America’s Federal Robot Subsidy Hurts Workers

Elva Mankin

A  tax subsidy for automation would overturn an assumption made by economists since at least the 1930s. The assumption is that technology, in order to displace human labor, must perform a workplace task more efficiently than a human. If tax policy penalizes the employment of human labor relative to the deployment of robots, the basis for expecting even these “efficiency gains” as an upshot of a vanishing human workforce also vanishes. Machines can displace workers while still lagging them in productivity. They can win due to a subsidy that rigs the game in their favor.

It’s not science fiction, but economic fact: We’re all living in this world. For decades, the U.S. government has unwittingly subsidized expenditures on robots in lieu of human labor. And as this robot subsidy has grown over time, the robots have grown in their taste for specifically American workplaces, accelerating their rate of arrival here

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