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James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 11:25 AM

The James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a planned infrared space observatory designed to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. It is designed to observe further than any telescope that exists today. It could potentially detect objects 100x fainter than Hubble (launched over 20 years ago now) and could see details 3x finer. The JWST will be a technological accomplishment that greatly increase our understanding of the Universe.

Followup to a Recent Post

Recently I posted that the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee made the recommendation that the advanced infrared space telescope -- and Hubble's replacement -- be canceled.

Now it looks like the cancellation has made it past the second step....here is the article (Article below was written by Ian O'neil):

Discover Article: James Webb Space Telescope Closer to the Axe


This could be considered "strike two" for the deeply troubled James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

Last week, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee made the recommendation that the advanced infrared space telescope -- and Hubble's replacement -- be cancelled. On Wednesday, the full House Science, Space and Technology Committee has approved the subcommittee's plan.

Although the project isn't dead yet, the 2012 budget still needs to be voted on by the House an the Senate, but things are looking grim.

Despite a last minute appeal to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday, the Republican-dominated committee were unmoved.

"I have tried to explain what I think is the importance of James Webb, in terms of opening new horizons far greater than we got from Hubble," Bolden told the committee members. "I would only say that for about the same cost as Hubble in real-year dollars, we'll bring James Webb into operation."

Also, in a last-ditch attempt on Wednesday to breathe life into the project, Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California whose district covers NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. in Pasadena, Calif., tried to insert an amendment that would have partially restored funding, redirecting $200 million from NASA's account for Cross Agency Support. The amendment was shot down by a voice vote.

$3 billion has already been sunk into the project and components for the space telescope are undergoing space-readiness tests. Unfortunately, the projected 6.8 billion final price tag -- plus mismanagement troubles -- has attracted budget-cutting lawmakers.

Should JWST be cancelled, the $3 billion already invested will be lost. Seems like quite a big waste for NASA's already grossly underfunded budget, doesn't it?

The scientific returns on the JWST would be incalculable; but to politicians, science takes a distant second to budget cutting and political points scoring.

My Take

So the antiscience continues unabated while most of the nation pretends it doesn't exist. You can see the Discover Author's (of the article above) obvious dismay at this turn of events, but should we really be that surprised? This is an meaningless cut in terms of the deficit and a terrible cut for Science. Most balanced assessment would determine it isn't worth it.

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#1

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 12:41 PM

When I was a wee bairn, we lived just up the mountain above a farmer by the name of Joe Good. Joe Good was very careful with a dollar and tried his darnest to make money. Every spring, he'd buy 6 or 8 calves to fatten up for beef sales in the fall. But, being careful with his money, he wouldn't waste any on commercial feed or hay. Instead he pastured the calves on poor grassland that didn't produce quite enough to feed them all. Without fail, fall would see maybe two of the beeves now dead and the others showing all their ribs. Without fail, Joe Good could not sell those beeves for enough money to cover his costs, so he'd end up losing money for all his troubles. For miles around, whenever anyone would see foolish economy, they'd just shake their head and say, "Joe Good's cows!"

So, when I see the government poor-mouthing us straight into the poorhouse, I say, "Joe Good's cows!"

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 1:46 PM

You mean this government of the people, for the people, by the people? They are just doing what we elected them to do.

But Yes, I agree with what you're saying. Look, I'm all for fiscal responsibility, but this notion that you can continuously cut funding forever and keep getting increased productivity is absurd, and yet it is precisely what people want to believe. Why? Because that's the solution that requires no sacrifice on the peoples part.

The People: We want government spending cuts and no tax increases!!!
The Government:Ok, well, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and Interest on the debt is half our spending, let's start there...
The People: How dare you!!! Those don't count!!!! Grrrr!!! We're really Angry!!!!
The Government: Oooohhh, you want the impossible. Our bad, we'll just cut science then, that way we can all pretend we're doing something without actually doing anything and without requiring any sacrifice.
The People: The waste at NASA must be stopped!!!!

Ten minutes later:

The People: Why are we falling behind China in Science and Math!!! We demand answers. You're incompetent Government!
The Government: Oh, brother.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 3:20 PM

Might as well lighten things up early in the thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqhlQfXUk7w&feature=related

The government, and productivity, don't belong in the same sentence. Notice the bread line on his way to work.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 4:02 PM

I thought you were sitting this one out

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#5
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 4:05 PM

I'm a liar.

As long as we can have a little fun on these threads....................no harm done.

If I can make a point through humor, I'll go for it.

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#6
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 4:38 PM

The People: We're spending billions on public education, why isn't science and math a more important part of the k-12 curriculum.

The Government: Because we have decided that the arts, music, English literature, etc., are just as important as science and math.............they make a well rounded individual.

The People: But with the countless billions that we're spending, why do we have to have a one size fits all curriculum.

The Government: Because we have decided that that is the best approach, it's not up to you to question what we do or how we spend money. We know best.

The People: Oh, brother.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 5:01 PM

You Wrote:"Because we have decided that the arts, music, English literature, etc., are just as important as science and math"

Is that what happened? What are the "Arts, Music, English Lit, etc." government initiatives that you're referring to? I'm familiar with STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, but not the one you're referring to.

While we're doing conversations...

The People
: Why is there no History on the history channel anymore??

History Channel: We get much better ratings showing stupid UFO shows over and over again.

The People: The History Channel needs a reality show too.

History Channel: grrrr....We had such high hopes...ok...can we at least make it a reality show related to history?

The People: Only if you include Vampires.

History Channel: *Sigh*

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 5:25 PM

I'm putting myself in time out for the time being. I'm not sure I can do this anymore.

In just a few posts, we've gone from a telescope, to the programming on the History Channel.

You're attempting to prove how stupid everyone is, (society) in general.

Attempting to prove you wrong by engaging in these threads..............only proves you right.

All I can say, is that it's a mixed bag...............plenty of stupid everywhere............smart too.

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#15
In reply to #10

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 9:05 PM

You Wrote:"You're attempting to prove how stupid everyone is"

No, I'm trying to show that the government is giving the people what they want, just like the history channel is. Being into vampires doesn't make you stupid. Nor being into reality tv. Nor being into UFO's. But it doesn't make you very scientific. People who aren't empirical (scientific) aren't necessarily dumb. My argument has been and continues to be that there is an antiscience sentiment in this country. An unconscious bias against science that is manifesting itself in a number of ways (Actually my argument has been a little broader, I've been saying there is an anti-abstraction sentiment in this country of which the antiscience sentiment is just a part).

Hope that clarifies things.

By the way, just found out there is already a reality show on the history channel based on shooting stuff. I was so close...

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#16
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 10:22 PM

That looks like a cool show, thanks for the link.

Is it finding life on other planets that you're worried about? Who cares?

If deep space exploration has proven anything..............it's that space, as far as we can see, is inhospitable to human life. The answers that you seek are not out there.

I could easily hubble together an argument, that all deep space research is wasted money. That all science funding should go to sustaining life on planet earth.........................period. An end to deep space...........for now. Not antiscience.............prudent science.

Have you ever worked on a government contract? I have.......several.

I ran the paint and glass installation on a new penitentiary down in Georgia. It was run by the Bureau of Prisons.

When I arrived on the scene, everybody was pissed. The government had just forced the general contractor to tear down a building because it was 5 inches off from spec. It threw the entire project off schedule. The building was fine, but for 5 inches. A freaking prison to house criminals!!!!!!!

I both tried to cover my a$$ and watch, as the government ran one well established company after another into bankruptcy over bull$hit, all under the guise of looking out for the tax payer.

I watched, as government inspectors, reeking of self import and conflicting cologne, packed themselves, (6-8 of them), into 8 X 10 cells, one after the other, looking for the slightest defect......................all in the name of the taxpayer.

I spent Christmas eve and Christmas day, sitting in a semi trailer, baby sitting about 2000 gallons of paint during a cold snap. Just me, my gas grill from home, and a couple of cases of beer.............Why? Because the inspectors told me, that if they found one ice crystal in one 5 gallon bucket of paint, it all had to be thrown away, the entire load...all in the name of the taxpayer................so there I sat.

Your precious government is far more implicated in our current state of affairs than you can possibly realize, son.

You need to broaden your horizons. Look at the big picture. You're not going to find it at the end of a space telescope.

Calling non-government people stupid doesn't seem to be working out either.

Once again...............good luck on your quest buddy.

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 10:30 PM

You Wrote:"If deep space exploration has proven anything..............it's that space, as far as we can see, is inhospitable to human life. "
Actually science tells us exactly the opposite:

In their paper, the Kepler team lists ~60 candidates with sizes ranging from Earth-size to larger than that of Jupiter which are in the Habitability Zone of their host star. This is obviously one of the most remarkable results of this survey.

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#18
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 11:12 PM

Fine. We'll all be dead from CO2 poisoning before we figure out how to get to any of them..................if we can at all.

Candidates do not mean earths.

My conclusion is, that you space scientists are obsessed with finding earth like planets.

Capable of sustaining life, is narrowly interpreted, as sustaining life as we know it.

While all of this is exciting, in the scheme of things, it means nothing.

Like I said............not antiscience.............prudent science.

I feel confident that your expensive telescope will find nothing to make my, or my kid's lives, better.

Not only that, but let's focus on earth.................we can get back to those planets in a couple hundred years.................they'll still be there.

I think part of the problem, is that you, and those that think like you, want everything solved in your lifetime. The wish of every scientist that ever lived.

Ain't gonna happen. Sorry.

Each generation of scientists builds on what took the last generation a lifetime to figure out.

In that respect, I can understand your contempt for society. Rather than building on what the last generation learned.............we seem to be going out of our way to destroy and forget it.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 11:35 PM

You Wrote:"I feel confident that your expensive telescope will find nothing to make my, or my kid's lives, better."

Why are you confident about this?

You Wrote:"I think part of the problem, is that you, and those that think like you, want everything solved in your lifetime. The wish of every scientist that ever lived.

Ain't gonna happen. Sorry."

That would probably be a bigger tragedy...to know everything. It's the search that is the adventure.

You Wrote:
"In that respect, I can understand your contempt for society"

I have no contempt for society. I believe that human beings are imperfect and need to constantly reevaluate their beliefs and strive to better themselves. I include myself in that. How is that contempt?

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#22
In reply to #19

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/15/2011 12:06 AM

Roger. Read your own posts...............from years ago, to now. You vilify everyone that disagrees with you.

Everything is personal to you.

The search is not your adventure..................it's the fight to prove you're right that keeps you going.

The proof is right here in indelible ink.

I'm a high school educated painter..........................perhaps the antiscience is that people like me expect a lot more from people like you.

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#23
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/15/2011 12:58 AM

Let's be honest here............it's important.

I'm on CR4 because I've been through hundreds of situations, (before the internet), that I was in a pinch, and didn't know what to do........broken stuff. I learned some things that may help someone else.

I eventually figured them all out, but if I had my friends here, I could have resolved the problems a lot faster. Hell, I think doorman could even help me with chick problems.

Why, exactly, are you here?

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#11
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 6:06 PM

Look at it this way..............at least with each thread it takes less posts to put you in the winners circle.

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#31
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/15/2011 5:28 PM

I'm with you on this, but your 'script' where the people don't want tax increases is not factually accurate. Over 2/3 of the people believe that taxes should be raised for the 'top 2%'. I think about 30% of the people (including many of the 2%) are opposed.

Who was it once said "Ignorance is the most powerful force in the universe"?

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#32
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/15/2011 6:24 PM

Johnfotl that is not factually accurate, in fact your numbers are opposite. 55% are opposed.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/taxes/july_2011/55_oppose_tax_hike_in_debt_ceiling_deal

But here is the thing, even if you were correct, wanting it is irrelevant. You could tax that 2% at 100% and clean out their collective bank accounts and still not even touch the deficit hardly. And punitive taxation of those who control the levers of industry only drives them to move their industries offshore even more than they do now, or if they cannot, it eliminates jobs and spending domestically. What we need to do is to spur MORE industry, not less. And businesses do not pay taxes. they simply do not. they pass those costs (and they are costs no different from lights gas water and rent.) on to their customers through higher prices. So ultimately ALL taxes are paid by the consumer.

One last thing. a whole lot (I'd speculate the majority in fact.) of those that make more than $250,000 a year are not rich individuals, they are small business owners who must report their business's income as personal income on their 1040. Since MOST jobs are supplied by small businesses, anything that increases costs on small business owners ultimately results in fewer jobs.

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/15/2011 9:59 PM

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/taxes/july_2011/55_oppose_tax_hike_in_debt_ceiling_deal
Who cares?
more of the usual partisan noise
Part of the Corporate media bias
a huge majority of the deficit has gone to corporate welfare
corporations from around the planet have open access to one of the largest consumer markets, without paying for the upkeep of the infrastructure that makes it all possible

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#37
In reply to #32

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/16/2011 3:19 PM

You Wrote:"You could tax that 2% at 100% and clean out their collective bank accounts and still not even touch the deficit hardly."

What an interesting statement. Let's check the accuracy of your statement:

As of 2009, the Wealth in the United States was 54.2 Trillion total (link). The top 1% has at least 40% of that wealth, or 21.7 Trillion. The deficit is 1.3 Trillion and our debt is 14.3 Trillion.

The top 1% in the U.S. pay 38% of the taxes. That's 342 billion dollars. The average tax rate of the top 1% was around 16% (we'll call it 20%). That of course means that taxing the top 1% at 100% would yield 5x more revenue (assuming no subsequent change in income). Thus 1.7 trillion in taxes, which of course puts us in the black by 300 billion (1.3 trillion deficit gone). Keep in mind, I'm talking about the top 1%, it would be much higher for the top 2%. Of course we shouldn't do this, but it does point out that you are completely incorrect in your statement. (God forbid we actually check the math, right?)

Anti-Abstraction Nation: Ignorance Really is Bliss

You see, in a nation where math is scorned, people are easily manipulated. Politicians tell you that the top 20% pay the majority of taxes and you feel sorry for the wealthy. Since you don't know math, you don't realize the reason they have a larger tax burden now is because their incomes have exploded while everyone elses have remained flat. Take the same percentage (or actually a slightly lower percentage) of a fast growing number and you get larger tax contributions. The part they don't tell you is there after tax income is at all time records.

The real problem with this country is the rich have been chronically under-taxed for 3 decades now leading to ever increasing wealth disparity. Any nation in history that has had such a growing wealth disparity has inevitably fallen apart (Russia, France, China). It has gotten so bizarre here, that the mere suggestion of making the tax code slightly more progressive is shouted down as socialist. It's like a guy in prison being called weak because he doesn't want to rape somebody. Our environment in this country has destroyed all reasonable perspective.

The funniest part of all this, is I benefit the most in this compared to most of you, but I don't like it because it's unsustainable and rotting our country.

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#42
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/18/2011 5:00 PM

Roger,

What is the source and year of your data regarding the average tax rate for top 1% being 16%?

The Tax Foundation indicates for FY 2008, the tax rate for the top 1% to be 23.27% see the table 1 below (taken from http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html).

To get an additional $1.3 trillion (T) out of any one income group, what would we have to increase the average tax rate to?

Top 1% would have to go from 23.27% to 100%. AGI for top 1% is $1.685 T ($0.39 T+$1.3 T)*100/$1.685 T = 100% which is unrealistic and economically bad, wouldn't you agree?

Top 5% would have to go from 20.70% to 65.1%. AGI for top 5% is $2.93T ($0.61 T+$1.3 T)*100/$2.93 T = 65.1% which is unrealistic and economically bad, wouldn't you agree?

Top 10% would have to go from 18.71% to 52.4%. AGI for top 10% is $3.86T ($0.721 T+$1.3 T)*100/$3.86 T = 52.4% which is unrealistic and economically bad, wouldn't you agree?

Top 100% would have to go from 12.24% to 27.7%. AGI for top 100% is $8.4T ($1.03 T+$1.3 T)*100/$8.4 T = 27.7% which is unrealistic and economically bad, wouldn't you agree?

The primary problem isn't too little taxation....it's too much spending. Don't get me wrong, I'm not making a statement about what should or should not be cut....just that we are spending way too much. While I think strategic cuts are a better choice than arbitrary ones, they are also less likely to happen as there are too many special interest groups threatening those making the decisions. Using FY 2011 CBO numbers the deficit would be $1.48T with total outlays at $3.708T. Perhaps being less wise but easier to get passed is an across the board cut of 40%,eliminating the deficit and effect all programs an even percentage. Not popular....but certainly easier to stomach than taxing the economy to a halt.

Table 1. Summary of Federal Individual Income Tax Data, 2008(Updated October 2010)

Number of Returns with Positive AGI

AGI ($ millions)

Income Taxes Paid ($ millions)

Group's Share of Total AGI

Group's Share of Income Taxes

Income Split Point

Average Tax Rate

All Taxpayers139,960,5808,426,6251,031,512100%100%-12.24%
Top 1%1,399,6061,685,472392,14920.00%38.02%$380,35423.27%
Top 5%6,998,0292,926,701605,71834.73%58.72%$159,61920.70%
Top 10%13,996,0583,856,462721,42145.77%69.94%$113,79918.71%
Top 25%34,990,1455,678,179890,61467.38%86.34%$67,28015.68%
Top 50%69,980,2907,352,1111,003,63987.25%97.30%>$33,04813.65%
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#43
In reply to #42

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/18/2011 6:25 PM

My position is there should be a tax increase for people taking home over 250,000 a year and sensible entitlement cuts.

You have taken my previous comment completely out of context. I say quite clearly in that post, in which I'm responding to an earlier post:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You Wrote:"You could tax that 2% at 100% and clean out their collective bank accounts and still not even touch the deficit hardly."

What an interesting statement. Let's check the accuracy of your statement.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I then go on to show, assuming an average tax rate of 20% that if you were to tax the top 1%, you could cover the entire deficit, thus demonstrating his comment was nonsense. I then say later in that same post:Of course we shouldn't do this, but it does point out that you are completely incorrect in your statement. (God forbid we actually check the math, right?)

You chose to take my statement completely out of context, either because you didn't read it (maybe you just skimmed it) or because you wanted to use what I said out of context to your advantage. Either way I don't care, it's not important.

What I believe

The point is that I feel any reasonable solution needs to include a significant tax increase for the rich (around 10%). I don't want this in order to close the deficit. I want this because if we don't do this, wealth inequality is going to spiral out of control in this country.

We had a tax rate in this country higher than 70% for the richest americans for over half a century. Half a century during which the United States thrived. I don't buy into this idea that raising tax rates on the rich will kill the economy. We've had historic low tax rates on the rich for the past 30 years and our economy is in shambles. Wealth inequality is at an all time high. It has to stop.

The Rich aren't getting richer because their smart. Their getting richer because money attracts money. That's unAmerican. If you're rich, you get a higher interest return on your money. That fuels wealth inequity. There is a finite amount of wealth in the U.S. If the rich continue to have a larger and larger share of that wealth, then the rest of us will have smaller and smaller shares left over to fight each other for. Everyday we look more and more like a oligarchy, not a democracy.

Inequity of wealth is what's destroying the U.S. Just as it destroyed the French Monarchy, Tsarist Russia and countless other historical examples.

However

Since I have no hope that the majority of people over 50 (the baby boomer voting block) will ever believe anything but tax cuts and spending cuts will save an economy, I've resigned myself to the idea that they will continue to destroy this great nation that was handed to them at it's peak of prosperity until they are too old to do so. I'm young, I can wait them out.

My concern right now is we don't destroy science in this country in the process. So I argue about the absurdity of setting back Astrophysics 20 years in order to save 1 billion out of a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit, to mixed reviews. I continually post examples of shortsighted cost cutting with the hopes that as we plunge into this giant abyss the baby boomers have made for us, we can at least have a few safety lines. I'm not terribly optimistic it's working.

I can't imagine my position needed clarification, but if it did, there it is.

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#46
In reply to #43

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 10:22 AM
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#49
In reply to #46

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 11:40 AM

I agree that is wrong too. I believe the poor should pay a symbolic tax rate, for their own dignity. Somewhere between 3% to 5%. I think it's bad for america for any voter not to pay some taxes. Not paying any taxes too easily creates the illusion that the oppressed and downtrodden are somehow benefiting from a system that favors the very rich.

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#47
In reply to #43

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 10:40 AM

I do not believe I took your statement out of context. I was not debating or claiming your numbers were incorrect. Nor was I challenging you on the accuracy of the previous statement you were commenting on.

I asked you where you got 16% as the data I found shows around 23% for the top 1% of income earners. You round up to 20% (fair enough) and show there will be more than enough revenue with money left over by taxing the top 1% at 100%. I don't disagree using your numbers. If the tax rate of the top 1% is actually 23% then raising the tax rate to 100% would be enough to cover the $1.3T deficit.....just no money left over.

I was taking the topic from debate about the accuracy of the numbers to where the real problem is....not in taxing, but in spending.

I'm not sure how my post used yours (taken out of context) to my advantage as I was not trying to discredit yours.

By the way, I did read your post and did not skim it.

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#48
In reply to #47

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 11:34 AM

I'll agree to disagree that you didn't take my statement out of context.

You keep asking where I got the 16% and keep claiming you read what I wrote and didn't skim through it. If that's the case, I'm surprised that you didn't notice I provided a link in that original post immediately after I wrote it. Go back and check for yourself (Post #37) or if that is too much to ask, here is the line from that post:

From that post:

The average tax rate of the top 1% was around 16% (we'll call it 20%).

Hopefully you'll now stop asking me to provide a link I provided the first time. By the way, if your confused why the very rich have such a low average tax rate, it's because the dividend tax is 15%.

Here is Warren Buffett describing how he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary.

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#50
In reply to #48

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 11:45 AM

My apologies, I did see the link you provided the first time I read your post, but was reading it without having done any digging into deficit numbers and tax rate myself. It was later when I started looking at some numbers, and re-read your post that I wondered where you got 16% and the link didn't stand out having already looked at it.

In your last post you could have simply referred me to your original post (as you did here) reminding me that you already provided such information. Wouldn't that have been much simpler?

No I'm not confused as to why the tax rates are what they are.

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#51
In reply to #50

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 12:35 PM

You Wrote:"My apologies...In your last post you could have simply referred me to your original post (as you did here) reminding me that you already provided such information. Wouldn't that have been much simpler?"

Seriously? This my fault?

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#52
In reply to #51

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 12:43 PM

No, it's not your fault at all. Nor did I say it was your fault.

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#53
In reply to #50

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 12:54 PM

What did you think about what Warren Buffet had to say? Do you still believe there isn't an issue with taxation in this country? (My tone here is not confrontational, I'm writing this because too many times my tone doesn't come across correct. I'm basically dropping the other thing we were talking about, it's not constructive. My tone here is just curious as to how you see it).

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#56
In reply to #53

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 3:45 PM

You bring up a very interesting issue. Yes, I believe there is a huge issue with taxation. But not the same issue that you do. In general I'm in favor of lower taxes across the board....or at least not higher than what we have now. I would prefer the government (or should I say the legislators who are heavily influenced by lobbyists) keep the tax code simple and not try to use it for social engineering...picking and choosing who or what industries should be punished and rewarded. Why should I (or some millionaire) have to pay more in taxes because those legislators define income level at which someone else is deemed necessary to receive a handout?

What is fair? Is everyone paying the same rate more fair than a progressive system? Is it fair to tax only wages and income? Or should the feds be taxing consumption? I'm more in favor of a national sales tax as opposed to an income tax. Should invests be taxed at a different rate than wages? If capital gains rates are removed and capital gains considered as regular income, what happens to investment?

Should corporations pay federal income taxes...especially in this day and age of international trade? Corporations either pass the tax onto the consumer (if they can without putting them at a price disadvantage against foreign competitors), pass it onto their employees in the form of lower wages or pass it onto their investors in the form of lower dividends.

Even though he is paying a lower rate on his income, he still pays far more than his employees...probably more than all of them combined.

Regarding Buffet and his employees, if the social security system hadn't been expanded to an unsustainable point (and robbed to pay general revenue) over the years from collecting a few percent of wages to over 12% (oh wait, I think it's temporarily down to 10% after last years tax agreement) then his employees might be paying less than Buffet. An example of undesired consequences.....but certainly not unforeseen.

Sure Buffet pays a lower overall tax rate, but so what. It's interesting he thinks it's not fair and says wealthier people should pay more in taxes. Guess what.....no one is stopping him. He doesn't have to pay only his tax liability....he can pay more if he wants too. So if he really believed what he was saying, he would do just that.

(My tone is not intended to be confrontational either...)

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#57
In reply to #56

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 4:33 PM

You ask "how is that is fair? Is everyone paying the same rate more fair than a progressive system?"

I feel like I've answered this important question in post #55. What are you're thoughts on that post?

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#64
In reply to #57

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 8:40 AM

Actually, I didn't read post #55 as an answer. Re-reading it I see your answer buried in the question ("...doesn't it make sense in order to even the playing field and make success a meritocracy to have a progressive tax to offset the economic law that amount of money and interest returned on that money are highly correlated? ").

So you believe fairness is about low inequality in wealth. I would say large inequities in wealth may or may not be healthy for a society. If someone obtains his wealth in an ethical and legal manner and does not use it for unethical or immoral purposes (i.e. buying politicians, child abuse, etc.) then I don't think it's right for society to confiscate it on the grounds that they have earned too much.

Regarding your example of wealthy getting a better return. That's economics and I see nothing wrong with it. With risk comes reward.

The reason why is that if two individuals (one at $20,000/year salary and one @ $200,000/year salary) are considering a $10,000 investment, the person who makes only $20,000 a year will most likely demand a very high return before he is willing to risk 50% of his annual salary and rightly so. The other individual is only risking 5%.....not trivial, but not nearly as significant.

But the investee doesn't care where it comes from, and he won't say to one that I'll only offer x% return for you but y% for someone else based on their income or even their wealth. It's based on how much the investment is for ($1, $20, $50). If they want to attract $1,000,000 then they must offer a higher return so they can appeal to those individuals with which $1,000,000 represents a significant outlay of cash. It just so happens that there are investors out there with enough available assets where $1,000,000 is nothing....yes, they get the benefit of choosing a higher rate of return.

But that happens at all levels of income/wealth....but perhaps not from an investment/rate of return point of view. Individuals making $100,000/year can buy better, longer lasting products (i.e. cars, electronics, etc.) than individuals making $30,000/year.

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#67
In reply to #64

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 10:12 AM

You Wrote:"So you believe fairness is about low inequality in wealth."

No, I believe that fairness is about having a reasonable inequality of wealth.

You Wrote:"I would say large inequities in wealth may or may not be healthy for a society. If someone obtains his wealth in an ethical and legal manner and does not use it for unethical or immoral purposes (i.e. buying politicians, child abuse, etc.) then I don't think it's right for society to confiscate it on the grounds that they have earned too much."

You keep using the term "confiscate". This is a complete mis-characterization of what we are talking about. I hardly think raising the upper tax bracket 10% amounts to "confiscation". The very fact that the two are equivalent in your mind demonstrates how absurd things have gotten in this country. I'm simply saying that the upper tax bracket needs to be increased to stop the growing wealth inequity.

You Wrote:"Regarding your example of wealthy getting a better return. That's economics and I see nothing wrong with it. With risk comes reward."

Then you misunderstood what I wrote because I said clearly that FOR THE SAME RISK, the rich get a better return on their money, simply because of supply and demand (there are less of them to provide money). They are being rewarded for simply being rich. Not for taking more risk, not for being smarter.

You Wrote:"The reason why is that if two individuals (one at $20,000/year salary and one @ $200,000/year salary) are considering a $10,000 investment, the person who makes only $20,000 a year will most likely demand a very high return before he is willing to risk 50% of his annual salary and rightly so. The other individual is only risking 5%.....not trivial, but not nearly as significant."

Actually the above example doesn't work. The two investors would get the same return. I'm not sure you understand how risk and interest rates work (I'm not being a jerk here, I'm just suggesting you might want to read up on this subject).

There seems to be a disconnect between what I'm saying and what your understanding. Let me try a quicker explanation:

A Summary

What I'm saying is... If you had to raise 1 million dollars, you could either ask 1000 people to give you 1,000 dollars or you could ask 10 people to provide 100,000 dollars. Since it is easier to deal with (and thus costs less to deal with) 10 people instead of 1000 people, you pay the 10 people a higher interest rate to get that money. So the people have gotten a higher interest rate, not because they were taking more risk (same investment), but because they simply had more money. A progressive tax evens the playing field. It makes it so that, whether rich or poor, it is the risk that determines you're return on investment, not the fact you simply have more money.

That's why a flat tax is unamerican. It essentially would create an Aristocracy. A group of people who would get more interest on their money simply because they were born rich. You lose the meritocracy.

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#69
In reply to #67

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 11:00 AM

I will reply in several post to disconnect the few topics covered.

Reasonable inequality of wealth...Fair enough (pardon the pun). I suppose the devil is in the details as people's definition of reasonable is likely to vary considerably. I suppose the same applies to my use of the word 'low'.

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#70
In reply to #67

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 11:06 AM

i used the word 'confiscate' because according to the World English Dictionary confiscate is a verb meaning "to seize (property), esp for public use and esp by way of a penalty.

Isn't that was taxes do? Do we pay taxes voluntarily? Even Warren Buffet who can afford to pay a lot more than he does and who claims he should be taxed more doesn't pay it voluntarily.

Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating abolishing taxes. I recognize it's necessary for a government to need money to function. I just think our government has taken on too much in the name of helping its citizens or those who supposedly can't help themselves.

I understand your belief that the fair or best solution would be to tax the upper income earners at a higher rate. I respectfully disagree.

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#73
In reply to #70

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 11:30 AM

You Wrote:"Isn't that was taxes do? Do we pay taxes voluntarily?"

Yes, I believe we do. There are other countries we can live in. Certainly there are states with no taxes (Wyoming). So yes, you do choose.Government is a social contract, between participants in a state, to pool their money together towards the common interests of that state. Since the United States is a large country with many divergent interests, often some of the money will be spent in a way some of us don't like. That's why we have representatives that meet to discuss and compromise. "Ok, you need that for your state, that's fine but I need this for mine".

Now confiscation is more like "I live in a village and soldiers came in, raped all the women (even 5 year olds) to breed out our inferior tribe, chopped off our hands to mark us as inferior, killed our men and confiscated our livestock."

Are you starting to see the difference between the hyperbolic "confiscate" you're using and the real meaning of "confiscate"?

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#74
In reply to #73

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 12:10 PM

You don't just get to choose what country you live in. Those countries actually have to agree to accept you (unless you do it illegally). Furthermore, one may not be accepted into the countries with a lower tax.

Wyoming may not have a state income tax, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have taxes (http://retirementliving.com/RLstate3.html#WYOMING) list sales tax of 4%, gas tax of $0.14/gal, and a low property tax. That is irrelevant as we are discussing Federal Income tax which as far as I can determine, Wyomingites are not exempt from paying.

What the soldiers in the article you linked to did is not confiscation, it's robbery and worse. Besides, I am not talking about foreign thug governments, I'm talking about ours. I don't think there is a policy with our military which condones such action.

If you think you voluntarily paying....try not paying and see what happens to you and your property.

I agree that taxation is a necessary evil, however, income tax is not. This country did fine for over 135 years without it.

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#76
In reply to #74

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 1:28 PM

You Wrote:"You don't just get to choose what country you live in. Those countries actually have to agree to accept you"

This is an overly esoteric argument. We in the US can pretty much become a citizen of any country we please (at least any democracy). As far as U.S. citizens are concerned, we can choose to become Canadian, European, or whatever (though I can't for the life of me see why we would want to).

You Wrote:"Wyoming may not have a state income tax, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have taxes"

I'm confused now. Are you saying you're opposed to all taxes? How do you expect to live without government? What do you think would happen? It would be anarchy.

You Wrote:"What the soldiers in the article you linked to did is not confiscation, it's robbery and worse."

Actually it is confiscation, you just don't know what the word means. When the U.S. won the civil war, they confiscated slaves and set them free, they confiscated land and gave it to the carpetbaggers. That is confiscation. Taxes isn't confiscation, and equating the two is an absurdity.

By the way, at lunch I had Rush Limbaugh on for 3 minutes by accident. I now understand why you're using such a ridiculous phrase.

You Wrote:"Besides, I am not talking about foreign thug governments, I'm talking about ours"

You seem to be under the misconception that if we stopped paying our taxes we'd still live in a peaceful country.

You Wrote:"If you think you voluntarily paying....try not paying and see what happens to you and your property."

That's like saying "if your voluntarily paying for the car, try not paying for it, they will repossess it. As a citizen you enjoy rights and privileges paid for by taxes. Not paying taxes is the same as taking the car home and not paying for it.

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#78
In reply to #76

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 3:28 PM

This is an overly esoteric argument.....Are you serious? I have a coworker who has been seriously looking for a country to immigrate to as he believes the US (or our currency) is in for a very dire future. Immigrate to Australia? Nope....he even has a sister living there. According to him, Australia has stopped family visas. Switzerland? Not likely unless you have a potential Swiss employer. I'm not saying it's not possible. Just not as certain as you indicate.

I'm confused now. Are you saying you're opposed to all taxes? How do you expect to live without government? What do you think would happen? It would be anarchy. Where did I say that and how did you get that from me correcting you on Wyoming's taxes? You said Wyoming doesn't have taxes. I clarified that they did not have a state income tax but have other taxes. As a matter of fact, in one of my posts, I explicitly said that taxation IS necessary. I am not opposed to all taxes. See post #70

I am not advocating to stop paying taxes.

That's like saying "if your voluntarily paying for the car, try not paying for it, they will repossess it. As a citizen you enjoy rights and privileges paid for by taxes. Not paying taxes is the same as taking the car home and not paying for it.

There is a difference....you did not have to sign an agreement to take out a loan to purchase a car. That was a choice you made.....no one forced you. The car is repossessed, not confiscated. It's being returned to the rightful owners because you failed to live up to your end of the contract.

Those of us born in the USA did not have choice (our parents may have, but we did not). I am not saying that we should not pay our taxes....I am saying that taxes fit the definition of confiscation.

A certain amount of taxation (via tariffs, income, property etc) is justifiable for the sake of us having government. For some reason only in the recent history that government has been requiring and the people giving into more and more money for things that the founders never desired the Federal government to be responsible for.

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#80
In reply to #78

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 3:59 PM

You could be right about emigrating. I could be carrying around a misconception that it's easy when it isn't.

You Wrote:"A certain amount of taxation (via tariffs, income, property etc) is justifiable for the sake of us having government. For some reason only in the recent history that government has been requiring and the people giving into more and more money for things that the founders never desired the Federal government to be responsible for."

I'm always amused when people talk about what the "founders wanted" as if they all wanted the same thing. The founders were at each other's throats.

So what it seems like you're saying is, you don't mind taxes, as long as it's the things you want.

As for your claim that the government is requiring more and more money, we both know that isn't even close to being true. We discussed earlier how much higher tax rates were. Perhaps this isn't what you meant, could you make a clarification?

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#81
In reply to #80

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 4:40 PM

I don't think the founders all wanted the same thing. But it's pretty well documented what they finally agreed upon. As is their stance on income tax.

No, I'm not saying I don't mind taxes as long as it's for the things I want. I'm saying I don't like taxes at all.....but realize they are necessary.

I do not believe the Federal government should be using money collected as taxes for a study on male genitalia of homosexuals and how it affects their sex lives. While it may be an important area of research for some, it has no business being funded by the Federal government. Nor for the arts, or housing, or a slew of other things.

Many of the things that sound good in terms of the government looking out for its citizens may be noble, are in fact causing more harm than good. Handouts are bad....they encourage people to become dependent. Not a good thing for the country, not a good thing for the individual. All the money spent on education hasn't helped our education system.....I believe it would have been better if handled locally. Johnson's war on poverty......poverty rates haven't changed since the '60's.

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#82
In reply to #81

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 5:04 PM

You Wrote:"I do not believe the Federal government should be using money collected as taxes for a study on male genitalia of homosexuals and how it affects their sex lives. While it may be an important area of research for some, it has no business being funded by the Federal government."

I would argue again that you're saying what you don't want the money spent on. There are minorities who might be interested in such research. I know you believe your point of view here is self evidently correct, but it isn't. Such research could offer reduction in the transmission of venereal diseases for homosexuals for all we know.

More and more it sounds like what you don't like is democracy. I mean real democracy, not the idealized version you seem to believe in where everybody believes in the same thing as you do. Now I know you don't see it that way, but you seem to hate the spending compromises that have been made, but that is exactly what democracy does, it creates compromises so that one of us doesn't get so angry that blood is spilled. While other liberals were complaining about the Tea Party, I was saying god bless america, after all, better shouting in town hall meetings than blood in the streets.

Look, I get what your saying, and I'm sure it's coming from a good place, but as you can see, I have antithetical views that are well thought out too.

I think at this point we're just going back and forth. Let's agree to call it quits and call it a productive and successful discussion that managed to avoid devolving into name calling and animosity despite the fact we probably couldn't be farther apart on the political spectrum.

Thanks for the convo.

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#84
In reply to #82

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 5:42 PM

For the record, we (in the USA) live in a Constitutional Republic not a Democracy. Here are some thoughts on the matter:

[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.2 James Madison

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.3 John Adams

A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way.4 The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.5 Fisher Ames, Author of the House Language for the First Amendment

We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate . . . as [it has] everywhere terminated, in despotism. . . . Democracy! savage and wild. Thou who wouldst bring down the virtuous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt.6 Gouverneur Morris, Signer and Penman of the Constitution

[T]he experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.7 John Quincy Adams

A simple democracy . . . is one of the greatest of evils.8 Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration

In democracy . . . there are commonly tumults and disorders. . . . Therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth.9 Noah Webster

Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state, it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.10 John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration

It may generally be remarked that the more a government resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion.11 Zephaniah Swift, Author of America's First Legal Text

from: http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=111

and more here.

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#87
In reply to #84

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 6:09 PM

Actually we're a Constitution-based Federal Republic (If we're being technical). Yes, obviously pure democracy is impractical, especially for us with such a wide variety of interests (50 states).

I didn't need your links because I learned this in 6th grade, but you might want to contact Ronald Reagan's family and let them know since he apparently didn't know when he said:

Democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.
Ronald Reagan

Or like me he could have just been speaking loosely.

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#88
In reply to #87

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 7:32 PM

Most of us were also taught the fact we are a Republic by the 6th grade, but most of us have forgotten this fact through ad nauseum repetition of the idea we live in a democracy.

I have no doubt R.Reagan did not know the difference.

I think the Founding Fathers were pretty clear about what they wanted for the federal government when they enshrined this:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

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#89
In reply to #88

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 7:55 PM

You Wrote:"I think the Founding Fathers were pretty clear about what they wanted for the federal government when they enshrined this:..."

Of course that's what you think. I can't think that because I know that some of the founding fathers killed each other over this very debate (aaron burr) and were at each other's throats.

It used to be "god is on our side". Now it's "the founding fathers are on our side". Such bunk.

And of course Reagan knew the difference. He had an opposing party in Congress, that doesn't happen in Democracy. Reagan was a talented statesman.

I recommend reading The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton and then you can come back and lecture me on 12th grade stuff instead. It might give you some insight into the "founding fathers" and what they "thought".

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#90
In reply to #89

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 8:32 PM

Are you saying that the Founding Fathers did not agree on the tenants enshrined in the Bill of Rights?...

The X Amendment seems pretty clear with no lines to read between.

Of course there were differences of opinion among these men, but it seems first 10 Amendments are clear in their spirit... Not to the letter or we wouldn't need the Supreme Court.

BTW, I thought this was a discussion, not a lecture.

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#91
In reply to #90

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 8:42 PM

You Wrote:"Are you saying that the Founding Fathers did not agree on the tenants enshrined in the Bill of Rights?..."

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying:

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

Why don't you read up on the ratification of the constitution and form your own opinion.

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#92
In reply to #91

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 12:26 AM

Although it took time, discussion, debate and compromise, eventually they did agree, otherwise the Constitution would have never been ratified.

from your source:

"When efforts to ratify the Constitution encountered serious opposition in Massachusetts, two noted anti-Federalists, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, helped negotiate a compromise. The anti-Federalists agreed to support ratification of the constitution, with recommendations for amendments should the document go into effect. The Federalists agreed to support the proposed amendments, specifically a bill of rights."

So, I'll state gain, the X Amendment is very clear in its intent, if the power is not specifically enumerated in the Constitution then the federal government does not have that authority.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

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#94
In reply to #92

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 9:05 AM

Yes, that was precisely the Secessionist Argument back in 1860 and 1861.

Do you even understand why the Massachusetts Compromise was necessary? You were saying earlier that all the founders stood for the 10th amendment, but clearly the Federalists didn't, it was the only way they could get the southern states to sign on was with this compromise. It was because the Southern Agricultural states feared being dominated by the more populous north that they resisted at first. At that point slavery was already and issue and they wanted to prevent the Federal Government from banning slavery and destroying their economy.

So in 1860 when South Carolina seceded, they believed they were within their rights to do so. After all, isn't that what the 10th amendment says? Abraham Lincoln disagreed and the civil war ensued.

When the south lost the civil war, your interpretation of the 10th amendment died. It has always been a controversial "right".

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#101
In reply to #94

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 1:28 PM

You wrote:

When the south lost the civil war, your interpretation of the 10th amendment died. It has always been a controversial "right".

If this were the case then why was the 10th Amendment not repealed in subsequent Constitutional Conventions?

Many of our rights are controversial, but that does not make them null and void.

The 10th Amendment is a cornerstone in keeping the federal government from sticking its fingers into all facets of our lives. Regardless of opinions and compromise leading to the creation of the Constitution, the Constitution itself is the contract which the federal government is supposed to abide by, and, without the repeal of any of the amendments, they are law.

Congressional oath of office:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

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#102
In reply to #101

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 2:00 PM

I said interpretation. All of the rights are subject to a certain level of debate, including this one. When someone supposedly knows the 'exact' definition of a right as stated in our bill of rights, they are essentially admitting they have no idea how our government works. For instance:

What is the exact definition of the First Amendment? Is anyone allowed to say anything anywhere? Of course not, such a rigid reading of the first amendment would be absurd. Yet that is precisely what you are trying to do with the 10th amendment.

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#103
In reply to #102

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 2:43 PM

"I said interpretation."

That may be what you meant, but that is not what you wrote. As for the interpretation of the 10th Amendment it seems pretty straight forward and clear cut (yes, this is my interpretation). It is the other parts of the Constitution, and the powers delegated to the US, where the federal government worms itself around the 10th, like the interstate commerce clause and general welfare clause.

I would appreciate reading your interpretation of the 10th Amendment.

Just for the record, with regards to the original topic, I feel that wasting the money and time already invested into the JWST is a poor choice and I hope it is not a place congress makes cuts. There are many other areas of waste that are frivolous. The pursuit of knowledge of our Universe should be the highest aspirations of Man.

Is there any chance that an aggregation of interests in the private sector can pick up the project?

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#104
In reply to #103

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 3:43 PM

You Wrote:"Is there any chance that an aggregation of interests in the private sector can pick up the project"


Unfortunately it's unlikely. It still requires several billion to complete and to run it will also cost several billion. That's a lot of money for any private institution to shell out for no profit gained.

People still patron the arts, but they don't really do it for the sciences anymore.

I'm hopeful that it doesn't get canceled, but experience has shown me when the government comes to a "compromise", science is usually the hardest hit.

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#85
In reply to #82

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 5:45 PM

The constitution spells out what the limits and powers of the federal government are. It requires Congress to collect taxes to pay debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.

I want congress to abide by the constitution. Not decide it's going to fund every special project that comes it's way.

I do not like democracy (majority rules). Neither did the founding fathers. By the way, the USA is not a democracy, it's a Constitutional Republic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_government_of_the_United_States).

I can live with a certain level of compromise between legislators.....but the "you vote for my pork and I'll vote for yours" or legislators being influenced by special interest groups is driving the country into a place I'm not certain it can recover from.

I don't know where you get that I think everyone believes the same as I do. I'm happy they don't.

I agree we are going back and forth and time to bring it to an end....but since you called it quits first that means I win (seriously, this hasn't been about winning or even trying to convince you to change your view.....just a good political debate).

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 5:56 PM

I agree.

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#93
In reply to #86

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 8:29 AM

Roger,

I know we agreed to call it quits....but I would like to go back to the "raising taxes on the rich" topic to clarify a few things. I am not asking for clarification to argue against your positions, but to understand....perhaps I may agree (to some of it).

  1. You mentioned raising tax rates for high income earnersby 10%. Please clarify, do you mean raise the top margin tax rate by 10% or do you mean to increases taxes so their overall tax rate (taxes paid/income earned) is increased by 10%?
  2. You mentioned taxing the wealthy to maintain a reasonable wealth inequality - I assume you are talking about increasing the capital gains tax to collect more from investors. Currently at 15%, what would you like to see it go to? Would you make it progressive or keep it at a fixed (but higher) rate?
  3. You stated would like to see taxes on those earning over $250k/year increased. Does it matter how that income was earned (i.e. wages vs. capital gains for instance). If it includes wages too, then is taxing high wage earners to keep those earning over $250k from accumulating too much wealth (i.e. keeping the wealth inequality reasonable)? I ask because this seems inconsistent with what I believe your view of the wealthy to be. Please correct me if I'm mistaken, but didn't you say or imply that most of the wealth has been inherited? If so, then their income would be primarily from capital gains, not wages. Are people earning between $250k and $1m per year really driving the income inequality?
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#95
In reply to #93

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 10:09 AM

JBTardis,

I would like a less flat tax code. So our current rates for single filers are (roughly):

10% 0-8,000
15% 8,000-30,000
25% 30,000-80,000
28% 80,000-170,000
33% 170,000-370,000
35% 370,000+

I would change them to:

5% 0-20,000 (no deductions allowed for this margin)
15% 40,000-80,000
25% 80,000-160,000
35% 160,000-320,000
45% 320,000 to 1,000,000
55% 1,000,000 and up

With the above code, you could only deduct down to 20,000. In other words, if you earned money, you've got to at least pay 5%. No more of this "half the U.S. pays no taxes" stuff. Dividends, Real Estate, Inheritance, Collectible Sales, etc. all count as income.

Corporations would not be taxed on earnings that were issued as a dividend within 2 years. Otherwise they would be taxed at 25%.

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#96
In reply to #95

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 10:29 AM

Interesting. I'll give it some thought. Is this a tax plan you thought up, one presented by a legislator(s), or someone else? (doesn't matter....just curious).

Would you give rates for single taxpayers, would you have a similar tax bracket breakdown for married or want to do away with that distinction?

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#97
In reply to #96

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 10:43 AM

It's one I thought up, and I'm sure it's full of problems, but I think it gives an idea or what I'd like to see.

I would do away with the marriage distinction. I'm for simplifying the code as much as possible.

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#98
In reply to #97

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 10:50 AM

I agree with simplification. I also agree with requiring everyone to pay something (no deductions below $20k and some minimum rate for even low income tax payers.

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#100
In reply to #95

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 11:16 AM

good one Dr. Pink

a very good start

but how do we encourage saving over credit?

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#99
In reply to #85

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 10:57 AM

I think there is a reason why our Constitution provides the specifications for the legislative branch in Article I - they considered it the most important. Congress was designed as the place to pass laws, declare war, raise taxes, and appropriate money as they saw fit. Interestingly it does not require that the President submit a budget or any other legislation to the Congress. These things are intended to be solely the responsibility of the dominant branch of government, the elected legislature.

Over time customs developed in which as the saying goes 'The President proposes and the Congress disposes'. In ~1921 and again I believe in 1974 congress passed statutes that require the President to submit a written budget proposal. The courts have largely gutted both laws on the grounds of separation of powers - the President is not the boss of Congress, and Congress is not the boss of the President. I believe another issue was that one President could not make an extra-constitutional agreement with one Congress that is in any way binding on future Presidents or Congresses.

I can well understand why Congress would like to drag the President into the the current debate over budget cuts and the debt limit, but it is Constitutionally their job, not his. People have become so ignorant of this that you will often hear criticisms that the President OUTSOURCED the drafting of some piece of legislation to his friends in Congress. The President cannot outsource a job which is not his to begin with. Maybe it's just me, but looking at the last three years it appears that Obama, intentionally or otherwise, is forcing Congress to stand on it's own 1,070 legs and start doing it's job as the Constitution intended. Those legs look pretty wobbly from disuse right now.

In any decision over spending or other policies, some folks are going to be angry with the outcome. In our current economic situation LOTS of folks are going to be angry. So I can understand why some legislators would want the President to take a public bite out of their s#!t sandwich, but they need to buck up and eat what's on their plate. They are the ones who have the lousy job right now. To put it bluntly, the Founding Fathers did not want the President to get down in the partisan muck with the legislators. If you remember that's how they do it in England's parliamentary system. The FFs were pretty pissed at England, and decided to go in a different direction. If we want our President to act more like a British Prime Minister then we should amend our Constitution accordingly.

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#105
In reply to #82

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 5:08 PM

"...it sounds like what you don't like is democracy. I mean real democracy, not the idealized version you seem to believe in where everybody believes in the same thing as you do. Now I know you don't see it that way, but you seem to hate the spending compromises that have been made, but that is exactly what democracy does, it creates compromises so that one of us doesn't get so angry that blood is spilled. "

I want to revisit this topic. I like the form of government we have and do not mind compromise (even if I don't get what i want or even most of what I want). Theoretically, I can always campaign and support someone running for office that agrees with me.

<< Sorry, I'm going to rant here. >>

What I object to is similar to what the colonies objected to....taxation without representation. Sure I get to vote for a representative and senator. But how much do they listen to their constituents? They tend to listen to the money (big agri, big pharma, wall street, bankers, large unions, etc), not the voters. The the election system has been corrupted to the point that the legislatures owe more to the them than the voters.

I appreciate that legislators have to balance the needs, wants and desires of their constituents with what's best for the whole of the country to some extent. And part of that means they need to take into account the needs, wants and desires of non-voting entities. But it seems those non-voting entities have more influence and easier access to our legislators than the voters do.

If lobbyist were eliminated from the picture legislators would be more closely representing the voters (imho).

<< Rant off>>

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#106
In reply to #105

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 5:18 PM

I'm all for campaign finance reform. I agree that lobbyists are a big problem. I don't object to their existence, just their level of influence.

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#107
In reply to #106

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 5:24 PM

I don't object to their existence either...just would like there to be 0 influence. I just don't know how that (zero or limited level of influence) will every happen.

I think when the first amendment encompassed money as a form of speech we went too far down a slippery slope.

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#108
In reply to #105

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 5:46 PM

If lobbyist were eliminated from the picture legislators would be more closely representing the voters (imho).

There is more to it than lobbyists
groups banding together to have their common interests represented is good

Groups like the american motorcycle association help give riders a voice in legislative matters.
how can we bring balance to the process?
we need more informed opinion, that results in more participation in the legislative process...

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#109
In reply to #108

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 7:34 PM

I appreciate the complexity. I think it's possible to allow private citizen with something in common to interact with legislators....citizen (most of them) are voters. Corporations are not!!! Of course, the devil is in the details.

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#110
In reply to #109

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/21/2011 7:52 PM

well keep going

explain how you think it would work?

would there be some kind of election finance reform too?

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#111
In reply to #110

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/22/2011 8:32 AM

I don't have a coherent reply yet, but want to let you know I'm thinking about it. I do have a full day ahead of me, so I may not get to writing a response until later on or even the weekend.

Election reform? As in doing something to ensure no fraud? or did you have something else in mind? Off hand I can think of two things I would like to see. Unfortunately, they both come with an expense (but what doesn't?).

The first is something some states have already started and that is requiring proof of citizenship before being handed a ballot. The arguement I've heard against such a requirement is that it hurts the poor (also sometimes stated as hurts minorities or specifically blacks). This is where the expense comes in. When you register to vote you show proof of citizenship (currently a requirement I believe) and the state issues an ID free of charge to the voter. To keep cost down states could possibly make them free to those below some income level. I don't like the public having to take on the expense, but I believe it's a small price to pay for fixing one part of voting fraud.

The second would be to change elections from voting for the one individual you would like to have in office to something else. The problem with the current system is that it works okay in a two party race, but introduce a third candidate and the winner could be someone that the majority does not want in office. I would like to see voters either rank candidates in order of preference then have a run off between the top two, or vote as we do now for their preference, then have a run off between the top two candidates.

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#112
In reply to #111

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/22/2011 10:57 AM

I'm not worried about fraud by voters, but sure some basics of record keeping should be applied. another one of those systems that is unnecessarily complicated to keep a bureaucratic butt(s) in a seat

myself when all things are equal, I vote for the candidate with the least number of yard signs

election finance is at the heart of the dysfunction for the overall system(s)

public financing sounds good but will most likely turn into another multi-layered bureaucratic clusterfuqk. Since we are just talking, I'll take a step back & Outline the goals:

inform the public of the candidates past & views, which will hopefully be reflected in their voting record once in the office in question.

we have lots of ballot initiative here in California. When I read the educational material the rebuttals to the arguments both pro & con seem to be the most informative, revealing the underlying issues, which aren't always apparent when reading the outline [white paper] of the initiative itself

how do we move the informational part of elections to a more substantive place?

I want the in depth mudslinging, not the 30 second version

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#113
In reply to #112

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/22/2011 1:44 PM

GA. I think you are right about election finance, and I suspect that the canard about voter fraud springs from the same conservative perspective that government would make wiser decisions if the poor (who are ignorant and less likely to have photo ID) can be discouraged from voting. I'm not so sure about your yard sign theory. I've put up a few and generally have to make a small personal campaign donation to 'buy' one. If my experience is typical then I would assume that yard signs are an indication of individual voter preference as opposed to a cash fueled campaign run by special interests.

My preferred method is to vote for the candidate who appears to be struggling and actually thinking about what they are saying in real time, as opposed to those who seem to effortlessly 'read from a script' and respond to questions with 'canned' remarks consisting of tangentially related talking points that can be traced to ideologically driven think tanks. I prefer candidates who's eyes occasionally wander upwards as if they were consulting a mental picture and trying to find the right words to describe that picture to the audience.

The problems we face now are complex and have been building up for decades. I don't really think that in the short term there is anything that government can do to solve these problems, but there are certainly things they can do to make the problems worse (like not increasing the debt limit). The solutions to these problems won't fit on a bumper sticker.

Since the Supreme Court has ruled that special interest PACs can anonymously spend as much money as they want influencing elections we should expect that this campaign finance problem will get worse, not better. Voters need to wise up.

Back to the original subject of this thread, I think the debate about light bulbs is a proxy for the larger debate about reducing our destructive addiction to 'cheap' imported energy, and that some of the energy in this debate comes from special interests who profit from that dependency. One hundred years ago most of us lived in the dark once the sun went down. In some parts of the world that is still the case. And we here in the land of milk and honey get our panties in a bunch about which type of light bulb is most aesthetically pleasing to us personally. Why on earth would sensible people get so exercised about such a trivial issue?

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#114
In reply to #113

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/22/2011 3:25 PM

I do not think the voter fraud is a canard. I have seen no evidence that conservatives think government would make wiser decisions if only educated (non-ignorant) or non-poor were able to vote. What they don't want are people who are not eligible to vote voting....or people have already voted voting a second or third time.

Both parties play up what they think will gain them an advantage. My approach resolves the issue of ineligible voters casting a vote without the poor being impacted economically.

I don't trust any of them (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Communists...etc.).

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#115
In reply to #114

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Anti-science Tragedy Unfolding

07/22/2011 6:03 PM

sure what you outline for fraud prevention is fine, but should be way down on the list of priorities, it is a conservative talking point & a diversion.

Campaign finance is far more important

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#83
In reply to #80

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 5:26 PM

As for your claim that the government is requiring more and more money, we both know that isn't even close to being true.

First of all, tax rates have little to do with how much revenue is taken in by the government. Generally as tax rates go down, revenue goes up.

Ignoring tax rates.....Federal government spending as a % of GDP has gone from less than 10% around 1900 to 25% now. Does that not indicate the government requiring more and more money?

According to this site: (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2008/pdf/hist.pdf)

In absolute terms it spending went from $715,000,000 in 1913 to $2,655,435,000,000 in 2006. Or using 2006 dollars (per the bureau of labor statistics inflation calculator) 14,560,000,000 in 1913. So Federal spending in 2006 was 182 times what it was in 1913 using inflation adjusted numbers.

How much is that per person? In 1913 the US population was 97,225,000, so federal spending was $149/person. In 2006 the population was approx 300,000,000 so that comes to $8,850/person.

I haven't even taking into account the increase in federal spending since democrats took control over both houses of congress in 2007.

By what measure do you think the Federal government isn't requiring more money to operate than before?

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#72
In reply to #67

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 11:20 AM

I did not misunderstand what you wrote. I was coming at it from a different direction....pointing out why the rate is what it is for a certain investment. Using the example of an investee trying to collect $1,000,000. He can get it all from one person or from 10,000 people. There are more people with $100 to invest at a given risk level than $1,000,000. It's another form of supply and demand.

It's interesting that you use the phrase "They are being rewarded for simply being rich". They are being rewarded the same way any other individual would be reward if they could provide the same capital. They are being rewarded for what they are able and willing to contribute. Do you think it's any different regarding knowledge. Is a surgeon being reward because he went to school for x number of years and passed an exam? No, it's an economic exchange. He does his work for exchange with someone who needs to be operated on.

Some may say, "Well it's not fair to the guy who went to school to be a florist". Why shouldn't he get paid the same amount? Because he is not able to provide what is wanted for that particular exchange.

Do you think the investee should pay a rate of return based on the investor's income or wealth level to better balance the wealth of the country? That may be more efficient that passing that wealth through the government. However, I doubt as much capital will flow, especially when there are other areas for someone with a large amount available to invest to put their money.

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#75
In reply to #72

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 1:15 PM

Just because these things tend to get lost in text, I've enjoyed the conversation and although I strongly disagree, you won me over a bit with the unintentional pun, so read my responses in that context if possible (you seem to be, I'm just confirming that is my tone in case there was any doubt).

You Wrote:"It's interesting that you use the phrase "They are being rewarded for simply being rich". They are being rewarded the same way any other individual would be reward if they could provide the same capital."

You realize you just basically wrote that they are being rewarded for being rich, right? Rich literally means having a lot of capital (we could split hairs here, but I think that is a good definition).

You Wrote:"Is a surgeon being reward because he went to school for x number of years and passed an exam? No, it's an economic exchange. He does his work for exchange with someone who needs to be operated on."

So you're equating someone who goes to school for ten years to learn a skill to someone who has a lot of money? I think you're getting confused in your own analogy. Remember, the person is getting a higher interest rate because they have more money. they could literally be mentally disabled but get a higher interest rate than Albert Einstein because they have more money. The example you are making is not equivalent.

You're underlying assumption seems to be that most rich people are new rich. If I can show you that isn't true, would you reconsider your position on this? I mean, if I could show that most rich people are born into their wealth, to your satisfaction, would you reconsider your position?

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#79
In reply to #75

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 3:38 PM

I somewhat agree that my statement can be viewed that they are rewarded for being rich. They are being rewarded for what they have that someone else wants. Isn't that the way the free market works. It doesn't matter if it's gold, or dollars or sardines. If you are in possession of something someone else desires for them to have it, they either need to take it from you forcefully or convince you to give it to through a mutually agreed transaction (usually perceived by both parties to be beneficial to themselves).

No, I'm not equating someone who goes to school for ten years to learn a skill with someone who has a lot of money.....I'm equating someone who has something that someone else wants and agrees to a trade benefiting both (or at least is believed to at the time of the transaction).

It really has nothing to do with assuming most people are newly rich, it has to do with economics.

If you have information you believe proves most rich are born into their wealth, I will be happy to take a look at it. I always consider my position on topics when presented with new information.

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#54
In reply to #43

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 1:03 PM

I respect your position on taxation. I also share concerns about growing disparities between rich and poor. I'm not so sure a country's demise is quite so simple as the delta between haves and have-nots.

Regardless, I think a better solution than robbing the wealthy to give to the poor is to do more to bring the poor up to a higher level. One way is through better education....and education that does more than provide an individual with enough education to be drone somewhere.

I am not opposed to some level of regulation on banks and other institutions which manipulate the general public and/or movement for their own gain.

On the topic of poor. What is your definition of poor? You are aware that those in the top 1 or 2 percent are not always the same individuals, don't you? Just because the number of after-tax income earners is larger now than in 1979 does not mean that those are the same individuals.

Many who are in poverty now are there because of where they are in their life (i.e. just starting out). As a matter of fact, the current administration and congress from 2007 to 2010 has done a lot to keep young people unemployed. It certainly isn't their stated policy, but their policies result in lower employment in teens and 20 year olds. One such policy is the increase in minimum wage.

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#55
In reply to #54

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 1:25 PM

I believe the inequity in wealth is growing because, to put it colloquially, money attracts money. To put it in terms of economics, there is a much smaller supply of millionaires than there is of people with $1000. Meanwhile there is an ever increasing demand for money (buildings, businesses, etc.). Small supply and high demand leads to higher prices. In lending, the amount you pay for money is interest rate. Thus the more money you have, the higher the interest you are paid on your money.

So if you have $1000 dollars, maybe you can get a 5% return on a low risk investment (risk factors in the price too), whereas if you have a million, maybe you get 10% instead (at the same level of risk). Think about it, if you needed money, wouldn't it be easier to pay 1 millionaire 10% than 1000 $1000 dollar people 5%? It's a law of economics.

So if the richer you are, the better interest rate you get on your money...doesn't it make sense in order to even the playing field and make success a meritocracy to have a progressive tax to offset the economic law that amount of money and interest returned on that money are highly correlated?

After all, if you had a flat tax, a millionaire getting 10% vs. someone with $1000 getting 5% over 10 years would lead to increased wealth inequality. The rule is simple, the flatter the tax code, the faster the inequity of wealth grows. Consider the two graphs below and how correlated they are:

Answers to your questions

Having explained where I'm coming from, I will now try to answer your questions:

What is your definition of poor? You are aware that those in the top 1 or 2 percent are not always the same individuals, don't you?

My definition is the same as the government. And yes, I'm aware there is turnover at the top. The most obvious example being that people die and children (who are different people) inherit. I know specifically what you're getting at though (I read too) and suggest you check the turnover of the top 10%, which you will find is much less frequent.

The current population boom probably is effecting the inequality numbers, but not by much as you can see the correlation in the graphs below, the inequity of wealth is tied closely with upper tax rates (flatness of the tax code).

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#58
In reply to #55

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 5:15 PM

Roger,

I don't doubt that the top 10% of income earners are more stable than the top 1 or 2%. What I think may be more important is the path of the bottom 10%. How many in the bottom 10 or even 20% stay there for 5 years….10 years or more? I have a book at home that discusses the topic and I think gives actual numbers. Tonight when I get home from work I'll dig them up and post what I find.

According to the book "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas J. Stanley, which I admit may be a bit dated (copyright 1996), claims that most of America's millionaires are first-generation rich.

· Only 19 percent receive any income or wealth of any kind from a trust fund or an estate.

· Fewer than 20 percent inherited 10 percent or more of their wealth.

· More than half never received as much as $1 in inheritance.

· Fewer than 25 percent ever received "an act of kindness" of $10,000 or more from their parents, grandparents, or other relatives.

· Ninety-one percent never received, as a gift, as much as $1 of the ownership of a family business.

· Nearly half never received any college tuition from their parents or other relatives.

Also, Stanley states: More than one hundred years ago the same was true. In The American Economy, Stanley Lebergott reviews a study conducted in 1892 of the 4,047 American millionaires. He reports that 84 percent "were nouveau riche, having reached the top without the benefit of inherited wealth."

And the Wall Street Journal (here http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2008/01/14/the-decline-of-inherited-money/) points to Federal Reserve data less than 10% of today's mult-millionaires cite "inheritance" as their source of wealth.

Addressing the poor…..I'm not sure which part of the government you are referring to. Are you talking about the U.S. Census Bureau which reports 30 million Americans living in poverty? And that 14% are poor?

Per The Heritage Foundation (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/07/what-is-poverty#_ftnref5)

"In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. The typical poor American had more living space than the average European. The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs."

And by the way…according to the census, the 14% poor is almost the same percentage as in 1966.

Here's an interesting figure:

When viewed against this one:

And finally, even defining poverty as a household with income below some threshold for a given family size can be misleading. My daughter's best friend's parents are good example. When we met them 8 years ago, neither was employed (by choice). The father is in mid-fifties and retired from a major crayon manufacturer. The mother is a retired teacher. Both of their cars were paid for and they purchased their house for cash. By income standards, they were below the poverty level and would be considered poor. They did not live lavishly, but were by no means poor. As a matter of fact within a few years, they bought a second home (for cash).

They are not the only ones in the US that fit such a profile. So the statistics are misleading.

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#59
In reply to #58

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/19/2011 6:09 PM

Forgive me JBTardis, but quoting the Heritage Foundation is like quoting the Politburo.

We are never going to agree on this issue. There are so many fake facts in your last post I can't hope to formulate a reasonably reply. Let's just agree to disagree.

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#62
In reply to #59

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 8:06 AM

Roger,

Consider yourself forgiven.

Let's see here, you say your definition of 'poor' is the same as the governments. I ask you if you mean poor defined as the census bureau defines it. You offer no clarification (I asked in an effort to have a common ground to discuss/debate).

I reference two conservative views (WSJ and Heritage Foundation) which use government data and Federal Reserve data for their analysis and your response is to claim the conclusion is wrong because of where the research came from.

I do not necessarily expect us to agree. I, however, am willing to look at another point of view and consider it relative to my own.....leaving myself open to the possibility of changing my mind.

If there are so many fake facts, how about responding to just two?

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 8:23 AM

For example, the poverty level for 2011 was set at $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four. (source)(source2)(source3)(source4)

I mean it took me 5 seconds to find 4 separate sources with identical definitions Seriously man, I answered you the first time, the only ambiguity in my original answer existed in your mind. Thanks for wasting the 5 minutes of my life it took for me to organize all this info for you so you didn't have to do a 5 second search.

Your Sources

I didn't object to the WSJ (which is conservatively biased but accurate), I objected to the Heritage Foundation (which just makes things up).

Other Points of View

You're not willing to look at other points of view. This deluge of statistics was a non-answer to my "money attracts money so we need a progressive tax" post. I'm not here to be your ombudsman. You want to say I'm close minded because I'm not interested in stats from the Politburo, fine, guilty as charged.

I think it's funny we couldn't even agree to disagree.

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#65
In reply to #63

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 9:18 AM

Perhaps if you had answered the original question with something other than a deferral to something ambiguous (same as the government's), you could have saved both of us some time (same as the government's as per HHS). Originally you said your definition is the same as the governments.

I could have assumed you meant the poverty level defined by HHS, but asked so as not to assume.

The statistics were not meant to overwhelm or be a deluge, but to provide information supporting my stance that government poverty isn't all that it's presented to be. Believe it or not, I feel for those in need and don't want to see people in poverty. The fact of the matter is that even by the government's accounting, the poverty level has been quite stable. The information I provided points to the fact that much like the widely published unemployment and inflation numbers what the government puts forth is misleading.

The poor while not as well off as the middle class or wealthy, a large majority of them are not living in conditions most countries think of as poor.

Other Points of View

As to answering your post, my post was not meant as an answer to your "money attracts money so we need a progressive tax" post. It was with respect to poor and inequality in wealth. While you were writing the post I'm replying to, I was writing a a response to your "money attracts money so we need a progressive tax" post.

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#66
In reply to #65

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 9:56 AM

To be clear, at no point did I meant to imply you're uncaring in any way. Conservatism is a philosophical difference, that is all. I'm sure you believe what you're saying would actually help everyone by producing a robust economy. I strongly disagree, but that doesn't mean I think you're insensitive to the plight of the poor.

I agree that the poor in this country would be considered upper middle class in third world countries, however I personally believe that it is a little more complicated than that. For instance, college is out of rich of the poor in this country (tuition of even state schools has become too high).

I provided 5 sources detailing the poverty level as measured by the government. How many more separte sources do I need to provide all saying the same thing before you drop this nonsense argument. I'm guessing infinity.

And again, quoting the Heritage Foundation is like quoting the Politburo. It would be insane to argue with a communist quoting politburo statistics, it's insane to argue with a conservative quoting the Heritage Foundation. And yes, I understand you don't see it that way.

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#68
In reply to #66

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 10:54 AM

My comment about caring for the poor was not because I believed you thought I didn't.

I agree with you that the issue (poor and their economic position relative to non-poor or other countries) is complicated. I would say it's considerably more complicated than politicians, journalists and the general public want to admit.

Regarding this statement "For instance, college is out of rich of the poor in this country ": I assume you meant out of reach (not rich) of the poor. I disagree. Going back a few years my parents were poor (by economic standards as well as government poverty guidelines) yet I was able to go to college and so were both of my older sisters. I did recieve a few pieces of financial aide - two grants for very little money....enough to cover books for two semesters - student loans ($1,700) and the rest I paid for out of money I earned while also living off campus in an apartment. I was not able to go to the school of my choice (started off at the local community colleg) and was not always able to go full time. But I did finish in 6 years, instead of 4, which included a year's worth of cooping. Is it more difficult today? Sure.....out of reach? No.

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#71
In reply to #68

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/20/2011 11:15 AM

You Wrote:" Going back a few years my parents were poor (by economic standards as well as government poverty guidelines) yet I was able to go to college and so were both of my older sisters."

Things were much different even two decades ago.

I'm sorry, but the situation has changed drastically the last few decades and I don't think you're aware of this. It has become quite impossible to go to college if you're poor without an academic or athletic scholarship. Here is a link to the table below.

State-Operated Campuses Baccalaureate Degree Programs
New York State ResidentsOut-of-State Residents

2

Living on CampusCommuterLiving on Campus
Tuition$4,970$4,970$13,380
Student Fees

1

$1,260$1,260$1,260
Room and Board$10,300$3,460$10,300
Books and Supplies$1,200$1,200$1,200
Personal Expenses$1,360$1,380$1,360
Transportation$960$1,720$960
TOTAL COST

$20,050

$13,990

$28,460


Community Colleges Associate Degree Programs
InState/In District

3

Out-of-State Residents

2

Living on CampusCommuterLiving on Campus
Tuition$3,580$3,580$7,690
Student Fees

1

$460$460$460
Room and Board$8,750$3,240$8,750
Books and Supplies$1,210$1,210$1,210
Personal Expenses$1,010$1,120$1,010
Transportation$1,200$1,590$1,200
TOTAL COST

$16,210

$11,200

$20,320

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#40
In reply to #32

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/17/2011 1:48 PM

The Rasmussen poll is a bit of an outlier, which is pretty much their MO. The link below lists a large number of polls that paint a quite different picture:

http://capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/bruce-bartlett/2292/americans-support-higher-taxes-really

The Rasmussen poll asks the narrow question whether or not a tax increase for high earners should be included in the current debt limit legislation, not the broader question of whether such a tax increase is a good idea. A lot of people would favor a 'clean' bill for the debt limit, and this poll lumps them in with people who don't favor this particular tax raise, and people who oppose a tax raise under any circumstances. Your statement that such tax increases would 'not even touch the deficit hardly' is a bit overstated, but is anyway beside the point. I think the majority of voters have a very visceral sense that the tax code favors higher income brackets, and that the tax code is the part of the problem over which they have some control. Middle class folks feel they bearing the brunt of the economic downturn and want to see shared sacrifice.

The voters are not experts at tax policy, and neither am I, but I share that gut level sense that the system is seriously out of balance. There is no objective scientific method to determine correct tax rates (although I'm sure there are a lot of right and left wing think tanks who make their living claiming otherwise), so it is one of those areas where the will of the voters should prevail. Right now much of the anger seems to be channelled into anti-government movements, but below the surface the argument is about whether the fault is with the wealthy and powerful interests who have bought the government, or with the government for being bought off.

I think the argument about the small business person and taxes is nonsense. For all small privately owned businesses at least two tax forms are filed:

  • the profit or loss form for the business, with all business costs deducted
  • the personal tax form for what is left over (net) from the business, plus any other taxable sources.

If a small business owner has $250,000.00 in net income (after business expenses) that they decide to take as personal income then they should pay personal income taxes on it, just like a surgeon or newscaster would. If they don't want to eat all the profit, they can reinvest some of it in their business, or hire new employees, thereby increasing their business expenses and lowering their net. I believe that is what most small businesses do all the time. Small business people understand the difference between business and personal income.This 'pity the small business person' argument is being pushed by lawyers and investors who set up S corporations to shield their income, and who therefore benefit from blurring the distinction.

I'm not arguing that small business doesn't get a pretty raw deal, both from big business (including banks, insurance companies, corporate clients, etc.) and from government. I think this is intentional. The tax rates on the books are kept high, and the large well-connected businesses then use their influence to carve out special breaks for themselves that don't trickle-down to the smaller businesses. I strongly believe that small and even medium sized businesses would be wise to recognize that they are being 'played' by a few huge corporations with almost unlimited influence on Washington decision making.

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#36
In reply to #31

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/16/2011 2:42 PM

Script seems a bit much, but let's move past that choice of words. I would argue that one should judge voters not by what they say, but what they do. Voters express their beliefs through the voting booth, not the polls. In other words, voters tend to be hypocrites.

Now, one can make the argument that someone voted for a particular candidate for a reason separate from that candidates position on taxes. I'm sure that happens. However, consider this. I've seen plenty on candidates run on lowering taxes or keeping taxes steady, I don't remember anyone running on raising taxes. The idea almost sounds absurd. Why should that be absurd? I mean, if the general public wanted to really solve the deficit problem.

The answer of course is they don't. So I appreciate that when asked in no way to prove it, a majority of the people indicate they would be open to a tax increase, but the truth is, their voting record consistently says differently.

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#7

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 4:53 PM

I'm not planning to get too deep into this again (I'll repeat my earlier comment from the earlier thread that I'll hate to see the JWST canceled), but let's be clear about this: most of the articles I've seen about the cancellation unfairly blame 'a Republican dominated committee'.

In fact there are 23 Republican and 17 Democrats on the committee. The committee's vote to kill JWST was a voice vote -- meaning that the committee voted overwhelmingly to cancel the JWST. Because it was a voice vote, the tally of who voted pro/con was not recorded, but it is clear that many of the Democrats on the committee also voted to kill the JWST. The article linked below comments that there were few dissenters. If Gabrielle Giffords voted against canceling JWST -- note that her husband is an astronaut -- no news service has reported her dissent.

http://news.yahoo.com/us-lawmakers-vote-kill-hubble-successor-172316843.html

NOTE that I am not defending the Republicans, I'm merely pointing out that the Democrats deserve a lot of the blame too. -- And I'll finish by pointing out (again) that NASA mismanagement is primarily to blame for this. Yes, we can get mad at Congress for killing JWST, but we ought to be madder at NASA for putting the JWST in jeopardy.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 5:09 PM

You Wrote:"The committee's vote to kill JWST was a voice vote -- meaning that the committee voted overwhelmingly to cancel the JWST."

It was a voice vote because the Republicans have a clear majority and everyone knew how the vote was going to go. But let's not make it about party, because the Dems don't really fight to protect science even if they don't go after it as aggressively.

Again, the politicians are just doing what they believe the people want.

Crazy Thinking

So the theory is you can cut funding and get rid of waste. So you cut funding and departments underquote and come in over budget. So the question arises, is it mismanagement? Or does the cut funding theory actually not work?

You can't demand increasingly lowball estimates and then get outraged when those estimates aren't met. It's irrational. Yet it's what we currently do in this country. This post nails it.

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#13
In reply to #9

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 6:15 PM

It's not about that.

When NASA proposed the telescope that was later named the JWST it was sold as a telescope where all of the components were already proven. Supposedly no new wheels needed to be invented. But of course, once they got the funding they went off spending hundreds of millions on new materials and new processes and new layers of personnel. If NASA had just funded the programs' subcontractors as originally planned and controlled costs they wouldn't have put themselves so far in debt and so seriously behind schedule. Some cost overruns maybe, and some schedule slip -- but not $3 billion overbudget and 4 years late.

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#34
In reply to #7

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/15/2011 10:29 PM

Giffords has been in Houston being treated for a gunshot injury to the brain, I seriously doubt she has voted for anything, or ever will again for that matter.

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#12

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 6:10 PM

The project was billions of dollars over budget and looking to go billions more over budget before it was done. At some point you have to make a decision whether the project is worth the cost. Congress has not passed a budget in over two years and the debt limit is about to be hit. S&P and Moody's is about to lower the debt rating on our bonds and China is lecturing US that we are spending too much on our military while they actively sell off their treasury bonds. We are simply broke. we are actually far more broke than the numbers would indicate because of all the internal debt that the government has running between departments. the GAO does not count that debt as part of it's totals.

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#14
In reply to #12

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 8:58 PM

You Wrote:"The project was billions of dollars over budget and looking to go billions more over budget before it was done. At some point you have to make a decision whether the project is worth the cost."

You're so right. So let's take a look. Hubble has lasted 20 years and revolutionized our understanding of the universe. This space telescope is the successor to Hubble and has the strong possibility of being the device by which we discover life on another planet (here is an explanation)(here is another). The spectroscopy from the James Webb Space Telescope could be used to identify signatures of life such as chirality. Also it will be able to see farther back in time closer to the big bang.

On the other hand the deficit is 1.3 trillion dollars and this cut saves 1-2 billion leaving 1.298 trillion left to be found to close the deficit. Oh, by the way, our national debt is 14.4 Trillion. 2 Billion represents 1/100th of a percent (0.01%) of our current debt.

So when you look at it that way, it seems sort of absurd to cut right? Basically decimating science for a symbolic gesture. Of course many people don't think so, because the antiscience is so ingrained in our society that setting back astrophysics and fundamental physics research for decades is worth a merely symbolic cut for deficit reduction.

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#26
In reply to #14

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/15/2011 9:16 AM

A billion here a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money. Look, it does not MATTER if it is 1/10 of 1% of the deficit or 10% of the deficit, It is STILL deficit. Until the spending comes in below the income, NOTHING can be afforded. I GET the value of the science, I am a science junkie. I would LOVE for it to get completed and launched, but the simple fact of the matter is we can't afford it, or ANYTHING ELSE until we pay down all the money we already owe. I really enjoy lamb chops from Fleming's steakhouse too, but I can't afford to eat there on a weekly basis either. WHY? Because I have other things I need to pay off first.

Maybe what you should be railing against is all the other wasteful things the US government spends money on. You know like the Department of Energy whose sole mandate was to reduce the dependence on foreign oil but has singularly FAILED to do ANYTHING to reduce dependence on foreign oil. we import FAR MORE foreign oil now than we did during the Carter Admin, And Nuclear energy has been cut off at the knees by the DOE regulations and licensing requirements, not to mention the fact that they have STILL failed to open Yucca Mountain even thought he Federal Government is REQUIRED to accept spent fuel bundles for long term storage and has outlawed fuel reprocessing. or maybe the Dept of Education which has done nothing but add entire layers of bureaucracy to an education system that was working just fine and did not need Federal interference. If anything, our kids got a better education BEFORE the feds got involved. School districts now spend almost as much money complying with Fed data recording mandates as they do educating kids and that doesn't help anyone except the bureaucrats in DC and elsewhere. Bureaucrat's job does not serve the economy the way a manufacturing job does because they do not add an iota of value to anything. they are a net loss per job, but that is the only real growth industry in the country right now. The size (and cost) of the federal workforce has exploded under this admin.

And then there is the depression era Rural Electrification Administration which has completed it's mandate decades ago but is still going strong despite having no real purpose for existence.

There are thousands more examples but those are some of the most blatant.

The current administration has increased the deficit more in it's 3 years in office than all the other administrations COMBINED have. And it has done nothing but drive the entire economy into a deeper hole. the deficit is approaching 95% of GDP and that is an exceedingly dangerous tipping point. Historically, no nation has survived exceeding that ratio without defaulting.

Once we cut everything to the bare bones and get ourselves back on a solid financial footing then we can decide what luxuries we can afford to splurge on, but make no mistake, as important to science as the JWST is, it is still a luxury.

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#20

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/14/2011 11:40 PM

No, it's not an anti-science tragedy unfolding, it's an anti-economy tragedy unfolding. We must cut costs. It ain't like there's not another telescope in the world. Count them up - you'll see. Some ground based ones are better than Hubble. How much better off is the world 'knowing' that the universe is expanding than before we 'knew'? Your arguments don't hold water.

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: James Webb Space Telescope: An Antiscience Tragedy Unfolding

07/15/2011 12:01 AM

You Wrote:"Some ground based ones are better than Hubble. How much better off is the world 'knowing' that the universe is expanding than before we 'knew'? Your arguments don't hold water."

So you're logic is that:

The James Webb Space Telescope is not needed (Despite the consensus of the scientific community.)

and

We gained nothing useful from Hubble. (Except for those discovery's that have challenged our current cosmological and standard model (particle physics) theories, I assume you're just not counting those cause they didn't produce a home appliance.

Thus the 1-2 billion dollars we would save towards our 1,300 billion dollar deficit is worth hamstringing scientific discovery for a decade or two.

Thanks

Honestly, you couldn't have illustrated my point regarding the Antiscience sentiment in this country better if I had written your response myself. You are not openly hostile against science, but you demonstrate a lack of understanding of the most basic concepts in astronomy and the telescopes being used with your first assertion and at best an ambivalence towards increasing the collective knowledge of our species through science in your second point. I wouldn't mind except there are many people who read your statement and thought it made sense.

Here's a link regarding Hubble's discoveries

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