Taxes: A new “study” in Britain suggests that by raising taxes sharply on Facebook, Amazon and Apple, the government could pay for a universal basic income (UBI) for all Britons. It’s an absurd idea, which is why it can’t be counted out.
The so-called FANG companies — the above-mentioned three, plus Google and Netflix — have been vilified now for years in Europe and in the U.S. as “monopolies” and, worse, “predators.” When such strident rhetoric is used by politicians, you know they’re going in for the kill. There’s money to be made in taking down big, successful companies.
In the case of Britain, the left-wing paper The Guardian reports, the Royal Society of Arts (that’s right, Arts) recommends that “Britain could raise new taxes on Amazon, Facebook and Apple to give every citizen under the age of 55 as much as £10,000 ($14,000) in a form of universal basic income … helping to counter the growing risk of job losses from automation and artificial intelligence.”
America’s FANG tech companies look like easy victims. Inevitably, since they have little in the way of a domestic British constituency, they will come into the cross hairs of Britain’s tax-happy, left-wing politicians. As of 2016, according to data from the British government, there were some 46.2 million Britons under 55 years of age. By our math, that’s about $323 billion a year to fund a universal basic income.
Of course, the study’s math is different: “Providing a £5,000 annual payment for two years could cost about £14.5bn ($20.6 billion) per year over a decade should there be full take-up, according to the RSA. While the cost could be as much as £462bn ($647 billion), removing some benefits and tax reliefs from the people who claim money from the fund would save about £273bn ($382 billion).”
Either way, it amounts to a massive, unpayable tax on innovation. Do they really think they can squeeze the tech companies for even a tenth of that amount?
Yet, this is how the far-left thinks. Money is magic. All you have to do is imagine a need, and you can take whatever you want from producers to satisfy that need. And don’t worry: Like all bad ideas, this one will jump the pond and soon be discussed by the economically illiterate far-left in the U.S. as an “answer” to our welfare problems.
We don’t like everything the FANG companies do anymore than anyone else. But the four titans of tech shouldn’t be compliant victims to this kind of insane extortion.
Here’s a modest proposal, should this tax nuttiness proceed to reality: Go on strike. Halt all operations in Britain, and stop selling to them. Yes, it’ll hit their bottom lines, but not as bad as the extortionate taxes would. And Britain, sadly, would suffer far more, since it would be technologically isolated and no longer have any geese laying golden eggs to pay for their “basic income.”