We are currently debating how much we should tax the rich. As automation increasingly replaces tasks once done by human workers, the owners of companies seem to be getting a bigger share of society’s resources. This trend of jobs being lost to automation may ultimately result in there not being enough workers left with money to buy the things that companies produce, and we may have to move to a post-capitalistic society. Before we get there, we will likely find ourselves in a transition period where the rich increasingly subsidize those who can no longer find adequate employment.
When much of human labor becomes unnecessary, how can we smoothly transition to a system where everyone can still contribute and maintain their entrepreneurial spirit? I imagine that we will move to a kind of hybrid system between capitalism and everyone being children of the state. Each person could get a sufficient allotment to survive and buy entertainment. If you wanted to go beyond your allotment by, say, making a movie or becoming a business owner and employing robots, you could potentially earn more, but you would have to pay significant taxes. The problem with this kind of system is that those being subsidized may no longer feel like they have a place in society, as we have seen with the periodic riots of the disaffected in France. How do we keep the social fabric from breaking down?
You can also check out:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/business/majority-of-new-jobs-pay-low-wages-study-finds.html [new jobs pay low wages]
http://www.economist.com/node/21549944 [income inequality]
http://www.marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm [automation replacing jobs]
http://www.economist.com/node/10225005 [periodic riots in France]