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US Scientific R&D Could Face Fiscal Cliff Doom

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the end-of-the-line dept.

Government 609

The tough economic times have had a huge effect on scientific research and development funding. The looming "fiscal cliff" may be the last straw for many programs. "The American science programs that landed the first man on the moon, found cures for deadly diseases and bred crops that feed the world now face the possibility of becoming relics in the story of human progress. American scientific research and development stands to lose thousands of jobs and face a starvation diet of reduced funding if politicians fail to compromise and halt the United States' march towards the fiscal cliff's sequestration of federal funds."

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609 comments

America's hand is being forced... (2, Interesting)

mrbluze (1034940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092301)

into armed conflict by private banks, who, through their monetary policy are exerting undue political influence on the White House. It matters not which party sits in power, they have very little choice but to do what they are doing.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (1, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092407)

And who created the Federal Reserve monstrosity? That's right, Congress. It was in structure an ordinary act of Congress (though in its details and effect an extraordinarily bad one). Don't tell me they now "have very little choice". What Congress has done, Congress can modify or undo.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092455)

And who created the Federal Reserve monstrosity? That's right, Congress. It was in structure an ordinary act of Congress (though in its details and effect an extraordinarily bad one). Don't tell me they now "have very little choice". What Congress has done, Congress can modify or undo.

In theory yes, but realistically? I doubt they really could, even if there was a desire to. Do you honestly see any other way out of this mess other than war? The scientists would at least be offered jobs in the dubious role of finding clever and new ways of killing.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (5, Insightful)

hlavac (914630) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092469)

That only works if you are winning hands down. Once the war comes to homeland, it stops being such fun and profitable experience you all think it is.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092875)

No trouble telling you're a republican, and that there's enough of them haunting this place to vote you up. Your argument essentially boils down to exactly their line of reasoning. "Make war a fun and profitable experience, kill your enemies before they ever have the chance to attack!" Technically that might work, yes, and you're getting rather good at it (you even have remote controlled toys that launch missiles now, how stunningly american), but it does reveal a rather...limited mindset for dealing with problems. Not to mention it reveals your love of money over that of your fellow human being.

And some of you people are still wondering why you lost the election...

Re:America's hand is being forced... (4, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092427)

into armed conflict by private banks, who, through their monetary policy are exerting undue political influence on the White House. It matters not which party sits in power, they have very little choice but to do what they are doing.

Armed conflicts? You mean... like those toxic home loans offered to people that couldn't ever repay them?

I'd rather say this is the victory of the "basic human right to credit" over the research. If this is the American dream, I'd say "Wake up, people. It's a nightmare".

And the value of those loans were what? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092925)

Compared to the trillions of "losses", the home loans defaulted were practically nonexistent.

Derivatives and naked credit swaps created a "money bag" bigger than the entire global GDP from which the bankers took a cut on every movement (whether it made a profit or not).

But blaming the home loans is popular with idiots like you because it has two wonderful (for your ideology) benefits:

1) It makes it Obama's fault
2) It makes the poor the ones who did it all

Re:America's hand is being forced... (1, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092569)

I've posted this so many times on /. I feel like I'm pounding my head against a brick wall. I know it goes against people's political inclinations here, but it's the truth so here it is again.

Wouldn't it be great if there were a non-partisan government body which went over all the government accounting books and figured out what's causing the budget to blow up out of control? Guess what? There is. It's called the Congressional Budget Office. Every year or two they put out a long-term budget outlook [cbo.gov] where they outline where we're headed, and what's causing the problems, and how changes we can make to the budget can change that course. Please read it, or at least read the summary if you can't read the whole thing.

For the last 12 years, they've pointed out over and over that the primary cause of our budget woes is Medicare/Medicaid and to a lesser extent Social Security. The historical average for federal tax revenue is about 18% of GDP. Did you know that on our current course, Medicare/Medicaid will grow to consume 18% of GDP some time around 2050-2070? That's right, 100% of tax receipts will go to pay for Medicare/Medicaid and nothing else. We're not being driven to bankruptcy by banks or the military industrial complex. We're being driven to bankruptcy by voters wanting stuff in their old age without having to pay for (most of) it.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (2, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092659)

You are pounding your head against the wall because you are a loon as much as the rest of them. Your facts are incomplete and they point the finger at a problem which ISN'T the problem. Do you understand what the core meaning of "Social Security" is?

Social - Of or relating to society or its organization
Security - The state of being free from danger or threat


Social Security is there to ensure better living for society as a whole. That is its purpose. On paper, it looks like a money pit, but only if you are willfully ignorant. Speculate what would happen if we just stopped taking care of those who depend on such a system. It would be bad for EVERYONE

Re:America's hand is being forced... (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092835)

If 100% of tax revenue goes to Social Security, then where's the money to invest in basic infrastructure? Social Security is useless if you can't deliver power to homes and hospitals, or if you can't ship goods across the road/rail networks.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (3, Informative)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092993)

Straw man. 100% of tax revenue _doesn't_ go to Social Security. A lot of tax revenue goes to paying the national debt, a significant portion of which is owed to the Social Security Trust Fund. But a lot of it goes elsewhere, like to the defense budget, which is essentially welfare for the rich. Oh, and the deficit has dropped in the past three years...

But let's not talk about that. Let's just foam at the mouth hysterically and give the bankers our retirement savings.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092949)

GP is summarizing the report of the Congressional Budget Office. If you have objections to what he says, take it up with them!

Re:America's hand is being forced... (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092727)

...the primary cause of our budget woes is Medicare/Medicaid and to a lesser extent Social Security.

Yes, it would seem that way when you use Hollywood accounting methods. The CBO is not non-partisan. It is bi-partisan. It conforms to how both parties want to to steal our pensions. What they want to call entitlements is much more correctly labeled earned benefits. And that money was outright stolen from underneath our noses. Put the tax rates back to what we had in the 50s, bring our work force AND our troops back home, and watch the shortfalls evaporate. We are being robbed in broad daylight, and when mass media screams, "Hey! Look over there!", we fall for it every time.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (3, Insightful)

Entrope (68843) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093021)

"Hollywood accounting methods"? Are you talking about the Social Security and Medicare "trust fund" gimmick? If so, that supports Solandri's point: Because people were willing to pretend that FICA are not ordinary taxes, and that payroll taxes went into some special pool of money, it was easier to use FICA surpluses to subsidize deficits in the rest of the budget. If you're talking about something else, perhaps you should be more specific.

If you think that Social Security or Medicare are "earned benefits", that boat sailed 50 years ago; the Supreme Court disagreed with you in 1960 (Flemming v. Nestor). Recently, President (George W.) Bush wanted to give each worker a real retirement account where the worker would have ownership, but your side threw an epic fit over the proposal (for transparently bad reasons).

If you think 1950's-style tax rates would be an effective solution, you've been reading too much Paul Krugman without engaging your brain. If you think bringing one or two hundred thousand deployed servicemen and servicewomen back home -- given the general economic climate, with the likely effect of dumping either them or others into unemployment -- would solve the budget deficit, you again haven't given the matter enough thought.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092779)

Yeah. Fuck those old, poor, and sick people. This great "society" should be working for the purpose of making rich people richer.

Pfft! Taking care of your poor and your sick. What a stupid notion that goes against every Christian principle that this nation was founded on.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092819)

I've posted this so many times on /. I feel like I'm pounding my head against a brick wall.

You are.

. I know it goes against people's political inclinations here,

Some, certainly.

but it's the truth so here it is again.

Ah and there's the brick wall...

Did you know that on our current course, Medicare/Medicaid will grow to consume 18% of GDP some time around 2050-2070?

(xkcd alert:) Is your hobby extrapolating?

We're being driven to bankruptcy by voters wanting stuff in their old age without having to pay for (most of) it.

No, Medicare is expensive because of the insane medical system in the US, with its insane regulatory structure. Somehow most European countries manages to have a social security safety net, and a public health system without spending more than their entire tax revenues on it.

The solution isn't to slash social security, it's to stop companies creaming off most of money for themselves.

Re:America's hand is being forced... (4, Insightful)

Ozoner (1406169) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092841)

Absolute crap.

The problem is threefold.
  - These Social programs are under-funded because the taxes and contributions which were originally put aside have been stolen by Congress.
  - Medicare/Medicaid is being used as a cash-cow by big business. It needs to be community operated on a non-profit basis as it is in other countries.
  - Insufficient taxes are raised to pay for these essential services and the rich are allowed to opt out.

Amen, but.. (1, Insightful)

Weezul (52464) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092957)

We should let congress drive over the fiscal cliff so that republicans take the blame for their intransigence on perpetuating the untenable Bush tax cuts.

Re:Amen, but.. (1, Insightful)

Q-Hack! (37846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093049)

We should let congress drive over the fiscal cliff so that democrats take the blame for thier inability to see that the Bush tax cuts don't even come close to paying for the deficit, current or projected.

How about instead of killing the economy with the uncertanty of this on again - off again tax cut, why don't we simplify the tax code completey and permanently.

Medicare and defense (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092915)

For the last 12 years, they've pointed out over and over that the primary cause of our budget woes is Medicare/Medicaid and to a lesser extent Social Security.

Forgetting about a couple of unfunded wars are we? Or a military that outspends the combined budget of the next 15 largest militaries combined for no obvious reason? Medicare and Defense are the big budget problems. Social Security not so much.

Social Security is not funded like Medicare or Defense. It was only last year that expenses exceeded non-interest income and it won't be until 2021 at present funding that total expenses exceed total revenues. Social Security is fully funded and what funding problems it has are fairly easy to fix. Of the biggest government expenditures Social Security is quite literally the least of our problems. Extend the age to receive benefits and a few other simple tweaks to funding and it will be fine.

By Republicans (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092747)

It's Republicans who cut the taxes of the rich till the budget couldn't be balanced.
It was Republicans who introduced Medicaid but didn't fund it.
It is Republicans who won't allow taxes to be raised on rich people now.

They think if they keep lying enough that people will think it's Obama who did all that, but no, he just suffered the ongoing deficit.

That "they're all the same as each other", that's utter BS. The Republicans are the problem facing the USA today.

Wow, 3% = doom? (2, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092325)

From TFA: "1,082,370 U.S. citizens employed in the life sciences, such as biology and genetics, as well as physical and social sciences. Of these, approximately 31,000"

Wow, those are some massive cuts. An entire whopping 3% of the people may lose their jobs!

People just don't get it. The US government does not need to cut its budget by 3%. It needs to cut its budget by 50% or more. Many programs and federal departments need eliminated entirely. It's not even about the $16 Trillion debt. If the government ran honest accounts, it's about the $200 Trillion debt [blogspot.ch] .

Don't worry, citizens of America. That's only some $650,000 per person that the government has borrowed on behalf of each and every one of you. No problem, right?

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (-1, Troll)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092359)

Sorry, the US electorate just finished voting in President Santa Claus who's mandate was "give us more free stuff" you won't see that budget cut of 50%, if anything you'll be lucky to see 3% and if you see a 3% cut, you'll see attempted austerity measures much like what happened in Europe. Cut's by 3%, increase spending by 6-10%.

Let's be realistic though. You guys are fucked, plain and simple and you're heading for a screaming doom much like Europe is unless you figure out that trying to spend your way out of debt is a bad idea. Well, look on the bright side, the feds haven't pulled what they have in the EU yet. And that is the ability to print 1T per member state several times, without permission of the member state at anytime. Now just think if they did that with each state. I'm sure they could pay off the debt by doing that though...I shouldn't give the feds any ideas on that. The 3% US holdings I have are already close to worthless now.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (5, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092405)

Sorry, the US electorate just finished voting in President Santa Claus who's mandate was "give us more free stuff" you won't see that budget cut of 50%,

Pure bullshit. Obama was chosen by the US electorate because he has promised to increase taxes to, you know, bring in more revenue. He is quite willing to cut spending, though to a lesser degree than Republicans. The budget can be balanced by either cutting spending, increasing income or, most likely by a combination of the two (one can argue where the balance lies)

Let's be realistic though. You guys are fucked, plain and simple and you're heading for a screaming doom much like Europe is unless you figure out that trying to spend your way out of debt is a bad idea.

Where are you based, anyway? How is your country managing? Got any good suggestions?

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (5, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092423)

Um, there is a little detail you may have missed. The President doesn't have the AUTHORITY to change the tax structure. Congress does; yet - gee - the same electorate returned who returned Obama also returned a Republican majority in the all important House of Representatives.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (5, Interesting)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092463)

Um, there is a little detail you may have missed. The President doesn't have the AUTHORITY to change the tax structure. Congress does;

Well, no, he does not -- but he was leading the negotiations between D and R earlier and the only reason these negotiations fell apart is because the ratio of 80% spending cuts and 20% tax increases was still not acceptable to the tea party.
I think they were seriously hoping to negotiate to 100% and 0% compromise.

yet - gee - the same electorate returned who returned Obama also returned a Republican majority in the all important House of Representatives.

Not sure what your point is. Representatives are not a single unit (like the President). There is a significant ratio of incumbent retention, mostly due to gerrymandering. Barely 5% of the races tend to be competitive or even in doubt (unless the incumbent retires). I wouldn't read into this at all.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (2)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092661)

You said Obama was elected because he "promised to increase taxes". He can't make that promise except cynically, because he doesn't have the AUTHORITY to implement it. I rather doubt he did make that promise. I expect he promised to work toward getting tax increases approved. Fine. So far, he has expended close to zero political capital toward that end.

You really are "not sure what my point is" about the Presidential and the House results taken together? I generally disengage when somebody starts to cast a discussion into a series of "points". I'll go against my better judgement and try to explain the statement to you. The same electorate who went to the polls and gave Obama a narrow edge in the popular vote also gave Republicans a more substantial edge retained in the House. Which action constitutes a mandate? Could it possibly be that they want Obama to continue smiling, uttering platitudes, handing out mosly inconsequential candy that doesn't cost much, and not starting any new major wars, and at the same time they want the Representatives to dig their heels in and basically stop anything else changing? Because that's what it looks like.

Yes, the Representatives are not a single unit. So? They are 435 individual units, and every single one of those units stands for re-election every two years. The races are just as competitive as the electorate wants them to be. If you think you can explain the results away by gerrymandering, I'm not buying it. You can't wave away the validity of the results that easily. There have been huge changes in the House overnight in the past; notable 1994. That election it went from 258-176D to 230-204R. Gerrymandering is as old as the hills, but it didn't "work" that time.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092817)

You said Obama was elected because he "promised to increase taxes". He can't make that promise except cynically, because he doesn't have the AUTHORITY to implement it. I rather doubt he did make that promise. I expect he promised to work toward getting tax increases approved. Fine. So far, he has expended close to zero political capital toward that end.

Yes, you are correct. Obama promised to work towards getting tax increases approved. He did block (promised to veto and stopped for the time being) Bush tax-cut extensions. So he had done _something_ towards his promise
Perhaps even more accurately, Romney promised to work really hard to cut taxes further (and I believe him on that).

You really are "not sure what my point is" about the Presidential and the House results taken together? ... The same electorate who went to the polls and gave Obama a narrow edge in the popular vote also gave Republicans a more substantial edge retained in the House. Which action constitutes a mandate? ... Yes, the Representatives are not a single unit. So? They are 435 individual units, and every single one of those units stands for re-election every two years. The races are just as competitive as the electorate wants them to be. If you think you can explain the results away by gerrymandering, I'm not buying it.

Choosing a President can be seen as a mandate (though, even here, we are talking about 58.7 million vs 56.1 million votes). With house of representatives, I think the results are even more diluted. Plenty of other reasons to vote for R or D, the vote is often affected by how much voters hate the competing representative in the same district or some other issues. So I am not certain how much of a mandate one can draw from these results

I don't understand why you are not buying gerrymandering. I looked up the breakdown and it is 156 solid Democrat districts vs 193 solid Republican districts. The gains actually seem roughly proportional, wikipedia says it's 190D vs 240R (and 5 vacant) as of now. Is +34 Democrat wins vs +47 Republican wins say "mandate" to you? That's a 13 seat advantage out of 430 currently occupied ones.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093007)

You keep saying that, but you are wrong. He can veto any extension of the Bush tax cuts. Taxes will automatically go up. He doesn't have the authority to _arbitrarily_ raise taxes, but he most definitely has the authority to raise taxes.

Actually, he doesn't need the power (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092583)

The whole "fiscal cliff" doom the fox network is spreading (check who owns redneck eh discovery) just means that if congress digs in its heels and does nothing the President gets his way by default because tax breaks that the repubicans want to extend and increase for the rich will END!

Obama can just sit back and relax if he has the balls, he can get far more taxes by simply waiting out the republicans then trying to bargain with them. The smarter republicans know this (both of them) and are not at all please with their redneck counterparts trying to create a crisis that only exist in republican eyes.

Re:Actually, he doesn't need the power (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092737)

I give the President more credit than that. He wants the government to get together and implement the details of spending and taxation by intelligent policy, not by letting arbitrary automatic hammers that nobody really thinks are intelligently conceived come down. Obama definitely does not want a large middle class tax hike, but that's what the hammer stands to saddle him with.

I think the Republicans want the same thing, and of course their idea of the details of the policy to implement are widely divergent from the President's, and even from each other's.

The cruel part is that neither side is engaging in meaningful debate or willing to enter into any joint decision process. Both are playing a cynical game of not answering the phone, hoping that when the hammer comes down, the other side will get the blame for the devastation. I think both sides will end up sharing the blame, and the rage may be a lot more than either expects.

That's if they have not already all secretly agreed to compromise on December 31.

Re:Actually, he doesn't need the power (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093015)

Do you really think that once the fiscal speed bump hits the Republicans won't try to make deals to save their precious military budget increases?

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (4, Interesting)

Weezul (52464) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092857)

I'm happy if we tax the rich more, but our real problems are :

(1) Spending money on wasteful harmful shit, i.e. warfare (DoD, CIA, etc.), police state (FBI, NSA, etc.), drug war (DEA, etc.), etc.

(2) Permitting the financial industry to extract such insane rents on everything by not regulating them.

(3) Subsidizing established industries, especially oil, nuclear, and agricultural subsidies.

We could cut taxes by massive amounts if we halted all that waste, corruption, and exploitation.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092509)

A few simple, really simple facts to go with your rant:

* governements actually *can* spend their way ouot of debt
* EU is in deep shait *precisely* because of forced spending cuts on problem countries contracting the already strained economies beyond recovery
* government debt is not the monster the fiscal idiots make it to be, au contraire, you know -- or should governments tax the money out of the economy and give it to (foreign) banks executives.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (2)

Seeteufel (1736784) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092681)

There is no real issue in Europe, just a reshaping of the order that is delayed by politicians playing stupid and crying "austerity" for reasons of populism. Debt does not need to be "paid off".Unlike in the US we are not into "quantitative easing" (= pinting money). The eurocrisis could be solved at any time by eurobonds but that would be suicidal unless the regulatory foundations are laid.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (5, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092367)

People just don't get it. The US government does not need to cut its budget by 3%. It needs to cut its budget by 50% or more.

It really isn't that simple, though. The process has to be gradual or everything will implode. Cut the budget by 50% and the economy will take such hit that US collected taxes will drop more than 50% (presumably necessitating further cuts, and so on). Not to mention how many people might starve without foodstamps while you are doing this.

Anyway, a good start would be to force our politicians to keep all wars IN the budget. Iraq and Afganistan are staying outside of the budget in "emergency appropriations" or whatever they are called.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092625)

I think everyone understands that. They big thing the economy needs is to know what to expect. So you don't cut the budget 50% in year one, but what you do is plan 50% cuts and say in year X buget A will be...

That way everyone knows where they need to make adjustments.

Right idea, wrong target (4, Insightful)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092379)

The problem is not the cut itself, but where the cut is being made. Remember news reports that the U.S. government spends more on air conditioning for troops in Afghanistan than the entire budget of NASA?

Does not that then suggests that the government should cut back on military spending? But no, they prefer to cut NASA's budget. After the priority is to blow people and clog the banksters with money.

Re:Right idea, wrong target (5, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092439)

Does not that then suggests that the government should cut back on military spending? But no, they prefer to cut NASA's budget. After the priority is to blow people and clog the banksters with money.

Don't forget the TSA monstrosity that has done absolutely nothing to stop a single terrorist in 11 years (and counting). That's an easy place to start cutting.

Also, much of the Iraq/Afganistan war spending was funded through "supplementary spending" bills, thus these expenses were never in the budget to begin with! Clever, n'est pas?

Re:Right idea, wrong target (1, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092491)

Please, for a moment put aside everything you hear your peers say and ask yourself with an open mind: "what if military spending isn't the problem?" Read the link. The vast majority of the $200 trillion is unfunded entitlements (net difference between estimated outlays vs receipts).

This matches with what the Congressional Budget Office reports [cbo.gov] have been saying for 12 years now. Social Security and especially Medicare/Medicaid are driving us to bankruptcy. That's not saying we have to get rid of them, but they need to be seriously overhauled to keep their costs within realistic levels (e.g. raise retirement/benefit ages to keep pace with life expectancy).

Military spending is a red herring. Yes it can be cut. But even if we completely eliminated it we'd still be on a path to bankruptcy due to the above entitlements. The only route to fiscal solvency is entitlement reform. The longer people refuse to listen to what the CBO has been telling us for over a decade because it's inconvenient to their political ideology, the worse it will get.

Re:Right idea, wrong target (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092561)

Please, for a moment put aside everything you hear your peers say and ask yourself with an open mind: "what if military spending isn't the problem?"

These are not binary decisions. I don't think anyone is seriously advocating to identify a single spending target and cut only there. I assume the original argument was that military should _also_ be cut.

Social Security and especially Medicare/Medicaid are driving us to bankruptcy.

Perhaps everything needs to be cut. One could argue that Medicare/Medicaid benefits many/most people in US. It isn't clear who benefit (except for the military/contractors) by military spending.

Military spending is a red herring. Yes it can be cut. But even if we completely eliminated it we'd still be on a path to bankruptcy due to the above entitlements.

So, since cutting military spending alone cannot save us, it should not be touched at all? Is that the argument here?

I think some of the bitterness and finger pointing comes from the facts that

1. Both parties are set on protecting the military from any cuts at all. No other spending target is _that_ safe
2. Military claims 3% cuts because they get 4% increase instead of 7% increase. Again, no one gets to do that.

Re:Right idea, wrong target (4, Insightful)

Seeteufel (1736784) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092733)

Look at the data, what ratio of military spending per citizen different nations afford. Compare the US military budget with China. Universal healthcare is common in all Occidental nations, for more than 100 years. It didn't get them bankrupt so far. (*)

On the other hand the soviet union overspent on the military side which lead to its bankruptcy and collapse.The fact is that military spending it Keynesianism, it injects money into the economy and keep people employed and busy. Military does also not interfere with the normal market as citizens tend to buy no tanks [youtube.com] .

It is also well known that entering WWII spent the US out of the Great depression, war keynesianism that is.

(*) in fact is demonstrates the lack of cohesion and ethnic union in US society that makes difficult to build the solidarity to support universal healthcare protection.

Re:Right idea, wrong target (1)

prefect42 (141309) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092855)

Add to that war loans to the UK which were actually repaid in full eventually which netted you quite a pretty penny. I'm not complaining here, as I believe the US offered to write those debts off at one point but we declined the offer, and the deal was far from unfair.

Re:Right idea, wrong target (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092827)

Jesus! That Wall Street jizz tastes mighty good, doesn't it? Those 'entitlements' were fully funded before the banks robbed them blind to finance their stock market fraud. Restore the Pre-Reagan tax rates and make the Federal Reserve stop subsidizing the derivatives markets. Eliminate the social security tax cap. Tell big business to use domestic labor, or lose their corporate charters and tax give-a-ways. Ending the wars is a gimme. Abolish prohibition. These are just some of the ways to put an end to this nonsense.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? Thanks for reminding me. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092517)

When Bush came into office the total national debt was about 3 trillion, and when he left it was about 12 trillion. He gave about 10 trillion to the British Over Lords so they could buy up as much of America's capital as possible, so they could privatize it and rent it back to the American people. The Tea party is just a group of descendent of the Royal family whose aim is to also insure that the American people never govern themselves. Who controls the food supply in America the British, who controls the banks the British, who controls the largest realtor the British, .............. WHAT'S OLD IS NEW AGAIN. WELCOME TO THE DARK AGES AMERICA.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? Thanks for reminding me. (1)

RoboJ1M (992925) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092599)

Woo Hoo!

Welcome back, former British colony of Virginia. :)

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092679)

Cut defense and military spending in half and end all current wars. Those things alone would drastically improve the situation.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092929)

You are correct, though even 50% wouldn't be enough, it would be a very good start. In 1921 it took 70% spending cut. In 1947 it took 64% spending cut (and 32% overall tax cut).

The real taxes are not what the rates are, the real taxes is what the government spends. If the government spends 4Trillion that money has to be paid for eventually. It can be paid in that year with 4Trillion in tax and other revenues (like licenses) or it can be put on the credit card.

USA has been putting it on the credit card for a very very long time, in fact to be able to do that Nixon defaulted on the dollar and later Clinton with Rubin refinanced the long term credit card debt with short term, variable rate financing. It is funny to know that so many people believe that Clinton had balanced the budget for 2 years at the end of his term, clearly they are not looking at the overall debt, which was higher every year. You can't pretend you are balancing the budget if your debt is growing and at least not staying the same or even shrinking. I actually think USA has to cut spending to the level of its production and discount the outstanding debt, both funded (public 16T) and unfunded (222T of SS and Medicare) and contingency (FDIC, mortgage insurance with FHA, mortgages with Fed, student loans), and that would be much higher than a 50% cut. But of-course there will be no 50% cut, instead there will be constantly increasing inflation (money printing). So AFAIC just relax and enjoy the ride, it's going to be something (hopefully you have your inflation hedge of-course and make sure not to store it in any bank).

By the way, that 650K number is on a very low side. The 16T is about 54K per person, the 222T is another 740K and then there is the contingency, which is probably greater than those two numbers combined by some factor.

Oh, and do not be surprised that your comment will be moderated into the 'troll' territory. This is /. If you try anything funny like explaining the real situation behind the economics, you'll be left with 2 comments a day maybe.

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (5, Insightful)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093005)

The US government does not need to cut its budget by 3%. It needs to cut its budget by 50% or more. Many programs and federal departments need eliminated entirely. It's not even about the $16 Trillion debt. If the government ran honest accounts, it's about the $200 Trillion debt.

Or what? The sky will fall in and the US will go bankrupt? Civilisation will cease?

You've been fed the biggest, most damaging lie of the last four years, which is government debt works the same as personal household debt. It doesn't.

Deficits aren't the issue here. They go up, they go down, they have always been with us and always will be. That is the nature of the beast. Keynes taught us that deficits are structural, and more or less look after themselves. The key is to keep growth as high as possible. That means investment and government spending during bad runs. Eventually, the ratio of deficit to GDP stabalises. This happened here in the UK post 1945, where government spending hit something like 70% of GDP. The sky didn't fall in then, and it sure as hell won't now.

The US is recovering a shedload faster than the Eurozone and the UK because so far it hasn't bought into the austerity argument. Austerity will do nothing except destroy the fragile recovery. The austerity idea that the private sector will bridge public sector spending cuts is an outright lie.

The budget cut argument is nothing more than a mechanism to transfer wealth to the rich. It is their argument and their ideas that you are parroting, for their benefit. To the rest of us it causes nothing but harm.

Only Medicare and Defense matter (2, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093017)

It needs to cut its budget by 50% or more. Many programs and federal departments need eliminated entirely.

The only programs that truly matter as far as the deficit is concerned are Medicare/Medicaid, Defense and Social Security. Those three together account for about two-thirds [wikipedia.org] of the US budget. Get those programs under control and the problem is solved. All other discretionary spending combined accounts for less than 20% of the budget. Either we need to raise taxes to fully fund the programs we seem to want or we need to cut those programs to a level of taxation we are willing to accept. Either way will work but any argument about anything beyond Medicare and Defense (Social Security is easy to fix and self funding) is either naive or political pandering.

That's only some $650,000 per person that the government has borrowed on behalf of each and every one of you. No problem, right?

A meaningless statistic. As big as the debt is as a percent of GDP, we've had larger debts in our past that have been dealt with just fine, most notably after WWII. That doesn't mean it isn't serious but your attempt to frame the issue doesn't really address how the debt would be dealt with. Corporations pay quite a lot of tax and can be made to pay more if need be. A relatively small percentage of the population has a vast portion of the nation's wealth. Furthermore all the debt the US government has is denominated in US dollars which can be created at will (with some fairly serious negative effects).

Re:Wow, 3% = doom? (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093027)

Huh, I read that blog post. It states that the debt is $200 trillion, and does some hand-waving to justify that position, but no actual details. Just fear mongering. Who knows, maybe they are right, but they made no effort at all to prove to anyone except an innumerate conspiracy theorist that they are right.

Decline of western civilisation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092335)

"The Wire is the story of the decline of western civilisation... disguised as a cop show" - David Simon
The Ascent of Man (credited as the inspiration for Carl Sagan's Cosmos) discusses this from a scientific perspective.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYq4p3z_WXA

Civilisations rise and fall, it"s a sad fact, We must strive to preserve the light of knowledge for future generations who
might actually appreciate and choose to do good with it.

Re:Decline of western civilisation (4, Insightful)

Smivs (1197859) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092507)

We are not witnessing the decline of Western Civilisation, what we are seeing is the decline of a once-great Nation that has badly lost its way.
The financial problems of the US (and consequently the rest of the World) were caused by greed and stupidity - banks lending too much money to people who had no realistic prospect of paying off the loans, which in turn became 'toxic' debts.
The US has also got itself into the ridiculous situation of pissing-off half the World and as a result is now commited to spending un-sustainable ammounts of money on the Military.
As for science and science spending (which this thread is supposed to be about), well what do you expect. In a Nation where it seems half the population don't believe in Global Warming and the other half don't believe in Evolution, and science/technology is based on patenting curved corners then profiting from the resultant litigation, what chance does 'real' science stand?

Re:Decline of western civilisation (1)

Seeteufel (1736784) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092745)

Real science probably won't prosper by funding. I found the US arctic station very interesting.

Everything does need to be on the table (2)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092383)

Vital, down-and-dirty national spending and revenue decisions have been put off for GENERATIONS. We are staring doom in the face. Can salvation be found solely in science spending? Of course not. But does every single budget item and all tax policies and rates need to be on the table and without any sacred cows? HELL YES. And then the specific choices should be wise ones.

Without firm specifics at hand, I still feel very confident that there is 3% of utterly useless fat that could be trimmed from science funding. That's all we're talking about here.

P.S. - I admit that I see no sign whatsoever that seriously addressing the general situation is anywhere near the radar of the fools leading the nation - fools that WE installed. Profound differences over what needs to be done exist. FINE. OF COURSE they exist. But these losers won't even engage. That represents the most disgusting, reprehensible behavior which is possible to imagine.

Re:Everything does need to be on the table (3, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092461)

But does every single budget item and all tax policies and rates need to be on the table and without any sacred cows? HELL YES. And then the specific choices should be wise ones.

Without firm specifics at hand, I still feel very confident that there is 3% of utterly useless fat that could be trimmed from science funding. That's all we're talking about here.

Well, if you are so confident on year after year budgets, please compute what percentage the US research budget will be after 10 years of 3%/pa "fat reduction".

Then see how long 'til China overtakes US, given that 2011 saw China's R&D budget increasing 9.2% [china.org.cn] on a year-to-year basis.

Re:Everything does need to be on the table (0)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092611)

Not long now. Their net spending is up to 7.5 billion in raw dollars and they're getting a LOT more out of that money than the US ever can.

Isn't it ironic (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092413)

The financial parasites that don't actually do anything or produce anything useful have recovered their massive bonuses already, but we are cutting back on people who actually produce thins that improve the quality of life.

Re:Isn't it ironic (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092511)

You add the productive folks in with the working poor who do all the distasteful, oftentimes dangerous jobs and you start to wonder why exactly we keep the "managerial class" around

Re:Isn't it ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092603)

They are the ones doing the "keeping around". Managers beget managers...

Re:Isn't it ironic (1)

Lisias (447563) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092713)

you start to wonder why exactly we keep the "managerial class" around

Managing us, what else? =P

Keep in mind, *we* made the managers the same way *we* made the politicians. They're not extra terrestrials invading our business, but people like us that managed to get results from us.

They're the right tool to do the right job. Blame your colleagues every time you boss screws you without consequences. He does it because this is the way that works with your team.

Re:Isn't it ironic (1)

ChristW (18232) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092831)

... and you start to wonder why exactly we keep the "managerial class" around

Put them on the B-ark!

Re:Isn't it ironic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092531)

The financial parasites that don't actually do anything or produce anything useful have recovered their massive bonuses already

They provide liquidity you insensitive clod!

/s

Kilroy was here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092449)

Our existence needs to produce a surplus. People need to be fed, but that's not enough. As a society, we need to contribute to the humanity's scientific, cultural and philosophical legacy. That's the real "Kilroy was here."

I'm not saying the current level and direction of government funding is right, but financing these "unproductive" efforts is a crucial government function. We were gifted by the previous generations -- we owe it to our descendants.

Correction (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092451)

"The German science programs that landed the first man on the moon" - Corrected

O, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092501)

Why is it that people want to turn EVERYTHING into the final Armageddon that will be the end of everything. There is no difference between the 'fiscal cliff' and every other time the US government changed the rules because they are too lazy and comfortable to address the real financial issues. No difference - except this time it is the dreaded FISCAL CLIFF. O, NO!!

NONE of the real issues have been addressed anywhere. And we will pay for it at some point. The whole planet will. The American government is not the only lazy and comfortable government in the world.

We Don't Have To Cut... (1, Interesting)

rally2xs (1093023) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092523)

a D thing!

What we have to do is to reindustrialize America. That is, get the jobs back from overseas. How do we do that? First, we have to recognize that jobs did NOT go overseas because of work-for-peanuts foreign labor rates. No, no, no. They went overseas because of... taxes! Specifically, income taxes are toxic to industry in any amount. We should get rid of them.

_The_ answer is the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax calls for the complete repeal of all income taxes, every last one of them: individual, corporate, alternative minimum, self employment, estate, gift, social security / medicare, capital gains, etc. etc. Income taxes are essentially a tax on prosperity, and like RR said, "If you want less of something, tax it." Boy does that work great with income tax. We have waaaaaaay less prosperity than we could have.

The Fair Tax taxes consumption. That is, it is a sales tax. Stop with the knee-jerk "regressive" reaction, already, the income taxes are already incredibly regressive, with the Social Security / Medicare tax taking the first 15.3% of _every_ person's wages from the 1st dollar they make, it not mattering a whit that such person is only making $11,000 / yr. And if that isn't regressive enough, the Social Security / Medicare tax is capped in the $100K range, meaning the really rich people pay far LESS percentage than the poor person.

  The Fair Tax taxes consumption, and "prebates" the amount of tax you pay on the amount of money you spend up to the poverty level. That is, if the poverty level is $11K per year for you if you are single, then the government sends you the amount of tax on $11K, in 12 equal monthly payments, so if you're poor you don't pay a penny of Fair Tax, it is paid for you.

What this does is make the USA the worlds newest, bestest tax shelter for industry to produce goods and services tax free. That is huge, since, according to Fair Tax researchers, approximately 22% of the selling price of everything produced in the USA is composed of industry expenses caused by income taxes. That is, a $40,000 SUV built in this country has about $8,800 of income tax expense in it. By contrast, it only takes about 30 - 33 labor hours to build the $40K SUV, and at the industry-stated rate of $78 / hr expense of labor to the the car companies, that is only $2,500 labor expenses to build the SUV.

Want to fix the economy permanently? Pass the Fair Tax, get unemployment down to 3% in about 2 years, killing about $100,000,000 of unemployment expenses and $70,000,000 of food stamp expenses to the gov't, and increase gov't revenues due to the huge expansion in the economy. Then, when full employment is achieved, wages start going up because of a labor shortage. That is when we can decide to let anyone that wants to immigrate to come here without restriction other than criminals and people with dread diseases, who we can also provide with good jobs and high wages, which.... generates more revenue from their spending. That, plus the fact that the Fair Tax broadens the tax base by including, for the 1st time, criminals that use the money stolen from the public via illegal means to buy their luxuries which will be taxed, as well as the idle rich that have no income but will be taxed heavily when they buy that $70M yacht, and, BTW, the rich contribute far more to the tax base than they do now simply because of their spending on luxury items.

We can do this, or continue with the income taxes sucking the lifeblood out of our economy, and be forced into austerity, and eventual 3rd-world existence because we'll be forced to lower wages to the work-for-peanuts foreign worker equivalent, while the gov't takes taxes from the wrong places, and forces jobs to continue to flee the USA and end up in places like India and Bangladesh.

Re:We Don't Have To Cut... (2)

hattig (47930) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092649)

What rate would you set this Fair Tax at so that you would raise enough money to fund all the programmes you need to fund?

Would you have different rates for different classes of goods? E.g., gas/electricity, baby clothes, food, luxury goods, cars, ...

What about the problem that rich people simply don't spend all their money, therefore a fair tax could actually just mean they pay even less money than they do now on their earnings (tax avoidance notwithstanding). There's only so many sports cars you can buy.

There is an argument to introduce VAT whilst reducing corporation tax - corporations are offshoring more and more of their money in order to avoid tax, so you should just get the tax at the point of sale instead.

In reality governments merely tweak the tax rules because doing a major change will be highly disruptive.

Re:We Don't Have To Cut... (3, Insightful)

rally2xs (1093023) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092765)

The Fair Tax is described in detail at www.fairtax.org, and I support that. The tax rate, effectively, is 30% as most people calculate taxes, although the Fair Tax info describes it as 23%, which is the amount of tax on the total price+tax amount.

The Fair Tax is designed to replace the amount of revenue raised by the current income tax, although the happy situation is that the income tax revenues have fallen lately, so the Fair Tax would actually generate more revenue than the income taxes do now.

The Fair Tax gets its strength from growing the economy. We would be so knee-deep in industrial activity that, eventually, we would be able to fund everything without cutting anything. That sort of projection isn't at the website, but just something that seems logical from the highly unusual situation in having an industrialized country with no income tax. We'd be the only place on the planet like that, and, with that being such a good deal for industry, we'd be a gigantic industrial magnet. I believe the projections for the success of the Fair Tax are greatly understated, and that the Fair Tax is _the_ answer for our economic problems.

Big difference between US and Europe (1)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092543)

A huge percentage of our spending is in maintaining the empire. Bring all of the troops home and cu all payments to foreign governments would solve this problem overnight.

If we could give up the $1T+ empire we would be fine.

If you then default in the debt we would be in great shape. You could even pass a law to make those bond losses count as earned income over the next 10 years to minimize the harm to citizens. Plus nobody would lend us money and we would automatically balance the budget.

Re:Big difference between US and Europe (3, Interesting)

rally2xs (1093023) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092581)

We just kicked the president of Egypt in the teeth by threatening his pipeline of money via "Foreign Aid" into doing the right thing in this war between Israel and the Palestinians, resulting in the continued existence of our only really friendly country in the middle east, and in our not having to get involved militarily ourselves to achieve that. Without "foreign aid", we'd either have to abandon Israel to annihilation by the Muslim Hordes, or come to their aid with troops.

IOW, we're getting a lot of bang for our "foreign aid" buck, or more properly renamed, our "bribe to behave" which is what foreign aid really is.

Re:Big difference between US and Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092667)

Yes because the right thing to do is support the continued colonization of a middle east state by a bunch of racist european jews.

Re:Big difference between US and Europe (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092691)

So you want to kill them all? That's what'll happen if Israel is defeated militarily.

Re:Big difference between US and Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092881)

This would give them good reason to start behaving less racist against the natives. Also, I seriously doubt that Israel is seriously threatened at this point, they have a strong military, not to mention their "secret" nukes.

Re:Big difference between US and Europe (4, Insightful)

gtall (79522) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092587)

Maybe it would help if you looked at the budget. Of about $3.5 trillion for 2012, approximately 2/3 is for social programs and entitlements. The other 1/3 is discretionary. The military is in the discretionary side. So "maintaining the empire" isn't the problem, it never was (and given how the rest of the world effects the U.S., having a strong military is likely worth the expense). Oh, and only about $700 billion is military, and much of that is spent in the U.S., so cutting it means less industry, less employed people, etc.

Re:Big difference between US and Europe (3, Interesting)

Lisias (447563) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092789)

Oh, and only about $700 billion is military, and much of that is spent in the U.S., so cutting it means less industry, less employed people, etc.

The GP is right. You must be blinded by "imperialism syndrome" to address 700 BILLIONS of Dollars with the adverb "just".

A lot of the problems USA faces today is the result of the very same policy you're defending as if means "more industries, more employed people, etc".

We must talking about efficiency. USA took 10 years and 2 TRILLION Dollars and something just to kill a single man [yahoo.com] . USA is clearly holding, I mean, doing something very wrong.

Granted, I'm not saying everything is wrong, neither that all the military expenses are unnecessary...

Re:Big difference between US and Europe (1)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092989)

How does military spending on making weapons in the US help US citizens? The contractors bid up prices on all materials and capital that could be put to use building things people want is instead going to build weapons to blow up things an kill people overseas. We would be much better off with all of those employed in the MIC working in other industries.

Re:Big difference between US and Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092695)

"If you then default in the debt we would be in great shape"

Who is this we you're talking about? A curious thing happens when you default on debt - people are very reluctant to lend you money in the future.

Lets be real for a moment (5, Informative)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092545)

I don't know if it's even possible for most people to be rational on this issue but I'll make a stab at it.

Is it scientific spending that is bankrupting the US government?

No it is not.

This is NOT where the cut should come. The cut should be everything else.

I won't state what should be cut because things are so ideological and people are so irrational on the subject that their eyes will roll back into their heads and start foaming at the mouth. But I think we can all agree that it isn't scientific spending that is generating the US debt.

Very well. Cut what is driving spending up.

Stop giving tax benefits to religion. (4, Interesting)

Going_Digital (1485615) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092605)

How about withdrawing tax benefits given to religious groups and instead tax Churches like any other business and use the money to fund tax breaks for science. As far as I can see science has done many things to make our lives better in recent years where as religion has just stood in the way of the progress of science.

Re:Stop giving tax benefits to religion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092715)

"How about withdrawing tax benefits given to religious groups and instead tax Churches like any other business and use the money to fund tax breaks for science. As far as I can see science has done many things to make our lives better in recent years where as religion has just stood in the way of the progress of science."

For openers, the power to tax is the power to destroy, which would cause this tax scheme to run afoul of the constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state. Also, organized religious communities provide a great many benefits to their members and to the community at large, including help for the poor, food kitchens, etc. Go into the inner city and see who is sponsoring many of the charity efforts that help people there - it's not NASA.

Re:Stop giving tax benefits to religion. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092751)

which would cause this tax scheme to run afoul of the constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state.

I'm not seeing how taxes would stop anyone from worshiping any god. But maybe if I claim to be a believer of the flying spaghetti monster and that the flying spaghetti monster says it is a sin to pay taxes, I'll be able to avoid paying taxes...

Also, organized religious communities provide a great many benefits to their members and to the community at large, including help for the poor, food kitchens, etc.

Then the church a way to acquire the necessary money to pay the taxes. If everyone else has to, I don't see why they shouldn't.

Re:Stop giving tax benefits to religion. (0)

MadCow-ard (330423) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092829)

Sorry, but that is just emotional. The Government does 1000 times more to assist the poor than Church groups do. In fact, many of the NGO Church groups take money from the Government to give the help you are describing. Churches, Mosques, Temples are all businesses. You can say they are businesses for good purposes, but they are businesses none the less. A better way would be to start a business and call it based on my "faith" in Widgets. Then register as a Religious based NPO and take advantage of the same zero tax status as the others. Thus we could all stop paying taxes. (I'm being ironic of course). The power to tax is the power to destroy? LOL. Yes, but its easier just to declare a Church unlawful, and leave it at that. Congress can destroy something like a church without needing to tax it to death. By your logic, Congress should dissolve since it "might" run afoul of the constitution. Taxes are not to destroy the payer, they are to distribute money to areas which the individual can not reach, and the group requires to benefit the social good. Yes, of course there are boondogles coming out of congress, but that's just the nature of democracy. "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Winston Churchill

Re:Stop giving tax benefits to religion. (1)

Going_Digital (1485615) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092849)

Also, organized religious communities provide a great many benefits to their members

And there you have it, tax benefits should only be given to organisations that benefit others, so genuine charities like the red cross that help others and don't act a social club for its members are deserving of tax incentives.

...including help for the poor, food kitchens, etc. Go into the inner city and see who is sponsoring many of the charity efforts that help people there - it's not NASA.

There are plenty of non-religious charitable groups helping the community without the obligatory preaching that goes with it. Churches are out to gain members and what better way to do that than to target vulnerable people with their marketing message in a time of need. It is no different to how any business works in identifying a target group and promoting themselves. This blatant self promotion should not be given tax privileges. This is not to say that the individual people who volunteer to help with these things have anything but a desire to help people in need, the church on the other hand knows full well what they are doing.

Re:Stop giving tax benefits to religion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092955)

Can you please cite this alleged constitutionally-mandated separation of Church and State?

The 1st Amendment does not establish separation. It only establishes that the government cannot create a state-run religion or church, nor persecute anyone based solely on their religious beliefs.

The 1st Amendment does not forbid the government observing an existing religion, having religious artifacts on its buildings or property, or from printing the words 'In God we Trust' on its currency.

I am an Atheist, and inasmuch as I would love to see all religion scoured from the planet, I still understand plain English and respect the rule of Law.

Religion is the root of all evil, and only exists as a tool to control the small-minded.

Re:Stop giving tax benefits to religion. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092961)

Do you honestly think this is why the US is in debt? Honestly?

I won't say what is causing the debt because I assume you know already and can't handle it... but this isn't what is bankrupting the US.

Furthermore, most of these religious organizations are technically charities... so if you nuked their exemption you'd nuke the exemption for charities... which includes Green Peace, PETA, The Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc... Seriously... think. No really. Stop and give it a good five minute think. This is not what is killing us.

What is bankrupting us? Okay. Stop doing that.

No pay for Congress = fixed by morning (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092617)

Whoever makes the budget gets paid last.

It's just that simple.

If there's no money left, then Congress should get no pay until the situation is fixed.

Don't forget China next year! (1)

Tagged_84 (1144281) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092633)

Analysts are predicting that next year China will overtake the US as the leader in scientific output.

Wonder if that might be a big enough blow to the US ego to consider a reverse in funding cuts?

Affecting STEM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092743)

& they wonder why smart kids study day-trading instead of STEM.

Lower productivity is inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092775)

When one transfers resources from the most productive members of society over to the least productive, the overall productivity of that society will go down.

American society has decided, in the previous two general elections, to greatly increase the amount of resources that it transfers from the most productive to the least productive. Hence, the productivity of American society should be expected to drop. This drop in productivity will take many forms, no doubt, including a slowing of advancement in science.

Why is anybody surprised by this?

It's easy, but nobody wants to do it. (0)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092837)

Stop declaring war and sending money overseas. You'd get back about $500-750bn a year instantly.

Abolish all taxes and associated administration, except for one.

Stop declaring war and sending money overseas.

Implement a 50% income tax rate on individuals. By a quick reckoning based on census data and current average wages, this would give you about $10T a year. Current tax receipts contribute only 25% of the current $15T annual GDP (only Chile and Mexico tax less as a share of GDP!). This would make them contribute nearer to 67%. The rich get taxed in proportion, the non-working don't get taxed, the lowly worker gets taxed a pittance. Products, imports and running a business get cheaper = wages have more value anyway.

Stop declaring war and sending money overseas.

Enforce that income tax like mad, so that people *can't* escape it. Hell, make all currency have to go through a central US bank if necessary.

Stop declaring war and sending money overseas.

Re:It's easy, but nobody wants to do it. (2)

MrKaos (858439) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092973)

Stop declaring war and sending money overseas. You'd get back about $500-750bn a year instantly.

It's because there has been this perception that money on wars boosts economies. That may have been true when the countries were building production capacity and put every scrap of resources into doing so but now the production capacity exists governments take loans our to operate that capacity for political purposes.

Science and innovation is not as sexy to uninformed populations so even though it creates jobs by building industry all that science stuff is just confusing so people don't support it. It kinda sucks how once you let it go it's a downward spiral. War is more important than innovation, except when the innovation is killing.

Think about the entities who lobby your congress critters, do you think they want their business models disturbed by some disruptive technology created by *cough* scientists?

Sounds bad but... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092843)

Good programs can always be rebuilt, if not by us, then by someone else. At least the fiscal cliff will cut military programs...and cutting them is far more important to me than any science program. Other countries can have science programs and educate their people....we need to stop being such warmongers first.

Duke Nukem Run-on-the banks (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092847)

Personally, I'd rather see Financial Crisis Quake.

Human progress (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092865)

The American science programs that landed the first man on the moon, found cures for deadly diseases and bred crops that feed the world now face the possibility of becoming relics in the story of human progress

Wow, human progress is becoming a relic of human progress. Those humans must be a bunch of oxymorons!

Isn't this what we wanted? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092893)

I mean, we're the electorate, and we consistently vote for representatives who are short-sighted, self-interested, and frankly, stupid.

I don't care WHICH side of the political fence you're on. Both parties have full rosters of idiots, and we seem to be listening more and more to the histrionic extremists and punishing the moderate centrists.

BOTH parties seem entirely focused on maintaining their own partisan grip on power and enriching their supporters, rather than actually doing their jobs.

Instead of having a reasonable cross-spectrum discussion about meaningful subjects like the role of government in the 21st century, we seem to be satisfied with an educational system that churns out 'citizens' with only a faint grasp on basic concepts of math or reading (to say nothing of civics, history, or art), and who are thereby easily swayed by entertaining but vapid emotionalist demagogues from both extremes.

To the OP: assume you have a budget planner who can't do basic math, and continues to budget your spending for far, far more than you make every year. Then, when things get tough, he does things like whine that "you need to just make more money" and cut off your long term investments instead of making the needed choices about maybe not buying a new gun this year, or cutting off some of the freeloading relatives who could probably get a job anyway (mainly because the guy you buy guns from takes him on junkets, and the freeloading relatives keep recommending that he's the guy for the job, respectively).
Wouldn't you FIRE him immediately for gross incompetence, if not have him outright prosecuted?

Some of us had the 'excessively sympathetic friend' in high school. The friend that, whenever something went wrong, they always 'helped us' by figuring out someone else to blame for everything. Didn't get the library book in on time? It was the LIBRARY's fault for being closed on Sunday (not you, for waiting until the very last moment to return it...). Girlfriend dumped you? She was a controlling harpy (it certainly had nothing to do with you cheating on her, that was just a mistake...). Failed calculus? Of course it was because the teacher hated you (and nothing to do with the fact that you got stoned instead of doing your homework). It was always someone else's fault.

Those are the talking heads on both sides.
They are entertainers. They are employed because they are entertaining blamers. Not because they're reasonable, not because they're wise. And we keep listening to them - the Limbaughs and Colters, the Maddows and Mahers. These are the people that make us feel better because everything is "someone else's fault".

WE are the ones who keep returning 95%+ of politicians to their seats.
WE are the ones who are ultimately responsible for putting them there.
WE have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Re:Isn't this what we wanted? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092933)

What he said.

We're already going over the cliff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092911)

We went over the cliff the moment Obama was re-elected and it became clear that there would likely be gridlock and a completely inability to avert it. Don't take this to mean I am blaming it on Obama alone - it just is what it is - a Congress and a President who are each of them incapable of compromise in any meaningful way.

I work for a major multinational C&I electronics manufacturer, and our R&D office had about 250 engineers (software, hardware, manufacturing) until about a week ago. Deep R&D cutbacks were announced for 2013 onward and several projects were canceled or mothballed. 70 engineers were laid off Wednesday before thanksgiving with more layoffs to be announced in January, depending on what Congress and the President are able (or not able) to do about solving this.

Our business depends on capital spending, and that valve was shut off pretty much immediately. We're still trying to figure out what to do with the millions in inventory that were running down the line for orders that were canceled in the days after the election.

It's gruesome, folks. Seriously. I'm on the front lines and the media is not letting any of you see what is happening here. You're being shown pictures of fantasy through rose-colored glasses, but the reality is that the economy's wheels are locked up and the train is sliding to an abrupt halt.

The time to wake up is now, and to get on the phone to your Congress Critters and the President and tell them that this is no longer the time to dig in their heels and butt heads. Don't send emails. They just get form-letter responses. Call on the phone. Demand to speak to them. Wait on hold. If you live in the DC area, go there in person. If your critter is actually home, go bang down the doors of their local office.

This is serious.

Isn't it ironic (1)

sumitkhurana38 (2777695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092947)

The financial parasites that don't actually do anything or produce anything useful have recovered their massive bonuses already,

We already fell off (2, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093035)

We jumped off this cliff in 1971 in order to pay for the the Vietnam war. We've been falling ever since. It just hasn't looked like we're falling because we're all boxed up inside a Fiat currency. Now that we're nearing the bottom and bouncing off a few jagged boulders, people are starting to realize we might be screwed. I love how this "Fiscal cliff" they've invented is designed to scare everyone, even scientists, into letting them raise taxes and reduce services even more. Hilarious.
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