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Mars Space NASA

Mars Rovers Facing Budget Cuts [Updated] 327

Posted by kdawson
from the missed-opportunity dept.
BUL2294 notes a CNN article reporting that the Mars Rovers program at NASA is facing budget cuts of $4 million for this year and $8 million for fiscal 2009. This will mean job cuts; and in all likelihood Spirit will be put in "hibernation mode," to be reactivated when or if future funding becomes available."

Update: 03/29 20:02 GMT by KD : NASA has rescinded the memo to the JPL threatening budget cuts, and is now saying that no rovers will be shut down.
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Mars Rovers Facing Budget Cuts [Updated]

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  • Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:33PM (#22851320)
    Billions wasted in Iraq and one of the most exciting programs since the Moon landing starts a slow death from budget cuts. Just plain sickening. We need a grass roots funding effort to save the Rovers since it looks like the second one will be cut next year.
  • Priorities? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wangf00 (901609) on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:36PM (#22851330)
    Why is it that we can't support cheap science that provides valuable insight into our solar system and neighboring planets, but we can find hundreds of millions of dollars to piss away on some congress critter's self named statue and bridge? Is it really possible that not one person in congress can be asked to not screw us over for self gratification?
  • Maybe Next Year? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anti-human 1 (911677) on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:37PM (#22851338) Journal
    That's nice and all, but aren't we lucky to have had the landers last longer than their original expectations to begin with? Now that we can't come up with pocket change (in comparison to Iraq, for example), we're expecting them to work when we 'get around' to reactivating them?
  • by stranger_to_himself (1132241) on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:39PM (#22851352) Journal
    Now Spirit is out there, how much does it cost to run on a day-by-day basis? Surely there are enough scientific groups around the world with the money and the projects to buy time with Spirit to keep it running. There's no way we should be even contemplating new missions to Mars if nobody can find a use for the perfectly good and proven rover that is already there.
  • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) < ... <nosduh.arabrab>> on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:43PM (#22851384) Journal

    Maybe it's just me but I'd rather see the quality of life improve for millions of people rather than look at another boring shot of a red rocky destitute landscape. I could just drive to Utah if I was that needy.

    Offshoots from the space program improve the lives of billions of people.

  • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:44PM (#22851400) Homepage
    Knowing more about our universe improves the quality of life, period. I know that you want to help everyone at the bottom, but a culture that maintains intellectual curiosity evinces and spreads values that benefits everyone. And your argument can spiral downward: why spend money teaching people art and music when some can't read? Why spend money on parks when some people have no homes, and don't have any way of visiting the parks? Etc. etc.

    Besides, I like the Utah landscape, and I'm not even Mormon.
  • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rucs_hack (784150) on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:45PM (#22851420)
    There's no oil on Mars.

    Besides, people tend to believe that more money is spent on space science then actually is, so it's a nice visible way to pretend to be cutting back on government spending.
  • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) < ... <nosduh.arabrab>> on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:54PM (#22851514) Journal

    NASA's FY2008 budget has been increased by about 1 billion over FY2007 ($17.3B vs $16.25B).

    That won't even keep pace with inflation. Real inflation (not the CPI bs that the government hands out every year, which excludes stuff like fuel) is running between 10% and 12%. Or are you planning on doing space missions without any energy costs, and getting all your supplies from suppliers that don't have to contend with energy increases?

  • by Landshark17 (807664) on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:56PM (#22851538)
    "No one is any hungrier because we went to the moon, no one is any colder and certainly no one is any dumber. Why go to Mars? 'Cause it's next. 'Cause we came out of the cave and we looked over the hill and we saw fire. And we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the West and we took to the sky. The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration and this is what's next."
  • by copponex (13876) on Monday March 24, 2008 @06:58PM (#22851558) Homepage
    Whoa. Let me sort of agree with you... if the Bush administration had stuck to the platform of a humble foreign policy, they would have been alright.

    All they've done is start a new age of McCarthyism, suspend habeas corpus, agree to formally demolish our borders with Mexico and Canada, extend the powers of the executive branch beyond the oversight of congress, lied under oath or refused to even testify about the terrorist attacks under oath, wiretapped American citizens who are 'guilty' of receiving 'suspicious' phone calls, run the economy into the ground... caused two to three trillion dollars of damage to our economy for a war that was both illegal and unnecessary, which also caused the price of oil to quintuple, and probably caused the sharpest devaluation of the American dollar since the depression...

    You say the word "war" like it doesn't mean much.
  • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by explosivejared (1186049) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `deraj.nagah'> on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:04PM (#22851604)
    It's more of a general rule of thumb. Scientific exploration is crucial to improving life. If the way to perfect life were readily available here already, well then there's no reason to explore. That's not the case though. Humanity is still limited by its level of comprehension of the world around it. Scientific exploration, especially in space, has proven time and time again that it is a crucial part of improving life here on earth. On top of the fact that that it's a puny, albeit strategic, $12 million we're talking about, compared to a debt that is in the trillions of dollars.

    Also, did you really expect to find anyone agreeing with you here? I mean come on.
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:06PM (#22851618)
    And that is the really sad part of this. So much money is being siphoned out of just about everything to pay for the war in Iraq. We have bridges collapsing, overwhelmed health institutions, overwhelmed educational systems, money being "borrowed" from social security, etc.

    The Bush administration is basically robbing this country blind to fund their war and even high-profile programs are falling victim.

    And the really sad part of all this is that the draining of money out of everything is only just beginning. We have tens of thousands of veterans who will need expensive, long-term care and more joining those ranks every day. We have interest building on the money that has been borrowed so far, while we continue to borrow to fund the war. It's total madness.

    Only a madman can stand at a podium, look America in the eye, and tell us that we are strong, our economy is strong, and we are winning some imaginary war on "terra".
  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:10PM (#22851662) Journal
    I find this sadly typical of the kind of defective fiscal NASA-think that emerged when the engineers running things were replaced by professional administrators (and the political thinking that made that happen). The rovers are the single most successful high profile mission since the Apollo 13 rescue. The good PR generated is worth the budget. Witness the persistence of positive media reports about the success in excess of the intended mission, and compare with the other long term, ongoing mission ISS and the positive reactions of those who see those reports. (Not to compare with long term, punctuated missions, such as the Voyagers' fly-bys with long absence of reporting in between). NASA has people whose job it is to keep people engaged. Were they included in this decision?

    In any case, I'd think it more productive to hibernate the two rovers alternately, 20% of the time each. Or even 25% each, to make up for the additional shut-down and start-up costs. Both regions get 75%+ of the exploration and science done with only about half the ground personnel at the consoles and performing analyses. Hopefully some one or more group like The Planetary Society or the Mars Society will collect donations to make up for the cut.

    We hatessss adminimonstersssss, don't we my precioussss roverssss?
  • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KillerBob (217953) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:16PM (#22851716)

    Please explain to me how the mars rovers have improved the lives of billions of people. Sure it's neat that we have the technology to go explore planets but honestly, you and I will never go there. It's great that we're contemplating colonizing planets but really we should be focusing on their problems we face on our own planet.


    Ever hear of Velcro or Microwave Ovens? What about Tang? Ever owned a cell phone? Used the Internet lately?

    NASA played a significant role in the popularization/development of all of those technologies. It's a fair assessment to say that none of those technologies would be anywhere near as ubiquitous as they are today if it wasn't for the role NASA played. It's not a question of whether you'll ever go to Mars yourself. It's a question of what new technologies are being developped, or commercialized, as a result of the space program.
  • by Belial6 (794905) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:18PM (#22851726)
    I think the war in Iraq is as stupid as the next guy, but none of the problems you state are new since the invasion. The financial crisis that the US is facing is not caused by our war of aggression. It is caused by deficit spending. If the we had never attacked Iraq, we would still be screwed financially.
  • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `yranoituloverevol'> on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:21PM (#22851742) Journal
    Well, here's the thing: the mars rovers haven't improved the lives of many people outside the scientists and engineers working on them. Yet. And they may not ever, sometimes basic research bears no tangible fruits. You never know. But sometimes basic research yields really important breakthroughs. Scientific revolutions, even. Most of the time, basic research yields small advances from which further basic and applied research can itself advance.

    Applied research is easier to predict. We sink money into figuring out how to do things that improve the human condition better, faster, and cheaper, and it's going to pay off in the shorter term. But is the problem with the state of the human condition really one of not having the know-how to make it better, or is it simply not having the will? And what do we do when we run out of ways of doing things better, faster, and cheaper, and we have to figure out whole new ways of doing things? If we've ignored basic research, we're screwed.

    The thing is, as much as the overspecialized would have you believe otherwise, science is a vast web, a framework of inter-connected ideas and techniques. Research in one area can pay unexpected dividends in another. Do you honestly think that by studying Martian geochemistry, we aren't learning things that apply to Earth as well? You don't think we've learned things about materials science by sending these probes to Mars? Solar cells that work in low Martian sunlight, there's something that'll never come in handy here on Earth... Those are just two examples anyone could think of off the top of their heads.

    I think the most important point is that there is no way for us to truly understand the way our own planet works until we put that understanding into a larger framework of how planets work in general. Whether you believe in anthropogenic climate change or not, I'm sure that you can agree that really understanding how our planet works could improve the lives of billions of people.
  • by osu-neko (2604) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:22PM (#22851750)
    *notes that the previous administration had budget surpluses*
  • Re:Sad day (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NoobixCube (1133473) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:22PM (#22851756) Journal
    And how do you propose we convince a populace with a pre-Gallilean understanding of science and the universe, that Mars IS important?
  • by peragrin (659227) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:26PM (#22851784)
    Under Clinton the Budget deficit would be nearly gone by now. The forecasts were for 10 years to be eliminated. Even if that got stretched to 15 because of the down turn, it would a lot better than doubling it like Bush did.

    There was a chance to clean up the future. Now the only way is to collapse the economy and rebuild. preferably with a new government first.

    anyone want to start a revolution with me?
  • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:30PM (#22851822) Homepage Journal
    Republicans don't have as big of a problem blowing lots of money on space stuff, whereas Democrats always have to get past this "we could use the money to feed the poor" mental stumbling block.

    Yep, those Democratic bastards John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson nearly killed our space program by underfunding Gemini and Apollo, but the Republican Richard Nixon did a swell job of building on the success of Apollo with ambitious, well funded follow-on programs, which is why we have a thriving lunar colony and burgeoning orbital industries today.
  • by ushering05401 (1086795) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:42PM (#22851914) Journal
    "anyone want to start a revolution with me?"

    The main problem with revolution is finding enough people you can trust after the conflict. If you win then there is all this power to be distributed... and if you lose then there is a wicked manhunt.

    In my entire life I have met two people I would trust enough to rise up with and take the consequences (win or lose) afterwards.

    Back on-topic: Space exploration joins progress in art and literature on my list of indicators that a civilization is truly prospering. Space exploration, much like astronomy, lacks the utilitarian nature of many other branches of science, and I have always considered it to be one of the brightest signs of our progress as thinking beings. Our continuing withdrawal from funding space related endeavors strikes me as a sad indicator of where we are headed.
  • by tomhudson (43916) < ... <nosduh.arabrab>> on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:53PM (#22851990) Journal

    *notes that illegal immigrants cost the government more in services per year than the war in Iraq does*
    * notes that illegal immigrants do jobs that americans won't take, keeping whole sectors of the economy from collapsing - or do you really want to pay $35 for an apple pie made from imported apples because there's no longer a viable fruit industry in the US because nobody picks the fruit... *
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Monday March 24, 2008 @08:02PM (#22852054) Journal
    And another 30-40,000 suffer from various levels of injuries up to missing limbs, missing eyes, missing parts of their brains, extreme disfigurement, etc.

    "The president carries the biggest burden, obviously..." - Dick Cheney
  • by NickCatal (865805) on Monday March 24, 2008 @08:15PM (#22852136)
    Or it could be that people don't trust banks now because banks trusted people with loans that they could never possibly repay barring their winning the lottery (although with interest rates as high as these people were getting, even that may not have saved them)

    Here is what I have been seeing said a few times that makes some sense to me:

    One thing that IS causing a problem is the decrease in the value of the dollar. It is cheaper to sell American products like Wheat and Corn overseas than keep it in the USA, which means Americans have to pony up extra-cash for stuff so that it makes sense for farmers to keep their products in the USA. But the value of the dollar is based on how much other countries trust keeping their money in USD, and with all the economic indicators the way they are, and the banks being in trouble the most, overseas banks are thinking that keeping their assets in a currency that is NOT the USD is a better idea. How much that has to do with the war I don't know.

    As long as we don't go back to the gold standard I'm good. Because the moment someone figures out how to make gold out of a less expensive material we are all screwed. If I can make something with 79 electrons, 79 protons and 79 neutrons out of my basement we will have a real crisis on our hands.
  • by PachmanP (881352) on Monday March 24, 2008 @08:16PM (#22852138)

    Yeah. Just as soon as the commercial comes on...

    Dude, if we could convince "The Man" that a revolution would start during the commercial break, he'd be so scared there wouldn't be any more commercials!
  • by nametaken (610866) on Monday March 24, 2008 @08:17PM (#22852150)
    I'm inclined to agree with you, but my disdain for management of Iraq and such aside, I didn't see anything about the Bush administration in the article. Did the administration cut the funding for this somehow or was it an internal decision at NASA to redirect the funds? I honestly don't know, is this something congress controls through an oversight committee?

    Was it due to diminishing returns on the rovers? Is the money genuinely better spent on what the article says they'll be spending it on... next year's new rover?

    I'd imagine that $8 mil is a tiny bit of their annual budget and you'd think you'd want to put it towards something you already have parked on another planet and you know works. But then, I'm about the least qualified guy in the world to guess about those things.

  • by Schlage (195535) on Monday March 24, 2008 @08:23PM (#22852198)
    Lets not forget the fact that studies have shown that spending on the space program has a direct correlation to increased GNP of the United States (estimates on how much vary, I've seen ratios ranging from 1:2 to 1:7 dollars-spent:GNP-rise).

    And then, of course, there's all of the direct spin-offs that come from research done in the space program, and I'm not just talking tempurpedic!
  • by FailedTheTuringTest (937776) on Monday March 24, 2008 @08:41PM (#22852302)
    Maybe the US would have been screwed anyway, but it's now $3 trillion more screwed [timesonline.co.uk] than it would have been without the war. That's $10,000 per person -- a significant amount of extra screwing, I'd say.
  • by halycon404 (1101109) on Monday March 24, 2008 @08:42PM (#22852314)
    There are a few reasons to shelve it in favor of a new one. The absolute biggest of those is that the current rover is already WAY past its projected fail date. The last year or two has been completely bonus information. The upside of that is, bonus information from mars; the downside is that the projected budget for the rover for the last year or two wasn't ever factored in. NASA has been pulling funding from other projects to keep the rover afloat since it was deemed more important than some other areas. But, you can only keep robbing Peter to pay Paul for so long. At some point, and it looks like that point is now.. they had to stop funding on it completely and put funding back into areas they'd been neglecting, especially for something they aren't sure will stay in working order past the first day the new budget goes into effect. Its pretty much counted as one of the signs that a god does exist, that the rover has lasted this long.
  • by copponex (13876) on Monday March 24, 2008 @09:06PM (#22852494) Homepage

    McCarthy created a national climate of fear over the whole media. There's no media that is afraid of Bush....
    His toughest interview was in Ireland. But it's really besides the point.

    It is true that the new McCarthyism is less visible, but I believe that's only because it's very difficult to call someone a conspirator and get away with it. If they don't like you, they'll just forget to validate your press pass and cause you to lose your job, or perhaps expose your wife's secret identity through surrogates in the media...

    Habeas Corpus isn't suspended for any US Citizen
    Wrong. Jose Padilla is a good name to start with.

    No one knows how many US citizens are being held, because they are secret proceedings done by the military with no oversight, where the accused has no access to view the evidence against them, since it is also secret. This is the kind of thing that caused the Revolutionary War. According to the military, 150 detainees have died while in custody since 2001.

    Wiretapping is about Americans getting calls from people overseas in Islamic countries, and that's probably pretty reasonable
    Sorta-kinda mostly liberty-like feeling or death?

    Bush didn't run the economy into the ground, rather the American people ran themselves into the ground because we've chosen to borrow rather than save
    It's hard to save when you are earning less money than your parents did at the same age, working 10-15 more hours per week, and dealing with an astronomical increase in health care and energy costs.

    The price of oil quintupling had nothing to do with the war...
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/DN-IraqOil_10bus.ART.North.Edition1.42010ac.html [dallasnews.com]

    Right.

    The dollar contraction in value is by design and is designed to foster American exports in manufacturered [sic] goods.
    Exports are up. Hooray! What benefit has that brought to the average American worker? Are salaries up? Are benefits and retirement options up? Are we exporting technological goods that are bringing our standard of living higher, or just selling more crap that is now affordable to other western nations, allowing us to compete with fierce exporters like Indonesia and Thailand?

    Your comments on the middle east echo that of liberals, in the true sense of the word, who have no memory of the past. Saddam Hussein was an American pawn who overstepped his bounds in Kuwait, and we didn't assassinate him because the first Bush Administration at least recognized that there is no exit strategy in Iraq, much like other oppressive Islamist regimes we have supported on and off since the 1960s. (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt...) Our purpose is not to spread freedom, else we wouldn't be selling arms to the Shah of Iran in the 70s, or to Saddam and Iran (in secret) in the 80s, and to Saudi Arabia (40 billion since 1990!). Our purpose is to maintain power in a region which holds vast natural resources.

    You've fallen into the idea that there exists an entity known as "them" and another known as "us." The only way for fundamental human rights to continue existing is through law which is equally and universally applied, no matter how grotesque you think their actions or politics may be. The correct, legal way to approach the terrorist attacks of September 11th was to find evidence for the crime (remember, acts of war can only be committed by states or breakaway territories), trying the suspects, and then sentencing them. This is why we have the UN and the World Court.

    Of course, if you have more faith in military might than the law, you're more than welcome to join the ranks of Stalin, Mussolini, Chairman Mao, and other glorious historical figures.
  • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Monday March 24, 2008 @09:19PM (#22852602)
    Actually, decent chance that the sale may not go through.

    First, for political reasons there are a lot of reasons to say no. Canada WILL be seeing a Federal election in the next six months or so. Selling off the company undermines a lot of the current government's platform. It looks bad on a national security front. It looks bad on an arctic sovereignty front. It looks bad on a selling out Canadian interests to the Americans front (which never goes over well with the voters). It looks bad on a public money front seeing as the Canadian government just finished bankrolling a lot of the research and tech that is making the company an attractive purchase.

    The second reason the sale might not go through is that it might be illegal. The united states is basically the only first world country in the world that has not signed the Ottawa Convention on Landmines. Big-ass international treaty, famously brokered by Canada, that bans the production and use of anti-personnel landmines among other things. Now, seeing as the company trying to buy MDA is one of the largest landmine manufacturers in the world. Under the terms of the treaty, it may actually be illegal for Canada to approve any sale or business involving them.

    In addition, many of the engineers and big brains that work for MDA are threatening to quit if the sale goes through. Plenty of them could be pulling in larger paycheques in the States already except that they don't want to build weapons or support companies that do.

    So, very little advantage in Canada for the government to approve the sale. And the only real downside to not approving it is pissing off a few of Bush's friends. On the other hand, he is down to a few months now and it is looking like bending over for his administration now won't score many brownie points with whoever replaces him.
  • ag prices (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zogger (617870) on Monday March 24, 2008 @10:27PM (#22853050) Homepage Journal
    US agriculture is dominated by commodities traders and a handful of middleman packers/shippers/distributors. That's where your prices come from, farmers for the most part can't make enough to barely break even. I'll give you an example from here on our farm, if you could pay an additional 5 cents per whole chicken at the grocery store, that would double our net. *Double it*, if we got that nickle and it wasn't skimmed away upstream from us. The thing is, we can't set prices because it costs millions to set up a packing plant and a ton of governmental bribery..I mean hoop jumping, to pull that off. There's a small handful of large corporations that dominate the packing and distribution markets, and *they* set the prices on a take it or leave it manner, and if you leave it, you are screwed, out of business, you can't distribute in bulk (varies state by state, but mostly true). It makes getting Linux on all the OEM computers easy.

    Anyway, all legals here, we are doing the jobs that...what was your point again?

      It's very similar in most of farming, between local governments upping property taxes, that you can't avoid, cost of production, that you can't avoid-diesel, propane, electricity, bought in water, machinery, yada yada, salt to taste depending on type of farming, there's not much left to cut that you have any control over except labor. It's like they are doing all they can to destroy domestic agriculture on the family sized model, and the bulk of those subsidies you hear about go to those huge corporate conglomerates.

    You can compete by being very small and in niche markets, or by being hugemongous and being part of a corporate enterprise, anything in between-the traditional professional family farm- is getting wonky.

    NAFTA screwed over Mexican campesino farmers big time, put *millions* out of their own little farm jobs, drove them north in desperation, then here, caused a severe lowering of wages for existing workers. Remember way back a long time ago, Cesar Chavez, head of the farm workers union? HE called the illegals the ultimate wage lowering scab labor. It's like it was designed on purpose to turn family farms in both nations into FarmAgco International, Inc corporate farms. Gee, what a coincidence how that worked out, same as like what happened to them screwing over domestic manufacturing and now white collar IT, it's all designed to make the top 1% wealthier, that's it, that's the sum total of US economic policy in any direction you want to look at, just like now it is going to bail out the billionaire investment bankers.
  • Re:Look again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by molarmass192 (608071) on Monday March 24, 2008 @10:30PM (#22853080) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I stand corrected on Canada, at least they're not illegal. That's the whole point of the issue down here, if we need migrant workers, FINE, collect their passport numbers, do a background check and grant them temporary visas if they've got a clean background. I don't think ANYBODY would have an issue with people who go through, instead of avoid, the system of checks and balances. There's a catch though, note that's a "temporary visa", not "permanent residence". If workers want to stay permanently, that's fine too, but do it legally. Apply for permanent residence with the INS, pass the background, health, and character checks, and wait in the 5 year long line like every other law abiding immigrant.
  • by dragonturtle69 (1002892) on Monday March 24, 2008 @10:53PM (#22853258)

    This is all well off the topic of NASA's rovers, but this should be corrected.

    While the person in the office of the President makes a good scapegoat, the President does not create the budget or single-handedly start a war. Please, note that making this distinction does not make any judgment of the budget, wars, or anything else. It only seeks to provide you with the correct target for your displeasure.

    Both parties, and whoever is elected the next President, seek only to get more powerful from our greed. We have this problem with our budget deficit, and yet no one complains loudly about the silliness that is the "rebate" to stimulate the economy. All I hear is a collective "When's it gonna be deposited?".

    We are collectively a stupid, lazy, greedy people, and elect those who evidence those qualities the best. And they do a good job furthering stupidity, laziness, and greed.

    If you want someone to blame for the Iraq War, the budget deficit, the financial crisis of this decade that has yet to peak, look only in the mirror or your parents mirror or your neighbor's mirror. That is where the blame lies for our problems.

    Back to the rovers. They are cool, but maybe it is time to get something newer built and deployed.

  • by Plutonite (999141) on Monday March 24, 2008 @11:03PM (#22853366)
    Thank you for putting up the numbers, saved me a whole lot of searching as I was infuriated by the GP. 3 Trillion kind of makes a difference.

    About the casualties(drifting slightly off-topic) I think the most alarming are the psychological effects. [nytimes.com]
    There may be 4000 soldiers dead, but those returning home after an utterly meaningless time spent in a country thousands of miles away, are the ones tearing my heart apart. It is one thing to lose a limb or an eye. That is terrible, but at least you can try to move on with your life. But to have your body whole and yet be wandering like a madman (or literally as a madman) with a gun at night, in the streets of your home town, because some ABSOLUTE MORON decided to send you to war with a secular country that had nothing whatsoever to do with us.. I think that is the saddest thing in the world. My heart goes out to all the people we killed, and all the soldiers we lost, and all the money that could have saved millions and done miracles in supporting science and human welfare. War is such a bitch.
  • Re:Look again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @02:04AM (#22854344) Journal
    I really think the biggest issue is the legality of it. I agree, do it above board and make sure they have legal abilities to get a fair pay. Even if that pay is minimum wage, at least an American worker can compete for the job. And who knows, the illegals might think the job should pay more then minimum wage and only put up with the slave labor because it is better then at home and they have little to no recourse besides getting arrested, sent back and having to start over again.

    But if you think about it, paying someone under the table is almost like paying them 2 or 3 dollars less an hour even if they are making the same wages as the regular employees. Social security tax doesn't get paid, unemployment and workers comp doesn't get paid. The employer's matching in the SS tax, and so one done get paid. Some states fund portions of their schools with payroll tax that doesn't get paid. It adds up to quite a bit. Granted, not all of what I listed is paid by the employer so what the employer would save will be different but still significant.

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