R. Nicholas Starr
Editor’s Note: As noted by the author, Mr. Starr, the U.S. Transhumanist Party publishes this article to motivate discussion on a topic where individual transhumanists have varying perspectives. In May 2017 the U.S. Transhumanist Party adopted the following position on taxation in its Platform in Article III, Section XXXVI, of its Constitution:
Section XXXVI [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the elimination of graduated taxation and income taxation more generally. Instead, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates a flat percentage-of-sales tax applicable only to purchases from businesses whose combined nationwide revenues from all affiliates exceed a specified threshold. This tax should be built into the price of goods from such large businesses and should not impede transaction efficiency in any manner. Transactions pertaining to wages, salaries, gifts, donations, barter, employee benefits, and inheritances should remain completely untaxed, as should transactions involving solely individuals and/or small businesses, for whom the establishment of a tax-reporting infrastructure would be onerous. Furthermore, all taxes on land and property should be abolished.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, February 6, 2018
Since 2016, the U.S. Transhumanist Party has expanded, both in membership and in policy initiatives. And while we have created an ideal foundation for how we want to change our country and our world, voting on ideas isn’t enough. We must take the next step making these ambitions a reality, and it is one step that many of us would rather avoid talking about: how do we pay for all of this?
Individual transhumanists come from all shades of the fiscal spectrum. Many believe that a techno-libertarian approach would be the best way to fund the transhumanist movement, while others look towards traditional taxation methods to provide the necessary capital. While there are many ways to skin this lab-grown bio-engineered pig, the Party as a singular entity needs to determine the best method for funding our lofty goals.
Allow me to make the first controversial suggestion.
The United States is, at this point, completely reliant on capitalism. So reliant, in fact, that we lean on it for political-decision making like the exoskeletons we hope to mass produce in the near future. It’s what holds this country up. And yet it is this political-economic system that is creating staggering wealth inequality. Corporations continue to grow massive wealth while the general public struggles to afford their products.
I propose reorganizing the tax structure so that corporations actually pay taxes and eliminate personal income taxes. By relieving this financial burden on the American citizen, it is possible to enable people to actually afford to improve their lives while increasing the amount of money running through the economy. Sadly, removing personal income tax is not enough, especially when you begin to consider that many employees will likely be replaced by automation. Simply put, corporate entities need pay up. They need to support the political system that supports them. But will that cause business to simply abandon the country all together? While technically possible, it seems unlikely. For as long as there are consumers in the country, business will always want to be located as close as possible to their target market.
There is also an option to modify the above recommendation. Automating the workforce comes with some financial burdens, this has been widely discussed. But there is another, less thought of, burden – that of computing power. How can large-scale automation be achieved without large-scale processing? So instead of shifting the tax burden entirely from individuals to businesses, we could establish a blockchain distribution of computing that businesses would pay individuals to use during times when your computer is otherwise idle. A modest portion would then be taxed to support the infrastructure that both the business and the individual are using. In essence, this is a Universal Basic Income that is supported by capitalism.
Is this an oversimplification of a complex issue? Yes. And I hope that the neglected details spark a healthy and productive discussion on the matter. This is just the opinion of one member, and not the position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. I encourage every reader to give their thoughts on this difficult and divisive topic in the comments.