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NASA Government The Almighty Buck

Why NASA's Budget "Victory" Is Anything But 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-fast dept.
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes 'Earlier this week, attempts to cut NASA's budget were defeated, and it looks like the largest space agency in the world will actually be getting nearly a 2% budget increase overall. While common news outlets are touting this as a great budget victory, the reality is that this is shaping up to be just another year of pathetic funding levels, putting our greatest dreams of exploring and understanding the Universe on hold. A sobering read for anyone who hasn't realized what we could be doing.'
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Why NASA's Budget "Victory" Is Anything But

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  • by Kohath (38547) on Friday June 06, 2014 @12:36AM (#47177135)

    Maybe we shouldn't put our greatest dreams in the hands of government.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @12:44AM (#47177155)
      Sure, Enron, JP Morgan, Bank of America, AOL Time Warner, Blackwater, Haliburton, Malaysia Airlines, ValuJet et al would do it much better and cheaper...
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 06, 2014 @12:57AM (#47177197) Journal

      Maybe we shouldn't put our greatest dreams in the hands of government.

      6:30 a.m. You are awakened by your clock radio. You know it is actually 6:30 because the National Institute of Standards and Technology keeps the official time. And you can listen to your favorite radio station only because the Federal Communications Commission brings organization and coherence to our vast telecommunications system. It ensures, for example, that radio stations do not overlap and that stations signals are not interfered with by the numerous other devices â" cell phones, satellite television, wireless computers, etc. â" whose signals crowd our nationâ(TM)s airwaves.

      6:35 a.m. Like 17 million other Americans, you have asthma. But as you get out of bed you notice that you are breathing freely this morning. This is thanks in part to government clean air laws that reduce the air pollution that would otherwise greatly worsen your condition.

      6:38 a.m. You go into the kitchen for breakfast. You pour some water into your coffeemaker. You simply take for granted that this water is safe to drink. But in fact you count on your city water department to constantly monitor the quality of your water and to immediately take measures to correct any potential problems with this vital resource.

      6:39 a.m. You flip the switch on the coffee maker. There is no short in the outlet or in the electrical line and there is no resulting fire in your house. Why? Because when your house was being built, the electrical system had to be inspected to make sure it was properly installed â" a service provided by your local government. And it was installed by an electrician who was licensed by your state government to ensure his competence and your safety.

      Your greatest dreams are in the hands of the government everyday.
      And those are just the ones from the first 10 minutes after you wake up.

      • If only we could apply that idea to internet access.

        • by x0ra (1249540)
          The Internet would be in a pretty bad state... and don't even think to post any comment against the Government in place...
          • In the US, the government (the National Science Foundation specifically) ran the Internet backbone through April 30, 1995. Then it got privatized... which was a mistake.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kohath (38547)

        6:30 a.m. You are awakened by your clock radio. You know it is actually 6:30 because the National Institute of Standards and Technology keeps the official time.

        Because if it were actually 6:28 AM, the world would end. And also, because the government invented time and timekeeping.

        6:35 a.m. Like 17 million other Americans, you have asthma.

        Nope. Clean air is good though. Government, like any tool, is best used only when needed, and only when it's a good fit for the task. No need to use it always, for everything.

        6:38 a.m. You go into the kitchen for breakfast. You pour some water into your coffeemaker. You simply take for granted that this water is safe to drink.

        Partly because I filter it. But mostly because I wouldn't drink it if it weren't safe. I'd make it safe, then drink it.

        And a large part of my water bill goes for pensions for people who don't do anything to kee

      • This is timely. I spent the better part of last night in a zoning and planning board meeting. I'm the IT director for a couple of small private schools for Kids with Dyslexia. One of our schools is currently located in the basement of a really old church. It works for us now, but our lease is running out and we need more space to grow.

        We found a generous landlord willing to lease us space (way below market rates) in a brand new building - it's beautiful. It is part of a small financial complex, and the

      • Yes, but (Score:5, Funny)

        by Ecuador (740021) on Friday June 06, 2014 @11:37AM (#47179937) Homepage
        Yes, but, apart from timekeeping, radio, clean air, water, electricity, education and roads and public order, what has the Government ever done for us?
      • by jsrjsr (658966)

        6:30 a.m. You are awakened by your clock radio. You know it is actually 6:30 because the National Institute of Standards and Technology keeps the official time.

        But long before NIST, railroads kept uniform time.

        And you can listen to your favorite radio station only because the Federal Communications Commission brings organization and coherence to our vast telecommunications system. It ensures, for example, that radio stations do not overlap and that stations signals are not interfered with by the numerous other devices â" cell phones, satellite television, wireless computers, etc. â" whose signals crowd our nationâ(TM)s airwaves.

        And before the FCC, radio was finding it's way towards regulation through homesteading of radio frequencies.

        6:35 a.m. Like 17 million other Americans, you have asthma. But as you get out of bed you notice that you are breathing freely this morning. This is thanks in part to government clean air laws that reduce the air pollution that would otherwise greatly worsen your condition.

        'Course, if you happen to live near a government-operated power plant, you're out of luck. The states seem to exempt their plants for some reason.

        6:38 a.m. You go into the kitchen for breakfast. You pour some water into your coffeemaker. You simply take for granted that this water is safe to drink. But in fact you count on your city water department to constantly monitor the quality of your water and to immediately take measures to correct any potential problems with this vital resource.

        Actually, at home I depend upon my own monitoring of my private well. And woe be unto anyone who pollutes the groundwater as they will be providing me with water at their cost. At work, I depend upon a pri

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      It's over-simplistic thinking to say "gov't always bad, corporation always good". I've worked for some really stupid and sleazy corporations: assholery is not limited to gov't. Both types of orgs each have their role with various trade-offs.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Friday June 06, 2014 @01:55AM (#47177389) Journal

        Government is always good when choice is bad.

        Corporations are always good when choice is good.

        Some may try to argue that choice is always good, but it isn't. Five competing roads with 20 different owners that I have to use to get to work would not be a good thing. A single government planned road is not the best but it is better than the alternative. Many things can compare to this, usually where it requires stepping on property rights, such as running power/water/gas lines, building roads, and similar. Otherwise keep the government out of it.

    • Not anymore. The pirates have been running the ship since Nixon.

    • Are you kidding? Space is open for exploration by private companies. No (or few) restrictions there.

    • Maybe we should stop electing people who are hellbent in demonstrating how bad government can be and actually elect people who demonstrate good governance.

    • Maybe we shouldn't put our greatest dreams in the hands of government.

      Maybe our greatest dreams shouldn't need fulfillment so far from home?

    • by kheldan (1460303)
      When you say 'our greatest dreams', I'm pretty sure you're referring to maybe, at best, 1% of the population. I'm of the opinion that the vast majority of people, at best, when presented with all the work being done to discover exoplanets, search for life outside our solar system, and to generally understand the Universe as a whole, will say 'gee, that's nice, but how does it make my cellphone battery last longer?', or 'gee, that's nice, but how does it make gasoline prices cheaper?', or 'gee, that's nice,
  • another year of welfare-warfare waste, the USG pissing away our future whether Obamunist or Bush leaguers.
  • Two Percent? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ignacio (1465)
    2% isn't a victory, it's an "oh my f*cking god, we survived being killed off by the skin of our teeth".
  • The Media is supposed to publish stories about NASA's plans for humans reaching Mars in 10 years. On even-numbered days of the month The Media is supposed to publish stories about NASA being underfunded and cutting programs to send small robots to it. Jeez, Slashdot, get with the program.

    • by Xenx (2211586)
      Slashdot is usually behind by a day or two. So, it all balances out correctly.
  • Pittance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mfh (56) on Friday June 06, 2014 @12:54AM (#47177193) Homepage Journal

    A scrap of funding for such a vital tool for human survival. Is it that our technology could never allow us to escape the confines of Earth, or is it that the government would rather lock horns with rivals on a pebble in a sea of pebbles? KUNG KUNG KUNG...

  • We can't afford it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by s.petry (762400) on Friday June 06, 2014 @01:02AM (#47177219)

    Seriously think about it. How can we pay for the NSA to spy on everyone, our Military to bomb anyone, our CIA to fund terrorist groups in the Middle East (and everywhere else for that matter), pay for Welfare instead of actually doing something to fix the economy, continue to let the top .01% live tax free lives of luxury (and allow them to offshore most of their money), provide strike force military equipment to local police and sheriff departments so that they can enforce "Free Speech Zones", pay for expansions in DHS and TSA so that they can frisk little children and search colostomy bags for explosives, have the Federal Reserve give hundreds of billions of dollars to whatever country they feel like propping up today, and give your tax money to countries like the Ukraine so that they can revolt and join NATO if we are spending money on bettering mankind?

    I really and truly wish that something in my list was a joke, but sadly it's actually a very short list of how the US is being mismanaged by corrupted people holding offices.

  • NASA vs SpaceX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Twinbee (767046) on Friday June 06, 2014 @01:02AM (#47177221) Homepage
    Maybe they're saving their funds to give to SpaceX instead who seem to doing things more efficiently than NASA in terms of getting us off this rock.
    • Re:NASA vs SpaceX (Score:5, Informative)

      by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Friday June 06, 2014 @03:03AM (#47177541)

      Sigh. It's not NASA vs SpaceX. It's NASA and SpaceX/Bigelow/etc, versus NASA and LM/ATK/etc.

      It's a crew capsule built for NASA for around a billion dollars total, versus a crew capsule built for NASA for around a billion dollars per year.

      It's a launcher that will cost NASA less than $100m per launch for 50 tonnes to LEO, versus a launcher that costs NASA $2 billion per year every year for one launch of 70 tonnes to LEO once every year or two.

      It's commercial space stations that cost $100-150m/yr each for NASA to lease, versus a space station that costs NASA $3 billion/yr to operate and is dependent on Russian modules and Russian crew capsules (costing an extra $75m per seat.)

      It's about the most cost effective way for US taxpayers to achieve the things they apparently want to do, versus repeating the same costly mistakes over and over.

      • by Twinbee (767046)
        Okay I stand corrected.

        But very simply, why doesn't NASA ditch the rest and just stick with SpaceX instead of throwing money down the drain?
        • by 0123456 (636235)

          But very simply, why doesn't NASA ditch the rest and just stick with SpaceX instead of throwing money down the drain?

          Because Congress says they must build the Pork Launcher.

  • by Cito (1725214) on Friday June 06, 2014 @02:12AM (#47177423) Homepage

    Tyson has lectured, screamed, went before congress and actively lobby's that if we increased NASA's budget by a penny on the dollar just 1% would get man to mars.

    And he's against private manned space missions, course he says low earth orbit/satellites/iss could be private but only a government can take on the budget and risk of manned exploration of space

    Neil deGrasse Tyson On NASA & Federal Budget (MUâ¦: http://youtu.be/jcdDb-cbadw [youtu.be]

    Neil deGrasse Tyson at UB: What NASA Means to Ameâ¦: http://youtu.be/RQhNZENMG1o [youtu.be]

    Neil deGrasse Tyson on Apollo missions and NASA funding: http://youtu.be/LWqNYiCAbsY [youtu.be]

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson: "Elon Musk's SpaceX Won't Get Us To Mars: http://youtu.be/gW74vsCNQtc [youtu.be]

    • by Noren (605012)
      Had you been paying attention to your own first cite, you would have learned that the scenario he was proposing was that 1% of the TOTAL federal budget would go to NASA, rather than a 1% increase to the amount currently allocated.
    • Unmanned missions to Mars makes sense, manned, not so much
  • For perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

    by korbulon (2792438) on Friday June 06, 2014 @04:18AM (#47177725)

    Qatar is investing enough money to host the football world cup - a tournament that lasts one month - to fund NASA for ten years.

    http://keepingscore.blogs.time... [slashdot.org]>/

    What a world.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Friday June 06, 2014 @05:32AM (#47177869) Journal

    You don't need to know anything complicated about the situation to realize this is bad. ALL you need to know, is that INFLATION in the US stays around 3% year over year.

    So, a 2% budget increase, is really a 1% cut.

    Keep this in mind at work, when you're getting your annual performance reviews. If you aren't getting at least 3% each and every year, you're getting your pay CUT.

    Companies with a policy that pay increases can't be more than 3% (or less), absolutely infuriate me. Those smart enough to intelligently object, usually get the problem worked-around. However, it's still a company policy that says, in no uncertain terms, that every employee who has performed superbly, must get penalized, year over year, as a punishment for remaining employed by that company. They're encouraging you to jump ship and get a higher salary elsewhere. Then, you could possibly come back, getting signed-on at a much higher starting salary than they were willing to give you while you stayed with the company.

    Institutional knowledge is valuable, and companies go out of their way to destroy it. </rant>

  • Closer Look (Score:5, Insightful)

    by strack (1051390) on Friday June 06, 2014 @06:04AM (#47177939)
    Dont count your cookies just yet. Senator Shelby has inserted a poison pill amendment into the spending bill to put onerous accounting requirements on spacex missions for NASA, in order to make them less competitive with the SLS, a lot of which is being developed in Alabama, Senator Shelbys state.
    • NASA should be split into manned and unmanned (i.e. JPL) directorate so this pork-y crap does not screw up science.
  • by Squidlips (1206004) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:28AM (#47178731)
    Most of NASA's budget is wasted on pork such as the ISS, the Rocket to Nowhere (SLS) and the Orion capsule; all manned porky missions. The money would be so much more useful for the following types of missions: Terrestrial Planet Finder Europa Clipper Mars Sample Return Unfortunately NASA's top management is all ex-pilots and astronauts and that is all they are interested in,
  • The asteroid capture mission is a stunt that management at NASA has dreamed up to justify their manned pork missions. The is almost no scientific value in this mission/stunt, just jobs and bucks for manned mission contractors
  • The summary is ridiculous. There is no way NASA could be 'underfunded'. It will do what it can with the funding it has. There is an infinite amount of other things it COULD do, if only it had the money. By this logic only an infinite budget would be sufficient. In other words, one can't just generally be underfunded. One can be underfunded in regards to a specific goal. For example, we might say that NASA is underfunded if we want to send a man to Mars (digression: an absurd waste of time and resources IMO)

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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