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Schmidt On Why Tax Avoidance is Good, Robot Workers, and Google Fiber

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the thats-a-lot-for-one-day dept.

Google 780

Bruce66423 writes "Eric Schmidt said that a £2.5 billion tax avoidance 'is called capitalism' and seems totally unrepentant. He added, 'I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate.' One must admit to being impressed by his honesty." Schmidt also says that if you want a job in the future you'll have to learn to "outrace the robots," and that Google Fiber is the most interesting project they have going.

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Question (5, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about a year ago | (#42271549)

How many people reading this intentionally pay more tax than they are strictly required to?

Re:Question (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271605)

How many people reading this intentionally don't use public roads, schools, hospitals etc...

Re:Question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271749)

Jokes on you, I go to work through subspace, learned from 10 Elder Gods and immortal, so no need for hospital.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271987)

Do You magically not pay taxes when you buy fuel?

Re:Question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42272013)

None. Google's Californian employees have no need for Australian roads, schools and hospitals. Banana republics like Australia believe the world "owes them" prosperity despite not manufacturing anything of substance.

Re:Question (5, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | about a year ago | (#42272015)

Home Schooling & Private schools are, apparently, unheard of by you.

Very few hospitals are run by municipalities, most are run by either non-profits or charities, with a some being for-profit.

The public roads argument is interesting - do employers pay for roads so employees can get to work and so that they can ship and receive goods, or do employees pay for roads so they can get to work and buy the goods others have manufactured/raised/offer? The answer is both.

The original poster's point, which apparently escaped you, is that no one goes out of their way to OVERPAY their taxes, and someone who pays all their taxes as defined by the law (as Google does) is doing nothing wrong. It may not comport to a simplistic view that "they should pay more" but in reality, they are simply availing themselves of the incentives our lawmakers provided them.

Don't be angry with Google for following laws that allow them to pay less in taxes than you think they should, be angry at the lawmakers that craft the laws that allow them to do so.

Re:Question (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#42271611)

This is spot on. No one would.

Here's the problem: Those laws/rules/loopholes/allowances etc were created by the money influences which are benefiting from them.

So if tax policy were a naturally occurring thing, I would say "yes, let's take advantage of our knowledge and understanding of nature!" But it's not and these tax avoidance structures haven't always been there.

The government did not change the rules without cause. Find the cause and you will find the culprits.

Did Google help to create the rules? Not likely... the rules were in place, most likely, before Google rose to power.

The 'news' and subsequent inquiries seem to want to focus on the tax [non-]payers. Ostensibly to determine if they did anything 'illegal.' I'm willing to bet they have not done anything illegal. The real problem and where the focus should be is on the law.

Re:Question (5, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about a year ago | (#42271763)

I disagree. I think they are focusing on exactly that; abuse of the tax system. The current crop of GOP senators are very business friendly, and money plays a larger role in politics than in any time in the past. I can understand why Google takes this approach, but to appear unapologetic is just rubbing salt in the wounds.

Take individuals for instance. They get a very specific set of deductions, and are expected to take them. Because of the special interests and years of corruption in congress, we have businesses making billions in profit, and paying almost nothing in taxes. It may be legal, but it doesn't make it right. The system is geared to give every benefit to a business, and none to middle America.

What they are highlighting is not the fact that is illegal (it's not), but rather that it's unfair, which it is.

Re:Question (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#42271947)

Why pick on the GOP? They are certainly not alone. The Democrat's current position is focused on "rates", which is clearly anti-reform. As long as the tax code is complex, it will favor those with the resources to exploit the complexity.

My personal opinion is that we should eliminate the corporate tax rate, removing the shenanigans altogether. Make up for this by making dividends and capital gains taxable as income.

Re:Question (1)

shentino (1139071) | about a year ago | (#42271999)

I'll listen to their cries about abuse of the tax system when they take their place at the front of the line themselves.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42272027)

The tax system isn't being "abused", payments are being optimized in the most correct and efficient manner. The tax system is merely incorrectly legislated.

Re:Question (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#42271807)

Here's the problem: Those laws/rules/loopholes/allowances etc were created by the money influences which are benefiting from them.

Hmm, so the "money influences" decided that the average taxpayer needed a "standard deduction", right?

Or a deduction for mortgage interest paid?

Or, at various State levels a "homestead exemption" to Property Taxes?

Just a few of the more obvious examples of LEGAL reductions in tax rates for the "average person". There are more, if you want to bother looking them up. Your tax software will even ask you about them when you get around to doing your income tax return(s)....

Re:Question (2)

w_dragon (1802458) | about a year ago | (#42272001)

More like these tax loopholes are bugs in the law where companies can set up in multiple countries, properly follow the laws in each country, and pay very little tax anywhere. I suppose you could blame the GATT for encouraging this sort of globalization, thought personally I think globalization's benefits far outweigh its drawbacks. At this point the government has the choice of negotiating with the countries that provide the tax havens (Ireland, Bahamas, etc) to change their tax laws to close the loophole, or moving the tax burden from corporations to individuals who don't make enough money to make that sort of tax setup worthwhile. Or they could ignore it, keep pretending that there's political will to cut spending to balance the budget and scream about how it's the other guy's fault that the debt keeps ticking up.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42272043)

"This is spot on. No one would."

*Few* people would, but some do [www.cbc.ca].

Your main point is still correct most of the time.

Re:Question (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271641)

And how many people setup offshore bank accounts and front companies etc to avoid tax?

Re:Question (1, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | about a year ago | (#42271655)

"How many people reading this intentionally pay more tax than they are strictly required to?"

Believe it or not, there are people who understand the value of taxes. Eric is just an asshole.

http://patrioticmillionaires.net/ [patrioticm...naires.net]

Re:Question (2)

N1AK (864906) | about a year ago | (#42271869)

Believe it or not it is possible to believe the system should be changed and still take advantage of the system as it is. But then given you're happy to throw generalisations like that around I doubt anything other than a black and white view of issues appeals to you.

Re:Question (2, Insightful)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#42271933)

Yes, but a rich asshole.
And you didn't answer the question.
You own a company. A company that is sposed to make you money.

Would you spend two point five BILLION pounds (so ~FIVE BILLION dollars) in taxes that you don't have to?

Yes or no.

If you answer yes, you're an idiot and will probably be replaced by your board of directors within an hour.

Re:Question (5, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | about a year ago | (#42271675)

If I had to venture a guess: most of us. Very few individuals have the money to find those legal loopholes or lobby governments for tax incentives. Even if we did, the return on investment would be in the red.

Re: Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271707)

I dare say that most of those who are paying any income tax but not also hiring a tax accountant ARE paying more tax than absolutely needed.

The only difference being their individual potential tax savings do not justify the cost of an accountant. Tax loopholes predominant benefits the rich.

Re:Question (0)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#42271723)

me.

but that's because I'm really lazy on putting deductions in.

so fuck Schmidt, he might be proud that they've optimized it so.. but he shouldn't be proud that the rules in place are put so. Essence of the dodge is going to ask a kid on the playing field if it's ok that you lie about your profits to the kid you promised to pay money out of the profits of your lemonade kiosk he helped set up. sure, technically you're not making profit if you shuffle through the another kids hands.. but it damn sure is acting in bad faith - which is evil.

he might successfully argue that what he does is necessary but he shouldn't be spewing his mouth of about being proud of it...

Re:Question (2)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#42271979)

Really? So he should be quiet about successfully increasing the bottom line to the tune of 5 BILLION dollars?
He has a company. He has one job to do, precisely one responsibility to his board of directors and shareholders (and himself).

That responsibilty: To make money.

To spend 5 billion bucks he doesn't have to would be stupid in the extreme.
When you're on the outside looking in, you dont have to like it.
But stand in his shoes for one second, and tell me you would do differently.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271775)

A lot of people like to pay what my father used to called the "stupid tax": lottery.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271805)

i for one am.
i can honestly say i am paying more than i am

strictly required to

.

why?
there is no way of knowing all possible deductions one can do on tax papers. Nor am i willing to fight for every possible deduction.

thus I

intentionally pay more tax

Re:Question (5, Interesting)

Instine (963303) | about a year ago | (#42271977)

me. I do. I could play all kinds of games to get out of the 40% rate I pay on half my salary. But I'd rather the NHS got it, than a private healthcare system I sponsored with my avoided spend on tax. Because thats better for me? No. Because that's better for the country I live in and the the one my daughter will grow up in? Yes.

Re:Question (4, Informative)

Xest (935314) | about a year ago | (#42272033)

I do actually. As do most of the UK's population.

I live and work in the UK, and I take my pay through PAYE which means my income tax is automatically deducted. Most employees in the UK get paid this way.

I, and many others have the option of being paid outside the PAYE system so that we can manage our own taxes, this would allow us to take advantage of many tax evasions schemes available, or even simply do it ourselves by paying ourselves the minimum non-taxable wage and paying the rest out in a manner that doesn't attract things like national insurance.

Some people do do this, but most don't.

So can we now finally kill this stupid "How many people reading this intentionally pay more tax than they are strictly required to?" meme? Because certainly in the UK, the answer is "most people".

He's right (5, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#42271561)

I can't fault anyone for taking advantage of legal loopholes.

If you want to blame someone go after the Sociopaths in Washington(TM) who created the U.S. tax code.

Please. Someone go after them.

Re:He's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271615)

If you're good at something, never do it for free.

Re:He's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271653)

The tax code is largely written by lawyers employed by people like Schmidt, who is a well known conservative.

Re:He's right (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42271741)

Please. Someone go after them.

Many have tried. They're all awaiting trial now or in jail. The main purpose of law enforcement is to maintain the status quo. You're not going to beat the system working within it or exposing yourself to it. That's been proven since the 60s in this country when, depite massive public opinion against it, the war in Vietnam continued. It's going to take more than words, banners, and a few picket lines to fix this problem -- our law makers do not listen even when they are surrounded by thousands of angry voters, because they know that voting and protest are both ineffectual. If you manage to get rid of one bad politician, another will take his/her place. The amount of effort required to overcome the bureaucratic inertia reinforcing and protecting these laws and legal mechanisms to extract money from the poor and give them to the rich is beyond the capability of even hundreds of thousands of organized citizens.

I cannot see this changing short of a major civil uprising.

Re:He's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271759)

Don't hate the player, hate the game. I agree 100%. Complain about the rules. Don't complain about the corporations that game them.

The US is the only country that taxes foreign earnings. We need to level the playing field. It's absurd that small companies are paying 35% while big companies are playing shell games.

Re:He's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271781)

The problem is that the people you "can't fault" for taking advantage of legal loopholes are also strongly lobbying to keep said loopholes in existence (and to create new loopholes with every update of the tax code).

Re:He's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271785)

Do not be mislead by receiving 'insightful' ratings on this comment. It is anything but insightful. No matter how the tax code is structured, corporate attorneys will be able to devise methods to avoid paying taxes. Eric can say "just doing what I'm allowed", but the truth is that he's "simply choosing to implement" the types of extraordinarily complex, convoluted, and legally "creative" measures Google's attorneys had been tasked with engineering.

Your comment is either incredibly naive or as dishonest as Eric Schmidt's.

Re:He's right (2)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#42271819)

Do not be mislead by receiving 'insightful' ratings on this comment. It is anything but insightful. No matter how the tax code is structured, corporate attorneys will be able to devise methods to avoid paying taxes.

Not. If. There. Were. A. Simple. Flat. Tax. That. Applied. Across. The. Board.

Period.

Re:He's right (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | about a year ago | (#42271917)

A progressive income tax is just as simple mathematically and creates much less deadweight loss on the economy.

Re:He's right (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | about a year ago | (#42271801)

I can't fault anyone for taking advantage of legal loopholes.

Why not? "I' won't be punished for it" is hardly good moral reasoning - indeed, it's literally infantile [wikipedia.org] morality. And it actively harms society, not only by pushing tax burden on its weaker members but also by acting as an incentive to control all aspects of behaviour through laws.

Why on Earth should we not fault executives for refusing to grow up?

I call bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271827)

"I can't fault anyone for taking advantage of legal loopholes."

Who do you mean by 'sociopaths'?

When those with piles of money (not just corporations) lobby Congress for special protection for their industry, or loopholes that benefit them, or for subsidies for their industry, or advantage over others that comes as a result of their influence, that ordinary people and businesses do not have it is wrong. The congress-critters that vote on the laws are only part of the problem.

Mobile Capital (4, Informative)

SkunkPussy (85271) | about a year ago | (#42271571)

Its not Capitalism, its "Mobile Capital"-ism. And governments need to adjust their tax structure very quickly! Otherwise national-level and smaller businesses will not be able to compete.

Especially the robot CEO's (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271577)

I'm sure you could write a computer program to do a better job than 99% of CEOs... and think of all the money that will be saved on the obscene costs in have a human CEO.

Run Eric, Run. The robots are coming.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271587)

A billionarie said he is happy to avoid taxs.

Do No Evil (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271597)

The more Schmidt speaks the less you can take the do no evil line seriously.

Re:Do No Evil (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#42271631)

Hmm. I'm not sure how much evil that is. After all, the money stays in the hands of a US company, or not? They're still going to spend it in the US economy.

Re:Do No Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271679)

What the fuck has "do no evil" got to do with being a US company?

Re:Do No Evil (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about a year ago | (#42271779)

What the fuck has "do no evil" got to do with being a US company?

If it were an Iraqi company (or a North Korean one), it would be "do no good". Or did I just get that backwards?

Re:Do No Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271727)

Isnt Google registered in Bermuda now? So is it a US company?

Re:Do No Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271791)

They're still going to spend it in the US economy.

LOL [cnn.com]! Pics or it didn't happen!

Re:Do No Evil (3, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | about a year ago | (#42271957)

Not paying more tax than you are legally required to isn't evil; being honest about not minding doing it isn't evil. People need to stop throwing around hyperbole before we get to the point where it's "OMG Google are evil, someone died somewhere of something money could solve and Google didn't give them any!"

robot workers (5, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about a year ago | (#42271607)

Why would it be a good thing for us to work really hard so we can keep jobs by outpacing robot workers?

The goal should be 0% involuntary employment.

eric schmidt is text book hubris gross arrogance (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271637)

Eric Schmidt deserves nothing but a Singapore Style Caning for his rancid arrogance and comical hubris. He is truly more comical and yet more effectively evil than his near Doppelganger Donald Trump. I loathe Eric Schmidt with the fury of a million burning SUNS.

am I alone in this?

Re:eric schmidt is text book hubris gross arroganc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271657)

No

Re:eric schmidt is text book hubris gross arroganc (2)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#42271771)

Exactly. And the summary says: "One must admit to being impressed by his honesty."

Why should anyone be impressed by his "honesty"? (Tax avoidance is, in my book, inherently dishonest, even if legal.) At least the CEOs that decline to comment show some level of guilt. If Schmidt can stand up and say that, it shows him up as self-entitled, sociopathic, or both.

Re:eric schmidt is text book hubris gross arroganc (2)

danbert8 (1024253) | about a year ago | (#42272003)

Are you telling me you don't take any deductions or credits? No standard deduction? Do you pay a use tax in your state for all the online purchases you made and did not pay sales tax on? That's not even legal, yet most of us do it to avoid taxes. Every company should avoid paying every dime of taxes they can. It's the only defense we have against government growth short of a revolution.

Corporate Taxes == Political Favoritism (4, Interesting)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year ago | (#42271639)

The corporate tax rate should be on the order of 10% *but* with zero loopholes: Any profits from sales made in the U.S. get taxed regardless of where the company is based.

That would actually increase taxes on some major companies (but not to the stupid levels for the nominal tax rates that are in place now).

What we have now is a system where politicians can strut around talking about "taxing those evil corporations" while the corporations that pander to the politicians pay zero tax. Offender Number 1: General Electric that was paying zero taxes while Jeffrey Immelt was jetting around the world with Obama at taxpayer expense while the convenient liberals at MSNBC railed that Mitt Romney never paid taxes while conveniently never talking about their own corporate masters.

Re:Corporate Taxes == Political Favoritism (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | about a year ago | (#42271649)

Why should it be 10%? Did you just make that number up?

Re:Corporate Taxes == Political Favoritism (1)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year ago | (#42271709)

It's a rate that isn't confiscatory while also making corporations like GE who don't pay anything right now make some contribution.

The corporate tax rate should be low because there is massive double taxation going on since every person who works for the corporation is paying income taxes, every purchase the corporation makes is getting hit with sales tax, property taxes, etc. etc.

In spite of what most people on Slashdot think (that the U.S. has no taxes at all) the corporate tax rate in the U.S. is one of the highest in the entire world. It should be much much lower, but with no loopholes: All corporations have to play by the same rules instead of rigging the game by pandering to politicians.

Re:Corporate Taxes == Political Favoritism (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about a year ago | (#42272019)

So if you openly admit it's a double tax since every dollar of profit a company makes gets taxed eventually again, then why shouldn't the corporate tax be zero?

Re:Corporate Taxes == Political Favoritism (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about a year ago | (#42271919)

10%, or tithing, has a many thousand year history.

He may have arbitrarily picked from many different tax schemes, but he did not "make it up"

Re:Corporate Taxes == Political Favoritism (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#42271813)

3%-5%, but on gross receipts, not profits. The security, safety, and infrastructure the US Government provides is a cost of doing business, not a luxury which is consumed when profit occurs.

Define Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271875)

Define profit.They do already. However, where the "profit" is generated is pretty damn nebulous geographically.

Re:Define Profit (1)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year ago | (#42271955)

Profits are easy: They get reported every quarter for the stockholders. If the CEO wants to cheat on taxes by lying and saying that the company lost money or didn't make a large profit, then he'll get skinned alive by the stock market. The reporting puts checks in place to prevent a company from claiming that it made no money.

Re:Corporate Taxes == Political Favoritism (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | about a year ago | (#42272049)

I can't help but point out that in 2008, Eric Smidt endorsed Barack Obama for US President on national TV in one of Obama's campaign messages.

Socialism may win after all (5, Interesting)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#42271643)

First on tax avoidance: no one wants to pay taxes, but if everyone is taxed fairly, then this sort of nonsense resulting from favoritism in the tax code would not happen.

On the robot overlords commeth comment: Just about any halfway intelligent person can see that we're entering the phase of robot factories that produce products and that can repair themselves. Even factories producing robots.... These factories will take orders of magnitude fewer labor hours, and this movement will spread to other typically high labor industries, such as agriculture. Once those are converted, what then? A service economy can only employ so many, and food and basic foodstuff will wind up being almost free, other than energy costs (which could also be virtually free in this scenario) So what's left? Academia will only hold so many, and you only need so many managers/troubleshooters.

Re:Socialism may win after all (3, Insightful)

runeghost (2509522) | about a year ago | (#42271669)

Extrapolating from current trends, we're going to hit the hyper-wealth singularity only to find out that it's a feudal nightmare.

Re:Socialism may win after all (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about a year ago | (#42271883)

I think you gravely underestimate human ingenuity. People will find other ways to exchange value for value, just like they did when the blacksmiths and all the other low tech stuff was phased out. All the automated production capability does is raise the general level of prosperity, just like previous technological advances. Since personal preferences will always differ, there will always be some basis for exchange. In other words, an economy. Who knows, maybe slashdot mod points will become a currency of the future.

Re:Socialism may win after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42272039)

In 1800, the vast majority of Americans were subsistence farmers. Then the Industrial Revolution came along, suddenly one farm could feed dozens or hundreds of people, and most humans have been chronically unemployed ever since.

Same with murder and robbery (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271645)

I kill people who I owe money. I do it without getting caught since those are the incentives the government set up.

I also steal money from old people without getting caught.

I think it's a good system.

Tax avoidance is abd for a simple reason (2)

aepervius (535155) | about a year ago | (#42271647)

You are using the structure made available with tax and you get a free ride. but i do not accuse the user of tax avoidance, I accuse the government responsible for setting up the tax and letting the whole gaping hole, and never being bothered a second that some big company seems to never have tax report in the same level as their profit. *THEY* , the politician , have a lot to explain. not the company using it.

Re:Tax avoidance is abd for a simple reason (0, Troll)

Inda (580031) | about a year ago | (#42271847)

I feel the same about shoplifting.

You shouldn't blame the thief, you should blame the shop for having gapping holes in its security.

The shoplifter is merely avoiding paying. It is pure capitalism.

Re:Tax avoidance is abd for a simple reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271959)

No that's an extremely stupid example.

It's more like, the store offers free samples and a person is taking extreme advantage of those free samples to basically get everything from the store. Sure, the person is the one taking advantage, but the it's the store owner fault for either not restricting the samples or removing it completely.

What Google is doing is legal. Do you think those loopholes was there by chance? If you do, I got a bridge to sell you. As long as it's legal, it doesn't matter who is the one using these loopholes but why the hell it isn't being changed since anyone can and will take advantage of these loopholes.

Re:Tax avoidance is abd for a simple reason (1, Insightful)

danbert8 (1024253) | about a year ago | (#42272041)

Not really an apt analogy. Capitalism is about mutually beneficial voluntary transactions. Stealing does not fit into that category. Speaking of stealing, that's why avoiding taxes isn't applicable to shoplifting because it would be more akin to keeping a fake wallet in an easily accessible pocket with a few bucks in it for pick pockets where you keep most of your money in your shoe. You are preventing the thieves from taking all your money while giving them enough to think they got away with something.

Re:Tax avoidance is abd for a simple reason (2)

MadKeithV (102058) | about a year ago | (#42271915)

*THEY* , the politician , have a lot to explain. not the company using it.

Capitalism is not a free ride for abdicating all sense of morality to the government. Nobody is forcing the companies to be creative in their tax avoidance either. "It's okay 'cause it's legal" is a moral cop-out and a dangerous argument, because then you imply that everything which is law is okay, so if the US would pass a law requiring unfairly high corporate taxation if you sold any product there, it would HAVE to also be okay with the same people, and it clearly is NOT.

Taxes are used for policy. US view (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271965)

*THEY* , the politician , have a lot to explain. not the company using it.

Yes, exactly. It's been quite a while since my US tax days so my examples are dated by a couple of decades and are US centric, but the point still holds.

Anyway, there are still plenty of tax breaks for drilling for oil. So, many that you can write off more than you invested in the drilling operation - that's right, the US taxpayer subsidies oil drilling. Why? Because Congress (expecially back in the 70's ) was scared shitless about not having domestic oil supplies. Mix in industry lobbying and BINGO! A sweet tax loophole.

Contrary to general opinion, big industry just can't walk into the legislature and say, "Give us a big honking tax loophole or else!" Politicians aren't that stupid.

But if they can give a big tax break to basically buy votes, then they'll do that too - see all the local tax breaks municipalities and states give to lure businesses locally. This allowed the politicians to say, "Look! I brought JOBS to the area! Re-elect me!"

The home owner deduction in the States is also a policy thing - get more people to own homes because it's believed that home ownership strengthens communities. It also makes workforces less mobile, but that's a different post.

Anyway, tax policy is the carrot when politicians don't or can't use a stick. Tax loopholes are also a way to get industry on board with restrictions on their business.

There's a whole lot more to this, obviously, but there's a point of view.

Global companies do bad things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271665)

How about some corporate responsibility? He's right that all of this is legal. Most every company in the last 2 decades has been doing what's "right" for them. The problem is now that you have global companies, but not global taxes, you have very interesting consequences.
The employees get some wages, but the countries that employ them often don't get proportional revenues from that. Perhap most damaging the insane accounting methods that let you claim no profit in high taxed countries and shift all your profit to lower taxed nations.
It's gaming the system and in the long term, it's not good for the USA.

One thing people don't usually realize is that traditionally people think of "the company" not caring too much about the employee anymore... that the good days of the company having a heart are gone. The thing they don't realize is that with a global company, not only is the personal loyalty to the employee gone, the loyalty to the nation is also gone. These companies don't have your best interest in mind on two levels now and it shows.

The most interesting bit is about unemployment (2, Interesting)

javilon (99157) | about a year ago | (#42271711)

Most people will never make it to higher education. It is never mentioned but the educational system works by setting up a threshold on people, not on knowledge. The 20% (or whatever) with the best mathematical skills get to be engineers or scientists. Exams are designed to filter that 20%.

In the US, people with some college is 56.86% of the population, as per wikipedia. The rest of the people are doing jobs that are being automated now or will be automated during the next decade. For example, drivers (self driving cars), factory people (robots), call center (the web and call center speech recognition), and many more. At some point robots will be flipping burgers, it is not that difficult.

We don't have time to educate all this people and create paid jobs for them before the next wave of technology comes around in another ten years. When it comes, it will take away even more jobs.

So we have two choices. We own the robots collectively as a society, or a few rich people owns them. The way things are going, it seems to be the former. This could bring a dystopia if we don't find a way out.

So here is my proposal.

Right now governments get most of their money from labor taxes, but soon this money will dry out. We should stop taxing human labor completely. We are penalizing it. Instead we should tax corporate earnings and financial transactions. That is where all the tax money need to come from. That would keep worthy humans productive even if their marginal value compared to robots is small.

We need to come to terms with the fact that a big and growing proportion of people will not be employed. They should not be considered guilty. In any case they should be considered owners of the automated workforce the same as the rest of people is. So they should be given a cut of the taxes so they can live meaningful lives.

Re:The most interesting bit is about unemployment (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about a year ago | (#42271913)

We need to come to terms with the fact that a big and growing proportion of people will not be employed

Who can name scifi authors who deal with this subject? I'll kick out Nancy Kress' 'Sleepless' series for starters

Re:The most interesting bit is about unemployment (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#42271951)

That would be a very likely dystopia. Automation leading to mass unemployment, but without the foresight to shift society to a model able to operate under those conditions. The result being billions of people living in poverty because there is simply no work for them to do, while those who do control wealth have no incentive to share it freely. The only apparent solution is some sort of techno-socialism, but the S-word is considered obscene in US politics, so that isn't going to be easy.

Re:The most interesting bit is about unemployment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271983)

Have you considered the possibility that the current distribution of skill sets within the population as influenced by genetics and cultural adapatations may reflect current/recent trade offs in payoffs for those skill sets and investment required to develop those skill sets? Despite what some people think, average IQs are going up (although whether that really means intelligence is going up is a different matter). Isn't it possible that over time there may be a decrease in the number of people that really can't contribute much to society other than manual labor and an increase in those suited for intellectual pursuits?

Let's say we have robots doing all of the manual labor. We have computers doing the repetitive organizational tasks. What could humanity do with a population of 3 billion (assuming this change results in a reduction of birth rates as we've seen so far) scientists, engineers, mathematicians and artists under our current ownership model?

we need more trades / apprenticeships (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#42272045)

we need more trades / apprenticeships educational system.

The tech site does need them not just years of the old educational system.

and someone has to fix / install / do up keep work on the robots. For call centers yes some auto tools work but you still need some one to fix the errors and if anything people locked in to a script can't help what can a BOT do if the script does not fix it?

Do as I say, not as I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271733)

I find it interesting that Mr. Schmidt campaigned heavily, and donated heavily, to the Obama campaign that ran on a pledge to make "the rich" pay "their fair share" -- while Mr. Schmidt does all that he can (legally) to avoid paying as much as possible. A classic case of "do as I say, not as I do" hypocrisy.

vive le guillotine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271753)

Schmidt has brought the ethics of the 19th century Robber Barons and the arrogance of pre-revolutionary France to the 21st century.

OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

Republicans as much to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271769)

Schmidt's comment on replacing humans with robots is very telling. This country's move to socialism is just as much the fault of the Republicans (who encourage this kind of behavior). In their greed they have deprived this nation of useful education, training, and employment. The people still have to survive. It is no surprise that they have turned to socialism as the only viable alternative.

what I long to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271789)

I would stake Eric Schmidt out in Death Valley for 2 days, then see if he can 'out race a robot' for a GLASS OF WATER!

He's right (1)

nebular (76369) | about a year ago | (#42271837)

Of course he should be proud, he worked the system to maximize revenue. If people are pissed off at how much tax they pay, change the laws. Either make their foreign operations taxable, or make it harder for them to shift operations out of the country.

I can't blame them for wanting to pay most of their taxes in a country with the lowest rate, hell the cayman islands does very well enabling that.

Outrun the robots... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271839)

I'll probably be stamped as a communist, but here goes...

It used to be a sci-fi fantasy, but robots replacing humans in jobs has invariably started to become a reality. I'm not mad at the robots, they're just machines, but one has to face the fact that less jobs = more poverty in this overpopulated (in relation to jobs) world of ours.

Question is: What do we do? Here is an exhaustive list of possible solutions/scenarios:

- Let things continue this way. Result: Over time everybody will loose their jobs, and a few super-wealthy people will control everything.

- Destroy the robots. Result: More jobs for everyone, a lot less efficient production-process, more waste, more pollution.

- Kill surplus humans. Result: Less unemployment, but kinda evil.

- Equally share the produce of robots. Result: Everybody gets a piece of the cake, though the few will have to contend with less cake than in the other scenarios for the sake of the many.

Those are the possible futures driven to the extreme, and the future WILL be one of these or a mix thereof because use of robots WILL continue to increase. So pick your poison. Personally I'd rather be accused of communism/socialism than suffer any of the 3 other options.

Plutocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271887)

Capitalism + Plutocracy is what he really means. I think most people would like something that's closer to Capitalism + Democracy.

Robots are already the cause of unemployment (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#42271895)

Not robots in the scifi sense, but rather every bit of automation we've installed for the last 150 years. We've gotten so efficient by using automation that, quite simply, we don't need as many people to do things as we have in the past.

It was speculated in the 60s and 70s that our work weeks would drop to 5-10 hours with all the time savings from computers. We've saved all that time, but an hour of human work is still the same value and nobody want's to get paid 25% of a normal annual salary (say, $15,000 a year), so we simply produce more with fewer staff.

Race to the bottom (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#42271931)

just another sign of it. Why should we outrace robots to survive just because we lost the vagina lottery? I keep hearing these conservatives spout off about how it'll never get that bad because they rich need us to buy their crap. That's the stupidest thing I've seen since the guy with the 'Keep the govmmit out of my medicare!' sign. Jeez, it's right there in you're economics -> Over supply of labor + shortage of Goods means the goods get more profitable to sell and cheaper to make. Notice how Apple computer is the most profitable company in history?

When corporations & executive officers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42271937)

profit level and pay are SO out of line with the people actually doing the work, then, they can say things are good (of course). IIRC, the average CEO in the 70's made say, $50,000, but today makes 50 MILLION by comparison (and the avg. worker's pay has actually decreased in terms of disposable income available (money you can enjoy for those of you not familiar with economic terms) by percentages/pound-for-pound). This is NOT A GOOD THING, because you cannot have an "economy" if you strip the little guy/average person of disposable income. They don't have the cash above necessities like food and shelter + utilities and tax bills. What happens then? Small businesses begin to die, because nobody can afford their services/goods (think movie theaters, bars, etc.). Then, their suppliers either raise prices or die too. The wheel goes round and round until the motor seizes and stops when you have 1% of any population making 99% of the profit. They don't spend as much, since there are not as many of them. Idiots at the economic wheel? No, they know what the outcome will be. They are just PAID to "look the other way", take bribes (lobbyists), and let it keep happening until the shit ultimiately "hits the fan".

get rid of job based health insurance (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#42271973)

That hurts jobs and is part of the over use of contractors.

with contractors you have more overhead / things are slower to fix.

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