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The Engineer
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The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 2:03 PM

Astronomy getting squeezed

Astronomy is facing a lean decade. That was the message handed down by senior representatives of the federal agencies that fund much of the field's research in the U.S. during "town halls" with scientists here at the semiannual meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Science agencies are facing flat or declining budgets, and in that environment new astronomy initiatives will often be possible only at the expense of existing ones. "We can turn off the old to enable the new," NASA Astrophysics Division director Jon Morse said in a May 23 town hall discussion. "That's where we are from a budgetary standpoint." NASA funds space-based projects in the U.S., whereas the National Science Foundation funds terrestrial telescope projects. (Continued Here)

Golden Age of Astronomy

This is especially sad since we are essentially in a golden age of astronomy.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/gamma/groot.html

NOVA: People say we're in the golden age of astronomy. Do you agree?

Groot: Absolutely. It could become even more golden, but if you compare to, say, 50 years ago, the opening up of different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum has been very, very important in developing astronomy in the last few decades. [For a self-guided tour of the electromagnetic spectrum, see Tour the Spectrum.] We used to be able to see only optical light using normal, ground-based telescopes. Then radio telescopes became available, allowing us to look at the universe in radio waves. After that it was X-rays and submillimeter and infrared. Now basically the whole electromagnetic spectrum has begun to open up. Soon we may even be able to work with gravitational waves, which would be completely different from anything that we do at the moment.

Tragic

So here we are. Once again squeezing a billion here and there out of science. Is it worth it? I don't think so, but then I'm a scientist.

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#1

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 2:42 PM

First, I take exception to your post title.

The implication is that "they" are out to gut science because "they" do not believe in it.

Sorry to say, but as a country we are broke. We owe nearly 15 trillion dollars, which is about the US total GDP. About $9.8 trillion of that is actual gross income.

Even if we tax everyone at 100% it would take 1.5 years to pay back the debt. That doesn't cover the yearly government operating cost, but what's another $4 trillion a year?

My point is that we are very broke and we will need to drastically cut our spending. That should be obvious.

That means every budget will have to cut back, not just science. So this is not an anti-science conspiracy, just a very bad case of budgetary mismanagement.

The root cause has been an ongoing problem for decades and while I am upset to see wonderful projects get cut at NASA and other institutions, I do know that it has been government mismanagement that has brought us to where we are.

Actually, that isn't even true. The real blame lies with the voting public. We have taken our eyes off the ball a long time ago and now here is our bed and we have to sleep in it.

So, let's cut the blame game and the finger pointing, Roger, and take a look in the social mirror. There is the problem, right there, although we just don't have the stomach to admit it.

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 3:07 PM

I disagree. I believe science is under attack from many non-scientists.

You Wrote:"My point is that we are very broke and we will need to drastically cut our spending. That should be obvious."

Yes it's obvious.

Then you Wrote:"That means every budget will have to cut back"

That is much less obvious to me. In fact it makes no sense to me at all.

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#16
In reply to #3

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 9:33 PM

Why does that not make sense?

Imagine living at your parents and your dad comes home to say that we have too many bills and my works hours are going to be reduced.

Everyone in the family needs to pitch in to keep the family solvent, which means you might have to wait to buy that new telescope you want and your brothers and sisters will also have to cut back too.

For you and your family it is called living within your means.

What is now obvious is that for the US government it has not meant that at all, but we are going to have to start living within our means now or fail as a country.

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#19
In reply to #16

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 10:08 PM

Yeah, but that isn't the situation.

Our situation is more like this. Dad comes home and says we have too many bills and his work hours are being reduced. Of course, this is because dad is spending all his money on heroin. Now dad wants the family to "sacrifice". He says he'll cut back 10% on the heroin spending if everyone else cuts back 10% on the things they're doing. That doesn't seem fair to me.

Now you tell me, which dad does the U.S government sound more like, the one from your example or the one from my example?

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#26
In reply to #19

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 7:34 AM

Good analogy, but the damage is done. Now we have the mess and we have to clean it up.

Everybody can make a heat wrenching claim as to the value of some pet project. Hell, what about the children? What about single moms? What about the elderly.

The bottom line is that we are broke - we have less revenue than we are spending.

It's time this family reassess its priorities and live within its means. That means everyone needs to pitch in and it means some sacrifices are going to be made to fix the problem.

I don't know how to put it any better. We, as the citizens, have screwed up by allowing our representatives to act totally irresponsibly. It's a tragedy and I would love to see some of these characters personally incarcerated.

However, we are where we are and it needs to be fixed. No project is holy and every budget item needs to be prioritized and funding adjusted so we live within budget.

I have no idea how that will break out budget wise, but we can't play favorites or throw out "that's not fair" anymore. None of this is fair, that is why it is called a crisis.

Believe me, I love NASA and science as much as you do, but the moment we start picking favorites here is the moment we return to the status quo, which is absolutely unsustainable.

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#30
In reply to #26

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 8:46 AM

It costs the government $100 to write a ten dollar check. Seriously. Everything the government touches is weighted down with bloated bureaucracy and waste.

When the government says they will cut spending, they spend the $100 and write a check for $8.

I would GLADLY write a check directly to NASA rather than let the government take and waste 90% of my hard earned money on feeding the bloated, lumbering, headless beats that it has become!

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 8:49 AM

How then, practically, would you suggest we reduce the current deficit? I'm asking sincerely. What is the solution? What actions should we take?

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#37
In reply to #31

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 9:13 AM

Cut government spending (full stop).

Put the onus of social programs back into the hands of the people. Let me send money directly to the charity of my choice and write 100% of that gift off of my taxes. My direct spending will benefit the end user far more than the little bit that trickles through the government.

In this model, if giving drops by half, the end recipients will STILL receive FIVE TIMES what they were getting from the government.

This family (the USA) makes enough money to buy the things it needs and pay the bills.

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#39
In reply to #37

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 9:32 AM

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#231
In reply to #31

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/05/2011 10:49 PM

'....reduce the current deficit?...'

...

It can be done.

...

1. Dust off the Constitution. Return to a specie currency as mandated therein.

...

2. Capitalize on our current characteristics; a consumer society. Establish tax based on consumption and eliminate disincentives to US employment such as wage taxes. This means any company that sells goods here must share the burden of funding our health, retirement, infrastructure, debt interest, defense, etc.

...

3. Abolish the super-citizen status held by corporations by:

establishing corporation life time limits;

eliminating limited liability;

eliminate special contribution limits enjoyed by corporation, but not individuals;

require that the dollar amount of taxes paid be at least twice the amount spent on the combination of lobbying expenses and political contributions.

...

4. Require that politicians establish an escrow account with 1/2 of all political contributiins they receive. Each politician is tasked with reducing their portion of spending by 1/2% per year, with any shortage being taken from escrow and any unused being partially available for their next campaign.

...

That would do it.

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#53
In reply to #26

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 12:22 PM

Well, now I want to hear what he considers heroine, because you can take the perspective that any long running initiatives funded by the US Government that do not provide the greatest direct immediate benefits to cost ratio to the largest paying constituency (democratic republic afterall) are heroine in his example. There could be any number of programs by DOD, which funds a huge amount of scientific/engineering research, NASA, DOT, DOJ, Treasury, Education, etc. that might be consider an addiction by this country.

How many peoples live are an acceptable sacrifice to continue to research distant stars with no direct benefits to humanity in the forseeable future? Don't get me wrong astronomy is interesting, but I am not sure you can garner much support if you plan to create or allow a direct immediate risk to the population to continue the research or develop new research. Afterall who really funds the programs, the taxation of the general public, many of whom given the choice would rather be able to feed their children and feel safe at home then research stars. Discoveries and research of the stars is generally of such long term benefit with relatively miniscule impact in the life times of anyone alive at this moment and people tend to want more immediate returns on their critical investments, luxury investments they might concede using for long term returns.

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#55
In reply to #53

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 12:26 PM

I consider historically low tax rates and historically high entitlements heroin.

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#64
In reply to #55

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 1:14 PM

What are the entitlements you are talking about? and if you consider taxation by the as people paying for some service or product, maybe the taxation is low because people don't see the value in paying more for the services or products received.

Throwing out the term historically low taxation sounds good, but is very ambiguous and placing blame on some indirect term. Bear in mind that the people pay the taxes, so to use those taxes the people through their representatives must allow it. If you can not convince them that their taxes are providing them some benefit at a reasonable cost, then how can you expect them to pay for it. It really sounds like the cost benefit ratio hasn't been presented properly or the utility is just not apparent to the people. The idea of if you buy me a hamburger today I will surely pay you tomorrow only works on people who feel they have the extra money to take the risk that you wont pay them (or they wont see any return on their investment) and that even if you do pay them the value they put into the invest ment will be returned with some benefits later that are worth the loss now. Something like going to the moon was an investment where people could see a return in their lifetimes and they actually saw that they did get the return on their investment that they wanted. Maybe there is some divergence between the scope proposed and what the people really want to see happening. What if NASA actually proposed to do soemthing that the people saw as a great return on their investment (and actually completed it without crashing into the planet because they confused meters with feet). This is probably the other issue to consider, bad PR. Having continued high publicized and expensive disasters for missions that have little immediate realizable (or perceived) gains doesn't garner much future support.

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#56
In reply to #53

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 12:29 PM

You Wrote:"How many peoples live are an acceptable sacrifice to continue to research distant stars with no direct benefits to humanity in the forseeable future?"

Using your same argument, why then have social security? Investing money in old people doesn't seem to provide direct benefits to humanity in the forseeable future.

(Please note, I'm not advocating starving old people, though that would indeed solve our debt problem, I'm merely pointing out the inconsistency in RCE's argument. If the criterion RCE proposes was indeed used, investing in science would make much more sense than investing in old people)

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#253
In reply to #56

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/08/2011 7:04 PM

Actually social security is not a governemnt investment in old people, it is peoples investment in their retirements. It is not part of the govrnment budget, separate program. Investing in old people might be a bad idea from the general taxes, but thius is not where social security is derived, it is derived directly from peoples pay as a retirement type savings program. Unfortunately the government has borrowed against that program and now owes a lot to pay back its loans to social security, as well as expanded it in the 1960s to cover some people who never paid in over aful working life to 60 or 65. Argument is not incosistent if you udnerstand that socail security is not part of the government budget, but rather repayment of government debt to social security is. You seem to conflate social security with the general government budget and taxes, rather you shoould look at it more as a saving sprogram for retirement and then ask whether it provides a general benefit to have people saving for retirement (which it does that was why the program was broguth into place).

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#255
In reply to #253

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/08/2011 7:09 PM

You Wrote "It is not part of the govrnment budget, seperate program.

Nice sentence. Later.

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#168
In reply to #19

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 10:10 AM

Roger Pink,

don't wish to insult you but what you wrote is the dopiest thing I have ever read in regard to this issue. Apart from water & oxygen we all need shelter, warmth etc and atleast for the time being knowledge as far as I am concerned takes back seat

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#169
In reply to #168

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 10:32 AM

Sure, but do we need a 20 restaurants per square mile? 2 Malls per town? Every kind of food imaginable in our "Super" markets?

I think you're presenting a false choice above. No one is advocating starving people or even making them live in discomfort. Just asking them to live in slightly less excess so that we can advance our understanding of nature.

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#170
In reply to #169

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 10:46 AM

Did you get as far as this one?

"Another example concerns the following statement, attributed to physicist Niels Bohr: "The opposite of every great idea is another great idea."

Carl Sagan used a reductio ad absurdum argument to counter this claim. If this statement is true, he argued, then it would certainly qualify as a great idea - it would automatically lead to a corresponding great idea for every great idea already in existence.

But if the statement itself is a great idea, its opposite ("It is not true that the opposite of every great idea is another great idea", provided "opposite" is a synonym of "negation" in Bohr's aphorism) must also be a great idea.

The original statement is disproven because it leads to an absurd conclusion: that an idea can be great regardless of whether it is true or false."

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#230
In reply to #169

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/05/2011 10:30 PM

Roger, one of your assumptions begs further inspection. You wrote;

...

'.....Just asking them to live in slightly less excess so thac we can advance our understanding.....'

...

Why do you you assume reducing expenditure/consumption will necessarily allow, for any reasonable time, a similar amount to be spent on non-immediate revenue producing /job multiplying esoteric or fringe research?

...

A strong arguement can be made that 'excesses' create more economic activity, employing and enriching more people, which in turn produces enough that research grants are less of a sacrafice and more an imperative.

...

You stated earlier that excessive entitlements and historically low taxes are akin to a heroin addiction.

...

I agree that entitlements as well as out of control government spending is certainly a problem not unlike a heroin addiction.

...

Tax rates are not historically low, just historically concealed. There are no free lunches. The record excess spending exactly matches the real tax burden, and this is what continues to choke the life from the economy. Real worker, real people, pay and pay and pay for every cent spent by our government. Payroll taxes, income taxes, sales tax, gas tax, intangible taxes, lotteries, vehicle registration, mandated insurance, but especially erroding value of currency.

...

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#208
In reply to #1

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 1:21 AM

I agree completely.

This whining about "The Antiscience" strikes me as profoundly naive (and comes across like some wacko's conspiracy theory.) In America, we get what we scream for. If "science" is not getting enough funding, it is because "science" is not making a convincing case for additional funding at the expense of cutting e.g., social services, the military, etc. If, as a country, we truly believed that science should be more heavily funded, we'd raise taxes and fund it. If we truly believed that there should be no taxes at all, we could simply eliminate government services altogether. Between those extremes is a compromise that comes about from the political process. Currently, scientists, as a group, suck at politics. I hope they get better at it.

Where I live, school budgets are being cut, but I have advocated (unsuccessfully, of course) instead, to raise property taxes, to bring them up to about 1/3 of what they are in some northern states. Here, as in most places, raising taxes is not a viable political option, for the simple reason that people can not be convinced to pay for stuff they don't really care about. Here, where I live, where Lamborghinis are as common as Hondas are in other places, we, collectively don't care about education enough to fund it. Personally, I think that is idiocy, just as I think it is idiocy to cut science funding. My voice is lost in the noise. That is not some conspiracy... it's democracy.

Throwing together paranoid theories about "The Antiscience" based on sophomoric and grossly oversimplified views of 20th century philosophic and cultural evolution does nothing to help with the essential problem. If such a poorly supported and conceived theory were presented by someone with broad exposure, it would undermine the case for funding science, by reinforcing the perception that "scientists" are hopelessly out of touch, arrogant, overly willing to pontificate on areas well outside their subject areas, etc. Fortunately these "The Antiscience" rants are tucked away, largely out of sight, here at CR4.

If you want funding, then sell the value of what you do. If you can't make the sale, then the problem is not some conspiracy. The problem is an inability to effectively communicate and motivate.

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#209
In reply to #208

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 9:52 AM

I appreciate the honesty. I suspect most hold your point of view about my ideas. Without anymore proselytizing on my part, I'll just ask a straight forward question.

You Wrote:"If you want funding, then sell the value of what you do"

General Relativity, developed by Einstein, has had little to no practical application after 90 years. There have been little to no new technologies that came as a result of it. So then, given your criteria, it's not research that would have deserved funding, right? Or am I wrong?

If it was 1910 and Albert Einstein was working on General Relativity but said he needed government money to continue, would you have been in favor of supporting him? If so, how would have you justified the expenditure?

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#210
In reply to #209

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 10:54 AM

Once again you identify the critical point of somebody that refutes your argument but you completely misunderstand it. You chose general relativity for an example. You do not identify what you or anyone else considers to be the value of knowing general relativity. Instead you imply that the only value that science can provide humanity is the crafting of new technologies. The only thing you've done with this reply is to prove your own inability to sell a concept you believe should have obvious value.

Most people believe that Science and Philosophy epitomizes esoteric disciplines. Science needs communicators that can sell the advantages that Science reveals to the general public. Trying to persuade the public with Philosophic arguments only proves that the persuader does not understand what the public values.

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#211
In reply to #210

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 11:50 AM

Trying to persuade the public with Philosophic arguments only proves that the persuader does not understand what the public values.

I tend to agree and IMHO, that when philosophic arguments are taken in defense. it is either the defense is weak, lost or desperate. And can compromise reality.

by changing a question of "What if?" to trying to answer a question with a list of possibilities, with none of them right or wrong.

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#212
In reply to #210

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 12:04 PM

First of all, the argument that if you tell somebody something and they don't understand then it's your fault for being a bad communicator seems flawed. I could have the most beautiful explanation possible, but if I speak french and you speak english it won't matter. If we translate, things are bound to be lost in the translation. In the same way, if I speak differential equations and calculus and you don't, it doesn't make me a bad communicator because you don't understand. And if my translated versions don't convince you, it is because I had to sacrifice nuances of the explanation to translate it into something you understand.

Secondly, if you're going to sell somebody something you need to know what they want. What does the general public want out of science? Do they want esoteric theories with no real world practical applications (like general relativity)? If not, then there is a dichotomy that will be difficult to be breached because you will be hard pressed to find a scientist on the planet who would suggest that General Relativity is a waste of time and effort, and yet there is nothing you can point to and say "we have that because of General Relativity. General Relativity's only immediate value is that it is a more profound understanding of the universe than Newtonian Gravity. Beyond that it hasn't produced much in a century.

So is it really so unreasonable that I object to trying to sell something that is usually unsellable, mainly because the people I'm trying to sell it to don't understand math and are unclear what their own definition of "value" is?

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#213
In reply to #212

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 12:34 PM

So is it really so unreasonable to me that I object to trying to sell something that is usually unsellable, mainly because the people I'm trying to sell it to don't understand math and are unclear what their own definition of "value" is?
Yes
It is like trying to make you buy tickets for NASCAR, which on the surface is a seemingly endless series of left turns.
there is value to NASCAR, even if you don't understand it: entertainment
there is value to pure science in general, even though specific elements may not have any apparent direct value at this time.
in any business not every department is a profit center

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#214
In reply to #213

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 12:45 PM

Honestly, it seems like everyone pretty much agrees with this idea that Scientists need to sell science and need to work on their communication skills if they want funding. So I concede the argument.

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#217
In reply to #214

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 1:44 PM

are there groups that lobby for funding or otherwise advocate for funding of pure science research?

I haven't seen anything from Credo or Change

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#218
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Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 2:02 PM
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#224
In reply to #218

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 2:37 PM

When I look around the site I don't see the usual approach to advocacy

There's strength in numbers & having a unified message

which is problematic for a group of smart, independent people

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#256
In reply to #217

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/08/2011 7:51 PM

Yes, ACS, APS, and a bunch of other groups lobby for government funding of various scientific interests, much like AICHE, ASCE and ACEC do. They lobby for Physics and Chemistry in very general form though, not specifically solely for pure scientific research. Though from experience I know APS is fairly bad at it, and ACS not much better. Both are about like AICHE in the lobbying respect, slightly less capable at communicating their needs than ASCE, none are nearly as effective as ACEC. I know some guys from NOAA and USGS who spend much of their time lobbying for research programs under those agencies, and they are quite effective on getting programs funded that many people do not want.

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#219
In reply to #212

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 2:05 PM

I think the burden of language is on the person trying to present the idea. If you are in France, speak French. Unfortunately, through the constant dumbing down of the US education system, the availability of language, ideas and such are no longer available to the common American. So, presenting the value of scientific endeavors and their (usually) abstract ideas, requires more information than the trained 5 minute attention span allows. I think most people can appreciate the abstract goal of gaining knowledge (like General Relativity) but the cost of Einstein's discovery was nil compared to something like the LHC or Hubble. The value of the knowledge to the average American is the same, but the monetary investment required for the acquisition of the same abstract knowledge is significantly different. And this where the average American says,"no thank you." So, it is upon the scientific community to bridge the gap between their understanding of the value of such investments and the average taxpayers understanding. It is not "Antiscience" it is a conflict between the pragmatism of the average taxpayers trying to make it day-to-day and the cost of large science. And for the tax collectors it is a matter of misplaced values, where, for the cost of one of our wars, we could make massive investments into furthering our understanding the universe. This is where "true" science fails in its efforts to lobby politicians for more money.

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#220
In reply to #219

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 2:07 PM

I've already conceded the debate.

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#228
In reply to #220

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/05/2011 12:09 AM

You wrote; I've already conceded the debate.

Most likely only meaning 'this time around'

If you recall, back in 'Anti Science the Major War', precisely the same "Learn to sell" concept was put to you.

I found Red's last comment very insightful, but have a slightly different view of roots.

Perhaps this is because I'm diligent in reading what is written, as opposed to what I presume is written.

I look at how it is expressed for clues to the 'position' or 'mood' of the author on the subject, in isolation of my own 'coloration'. I do this to seek surety of their meaning, before I enter the process of comparing theirs to mine.

I am reasonably certain you do not do this. Evidence ranges from your conviction I am Garthh - though the expression styles and areas of expertise are completely and obviously different.

That your answers to so many comments are more related to a 'position' of yours than the point of the comment.

Which is supported by the number of occasions "you're missing the point" occurs in responses to you.

Further; by the induced repetition of a point and an increasing number of participants restating 'the point'.

However: As by your own assessment in your terms of conceding; the measures are weight and volume.

Therefore, I remain unconvinced the actual point has been received at all, which loops back to the first 'refusal to grasp' long long ago - leading to the broadening replay above.

It's a pity you didn't seize on that concept as well as you have others (by the same author)

Give it some thought and perhaps respond when you are quite sure of what my point above actually is, rather than through what is convenient for you to make it about.

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#229
In reply to #228

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/05/2011 12:23 AM

Give it some thought and perhaps respond when you are quite sure of what my point above actually is, rather than through what is convenient for you to make it about.
Geez, that would be no fun at all

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#225
In reply to #219

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 2:39 PM

Wow.

Very well and concisely put. If I could give you 2 GAs instead of one, I would.

I might add, however, (to put a little more positive spin on it) that we (as a culture) know hundreds of times more than "we" did 100 years ago. Reasonably bright and educated people of 100 years ago could understand a large percentage of the available scientific knowledge. Now many of us (as individuals) understand a tiny fraction of what is "known".

We are producing narrowly-educated technocrats partly (largely?) out of necessity. I can mouth a few words about what Roger does in his physics work, but I don't really understand his work. 100 years ago, someone like me could pretty easily explain how the Wright Flyer worked. As we stand taller and taller on the shoulders of giants, there is a smaller and smaller percentage of the total knowledge that we can understand -- we just don't have the time to undertake the study.

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#221
In reply to #209

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 2:14 PM

General Relativity, developed by Einstein, has had little to no practical application after 90 years.

What, you've never used a GPS to navigate?

So then, given your criteria, it's not research that would have deserved funding, right? Or am I wrong?

Although I suspect that you of are of at least average intelligence, and probably somewhat above average on the limited intelligences (Gardner makes a very good case that there are several) measured by, for example, the Miller Analogies, you nevertheless act as if you cannot grasp basic concepts. It's as if you enjoy playing dumb, just to be obtuse and difficult to follow.

Einstein did not, in 1910, receive large government grants to work on concepts that only a small number of scientists were studying at the time. But we nevertheless know of him don't we?

If it was 1910 and Albert Einstein was working on General Relativity but said he needed government money to continue, would you have been in favor of supporting him?

No, of course not. The chance that, in 1910, I would have understood the theory sufficiently is incredibly low. If he wanted government money, he would have had to sell his ideas, and sell the notion that his ideas would result in some greater good, etc. This would require that he get the support of others, and would require that he translate his ideas into a vision that others could understand. Maybe if Feynman, Hawking, and Sagan were around at the time to help, it would have been easier.

The first patents on HHO devices for "improving combustion" in cars were issued not long after 1910. Those first crackpots would have had an easier time promoting their devices to government(s) than Einstein would have had in promoting his own ideas in 1910. (Obviously I am abstracting here: in front of a real review committee, Einstein might have come across as incredibly bright, and the HHO guy might have appeared pretty dim or dishonest... but I hope you get the point.) The HHO guys could say (lying, of course): these devices will cut government fuel expenditures in half! (What did the US government consume in fuel for internal combustion engines in 1910 -- 4 1/2 gallons?) Einstein would have a profoundly* hard time pointing out the value (to government) of his ideas. Unfortunate, but that is the nature of democracy, and especially of democracy intertwined with capitalism.

Too bad that the essential (to democracy) idea of an "informed populace" does not, in practice, exist.

Read about democracy, politics, the diversity of opinion on the perceived value and purpose of governments, etc.

Like many people here at CR4 and elsewhere, I have been government-funded for some projects and not for others. When I failed to get funding it was not because of some Antiscience conspiracy propagated by Jean Paul Sartre and his insidious ideas. It was because I failed to adequately sell the idea...

And gosh golly, my ideas were so precious to me.

In my personal view, we do not spend enough on fundamental science, nor do we spend enough on applied science and, especially, science education. I am saddened that we are at the bottom of the heap (in industrialized countries) in understanding of science by the general population. Personally, I think it is unwise that universities spend more on football teams than on physics departments. I would happily reduce military funding (an area in which there is staggering waste, if my very slight experience in military contracting is a valid indicator) and increase funding for much, much better science education (I am so radical about this that I propose that pre-university science should be taught by people who know something about it!! Many would say, sarcastically: "Good luck selling that idea!") For any of my personal preferences to manifest, I must sell my ideas. If I can't do that, or fail to do that because I don't think I have the time, that's my fault; it's not the fault of cultural or philosophical evolution.

Perhaps we need more Carl Sagans. Or more JFKs: People who can communicate the value of science, even when that science does not appear (to most) to have an immediate near-term application.

Are you proposing that we return to 1910 when all was right with the science world?

If you can't explain what you do to a five year old in a way that makes the kid enthusiastic, then you don't really know (really know) WTF you are doing. You can mouth the words, recite the definitions, but you can't transmit the real idea.

A mentor once told me: "When you write a proposal, tell a story. If you get the reviewers enthusiastic about the story, you've won. "

Although our methods may differ, we seem to be on the same team.

*100 years later, still the number of people in government who can give a reasonably good (even high school physics level) accounting of the theory of general relativity is tiny. A larger number can at least make some vaguely relevant connection: "Einstein... Did he have something to do with the atom bomb?"

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#222
In reply to #221

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 2:20 PM

What, you've never used a GPS to navigate?

Very intricacal part. General relativity is used just to make up the time differences between here and space for it to be accurate.

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#2

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 2:55 PM

Just a near large astroid miss would change that. And by near, I mean graze the atmosphere.

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#4

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 4:16 PM

I've got to agree with AH on this one. I've spent most of my life working as an optics engineer, while pursuing an active interest in astronomy in my spare time. I have an advanced degree in Astronomy and before I turned to engineering I taught Physics and Astronomy.

I'd rather not see the budget for Astronomy cut -- but the country is in serious financial difficulties right now. It seems ludicrous to spend billions of dollars on a field that includes only a tiny fraction of the population, when there are millions of people out of work right now -- people whose unemployment benefits have (or will soon) run out, forced to liquidate their retirement savings to pay the mortgage and put food on the table (assuming they had any retirement savings), and doing without health insurance, etc.

It's not a matter of anti-science, it's a matter of dollars and cents. So, all government agency budgets need to be cut - military and social spending along with education, science, health, etc.

Besides, it might be a good thing to break from the thinking that all science projects need to be 'Big Science' projects. With the growth of private space ventures, it might be time for small consortia of universities to pool their resources to launch small Astronomy satellites with narrow targeted research goals or to build land-based observatories in the 'workhorse' size telescope range of 30 to 100 inches, especially with the latest robotic telescope technologies that make sharing resources so easy.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 4:24 PM

I'm still not clear about this logic:

We need to save money therefore the budget for everything must be cut. That's where you guys lose me.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 5:21 PM

It's not saving more, it's spending less.

The current rate of spending at the federal level is unsustainable. That spending has to be paid for, one way or another, and right now there is no combination of payment methods to cover the growing debt. The government can't tax people enough to pay for the spending and it can't borrow enough either. They can crank up the printing presses (which they've started to do somewhat), but that will lead to galloping inflation.

The more that is cut the better in the long run, but the cuts can be across-the-board and they don't have to be draconian. I saw an example recently of a simple 3% cut, every year for the next 10 years and we'd be back to reasonable solvency. We can tighten our belts and make small cuts now, or we can let the financial system implode when all those IOUs come due.

Here's article from a year ago discussing the debt:

http://reason.com/archives/2010/05/11/our-unsustainable-debt

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 5:47 PM

Why do the cuts need to be across the board? If I'm an individual in debt and want to get out of debt, my solution isn't going to be "cut 3% from every expenditure". I would focus on the biggest expenditures and figure out how to reduce them.

What is your reasoning for "3% across the board cuts"? Isn't that just punishing science for overspending that is occurring or has occurred in other areas of the government? Surely we can all agree that the vast majority of our current national deficit has nothing to do with science expenditures, right? So why is science being asked to foot the bill?

The inference seems to be that 3% across the bard cuts are fair, but I don't see how it is fair at all. Punish those programs whose expenditures have had the largest percentage growth over the last 20 years instead I say.

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#15
In reply to #7

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 9:03 PM

Side issues. The constituency for the NSF is tiny compared the the lobbying groups for medicare and other seniors programs, welfare, military spending, etc. What congressman has a major voting block of NSF grant recipients he wants to fight for?

And as I said, the 3% figure isn't mine, just a suggestion of a simple way to get back to solvency by evenly spreading the belt-tightening.

Fair, or not fair, is always subjective.

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#17
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Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 9:50 PM

Everything should be up for review. You can attack the largest expenses, but the real way to cut spending is to prioritize all spending and make a budget that we can live with and live within that budget.

Your problem is that you say "not me!" Well, every other budget sweetheart has their own pet projects and sing the same song. If we buy into that logic (and I use the word logic loosely), then nothing gets cut. In fact, what usually happens is everyone gets an increase and we simply raise the debt limit and let the next generation figure out what to do.

What people fail to realize is that we not only have saddle our kids with this problem, but our children's children will now be paying for our financial irresponsibility.

By the way, we are not just punishing science with the idea of across the board cuts. Across the board means everyone bears the load.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 10:04 PM

You wrote:"By the way, we are not just punishing science with the idea of across the board cuts. Across the board means everyone bears the load."

Yes Science is being punished. We are not in this hole because of science spending. Science spending has gone down as a percentage of the tax revenue since 30 years ago while lots of other stuff have gone up.

If you have 20 people and 20 cookies and 5 people eat 10 of the cookies, is it then fair to split up the remaining 10 cookies among everyone equally? Isn't that unfair?

Why does science have to make cuts because other departments overspend?

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#24
In reply to #18

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 5:23 AM

You are suggesting that everything but your interest be cut?

We are in a hole because of the do good idiots spending what we don't have - be it on welfare or war.

It would be pleasant to have a president that appointed people that had some experience at what they are going to oversee - unlike what we have today.

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#25
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Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 7:17 AM

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say.

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#32
In reply to #18

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 8:57 AM
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#33
In reply to #32

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 9:00 AM

Again, if anyone could address how to actually close the deficit using numbers, I would really appreciate it.

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#81
In reply to #33

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:29 PM

For one thing one has to stop complaining when we start to close the deficit numbers.

That includes cuts in science, social, entitlements, public works,....no infrastructure should be last to cut. We'll need that if we are going to recover.

And when the cuts begin, people will whine and cry about how unfair it is. But it

has to start.

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#84
In reply to #81

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:38 PM

I agree that we need to stop complaining and need to start closing the dificit.

So how, specifically, should we do it?

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#87
In reply to #84

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:46 PM

They would be beyond what I wold care to get into right now, Because one cut can have consequence effect. Its hard because it is complex.

But starting is the hardest.

And a play with numbers, or creative accounting does not count.

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#241
In reply to #84

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/07/2011 3:50 PM

'....So how, specifically, should we do it?...'

...

See post #231

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#242
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Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/07/2011 4:53 PM

Hmm, seems pretty simple. You close the deficit by taxing more and/or spending less. Increase taxes as much as is reasonable for the constituency represented, and prioritize programs to receive budget reductions based on the desires of the constituency or an immediate safety/security/survival needs. Pay debts before you pay for luxuries, i.e. any programs that don't fulfill the basic immediate needs of the majority of the constituents like security/safety, food, shelter, or work opportunities. Address immediate pressing needs before those with much longer horizons. Afterall, this would be a democratic method.

Of course you'd need some catalyst to get this to proceed, as there is no impetus right now for such belt tightening as long as people keep giving our government money to go further into debt. You'd need some form of public ground swell to drive the majority of the representatives to change their attitudes about the government debt. The ground swell could derive from anyone, including a representative, who just happens to gain support for his cause through his commitment, active efforts, knowledge and/or charisma. Also set initial target for something realistic and achievable that has an achievable time frame so people can feel accomplishment, and not pie in the sky fantasy as this would be unachievable or has an extended time frame such that people never feel any degree of accomplishment.

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#12
In reply to #5

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 7:31 PM

No, we are not saving money. we can no longer spend money we don't have.

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#13
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Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 7:52 PM

I completely agree we can no longer spend money we don't have. So let's make cuts in the programs that account for the majority of the spending, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense instead.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 8:11 PM

Here is the link where I got the 2010 budget information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_federal_budget

Notice that Science expenditure was around 50 Billion all together, out of 3,500 billion spent last year. That amounts to 1.4% of all spending. 3% of 50 Billion is 1.5 Billion. So by compromising future discovery and innovation you knock off 1.5 Billion out of 1,420 Billion or roughly 0.1% of our deficit.

By contrast if you were to reduce Medicare, Medicade, and Social Security spending by 10% you would reduce the current yearly deficit by 145 billion. That's 100x the savings you got from 3% cuts in science. Even that would only reduce our yearly deficit by 10%

Someone suggested a 3% cut across the board. That results in a 102 billion reduction our of 1.4 trillion yearly overdraft.

So what do we do? I'm open to suggestions here. How would you guys significantly reduce our 1.4 trillion dollar yearly deficit?

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#20
In reply to #13

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 10:52 PM

What you listed is true. Especially Defense.

Problem is, before defense gets cut, first we have to finish and get out of the two known wars that are currently ongoing.

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 11:10 PM

You mean stop paying dictators?

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#22
In reply to #20

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 11:22 PM

I agree.

To make a point...

Now lets say we did a 25% spending cut across the board next year. I'm saying Science, Defense, Medicaid, Social Security etc. Now I know that would be impossible, but let's pretend. That would reduce the 2012 deficit by less than 700 billion. leaving us in the red by over 600 billion.

Think about that. If we were to cut spending on everything by 25% next year, we still would be adding over half a trillion to our national debt next year.

In fact we'd have to cut spending by about 45% "Across the board" in order to just stop adding to our national debt next year. That would mean unemployment checks half of what they are now. Social Security checks halved. Medicaid and Medicare coverage halved. Defense budget halved. Even doing that we would still have our 13 trillion dollar debt, we'd just not be adding to it.

I was accused of "not wanting to give up my own entitlements". I have to admit it's news to me I have entitlements. You see, I have worked for a private company for the past 11 years. Before that I worked for many other private companies. I paid my way through school, paid 21 years of taxes, never collected a single unemployment check. In fact, I don't recall ever getting a check from the government.

That aside, I ask you all, if cutting everything by 50% is what's needed just to stop growing the debt (remember, we will still owe 13 trillion at that point), is cutting alone really a solution?

That's why I agree with those of you who say that spending is out of control and say I don't understand when you suggest that we should make, what was it? A 3% cut "across-the-board"? This math ain't hard for sure, yet somehow I'm the only one writing it down in this discussion. I wonder why that is?

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#34
In reply to #22

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 9:01 AM

I think this is the logic behind the '3%' number:

A 3% cut every year for the next 10 years would result in a net cut in spending by 2021 of 34.4%. [1.0310 = 1.344]

Over the same time period, without changing the tax rates, total tax revenue would rise. From 1980 to 2000 the total tax revenue collected by the federal government went from roughly $500 billion to $2 Trillion, an increase by a factor of about 4. That's equivalent to about a 7% increase each year. [1.0720 = 3.87.] Assuming even half that growth in tax revenue per year, then in 10 years tax revenue would increase by 41%. [1.03510 = 1.41, or a 41% increase.] (I used 1980 to 2000 when the economy was stable; over the past few years the revenue has fluctuated up and down a bit. The growth in tax collections was somewhat due to Reagan's cut in the tax rates, which stimulated the economy.)

Combining the two, the cut in spending with the increase in tax collections, the net 'solvency factor' would be 1.344 x 1.411 = 1.896, and would thus yield a balanced budget. If we then held the line on spending we could start to pay down the outstanding debt.

{BTW, my data for the 1980 - 2000 tax info came via Wikipedia.}

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#36
In reply to #34

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 9:13 AM

I appreciate direct response. I'm putting together a response showing what this would look like so that may take a few minutes.

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#41
In reply to #34

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:06 AM

Usbport,

Ok, I took what you suggested and created a spreadsheet to see what it would look like year by year. Tax growth every year of 3.5%, spending cuts of 3% across the board every year. Since nothing can be done till 2012, I have started the changes there.

The Results Summarized

Based on your suggestion, we wouldn't stop adding to our debt till 2019. The national debt would be increased from 2012 till 2019 by 4.2 trillion. A person receiving Social Security of $2000 a month in 2011 would recieve $1567.50 in 2019 under your plan.

By your suggestion above, our national debt would climb from 14 trillion at the end of this year to 18.2 trillion by 2019.

The Results in detail

I assume the same numbers this year as 2010. All numbers are in trillions (except the SS/month which is the actual value), so:

2011 Taxes=2.2 ; Spending=3.55; Deficit=-1.35; Debt=14; SS/month=2000
2012 Taxes=2.277 ; Spending=3.44; Deficit=1.17; Debt=15.2; SS/month=1940
2013 Taxes=2.36 ; Spending=3.34; Deficit=0.98; Debt=16.2; SS/month=1882
2014 Taxes=2.44 ; Spending=3.24; Deficit=0.80; Debt=17; SS/month=1825
2015 Taxes=2.52 ; Spending=3.14; Deficit=0.62; Debt=17.6; SS/month=1771
2016 Taxes=2.61 ; Spending=3.05; Deficit=0.44; Debt=18; SS/month=1717
2017 Taxes=2.70 ; Spending=2.96; Deficit=0.25; Debt=18.3; SS/month=1666
2018 Taxes=2.80 ; Spending=2.87; Deficit=0.07; Debt=18.3; SS/month=1616
2019 Taxes=2.90 ; Spending=2.78; Surplus=0.11; Debt=18.2; SS/month=1567

Comments/Conclusions

So your plan would give us a National debt of 18.2 Trillion in 2019 while people would see their Social Security check cut from $2000 to $1567.50. We haven't even discussed inflation, which at 2% a year makes that $1567.50 even less.

However in 2019 we would be in the same situation as the late 1990's. We'd have a surplus, assuming our credit doesn't implode from adding another 4 trillion to our debt. Also we didn't include rising interest payments from our higher debt which would push break-even back till 2020.

Is this what you guys mean by being serious about the debt? I see that Usbport received many good answers for his post. Does that mean you all agree that our debt should be 18 Trillion in 2019?

Side Note

I could have made mistakes in my math so please check it.

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#42
In reply to #41

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:13 AM

So you guys haven't been shy up till now, tell me, do you support Usbport's solution?

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#47
In reply to #42

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 11:17 AM

Default on the debt. Throw the politicians and bureaucrats out, and start over with the US Constitution. It would be tough going for awhile for a lot of people, but the alternative is a never-ending cycle of debt slavery to the bankers and China. We are set up to never pay off the debt. We may eventually have a Congress and President balance the budget and have a surplus, but we will never pay off the debt. And the 'official' debt fails to include unsecured liabilities.

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#48
In reply to #47

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 11:25 AM

If we default on the debt, no one would lend us money. Half of what we spend is borrowed. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid payments would stop instantly or at best be reduced in half. The economy would collapse. People would begin to starve in the streets. It gets worse from there.

I think defaulting is a bad idea.

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#49
In reply to #48

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 11:36 AM

Yes, it would be bad for a lot of people. But, despite everything, I have faith in the industry of people and there capacity to get things done when we need to. The USA has the resources to support everybody in the USA and the 'need' for SS, Medicare, etc. is only there because there seems to be no alternative. We do not need to be beholden to the"economy", as we do not eat money, nor do we use to keep the rain off of us. We do not need the Federal Government to provide our needs, we have forgotten how to take care of ourselves. Tough times now where we answer to ourselves or tough times later when we answer to China and the International Banksters.

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#83
In reply to #48

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:36 PM

If we default on the debt, no one would lend us money.

Since washington is made up with attorney's, they probly would say, "Before I tell you what to do, Pay me up front first"

The after their paid, "They would say, spend until you use up your remaining credit, then default".

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#58
In reply to #47

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 12:37 PM

Considering a very large portion of our debt is to the bond holders, it may not be a bad plan!

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#60
In reply to #58

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 12:50 PM

A lot of those bond holders are 401ks. Usually the older you are, the more your 401k is in bonds (considered the safest investment).

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#63
In reply to #60

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 1:12 PM

Agreed. The retirees would take a huge hit. Note that even the financial people assign some amount of risk even to governmental backed securities... This would tell me there is always some risk of default.

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#73
In reply to #58

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 8:10 PM

I had no idea who to reply to so I chose your post as a second entry point to this seemingly complex problem.

"Considering a very large portion of our debt is to the bond holders, it may not be a bad plan!"

Its the only way I can see to get out of this mess. Just don't pay the debt. It would upset the "people" who this is owed to but what could they do that is worse than what is being faced by a hole nation, if not the world. Now and in the near future, say 2020. I called this delusional state of affairs in 2007, here in CR4 and was ridiculed and a thread was closed.

For most of you it seems as a surprise that this is the reality. How come a mathematically challenged artist knew about this fiasco years ago? I had promised, after the closed thread, not to take part in any political discussions and by now don't care. I will tame it or at least try.

That Roger has to now think of other ways to finance his scientific endeavors is tough. I am running my research on friendship and strategic alliances since years and that has not always been a disadvantage. Sometimes the striving for success is enhanced by the lack of nourishment or new tools.

The situation in general reminds me of the plantation owner (they are still doing it in the so called third world [pssst, and here too]) who will never allow the farm worker to own his own land or pay him enough so that he could own the land he is working one day. He has to rely on his children who he infects with the same attitude towards the plantation owner.

So? What are the Chinese gonna do? Invade us? (BTW we have a very similar problem here in Australia). By that time all the soldiers would be back home and I would not want to imagine any enemy trying to invade the homeland or even attack it. Us poor souls would have to be without Chinese products for a while.

"OMG!! A piece of paper!!!" Jumps off his seat and runs to the next bunker with fear masking his otherwise cool warriors face.

Or the 401ks? Go to war against the impoverished? Their own people? I don't think so! Blood is thicker than water and the less it is infiltrated by "Heroin" the better the pain can be felt and the more realistic the reaction to a difficult to treat disease can be.

If, in the mean time, every penny is saved and all pull at the same string and not care about what the big end of town thinks or threatens, wealth could be accumulated and invested and enthusiasm and change would not be swear words anymore. This is a perfect example of delusion on my side but is born from the historic fact (pact) that the plantation owners will one day be sent to hell. E v e r y time.

Many here have tried and succeeded to put this into a mathematical formula. A seventh grade kid should have the skills to do that. What a kid of that age can not see is that the historic parallels of the situation are the same as they always where, when and if the slaves get too smart.

I am debt free and any debt I had in the past was always repaid. Tighten the belt and head first through the schlamozel (mess). Securing a loan of 2 million with no income? Who in their right mind would give such a person a loan in the first place? OK you beat me to it, I remember now, there were such inflated idiots and the loans are still being traded as ?????. Schizophrenia if there ever was a perfect example.

What we owe the people that have influenced our education, training, inspiration and decision making can never be fully repaid. Inflation is not possible in that realm of life although it is even being tried to discredit the true "whatever colored Oprah's" of this world. The true leaders, the ones who create even if nothing is there to create it with.

What would you guys say if I charged you my hourly rate for writing this. You see, that's how simple it is. Don't pay me even if I'd send you a reminder or threaten with jail. I am as anonymous as any impotent government. Now, if I would charge you for reading this opinion piece that would be just the same, not enforceable, to a point.

The function of the well paid mass media in all of this is the greatest shame of all. I have never seen anything more ruthless.Turning truth into lie and the other way around. Taking advantage of a lowly educated or disoriented masses of people. Shame, shame, shame.

The reaction? Gloves are off! Someone is after my job! I better do what Massa tells me to do. Beat me but don't send me off the farm. Yes, I identify this person, he was at that meeting, its all his fault! They made me do it! Gosh, I have so seen this all before.

Fear thrives on devouring soul, Ky.

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#74
In reply to #73

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 8:24 PM

Just wanted to mention again I don't get government money, I work for a private company. Somehow this misconception continues to persist as can be seen by ky's comment, which the tone of which was nice and believe ky's mistake to be just an oversight, but still this is a misconception:

"that Roger has to now think of other ways to finance his scientific endeavors is tough"

Just to reiterate. I work for a private company and have been employed every year for the last 21 years. I didn't get scholarships, never collected unemployment, obviously don't get Social Security for a few more decades. In other words I put in much more than I get out. Just want to make that clear. I simply like science, am excited and proud when new discoveries are made, and being a bit patriotic am even more happy when they are made by the US, thus it kills me when scientific funding is (in my opinion) unfairly cut here. That is all, this is an off-topic aside to ky's post. I've marked it such.

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#76
In reply to #74

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 9:06 PM

You were complaining about less money for science, that is what I was referring to.

At least you have a job or a perspective to step up to the next one. Maybe not as fast as you would have liked but join the club Roger most of us are waiting for things to get better.

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#79
In reply to #76

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:09 PM

I'm sorry, I don't understand the second part of what you wrote.

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#80
In reply to #79

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:16 PM

Good.

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#85
In reply to #80

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:38 PM

?

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#88
In reply to #85

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 11:41 PM

At least you have a job or a perspective to step up to the next one.

You are employed by a private company=good

You want more funds to be spend on science=good

Maybe not as fast as you would have liked=circumstantial

Do you have a goal which has to be achieved like your life depends on it? Or could it wait and just run second to the reality of the situation?

.....but join the club Roger most of us are waiting for things to get better.

Which part do you not understand?

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#89
In reply to #88

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/28/2011 12:11 AM

That makes more sense to me I guess.

I suppose I'm not really a "wait for things to get better" sort of guy. Probably because I'm not the sort of person things come to on their own, I've always had to go and get them. After a while I guess going after things rather than waiting for them to "come in their own time" became habit.

So I guess I understand when you say that most people wait for things to change but that doesnt' work for me.

Can you understand where I'm coming from (it doesn't mean you have to agree)?

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#93
In reply to #89

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/28/2011 12:48 AM

Can you understand where I'm coming from

Sure can Roger. It's more about were we are going to head in the future though. I agree that you have to behave as conditioned. Maybe a change of say 25% on the cards?

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#94
In reply to #93

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/28/2011 12:52 AM

I'm sorry, I don't understand that last bit (two last sentences).

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#75
In reply to #73

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 8:31 PM

Aside from the questionable morality of just not paying our debts, it may not even be legal due to the 14th amendment. Apparently it was anticipated by our forefathers that we might not be as scrupulous as them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

(Section titled: Validity of Public Debt).


Besides all of that, it would destroy the world economy in such a multitude of ways it would be almost impossible to describe. The world wide depression and subsequent inevitable violence (that always occurs when people actually experience the horror of starvation) would be horrific.

I can't believe a majority of you feel that defaulting on our debt is a wise course of action but the silence here is pretty deafening.

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#77
In reply to #75

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 9:51 PM

Thanks for responding

questionable morality

Come on now Roger. Why would you want to bring the M word into this. You have read the major philosophers! You have practically blogged your heart out on it. Now when it comes to the crunch you look after your interests first? Morality?

may not even be legalit

Legit is when a dad or mum can feed their kids and have shelter and the next wedding can be looked forward to. Legal eagles have turned into hyenas by now and upholding law in or on any subject has become a farce. We all know that. Why bring a dead horse in for flogging?

was anticipated by our forefathers

I don't think only the US forefathers have the overall say in this. Even old Chinese wisdom could help us out. We are working all this out by using maths invented by the Persians. I couldn't care less what some guys said a long time ago. The principles of slavery were not patented by your fore bearers. And getting rid of it has always been a problem. The roots of this go back to pre-biblical times. The song remains the same.

it would destroy the world economy

You are in denial Roger. What we have clearly recognized here is that the economy, as we know it, is destroyed. It is based on a huge vacuum and imploding will happen although deflation would be more desirable. Like the farmers children who want a life but have inherited the "Heroin" addiction from their parents. Cold turkey, no other way known to man, whatever the addiction.

subsequent inevitable violence

Sure as hell there will be violence. Have a look around you. Its so in our face that we have built a thick skin and are happy to report "well its not me".This way or that there will be shavings when you shape things.

Why not then show solidarity and go back to the roots in unity and not be split and divided and then conquered by the same immoral principles, tactics, illusions which have led to this situation in the first place.

I can't believe a majority of you feel that defaulting on our debt is a wise course of action but the silence here is pretty deafening.

I have not counted but have read most if not all of the comments made here. I clearly think that it is a minority that would agree to such action. Even I would say that it is thinkable but not practical. If this train of thought is kept out of the equations altogether though it will never find a middle ground. Organizations like micro loan providers and other NGO's initiatives would be just cosmetic.

It just occurred to me that they are only cosmetic so I'll better get into a depression mode real quick and take my medication on time.

Good luck, Ky.

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#82
In reply to #77

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:33 PM

Regarding Morality

Personally I believe Altruism and Morality are powerful from a practical point of view, but requires a long-range perspective and discipline. They are ideals to strive for. The concept of honor developed because it benefited the people who adhered to it, not because it was a quaint romantic notion. Too many people mistake morality and altruism for naivety, which ironicaly I find to be naive.

I like to point out that the model for Machiavelli's "The Prince", ruled for only 8 years, and died having fallen out of Papal favor and lost everything. The Enlightenment thinkers were so convinced of the absurdity of "The Prince" that they assumed it was a satire.

Legality

The constitution, when so clearly written as in this case, is not so easily circumvented. More likely than defaulting would be that we would instantly cut entitlements.

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#78
In reply to #75

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:02 PM

Section 4 renders the debt ceiling unconstitutional, and obligates the President to consider the debt ceiling null and void.[49]

End quote.

I posted before reading this. It might look like I was plagiarizing but that is what I would do if I where the President. The situation is very similar only that the whole world is watching in real time and is confused as rats are around a trapped one.

Don't take the bait, simple, Ky.

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#243
In reply to #75

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/08/2011 11:31 AM

Technical default is in consideration:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/China-warns-US-debtdefault-rb-544637721.html?x=0

For the sake of clarity, the 14th Amendment does not say the USA can't default on its debt, it states: "The validity of the public debt of the United States... shall not be questioned." Odd language, me thinks....

Without questioning the USA debt, there is some historic questions about the validity of the 14th Amendment, but that is a whole other can o' worms.

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#245
In reply to #243

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/08/2011 2:02 PM

I don't see any ambiguity in the Supreme Court ruling (Perry v. United States).

In Perry v. United States (1935), the Supreme Court ruled that voiding a United States government bond "went beyond the congressional power" on account of Section 4.

http://supreme.justia.com/us/294/330/case.html

In Section 4-9 of the Ruling:

4. There is a clear distinction between the power of Congress to control or interdict the contracts of private parties when they interfere with the exercise of its constitutional authority and a power in Congress to alter or repudiate the substance of its own engagements when it has borrowed money under its constitutional authority. P. 294 U. S. 350.

5. By virtue of the power to borrow money "on the credit of the United States," Congress is authorized to pledge that credit as assurance of payment as stipulated -- as the highest assurance the Government can give -- its plighted faith. To say that Congress may withdraw or ignore that pledge is to assume that the Constitution contemplates a vain promise, a pledge having no other sanction than the pleasure and convenience of the pledgor. P. 294 U. S. 351.

6. When the United States, with constitutional authority, makes contracts, it has rights and incurs responsibilities similar to those of individuals who are parties to such instruments. P. 294 U. S. 352.

7. The right to make binding obligations is a power of sovereignty. P. 294 U. S. 353.

8. The sovereignty of the United States resides in the people, and Congress cannot invoke the sovereignty of the people to override their will as declared in the Constitution. P. 294 U. S. 353.

9. The power given Congress to borrow money on the credit of the United States is unqualified and vital to the Government, and the binding quality of the promise of the United States is of the essence of the credit pledged. P. 294 U. S. 353.

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#43
In reply to #41

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:16 AM

If we continue the way we're going, what's our break even point?

So it takes until maybe 2025 for us to break even under his suggestion that he probably took 5 minutes to come up with. That's better than what we are currently doing (fighting over $6-$66 billion in spending cuts).

I don't think USBport or anyone else here said that his one suggestion is the absolute way to do this.

And if you have a better suggestion then why are you complaining here about science cuts instead of running for office and fixing our national debt?

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#44
In reply to #43

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 10:26 AM

Using his plan, debt to zero would occur in 2032. In that year someone getting $2000 dollars a month in Social Security today would recieve $1055 a month after the 3% cuts a year for 20 years. All budgets would be cut roughly in half of what they are today.

I can only respond to the specific suggestions made. I'm certainly open to discussing other approaches presented with specifics like Usbport***. Do you have a specific suggestion?

***As a side note, kudos to Usbport for actually talking specifics.

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#50
In reply to #44

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 11:41 AM

I've already commented below on specifics. I appreciate your insults though.

I know my comments are not as specific as you would like (partly because it gives you less ammunition to poke holes in what I say), but I haven't done enough research to give you more than that. I don't plan to either until someone starts paying me for it.

I also don't see the point in arguing here much since I agree with some of the general comments like usbport's.

I know what you are doing here. You seem to enjoy starting an arguement and then poking holes in someone else's statements without offering any real solutions. There's a personality conflict between me and you here because I don't like people that only shoot down other's arguements without offering an alternative.

Maybe it's best that I step out of this discussion...you win.

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#51
In reply to #50

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 11:56 AM

I apologize. My intention wasn't to insult you. I am vigorously trying to defend my position and that is difficult if I don't have specific numbers to address. I do believe however I have a right to have a contrary opinion and defend that opinion to the best of my ability.

You say you haven't done enough research to give me more than that. I provided a link to the wikipedia article with a lot of relevant information in comment #14. If you get a chance, please take a look. You then may have enough information to propose a specific solution.

If any of you feel I'm misrepresenting the truth, please point out where in the numbers and I will either defend my calculation or make a correction. I'm not pretending I'm impartial, no one would believe that anyway, but I am at the very least trying to be forthright in my arguments.

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#52
In reply to #51

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 12:11 PM

Well you're certainly entitled to your own opinion (despite being wrong). Just kidding.

I have agreed with some of your comments that I've read here, but in general I think there's room to cut spending in all areas (again this is based on general knowledge and not specifics). If I can find areas of spending in my own life to cut, then I'm certain the government can too.

I think the 3% across the board is a statement used to get the ball rolling on this. I think a lot of people are frustrating about Congress arguing for months over spending cuts and then settling on cutting next to nothing. I linked an article that showed room for spending cuts on just the NSF, so I'm sure we can find similar fat in every program all the way up to defense budget.

But now I really need to step out of this. Doing this at work makes me realize that I can cut some of my time on CR4 out for more productivity.

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#54
In reply to #52

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 12:25 PM

I am frustrated with the debt too. I think we all agree on that. I'm also frustrated that science seems to be the first thing cut and often one of the only things cut. The frustration stems from the fact that:

1. Cutting Science doesn't really solve the debt problem, even if we were to do so in parallel with everything else (the 3% example).

2. What ends up happening is that science gets cut and a few other small expenses but the heavy expenses never are addressed, so the real life situation is even worse than the 3% example.

3. Science spending has grown at a much slower pace the past 30 years than most other spending, so Science is treated unequally on the way up, but when it's time for cuts, Science is suddenly equal and must sacrifice the same as every other program. That doesn't seem fair to me.

4. I sincerely and honestly believe that every time we cut science funding we make our country weaker in the future. I know everyone doesn't agree with this, but it is a qualitative belief I hold.

Thus I come to the conclusion that given the unfairness I see in 1 through 4, the general public has a prejudice against science (it may be subconscious, it doesn't have to be active). Again, this is based on the consistent unfairness with regards to science funding I see in 1 through 4.

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#61
In reply to #54

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 1:03 PM

You keep sucking me back in...

The problem is that there aren't enough people speaking up for not cutting the science budget. I agree with you in that it should be one of the last things that we cut and only if we cut from other budgets too. If history has taught us anything, it's that the leaders in science are also the leaders in technology and economies.

I think the last time this country was united in a scientific endeavour is when we had the space race. It's really sad to think that more people in this country now care about what's happening on American Idol or Jersey Shore instead of what's happening at NASA or with our education system.

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#65
In reply to #61

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/27/2011 1:41 PM

I agree

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#120
In reply to #43

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/29/2011 12:24 AM

The breaking point is not in sight anymore with values as they exist in nation's population mind. The most suffering will start to redefine values first and balance the nation towards a new order.

Like, my car is from 1994 and fully paid.

Not: look at my house, my 3 cars, my boat....... while these items are owned by banks.

I read government money, there is not such thing. All the money is from the people, the taxpayers. Aren't they responsible for spending it wisely?

The "herd" needs more math education and the "handlers" more honesty. Hard work, less luxury and...

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#119
In reply to #34

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/28/2011 11:48 PM

How do you deal with the interests due in this theory?

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#122
In reply to #34

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/29/2011 2:28 PM

You just forgot to add the increase in interest on the dept over those 10 years.

At one point, the dept service will be much higher.

Imagine when the interest rate paid by the govt will return to the 5-10% from the 0.5-2% paid these days...

We have a similar problem in Canada, the dept service is taking money away from useful programs even with todays artificially low interested rates.

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#244
In reply to #13

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/08/2011 11:58 AM

Can't cut social security spending, that is actually just a debt payment program the government owes for borrowing against social security (it is a public debt). The government has been borrowing against social security funds for decades, and must pay their debts. That is why it is listed as the first priority under mandatory. For the government to just take that money could represent taxation without representation and violate the constitution. They would have to make a law to tax social security in some manner that would allow them to just relieve the government of that debt repayment, thereby breaking the retirement program and getting every politician who voted for it removed from office as expediently as possible.

I am not sure about Medicare and Medicaid, but I suspect that telling people you are going to reduce their standard of health care to support a study of stars we can never reach within their great great grandchildrens life times you would likely get some push back.

Defense spending is a direct budget line item. Though a significant portion of defense spending also goes to research, so you might just be cutting research funding on practical applications of science to support funding for impractical research. It does seem like we could attempt to roll back defense spending some, and let europe deal with europe's energy problems themselves.

I would like to know what the other mandatory spending is as that is nearly as large as the defense budget, and why it is mandatory (is it repayment on loan/bond principal). Hmm, I guess we could default, but then next year the governemnt would not be able to fund pretty much any non-mandatory programs at all.

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