Donald Trump is a real estate billionaire mogul and United States President. Bill Gates is the world’s richest man. Pope Francis is the most powerful theologian on earth. You can learn a lot from Trump about real estate, you can learn a ton from Gates about technology and you can learn about the Bible from Pope Francis.
Can you learn about economics from these men? Heck, no.
There is a troubling trend in the world today. If you are rich, successful and powerful then you must be an omnipotent being with wide-ranging knowledge about every conceivable topic.
Albert Einstein, for instance, was a genius in physics, but lacked fundamental economic knowledge. Murray Rothbard or Milton Friedman were quite the scholars in economics, but lacked fundamental talent pertaining to physics. If you want to learn physics then you read Einstein, or Michio Kaku. If you want to learn economics then you Rothbard or Friedman.
Today, many people take the word of Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Pope Francis on economics as gospel.
But why? It’s because they are rich, successful and powerful.
Let’s take a look at the Microsoft co-founder as an example.
Speaking in an interview with Quartz, he made the assertion that robots that steal human jobs should pay taxes. According to Gates, robots should pay an income tax, Social Security tax and other payroll taxes in order to level the playing field.
Here are his entire comments on the matter:
“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, Social Security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” he averred.
“Exactly how you’d do it, measure it, you know, it’s interesting for people to start talking about now. Some of it can come on the profits that are generated by the labor-saving efficiency there. Some of it can come directly in some type of robot tax. I don’t think the robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax. It’s OK.”
Where do we begin? First, all what a robot is is just another type of capital. Since robots are capital, they are not receiving an income, and therefore they don’t pay taxes. Microsoft software, for example, has replaced many human jobs with something more efficient that enhances productivity, but that doesn’t mean you will start to tax Microsoft Office. But he wouldn’t want that and would disagree with the tax because his software increased productivity, helped workers move into other in-demand jobs and boosted the pool of products.
Even Larry “Let’s Abolish the $100 Bill” Summers disagrees with Gates on his solutions.
First, I cannot see any logic to singling out robots as job destroyers. What about kiosks that dispense airplane boarding passes? Word-processing programs that accelerate the production of documents? Mobile banking technologies? Autonomous vehicles? Vaccines that, by preventing disease, destroy jobs in medicine? There are many kinds of innovation that allow the production of more or better output with less labor input. Why pick on robots? Does Gates think anyone, let alone Congress, the Trump administration or a commission comprised of his fellow technocrats, can distinguish labor-saving activities from labor-enhancing ones? Surely even if experts could draw such distinctions, the ability of the IRS to administer them is in doubt.
Now, let’s take a look at Pope Francis, a jesuit communist.
He wants a world central bank in order to “stabilize world finance” and combat income inequality (SEE: Pope Francis advocates world central bank, warns loss of sovereignty). Just because he may have a divine connection to God, it doesn’t mean he is the authority of international finance.
“If no solutions are found to the various forms of injustice, the negative effects that will follow on the social, political and economic level will be destined to create a climate of growing hostility and even violence, and ultimately undermine the very foundations of democratic institutions, even the ones considered most solid,” the Vatican paper states.
“Of course, this transformation will be made at the cost of a gradual, balanced transfer of a part of each nation’s powers to a world authority and to regional authorities, but this is necessary at a time when the dynamism of human society and the economy and the progress of technology are transcending borders, which are in fact already very eroded in a globalized world.”
First, the only type of income inequality is the one driven by central banks and their printing presses. Second, everyone in the world is getting richer as the global poverty rate has plummeted to record lows. Third, global government is the enemy of freedom, liberty and sovereignty.
Should we even touch President Trump?
He may have made a killing in the real estate market, but why doe he insist on embracing protectionism, limiting free trade and increasing spending? Free trade makes us wealthier, protectionism makes us poor and any type of spending is just another form of tax.
Ultimately, Bill Gates can educate us on technology, while the Pope could educate us on the Bible. But they are not the all-knowing ubermensch that they themselves or their followers make them out to be. The aforementioned statements prove that very thing.