Monday, February 8, 2010


The Defense Budget is hawribble! Again.

Over a trillion dollars when you account for all the non-defense stuff the defense department still gets paid for (protecting our diplomats abroad, for example, is something the Marines did until they gave the contract to the company formerly known as Blackwater, Xe).

This seems like a lot of money. I understand we're fighting two unwinnable wars at the same time, and in order to remain tough-looking, we have to keep doing that. So that's a bit of a drain on the old coffers. But perhaps there are a few things we could think about ending, or reining in, or something. Like the F22 Raptor, which apparently can't be flown in the rain, because it'll rust. $138 million bucks per plane, and they f$%king rust.

I'd also be curious about the V-22 Osprey, known for killing its occupants at an alarming rate. This is one of those, "wouldn't it be cool if this worked" sort of projects, where the rotors that are supposed to drive the plane forward can be tilted straight up to raise the airplane off the ground. Basically a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (or VTOL) plane that uses blades instead of jets. Unfortunately, if things go wrong high up (but not high up enough to deploy a parachute) the plane will belly-flop or flip over or just plain explode. $110 million per aircraft. They say they've fixed all the problems, but when you've had a test flight drop straight into the Potomac in front of various congresscritters, you'd think that's be enough to kill it.

Not so in pork-land.

It's like the growth of private prisons. Once you've started down this path, it's really hard to pull back. The DoD is a rapacious monster, and it likes its appropriations. It doesn't like to give them up. It's all about local job creation after all. Which is why the one thing we manufacture in large quantities in this country are munitions.

Can we go back to making toasters? Refrigerators? Brooms? Anything that doesn't go boom?

I know, not enough political payback.

PS: to the Repugs/Libertarians reading this: why is it, if Government is such an awful waste of money, do you trust them to spend wisely when it comes to the DoD? It's the biggest expense there is. It's 55% of GDP in this country. Why do you think they'll do that right and do everything else wrong? What's wrong with you?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SOTU Speak

Calling the bank bailouts as "popular as a root canal" is an insult to root canals.

I agree with him on how to deal with the aftermath of the bank bailouts, i.e., getting little fees from all the banks that haven't paid everything back yet. Stabilizing the economy he hasn't done.

As the the 2 million who'd have jobs if he hadn't done what he did, I don't know. A lot of the Recovery Act (AKA the Stimulus Bill) was for temporary programs that injected a small amount of capital into select markets, then stopped. Cash for Clunkers, First-time home buyers credits, etc. Short-term spikes do not a recovery make.

Infrastructure. How lovely. About damn time.

It's nice he's talking about how wages have gone down or stayed flat while everything else keeps going up.

Nuclear power plants. "Safe, clean nuclear power." What planet is this guy living on? Clean means no waste. Nuclear power plants that don't generate waste are fast breeder plants that recycle the plutonium, and use molten sodium as a coolant. Molten sodium, on contact with air or water, explodes violently. Once the reactor is done giving up energy, or is no longer maintainable due to age and/or simple decay, the fuel is still viable, still radioactive as hell, still the most poisonous substance on the face of the earth. I read somewhere back in the seventies (when we were all afraid of being bombed off the face of the planet) that a grapefruit-sized ball of plutonium had enough radiation in it to kill everyone on the planet if they would just stand close to it for a few minutes.

"Offshore areas for oil and gas exploration." Who is this, Sarah Palin? Jeebus....

More exports would be good, yes. Don't we have to make things to export them?

I agree with him on education, as far as it goes. I'd love to know how, for example, the State University system in California got to the point where it costs $10,000 per semester for tuition. How is that affordable education for anyone who qualifies? Then again, the private prison industry is the fastest growing business in California.

While he states that "a high-school diploma no longer guarantees a good job," and that's true, why is that true? I don't know many manufacturing line work jobs that require a Bachelor's Degree. An MBA in riveting? Perhaps if more of our manufacturing base hadn't been outsourced to other countries, and high schools still did a good job educating people, this wouldn't be an issue. Oh, yeah, and then there's the unions. Moribund, antiquated, still very necessary unions.

"I do not accept second place for the United States of America."

This, apparently, includes being first in highest cost of health care on the planet. Or spending six times on the military what our next rival down the line (China) does.

Keep waving the flag, that's all you're good for, apparently.