Royal Society of Arts proposes raising taxes on Apple, Amazon, Facebook more for UK universal basic income

“Britain could raise new taxes on Amazon, Facebook and Apple to give every citizen under the age of 55 as much as £10,000 in a form of universal basic income (UBI), according to a study, helping to counter the growing risk of job losses from automation and artificial intelligence,” Richard Partington reports for The Guardian. “The Royal Society of Arts is proposing that the government develop fresh taxes on tech firms, introduce wealth taxes, or borrow money from the financial markets to create a Norwegian-style sovereign wealth fund to pay for UBI.”

“The idea from the thinktank led by Matthew Taylor, who recently carried out the landmark review of employment and the gig economy on behalf of Theresa May, builds on the concept of providing citizens with a UBI as a solution to the mass unemployment that could result from robots replacing workers,” Partington reports. “Last month, the RSA warned almost half of people in the UK have less than £1,000 saved and that almost a third are at risk of a financial shock, such as from automation – showing the need for changes to the tax regime as a catalyst for more state funding.”

“The thinktank said financing a sovereign wealth fund with taxes on capital wealth of individuals or global companies would cut the state’s reliance on income tax and national insurance,” Partington reports. “It said the model would complement welfare policies such as housing and disability benefits by supporting living costs.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In our experience, when anything is given away for “free,” it’s devalued. Devaluation would seem to be a problem, especially when it comes to money.

Bill Gates wants to tax ‘job-killing’ robots – March 27, 2017


  1. Interesting concept taxing tech companies when they eliminate jobs with technology solutions to offset income losses. The problem is then this new “tax” raises the price of goods out of the reach of even more people (who will be the ones actually paying this, not the company) creating an even more elitist have & have-not culture.

    1. penalization. To penalize success or progress is nothing but ironic and contrary. Historical tech progress didn’t eliminate chances to work, but required the transition to new and, in many cases, created more jobs. The future could be different, but if the past is an indicator, the sky isn’t falling. We don’t need the govt crib to completely envelop the culture.

      1. I think we will reach a time when technology benefit creating new jobs will start to be lopsided with fewer jobs or jobs most people could never achieve the proper skill level to obtain, though I hope not. When that will be would be hard to say. It could be far off or just around the corner.

  2. How, how about us older artists, mates!?! We’re still creative, shit.

    Here’s a thought – put all hard workers and rich people in chains and make them work for free while artists and other freeloaders like professors and students and shammers share their wealth from their industriousness!


  3. If I take money from people for my personal benefit I am labeled a robber, but if the government takes money from millions of people to distribute to thousands of others it’s called social justice.

  4. The evidence from trials in several countries (inter alia Sweden and Finland) is that UBI actually encourages people into work because it eliminate the “can’t afford to work because I lose my benefits” issue. It also encourages enterprise because the UBI provides some security as back stop. This may not be popular politically with those who see it as “something for nothing”, but the evidence is that it works – and that is the important thing.

    1. To avoid inflationary pressure on wages, all governments deliberately manage the economy to keep unemployment above a “full employment” level, approximately where we are now. Interest rates are going up to slow the economy and limit further expansion of the labor market.

      If the people thrown out of work starve or die of untreated medical conditions, the unemployment rate will fall and inflation will follow. There is therefore an economic argument for UBI, aside from the moral issue of helping people who are kept out of work by deliberate government policy.

    2. Sweden and Finland may well be examples to study. But surely it’s more a matter of making the existing system work?

      And what happens when someone spends all of their UBI? Do they then go on benefits again? Or starve in the streets?

      1. Obviously, you don’t get a £10,000 lump-sum at the beginning of the year.

        These schemes usually spread it either monthly, or every two weeks. Even the most financially inept people can manage to survive for a week until the next pay cheque arrives, and spreading it across months or weeks makes these payments much smaller, thereby making it a lot less attractive to splurge.

        Studies show that poor people, when faced with large influx of money, tend to recklessly spend all quickly, but when the same amount is chopped up and trickles in over a long period, they preserve most of it and use it productively.

        UBI is conceptually a most creative solution to inspire innovation and enterprise. Too many creative people are stuck in meaningless, non-productive jobs because they can’t afford to lose them.

  5. A perverse incentive that would repress and discourage investment, innovation, risk taking, etc. This is not the answer.

    The way to create wealth among the poor is through opportunity, access to a quality education, fair access to credit on reasonable terms, etc.

    In America we already have tens of millions who are dependent upon the government for housing, groceries, healthcare, utilities and transit. Many of these people think it is their right to have kids despite their inability to take care of their own lives and commonly have more kids than people of means. I am more than a little tired of these people scratching my pocket. I have been approached by panhandlers in front of businesses that had “Help Wanted- all shifts, full and part time” posted at the entrance.

    I am a Progressive who believes in Free Undergraduate Education for students who progress toward a degree and Universal Health Insurance funded and operated by the Federal Government, but the concept of paying people for doing nothing is not going to fix things. If you cannot take care of yourself, do not make more- get off your backside and get to work.

    1. You make a number of valid points, DavGreg. Opportunity, access to a quality education, fair access to credit on reasonable terms, and so on are important factors helping the poor to elevate themselves. That should always be the first priority – to help people elevate themselves. Even so, there will always be some people living in poverty conditions, even in a wealthy country.

      But you should also consider that the policies that worked (or appeared to work) in the past may not be adequate to address the future. Throughout the bulk of human history, the majority of people farmed hunted, or fished for food. With the shift to mechanization, however, fewer people had to work on the farms to feed the growing population. According to Wikipedia, “As of 2008, less than 2 percent of the population is directly employed in agriculture. In 2012, there were 3.2 million farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers and an estimated 757,900 agricultural workers were legally employed in the US.” Many workers shifted from farms to factories in the early and mid-20th century. More recently, manufacturing jobs have declined and service jobs have grown. But automation and robotics are gradually creeping into all types of jobs – automated factories, vending machines, driverless cars/cabs, etc. In the longer term, AI will even displace highly trained workers in healthcare, for instance, for diagnosing illnesses, interpreting x-rays and ultrasound images, and performing surgeries. What is the job migration path for these people? How will they make a living?

      If the people have no way of sharing in the wealth produced by the lightly-staffed, automated factories and such, then we are headed towards social disaster. China may hit that cliff even faster than the U.S., given their relatively large rural population and their rapid pace of growth and implementation of advanced robotics and automation. The millions of young Chinese who left the farms over the past few decades may find themselves without jobs and no place to return, even if they were inclined to go back to farming.

      In most of the world, it takes far less work time to meet your basic human needs than it did just a century ago. We still work a lot, but much of that work is for luxuries and extras (relative to a subsistence lifestyle). The trend towards increasing amounts of discretionary time in the industrialized world continues, and a basic standard of living provided via extensive automation and robotics may very well become the norm in coming decades.

  6. Its not this generation it will destroy, its the next. How many people will not even TRY to put forth any effort in school to learn anything knowing they got income on the way. And what, pray tell, are they going to do with all that free time? “Idle hands are the devils workshop.”

  7. Although the data are far from conclusive, early analysis suggests that basic guaranteed income spurs economic growth, increases the seeking of employment, and has a general positive effect. Taxing based on robots and drones employed is likely the way it will go as robots replace humans.

  8. Right or wrong conclusions in this particular case it’s at least good to see someone is contemplating what we do when a large part of or even a majority of our population simply have no chance of a job. Might look great to the business owners and it may give you the ultimate in productivity but clearly society cannot function in such an environment or indeed businesses who need a customer base to sell to. Capitalism given free vein will simply see the opportunity without the consequences until too late, so to mock is short sightedness in its most blind incarnation. We are all going to have to think different in the future we just haven’t ironically had the vision to recognise it as yet certainly at the speed technology is moving at.

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