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."