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

Josh-Levin (1225158) writes | about a year and a half ago


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 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."

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is this a trick question? (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#42875257)

ok i'll bite... no governments ALWAYS fuck things up... both taxes and government funded r&d are bad

federal government is for national defense (as in just america, not the whole world) and a small handful of other limited functions, and THAT'S ALL

anything more and you're inviting corruption

Too much tax already (1)

Jiggy (114468) | about a year and a half ago | (#42875629)

See subject.

already the case (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881199)

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

when you buy an electronic device (or just about anything) you are supporting the company that made it in their efforts to make the next big thing. companies already use money that consumers pay them to do r&d, and they do it much more efficiently than government could ever hope to accomplish. that's why real capitalism is so great.

governments are inefficient because they are spending someone else's money. there is no risk if they fuck it up. there are no competitors to take the lead for making a poor investment or for increasing prices too much or for sitting on their hands or for treating their employees or customers like shit.

governments are really great at doing R&D that really doesn't matter a fuck. yeah you could argue that going to the moon created a swathe of spinoff technologies that led to computers, plastics, etc but those would have been invented soon after anyway and at a small fraction of the cost. if there is consumer demand, companies will supply (and if the government makes it so hard to supply that its cheaper to move your operation offshore, companies will do that too).

if government just got out of the way (read "abolish stifling regulations and taxes and stopped bailing out companies that are 'too big to fail'") then business would boom in america, and not just the big multinationals, but small and medium businesses would have more of a chance.

big government is more of a threat to small business than big corporations could ever be.

americans really need to give up their socialist ideals (read "welfare handouts") otherwise you are going to become a communist dictatorship, and it will all be under the guise of "capitalism" so that you probably won't even realise it. america doesn't have capitalism... america is pretty much comparable to china in that it is a socialist state (albeit with phoney elections where the 'president' buys up the welfare voters).

the difference is that china 'has' an economy whereas america 'had' an economy.

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