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Friday Talking Points [174] -- What Would Ronald Reagan Do?

[ Posted Friday, July 22nd, 2011 – 17:12 PDT ]

We'll get to that "WWRRD?" question at the end, I promise. But instead, I'd like to start off way out in space, if you don't mind. Just a little personal rant, to open with today. I invite you all to join me as I "space out" (so to speak).

To begin with, in space news, the fourth moon of Pluto was discovered this week. That's pretty exciting, right?

The bigger space news this week, sadly, was not that exciting. The final space shuttle mission just ended. Although I didn't see it specifically, a newspaper headline-writer with a sense of irony would have set the story under: "The Shuttle Has Landed." Because this week also saw an anniversary of import to the discussion -- 42 years ago this Wednesday, Neil Armstrong radioed back to Houston the immortal phrase: "The Eagle has landed," marking the first safe landing on Earth's natural satellite by the human species.

Of course, Armstrong slightly flubbed his much bigger line, later... but history has been kind to him on that regard. What Armstrong actually said when he set foot (or, his space-boot, to be more accurate) on the moon was: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." He forgot the indefinite article before "man" -- but it was later inserted for him by history, and his words will live forever (even the one he didn't actually say) as: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Boy, those were the days, weren't they? Since then, America went back to the moon repeatedly, then designed a "space truck" to shuttle loads up to Earth orbit, and proceeded to use it to build the International Space Station. But then we stopped. We stopped reaching, and we stopped planning for the next step. Call it the ultimate bridge to nowhere. So, this week, our space shuttle program ended with the final landing in Florida.

That's kind of a shame, because we now have accomplished the "hard" part of further exploration -- and exploitation -- of space. Ask anyone who knows physics -- the tough part of any voyage into space is getting out of the deep "gravity well" on Earth. Once you've accomplished this, getting to the moon (or even Mars) becomes a lot easier to do. But without the space shuttle, it all just got a lot harder.

The easy way to fly to the moon (as opposed to the Apollo program, for instance) is to do it in at least two stages, with two separately-designed ships. The first would get up out of Earth's gravity, and then the second would get from orbit to the moon. We've already got the space station, so the hard part is done. Building a ship to get to from the space station to the moon and back would actually be relatively easy -- because it would not require a gigantic rocketship underneath of it. Also, because aerodynamics are not even an issue. The first movie which ever took science fiction seriously showed how this would work (anyone who hasn't seen it should immediately rent or buy 2001: A Space Odyssey)... to the lilting tune of The Blue Danube.

If you were designing a ship for the orbit-to-moon segment of the trip, you could build this ship without having to worry about getting through an atmosphere. Because it wouldn't need giant rockets, it could be relatively small (watch film of the Apollo landers taking off from the moon to see what I mean). The moon's gravity is a lot easier to escape than Earth's, because the moon itself is a lot smaller than Earth. Build a few of these orbit-to-moon ships, and you could start shuttling the equipment needed to set up a permanent base on the surface. It wouldn't be all that technologically challenging to do so, given the state of the art today.

What it would need would be political will, and money.

To put that last in perspective, NASA's budget is about $19 billion. The Pentagon's budget is almost thirty-five times as big. We've certainly got our priorities straight, don't we? Sigh.

But to build a moonship in orbit (or even more ambitiously, a Marsship), you've got to have a sturdy Earth-launch vehicle which can get the parts up there easily. A space truck, in other words, with a giant bay to carry up those parts. Like the one we just grounded forever.

The whole thing is rather depressing, truth be told. I mean, the space shuttle certainly needed upgrading, and we should have spent the last decade working on "Shuttle II," but we missed that opportunity, too.

Our next launch vehicle may even be from a private venture. Perhaps that's the future of space travel -- private companies putting up the money, and then recouping their investment with a brand new space-tourism industry. This is already starting to take shape, but so far it has done so in baby steps. But I can't help but wonder -- maybe Richard Branson would be interested in opening the first hotel on the moon? VirginLuna, anyone? What do you think you could charge for a weekend in a Virgin Tranquility Base Hotel? You might even say you could "charge the moon" for it.

To bring this back to our theme this week (in an admittedly ham-handed segue), even Ronald Reagan had dreams about space -- and, no, I'm not talking about his "Star Wars" missile defense system nightmare. Reagan tried to get a project going (with one of those "within a decade" speeches) for a ballistic "space plane" that would have cut worldwide travel times beyond even what the Concorde could accomplish ("Washington to Tokyo in two hours"). It never got adequately funded, and died on the vine.

Sigh. Doesn't anyone read science fiction as a kid anymore? We can do this stuff if we try, folks.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

We've got to at least give Elizabeth Warren a nod, here. The outgoing acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau certainly deserves at least an Honorable Mention this week. Warren conceived of the bureau in the first place, and has spent the last year (the law which created the C.F.P.B. just had its first anniversary this week) setting it up and getting it going, all the while facing the arrows and slings of outrageous (and outrageously fortunate) bankers. Warren was the perfect choice to set up this agency, and we wish her well in her future pursuits, among which may be a run for Teddy Kennedy's old Senate seat in Massachusetts. More on the Warren situation in a moment, though.

Also deserving of an Honorable Mention this week are Leon Panetta and Barack Obama, who both just hammered in the last nails on the coffin of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The new Secretary of Defense and the president both certified that the Pentagon is now ready (or will be in 60 days, more accurately) to begin admitting openly-gay members of our armed forces. While this is indeed a momentous day, as we mentioned today's actions were no more than checking the box of the last item on the list of things which had to happen before DADT finally goes away, meaning they'll have to settle for Honorable Mentions.

Because this week, none other than Senator Dianne Feinstein wins the coveted Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Feinstein held hearings this week on getting rid of the other odious federal anti-gay policy, the Defense Of Marriage Act. She also introduced a bill in the Senate to wipe DOMA off the books.

Of course, she knows it is simply not going to pass the Republican House. It may, in fact, not even pass the Senate this year. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth pushing. DOMA is going to cause all sorts of unnecessary complications with dropping DADT in the military, and it is flat-out unconstitutional on the face of it. DOMA may actually be overturned through the courts, but that certainly isn't any sort of reason for Democrats in Congress to stop trying to get rid of it legislatively.

Senator Feinstein is taking the lead in this fight right now, and for doing so she certainly deserves the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Keep fighting the good fight, DiFi!

[Congratulate Senator Dianne Feinstein on her Senate contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Before we get to the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award, we've got to hand out a (Dis-)Honorable Mention to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Because Reid tried to pull a political stunt, only to "take it back" within a day or so.

Reid announced earlier this week that the Senate was going to stay in session -- including weekends -- until the debt ceiling debate was concluded. This is somewhat of a gimmick, since they can't do much of anything until a deal is struck over at the White House, but it's a good gimmick as far as I'm concerned. Let the American people see you guys hard at work! I'm sure there are plenty of other things you could be doing in the meantime, while waiting for the debt ceiling bill, right?

Reid then doubled down on the gimmick, by taunting the House of Representatives for ignoring his gimmick and deciding to go home this weekend. Reid essentially called the House slackers for not working through the weekend.

Today, Reid humbly announced that the Senate was going home this weekend, after all. It seems that there may be some spending issues in the debt ceiling deal, and all spending bills must originate in the House, so the Senate can't do anything until the House acts. Since the House was going home, the Senate might as well call it a day and pack it in.

This is pathetic. I mean, I know the whole thing was a gimmick in the first place, but still, it's not exactly "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" type of stuff, is it?

But the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week is President Barack Obama. Not for all those rumors about what he's been willing to deal away in the debt ceiling debate. Rumors don't earn you a MDDOTW.

Instead -- fairly or not -- President Obama disappointed a lot of Democrats this week by not nominating Elizabeth Warren to be the first official head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Instead, Obama named one of her deputies, Richard Cordray to head the agency as it was officially "born" this week.

Now, as we said, the howls of betrayal from the Left over Warren not being nominated may be fair, and then again they may not. The rumor mill immediately began speculating over Warren's possible bid to defeat Scott Brown and retake Ted Kennedy's Senate seat for Democrats. If Warren is planning on doing so, it would seem likely that she herself told Obama not to name her. Warren herself wrote a pretty glowing public recommendation for Cordray this week, so you've got to wonder.

On the other hand, almost all (44) of the Senate Republicans have signed a letter which states in no uncertain terms that they will block any nomination to this agency, which they hate on general principles (more on this in the talking points). The rationale for not naming Warren was always that she was "unconfirmable" in the Senate -- but the Republicans are saying nobody is going to be confirmable. Which means that Barack Obama is going to be forced to name Cordray in a recess appointment -- most likely in August, after Congress takes off for a month. And, this thinking goes, if he's going to have to recess-appoint someone anyway, why not Warren herself?

Well, we'll see whether Warren jumps in the Senate race or not. If she does, than the rap Obama's been getting all week from the Left may not have been justified. If she doesn't, then maybe he deserves the liberal wrath he's been getting.

Either way -- rightly or wrongly -- by sheer volume, President Obama disappointed more folks out there than any other Democrat this week. Which earns him his fourteenth MDDOTW.

[Contact President Barack Obama on the White House contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 174 (7/22/11)

We're going to have a non-standard format this week for the talking points. Instead of our usual seven snippets of ways to advance the Democratic argument (and shoot down the Republican nonsense), we're only going to have three items this week, and (strictly speaking) only one of them is really a talking point.

First off, we're going to have an image, rather than a talking point, and the story which goes with it. Secondly, we're going to have a mini-rant which should have enough talking points contained within it to keep the FTP traditionalists happy, who are looking for their weekly fix of "Political (Democratic) Framing 101." Thirdly, we're going to hoist Republicans on the Ronald Reagan skewer, as promised.

So, while it may be a little out of the ordinary for us, we hope you'll enjoy this week's talking points.

 

1
   Stand with the Lady!

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Allen West are having a spat. DWS (as we have always liked to call her here) set off West by saying the following about him on the House floor (they're both House representatives from Florida; West actually lives in DWS's district):

The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from south Florida.

This doesn't actually sound that bad, but it is reportedly what ticked West off. He then sent an outraged email to DWS (and the leadership he mentions it in, as well). Here is the full text of the email:

Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!

I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior......which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.

You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!

Steadfast and Loyal

Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)

You've got to love that "Steadfast and Loyal" sign-off.

Anyway, the email got leaked to the media (obviously), and ever since the two have been making all the political hay they can over the incident. While the terms "heinous, vile, despicable, coward, and disgusting" certainly are offensive, the focus from the Democratic side has been more on the "you are not a Lady" bit.

Congressman Bruce Braley from Iowa was the most clever in his reaction, though. His office had buttons printed up which are now being worn on the House floor by many Democrats. Here is a picture of the button, which speaks for itself (photo provided by Braley's office):

 

2
   GOP is anti-consumer and pro-Wall Street

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a Democratic success story. In the face of Republican obstructionism, the bureau was created as a part of the Dodd/Frank bill last year. This week, the C.F.P.B. finally came into being officially.

What has always astounded me, however, is that Democrats don't toot their own horn on this issue, every chance they get. The bureau itself (and the rest of the Dodd/Frank financial reforms, for that matter) have been under heavy attack from Republicans both while the bill was being fought and ever since Democrats managed to pass it. This is a perfect issue for Democrats to point out to the voters, especially heading into an election season. It is one of the few Democratic issues which lends itself to oversimplification. Which makes it perfect for talking points. Rather than list a whole bunch of tiny talking points, though, I thought I'd just roll them all into one, here.

"The C.F.P.B., or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is a perfect example of the difference between Democrats and Republicans. The C.F.P.B. was a Democratic idea, and it has been fought by Republicans from Day One. The idea behind the C.F.P.B. is a simple one -- the American public shouldn't have more consumer protection when buying a toaster than they do when they sign a mortgage or credit card agreement. That's it in a nutshell. The same way a toaster manufacturer has to follow basic safety rules so that their toaster doesn't burn down your house when you buy it, the big banks on Wall Street should have to only offer safe financial products as well. I remind you, when left to their own devices, the Wall Street bankers caused the economy to collapse.

"So Democrats decided to make things a little better for the consumer, instead of always allowing Americans to be at the bankers' mercy. The C.F.P.B. will mean that all mortgages will be a lot easier to understand. It will mean no more pages and pages of fine print on a credit card agreement, with hidden fees and costs to the consumer. Wouldn't you like it if every credit card agreement had to be only one or two pages long? That's what the C.F.P.B. will do for every American.

"The C.F.P.B. will, to put it another way, be fighting for the consumer. Democrats think the big banks on Wall Street dictate enough of what the federal government does already, and so we set up this tiny corner of the government to be on the side of the little guy for once, instead of always being on the side of making life easier for the fatcat bankers to rip everyone off. That's not so hard to understand, is it?

"Throughout all of this, Republicans fought us tooth and nail, every step of the way. They're still fighting. This week, on the anniversary of the law setting up the C.F.P.B., the Republican House passed a bill that would gut the bureau's power. Democrats are not going to let them get away with this, though, because we'll be fighting the Republicans every step of the way as they try to dismantle the only government agency looking out for consumers instead of the banks.

"Why are the Republicans so pro-bank? Well, they've always been pro-bank. Why are they so anti-consumer? Well, when the big banks on Wall Street phone up their Republican cronies in office and tell them what to do, then the Republicans follow their marching orders.

"Democrats are fighting for you -- the little guy -- in this fight. Republicans are fighting for Wall Street to continue the same crooked practices which got us into the whole mess a few years ago. Democrats are pro-consumer, and Republicans are pro-bank. It's really that easy to understand."

 

3
   WWRRD?

And finally today, we ask the question "What Would Ronald Reagan Do?" as we have been promising all along. This is my sole contribution to the Kabuki theater which is the debt ceiling debate this week, and I can't even claim I dug it up on my own.

It was actually the Progressive Democrats in the House which were pushing this all week long, and they've got an excellent point.

Since the Republican Party now worships at the altar of "Saint Ronald of Reagan," it's always fun to set them back on their heels by pointing out the hard, cold fact that Ronald Reagan would simply not be acceptable to the Republican Party as it stands today. The Tea Party's influence capped a long trend in the GOP of becoming more and more ideological and less and less willing to get anything done by compromise. Reagan himself was never that hardline, though. Reagan raised taxes multiple times, for instance. And Reagan found himself in the same position on raising the debt ceiling which Barack Obama now occupies, a total of eighteen times during his presidency. And, in each of them, he did exactly what Obama is now doing -- asked for the debt limit to be increased. You can even hear the Gipper himself, in a weekly radio address, begging Congress to up the debt ceiling.

Any Democratic politician who is being interviewed on national media this week should have a copy of the following letter, sent by Reagan to Howard Baker (Senate Majority Leader, at the time). Rub this in Republicans' faces, every chance you get. Helpfully point out that all Republican House members already have a copy of the letter, since the Progressive Caucus hand-delivered them earlier this week.

Preface your reading of the letter, of course, by asking Republicans "What would Ronald Reagan Do?" just to drive the point home.

Dear Howard:

This letter is to ask for your help and support, and that of your colleagues, in the passage of an increase in the limit on the public debt.

As Secretary Regan has told you, the Treasury's cash balances have reached a dangerously low point. Henceforth, the Treasury Department cannot guarantee that the Federal Government will have sufficient cash on any one day to meet all of its mandated expenses, and thus the United States could be forced to default on its obligations for the first time in its history.

This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world. The full consequences of a default or even the serious prospect of default by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the cost, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.

I want to thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent problem and for your assistance in passing an extension of the debt ceiling.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

81 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [174] -- What Would Ronald Reagan Do?”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    I'm glad he "forgot" the indefinite article because that would have sounded quite ridiculous.

  2. [2] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I'm glad he "forgot" the indefinite article because that would have sounded quite ridiculous.

    I was going to say almost exactly the same thing. It simply sounds so much better the way he said it.

    But grammar was always my weak spot :)

  3. [3] 
    akadjian wrote:

    BTW- Love the Reagan letter ...

    What's happened to the Republican party? Seems like all they've got these days is mindless anti-Obama rage.

  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, here's the 2001 sequence I really should have linked to in the intro:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3oHmVhviO8

    As for the indefinite article, it MAKES the statement. WITHOUT it, Neil is really saying: "one small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind," which is sort of redundant.

    WITH it, he is saying: "one small step for this particular man, one giant leap for all of Mankind."

    Big difference.

    Hmmph. So there.

    -CW

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    You know, I just watched that 2001 clip again, and it occurs to me that this is a really silly docking sequence. [Although the music is just as fantastic as I remembered, I have to say.]

    The core (as in "apple core") of the space station should simply NOT be rotating. It should be held stationary, with flywheels or some form of precessing. Sure, it would make it tough for the passengers to get down the spokes of the wheel, but it would also make docking one heck of a lot easier.

    Hmmmmph.

    -CW

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    The headlines were dismal and depressings..

    AMERICA: STUCK ON EARTH

    Americans Will Have To Hitchhike To The ISS

    This should never have been allowed to happen. :(

    No Federation anytime soon... :D

    Michale....

  7. [7] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Chris, on Elizabeth Warren we should bear this in mind. It's from September 14, 2010:

    Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank told a group of reporters Tuesday that Warren, a front runner to head the consumer agency, is “eager to set it up” but may not be in it for the long term.

    “I think she’d like to administer it some, but she’s not switching her career,” Frank said off the House floor. “I don’t think she plans to spend the next six, seven years in government.”

    DC has known for a long time that she didn't want to be the J. Edgar Hoover of the CFPB. It's one thing that's made opposition to her appointment so easy for Republicans. But now they're in the open: they just don't want government to protect consumers, period.

    And you're right, Dems should all drive that home.

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    What's happened to the Republican party? Seems like all they've got these days is mindless anti-Obama rage.

    No more so than the Democratic Party and their mindless anti-Bush rage. A rage, I might add, that continued LONG after it was fashionable.. Or even logical...

    " ehdhihss u'ti ehdhihss u'ti hwia ehdhihss"
    -Romulan Proverb

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    WITH it, he is saying: "one small step for this particular man, one giant leap for all of Mankind."

    Sorry, but that still sounds ridiculous ...

    But, not as ridiculous as trying to change some of the most historic words spoken in the history of the universe, for the sake of proper grammar, no less. You must be a fan of the CBC ... that's a little joke.

    Besides, Neil was quite obviously talking about one man in particular, no matter how you try to slice it.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Speaking of ridiculous ...

    Either way -- rightly or wrongly [fair or not] -- by sheer volume, President Obama disappointed more folks out there than any other Democrat this week. Which earns him his fourteenth MDDOTW.

    Why don't you just have a standing MDDOTW for Barack Obama for the duration. Certainly, the basis upon which you seem to be deciding these things won't change until he's booted out of office, anyway.

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Oh, and one more thing.

    It's going to be infinitely fascinating to read all of the responses to this edition of FTP over at the Huffington Post.

    Your readers there will be confused to no end by the reasoning behind the MDDOTW award coupled with the praise for the CFPB. I remember how most of them - well, the progressives, anyway - reacted when the CFPB was announced and legislated and how they reacted when Warren was not officially nominated and when she was actually appointed.

    I guess what I'm saying is that it shouldn't astound anyone why Democrats dont' toot their own horn on this one - most of them see it as just another example of the chief corportist in the White House caving to Wall Street and the Republicans.

    In any event, I'll be looking forward to reading the many ...ahem ... comments that this FTP piece will undoubtedly provoke at HuffPost. I just hope someone will be around to call out the nonsense 'cause it sure as heck ain't gonna be me! It's just too hot to bother.

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Matt,

    But now they're in the open: they just don't want government to protect consumers, period.

    Oh yes, because the government has proven to be OOOHHHH SOOOOOO effective in other areas, right?? :D

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Because I don't know on which thread to post this, here it goes. Since the Speaker, the President, and the Treasury secretary have all mentioned the Asian markets' openings Sunday evening as an important indicator of urgency (or something), I thought I'd post the Eastern Time points of the various markets for anyone who might want to check them out in real time.

    First, the currency markets:
    City Open (EST) Close (EST)
    Sydney 5:00 pm 2:00 am
    Wellington 5:00 pm 1:00 am
    Tokyo 7:00 pm 4:00 am
    Hong Kong 8:00 pm 5:00 am
    Frankfurt 2:00 am 11:00 am
    London 3:00 am 12:00 noon
    New York 8:00 am 5:00 pm
    Chicago 9:00 am 6:00 pm

    If the US Dollar weakens, the quotes for Australian and New Zealand dollars will rise; the quotes for the Yen will fall. The Euro and British Pound quotes will also rise; the Swiss Franc will fall. (This is due to variously quoting USD per "other", or "other" per USD).

    The stock and bond markets open an hour or two later than the currency markets. The US stock index and Treasury bond futures markets have staggered openings +/- 7 pm Eastern time and trade throughout the night.

    Quotes for all of these markets can be found on Bloomberg's website. Enjoy the show, and let's hope it's boring.

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    LB,

    A sincere thanx from this economic ignoramus... :D

    Michale....

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    LeaningBlue,

    What is your opinion on a short-term raising of the debt ceiling. The president has said that he would veto that on the grounds that it would be an extremely irresponsible approach to take.

    I concur.

    What say you?

  16. [16] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    I believe it would be irreparably irresponsible. Kicking the can down the path is not responsible state craft. But it doesn't matter what I think; it would reinforce the skepticism and rising contempt for the American government held by foreign investors and sovereign funds which hold our bonds and permit the USD to remain the world's reserve currency. That effect is independent of, and actually the reason for, S&P's separation of the events of default and downgrade.

    Another thing to keep in mind of markets' response to sovereign debt is how much revenue dysfunction is "punished." The reasons Greece is the poster child for bad sovereign debt are exemplified by the fact that six Greeks paid tax on over a million EUR in 2009. Six. There are probably more people living in any large coop building on Central Park West who earn over a million dollars. Our tax system is not like that of Greece, yet, but tax reform is an absolute necessity. Disclaimer: I can't find a citation for this number, but am quite certain it's correct. In any case, the Financial Times reported last year: "Fewer than 5,000 Greeks declare annual incomes of more than €100,000 ($135,000, £88,000) - although more than 60,000 Greek households have investments in cash and securities exceeding €1m, according to estimates by a private Greek bank."

    Legislative or executive intransigence to revenue realities is as irresponsible as not considering means based participation in the social safety net. After all, if a billionaire pays the total tax of a thousand-aire, and he also receives the same Medicare for the same cost, there is a quite a lot there for world observers to worry about.

  17. [17] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    This is not a real market quote in the same sense as will begin to arrive in two hours, but in the light, "off-interbank" currency trading that occurs on Sunday afternoons, the USD is down around a third of a cent against the Euro, about the same v. GBP, and more than a full cent against the Swiss Franc. This is not a rout, by any means, but it is not at all a good sign.

    This isn't global climate change, where it can be denied and nobody can really prove you wrong for twenty years. If it happens, it happens in real time. I hope this is just dumb money moving the markets...

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    LeaningBlue,

    But it doesn't matter what I think;

    Well, it matters very much here! Thanks for sharing your knowledgeable take on all of this - I really appreciate it.

    Now, dare I ask what you think about how Treasury Secretary Geithner has been handling not only this situation but the global financial crisis, in general, since he took office ...

    By the way, I don't think I've properly welcomed you to our most-favoured site for reality-based political commentary so, Welcome to the site! I hope you intend to make a stop here a regular part of your routine.

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Looks like things are really coming down to the wire here..

    Considering how far apart Dems and Reps are, if this IS Kabuki Theater, it's a damn good one! :D

    I don't see how a deal is going to be possible in time...

    Michale.....

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    One question I don't understand.

    Why are Democrats against a Balanced Budget amendment??

    It seems to me that such a critter would be a GOOD thing for this country...

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Why are Democrats against a Balanced Budget amendment?

    What I'm against is the conservative agenda. Which is, quite simply, more trickle down theory and ending the social safety net.

    The only reason conservatives want anything is if they think that it will aid them in achieving this end goal.

    Here's a couple of good graphs I saw over the wknd which show where our deficit came from:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/24sun4.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

    They also show that the conservative plan, to end the programs they don't like, will not resolve the deficit.

    What would have the most impact is: ending the wars and getting rid of the Bush tax cuts.

    -David

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    What I'm against is the conservative agenda. Which is, quite simply, more trickle down theory and ending the social safety net.

    I really wasn't being antagonistic or facetious.. I know, I know... I am that way so often, it's hard to tell when I am not. :D

    Seriously, though I am sincerely curious...

    It seems to me a balanced budget amendment is a smart thing..

    The only reason conservatives want anything is if they think that it will aid them in achieving this end goal.

    And it seems to me that Democrats are only against a BBA because the Republicans are for it...

    What would have the most impact is: ending the wars and getting rid of the Bush tax cuts.

    Getting rid of CrapCare would accomplish a lot more than prematurely ending the wars... Besides, there are much worse results that would come from prematurely ending conflicts...

    As far as the Bush Tax Cuts go, as I have proven (and no one has refuted) those Tax Cuts actually tax the rich MORE and gives more breaks to the middle and lower class..

    So, it seems to me that, anyone who is for getting rid of the Bush Tax Cuts is for giving the Rich a break and sticking it to the middle and lower class...

    On another note, what the hell is wrong with Norway?? Some lunatic scumbag brutally murders almost 100 innocent men, women and children and the MOST he faces is 21 years in prison!!

    That is frak'in nuts!!!

    Michale.....

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:
  24. [24] 
    akadjian wrote:

    "It is about the most irresponsible action imaginable," said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "It would virtually ensure that an economic downturn would end up as a deep depression, by erasing any real ability of the government to pursue countercyclical fiscal policies and in fact demanding the opposite, at the worst possible time."

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/29/news/economy/balanced_budget_amendment/index.htm

    Conservatives don't really want this either and would never bring it up except ... to score political points.

    But you've already said you don't care if our economy collapses so I guess there's no point in discussing.

    You just want to see things burn. We don't.

    End of story.
    -David

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    Conservatives don't really want this either and would never bring it up except ... to score political points.

    And the same thing applies to Democrats... They don't really want an economic meltdown, but they are willing to allow one, just to score political points...

    You just want to see things burn. We don't.

    Too bad that wasn't the attitude the last two years, eh???

    Where was this lack of desire to "see things burn" when CrapCare was being forced down the American People's throats, by hook or by crook..

    Regardless, I don't want to see things burn.. I just think putting a band-aid on a heart-attack patient does more harm than good, in the long term..

    You want to treat the symptom, but continue the same old failed policies that got us here..

    I want to replace it with something that works better and is more fair to your average everyday Joe Q Sixpack...

    Michale.....

  26. [26] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I want to replace it with something that works better and is more fair to your average everyday Joe Q Sixpack.

    Don't you mean Joe Q SixMillionPack?

    :D

  27. [27] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Here's a couple of good graphs I saw over the wknd which show where our deficit came from:

    I have been wondering about that. Where would we be today if Bush had not passed those tax cuts...

    I remember a friend of mine who was in the lower six figure income at the time was pissed at Bush for those tax cuts. They favored capitol gains over direct income tax. It made him mad that he was working his ass off paying more tax while those living off their stock holdings were sitting on their ass play less tax.

  28. [28] 
    akadjian wrote:

    They favored capitol gains over direct income tax. It made him mad that he was working his ass off paying more tax while those living off their stock holdings were sitting on their ass play less tax.

    Well said, Bashi!

    If capital gains were simply taxed at the same rate as income, it would go a long way to solving our deficits.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from the "trust buster" Teddy Roosevelt explaining why he believed in a progressive tax system:

    "We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. … The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and … a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate."

    The problem in our country is twofold:

    1) The extremely wealthy have figured out how to avoid paying their fair share
    2) And, they've convinced a significant number of people that they "do public good" with all their money

    -David

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    Don't you mean Joe Q SixMillionPack?

    What do I care about Joe Q SixMillionPack?? Tax the hell out of them, for all I care..

    But Obama and Democrats don't JUST want to tax Joe Q SixMillionPack.. They want to tax Ma&Pa BookStores who are doing decent, employ a hundred people and make $300K a year...

    THOSE are the people who will be hurt by the Democrats and their agenda...

    The MegaRich don't have anything to worry about. Democrats will protect them just like Republicans protect them...

    It's the middle-class that the Democrat's policies and agenda is hurting...

    These are the facts that ya'all simply refuse to see...

    1) The extremely wealthy have figured out how to avoid paying their fair share

    The BIGGEST problem here is that those people are amongst Obama's biggest donors..

    Shall I bring up GENERAL ELECTRIC again???

    Michale.....

  30. [30] 
    akadjian wrote:

    What do I care about Joe Q SixMillionPack?? Tax the hell out of them, for all I care.

    Then you're for the original Obama plan to keep the Bush tax cuts except those for people making $250k or more?

    The BIGGEST problem here is that those people are amongst Obama's biggest donors.

    Now, Michale. You're being very selective here. If you were to say "The BIGGEST problem here is the influence of the extremely wealthy on politicians" I might agree with you.

    Let's fight to end the influence of the wealthy on politicians then. There's something I could get behind.

    Swapping out a President who serves both the people and corporations for one who serves only corporations is not going to help

    -David

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    Then you're for the original Obama plan to keep the Bush tax cuts except those for people making $250k or more?

    No, because those people making $250K or more include small business owners that, combined, employ MILLIONS of people..

    Why the hell should THEY pay more???

    Regardless, I think we have established that the Bush Tax Cuts tax the top 20% of tax paying Americans MORE and give the lower 80% of tax paying Americans a tax break.

    WHY would you want to stop that???

    Let's fight to end the influence of the wealthy on politicians then. There's something I could get behind.

    The problem is that the politicians themselves are already obscenely wealthy and they have absolutely ZERO (save one) incentive to change things.

    The only incentive they DO have is the one that was exercised in the 2010 Elections...

    Swapping out a President who serves both the people and corporations for one who serves only corporations is not going to help

    How exactly has Obama served the people???

    Oh wait, you probably mean "served UP" the people...

    Michale....

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    Ahhhhhh

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/07/25/potential-for-third-wave-election/

    NOW I see why Democrats don't want a Balanced Budget Amendment....

    It makes sense, now...

    Michale.....

  33. [33] 
    akadjian wrote:

    You're sounding more and more confused every day, Michale.

    So "tax the hell" out of the millionaires, but don't tax them?!

    Which are you actually for? Are you sure you're ok?

    Regardless, I think we have established that the Bush Tax Cuts tax the top 20% of tax paying Americans MORE and give the lower 80% of tax paying Americans a tax break.

    Huh? Could you please cite a source?

    I'm sure the Heritage Foundation has their own statistics, but it doesn't make sense. Especially since taxes on capital gains were cut and these disproportionately affect those who make their money from capital gains- i.e. the wealthy.

    -David

  34. [34] 
    Michale wrote:

    You're sounding more and more confused every day, Michale.

    So "tax the hell" out of the millionaires, but don't tax them?!

    Which are you actually for? Are you sure you're ok?

    A small business that makes over $250K a year is NOT a "millionaire"..

    Huh? Could you please cite a source?

    I have already posted the facts twice. The course was the Congressional Budget Office....

    Michale.....

  35. [35] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    RE: "It is about the most irresponsible action imaginable" [Balanced Budget Amendment]

    One way to think about a BBA is to draw analogy to having the money supply tied to the amount of gold held by the sovereign. I'm no Keynsian, and in fact have a somewhat Friedman-esqe bent to my view of monetary policy, but do believe that artificially constraining the money supply amplifies inflation/deflation and boom/bust cycles, and presents potentially crippling artificial constraints both on the economy and upon the government.

    A BBA would do the same thing. Unless someone is of the opinion that government should have no role in the management of the economy (and there are some; Rep. & Sen. Paul are cases), and should provide for the social good with the funds not providing national defense, then it can be more than problematic.

    Concerning debt, ISDA, the organization that has responsibility for the clearing, settlement, and unwind of Credit Default Swaps, has begun the task of defining (in legalese terms) the event of default, and the terms and conditions under which contracts on USA would proceed upon default.

    The global opinion (tonight, use 'find' on the WSJ's live market blogging and count the number of reports of analyst's, broker's and bank's morning comments in Asia and Europe that use the terms) is now that downgrade is virtually inevitable, and default is increasingly likely.

    This started out as wonderful political theater, but it's not entertainment any longer.

  36. [36] 
    Michale wrote:

    I have already posted the facts twice. The course was the Congressional Budget Office....

    Forgive the dyslexia... :D

    The SOURCE was the Congressional Budget Office...

    http://www.cbo.gov/publications/collections/tax/2009/all_tables.pdf

    "What do you call a dyslexic agnostic insomniac....

    It's a person that lies awake at night, wondering if there is a Dog"

    :D

    Michale....

  37. [37] 
    akadjian wrote:

    The SOURCE was the Congressional Budget Office.

    Those figures don't take into account the reduction of the tax on capital gains.

    I think what you're saying is that the tax rate goes up as you make more money. See page 17 of:

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/119xx/doc11976/2010-12-02_IncomeTax_chartbook.pdf

    That's a progressive tax system. It goes up as you make more money.

    What I'm saying is that the Bush tax cuts seemed like they cut everyone's taxes equally. But they didn't. When you cut the capital gains tax it only helps those who make money from capital gains. The wealthy make most of their money from capital gains. And the extremely wealthy make almost all their money from capital gains.

    Check out the chart on p. 11. This compares the rate of labor income w/ the rate of capital gains income. Notice that the rate of capital gains income is about half that of labor income.

    A small business that makes over $250K a year is NOT a "millionaire".

    Ok. So you disagree on the number. What number do you think it should be?

    -David

  38. [38] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Here's another chart which was put together using the CBO data which shows how the different brackets benefited:

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2116

    I'll be honest and appeal to others out there to verify/help correct this understanding of who the Bush tax cuts benefit most.

    It's a good question, Michale. One which I don't think is often well explained so thanks for pushing!

    -David

  39. [39] 
    akadjian wrote:

    One way to think about a BBA is to draw analogy to having the money supply tied to the amount of gold held by the sovereign.

    @LeaningBlue

    Thanks for the helpful analogy and explanation. I'm always trying to up my economics game! I think it's one area liberals should be much more interested in.

    Almost all economic theory I've seen (outside of the fringe Ayn Rand'ists) holds that government should play some role in the economy. Even many libertarians believe that there has to be some mechanism to reinforce contracts. So I'm certainly in the camp that believes in some amount of regulation.

    Where it gets interesting is to what level of regulation and what I think many people don't realize is that running a country is different than running a household. For instance, the average household is not worried about the effect of money supply on an entire country :)

    Keep the economic comments coming!
    -David

  40. [40] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Two general points, mostly for Michale -

    (1) There is really no need for a balanced budget amendment, Michale. All Congress has to do is PASS a balanced budget, any old time they feel like it. Let's see... Republican budget for this current year? Not even close to balanced. Eric Cantor's budget for next year (passed House with all but a few GOP voting for it)? Not even within the ballpark of balanced -- calls for trillions in deficit spending in the first decade. Over a trillion in the first year alone. See my Monday column for more rage against Congressional gimmickry, but the BBA is nothing more than an elaborate way to kick the entire debate down the road. If the Republican House believed in balanced budgets, then why have they not proposed anything even CLOSE to one yet? Hmmm? Absolutely NOTHING is stopping them from doing so... except political cowardice, of course.

    (2) Michale, you keep throwing that $250K "small business" figure around. But the way you're using it leads me to believe you're making the same mistake Joe The Plumber made. If you're a (Schedule C) "small business" -- and there are indeed millionaire businesses who file their taxes this way -- then the $250K is your PROFIT, and not your net receipts. You can sell $100K worth of stuff, or you can sell $10 million worth of stuff and still have the same PROFIT. It is only the PROFIT that gets taxed, and NOT the total worth of the business or the total yearly sales of the business. So just saying a business makes $250K profit a year is meaningless, when compared to the size of the business -- you simply can't tell (unless you also knew the profit margins, perhaps).

    And profit is figured as "money taken in minus business expenses." Salaries are a business expense. So if CW.com Enterprises, Inc. made $300K in profit one year, and I was annoyed because $50K of that would have an extra 4% tax on it (only on the $50K, of course -- an extra $2,000 tax in all), then all I'd have to do to lower my taxes would be to hire another employee. In other words, higher taxes would actually give me an incentive to hire more people if I wanted to lower my own personal business taxes.

    I know, it's complicated. But that's the truth of it.

    -CW

  41. [41] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    I have no idea what Capital Gains are, nor how they figure into this mess... So, I'll have to accept your argument because I don't know enough to refute it.. :D

    Ok. So you disagree on the number. What number do you think it should be?

    See below...

    CW,

    (1) There is really no need for a balanced budget amendment, Michale. All Congress has to do is PASS a balanced budget, any old time they feel like it. Let's see... Republican budget for this current year? Not even close to balanced. Eric Cantor's budget for next year (passed House with all but a few GOP voting for it)? Not even within the ballpark of balanced -- calls for trillions in deficit spending in the first decade. Over a trillion in the first year alone. See my Monday column for more rage against Congressional gimmickry, but the BBA is nothing more than an elaborate way to kick the entire debate down the road. If the Republican House believed in balanced budgets, then why have they not proposed anything even CLOSE to one yet? Hmmm? Absolutely NOTHING is stopping them from doing so... except political cowardice, of course.

    Fair enough..

    But the same thing can be said about Democrats, as you so illustriously point in in your new commentary..

    Democrats share even MORE of the blame because they had a virtual lock on all facets of government...

    While you may be right, that BBA is nothing but a gimmick, at least it's a gimmick that sends the right message...

    As opposed to Reid's latest gimmick which is just utterly ridiculous...

    As far as the $250K small business issue, what about the small businesses who DO make only $260K a year... Of which, in this economy, is likely the majority of Small Businesses...

    They don't have the kind of margin to play around with as, say CW.COM Enterprises... They don't have the extra $40K-$50K to play with...

    They are going to get killed by higher taxes.. They will go under... And the job market takes a bigger hit..

    Doesn't it make MORE sense to raise that bar a little?? Raise it to a million a year.. That way, the people who really ARE the millionaires are the ones that get hit with the higher taxes..

    I don't have a problem with taxing the rich. I really don't...

    My issue is with how ya'all define "rich"...

    And, for the record, it's STILL a logical response that, if Democrats think that more taxes are a good idea, why aren't they voluntarily paying those "good idea" taxes..

    Why don't they put THEIR money where their mouths are, instead of going after everyone else's money first??

    Imagine the political PR coup that would be if Democrats voluntarily paid more taxes...

    But they won't..

    So, how good an idea can it be if the Democrats who propose it won't even do it voluntarily??

    Michale.....

  42. [42] 
    Michale wrote:

    Why don't they put THEIR money where their mouths are, instead of going after everyone else's money first??

    Terrorist:"We're intent on disarming the world!!!"
    SecState Curry:"But the Western Democracies come first, right!?"

    -THE FINAL OPTION

    Michale

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    As far as the $250K small business issue, what about the small businesses who DO make only $260K a year... Of which, in this economy, is likely the majority of Small Businesses...

    They don't have the kind of margin to play around with as, say CW.COM Enterprises... They don't have the extra $40K-$50K to play with...

    They are going to get killed by higher taxes.. They will go under... And the job market takes a bigger hit..

    Please, tell me this is a joke!

    Because, if you are serious about all of that and an extra $400 dollars per year in taxes on a company that makes $260K is what may be classified as a big hit, then the US is in far more trouble than any of us could ever had imagined.

  44. [44] 
    Michale wrote:

    Because, if you are serious about all of that and an extra $400 dollars per year in taxes on a company that makes $260K is what may be classified as a big hit, then the US is in far more trouble than any of us could ever had imagined.

    Where do you arrive at that $400 a year figure??

    Michale.....

  45. [45] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Hey Michale-

    Just as an FYI- here's a couple quick notes on capital gains. Capital gains is a fancy way of saying when you make money off of investments. Buying and selling stocks for example.

    Many wealthy people like Warren Buffett make all of their money off of investments. This income is taxed at a rate much less than the income you or I make.

    It's why Bashi said his friend was mad because he gets taxed at a high rate off the money he earns while people who make their money solely off investments get taxed at a much lower rate. It's a wonderful loophole for the rich that many people don't know about.

    And please ... I'll admit my explanation may not be the best, but I think it conveys the gist. If anyone else can chime in with a better explanation, please do.

    -David

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Where do you arrive at that $400 a year figure??

    Directly from the example you provided. I just did the math. :)

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, Michale!

    It just dawned on me ...

    Does this mean that you may be persuaded to back the president on this one? Hmmm?

  48. [48] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    Directly from the example you provided. I just did the math. :)

    Mind if I check yer math?? :D

    Does this mean that you may be persuaded to back the president on this one? Hmmm?

    Which one would that be??

    Actually, I have backed Obama on several issues..

    SEALs taking out Somali pirates..

    SEALs taking out Bin Laden..

    TSA scanners and searches..

    Er......

    That's all I got right now... :D

    Michale.....

  49. [49] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    (allow me, Liz...)

    Here's the math:

    When you say "make" $260K a year, I'm figuring that you mean "profit." Because if the business grossed $260K a year, then it most likely would have expenses of over $10K a year, meaning your tax "hike" would be... zero.

    So, $260K a year profit.

    Income tax is graduated, so your tax hike on the first $250K is... zero.

    The highest pre-Bush-tax-cut rate was about 4% higher on the top bracket, which is the one Obama and Democrats want to raise again. So, $10K (the difference between $260K and $250K) times 4% equals $400.

    That is the gigantic tax hike you would pay if making $260K a year in profit. Four hundred bucks. Still think it's a crushing tax burden? Hardly. This is an overall tax hike of 0.15 percent. Not 15%, mind you, but 0.15%. Now please explain how this would stop you from employing anyone.

    -CW

  50. [50] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [48] -

    Don't forget: the surge in Afghanistan.

    :-)

    -CW

  51. [51] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    Here's the math:

    Once again, I am forced to rely on your expertise, as I have none to counter with..

    On the other hand, if $400 is no big deal for a business to contend with, it's also certainly no great help for the Federal Government, eh??

    Again, I have to ask.. Why not go after the REALLY Rich??? Why not go after the Pelosis?? The Reids?? The Soroses?? The Obamas???

    If taxing the rich is such a good idea, why aren't rich Democrats voluntarily paying these taxes???

    Obviously, SOMETHING is bad about it, right??

    Don't forget: the surge in Afghanistan.

    OK, we have 4 now... :D

    Michale.....

  52. [52] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/11198058/1/soros-returns-capital-avoids-dodd-frank.html

    You see my point???

    Like you yourself said, CW...

    Neither Dems nor Reps are looking out for you and me...

    So why back one over the other??

    Throw ALL the bums out! :D

    Michale.....

  53. [53] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Again, I have to ask.. Why not go after the REALLY Rich???

    I think you're missing the point. It's not about "going after" anyone.

    What the wealthy in our country have been doing for years is using the government to AVOID paying their fair share. In many cases, they pay less than the rest of us.

    And yes, it would affect Obama, Pelosi, Gore, Soros, and wealthy Democrats you don't like. Obama has said as much- that people like him should pay more.

    If taxing the rich is such a good idea, why aren't rich Democrats voluntarily paying these taxes?

    Because then they would be subsidizing the services that rich Republicans use.

    This gets to the point of my last article. I'd be happy to pay taxes and let you pay nothing. So long as you don't use any of the services my taxes pay for. Or, you pay for those services in another way.

    Asking people to voluntarily pay for what we all use?

    Doesn't make sense. Why don't you voluntarily pay my heating bills? Yeah, I know. The answer is obvious.

    Well, the same is true for police and any public services. Why should I pay to protect you if you're gonna be a deadbeat?

    -David

  54. [54] 
    Michale wrote:

    What the wealthy in our country have been doing for years is using the government to AVOID paying their fair share. In many cases, they pay less than the rest of us.

    And they write or control the politicians who write the laws..

    What makes you think it's going to be any different??

    And yes, it would affect Obama, Pelosi, Gore, Soros, and wealthy Democrats you don't like. Obama has said as much- that people like him should pay more.

    Then why DON'T they!!!?????

    Why don't Democrats put their plan into action voluntarily.. THEN they can show the nation, "SEE!!?? It DOES work!!"...

    You can bet that Joe Sixpack would be a LOT more inclined to back the Democrats if A> Dems had the testicular fortitude (not to mention the honor) to put their cash where their mouths are and B> have proven beyond a doubt that their plan works..

    If Democrats aren't willing to put their tax plan into action voluntarily, then why should ANYONE believe it will actually work??

    Because then they would be subsidizing the services that rich Republicans use.

    Only for a very short time, to prove that their plan works..

    Once the American public actually SEES that the Democrat's tax plan works, they would rally behind it.

    I know that *I* would back they Democrat's tax plan, if they showed me it works...

    Sorry, David.. But the days of passing legislation to see what's in it are over...

    Independents and NPAs are all about "show me the money" in the here and now...

    Doesn't make sense. Why don't you voluntarily pay my heating bills? Yeah, I know. The answer is obvious.

    That is mis-characterizing my position...

    Let's say that you and I are in business together. And I have always been railing on and on about the high costs of operating our businesses machinery. One day you come to me and you say, "Michale, I have a plan that will reduce our business machinery costs by 80% You have always been against such high costs and I can reduce the costs. But I need some help. Can you cover my heating bill so I can show you well my plan would work?"

    So, I would agree to cover your heating costs.. In a few months time, we would see whether or not your plan would reduce our costs.. If it doesn't your plan is revealed to be a stinker and I stop paying your heating bill.. If your plan works, then everything is golden...

    So it is with the Democrat's tax plan. Let them pay the tax plan that they want to force on everyone else voluntarily.. If they can prove to the American people that their tax plan CAN WORK, then they would have huge and dramatic support for their plan. Not only because they have PROVEN that it will work, but because they had the integrity to put their own assets up voluntarily...

    That is what Leadership is....

    Under those circumstances, hell, *I* would campaign for Democrats.

    But I have a feeling that the reason Democrats DON'T do this is because they know their plan is a stinker.. They KNOW that they (and their fellow millionaires) will ALWAYS find a way to get out of paying taxes and sticking it to the middle and lower class..

    They WRITE the laws.. Do you HONESTLY believe that they are going to write laws that will cost them more money???

    If they actually had the integrity to write FAIR laws in that regard, then they would have the integrity to pay the taxes voluntarily..

    They don't, so they won't...

    When it comes to domestic policies such as taxes and such, there is absolutely NO DIFFERENCE between Democrats and Republicans. They will always only protect themselves and their donors and screw the middle and lower class at every opportunity..

    One might as well vote Republican because at least they take National Security seriously...

    Michale.....

  55. [55] 
    akadjian wrote:

    If Democrats aren't willing to put their tax plan into action voluntarily, then why should ANYONE believe it will actually work?

    Using your logic ...

    If the Republican plan for cutting services is so good, why don't they voluntarily implement it?

    Why don't they accept cuts to their Medicare and Medicaid packages?

    Why don't they eliminate their own benefits packages?

    Why don't they stop using the services government provides (police, fire, education, etc)?

    If their plan is so good, why don't they just do it? Why do they have to force what they want on everyone else?

    I'm sure once its proven to work ... everyone else will jump onboard.

    *whew* That was scary.

    But seriously, you've shown that you're good as giving out advice to others. Why don't you take your own advice?

    -David

  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Once again, I am forced to rely on your expertise, as I have none to counter with..

    On the other hand, if $400 is no big deal for a business to contend with, it's also certainly no great help for the Federal Government, eh??

    Again, I have to ask.. Why not go after the REALLY Rich??? Why not go after the Pelosis?? The Reids?? The Soroses?? The Obamas???

    If taxing the rich is such a good idea, why aren't rich Democrats voluntarily paying these taxes???

    Obviously, SOMETHING is bad about it, right??

    You have exposed yourself, once again, as someone who is not here to engage in serious debate and discussion, on any level. You have proven, time and again, that you are not interested in the facts and you seem quite unable of admitting that you are wrong. The elegant art of persuasion is completely lost on you.

    Of course, that is not why you are here. And, I understand that. I really do. Nevertheless, this building realization is infinitely disappointing to me.

    It's been fun, Michale, for the most part, but I don't have time to waste on it anymore.

  57. [57] 
    Michale wrote:

    Using your logic ...

    If the Republican plan for cutting services is so good, why don't they voluntarily implement it?

    Why don't they accept cuts to their Medicare and Medicaid packages?

    Why don't they eliminate their own benefits packages?

    Why don't they stop using the services government provides (police, fire, education, etc)?

    If their plan is so good, why don't they just do it? Why do they have to force what they want on everyone else?

    I'm sure once its proven to work ... everyone else will jump onboard.

    I completely and 1000% agree...

    Republicans SHOULD walk their talk....

    That's the difference between you and I...

    In this particular area, I hold BOTH Partys equally in disdain.... :D

    You seem to think Democrats are better than Republicans. Unfortunately, there are absolutely ZERO facts to support such a claim...

    Why don't you take your own advice?

    When I *WAS* a millionaire, I did... I gave away tens of thousands of dollars away to needy people and organizations. I bypassed so called "charities" and gave money directly to the people who needed it.

    The issue here is you know that I am right.

    If Democrats really and truly believe in their tax plan and they ARE the leaders that you appear to believe they are, then they SHOULD voluntarily follow their own plan.

    The problem is they are NOT the kind of leaders you want them to be.. They are corrupt and greedy.

    In that, they are no different than the Republicans.

    Michale.....

  58. [58] 
    akadjian wrote:

    You seem to think Democrats are better than Republicans.

    Huh?

    I have to say Michale, you do a lot of "reading in" to other people's statements.

    I believe the Democratic plan for the economy is better than the Republican one.

    I'm not saying one thing or another about Democrats and Republicans or who is better.

    I don't care. I care about what they do.

    Now if you want to read into this other things, that's your right. But its nothing I said.

    When I *WAS* a millionaire, I did... I gave away tens of thousands of dollars away to needy people and organizations. I bypassed so called "charities" and gave money directly to the people who needed it.

    I've known for a long time that you have a big heart.

    Apologies if sounded accusatory. Was trying to flip the argument around to show it from a different light.

    Apparently this didn't convince you and that's ok. We disagree.

    To me, government is not voluntary so long as we want to be a nation and to enjoy the benefits of being a nation.

    So long as we are a nation, and a Democracy, there are going to be times when we, as a country, make decisions that are not popular with everyone.

    The Iraq War is a great example. Apparently, taxes are too.

    But if we want to stay together as a country, we have to want to stay together as a country.

    The minute you make it voluntary, no one pays according to what they use, and the government (our country) dissolves. This, of course, is fine with many Tea Partiers. Its what they want.

    What gets me is this whole Tea Party notion of government "forcing" you to do something. Please. Conservatives force others in this country to do things they don't like all the time.

    The only way to not force anything on anyone is to dissolve our country and become a nation of individuals.

    I believe in something different.

    -David

  59. [59] 
    Michale wrote:

    I believe the Democratic plan for the economy is better than the Republican one.

    Based on what?

    What evidence is there from the past two years that would indicate that the Democratic Plan is better?

    Apologies if sounded accusatory. Was trying to flip the argument around to show it from a different light.

    No worries.. :D

    The only way to not force anything on anyone is to dissolve our country and become a nation of individuals.

    Ironically enough, THIS is what our founding fathers envisioned...

    Not a nation of individuals, but a nation of states, each making their own way and the federal government providing for the common defense, the general welfare and little else...

    We have seen what happens when the Federal Government is TOO big, TOO intrusive and completely irresponsible...

    Michale.....

  60. [60] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Based on what?

    1) Because the Democratic plan is not trickle down theory + deregulation.

    2) Because cutting government spending does not create jobs

    We have seen what happens when the Federal Government is TOO big, TOO intrusive and completely irresponsible.

    We sure have! 2 wars we didn't need. The government tapping phones in America illegally. The collapse of our economy.

    By comparison, the last 2 years look pretty good! :)

    -David

  61. [61] 
    Michale wrote:

    1) Because the Democratic plan is not trickle down theory + deregulation.

    And is, apparently, as ineffective as you believe trickledown + deregulation is..

    2) Because cutting government spending does not create jobs

    Neither does an orgasm of spending that only benefits Wall Street and "fat cat" bankers...

    The Democrat's plan makes this worse...

    This is painfully obvious...

    Michale.....

  62. [62] 
    akadjian wrote:
  63. [63] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am not sure the point??

    As Obama says, neither party is blameless...

    And that chart conveniently ignores 9/11 which was a huge hit to our economy...

    The Democrats want to spend more to fix the economy..

    The Republicans want to spend less to fix the economy..

    Which plan is more logical and rational???

    Michale.....

  64. [64] 
    Michale wrote:

    Also keep in mind, David that Democrats gained control of Congress in 2006....

    So the majority of the problems can be attributed to Democrats....

    Michale.....

  65. [65] 
    akadjian wrote:

    The point is that some people are acting like responsible adults.

    Others are doing nothing but spreading blame and trying to destroy the economy for political motivation.

    -David

  66. [66] 
    Michale wrote:

    The point is that some people are acting like responsible adults.

    And who would that be?? The President who says the words compromise and balance dozens of times, but then threatens to veto anything coming from the opposing party??

    Or is that the President who allows rumors and leaks about his "plan" but then when he is questioned on specifics, runs and hides...

    Or perhaps you mean the Senate Majority leader who says he has a plan, but no one in the Dem Senate has seen it yet..

    Are THESE the people you are referring to as "responsible adults"???

    Others are doing nothing but spreading blame and trying to destroy the economy for political motivation.

    As far as I can see, that description fits both Republicans *AND* Democrats...

    Democrats keep trying to invoke Reagan who raised the debt limit 18 times..

    Well, let's follow Reagan's lead.. We'll raise the debt limit now and revisit the issue again in 6 months..

    JUST LIKE REAGAN..

    But Democrats won't have ANY of that, now will they??

    WHY??

    Because they know it will be bad for them in the coming election..

    So don't try and say that it's just Republicans who are playing politics and having political motivations..

    Because Democrats are playing the exact same game for the exact same motivations...

    Michale.....

  67. [67] 
    akadjian wrote:

    You walk into a room with another person to discuss an issue. For the sake of argument, let's say you're talking about color.

    Let's say you want yellow. Let's say the other person wants blue.

    A possible compromise would be a shade of green. Or, perhaps some yellow, some blue.

    If the other side insists that the solution has to be blue and can't contain any yellow, despite what you want, what do you do?

    -David

  68. [68] 
    dsws wrote:

    Assembling your interplanetary spacecraft in orbit doesn't let you get around paying the rocket equation. You may remember the rocket equation from school as being something to do with camels.

    The way it's usually presented is with a story where a camel can carry two barrels of water out into the desert. For every two leagues, the caravan needs to consume one barrel of water per camel. So if you only have to go to an oasis two leagues away, you can carry one barrel of trade goods per camel.

    If you're going more than four leagues, you're out of luck and can't make it at all, right? Wrong. You can take one barrel of water per camel one league out into the desert, and stash it there. Then you have enough to make it home. You come back with another barrel, and stash it with the first. Then you can stash a barrel of water two leagues out, and cross four leagues desert with one barrel of water and one barrel of trade goods per camel, replenishing the water at the half-way point. And so on.

    It comes out the same no matter whether you use a bunch of small caravans to stash the water, as described, or whether you have one big caravan take all the water and then all but the payload-carrying camels turn back.

    The amount of water you need to haul, and thus the amount of money you need to spend on camels and camel-wranglers, increases exponentially. It's the same way with anything that you have to carry with you in order to use it in carrying more of it with you -- specifically rocket fuel.

    Low orbit is halfway to everywhere in the solar system. But if you have to do the barrel-stashing a thousand-fold to get halfway across the desert, it takes a million to get all the way. Fortunately, low orbit isn't a thousand-fold undertaking. The relevant quantity is called specific impulse, and it's measured in velocity units. The specific impulse of a liquid-fuel rocket is 4.4 km/s, according to wikipedia, whereas the delta-vee to LEO is about 10 km/s and it's about another 10 km/s to Mars.

    So yes, LEO is sort of halfway to anywhere in the solar system. But then again, it's sort of not.

  69. [69] 
    dsws wrote:

    But to build a moonship in orbit (or even more ambitiously, a Marsship), you've got to have a sturdy Earth-launch vehicle which can get the parts up there easily. A space truck, in other words, with a giant bay to carry up those parts. Like the one we just grounded forever.

    Trucking bulk freight to orbit for a massive project shouldn't be done with human-rated vehicles like the Shuttle. It should be done with cheap launch systems that are designed to let one load in fifty crash in the ocean instead of reaching orbit. They should be launched from the ocean, too, like Sea Dragon (a concept from the 1960s) and Sea Launch (a Russian-owned company). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Dragon_%28rocket%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Launch

    Of course, bulk freight mostly shouldn't be lifted from the ground anyway. The high-specific-impulse rocket fuel we need for bold undertakings like a Mars mission is water, split into its 2H2 and O2. It's 88% oxygen, by weight. Ordinary rocks, such as the basalt and anorthosite that the Moon is made of, are full of oxygen. Basalt is also good for making basalt fiber. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basalt_fiber And aerogels can be made of materials like silica and alumina that are readily producible on the Moon.

    The Moon doesn't have the geology to provide good ores. It's just plain rock: fine if you want massive quantities of oxygen and a few other products, but not the basis for an industrial economy. Asteroids, by contrast, have everything you could want. We should bring mass quantities of asteroid material to Earth orbit or to the Moon, or both.

    Bulk cargo can also serve as rocket fuel, if you have the means to catch it. We should use electromagnetic launch systems ("rail gun", "coil gun", "Gauss gun") to throw dust from spacecraft at aerogel targets on the Moon or on other spacecraft, and then reprocess the aerogel to recover the material for re-use. Then we wouldn't be paying the rocket equation any more.

    Perhaps that's the future of space travel -- private companies putting up the money, and then recouping their investment with a brand new space-tourism industry

    I don't think space tourism is where it's at. We're not going to get people flying Virgin Galactic to go visit their extended family or see the Grand Canyon, the way we do with commercial aviation: neither Grandma nor the Canyon is in space. Sub-orbital flights could be a means of very fast transportation from one point on the ground to another, but that's not space tourism. More importantly, it's not affordable for a mass market with any technology in the pipeline. If we had electromagnetic launch, sub-orbital travel well might be economical. With reusable steam rockets, where some of the energy can be provided by waste heat and the rest by cheap sources like coal or concentrating solar thermal, maybe. With conventional chemical boosters, it doesn't seem likely to me.

    Private ventures, on the other hand, could be the way to go. There's a lot of money to be made in space, from services like GPS and weather data, that are delivered to people back on the ground. That's not going away, and it shouldn't have to go through Congress every time anyone wants to do anything.

  70. [70] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    If the other side insists that the solution has to be blue and can't contain any yellow, despite what you want, what do you do?

    It all depends on how bad you want yellow or the repercussions of NOT having yellow, or not having any deal at all.

    But the main point is HOW the two people in the room were chosen to figure out what color to use..

    If one of the people were elected by the vast majority of Americans and given a mandate that there will be NO YELLOW (Taxes) then what else can the person do but argue the position of the people who elected him???

    That's the whole point of this issue that ya'all fail to grasp...

    The Republicans were elected to do EXACTLY what they are doing...

    What has the Democrats so flummoxed and bamboozled is that NO ONE actually follows thru and actually represents their constituents... There is always a wink and a nod and a compromise... That's the way it's always been...

    But, apparently not this time. Republicans are actually standing firm with the wishes of the people who voted them into office...

    Once you get past the partisan and Party ideology, you really got to admire a stance like that...

    But I don't hold out much hope for it lasting... Republicans (like all politicians) will perceive it's in their own best interests to cave and cave they will...

    But, in the here and now, you simply have to admire that the will of the voters is paramount...

    Republicans are acting EXACTLY like ya'all wish Democrats would act. :D With a backbone.. With a spine... :D

    Michale.....

  71. [71] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Republicans are actually standing firm with the wishes of the people who voted them into office.

    They're standing firm to please the 10% minority Tea Party base that holds so much sway in the Republican party because that who determines who wins in the primaries.

    And they've shown that they won't compromise and that its impossible to work with them.

    If they were employees of a business, they would be fired because you have to be able to work with others. You can't have a "my way or the highway" attitude.

    In fact, I seem to recall you criticizing a certain person for having a "my way or the highway" attitude even as this person was compromising on health care.

    In fact, I remember you doing a LOT of complaining about this even though it wasn't true.

    But now you admire it when conservatives actually ARE unwilling to compromise. Interesting.

    So what happens?

    Simple. The negotiation breaks down.

    And I think that's what's going to happen at this point.

    -David

  72. [72] 
    Michale wrote:

    They're standing firm to please the 10% minority Tea Party base that holds so much sway in the Republican party because that who determines who wins in the primaries.

    No, they are standing firm because THAT is what the vast majority of Americans (the ones who voted them into office) WANT them to do...

    No more orgasmic spending...

    It's that simple...

    You can't have a "my way or the highway" attitude.

    "It's my decision and, if I decide wrong, well that's what elections are for."
    -Barack Obama

    Obama never had a mandate from the American people for CrapCare or any other endeavor he has screwed up..

    The Republicans do..

    That's the big difference here... Republicans have a mandate whether you choose to believe it or not.

    But now you admire it when conservatives actually ARE unwilling to compromise. Interesting.

    I admire ANYONE who is willing to stand by their voters in a principled, legal and ethical manner..

    If Democrats ever did that, I would admire them...

    And I think that's what's going to happen at this point.

    I agree... As I mentioned before, if this is Kabuki Theater, it's damn good...

    But I don't think it is... I think we have a real impasse and our AAA credit rating is in the toilet, regardless of the outcome...

    I think we're going to default and I also believe that it's not going to be the Arma-Debt-on that the administration would like us to think it will...

    But, regardless of the reality, you can bet that come election time, Obama will be known as the President who led America to default.

    Fairly or not, that's likely how it will play out..

    Michale.....

  73. [73] 
    akadjian wrote:

    But, regardless of the reality, you can bet that come election time, Obama will be known as the President who led America to default.

    I'm glad you agree that they are doing this for political purposes.

    I admire ANYONE who is willing to stand by their voters in a principled, legal and ethical manner.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.

    Ummm. See above. Their "principled" purpose is scoring political points.

    Republicans have a mandate

    Please ... they can't even decide what they want to do in their own party.

    What happened to the mandate they ran on, "jobs, jobs, jobs"?

    Guess they made a "principled" decision to change it to "Hate Obama, hate Obama, hate Obama", eh?

    Ok. This is getting too back and forthy and hence, not interesting.

    I leave you to your rage :)

    -David

  74. [74] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'm glad you agree that they are doing this for political purposes.

    As are Democrats...

    See my new post in the latest commentary.. :D

    Ok. This is getting too back and forthy and hence, not interesting.

    Awwwww Com'on!! At least read the latest comment here:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2011/07/27/congress-real-deadline-summer-vacation/#comment-15269

    :D

    Michale......

  75. [75] 
    dsws wrote:

    Iirc, he claimed afterward that he said "one small step for a man", and after listening to it I believed him. It's just that the unaccented uh sound after an r elides into inaudibility. It's more like "one small step forrr man".

  76. [76] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Holy Moley, 75 comments? OK, I'm not going to get to everyone here. But there are two in particular I have to address, since they're the only ones who took exception to the first part of the article.

    So, dsws for both [68] and [69] -

    Aha! Good to debate these things with you, my friend! Your camel example was a good one, I admit.

    But... nobody has to design a camel.

    Hear me out. Sure, it costs the same in what the 50s sci-fi writers (and rocketeers) used to call "delta-vee" to get the stuff up to LEO (is the ISS really only in LEO? I thought it was at a LaGrange point...). Oh, um, for those who didn't grow up reading 40s, 50s and 60s sci-fi, that should be "Low-Earth Orbit" and "the point where gravitational forces between two or more objects balances."

    Where was I?

    Oh, right. LEO. The Earth gravity well is 10m/s(2), only because I don't know how to do superscript for the "squared" part. I'd have to do the math to translate that to specific impulse (which I'm assuming bears a close relationship to moment of inertia), though, as it's been a while since I was a physics student. Or maybe you were talking all along about seconds squared, as I notice your delta-vee to LEO is a similar figure (I could have sworn, from memory, that it's 10m/s(2) though, not km, as most base measurements are in meters).

    But my point is the reusability. And the design costs.

    The Apollo program to the moon had to create a vehicle which served multiple functions: launch to escape Earth gravity well, travel to the moon after breaking Earth's gravity hold and then orbit the moon, separate into the lunar lander and the "mother ship" (which Jethro Tull references in "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey, and Me"), land on the moon, launch from the moon's much tamer gravity well, reconnect with the mother ship, escape the moon's orbit and travel back to Earth, and re-entry and splashdown.

    The ISS and the shuttle make this design problem much, much easier. Because certain parts can be recycled, and the ISS just keeps on orbiting.

    Design a space-truck (the shuttle, or Shuttle II) and more than half the problem is solved at once. Because it is made to be recycled. So once design and R-n-D is done, the only cost is for the fuel itself (and the overhead for each mission, of course).

    Design a LEO-to-Luna-landing ship, which can blast back off from the moon and reach LEO, and you've designed the second recyclable part of the equation. The benefits are: you don't have to make it aerodynamic, and the low gravity well of the moon means you don't have to have a staged, or "step" rocket.

    Once you solve both the design problem and the assemble-it-in-orbit hassles, then you've got both a recycleable shuttle from Earth to LEO, and you've got a recycleable LEO-to-Luna ship. From this point on (you'd have to have a small fleet of both, to be sure), the only costs you'd have to bear would be overhead for the ISS (the switching-over point) and the missions themselves, and the fuel costs.

    Hence, 2001. Actually, in the book, Arthur C. Clarke actually had three ships -- Earth to LEO, LEO to LMO, and then from moon orbit down to the surface.

    As for your comments in [69], well, most of what you talk about would be more germane to Mars, where distilling the elements on-site would be a big part of the equation of getting back home (all the chemical comments, in particular).

    Sure, the "Shuttle II" could be unmanned, I'll give you that. But it probably won't. Give it another generation, and then maybe, that's my guess.

    As for ideas-whose-time-has-not-come-yet, the Gauss gun is an excellent one! One of my favorite books of all time is "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" (Robert A. Heinlein), in which a magnetic (or, as we'd say today "mag-lev") catapault launching system plays a vital role. But, as Heinlein wrote, for an Earth-based system, you'd need a very high mountain, very close to the equator, with a long sloping ridge off to the west. Building one on the moon would be a lot easier, of course, due to the lower gravity well.

    I agree with your point about space tourism, as far as sub-orbital flights are concerned. But the ISS would be a destination to rival the Grand Canyon, all by itself. Google "Lance Bass" if you don't believe that. But I still maintain that VirginLuna or even Virgin Tranquillity Base would be the most sought-after tourist destination... not "on Earth" or "in this world"... but "anywhere."

    :-)

    -CW

  77. [77] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws -

    And I sincerely urge you to go click on that link in comment [4], as it is truly inspirational. Even if the shuttle in the movie did have "PanAm" markings, and not "Virgin."

    :-)

    -CW

  78. [78] 
    dsws wrote:

    only because I don't know how to do superscript for the "squared" part.

    I'm not sure what HTML the site will or won't display, but let's see if this works: (text to be displayed as superscript).

    The Earth gravity well is 10m/s(2),

    That's the acceleration due to gravity at Earth's surface, ten meters per second per second. If you stand at the earth's surface and throw a ball upward at a speed of ten meters per second, it will take one second for gravity to slow that to zero.

    By contrast, the depth of Earth's gravity well can be expressed in velocity units, i.e. as escape velocity. The depth of the gravity well is the amount of energy needed to lift each unit of mass out of the gravity well. Energy is equivalent to work, force times distance. Force in turn is mass times acceleration. So energy is mass times acceleration times distance. In units, force is kgm/s2. Force times distance is kgm2/s2. Dividing by mass gives m2/s2, which is velocity squared. So even though the depth of a gravity well can be expressed by the escape velocity, the depth is really the square of the escape velocity.

    If you throw an ball upward at 11.2 km/s, it doesn't come back down. The delta-vee to low orbit is a bit less, around 10 km/s. That's kilometers per second, not meters.

    Surface gravity (ten meters per second squared, on Earth) doesn't correspond directly to escape velocity. On Saturn, there's no surface, so you get slightly different numbers depending on whether people talk about the cloud tops, or the level where gas pressure is one (earth) atmosphere, or what. But it's about the same as earth. Escape velocity from Saturn, though, is about three times that from earth.

  79. [79] 
    dsws wrote:

    Ok, the site will display the ampersand-gt-semi to show the tags, but it won't do the actual superscripts. Obviously I switched the gt and lt in the second tag, not that it matters.

  80. [80] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws -

    I fixed it, and it works!

    Wow! Learn something new every day...

    Let me just try it out...

    10m/s2

    That's pretty cool!

    -CW

  81. [81] 
    dsws wrote:

    But my point is the reusability. And the design costs.

    Designing from the ground up, with completely new technologies, is where the spin-offs come from. We should be building machines that get launched with coil guns, maneuver by catching mass thrown by coil gun from other such spacecraft or from a lunar base, and go mine asteroids with no humans aboard.

    Reusability is nice, but it's not that big a deal. Refurbishing a shuttle between launches can cost an amount comparable to the whole cost of a cheap rocket.

    But the ISS would be a destination to rival the Grand Canyon, all by itself.

    Five million people a year visit the canyon. Even if passengers were paying only the added cost of lifting their weight, none of the overhead, we still wouldn't find five thousand people a year rich enough and motivated enough to visit the ISS.

    But, as Heinlein wrote, for an Earth-based system, you'd need a very high mountain, very close to the equator, with a long sloping ridge off to the west.

    That's certainly the obvious way to do it. But if you're using it only for an assist, or for bulk payloads that can handle very high acceleration (and you have a system powerful enough to deliver that acceleration), you could have a much shorter launch rail. Alternatively, the whole thing could be in the ocean, with the launch rail underwater at any angle you want.

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