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People Believe NASA Funded As Well As US Military 320

Posted by Zonk
from the nasa-engineers-crying-into-their-keyboards-right-now dept.
QuantumG writes "An essay on the Space Review site is reporting that a just-completed study indicates the average citizen has no idea how much funding NASA gets. Respondents generally estimated NASA's allocation of the national budget to be approximately 24% (it's actually closer to 0.58%) and the Department of Defense budget to be approximately 33% (it's actually closer to 21%). In other words, respondents believed NASA's budget approaches that of the Department of Defense, which receives almost 38 times more money. Once informed of the actual allocations, they were almost uniformly surprised. One of the more vocal participants exclaimed, 'No wonder we haven't gone anywhere!'"
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People Believe NASA Funded As Well As US Military

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  • by McGiraf (196030) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:39AM (#21388367) Homepage
    where no one posted before.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:41AM (#21388375)
    If NASA's budget was increased, it would probably be at the expense of education, or something else, but not the military, so increasing their budget may lead to even bigger problems elsewhere and would not benefit humanity significantly.
    • by vertinox (846076) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:02AM (#21389415)
      If NASA's budget was increased, it would probably be at the expense of education, or something else, but not the military, so increasing their budget may lead to even bigger problems elsewhere and would not benefit humanity significantly.

      99942 Apophis [wikipedia.org] would disagree.

      Yeah... I know it will most likley miss in both 2029 and then again in 2036, but the point is that all of the threats to humanity impacts are the greatest threat. Imagine a Tunguska event happening today over even a sparsely populated area.

      I mean what is the point of educated children and a nation protected from terrorists if we end up being blown to bits with an impact event.

      It may not happen for another 100 to 100,000 years but what is the point of all we do today if our ancestors are going to be dead anyways. I certainly hope by 2030 we won't still be having the discussion on how NASA isn't that important in the scheme of things.
  • Iraq War (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrbill1234 (715607) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:45AM (#21388393)
    With what has been spent on the Iraq war, the US could have funded a national health service.

    • Re:Iraq War (Score:5, Informative)

      by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:09AM (#21388483) Journal
      the US could have funded a national health service.

      It could have funded a a bit more than that.

      There's a nice funding comparison chart that puts some perspective on it here [cosmicvariance.com]

    • Not even close. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @07:45AM (#21388879)
      Considering that medicare has cost us significantly more during the course of the war than the war has, the money we've spent on the war is probably not enough to pay for national health care. We spend about $300,000,000,000 on medicare each year, while the total budget for the iraq war has been less than $500,000,000,000. Then again, it depends what you mean when you say "national health care". Perhaps the program you had in mind is significantly smaller medicare?

      What ever happened to calling it "universal health care" or "socialized medicine". Calling it "national health care" almost makes it sound noble and patriotic. If it's a social program, what's so wrong with calling it what it is? Once we have it, it's more likely that we will refer to it with swear words anyway, just as we would any other government program or agency. Maybe we should just call it "bitch care" or "fucking shit" right now and get it over with.

      Fun times will be had by all.
      • by mrbill1234 (715607) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @08:00AM (#21388933)
        Depending on who you ask, the total cost of the war could well be $2 trillion. If that money was spend for instance on giving every US citizen access to free primary care - where conditions can be caught early, and preventative steps taken for conditions which are likely to occur in a particular individual - I think it would be money better spent.

      • by florescent_beige (608235) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:16AM (#21389917) Journal

        Canadian speaking. Yes you are right that people will curse at socialized medicine as we do. Like recently when I got a booboo on my finger (stupid hammer) and the emergency room wait was about 2 hours. This is annoying, but not deadly. I've had serious emergencies (an internal organ which will remain nameless went haywire) and I was wheeled in real fast and had a team of very serious people looking at me within seconds. To me the latter is far far more significant than the former.

        As for the war vs health care dichotomy, that is false. Canada spends less on health care than the US does, although the reasons for that are hard to summarize and are not simply the oft-mentioned reduced overhead that results from eliminating the insurance companies (ref [pwgsc.gc.ca]). Whatever the exact explanation, if magically the US woke up tomorrow with Canada-style health care, overall costs would go down. No extra money from the war budget or anywhere else would be needed.

        Of course, Canada has it's share of bureaucratic nightmare government programs, but health care seems, for some reason, to be reasonably well run as such things go. It's probably because the people take the system personally and keep up the pressure on the politicians to deliver a workable system. In the wake of Katrina I suppose Americans are disinclined to believe such a thing is possible.

    • Re:Iraq War (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drsquare (530038) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @07:57AM (#21388917)

      With what has been spent on the Iraq war, the US could have funded a national health service.
      Are you sure about that? Considering that the British NHS costs about $200 million a year, and America having five times the population, it would cost at least a trillion dollars a year, over twice the budget of the entire US military.
      • by mrbill1234 (715607) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @08:06AM (#21388953)
        You mean $200 billion - right?

        I'm not sure an NHS type system would be right for the US - but there are steps which can be taken to improve healthcare in the US. For instance, introduce free primary care - i.e. you're sick, and want to see a doctor, and for yearly checkups.

        Even in the UK where all services are essentially "free" (it gets paid via taxation) - there is still a large private healthcare market. I don't see why this could not continue in the US alongside some sort of state funded primary care.
      • by cmat (152027) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @09:49AM (#21389333)
        Erm, 200 million x 5 = 1 billion or 1/1000th of what you said it would cost... did you get your units wrong?
      • Re:Iraq War (Score:4, Informative)

        by shbazjinkens (776313) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:42AM (#21390091)

        With what has been spent on the Iraq war, the US could have funded a national health service.
        Are you sure about that? Considering that the British NHS costs about $200 million a year, and America having five times the population, it would cost at least a trillion dollars a year, over twice the budget of the entire US military.
        In response to you and the AC who responded to you, I did some searching. A NY Times article [nytimes.com] says the NHS costs Britain 30 billion (presumably in pounds) which equates to 61.5 billion US$. That means (assuming that the two countries are comparable per-capita) the USA could expect it to cost 307.5 billion US$ after the system settled, which is notably less than the USA military budget. This is assuming my source is correct, I don't have more time to find extra citations.
      • Re:Iraq War (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Copid (137416) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @01:53PM (#21390945)

        Are you sure about that? Considering that the British NHS costs about $200 million a year, and America having five times the population, it would cost at least a trillion dollars a year, over twice the budget of the entire US military.
        Or, roughly about half of what we spend on health care now [chcf.org].
  • Military budget (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:45AM (#21388397) Homepage Journal
    I just can't believe USA people put up with spending 21% of their national budget on the military.
    • Re:Military budget (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dlevitan (132062) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:05AM (#21388463)
      I, as a US citizen, actually don't have that many complaints about this. I'll also state that I'm a PhD student, so I have a bias towards more science spending

      1. A decent chunk of the military budget goes to science and technology development. And very often, the military does a pretty good job of giving money to promising projects that otherwise would not get any money. The computer and arpanet are only two of the very cool military funded projects. Take a look at DARPA sometime - some of the projects are rather amazing if they work out (there was an article about this some time ago).
      2. The military provides a good place for many people to go after high school and keeps me out of the military. Personally, I'm opposed to mandatory military service, though I do see some of its benefits. I just know that for me, it would have interfered too much with school for me to be happy with it. In any case, joining the military gives people a chance to mature, learn skills, and make a decent living. Its not for everyone, but from what I've seen it helps a lot of people. And I have no problem paying those people to protect the US. I'd much rather that many of these people are given a good chance at a good life than roaming the streets homeless. You can claim here that its not fair that the poor are more likely to serve in the military. I'm not debating that point but am stating the benefits.
      3. As a US citizen, I'm happy that the US has the best military in the world. And I recognize that this costs a lot of money. I'm also glad that we are a superpower. This does not mean I support our foreign policy, but I like the fact that the US maintains a military force like this.
      4. While a large chunk of the federal budget, other countries spend more on the military as a percentage of GDP. Yes its a lot, but I personally support the spending that is in the actual budget (though, again, not the wars). Take a look at Wikipedia's [wikipedia.org] page on the US military budget. Most of the money is spent on maintenance, personnel, procurement (building new weapons), and R&D. That doesn't sound too bad to me.
      • Re:Military budget (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stranger_to_himself (1132241) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @07:32AM (#21388819) Journal

        3. As a US citizen, I'm happy that the US has the best military in the world.

        I take issue with this statement, because I know for a fact that the UK has the best military in the world.

        More seriously though, everybody I know believes as a 'well known fact' that their own country's military is the worlds best. These are otherwise sensible and not particularly nationalisatic people usually capable of making objective judgements. That's a startlingly good piece of marketing however you look at it.

    • by Fallingcow (213461) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:06AM (#21388475) Homepage
      The fact that it's so low leads me to assume that they included Social Security as part of the national budget, but it's funded entirely from its own special tax rather than from general revenue, and is so different from the rest of the budget that it's usually worth mentioning it on its own. It's a program that's actually MAKING money right now, and the surplus, though it is used to finance debt (at interest) is not directly diverted to other programs, but is held out for future Social Security spending (which will, in fact, eventually exceed the program's income and deplete all of that banked-up money, if nothing is changed). It's essentially self-contained and untouchable.

      The % of military spending gets worse if you just look at how much it eats from the general budget, i.e. money that could be spent on something else (or not at all). Sometimes Iraq and Afghanistan are left out of figures like this, too, as so much of the funding for them gets tacked on in "supplemental" bills.
    • by hdparm (575302) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:24AM (#21388555) Homepage
      Study-respondents actually put up with 33%, which what they believed was a figure. America is very specific in military needs, though but 21% seems hell of a lot of money. Must be more than 500b.
      • by BDew (202321) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:08AM (#21389845)
        The Federal Budget requested by the President for FY2008 came to $1.7 trillion. So that's basically $340 billion for DoD.

        That said, the $340 billion is for the basic operation of the military. Funding for the the war is extra and is not counted in the budget total. So yeah, your guess is pretty close.
    • Re:Military budget (Score:3, Informative)

      by edwardpickman (965122) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:40AM (#21388617)
      Part of it is we provide protection for other countries. An example is Japan. Japan spends very little of their budget on defense but we provide military protection. It began over WW II and not wanting Japan to maintain a sizeable military but we inherited a lot of the expense, Japan provides part of the funding. Similar with the Panama Canal. There are lots of examples including bases in Europe. Then there are things like arms subsidies for countries like Israel, but I'm not sure which budget those fall under. Most of the money really doesn't go for defense of our shores so much as our involvement worldwide. And yes a large number of us would love to see the military come home and stay there but that's not likely to happen anytime soon. It's the downside of democracy there's always going to be a percentage that disagree with the majority. We just spent nearly a trillion dollars, and counting, fighting what started out as a few hundred to a few thousand people. It would have been cheaper and saved lives giving each terrorist ten million and send them to Vegas. A few months of gambling and brothel hopping would have taught them the error of their ways.
    • by ConceptJunkie (24823) * on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:34AM (#21389597) Homepage Journal
      Let's face it, they would piss most of it way regardless of what it's supposedly being spent on. The U.S. government could eliminate 95% of its budget if it wasn't mired in management practices that were obsolete 50 years ago. It's no exaggeration that I feel it really doesn't matter, because the amount of money that is simply wasted far outweighs defense spending, entitlement spending or anything that could actually be considered a legitimate government expenditure, which I'm sad to say does not include science. Now I love the fact that science is funded, but I hardly see where the federal government has the authority to do so. Not that that stops anything...

    • by mgpeter (132079) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:59AM (#21389781) Homepage
      It is not 21%, it is more like 67%

      http://www.thebudgetgraph.com/ [thebudgetgraph.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:45AM (#21388399)
    One of the more vocal participants exclaimed, 'No wonder we haven't gone anywhere!'"
    We've gone to war, where you wanna be!
  • by niceone (992278) * on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:48AM (#21388405) Journal
    So, 12%?
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:53AM (#21388425)
    that the Iraq and Afghanistan War aren't even part of that massive DoD budget!
  • by drDugan (219551) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:07AM (#21388477) Homepage
    The amount of resources the US spends on the military is obscene, IMHO.

    As I referenced in my /. post earlier this month
    ( here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=352789&cid=21263533 [slashdot.org] )

    The US spends almost 60% of all global military spending, not counting the 2 undeclared wars, Iraq and Afganistan. That is $623 Billion out of a total of about $1.1 Trillion. The Iraq war is estimated to cost over 1.2 Trillion(ish), with about 500B spent so far. Those are direct costs - cash spent, and does not count indirect costs or opportunity costs or the human toll.

    Some details can be found here:
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm [globalsecurity.org]

    and here

    For me, I'm done keeping quiet. I'm done being polite. I'm done hoping that these wrongs will be corrected, eventually. I bring up the reality of what is happening in the US in common discussions with people. It makes people uncomfortable, as it should. Criminals are running the show, and no one has or will step to stop them. Now that the US has installed a chief lawman that is covering up past crimes, there is no more room for polite waiting and hoping things get better legally.

    • Criminals are running the show, and no one has or will step to stop them.
      Psst. There's a presidential election next year. Bush & Co are out.
    • by mr_mischief (456295) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @07:11AM (#21388731) Journal
      Look at military spending as percentage of GDP. That's what makes a superpower these days. The US economy is so much larger than most others that a relatively small percentage of GDP adds up to a huge raw number.

      Try Truth and Politics [truthandpolitics.org] for some interesting charts and numbers. Take a look at this PDF from the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Division [fas.org] for comparisons to other countries including charts to rank by total dollars and an alphabetical list.

      The US spends far less of the country's total buying power on defense than many other countries, and much of that is spent helping defend allies around the globe. Those allies tend to be happy for the help, although the specific methods employed often come into question.

    • by Teancum (67324) <{ten.orezten} {ta} {gninroh_trebor}> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @07:34AM (#21388829) Homepage Journal

      The amount of resources the US spends on the military is obscene, IMHO.


      If that is the case, what about the money that the USA spends on social programs?

      Or worse yet, servicing federal debt?

      Military spending in the USA isn't even the #2 item in the federal budget today, and if the Pentagon were to be demolished, every member of the armed forces discharged, all of the bases closed... or in effect the Department of Defense eliminated from the federal budget, there would be virtually no impact on overall federal spending.

      I'm not saying that in many cases some huge mismanagement of funds spent toward the military is inappropriate, but comparisons in the way that you have made them are hugely inappropriate.

      Furthermore, I would strongly question the figure of the USA spending 60% of all global military expenditures. While I have no doubt that you can find some source like some UN agency to proffer those numbers, there are so many things to account for actual defense spending that it is difficult at best to compare one country to another, much less every country in the world. Particularly when it comes to military spending, there are so many things that affect exchange rates, the amount of money spent on military pay, conscription rates, and more that have a huge influence on the actual "cost" of maintaining a military. The U.S. Department of Defense is pretty open (particularly in a democracy that requires public accountability for these expenditures), is staffed by an all-volunteer force, and has an exchange rate with other countries that is at best unfavorable. Compare that to China where there are conscripts, do not necessarily publish accurate figures about how much they spend on their military (and no real need to do so), and a deliberate manipulation of the exchange rates to encourage more trade imbalances going their way. Very few countries in the world even have a political climate to derive accurate figures for military spending that even attempting to generate those numbers is difficult at best, and for most a hopeless cause that is more of a pure guess.

      America can easily afford military spending at its current levels, and by itself I don't think this is a reason to post such a "hate America" diatribe here. You can be critical of specific policies and perhaps of perceived political injustices due to being a political heavyweight in world politics. But otherwise you are being clueless about the topic you are writing about here. Far more countries have a much greater proportion of their economic capability getting dumped into military spending, and use their militaries not for fighting external aggressors but for oppression of their civilian populations.
      • by tddoog (900095) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @02:25PM (#21391133)
        Military spending in the USA isn't even the #2 item in the federal budget today, and if the Pentagon were to be demolished, every member of the armed forces discharged, all of the bases closed... or in effect the Department of Defense eliminated from the federal budget, there would be virtually no impact on overall federal spending.

        That is completely false. Of the discretionary budget of ~1 trillion. $717 billion goes to military/national security. The Department of Defense gets 481 billion directly with 145 billion allocated separately for the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan. Demolishing the pentagon would have a huge impact on the federal spending and would reduce by at least 480 billion, but it would throw us into a major recession because so many jobs rely in the military industrial complex.

        The overall budget is approximately 2.9 trillion but Social Security(608 billion), medicare (386 billion) and medicaid (202 billion) are paid for by separate taxes and are not discretionary spending.

        More on the budget http://www.thebudgetgraph.com/site/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1 [thebudgetgraph.com]

    • by Mork29 (682855) * <{keith.yelnick} {at} {us.army.mil}> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @08:53AM (#21389109) Journal
      Although I can provide no links, I do remember seeing many breakdowns of how "war money" is spent. A good portion of that was on equipment and R&D. When I say equipment, I mean non-expendables. A know alot of money has been spent on converting all of our HMMWVs (Humvee) to be up-armored. It seems obvious that having a whole bunch of troops running around on a battlefield without armor was a bad thing. So, the Army added armor to any vehicle that can handle armor. As a Soldier (but not speaking on behalf of the Army or US Government), I'm glad that we learned this against an adversary which doesn't pose a threat to us domestically. Learning this against a large world power would have been probably been costly. Now, the Army has loads and loads of uparmored HMMWVs. Although it was a war expense, it should have been a peace time expense. However, people are treating these numbers like the money would have never been spent if we hadn't gone to war. It's possible that's true, but the money isn't going into "consumables" 100%. Yes, we now spend more money on feeding soldiers, because the food is shipped. However, the Soldiers would have been fed in the states anyway. Again, it's money that is attributed to the war budget, but a portion would have been spent in peace anyway.

      Now, I'm not saying I think we should or shouldn't spend this much money on defense, I'm simply saying that you should take any numbers that are based around something so politically charged with a grain of salt. I think all government budgets, it could be shrunk by using the money better. That's a given though. Education, Health Care, Defense, and even NASA have huge amounts of monetary waste simply because of their size. There will be people who mismanage the money (either through mistakes or malice). I'd still like to see alot of that waste go away.

      DISCLAIMER: I am a Soldier currently deployed in support of OIF. My above views in no way represent the views of the US Government or the US Army. The above is an indication only of my personal view points and observations.
    • by Gigiya (1022729) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:30AM (#21389569)

      I bring up the reality of what is happening in the US in common discussions with people.
      You must be that guy at work.
  • by cuby (832037) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:11AM (#21388493)
    From CIA Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html [cia.gov]:
    Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 4.06% (2005 est.).
    Does this 4.06% (~530 billion dollars) of GDP (2006 est.) correspond to 21% of the federal budget?

    If this is true, the federal budget represents ~2.524 trillion dollars, or ~19.3% of GDP... It seems a lot.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:24AM (#21388557)
      Does this 4.06% (~530 billion dollars) of GDP (2006 est.) correspond to 21% of the federal budget? If this is true, the federal budget represents ~2.524 trillion dollars, or ~19.3% of GDP... It seems a lot.

      Seems pretty low, actually. The British government typically spends something like 40% of GDP. The US tends to be a lot further right, and so generally has lower taxes, but I don't think it's that much less. Possibly the individual state budgets are not counted in that figure?

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:15AM (#21388509)
    Americans might not know NASA versus Defense Department budgets and all that useless crap, but I bet the majority could pick Britney Spears' crotch out of a line-up.
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @06:34AM (#21388599) Journal
    Those are interesting figures, but I'd argue that the important figure (besides the straight-out money amounts) isn't NASA/defense spending as a portion of the federal budget, but rather how they compare as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product). For FY 2006, the federal budget was 18.4% of total GDP, meaning that NASA was 0.107% of GDP and defense spending was 3.86% of GDP. Despite this, NASA still spends more on spaceflight and space science than the rest of the world combined.

    That said, even though NASA could probably use more funding, misallocation of resources is still a huge problem. I agree heartily with this recent comment by Clark Lindsay over at RLV News:

    http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/?itemid=4926 [hobbyspace.com]

    Keith Cowing responds to Mike Griffin's claim that he did not cause the VSE budget problems: Mike Griffin on VSE Woes: "I did not put us into this position" - NASA Watch - Nov.15.07

            You most certainly did get the agency into the predicament that it is in today. Instead of going off and reinventing the wheel (Ares 1) you could have bought EELVs off the shelf from a ULA catalog and focused only on CEV development. You forced a rigid and recycled architecture upon the agency - one that requires large monolithic launchers - when in fact you could have come up with one that used existing launchers or straightforward derivations thereof.

    I can certainly support that scolding. I think Ares 1 is a disaster and Ares V is a bad dream. However, rather than NASA choosing an EELV outright, I would have preferred a Super-COTS competition in 2006 that went something like the following:
    * A budget of two or three billion dollars for Phase 1
    * As with COTS, the systems proposed should be capable of supplying a minimum amount cargo to the ISS per year but be upgradable to crew operations no later than 2011.
    * The ULA firms would be invited to enter their proposals along with the entrepreneurial rocket firms
    * Four commercial launcher proposals would be selected for Phase 1
    * The entrants would decide for themselves whether a capsule or lifting body or whatever is the most cost effective system for cargo/crew delivery.
    * Assuming at least two firms successfully fulfilled Phase 1, the two with the lowest cost/kg to the ISS would each be guaranteed half of all NASA launches to LEO in, say, the period 2010-2015.
    * NASA would focus on lunar exploration systems that would work within the capabilities of the COTS transports. (This would no doubt involve a more modular approach than is currently envisioned.)

    Too late now, of course, to run such a COTS competition. It's possible, though, that Lockheed-Martin has used the current studies with Bigelow and SpaceDev to prepare a proposal for NASA launch services just in case the next administration cancels Ares 1. On the other hand, if the Falcon 9 initial flights go well, there will be no need for such alternatives.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2007 @08:55AM (#21389117)
      ... but rather how they compare as a percentage of GDP

      Why does it make sense to divide this statistic by GDP?

      Dividing by GDP is statistical trick used in the US to make numbers look lower. Did you know that the USA has the lowest IQ per GDP on the planet? What does that prove?
  • by Ultimate Statement (1185123) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @07:08AM (#21388717)
    As many of you are already starting to realize, governments are not working for the total benefit of the public. They can be manipulated into making our lives harder than necessary, and they do it quite efficiently. Wars are invented, monetary systems hold a fierce grip on people making them their slaves, etc.
    All this anxiety, hate, disillusion, and sorrow is one of their aims. Why? because an ignorant, weak and depressed humanity can be more easily manipulated into its own destruction, whether it be by itself, or by a treat from outer space, and this is the final goal.
    What can we do? Wish for a change, spread the good, think positive, and motivate a change from within. The world is not as bad as they want us to believe, there is more good that anything else, but that doesn't make the news.
    All I am saying: The darkest moment is right before the dawn.
  • by m2943 (1140797) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @07:44AM (#21388875)
    While the allocated military budget may be 21%, once you take into account all the related costs (i.e., costs you didn't have with so large a military), the military probably accounts for more than half of the federal budget.

    What is truly scary, however, is not this little factoid about NASA, it's that people who are supposed to live in a democracy and keep whining about taxes have no idea where their money goes.

    So, let me summarize it simply: if you want lower taxes, don't vote in a militaristic nut next time.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @08:11AM (#21388967) Journal
    Typical uninformed citizen moans 'No wonder we haven't gone anywhere!'"

    Not True! We have been to Iraq, Kuwait, Afganistan, Panama ... Soon we will be going to Iran, Pakistan... What rot these guys are talkin' 'bout?

  • by RichPowers (998637) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @08:21AM (#21388993)
    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    A strong military is essential to safeguarding liberty and the Republic. But a strong military doesn't have to be one of excess. The military has become a tool for delivering profits to Lockheed Martin and Boeing and other conglomerates under the auspice of national security. It's a tool congressmen use to allocate military projects to their districts, whether or not such projects benefit the mission at hand.

    Some examples of the Pentagon's famed waste and corruption:

    The Crusader artillery project, finally canceled in 2002 after $11 billion was spent on it. Donald Rumsfeld said it wasn't mobile enough for the 21st century. What is so wrong with the current Paladin artillery platform that this project was required in the first place?

    And what about the Coast Guard's troubled modernization efforts [reuters.com], contracted out to Lockheed and Northrop? The project is $7 billion overbudget and nine years behind schedule, yet both of these companies still continue to work on it. And Lockheed and Northrop will continue working on projects for decades to come despite this.

    The Air Force and Navy have F-15s, F-16s, and F-18s. But they're building the F-22 and some F-35 joint strike aircraft, too? At what point is enough enough? If the branches could afford dabbling in that stuff, then they should go for it. But it's a matter of prioritizing; money is not infinite, despite what the debt-ridden government believes. Maintain the systems we have, many of which are at the breaking point after years of service in Afghanistan and Iraq. Churning out more wonder weapons seems pointless when our current crop of fighters perform just fine.

    There comes a point where we must see this game for what it is. The challenge is in creating a ready, able, and fearsome fighting force while not indulging the excesses of the military-industrial complex. And I know that many great things have come from Pentagon-sponsored R&D projects. But these programs can still exist without spending countless sums of money.

    And this doesn't even take into account that such a fearsome military is all too often misused in wars of choice like Vietnam and Iraq. So we spend all of this money to build a huge military, then spend even more money to misuse it...without ever having declared war. Brilliant.
    • by Mork29 (682855) * <{keith.yelnick} {at} {us.army.mil}> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @09:30AM (#21389247) Journal
      The military has become a tool for delivering profits to Lockheed Martin and Boeing and other conglomerates under the auspice of national security.
      Is there another company better suited for designing aircraft and other military technolgies? If so, why aren't they bidding on more military contracts?

      The Crusader artillery project, finally canceled in 2002 after $11 billion was spent on it. Donald Rumsfeld said it wasn't mobile enough for the 21st century.
      Imagine the first pioneers in computing. To 99% of Americans, I'm sure it sounded impossible/stupid/wasteful/etc.. Guess who poured R&D money into computing? Guess who still does? Yes, several military projects have been nothing but giant sinks. They failed. The produced nothing. Can you show me a research institution that hasn't had a failed project? Yes, these failures have big dollar costs, but the successes that they have are immeasurably succesful.
      Do you have any idea how much money the military has spent on developing medical technology and techniques? When we go to war, demand for this tech only increases...

      The Air Force and Navy have F-15s, F-16s, and F-18s. But they're building the F-22 and some F-35 joint strike aircraft, too? At what point is enough enough?
      The F-15 was designed in the 70s. Yes, it's time to replace it if we're going to stay #1. I firmly believe that if you don't have the best airforce in a major war, you loose. I like a my countries military setting itself up for success by being the best. I'm sure if you were the pilot in one of these aircraft, or a Soldier on the ground being supported by these aircraft, you'd agree. Oh, and did you here about just the other day when an F-15 fell out of the sky? Have you heard about the numerous times that "maximum flight hours" for these craft have been extended because nobody expected them to still be in service?

      And this doesn't even take into account that such a fearsome military is all too often misused in wars of choice like Vietnam and Iraq. So we spend all of this money to build a huge military, then spend even more money to misuse it...without ever having declared war.
      What the military is used for, and how big its budget is are to different subjects. Always try to emphasize one point when making an argument and don't throw in a random tangent.
      • by CronoCloud (590650) <cronocloudauron.gmail@com> on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:05AM (#21389427)
        Okay, the F15 is old, so why not build new F15's, which are STILL better than anyone else's shit, and not spend money to design a new aircraft, when we already have the ability to build one that is very much sufficient to defeat any foe.

        • by icebrain (944107) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:46AM (#21389675)
          "so why not build new F15's, which are STILL better than anyone else's shit"

          Not really. The Russian Su-27 and family are very close in capability to the F-15. Electronics-wise, they're a bit behind, but the airframes are about on par with current US aircraft. In exercises held recently, Indian Su-30s beat US F-15s pretty soundly.

          The Typhoon, while a little smaller than the F-15, is just as (if not more) maneuverable, and has newer avionics and systems. It will eventually carry the Meteor, which outranges any current US missile.

          The French Rafale is similar.

          There's only so much an airframe can do for you. And even if everyone is still not caught up, what's to say that they won't in the next five or ten years? Do you wait till everyone's caught up with you before you start working on new technology? No, because everyone else will pass you in the time it takes to get everything rolling. You have to stay ahead of the game.
  • NSF even worse (Score:2, Informative)

    by belthize (990217) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:09AM (#21389453)
    NSF entire budget in FY07 was ~37% of NASA's budget (16B vs 5.9B). Of that 5.9B
    $215M went to astronomy. ~56% of that $215M went to facilities like NRAO, NAIC, Gemini and NOAO.

          NSF has a much better track record than NASA in terms of ROI it's just not as sexy.

          While I'd love to see NASA's budget increased I'd prefer to see NSF's increase.

    http://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2007/tables.jsp#tables [nsf.gov]

    Belthize
  • by night_flyer (453866) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:10AM (#21389461) Homepage
    seriously, this is the dumbest comparison I have ever read... how many people work for the military & how many vehicles do they have to maintain compared to NASA? Thats like bitching that the Oswego NY school system doesnt get as much as the NYC school system...
  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @10:32AM (#21389579)
    Hey, the US Constitution says to provide for the common defense, but nothing about sending up government bureaucrats on pointless joyrides. Oops?

    Virgin Galactic et al will bring humanity into space, not central planners and their boondoggles.

    • Re:And? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @02:02PM (#21391003)
      As much as I'm a supporter of the New Space industry, government still has a role. Everyone knows that NASA needs to get out of the role of ferrying stuff to LEO. It's possible for companies to make a profit on it now. However, the government still has the role of exploration, the so-called Lewis and Clark role, pushing the boundaries in ways that can't make a short term profit and that are too expensive for individual philanthropists to fund.

      So while I'd agree that the current state is problematic, the general concept of a government space program is not without very old historical precedents. I think that SpaceX and the X-Prize guys will be instrumental to getting to the future we need, but it will be in partnership with the government, not in competition with it. From my conversations with various people on both sides this seems to be the general consensus, although of course the details are always up for debate.
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:07AM (#21389831)
    Part of NASA funding goes to the Stargate that the Military runs.
  • shrug (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigdavex (155746) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:11AM (#21389871)
    The average citizen doesn't know the difference between a billion and a trillion. The Pirahã with one, two, and many. We have 1 to a million and more money than we can imagine. I don't think we can conclude anything from the survey, except that people have no concept of how much money we're spending on the military.

       
  • by BDew (202321) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:13AM (#21389887)
    This study is done once very year or two, and people always seem to have forgotten the results by the next time it's done again. The key thing to know is that since the end of Apollo (which barely got NASA above 4% of federal spending) NASA has basically hovered at 0.5%. That's for nearly 40 years now (Apollo funding peaked around 1967), which I think represents an amazingly stable national consensus about how much we want to spend on the civil space program.
  • by Quickening (15069) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @11:40AM (#21390085) Homepage
    that statement actually closer to 21% so irritated me with its fallaciousness I had to reply. the question should have been "Do you keep up with the latest budget shell game of how we can hide spending for the military-industrial complex?" You have only to glance at who [dittmar-associates.com] ran this poll to realize their obvious conflicts of interest. In fact, 21% is absurdly low, as is 33%. It is actually 64% of net discretionary funding now [about.com]. Wake the _uck up, sheeple [drake.edu]

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