Letters to the Editor

Taxation Without Representation, or What Were You Thinking?

To the editor,

It looks like the Republican Party, the majority in the Congress but the minority in opinion polls after numerous losses, will legislate the tax reform (?) plan. Prior to the last local election, we warned you that a vote for the Republican Party was a vote for its values and agenda. How is that vote working for you now?

Now all New Yorkers, particularly those in towns like Somers, will be hurting from the negative impact on education, property and mortgage deductions. This is the “gift” to the states that contribute 70 percent of the GDP (note: California is the fifth-largest economy in the world). How does that vote feel now? I will not even mention what will happen to Medicaid expansion in these states.

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I have long ago accepted this Faustian agreement between shameless Republicans and their agenda and the Boy from Queens. But what bothered me most about the passage of this “reform” bill was the hasty process, especially in a booming economy. There was no time for the representation from the “real economy,” from working men and women, from trends in technology, education and workplace. Aside from marching orders from Trump, what was the rush?

A robot story: I have had, and I regret it, personal experience in this. I was given contract to automate a commercial lending department. I was told to take automation to the next level of robotics. For about $50,000, we acquired a license to program a “process robot.” This is a program operating on the cloud that replaces the manual and redundant processes of an office worker (you can’t actually see this robot). In this case, it was all the data entry using existing applications. The next component allowed this robot to “learn” and read all of the documents that came with the application. Finally, we implemented the last component, artificial intelligence, or AI, to allow for decision making (underwriting).

This is an illustration of a trend happening in many offices around the country. The main limitation is also part of the solution—trained and skilled technicians to build, maintain and innovate. In my case, I insisted that the robots be “taxed” a dollar/transaction to fund the monies for reskilling and early retirement. With the huge decrease in labor costs, the company can more than afford education cost.

In our lifetime, predictions are that 45 percent to 50 percent (Google this) of the white-collar workforce will be impacted. The last 30 years of automation have shown that if investments are made early, continuously, in education, innovation, retraining, that jobs will be created around the technology. It will be the quality and the scope of our education systems that will be the determinants for growth, not the rich donors or the corporations.

Let’s just hope our American values will stop this class war now.



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