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Viewpoint: The robots are coming

By RoxAnn Klugman, J.D., LL.M. (Masters of Tax Laws), Hudson

The robots are coming and we need to plan accordingly. Robots are going to replace many workers in the very near future. It is much more economical to use robots than human labor. Robots do not require healthcare and dental insurance, 401k's and other benefits.

All companies will use robots to some degree because they increase productivity exponentially. A company not using robots will not be able to compete with competitors using robots. For example, Panasonic makes 2 million high-quality TV's a month using robots and only 25 workers. There is a restaurant in China where robots do it all. They cook, wait on, and entertain the diners, and cut operating costs for the owner. There is now a robot that can make 360 gourmet burgers in an hour. The creators of the burger-making robot advertise, "The labor savings allows a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better."

The bad news is that many workers will need to train for new careers. They will need to acquire new skills. Our technical colleges and schools will need to prepare people with these new skills for future jobs. For public policy reasons we will not need low skilled and no skilled illegal immigrants and refugees to do jobs that Americans won't do because robots will be doing these jobs. There will, however, be great demand for high skilled workers. Think of automobile manufacturing replacing the blacksmiths and buggy whip makers. There is a new Industrial Revolution coming soon. Like it or not businesses will have to use robots to compete, or go out of business.

Another public policy consideration is the "Big Spenders" on our county board who are proposing a countywide bus service so low skilled workers can get to work. The taxpayers of St. Croix County will pay for the buses and building to house the buses and the drivers, but the robots are coming to replace these low skilled workers and robots don't need bus service. This countywide transportation money would be better spent on job training for local residents at our local technical schools.

The good news is that the price of goods will come down and become more affordable. Quality of goods will also improve. The new tax law will help companies automate and compete. Capital expenditures can be deducted in the year they are made which will reduce the cost of automation and accelerate automation. Our companies will be more productive and more competitive in the global marketplace as a result of automation. We will all benefit from this increased productivity, lower prices, and improved quality.

When planning whether it is for the state, the county, the city, or your own individual needs please keep in mind these changes are coming. The robots are coming!

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