Monday, October 20, 2008

-technology insurance

It's well known that health care issues are at the top of this election season in the US. People want, but not all can have it, and of those who do have some kind of insurance they don't really get what they expected/wanted.

Now, the reason why people buy insurance is to pay for something (in this case health care) at a lower rate now to then get it cheaper or sometimes even free in the future. People are willing to pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for their health insurance because they are very aware of what it takes to get treated by doctors in the US.

I propose to have a "forced" technology insurance, in which every household pays a few cents for the technological apparatus they use in their house, say TV, car, phones, etc., and then we use that money to fund the sciences (which ultimately had everything to do with the discovery of the technology used in those "luxuries" we know have) more. This will be an attempt to guarantee that technology will be accessible and at an affordable cost in the future, and that science will continue its course.

According to wikipedia, the average household size is around 2.5, so if every household pays from $0.5 to $1.5 max a month ($18 max a year) for their technology insurance, that would add up to a minimum of 720 millions to a max of 2.16 billions, which then would be used ONLY to fund science and technology. That means that 10,800 labs a year at $200,000 per year could be funded. Of course, I haven't thought all the details out, like who would assign the money to projects, how much money per year can a given lab get, etc. but I think they idea could work.

10,800 labs at $200,000 a year for only $1.5 max a month,!!!! who can seriously argue that without that $1.5 their families won't eat? They can drink one less beer a month.

I brought up that idea today with my labmates and their first reaction was that it would be hard to convince the people that it is in their best interest to pay this extra tax. First of all, it's not a tax, it's an insurance that they "buy" now and from where they will be given the benefit of having new devices in the future (fundamental research has also contributed to development of devices, so they should also be funded). Secondly, while I agree that the current situation makes it hard, I don't think it is impossible, but it requires a lot from professors. It would now fall (I think it has always, but somehow some profs get away with it) on they hands to teach the average Joe (I guess now it's Joe the Plumber) how scientific concepts from simple ones as Hooke's law to difficult ones as particle collisions have, can or will affect their lives for their own good. It's not enough to get in front of the class and say, well, here are Newton's laws, here's your HW and if you stay among the average you'll get a B. We would have to do our best (this is very difficult, particularly because so far I haven't seen any good undergraduate basic physics book being used) for people to understand the importance of science, and not so much all the mathematical,boring details.

No comments: