The world’s richest man thinks robots that displace human labour should be taxed and the money used to fund philanthropic employment in health care and education. This proposal would suit the interests of the one per cent but there are probably better ways to deal with problems created by the agricultural surplus.
Bill Gates deserves some credit for his philanthropy and for recognizing educational and health care needs although one has to be concerned about the economics of how he became the current chairman of the board of the world’s elite.
To evaluate proposals like this we need to look at the vested interests of the person making them.
Mr. Gates’ foremost interest has to be in maintaining copyright and patent legislation as that is the foundation of his fortune. If our society did not have that legislation he would be just another clever computer nerd, we would all be using cheaper and better software and there would be a great deal more equality in our society.
His second greatest interest has to be promotion of the social monitoring and tracking industry. The future of his fortune probably depends upon the success of Microsoft in tracking and monitoring all people so the information can be sold to advertisers. I fear this not so much because of the advertising but because once the information is collected it will also be available to governments and the one per cent for social control. I switched my computer to linux minx because I figured Microsoft was getting too blatant and too untrustworthy in its collection of information.
Another major interest of this guy is full employment and the work ethic. He needs for everyone to be working so we can all purchase his software and be subject to targeted advertising. If that does not happen his position as the richest man on earth becomes precarious.
Another of Mr. Gates interests is the maintenance of poor people in this world. Without them he would not get brownie points for philanthropy.
Will his proposal help to save jobs? Probably not because the root problem is that we have used up the most easily available energy and mineral resources. Those that are left will take so much energy to extract their value is limited.
The development of robots should be seen as part of a long-term technological development which has given us a high agricultural and material goods surplus and which allows all the benefits of modern civilization. The challenge is to use the technology for the greatest enjoyment of human lives. It may be the greatest benefit would come from a new emphasis on doing arts, crafts, music and theatre rather than marketing more elaborate gadgets.
So there are two things which might interfere with Mr. Gates’ desire for full employment and his future. First is the depletion of energy and mineral resources which will reduce our economic activity and the second is if more and more people get fed up with the marketing conspiracy and reduce their interest in contributing to economic growth.