. See Trump, USA.
     
  32. mesyn191

    mesyn191 2[H]4U

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    Sander's goal of creating a more extensive and effective social welfare safety net has nothing to do with how "entitled" millenials are currently. They'd have to have all those programs in place that Sander's ran on NOW in order for you to claim they're more entitled than previous generations.

    {{{{{edit: Also strictly speaking millenials are less entitled than the boomers since the boomers as a whole started to retire or reach retirement age en masse a few years ago and so are either eligible or collecting on Social Security and/or Medicare.

    As they should of course, they paid into them, but those are actual entitlements and you do somehow seem to think they're bad, or immoral, or unethical, in some fashion.}}}}}


    But they don't. And what social welfare programs we do have are on the chopping block. At this point its just a question of how much they get cut, not if.

    The reality is as I said: millenials are generally poorer and have less opportunities for higher paying work than their fathers or grandfathers did. So if that is true (and it is) than you can't lay any blame at all on the millenials here. They did not create the current economic or political environment at all either. That would be on the boomers.

    There is no evidence at all that somehow govt. handouts destroyed Detroit's economic and tax base. But there is plenty that other things, l like said earlier, did.

    Why? The whole point of technical advancement from societies' perspective is to eliminate work and make people's lives better. Remember the Jetson's? Silly cartoon that lampooned the concept of heavy automation but that sort of job that George Jetson had was essentially what automation was supposed to enable.

    Creating pointless drudgery is also not productive.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
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  33. mesyn191

    mesyn191 2[H]4U

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    Unless you're not going to live another 10yr or so you will get to see the start of it. Just eliminating a big portion of the truckers' jobs will have a significant economic effect and you might see that happen within the next 5yr.
     
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  34. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Sanders is the hand-me-out candidate, cmon. His popularity is because he promises millenials free shit without lifting a finger, and they like free shit. ;)

    Sure, I don't disagree that white-flight was part of what destroyed Detroit, but Detroit was not abandoned, its population was replaced. The new population had every opportunity to at the very least maintain the beautiful city that Detroit once was, but it was a dependent class that was content to live on welfare and with no pride and drive, and so the area fell to ruin and disrepair. Its a cultural change.
    That is the attitude we need to prevent, and I'm not sure how to do that while promoting redistribution of wealth to the point that people can sit on their asses smoking weed all day and accomplishing nothing.

    For society to advance, we need drive. We can't have people sitting and 'baitin all day if we are to reach our next stage of evolution as a species and expand out and colonize the universe and be better, faster, and stronger than those that came before us.

    The natural state for human nature when all needs are met is to stagnate and become sloth to conserve energy. This makes sense for primitive man or a lion, but is not how you advance as a people. And if we really do take your advice and we become a bunch of useless sacks of crap, then we deserve for the robots we create to replace us, as the next evolutionary step forward.
     
  35. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Well, part of those handouts were things Baby Boomers GREW UP WITH like tuition-free college, but okay, millennials are all the entitled ones. Also, I don't recall any of the other candidates claiming we needed to break up the banks because they had become too large and influenced government and to reinstate Glass Steagall, you know, those regulations passed after the Great Depression to prevent it from happening again that Clinton and friends got rid of in the 90s, then what do you know, we have an economic crash two years later. But sure, all handouts, that's the only reason.

    And no one is going to give two shits about the greater goals of mankind if they're working 3 jobs living paycheck to paycheck. When life is like that, the ONLY thing you care about is getting through the day. Expanding across the universe is not a profit-driven goal. Nobody's going to make money financing generation ships to send to another star system. You're absolutely right we need drive, but people need to have those values instilled in them and that will simply never happen if they can barely make ends meet.

    Sure, for some people, absolutely. For others, they have other things that motivate and drive them. I mean think about it, if what you're saying was true, every rich person on the planet would retire and stop working, because all their needs are met.
     
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  36. viscountalpha

    viscountalpha 2[H]4U

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    This is all on the premise we won't see a super bug or a worldwide natural disaster. Both which could come without warning.

    The odds are against in this regard. Provided nothing cataclysmic happens, this alone could trigger revolt when there's not enough food to go around or not enough money to be made for a decent living.
     
  37. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    You know you can still enroll in the military to get free college just like baby boomers. Worked just fine for my dad, my brother, and my sister.
    Not at all, because you can't teach an old dog new tricks. By the time they are rich, they have generally crystallized their world view, attitude, and personality, and aren't going to suddenly change into different people when they hit it big. They are going to keep acting how they have always acted.

    The problem is, if you have children that see mommy and daddy just sitting on their asses watching TV and taking that government check, how do you keep them from mimicking what they see around them and acting the same? If that's the natural state of man, and there's no carrot to drive people, its likely to be common, and its also likely that these people are going to have far more children than the successful career oriented driven people.

    In other words, how do you prevent Idiocracy or Wall-E? I don't have an answer either.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  38. Talyrius

    Talyrius Gawd

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  39. lolfail9001

    lolfail9001 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Anyone thinking robot usage can be turned into welfare heaven probably never ran the basic numbers.
     
  40. Vader1975

    Vader1975 Gawd

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    If a persons job was lost to automation and the business is still taxed as if it were a working person. There would be less incentive to automate as quickly. And tax revenues wouldnt drop so badly. I thought it sounded brilliant and laughed when "economics leaders" were upset. Tax revenues not being able to be hidden from by automation? Lets do this