Thursday, December 05, 2013
Dear Mr. President:
Thank you for your talk of December 4. It was wonderful. I hope to see/hear many more such talks over the next months.
The 2014 election cycle is presenting us with an enormous opportunity to bring balance back into our systems. Balance means that the system is supporting the Common Good and the General Welfare as opposed to the insane kind of distribution we have at present.
At the breakfast table the other morning, Mary and I who have a relatively secure middle class retirement income because we worked for Los Angeles County whose retirement system is sound, and because we have decent Social Security incomes as well as Medicare, were talking about the impact of robotics on employment and how it is and will continue to be putting people out of work. There are lots of good sides to this, such as freeing individuals from tedious and repetitive labor, and not so good sides, such as how are these people going to make a living?
The employment issue can be largely solved by adding many millions of teachers and support staff to the educational systems, many millions of doctors and support staff to the health systems, and many other human relation roles that machines cannot do. Humans caring about and for each other seems kind of natural, doesn't it?
The loss of jobs to robotics, however, does affect FICA and income to the Government from tax on wages. There is no reason corporations who "own" these huge manufacturing and distribution systems should benefit from not having to pay humans wages and support the Common Good which consumes their products.
An Idea surfaced: Each robotic device that replaces a human worker should be taxed at some level and made to contribute to the FICA system. The "owners" do not have to pay actual wages, but are still responsible for income tax and FICA for each worker replaced by a robotic device. Why Not?
lots of love