Perhaps it is not surprising that the government of Canada, running out of people to tax, is considering squeezing robots. But while I treasure that scene where the Terminator growls “I’ll be taxed” it does make me wonder what the point of the whole welfare state is.
Apparently the federal Liberals gathered a bunch of deep thinkers last fall to discuss the potentially catastrophic impact of our impending demographic winter on public finances. About time too. As my brother has expressed it, the aging of the population is not so much a tsunami as a glacier, slow but inexorable.
It is also encouraging that these boffins thought about the impact on the taxpaying workforce of robots displacing unskilled labour. (And that the Post news story said jobs “most at risk are farm and construction workers, accountants, lab technicians and salespeople … The professions at lower risk were paramedics, doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, and journalists.” Man, that’s the first good news we journalists have had since Al Gore invented the Internet. Unless robots don’t threaten our jobs because they’ll be gone too soon for automation to matter. Sigh.)
The advice the gummint received was heavy on the disruptive effect of the “gig economy” including on income inequality, as we freelancers don’t have pensions, dental benefits or any of that stuff. (Please send money.) Evidently politicians still dream of everyone having the jobs for life you used to get on the auto assembly line and still do in government, with pensions nobody and nothing could afford. And one innovative solution put forward was to let people pay their taxes “in kind,” that is, with indentured servitude not money.
So there’s the good news. For the bad news, read all the above again.
First, the implosion of the creaky, outdated, centrally planned and unaffordable welfare state is upon us.