Stimulated package

By Phil Plait | February 8, 2009 11:10 am

Good news! It looks like a lot of the science stimulus funding will stay in the economic package!

Here’s the breakdown:

NASA
Science $300,000,000
Aeronautics $250,000,000
Shuttle Replacement $500,000,000
Cross-Agency Support (Construction) $250,000,000
Office of the Inspector General $2,000,000
Total = $1,302,000,000
 
National Science Foundation
Research and related activities $1,000,000,000
Major equipment and facilities construction $150,000,000
Education and human resources $50,000,000
Office of the Inspector General $2,000,000
Total = $1,202,000,000

So the package means NASA and the NSF each get over a billion dollars in additional funding, though apparently the Department of Energy office of science did not get any additional funding, which is a bummer (DOE did get $1B for energy efficiency research). NASA gets $500M for Shuttle replacement work, which is very badly needed, and $300M to go toward science (yay!). NSF gets a cool billion for research, which means lots and lots of scientists will be able to further our knowledge and make the world a better place.

This bill will go up for vote on Monday. It may still get voted down, though I doubt it; lots of compromises were made (too many, perhaps), so IMO a filibuster is unlikely. With people hurting as much as they are right now, and a clear mandate for change that’s swept the nation, anyone who looks obstructionist at this point is risking political suicide.

We’ll see how this plays out on Monday.

Tip o’ the majority whip to ScienceDebate2008.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics, Science

Comments (80)

  1. Ian Menzies

    That is good news.

    Also, the title of this post makes me laugh, because I have a dirty mind.

  2. Vernon Balbert

    I wonder if my letters to my senators made any difference. Regardless, I’m glad I wrote.

  3. Great! Thanks for keeping us updated. Even though I am not directly affect by the stimulus package (here in the UK), I believe its effect will be of global importance.

    BTW: you wrote “DOE did get $1B for energy efficiency research”. Should there be a “previously” in there somewhere? It’s hard to keep track of what went in and was left out.

  4. My question: Anyone hiring? It’s great that there is a stimulus package, but the real trick is to get people hiring again. */em hands out his resume*

  5. Miko

    Last I heard, only 37% of the population supports the “stimulus” bill. When it passes and we find out a few months later that it had absolutely no effect beyond lining lobbyist pockets, just like the 800 billion for TARP before it, when we see prices shooting up wildly because of the inflation caused by the bill, and when investigative journalists start noticing that the bill, if anything, made things worse, I suspect it’ll be those who voted for the bill who discover that they committed political suicide.

  6. GJE

    yeah great… more money spent that we have no way to pay for. does anyone else think the stimulus spending is total BS feel-good steps? (1) the money will not arrive until 1 to 2 years from the bill passing and the economy will most likely stabalize by itself by then. (2) you will pay double if not triple for all this stimulus cost years from now with new taxes and credit owed to places like China. gee, i guess you can say scientist like mr. bad astronomy are hos too. just spread enough money around and he’ll get up and cheer and shake his whorey little bootie.

  7. Adam

    I ended up writing to a number of senators, not just my own. I’d like to think I made a small difference at least.

  8. BMcP

    With people hurting as much as they are right now, and a clear mandate for change that’s swept the nation, anyone who looks obstructionist at this point is risking political suicide.

    Except the ‘stimulus bill’ isn’t all that politically popular with the people anymore, so opposing it isn’t political suicide, especially if you oppose it for all the right reasons. If you think the bill is done wrong in principle, I hope you will oppose it and not just buckle because you think it may make you look good.

    I am totally cool with NASA and the NSF getting more money, but I am not happy with the total package, too much spending on too many things that won’t help.

    “Change” means nothing unless it is spelled out concretely and that change is a real change to the positive, just vaguely promising “change” in itself means nothing, I remain skeptical, as everyone should, politicians shouldn’t get more of a break from us then everyone else.

  9. Thanks for the nod, Bad As… some things should be noted:

    1. DOE/Science does get $330M in new money in the Senate version.

    2. The science community was able to save $3.1 billion that had been slated to be cut from the Senate version of the bill on Friday, but the final bill is still several billion short of what is being proposed in the House version.

    3. Now the next battle will be over how much of the (usually higher) House targets can be preserved in Conference Committee. Here’s a brief rundown of the differences between House >and> Senate versions of the increases for science in the stimulus bill:

    NASA gains $700M (H:602M>>S:1,302M)
    NOAA loses $5M (H:1B>>S:995M)
    NIST loses $25M (H:500M>>S:475M)
    NSF loses $1.8B (H:3.002B>>S:1.202B)
    DOE/Science loses $1.67B (H:2B>>S:330M)
    CDC loses $50M (H:462M>>S:412M)
    NIH loses $2.488B (H:10.5B>>S:8.012B)

    4. Much of the proposed spending is for thousands of research jobs, as well as bricks and mortar jobs for lab construction. These types of expenditures stimulate the economy now and at the same time lead to new innovations that grow the economy long term, so it’s a double bang for your buck.

  10. Who says it isn’t popular? I’d look at the sources of who’s reporting what on this. I’ve seen polls all over the map on this.

  11. Zyggy

    I’m very pleased to see some of the pleasant ‘science-type’ surprises in the economic package. However, what I find disturbing are a lot of the things that got cut:

    CNN Link: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/07/stimulus.cuts/index.html

    Zyg

  12. firemancarl

    I did read on cnn.com that 50 mil from NASA did get cut. Do you know what the 50 mil was for/from?

  13. TexasSpaceMan

    According to CNN:
    • $50 million for NASA

    • $50 million for aeronautics

    • $50 million for exploration

    • $200 million for National Science Foundation

    Has been cut on the compromised bill… do these figures reflect that?

    Source: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/07/stimulus.cuts/index.html

  14. tw

    It is the height of intellectual dishonesty to call that hunk of deficit spending ‘Stimulus’…

    The ones in political jeopardy will be the ones that supported it when it fails to do anything o improve the economy.

  15. James

    I think what we’ll see is what we always see in Washington. The Republicans will totally oppose the stimulus package, on objections like we need more tax cuts, not more spending. IMO, though, I don’t think they are opposing it because they think it won’t work. They are opposing it because they think it MIGHT work. If it does, and the economy gets better, who benefits? The Democrats, because they fixed something the Republicans couldn’t by trying something other than tax cuts (which didn’t work at all). The Republicans entire platform is based on one thing: Fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of immigrants, fear of wealth distribution, fear, fear, fear. Be scared of everything, be isolationist. They have no new ideas, but aren’t willing to let anyone else try something. If the stimulus package is passed, and it DOESN’T work, the Republicans will benefit. But I don’t think that they really believe it won’t help, and aren’t willing to take that chance.

    They fear it, because they fear for their own jobs, many of which have gone away in the last two elections.

  16. I take back what I previously stated about, “This package is unstimulated”. This is now the gayest (not that there’s anything wrong with that) headline the BA has ever written. I eagerly look forward to more! ;)

  17. Phil,

    Were people in Congress being obstructionists when the opposed the authorization for force against Iraq when it was more popular than this bill?

    Would people in Congress have been obstructionist in 2001 if they had opposed the Patriot Bill which had popular support?

    It doesn’t make any sense that since one small part of the enormous funding bill goes towards NASA and NSF that this is a good bill. If you support the bill for some other broader reasons, than elaborate, because this narrow focus is unbecoming of a skeptic.

    James:

    Obama has been throwing down the fear card quite a lot lately.

  18. Lawrence

    Why is it that people think, that when the government spends money it doesn’t create jobs?

    My company was awarded a government contract & we hired 50 people and spent over 1mil dollars on equipment (which helped our suppliers) to fulfill our obligations.

    Seriously, all of this money is going to be plowed back into the economy anyway. Government employees spend just as much as the rest of us (via their salaries), government contractors hire directly & bring subcontractors on board (who in turn hire people).

    And, spending on infrastructure is always a good thing. People keep saying – well, Japan tried this & it didn’t work. Well, the main difference between us & Japan is that most of their infrastructure was up to date in the first place (because of our bombing them back into the stone-age during WWII). Ours, on the other hand, is in pretty bad shape. I know of several billion dollars worth of transporation projects in the MD/DC/VA area alone that are waiting for funding.

    Now, would I be happy cutting the government in 1/2? Of course, but at the moment, we need all the help we can get. Wall Street rode the economy off the rails once again, time for someone else to pick up the pieces.

  19. I love science “stuff.” That’s why I read here.
    But all of that money you show such glee in getting helps the economy how?
    Lawrence, you need to rethink it fellah… your unique situation doesn’t put Timmy Trailerpark or Tyrone in da Bronx in a job….

  20. Doesn’t it have to be reconciled with the House version, a process that I believe involves combining the worse parts of each?

    And as for With people hurting as much as they are right now, and a clear mandate for change that’s swept the nation, anyone who looks obstructionist at this point is risking political suicide.

    There aren’t any elections until until late 2010 and – oh, look, something shiny!

    …er, where were we?

  21. James

    Shane: My senior in high school, college bound daughter’s mutual fund lost 1/3 of its value in just over a year. I am not sure how we will fund her college now.

    I don’t have time for fear, I have reality staring me in the face. SOMETHING has to be done, so lets get it done, and see where it goes. All of these predictions of dire consequenses are just that: predictions. They are no better than going to down to the local roadside psychic.

  22. Ray

    So exactly how is spending money on NASA gonna stimulate the economy?

    The porkulus bill is a failure from go.

  23. I’m happy that I won’t be paying to be stimulated by BO’s package. All your children will be paying for it.

  24. James

    To all of you posters bashing this stimulus package and saying it won’t work:

    What’s your idea?

  25. Lawrence

    Ummmm…let’s see – NASA has hundreds of contractors, employing thousands, if not tens of thousands of people (including Timmy Trailerpark or Tyrone from the Bronx) doing everything from landscaping to janitorial services, to buying office supplies, etc.

    Somehow, people think this money is being blasted into space or something. Everything spent is trickling down to the suppliers and contractors, which in turn are spent on salaries, capital purchases, and benefits.

    How is this any different than Microsoft or Lockheed Martin spending hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D? Again, all of this money is going into the supply chain, which ultimately benefits the economy as a whole.

    And I can tell you, my particular situation is more than just common, it happens every single day. If the government spent less, that means that government contractors do less business, lay people off, don’t buy as much, hurting their suppliers, etc, etc, etc.

    Same thing if Ford or Chrysler went out of business – what happens to all of their suppliers?

    If you think you can just wave a magic wand and improve the economy through tax breaks – that is the height of folly. If companies are forced to lay off hundreds of thousands of additional workers (and still, don’t be surprised if he hit 10% unemployment nationwide this time next year)- how does a break in taxes on income that those people aren’t getting in the first place, going to help?

    Ultimately, you can lay the blame on the individuals (or groups) that created whole industries built on concepts, not actual products or services. All of these derivative packages that went belly up were just re-hashed mortgages and debt, repackaged and sold again and again. We talk about a bubble, and is this case, it absolutely was – most of the wealth generated by Wall Street over the past few years has been entirely ficticious – based on faith in the markets. As soon as that faith was shaken & people realized how bad things actually were – the house of cards came crashing down.

    A lot of what is in the current package, though not perfect, is at least a step in the right direction. Spending on infrastructure will generate quite a few construction jobs (which pay very well) – and trickle down to everyone who supports those types of projects. Which in turn, generates additional economic activity in other sectors.

    One way or the other, if we don’t get banks lending again, corporations producing, and more money into the system (given the $10 trillion dollars of wealth that has evaporated over the last few months) the deficits we’ve seen over the past eight years will be minor in comparison – due to complete economic collapse.

  26. James,

    I’m sorry your mutual fund did poorly, but that has little to do with whether or not we should spend this money. My mutual funds did ok, but I wouldn’t base my suggestions on that single fact.

    My ideas would be to get out budget under control so that inflation and dollar devaluation don’t continue to squeeze lower to middle income families, eliminate Surbanes-Oxelyand its ilk that crippled the IPO market for the last 7 years, withdraw our troops from just about everywhere, especially peaceful areas like Europe, stop having the government guarantee loans so companies deal with the risk, prevent the government from enticing people to take on more debt (like new card credits), and keep the government out of wage regulation.

    What I would spend money on, is a national effort on educating people on how money works, how to balance a budget (and lead by example), and how to properly invest and save.

    That’s my idea, perhaps not as popular as just as giving money that doesn’t exist out.

  27. BethK

    The CNN report on the polls is at:
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/06/stimulus.polls/

    The Gallup poll shows the number of people supporting the concept and then the bill is falling a bit, but that is normal when people see specifics. There is no ideal solution. We don’t know what will work. But we do know that we are losing many jobs. People are not spending money because they aren’t sure if they’ll lose their jobs. Companies and people are afraid to spend.

    Until we get some financial confidence as a country (and world), the economy will get worse. There are no easy or sure answers.

    @James: Be sure to fill out the FAFSA and apply for as much financial aid as you can. I thought the House version of the stimulus package had some college student support. It increased the size of the Pell grants and the tuition tax credit. But I hear you on the collapsing college funds. Ours too. Ouch!

  28. jasonB

    @James et al

    Could you please point out one instance where a country was able to tax an spend its self into prosperity?

  29. Lawrence

    Well, we’ve certainly spent enough in the last 30 years. I find it funny that the only time we’ve had a budget surplus in recent memory was under Clinton.

    And, the economic recoveries under Reagan & Bush (II) ended up with pretty bad recessions attached to them at the end, due to major issues with bubble economies.

    There has to be a better way, all around, but you have to start somewhere.

  30. MadScientist

    Yay … science gets a few B. Where does the other 900+B go? “Homeland Security”? Hahaha. I’ve always been dubious about the “economic stimulus” packages being harped by political puppets around the globe; we shall see if any good comes of it. I worry that a lot of ‘jobs’ will not be real jobs but “do this menial chore and collect a government paycheck” type of job which is neither good for the economy nor good for the individuals. In Australia the proposals are to artificially prop up inflation and hand out “busy work” rather than real jobs – it’s really rather comical and reminds me of Juan Peron throwing money at the thronging poor; what’s not funny is that in the long term such ill-conceived “packages” will only do more harm than good.

  31. justcorbly

    Everyone has their own favorite flavors of pork. But, in terms of economic stimulus, it really doesn’t make that much difference where the money goes, so long as it goes to people who turn around and spend it elsewhere.

    Sure, we might as well spend it on something useful, but if we gave it all to guys who sll tacos from modified RV’s that would work as long as they didn’t stuff the proceeds into their 40l-K’s.

  32. KC

    >Lawrence, you need to rethink it fellah… your unique situation doesn’t put Timmy >Trailerpark or Tyrone in da Bronx in a job…

    On the contrary, Timmy or Tyrone might be able to get a job as a result. Not all the jobs at NASA are Astronauts. Plus I don’t think firing all the scientists, eliminating some of the best jobs in the world in the process and making them into trailer park trash would do our economy a whole lot of good.

  33. Russ

    I worked the math out on this one, and if you are a very productive member of society, making, say 120k-250k, to balance things out amouts to a 10k-50k pay cut. Wonderful :)

    Everyone who says that this creates jobs because government offices hire people are idiots. They hire people at the expense of taxpayers and private enterprise. Taxpayers and businesses get taxed more and therefore can spend less and hire less people. Whoopie, we get more government jobs, less private enterprise jobs. Reminds me of the people who claim that breaking windows is good for the economy.

  34. GJE Says: “does anyone else think the stimulus spending is total BS feel-good steps? the money will not arrive until 1 to 2 years from the bill passing and the economy will most likely stabalize by itself by then.”

    The best description I heard was that this bill was like mailing a letter to the fire department telling them your house is on fire.

    – Jack

  35. I wonder if the AMS (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer) flight of the shuttle is still a “go”…
    I hope this means the NSF will continue to fund ALMA too. But then -I- would, huh?

  36. @ JasonB — USA in WWII — I do not know whether FDR raised taxes (I do not think he did) but the deficit spending did get things rolling again.

    Of course, deficit spending works only for the short run, hence President Obama’s emphasis on short term projects like infrastructure renovation (as opposed to maintenance).

    And there is no “tax and spend” in the stimulated package. It comprises a combination of spending and tax cuts and it has the support of numerous economists.

  37. @JasonB — just occurred to me: your phrasing is very much like Rush Limbaugh’s. Are you, by some chance, a “ditto head”?

  38. David D

    @james–

    Why not give the money directly to the people, the consumers?

  39. Hecateus

    Is this bill more or less likely to help get DSCVR launched?

  40. Brian

    @IVAN3MAN

    Be wary about your first post on this thread. John McCain may feign outrage and pretend that he thinks you are referring to Sarah Palin.

  41. Brian

    @JasonB

    “Could you please point out one instance where a country was able to tax an spend its self into prosperity?”

    My impression is that the people of the United States benefited greatly from FDR’s economic policies. There seems to be a concerted right-wing attempt to rewrite or reinterpret the history of that period, but I was born in 1943 and knew many people who lived through those times, and everyone I knew said that Roosevelt had made the situation a lot better. My economics professors in college seemed to concur.

  42. @Ray and others:

    It’s called job creation. Or, at the very least, allowing those that have jobs to keep them. When people have work, they have money. When they have money, they spend. When they spend, businesses make money. When businesses make money, they can afford to hire more workers. Those workers in turn now have money. They turn around and spend money, which in turn…

    Overly simplified, I know, but I’m not an economist. That, however, is the principle behind this thing, so far as I can understand. But, I’m a canuck, so…

  43. So why not spend $10Trillion dollars? If more spending is better, why stop at $1 Trillion?

  44. bubba

    It’s difficult to imagine that every single republican in the house hold the exact same view that it wont work. People dont think like that and opinion is more diverse. What’s happened is that they have their marching orders from the leadership because they have made a political calculation on what best benefits their party. These calculations are pretty normal, that’s why they list “politician” on their paperwork.

    But to see people pretend as if it’s not a political gamble by the republicans is a bit silly. If the economy improves, Obama will get credit for being proactive. That’s just how it works. If it doesnt work, republicans will gain. It’s just the usual political gambling.

    One thing I’m sure of, not one economist is posting here. Opinions vary amoung the experts so anonymous voices on the internet dont rate much.

  45. Robbie

    Phil Plait: “and a clear mandate for change that’s swept the nation”

    Oh for God’s sake. 53% of the country voted for the guy. Is that what passes for a sweeping mandate these days?

  46. SourBlaze

    I wonder how many of these same Republicans opposed Bush’s $1 trillion tax cut back when Bush was elected.

  47. Whenever I want to stimulate my package, I just go out and buy the latest issue of Maxim.

    Oh, and regarding Robbie’s comment (second or third above mine): Let’s not forget that in 2004 Bush won with 51% of the vote and called that a mandate. So buy his definition, Obama actually received a super-duper mandate.

  48. Ray

    James said:

    To all of you posters bashing this stimulus package and saying it won’t work:

    What’s your idea?”

    First off, you don’t reward bad behavior by bailing out banks and automakers. If they go under, they go under. Short term pain will be bad, but the system will moderate itself in the medium and long term.

    Secondly, regulatory reform is a must. No more loans to people who can’t pay them back. Have the SEC actually do its job for a change as well. They were either asleep at the wheel while this was happening or they were incompetent. Either way, they need reform.

    Lastly, balance the budget and cut spending.

  49. Brian

    @Ray

    “Short term pain will be bad, but….”

    Some of us want to mitigate this.

  50. T_U_T

    Short term pain will be bad, but the system will moderate itself in the medium and long term.

    Yes. But some people would like to avoid “moderation” via economic collapse

  51. Peter B

    MarkP asked: “So why not spend $10Trillion dollars? If more spending is better, why stop at $1 Trillion?”

    Because you need people to do the jobs paid for by the money. There’s no point assigning money to projects if there aren’t any people available to employ to work on them.

  52. Redx

    Robbie Says:”Oh for God’s sake. 53% of the country voted for the guy. Is that what passes for a sweeping mandate these days?”

    Yes, actually it is. Bush W, and the media talking heads, spoke of his ‘mandate’ when he received only 50.7% When you also look at the increase in voter turn out, the electoral collage numbers, and the results of other races during the election, the generally the democrats and specifically Obama won by a huge margin compared to recent elections.

    Papa Bush was also considered to have received a mandate, again you need only look at the media from the time to see this, and he had a few tenths of a percent more votes, and that was against Dukakis.

    Yes, this is in fact what is considered a mandate. It is constant with ‘mandates’ in other elections for the last quarter of a century looking at members of both parties.

  53. Amen for a real spending package.

    Tax cuts alone won’t do anything. Any tax cut I get already goes back into the banks that are already bailed out.

    Spending this money will create jobs which in turn returns money back to the government through increased tax base. Its a win win that many people turn a blind eye too. Not to mention this spending is on HIGH TECH jobs that will put HIGH INCOME into many WORKING FAMILIES and give people some respect and dignity.

    A small tax return won’t do anything but allow people to pay for heating and gas for the next month. We NEED to be looking not only how to get out of the rut but how to commit ourselves as a nation for the long term.

    Bush & Co bet America on the markets, thank GOD they didn’t pump our Social Security into these failures or it would have been THAT much worse.

    Can’t believe the republicans pulled out so much school funding though. Those jobs translate directly into reduced taxes for school districts as well as better education. With a country as rich and powerful as us we shouldn’t be looking at the cost of creating smart kids but why we think there should be an artificial ceiling to that cost.

  54. Robbie

    Well just because people in the media and political pundits say someone has a mandate doesn’t mean he has one with the voters. We don’t have to fall in line with the garbage that comes from television.

    Redx: “the electoral collage numbers”

    You can win all 50 states with 50 votes theoretically so I don’t think those numbers really count.

  55. How does this help the economy? Science should be funded directly, with money designed specifically for science. It shouldnt be some little parasite money cut off a larger bill made for totally different reasons.

    I personally think a major commitment to science, such as space exploration and a manned exploration of Mars, is exactly what our economy and job markets need right now. But 1.2 billion to replace the shuttle and better fund of the NASA comptrollers office or whatever that last one was, is almost a waste of money.

    Dishonest and wasteful government spending, even when it funds things I love, is still wrong.

  56. GT

    You do realize that when all this borrowing is paid back with an inflated currency NASA (and everybody else) will actually have greatly reduced purchasing power? That means the shuttle replacement will be delayed, the moon base will be delayed, the Mars mission will be delayed. Bread will cost $7 a loaf.

    Oh, … you hadn’t thought of that.

    Um, … better stick to astronomy. Economics isn’t your strong subject.

  57. Quiet Desperation

    Tick tock tick tock…

  58. Winter Solstice Man

    So does this mean that the Arecibo Observatory won’t be shut down in 2011? That is what the facility’s major funder, the NSF, has been threatening to do since 2006 in a supposed cost-cutting measure.

    Hopefully they will no longer have an excuse to get rid of the largest single radio telescope on Earth. Besides, it needs to be around for another 25,000 years to get a response to the call it made to M13 in 1974.

  59. Quiet Desperation

    Besides, it needs to be around for another 25,000 years…

    Probably. That’s about how long we’re going to be paying off this debt.

  60. MarkH

    @Lawrence
    “How is this any different than Microsoft or Lockheed Martin spending hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D?”

    The difference is that those two companies and others use the profits from the sale of their products not mine or your money levied on us by the government.Government spending doesn’t alow for saving money. Agencies are encouraged to spend as much for their budget as possible, any funds left over from the fiscal year are lost and there is a possibility that their funding may be cut BECAUSE they didn’t spend all of the funds from the previous year.

  61. Ooh, and now the CBO says we’ll come out of recession without stimulus. I wonder if Phil will notice.

  62. I called my senator like you asked! I’m gonna take full credit for this.

  63. Ray

    MarkP.

    “Ooh, and now the CBO says we’ll come out of recession without stimulus. I wonder if Phil will notice.”

    Nope, Phil will no doubt say the CBO is a tool of the Republicans who control it . . . err, umm, whaddaya mean the Democrats control the CBO?

    Never mind.

  64. Cheyenne

    Well, it looks like we’re stuck with this mess of a titanically enormous porky bill (I do want a stimulus package – but this one is not so smart- well, at least according to the expert economists and congressional scorekeepers that know the most about it).

    There is going to be a level of waste and abuse here like we have never seen before. There is no way the government is going to be able to spend this amount of money, this quickly, in a responsible and efficient manner. Not that they Fed every really does (compared to the private sector) but this is going to be crazy.

    Screw it, I’m sending the bill to my kids anyway. Happy Days!

  65. Jim

    Look, people, everybody knows the NASA money won’t create jobs and stimulate the economy. After all, it’s not like NASA employs *people* who will circulate money into the economy, which will give businesses more confidence to hire people, etc. NASA employs magical fairies who EAT money. Just like the National Mall would have been re-seeded by money-eating fairies. So it’s all money going down the drain, not being used to buy food and fuel and durable goods and to make mortgage payments or anything.

    No, the best way to stimulate the economy is to give tax breaks and cash to large multinational corporations, who will use the money to create jobs in India and China and Mexico…

    Oh, you meant stimulate the AMERICAN economy? Sorry, we have no idea how to do THAT…

    Face it folks, we are largely in the hands of people who have no idea what they are doing, politicians and economists, liberals and conservatives. They are simply throwing stuff up against a wall and hoping it sticks. More proof in my mind that economics is in no way a science.

  66. Michael Parmeley

    @Lawrence
    You fail at economics.

    You say “Again, all of this money is going into the supply chain” but the major point you are missing is the fact that the money was already in the supply chain before the government forcefully took it out of our pocket and redistributed it. The government doesn’t really have money itself, the only money it has is the money it takes from us as the taxpayer (besides additional money they print which just causes inflation).

  67. Rift

    Everyone taking Phil to task for being an astronomer and not an economist need to reread his blog entry. He is happy because NASA and NSF’s budgets have been increased. Nowhere does he say it well help the economy. He does say “which means lots and lots of scientists will be able to further our knowledge and make the world a better place. ” Which is true. It’s too bad it got lumped into the stimulus package (which may or may not contain ‘porkage’)

    When ever money is spent on science the results come back tenfold, no matter how it is paid for or who pays for it. This is a GOOD thing.

    It is mindblowing to me that people that read an astronomy blog would be upset that their money is being spent on astronomy…

  68. Brian

    @Cheyenne

    “I do want a stimulus package – but this one is not so smart- well, at least according to the expert economists and congressional scorekeepers that know the most about it.”

    It has been reported that Barack Obama actively sought input from a long list of economists and business leaders. The list of those consulted includes Warren Buffett, Robert Rubin, Jamie Dimon, Larry Summers, Indra Nooyi, Paul Volcker, Austan Goolsbee, Jeffrey Liebman, Jason Furman, Jared Bernstein, Gene Sperling, Laura Tyson, Penny Pritzker, Timothy Geithner, and Christina Romer. Short bios on some of these people are contained in an article at
    http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/fortune/0806/gallery.obamas_advisors.fortune/

    Of course, they may all turn out to be wrong, but so may their detractors. I’m not sure how you have decided which “expert economists…know the most about it.”

  69. It is mindblowing to me that people that read an astronomy blog would be upset that their money is being spent on astronomy…

    Who is upset? Stop setting up a strawman.

    Politically, I’m somewhere to the right of Gengis Khan on many matters, but I would welcome an increase in *direct* science funding (science funding should be increased at least 10-fold throughout the Western World IMHO). But the porkulus bill, and this is the point you’re deliberately missing, has *nothing* to do with increasing science funding – it is simply a vast (and unacceptable) grab of power and cash by the state.

  70. Charles Boyer

    So exactly how is spending money on NASA gonna stimulate the economy?

    The porkulus bill is a failure from go.

    Last time I checked, NASA uses equipment, materiale and a lot of contractors to get a lot of their work done. Little elves living in hollow trees don’t build spacecraft, people working for companies like ULA and ATK do. And I won’t even mention the continuity factor or inevitable technology spinoffs.

    Questions like this one are like the one I read on a European website asking what if anything CERN had ever done for them. Think about that: asking on a WEBSITE what good things CERN had ever created. Well, they did create the world-wide web, the very medium the dullard was using to complain about CERN’s uselessness.

  71. Jim

    Amazing. To make a statement that over a billion dollars of NSF funding “has nothing to do with increasing science funding” is to display such willfull ignorance of the way the NSF works as to boggle the rational mind. A statement so steeped in irrational ideology, so blinded to simple facts, is beyond the reach of any rational argument.

    This just reinforces my conviction that the opposite of scientific thinking is not religious thinking, but rather political thinking. In scientific thinking, facts trump ideas every time. But in political thinking, ideology always triumphs those niggling little facts.

    These ideologues probably do believe that scientific research, or re-seeding the National Mall, or the maintenance of artwork, *is* in fact done by money-eating elves, not by human beings who will circulate the money back into the economy. That loooong list of names you see at the end of every movie? Money-eating elves! Don’t give money to the movie industry!

    Good old fashioned Common Sense (rational thought in its working clothes) dictates that the only way that the money in the stimulus program would NOT circulate back into the American economy, the only way it would be “wasted,” would be if the money were spent overseas. I dunno, perhaps in a war or to build factories in other countries. That is EXACTLY what my tax dollars have been doing for the better part of *thirty* years, and I’m sick of it. Keep the money in the USA, and funding NSF is a dandy way to do it.

  72. Quiet Desperation

    OK, Mike Huckabee just said the stimulus package is anti-religious.

    I now FULLY SUPPORT the stimulus package. :-)

    So has Matthew Lesko or someone put out a guide on getting a piece of that stimulus money yet? I have a couple large scale art projects I wouldn’t mind getting funded.

  73. Quiet Desperation

    Last time I checked, NASA uses equipment, materiale and a lot of contractors to get a lot of their work done.

    I worked on a NASA contract a few years ago. The money I made during that period paid for a 2005 Ford Mustang, so, it’s not *my* fault Ford is in trouble. Just a data point.

    Nice car, BTW. Solid. Sad they are having trouble.

  74. Brian

    Phil. Thanks for the breakdown of the NASA and NSF portions of the stimulus package. I don’t think these figures will be reduced in the House-Senate negotiations, which may be more along the lines of moderating some of the cuts made by the House.

    I sure hope the AMS makes it into orbit.

    It is too bad about the DOE science funds, but I am very supportive of the $1B for research into energy efficiency – I anticipate good things from Steven Chu.

  75. Winter Solstice Man

    Charles Boyer said:

    “Questions like this one are like the one I read on a European website asking what if anything CERN had ever done for them. Think about that: asking on a WEBSITE what good things CERN had ever created. Well, they did create the world-wide web, the very medium the dullard was using to complain about CERN’s uselessness.”

    Most people are sheep with limited attention spans. They can’t see past their noses.

    I do my best to no longer waste energy on the great masses of unwashed idiots who do nothing but consume and give nothing back to society except make more headaches for everyone.

    Focus your energies on the few who do make a difference and will save us and the planet despite the rest of the flock.

    Besides, we will always need the Epsilons to take out the trash and unclog our toilets.

  76. Quiet Desperation

    Well, they did create the world-wide web

    That’s a bit of a stretch. With HTML, Tim Berners-Lee created a simple subset of SGML which in turn came from IBM’s GML, or Generalized Markup Language. He then published it on the already existing network. Quite a few folks after that did a bit work as well.

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