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Mo' Money Mo' Problems: Taxes and Goverment Spending



So, yeah. Taxes. No one really likes paying them, but that's the price you have to pay for living in society right? People need government programs funded with tax money of some sort don't they? Some would say we need to keep the roads paved and the bridges maintained, others would say we need to fund the military and police to protect ourselves and our interests, some would agree we need some kind of welfare system. So yeah, governments and taxes are pretty damn important right?


Except it's not that clear cut. First of all there is very little accountability or real choice in what exactly happens with their money and who ends up benefiting from it. Regardless of who pays and who benefits, taxes are not the best way of funding programs or systems. For every good thing government programs do, and they do tons of good things, there is at least one thing they do. The endless maze of bureaucracy and red tape involved insures they waste more and more resources and are subject to the whims of the powerful. Remember how all around the world (except Iceland) governments spent huge amounts of tax money to bail out irresponsible banks? Does the phrase 'too big to fail' ring any bells? How exactly will abuses on wall street stop or bad social programs reform if there is no accountability?


Secondly no one likes the idea of someone demanding money by force in the first place. This isn't simply a matter of the 1% vs the 99%, this is true for everyone regardless of how rich they are or how big of a burden they have to shoulder. Taking about people needing to paying their 'fair share' is a flawed argument. The old maxim of 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few' sounds great if you are one of the many, often not so much if you are one of the few. Ethically I tend to think the best course is one that maximizes freedom of choice for all. I understand that that is harder then it sounds because of how some people can choose to block choice for others, but I am still pretty sure the tax system is not that.


The thing is, I basically live off taxes. I don't work, and honestly not only am I not sure if I really can at this point, but I am not even sure if I am really inclined to try. But I don't think of myself as 'entitled' exactly I think. I may ask for money but I won't demand it or get angry if it's not given to me. I much rather if people did it was because they cared about me and wanted to, not because they were forced to. I am not I could survive without a welfare system, but that's no one's problem but mine. Well, okay, if I died in a ditch somewhere I am sure you would all regret interacting with such a charming and intelligent wonderful person like me, but I am sure you could say that about anyone.


I wonder though. If people weren't forced all the time to buy in to this huge crazy system, would there be any soup kitchens and homeless shelters? Would there be programs to help people like me who just don't, by choice or otherwise, fit in to the normal job market? I think there might be. Because people care, and also more possible workers or thinkers is good for everybody. Could organizations that do this be crowd funded with all the money people save on taxes? Would more people be more willing to give if they don't have taxes hanging over them? I am not sure. But getting social programs out of government's bankroll is probably going to be more and more necessary if Trump's tax cuts go through anyway.


Another thing to think about is corporations. So far I have mostly been talking about individual people, should just corporations and businesses be taxed instead? They aren't people, legal status or not. What if they were run by AI instead of humans someday? Not that far fetched. AI tech is getting bigger and bigger while more and more machines replace humans in most jobs. Factory and manufacturing jobs are not coming back no matter what middle America and Trump hopes, and soon more cognitive jobs may vanish. Could the world evolve into a place where all the businesses are run by computers? If humans set up the protocol and laws right could that mean a future where most humans live off universal basic income provided by machine-run organizations? some people have implied as much. But if that was the case, would we need money at all?


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I personally think we should boost inheritance tax to 100%. If you believe in meritocracy,you should agree. If you believe governments needs money to fund stuff,you should agree too. 


I do believe an universal basic income provided by machine-run organisation is possible . Unfortunately I don't believe it will happen, the current trend seems to be that more and more workforce will be produced by machine but the people benefitting from it will only be the company owners,the 1%. This is actually a big concern for me because I would love to work on AI and build programs and machine that could replace human workers. But I wonder if it is ethically wrong to take jobs from people to enrich the 1%.

In France , there was a lot of contestations recently because a left government (so that is suppposed to be pro-worker) took measures to create jobs but did that by naking employment more competitive. They gave corporate tax breaks and they reduced worker protection (it is a lot harder in France than in the US to fire someone). The goal is to create jobs that can't exist today because workers would cost more money than they would produce. But that means the kind of jobs created will be very low-rated jobs and that also means the people owning the company benefit a lot from these measures. With automation becoming cheaper and cheaper, does human labour will have to get cheaper and cheaper too ? 

I understand your last question as do we need money in a abundance society?
Small digression:
I do think we are quite close to an abundance society . Internet created an abundance of information/culture . AI will create an abundance of workforce in a very soon future. The only thing left is the abundance of energy,it could happen in many ways (nuclear fusion, hyper-efficient solar energy ...) but it may also not happen we have been searching for decades so it won't surprise me if it doesn't happen in my lifetime(I'm 24 btw) but humanity might get lucky.

End of digression

Even in an abundance society I do think we would still need money for several reasons: the first one is that very very cheap doesn't mean free, the second one is that there are still non-renewable ressources that needs to be priced and the third one is to keep track of demand and reorient production if it is needed.

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There is a case to be made for people having the right to make the effort to provide for your children and loved ones after they are gone. Besides having a pure meritocracy sounds nice and all, but don't forget that skill, education, and experience depends a lot on how much you have around to shell out for schooling and keeping up with everything that happens in the world. Fact is that, like it or not, a lot of (but not all by any means) the real innovators were born with a silver spoon in their mouth too.


One day the AI may be smart or fast enough to out invest humans and will probably be inclined to buy up human-run businesses until there is only AI left, so even the ownership would be in charge of AI. If this happens what will all the displaced humans do? Some day people are going to have to face the fact that many kinds of jobs, maybe all jobs, are going away and aren't coming back. Trump won't give back jobs to his followers, because the kind of jobs they rely on are no longer important or competitive.


And it depends on what you mean by 'money' really. If vast AI networks ever start relocating resources everywhere and traded among themselves based on set protocols, there may be little need for a concept of an arbitrary single value. Money may still exist among humans, but computers may have little need of it.

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I know there much more benefits than just wealth when coming from a wealthy background but I still think it would equalize things a bit more, especially over time.
As for people having the right to provide to their children and their loved ones after they have gone, I agree that it's debatable . I don't think it's a fundamental right and some may disagree . I don't think it's applicable anyway. But it's an idea I believe in and I like to bring it on.


The problem is that AI is owned by people, an AI doesn't own anything,it's only a manager . Ai could help us manage our world better but I feel like the current foucus on our society is minmaxing GDP . And I do think we need to find a better focus because that's something the AI can't do.

Tho I would be interested to see how an AI market would behave because I do belive that an AI would never betray when facing the prisoner's dilemna. ( Do any of you know a Deepmind employee that could help me answer that question ?) 

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It would be a disaster. People would give money as gifts or put in special foundations to be given to the intended recipient directly, there would be the matter of property and outstanding debt, almost everyone from all walks of life would complain... there would need to be a massive massive shift in how our whole notion of society is conceived for it to work, and even then people would not start out equal. I get why you are fond of the idea, but to me it's the same as any tax.


I am pretty sure most modern AI software is actually open source. No one really owns it. The harder part is the databases and hardware it needs to work. Assuming AI doesn't develop it's own mind and make the point moot though, it's true it can't do anything we don't tell it to do, but cooperative mutually helpful AI systems are more useful then a competitive one, and one could in theory come up with whole new economic models and efficient ways to manage without ownership.

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