Just about every day we read a story about how robots are replacing humans in the workforce. Most of the articles focus on the negative impact on the humans they are replacing in the form of lost work and decreasing opportunities for work. While I tend to agree with the Wall Street Journal that humans will eventually find other forms of work, what we are not thinking about is the impact on our seniors who depend on current workers’ payroll taxes. When businesses employ robotic workers to replace humans the robots are not paying into the Social Security or Medicare funds. Furthermore by charging payroll taxes to human workers, and not robotic workers, the government is essentially putting humans at a significant disadvantage from a labor cost perspective. So if we are worried about the welfare of our human workers at a minimum we need to level the playing field by charging businesses payroll tax when they deploy robots. Whenever companies deploy new robotic systems they will be required to estimate the number of human positions the robot will replace and the nominal hourly rate for that position. They will have to pay the equivalent payroll tax that humans would have paid as the robot’s contribution to our social infrastructure.
Brian has come under fire recently for embellishing on several of his life stories. I hate to pile on but Brian’s account of his chance meeting with me, and subsequent purchase of the largest single insurance policy in Pennsylvania history, is not true either. He’s offered up this photo of the happy moment, but if you look carefully you can see it has been manipulated.
Here is the real photo. The record policy holder is weatherman Phil Connors, not Brian.
I traveled with Secretary of State Kerry this past week to France where we met French president Hollande. If you’re wondering how it went, I guess I would report it as the Telegraph reported it:
“The French are just not that into hugging.”
So we have atheist economists preaching suppression of covetousness:
“That’s why I propose the creation of the Tenth Commandment Club. The tenth commandment—”You shall not covet”—is a foundation of social peace. The Nobel Laureate economist Vernon Smith noted the tenth commandment along with the eighth (you shall not steal) in his Nobel toast, saying that they “provide the property right foundations for markets, and warned that petty distributional jealousy must not be allowed to destroy” those foundations. If academics, pundits, and columnists would avowedly reject covetousness, would openly reject comparisons between the average (extremely fortunate) American and the average billionaire, would mock people who claimed that frugal billionaires are a systematic threat to modern life, then soon our time could be spent discussing policy issues that really matter.”
Meanwhile, religious leaders are advocating covetousness:
“Inequality is the root of social evil.”
At a recent event German chancellor Angela Merkel and I were taking a few questions and at the exact moment I was pointing out that they were bringing in cookies for a snack one of the photographers snapped this shot that made it look like Merkel was Hitler.
Sorry about that, Angela!
I got another gig with Jimmy Fallon slow jamming the news, this time with Governor Mitt Romney.
I’ve used this blog post from economist Bryan Caplan several times to explain Bayesian thinking to people – basically the idea that we should derive our opinions from the sum of information about a topic rather than selected data points (likely chosen because they support our presupposed biases). I recently posted a review of the Business Insider website and pointed out one of the things I enjoy so much are their interest grabbing headlines.
I realized today one of the reasons I like the headlines so much is that they boil what is typically a complex issue down into one definitive assertion. Consider these just from today:
The most important chart in the world, the real reason rallies end, Americans don’t understand anything about the deficit. I’ll quote Kip Dynamite: “Like anyone could know that.” While fun to read, this one blog post is proof that Business Insider is the least Bayesian website on the Internet.😉