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The Science Tax

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Steve Bronstein | Getty Images
Astronaut

When I saw the headline “The science tax” over at Ezra Klein’s blog, I thought for a moment that he was going to advocate one of the most controversial tax proposals I ever advocated.

My idea was that we should raise taxes on science. The idea was simple. Science is a great extractor of public wealth and great accumulator of public authority. In order to compensate for the outsized influence of the science special interests, I thought we should simply impose a direct tax to recover some of the wealth and authority they capture through lobbying.

If they’re going to buy off the government, at least make them pay.

Alas, Ezra isn’t really proposing a tax on science at all.

But, before you dismiss my science tax as completely crazy, keep in mind that this idea is also transferable to banking. One of the ways we can balance the outsized influence of megabanks on public policy is to charge them for it. If we charge enough, we may even reduce the incentive for banks to grow large enough that they can command the allegiance of policymakers. To put it differently, if one of the reason banks grow into megabanks is the policy-influencing advantage it gives them, we can reduce the incentive to seek this advantage by making it very costly to obtain.

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