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+ - Ask Slashdot: Should there be a National Tax to Subsidize Scientific Research? 3

Submitted by
Josh-Levin
Josh-Levin writes "Scientific research in the US is hurting. Now there is talk of shutting the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven. I know that the Federal Government is short of money, but cutting back on scientific research is eating our seed corn.

Since basic research has been fundamental to all those hi-tech device we all enjoy, I think there should be a fixed Federal excise tax on hi-tech devices, the proceeds to go to scientific research. There shall be safeguards to prevent this tax money from being used for anything but scientific research.

I hope that Slashdot members who respond to this posting will flesh out this idea. How much money is needed, and how big is the hi-tech market? What should the tax rate be? (If it were 10%, it could be termed a "Techo-Tithe".) Who should be exempt? Should it be used only for terrestrial research, or should it include the space program? For products that are partially hi-tech, such as automobiles, should there be a reduced rate based on the hi-tech content of the product?

Ideally, the tax would be paid by the consumer, so that it is visible. Every time you by a computer, a smart phone, or a digital camera, you will know that your tax will subsidize the research behind the next generation of devices, which may be spintronic or optical rather than electronic.

I hope that this discussion will result in a "We the People" petition to the White House (see https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/how-why/introduction) to ask that such a tax be implemented. We need 150 signatures to make such a petition visible, and 100,000 signatures to make sure the President sees it. Please, readers, do not initiate such a petition on your own, until the Slashdot discussion has reached some sort of consensus. We will want to do it right the first time."

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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