A breakdown of what the $47 billion that the U.S. government has proposed for the militarization of the already-secure border with Mexico will buy them.
But what about the human cost?
7 million residents in border areas would be forced to experience life in a war-zone.. complete with drones, video surveillance, radar, and tens of thousands of border patrol agents.. not to mention the potential human rights abuses and racial profiling in border communities that come along with increased militarization.
Teachers offered personal loans to buy school supplies.
If you’re looking for just one image that says a thousand words about what’s wrong with America, here’s a contender. It’s a screenshot from a Nevada schools credit union webpage inviting its teachers to go into debt to do their job. So, that happens, apparently.
When people talk about “American military spending being more than everyone else da da da,” there are a few things to be considered. First off, DoD doesn’t get QUITE the cut that some people claim. The often cited “57% of the budget!” pie chart that gets circulated on here looks like this, you might have seen it:
There’s just one issue with that chart: It was cherrypicked from a PROPOSED budget for DISCRETIONARY SPENDING ONLY. Here’s the most recent one from the White House; look familiar?
And remember, not only was this only a proposal, it was a discretionary-only budget proposal. The real budget looks more like this:
Now, you may be saying, “wow, but that’s still $596B! What does the military spend it on?” Here’s where the defense budget gets fun, because most of it goes not to tanks and bombs but to, quite simply, the people who work for the Department:
Of that $596B, half of that goes to making sure that DoD personnel and military members are fed, housed, given health care, and paid. In fact, that half of the budget is growing, and many projects aimed at modernizing the military have been cancelled, leading to an incredibly aged force, particularly in the tech-savvy Air Force and Navy. USAF in particular is facing what it calls the “Fighter Gap,” wherein its fleet of aircraft are being retired due to age at a rate faster than they can buy replacements:
Note that the new F-22 and F-35 aren’t listed. Why? Because there are only ever going to be 180 F-22s (then-Sec. Gates cancelled the program and destroyed the tooling to make more simply because he disliked the program), and the F-35 isn’t even truly operational yet. The fleet is older than most of its pilots, which has led to some interesting incidents such as aircraft literally ripping in half in flight. Ditto for the rest of the military, which is being given small numbers of new equipment while being forced to retire their older kit due to it being obsolete.
We CAN spend less, and the solution is simple. Europeans, pull your fucking weight in defense spending and NATO commitments. The US is forced to pick up the alliance’s military slack, and is then criticized for spending money to fix what the UK and others screwed up in terms of the NATO combined force. Spend more, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll spend a bit less.
However, the verdict is not in on how life began on Earth. As unappealing as it may be to some, the discovery of even microbial life elsewhere would change everything and among much else, rewrite text books and scientific literature. If life - past or present - exists on Mars or amidst our solar system, dwindling Congressional support and a consistently misappropriated budget are not steps forward.
We owe everything we have and are to the exploration undertaken by our ancestors. Information necessary toward the further unraveling of our cosmic forensics story await us. The solutions we have and the questions we have yet to understand how to ask hang on the whim of our will and curiosity.
The only way we will learn more about ourselves, the biodiversity of life around us, and beyond the quest for extraterrestrial life – ensure the long-term survival of the human species – is to unchain ourselves from this vulnerable home, and embrace our spacefaring potential.
Let’s change the thinking. Let’s chart a new course for our future. Let’s explore the frontier that awaits us on our cosmic doorstep. Let’s #FightforSpace.
Bill Nye “The Science Guy” implored Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on Sunday to stop wasting time by denying that the climate was changing and to start leading the charge to do something about it…
Nye pointed out that Blackburn and other climate change deniers were trying to introduce uncertainty.
“This is unscientific, this is not logical,” he said. “It is a way, apparently, that the fossil fuel industry had dealt with our politics. This is not good. You don’t need a PhD in climate science to understand what’s going on, that we have overwhelming evidence that the climate is changing… Would you say that the Antarctic has less ice than it used to? When you asserted, Congresswoman, 320 to 400 parts per million is insignificant, my goodness… That’s 30 percent!” [Nye] said. “I mean, that’s an enormous change. And it’s changing the world. And that’s just over the last few decades.”
That’s just the beginning. Seife goes on to compare the administration (and its history) to an endangered species…
“NASA is the panda of the U.S. government: a great big cuddly maladapted agency that’s beloved by almost everyone—and that is flirting with extinction…And without a central mission, without a grand goal, NASA was an agency without any real purpose, an animal without an ecological niche.”
Mr. Seife, if I were comparing NASA to a panda, I would starkly point out these important similarities, which you failed to mention during your disrespectful rant:
First, which panda are you referring to, the giant panda or red panda? Since the inflection of your references infer you probably view all pandas as black and white, let me break this down for you, with my own comparison to NASA…in black and white [sources: 1, 2, 3]:
+ Over the last 20 years, there’s been a 40% increase in the giant panda population. Before 1990, our view of the universe came primarily from ground-based light telescopes. After its 1990 launch (and repair in 1993) the Hubble Space Telescope changed our view of the universe and continues to expand humanity’s understanding of the cosmos and our place within it, thanks to NASA astronauts who repaired, upgraded and replaced systems on the telescope between 1993 - 2009. Over the last 20 years, NASA has increased the % of our knowledge on a scale unprecedented in human history. And it should be noted that the Hubble Space Telescope has only one limit to its range: the universe itself. See Hubble Deep Field images from 1995, 1998, 2003-2004, and 2009.
+ Due to extensive logging and deforestation of their natural habitat, female pandas only have 24-72 hours to become pregnant, and their cubs are 1/900th their size, making them one of the smallest newborn mammals relative to their mother’s size. Provided this information, Seife may attempt to convince you that this is somehow the panda’s fault. The collective panda species isn’t at fault for humankind’s destruction of its environment, and NASA is (as stated by Dreier) “not responsible for its own policy.”
“Factor in the danger, and human spaceflight becomes almost impossible to justify. NASA kills roughly 4 percent of the people it launches into space. It’s a very risky thing to pack enough energy into a vessel so that it can spin around the Earth at 5 miles a second. It’s just as difficult to bleed that energy off and come to rest on the ground without burning up in the process or winding up as a sizable crater. Some of the time, the process will go awry. Even if NASA’s managers, engineers, and technicians were perfectly on their game all the time, astronauts would still die—maybe just 1 percent of them rather than 4 percent, but die they will, at an alarming rate. In vain.”
You don’t get to speak for these astronauts, these human beings, these brothers and sisters of yours. However, I can boldly assure you they did not die in vein. Above: NASA’s Space Mirror Memorial.
“Columbia and its crew perished not for science—and not to fuel national ambitions or even human interest. How many post-Apollo astronauts can you name? Maybe one or two—the ones that might have piqued your interest in some way, such as Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. But generally, NASA missions were dry, uninspiring affairs with nothing to look forward to and nobody in particular to care about.”
Mr. Seife, along with being incredibly disrespectful with blatant disregard to the service men and women who knowingly put forth their efforts and their lives toward an industry unmatched in the history of history, would you say the same thing about those who rush into a burning building to save lives for a living? Human space exploration is no different.
1. NASA is not some centralized, shadowy cabal 2. NASA’s Goals Are Defined By the White House and Congress, with limited input from NASA 3. NASA has clearly-defined goals for its science program 4. NASA is not just human spaceflight 5. Seife uses rhetorical tricks and cheap jabs to manipulate the reader 6. He arbitrarily dismisses robotic exploration because it doesn’t fit with his thesis
“NASA must adapt or die. In days gone by, it made sense to have a government agency spend untold billions to shoot people into space for God and glory. But those days have long since passed, and NASA’s continued willingness to let the costs of human spaceflight devour the money that it should be using to do what it does really well—remote science—guarantees that it is headed for extinction. Admittedly, scrapping (or at least drastically curtailing) human spaceflight would be risky. The move likely wouldn’t be popular with the public, and Congress is surprisingly stingy when it comes to funding scientific projects that don’t produce something weaponizable. But refusing to adapt to a changed environment means that NASA, like the panda, will eke out a harder and harder living as conditions continue to worsen, spending an increasing amount of its time merely trying to survive. It will just be biding its time until extinction.”
Although I’d like to think that most of us know better, the general pubic does not. Which is why we do have campaigns and organizations in support of boosting NASA funding, such as Penny4NASA and The Planetary Society.
“With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” - Abraham Lincoln
Above (main) are select images from NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and ISS missions which all have one thing in common: astronauts (human beings in space) looking back at our true spaceship - Earth. Neil deGrasse Tyson emphasizes, “there was Earth…seen not as the mapmaker would have you identify it. We went to the moon; and we discovered Earth. I claim we discovered Earth for the first time.” And indeed, Mr. Seife…beyond the litany of accomplishments and advantages NASA has either directly or indirectly provided, the most monumental aspect of space exploration we’ve gained from NASA continues to be the re-discovery of our home, our place in space, and the journey we must embark on as a spacefaring species.
“Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, your excellencies, ladies and gentleman, and distinguished guests.
I’m honored to be here today, I stand before you not as an expert but as a concerned citizen, one of the 400,000 people who marched in the streets of New York on Sunday, and the billions of others around the world who want to solve our climate crisis.
As an actor I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems.
I believe humankind has looked at Climate Change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, happening to someone else’s planet, as if pretending that Climate Change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away.
But I think we know better than that. Every week , we’re seeing new and undeniable Climate Events, evidence that accelerated Climate Change is here now. We know that droughts are intensifying, our oceans are warming and acidifying, with methane plumes rising up from beneath the ocean floor. We are seeing extreme weather events, increased temperatures, and the West Antarctic and Greenland ice-sheets melting at unprecedented rates, decades ahead of scientific projections.
None of this is rhetoric, and none of it is hysteria. It is fact. The scientific community knows it, Industry and Governments know it, even the United States military knows it. The Chief of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, recently said that Climate Change is our single greatest security threat.
My Friends, this body - perhaps more than any other gathering in human history - now faces that difficult task. You can make history…or be vilified by it.
To be clear, this is not about just telling people to change their light bulbs or to buy a hybrid car. This disaster has grown BEYOND the choices that individuals make. This is now about our industries, and governments around the world taking decisive, large-scale action.
I am not a scientist, but I don’t need to be. Because the world’s scientific community has spoken, and they have given us our prognosis, if we do not act together, we will surely perish.
Now is our moment for action.
We need to put a price tag on carbon emissions, and eliminate government subsidies for coal, gas, and oil companies. We need to end the free ride that industrial polluters have been given in the name of a free-market economy, they don’t deserve our tax dollars, they deserve our scrutiny. For the economy itself will die if our eco-systems collapse.
The good news is that renewable energy is not only achievable but good economic policy. New research shows that by 2050 clean, renewable energy could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs using EXISTING TECHNOLOGIES, and it would create millions of jobs.
This is not a partisan debate; it is a human one. Clean air and water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation - if, admittedly, a daunting one.
We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.
This is the most urgent of times, and the most urgent of messages.
Honored delegates, leaders of the world, I pretend for a living.
But you do not.
The people made their voices heard on Sunday around the world and the momentum will not stop. And now it’s YOUR turn, the time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet… is now.
I beg you to face it with courage. And honesty. Thank you.”
Isn’t it just great when politicians vote on stuff they don’t even read? I mean, take the recent spending bill. It’s more than 2000 pages, and they weren’t even given the necessary time to read the bill. People like Lindsey Graham voted for this bill, without even reading it.
If you think that continuing the same-old same-old is a good thing, you need your head checked. This kind of bullshit needs to be stopped, and not signed into law. It needs to be struck down, and that’s that.