Level the Playing Field and Protect our Seniors – Charge Robotic Workers a Payroll Tax

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.

On Bain Capital

From an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal re: the ongoing debate about Governor Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital:

If Bain’s standard operating procedure were to hand the next owner of one of its companies a ticking bankruptcy package, how is Bain still finding buyers nearly three decades later? And who would agree to lend money to a company backed by Bain? Wouldn’t word have gotten around by, say, 1987 that Bain’s portfolio companies weren’t creditworthy?
Learning about Bain successes like Staples or Gartner or Steel Dynamics confirms the logical conclusion that Bain had to be creating value along the way—for investors, for lenders, and that means for workers too.

I agree with this analysis. I haven’t heard anyone accuse Bain of unlawfully compelling any of the firms they do business with, or that any of their transactions weren’t at arms length. It is clear from the signifiant success of Bain Capital that they were legitimate, talented business people.

Operation Click Chaos

The Washington Post reports that President Obama is “aggressively” buying search terms on Google to connect with voters.

How long before Rush Limbaugh declares another Operation Chaos directing his listeners to go search for President Obama’s search terms and purposely click on the links to burn up his advertising budget?

How much does the sponsored search listing for “free birth control” cost, anyway?

Obfuscation

On House of Representatives Rejection of President Obama’s Budget:

I’m not sure what I was supposed to take away from this article, but whatever it was there has to have been a better way to communicate it.

First, the headline:

GOP-run House easily rejects Obama budget

The whole story is about how the entire House of Representatives voted 414-0 to reject the budget. What does the modifier “GOP-run” add to this – like it was only the Republicans voting against it?

The first sentence:

The Republican-run House has overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget for next year after a vote forced by GOP lawmakers to embarrass Democrats.

Apparently the Democrats voted unanimously with the Republicans – how was this embarrassing for Democrats? Embarrasing would have been if the Democrats supported the bill and lost. The vote appears to have been aimed at embarrassing the President, not Democrats in general.

Democrats have defended Obama’s budget priorities but they largely voted “no” Wednesday night.

“Largely voted?” They were unianimous. Largely would be the correct term to indicate a large majority. In this case, the word “all” would have been more accurate.

Putting the “Strategic” in Petroleum Reserves

When they named is the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve” I’m not sure the sitting president’s re-election strategy was the one they had in mind…

U.S. and Britain Agree to Emergency Oil Stocks Release

Rising world oil prices have pushed the cost of gasoline in the U.S. up sharply, threatening to stall economic recovery ahead of Obama’s bid for re-election in November.

Also

While there is no significant disruption of world oil supplies at the moment, sanctions on Iran are expected to cut its output when a European Union embargo takes effect from July.

Since there are no major supply disruptions that are artificially driving up the price, it stands to reason that prices are rising because of fundamentals and will simply go back up once our “strategic” release is over. This release is an attempt to temporarily juice oil prices to the downside for political reasons.

“The Obama administration can only take so much political pain from rising gasoline prices, which pose a serious threat to the economy and the president’s re-election,” said Bob McNally, a former White House energy adviser and head of U.S. energy consultancy Rapidan.

Candidate Ned hereby pledges not to use public resources for his personal political benefit.

High Tech White House

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/print/9225132/White_House_CIO_s_first_40_days_included_worst_day_ever

“The White House CIO office had one data center, said Colangelo. “We had no redundancy,” he said

“When it was all said and done, in the first 40 days of the administration we were down 23% of the time,” said Colangelo. ”

You thought that the most powerful man on the planet had state-of-the-art tech?  Or, heck, even an email server that worked?  No, actually it is worse than what an impoverished kid living in a hut in Brazil gets for free from Gmail.

“Colangelo was also open to new ideas.
An intern in the Council of Economic Advisors, who had a computer science background but was working on projects unrelated to his training, sparked the effort. When asked to update a spreadsheet or a memo, he automated it using macros or some other type of technology to make it move faster. ”

Wait, “using macros” was a “new idea”?  The intern probably blew the office away when he introduced them to “track changes.”

“The program also led to the development of survey tools, memo generators, and an online tool that replaced paper-based goods and services processing.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done here,” said Colangelo. ”

You should be, Mr. Colangelo.  You should be.  The six-figure salary that you earn to deliver 1990’s tech is not nearly the compensation that you deserve for producing such a monumental achievement.

Now, if only we could get these guys to run our healthcare system…