Feb. 23rd, 2017

The Financial Times printed a letter of mine today, after editing it slightly. Here it is as they printed it:

Instead of taxing robots, tax the land

Sir, Your editorial "Robot tax, odd as it sounds, has some logic" (February 21), regarding the possibility of taxing robots to preserve jobs, calls to mind Henry George's Progress and Poverty.

Writing in 1879, George noted that if labour-saving technology reached perfection, labourers would get nothing and capitalists would get nothing; all production would go to the owners of land, as land would still be needed despite automation.

Rather than proposing to tax robots, the great economist advocated a single tax on the value of land. If we should ever achieve complete automation, this would enable people to be supported out of citizens' dividends.

Short of complete automation, land value taxation still has important advantages, such as letting people keep what they earn by their own efforts, while putting the burden of taxes on those who enjoy the privilege of holding land that they did nothing to create. It would also help make housing affordable, and prevent the speculative bubbles in land prices that currently contribute to the boom and bust cycle.

Nicholas D Rosen
Arlington, VA, US

If anyone cares to look it up, the passage in Progress and Poverty to which I refer is in Book IV, Chapter 3.
The Patent and Trademark Office Society held its annual meeting this morning, celebrating its centenary, as it was founded in January of 1917. The Honorable Alan D. Lourie, a judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, spoke; he has been reading the PTOS Journal for more than half of the past hundred years, and he talked about changes in patent practice since the early Sixties.

Also, a number of people were given the Ant Award for their work, including one of my friends. A lady I don't really know was given the Grand Ant Award, and man I know was given the Outstanding Service Award. Another friend of mine was also given an award.

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