Where will JWST's money come from?

By Phil Plait | October 3, 2011 2:00 pm

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the successor to Hubble. Over budget and behind schedule, it’s in serious trouble. The House side of Congress essentially canceled it in their version of the Federal budget, but in the Senate version they put enough money in the budget to keep JWST alive. The two different budget versions will have to be reconciled before they go to Obama to sign. As I said in that article above, I wasn’t clear on where the money the Senate put in the budget was going to come from.

I’m not the only one: Frank Wolf (R-VA), who is chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing JWST’s budget (through NASA), has publicly asked the same question. As I read this, he is doubling-down on the House threat to cancel JWST:

For us to make a truly informed decision that takes into account both the value of JWST and the value of opportunities that may be precluded by the JWST replan, we must have the [budget] offset information. If such information is not provided by the time that conference negotiations begin, I will consider that to be an indication that JWST is no higher in priority than any other existing or planned NASA activity.

In other words, he wants to know what other programs will be cut to fund JWST. This information was not in the press release by the Senate when they announced they were funding the observatory, and it’s critical. Will NASA have to take this blow, or will it come from outside NASA, from other agencies or departments?

I have long supported JWST — I was marginally involved with the mission back when it was still unnamed and the instruments hadn’t even been proposed yet — but that support is contingent on the idea that it will be built with minimal impact to other important (I dare say vital) NASA missions. My fervent desire is for NASA to get enough money to fund everything they are doing and want to do; we’re talking exploration of our Universe here, something I have in one way or another dedicated my life to supporting. But that sometimes means making hard decisions, and we’re facing one right now.

Republicans hold the House majority, and they are in turn being pushed by the Tea Party, who want to cut huge amounts of government spending (well beyond what’s safe or wise, in my opinion). In that sort of environment, the odds that NASA will actually get more money seem slim. And that means JWST, which is a huge chunk of NASA’s budget, is in a very precarious position.

The House and Senate will have to hammer out their reconciliation very soon, and I’m hoping the Senate will have more details on where this money to fund JWST will come from. With other critical government expenditures facing the ax, there’s going to have to be some very serious negotiations over very serious matters. Which side of the line will JWST fall?

Image credit: NASA


Related posts:

The Senate has “saved” JWST? Hang on a sec, folks…
The watershed moment for JWST
Hubble’s successor: doomed or saved?
Congress puts NASA and JWST on the chopping block

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, NASA, Piece of mind, Politics
MORE ABOUT: Congress, JWST

Comments (55)

Links to this Post

  1. UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News | SpaceWeb | October 13, 2011
  1. John O'Meara

    NASA handwaved the plans for the money during an open webinar a few days ago. 1/2 of it year over year would come from the Science Mission Directorate, the remaining half from elsewhere in the agency. They have not stated yet what explicit missions or programs would be effected. This has happened in the past. We have 2 rovers on Mars instead of 1 because of some money moving around in SMD, so there’s precedence for this. But in terms of other science programs, being at risk you worry about the SMD portion, and for the impact on spaceflight, the other parts.

    What nobody is talking about *at all* is the fact that there is also a little thing called the President’s FY2013 budget request. If JWST fares poorly in that as well, the Senate will likely not be able to save JWST in future years.

    Details from that webinar are found here:
    http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/meetings/webinar2011

  2. Calli Arcale

    We need JWST. I firmly believe that. However, we also need a lot of other things, and it is unacceptable to mandate this large an expenditure without also funding it. It seems insane to mandate such an expenditure without directly funding it, but it’s increasingly common in our legislature — too many defense budgets are essentially shell games already. However, I don’t think JWST will become a shell game. If past performance is any indicator, the Senate is expecting others to solve the problem for them, which will mean NASA having to decide which of its mandates to not complete. And, of course, that will all be NASA’s fault.

    If no money can be found, then they need to find at least enough money to mothball the parts until there is money to finish the job properly. I’d rather see this telescope late than broken or not at all. But I believe there *is* money, if Congress can get its act together and actually sort out priorities. Unfortunately, given its inability to even decide on no-brainers like disaster relief, I don’t have very high hopes.

  3. CraterJoe

    I say NASA should start going door to door selling cookies.

  4. Rename it the Yosemite Sam Oil Exploration Rig and it will get funding. Not that most of the congresscritters would know one from the other anyway. ;)

  5. Jon

    Wouldn’t it be sweet if we could choose where our tax money went when we submitted it? :)

  6. Tod R. Lauer

    JWST is not just another NASA mission. It is the number one priority for astrophysics and is a flagship mission that cannot be done any other way. The work on the rise of galaxies after the great “Dark Ages” that was started with the Hubble drops off a cliff without it. Exploring any of the worlds discovered by Kepler never gets out port without it. I would not delay any mission that has started cutting metal, but ones only in the power-point phase, yes…

  7. georgetownHoya

    Well according to the APS email that just went out, I guess the money might come from the NSF or the NIST. The NSF received a 2.3% cut and the NIST received a 9.3% cut.

  8. james

    NASA’s JWST in DS due to BS …WWJD?

  9. VinceRN

    Hopefully it comes from somewhere. I think the JWST is more important that much of the other stuff NASA is doing. I would put the highest priority on those things involving the inner solar system, then the JWST, then the rest.

    Ideally the money would come from defense or entitlements, either of which could sacrifice more than needed without feeling it at all. Both those areas routinely have accounting errors larger that what the JWST costs even with the overruns.

    More likely the JWST gets scrapped, as well as a lot of other stuff.

  10. Mike

    Of course, it would be easy if we went outside of the NASA budget. Just cut farm subsidies by 2% and you’re there. Farm income is booming right now.

  11. Wzrd1

    Just have NASA tell the House that the JWST will give them REALLY nice pictures of Jesus.
    NASA’s budget would triple.

    Really, Mike? Even those flooded and tornado ravaged farms are booming?

  12. Peter Morris

    It’s really simple.

    Just suspend your country’s military spending (which has been good for exactly what?) for a SINGLE WEEK, and you could not only fly the JWST, you could build a spare.

    Unfortunately most of the U.S. seems to be deeply in love with its military fiscal black hole… Pity.

  13. Wzrd1

    Yeah, we can default on CONTRACTS, including enlistment contracts, leaving our military unpaid.
    We can surrender to Al Qaeda, it’s cheaper.
    Or we can simply stimulate the economy by replacing office towers as they’re knocked down.
    But then, *I* have *BEEN* to Afghanistan and KNOW what is going on.
    You apparently think we’re there for oil or something.

  14. Robin

    I’d love for JWST to finished and launched. I think it’s critical, and without, we’ll lack something comparable (albeit with different spectral range) for a long time. The idea though of not only shifting money in NASA without increasing NASA’s budget while also taking money from NSF and/or NIST is just too much. Pile on top of that the obese elephant in the room, SLS, and the picture only gets worse. Manned exploration is also critical, as is the research that the NSF funds and the research and other projects that NIST handles. I’m not up for taking flesh from even more of science to pay for JWST.

    There are of course other big budget items–military, for one–that have been bloated for way too long the could afford to have cuts done, but let’s face it: congress people won’t be willing to remove a bit of flesh from their own sacred cows.

    Unless something drastically changes, it’s going to be time to say “Goodnight” to JWST.

  15. Steve

    Republicans asked to cut $4 trillion from the budget over 10 years. That’s not quite 10% of total federal outlays. It’s also completely meaningless given the huge deficits we’re accruing. I personally don’t want to hand over a $20 trillion debt by 2020 to the next generation. On top of better than $50 trillion in liabilities from welfare programs, this will utterly crush the economy. I agree JWST is a noble project and I like science funding, but it pales in cost comparison to everything else. But since the welfare and warfare funding is “off the table”, these programs get the axe. Thanks Democrats and Republicans for having zero courage to tackle tough issues and killing off NASA.

  16. Ganzy

    Can’t NASA open a public funding channel for the JWST? That would be great, Astrofans the world over could donate whatever amount they want or can to see the mission go through! Everyone gets a sense of collective pride knowing they helped make it happen.

    I think a campaign marketed well across the net could even get donations from the many people who, although aren’t particularly enthralled by astronomy in general, realise and appreciate the perspective changing value of Hubbles mission over the years. There was a lot of support worldwide for the final mission to extend Hubbles service life. Why not tap into that?

    Contributers get to have their names laser etched on to the craft itself, obviously in a place that isn’t detrimental to the functioning of the scope.

    If the income is nowhere near enough to make a difference, then offer up a list of areas the proceeds could be directed beneficially towards, contributors get to vote on where it is spent.

    I’ll put my money where my mouth is and donate Fifty English quid to the cause. :P

  17. Grand Lunar

    I agree with Ganzy; NASA should hold a fund raiser, similar to what SETI did.

    I thought that there was a plan for NASA to drop Earth science missions.
    Painful as that is, wouldn’t that be a potential source for JWST?

    I really do want it to be funded, more so than SLS.
    A large IR telescope ought to be able to reveal much about our universe.

    I’d also want it to look at Eta Carinae and see what that star is doing (and see if it’s a single star or a binary).

  18. Ganzy

    @17 There you go Phil, thats 200 bucks! :D

  19. Wzrd1

    The problem with a fund raiser like that is, it costs money too. The money collected would have to be accounted for, safeguards to prevent its loss, covering NSF checks, etc. Not even going into getting legislation through to permit it by law.

  20. Messier Tidy Upper

    Where will JWST’s money come from?

    A few ideas of mine for where it could come from :

    You’d hope it would come out of all the foreign aid money the US sends Pakistan or some other third world dictatorship that’s wasting the money the United States gives them.

    Or money repaid by the Banks and Wall Street after their huge bail-outs.

    Or money raised by the political reform of abolishing either Congress or the Presidency given the two can’t seem to work together in your nation!

    After all, the JWST is far more likely to provide knowledge and benefit people’s lives than any politician! ;-)

    (Or, okay, if that’s not entirely reasonable how about a massive pay cut for the politiicans or the abolition of a few electorates – do you call them electorates over in the States as we do in Oz?)

  21. Wzrd1

    Can’t abolish congress or the presidency, part and parcel of the constitution. The same with electoral districts (what we call them). The same as treaty obligations, all required as the law of the land, per the constitution.

    Eliminate foreign aid. Cool! back to starving Djibouti, Ethiopia, aw, hell, most of Africa. The islamists take over in the misery and we have a continental based threat, rather than a couple of primitive countries.

    As I recall, the bailouts had specific terms, change an agreement AFTER the fact? So much for the word and agreements of an entire nation, that nation’s word is worthless!

    THAT said, I can think of 20 places to make up plenty of money. A dozen in the DoD alone that are inefficient or downright wasteful and unnecessary.
    BUT, the tea party prefers it one way, their way. No science, as it challenges their religion. No medical, it’s socialism. No education, the ignorant are easier to control.
    Let’s face it, the United Fascist States of America is what this nation is becoming and the cultural revolution will begin soon, complete with book burnings.
    All so that the nation can become a third world nation, with cheap labor, to make those who fund these campaigns wealthy and powerful.
    Now, want to clean things up? Campaign reform.
    Regrettably, congress would not sign off on that, even at gunpoint. :/

  22. Fudus

    I wish they’d cancel the SLS and give it to ULA’s EELVs instead, then give the rest to the Science directorate.

    With all the jobs in Senators’ districts at stake, I doubt it’ll happen though. The Pork Must Flow!

  23. QuietDesperation

    The islamists take over in the misery and we have a continental based threat, rather than a couple of primitive countries.

    Is that what they always say they want, though? The infidels off Islamic land?

    the tea party prefers it one way

    And that differs from other ideological groups… how, exactly?

  24. Robin

    @ Wzrd1 (#21): The reference to Islamists is disgusting and reeks of bigotry. It was easy enough to ignore your comments about how your interpretations of what you saw in Afghanistan were apparently some universal truth, but it’s impossible to ignore the ignorance overflowing from your “Islamist” comment. Likewise your “fascist” reference is blatantly over the top and without basis. It sounds exactly like the rhetoric we hear from shock radio jocks looking to polarize issues as well as from some party officials and supporters. Such comments have no place in rational discussion. In that light, your comments are no different than those coming from politicians about whom you complain .

    @ Steve (#15): NASA hasn’t been killed off. It is certainly in a difficult position, but the position is one that was in the making when Congress was given power to meddle in NASA operations. When politicians start legislating design requirements….uhm, SLS….you know that the system is upside down. There are of course options for NASA to move forward and improve its state. Doing things the way things were done during Apollo/Gemini/Mercury is not an option, and certainly doing things they way they were done through out the Shuttle era is not an option either. NASA has to be able to operate in the current environment and have access to the best tools. In my mind that means that NASA should focus on the high risk development of new technologies, mission design, mission control operations. Let the private sector handle technology implementation.

  25. RM

    “Republicans hold the House majority, and they are in turn being pushed by the Tea Party, who want to cut huge amounts of government spending (well beyond what’s safe or wise, in my opinion). ”

    All of the cuts being bandied about by both Obama and the Republican establishment are merely cuts in the projected INCREASE of government spending. Meaning, only in the Fantasy Land of Washington could they actually be described as “cuts”. There is no balanced budget in sight, from anyone.

    We are basically trailing the fiscal implosion of the European socialist governments only because they got a head start.

    Unfortunately, the JWST is probably doomed. I say unfortunately, because space exploration and national defense are two of the very *few* legitimate, Constitutional uses of the federal government.

    Look how the private sector works: Boeing, for example, bets its entire corporate life on every successive jumbo jet it creates. If they operated like a self-perpetuating, incentiveless federal program, billions over budget and decades behind schedule, they would have imploded long long ago, leaving 100,000+ employees jobless.

    So what do we do with the JWST? Fund it? Request donations? Ask for volunteers? Hand it over to the Universities to have researchers and PhD students finish it?

    Unfortunately, the JWST will likely get axed. Why? Because it’s an easy cut. Because it’s not keeping anyone alive; because it has no constituency; because it’s science, which 3/4 of the population doesn’t understand anyway, and because the real black holes of the budget, social security and medicare, have been so protected and demagogued by the Left that they will sooner consume the entirety of the United States before anyone has the political will to ever think about reforming them.

  26. Wzrd1

    @QuietDesparation #23, no. I heard it first hand, they want a GLOBAL Caliphate. They HATE secular law of ANY stripe, anywhere on the planet. And what is funny, they BELIEVE it will come to pass. :/

    @Robin #24, I have many, many Muslim friends. NO bigotry here. Only first hand experience, based upon the words of Al Qaeda members that I and my teams took prisoner. The difference between I and those you mentioned is, I *AM* a moderate and support FULLY our ENTIRE first amendment. I don’t fear any particular faith, though I DO have qualms about the abuse by some of parts of their faith, in militant fashion. My teams reported back on a regular basis two things: The need for a new language interpreter. The fact that their interpreter stood in the way of incoming fire, saving their lives.
    YOU try spending near 5 years in a war zone and tell me what is what. I’ve spent many months downrange, talking with village elders and village members.
    I don’t hate Afghans, I feel great empathy for them.
    It’s a tough land. They’re a tough and smart people, dullards die quick in such a harsh environment, even without war.
    The cold war pooped on them rather hard, but they rather did well, considering.
    And I sincerely hope that they ALL do well in the future.
    Save those who wish to force others to do as THEY wish and would enforce by violence. I got to see it fresh and first hand, men, women and children torn asunder by their use of terrorism.
    And THOSE are the ONLY people on the planet I hold hatred for. When you see a mother clinging to the torso of her baby, tell me you won’t hate the POS that set that bomb in a MARKET, where soldiers normally do not go.
    I’ll not fault Al Qaeda for attacking the Pentagon, it’s a valid military target. But, NOT office buildings, NOT schools, NOT medical clinics. That is the difference between civilized people and barbarians. Random attacks upon non-combatants.

  27. Wzrd1

    RM, EXCELLENT revisionist history, as Europe was NOT suffering until the dollar went into free fall.
    Sorry, but history is FACT, regardless of spin attempts. I spent some time in Europe during the beginning of this depression and trust me, they weren’t hurting. Well, other than France and Greece, with their mess of a system.
    The REST of Europe was doing quite well, thank you for asking.
    Then, the dollar fell. The banks failed and Uncle Sugar Daddy rushed to their rescue, was done during the early stages of the great depression. It’s well documented, look it up.
    For it IS true, those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to continually repeat them.
    But then, the US HATES the past, it’s the land of the old farts and geezers. Youth counts, not experience and history.
    Hence, our repeated failures.

    By the by, Social Security WAS solvent until it was entered into the general budget and raped. AGAIN, revisionist history. First, disability was taken from it. It WOULD have survived, but welfare tapped into it. Then, as general budget, the trust was fully broken and it went all over the map.
    AGAIN, well documented facts.
    BEFORE, it was a trust fund, hence inviolable. Then, Congress raped and violated it to death.
    So, I’ve spent over 30 years of my wages taxed to go into the toilet that is the general budget. AND I should get NOTHING back on that INSURANCE plan.
    Why not dig up FDR’s grave and burn his bones? It seems that the GOP *WANTS* to…
    Maybe go to a Logan’s Run world, too?

  28. LSandman24

    #12 (Peter), I rather enjoy getting a paycheck and liberating opressed peoples. Thanks.

  29. Stargazer

    Your military budget is $700 bn/year, and NASA’s budget is $17 bn/year. Obviously you have plenty of money.

  30. don gisselbeck

    Go back to Eisenhower era tax rates, problem solved.

  31. Nigel Depledge

    Jon (5) said:

    Wouldn’t it be sweet if we could choose where our tax money went when we submitted it?

    Well, yeah, but there’s always a risk with such a scheme that we’d rapidly be overrun by cyborg squirrels with laser guns. I mean, if you had the choice, wouldn’t you want your tax dollars spent on developing cyborg squirrels and laser guns?

  32. Tom

    @30 – Don. If we go back to Eisenhower era tax rates, we’ll also have to go back to Eisenhower era tax loopholes. We’ll collect the same amount of money, anyway. People who point to old tax rates as some sort of magical solution never bother to consider what the write-offs were back then. Virtually everything was deductible.

  33. Mark

    When I took aikido, teaching the subtle nature of the art was incredibly difficult; there were concepts and theories which were easy to pass on in words, but putting them into practice and succeeding in every sort of situation was incredibly difficult and took a great deal of learning.

    As such, there were things that simply couldn’t be taught. So whenever someone had a question, the default answer was,

    “Just do it right.”

  34. Nigel Depledge

    Wzrd1 (11) said:

    Really, Mike? Even those flooded and tornado ravaged farms are booming?

    Yeah, when 20 yards of fence lands on the doors of your tornado shelter, it makes a kind of booming sound . . .
    ;-)

  35. Nigel Depledge

    Wzrd1 (13) said:

    But then, *I* have *BEEN* to Afghanistan and KNOW what is going on.

    OK, what the hell is going on?

    All I know is that we’ve sent troops there, too. Ostensibly this was to hunt for Osama bin Laden, but since I gather he’s now dead I don’t get why our troops aren’t all coming home . . .?

  36. Nigel Depledge

    Peter Morris (12) said:

    It’s really simple.

    Just suspend your country’s military spending (which has been good for exactly what?) for a SINGLE WEEK, and you could not only fly the JWST, you could build a spare.

    Unfortunately most of the U.S. seems to be deeply in love with its military fiscal black hole… Pity.

    Sadly, this is an oversimplification.

    IIUC, the DoD’s budget is about 10 times NASA’s (or maybe 20 times?) but, as Wzrd1 mentions, a significant chunk of that is people’s salaries. I agree that the size of it could be reduced, but it would need to be done carefully and gradually so you don’t suddenly end up with thousands of ex-soldiers on the streets and jobless.

  37. beerclark

    @ #31 – Nigel …… YES!!!

  38. Bill

    I agree we need to build JWST, and it is a shame that it is going to be delayed or possibly cancelled.

    However, the analog of Eisenhower’s “Military-Industry” complex is the “NASA-Contractor” complex. There’s no end in sight to how much we’ll spend for JWST; the cost will certainly be much more than was proposed and budgeted when the project was started. And this fact, and the history of how poorly NASA manages programs, has finally got a lot of people saying ENOUGH! …

    … and those people yelling ENOUGH are willing to swallow hard and end a program that is breathtaking in scope and potential. We see how hard it has been to kill the follow-on program to the space shuttle (CxP) and extract the tentacles of NASA contractors out of the taxpayers billfold. Either we interrupt this parasitic process, now, or we choose to live with it forever.

    I will mourn for JWST, but if we can (1) divert NASA’s attention from the politics of contracting to the organization’s mission and (2) end the NASA-Contractor complex then maybe something good can come from this.

  39. Nigel Depledge

    Wzrd1 (21) said:

    Now, want to clean things up? Campaign reform.
    Regrettably, congress would not sign off on that, even at gunpoint. :/

    Hmmm …. maybe worth a try, though?

  40. Pete Jackson

    They’ve just announced the Nobel prize in Physics, for discovering the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe using type 1a supernovae. Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess of the US and Brian Schmidt of Australia will divide the prize.

    Perhaps this will give JWST some bargaining power in the battle for funding, and more money for astronomy and physics as a whole.

  41. Nigel Depledge

    OK, I just read #29. Apparently the miltary budget of the US is 41 times that of NASA.

    So, a 2.5% cut to the defence budget would represent more than NASA’s entire budget. Someone tell me again why they’re not doing this?

  42. Nigel Depledge

    @ Beerclark (37) –
    I welcome our squirrel-terminator overlords.

  43. don gisselbeck

    The Koch brothers could fund it and still haveplenty left over to ensure the Republicans remain anti-science.

  44. Nigel Depledge

    Wzrd1 (26) said:

    @QuietDesparation #23, no. I heard it first hand, they want a GLOBAL Caliphate. They HATE secular law of ANY stripe, anywhere on the planet. And what is funny, they BELIEVE it will come to pass. :/

    Actually, this comment is bigoted, because you are assuming that what you heard from one or a few muslims applies to all muslims. The muslims that I have met are actually living in the 21st century, not the 13th.

    It can easily be argued that this is not a representative sample, because I have never visited a muslim country. But what would constitute a “representative sample” of Christians, for instance?

  45. Nigel Depledge

    Wzrd1 (26) said:

    I’ll not fault Al Qaeda for attacking the Pentagon, it’s a valid military target. But, NOT office buildings, NOT schools, NOT medical clinics. That is the difference between civilized people and barbarians. Random attacks upon non-combatants.

    Erm … ever heard of World War II? Dresden? Coventry? Hiroshima?

    We’ve all done it. No nation is in a position to throw the first stone.

    During WWII, a new verb was coined – to coventrate. Basically, it’s the act of bombing a city in such a way that (a) key utilities are taken out by hi-ex, and (b) the incendiary bombs form a firestorm. Coventry was the first such example, hence its name was taken for the verb. But we Brits learned from the Luftwaffe. What we subsequently did to Dresden was a refinement of the same technique. Of course, the Manhatten Project rendered such a technique obsolete overnight.

  46. Nigel Depledge

    LSandman24 (28) said:

    #12 (Peter), I rather enjoy getting a paycheck and liberating opressed peoples. Thanks.

    So, who have you liberated lately?

  47. CraterJoe

    Wait, wasn’t this whole thing about the JWST? I bet all the congress critters devolve into the same arguement once someone tosses in “military spending”. No wonder nothing gets done.

  48. Stargazer

    @45

    Actually, I think nations can “throw stones” as you put it, simply because nations change. Today’s Germany is not the same that attacked everyone 70 years ago. Those who dropped the nuclear bombs on civilians in Japan are no longer in control of USA. And same with my country. So I can say it’s wrong to attack civilians or torture suspects, because that is not only what I feel but it reflects the official positions of many countries today.

  49. CB

    Actually, this comment is bigoted, because you are assuming that what you heard from one or a few muslims applies to all muslims. The muslims that I have met are actually living in the 21st century, not the 13th.

    This comment is just a silly strawman because you state that he assumes what he heard applies to all muslims, when he then goes on to explain at great length that it does not apply to all muslims, but rather a specific subset (a subset who in general is known to hold this belief). You basically ignored 95% of what he said in order to be able to call him a bigot. I think that while he may have come off that way originally, he’s demonstrated that he is not, and by ignoring contrary evidence to retain your prior prejudice, you have demonstrated you are. At least in this case. So stop, please. :P

  50. CB

    The first paragraph of #49 should have been a blockquote of Nigel Depledge. Oops.

    @ Stargazer:

    Actually, I think nations can “throw stones” as you put it, simply because nations change.

    That’s fair, but I think you must also take into account that change is a process, different nations are in different phases of change, and the beginnings of our change is not so far in the past that we can divorce ourselves from what we were then. Comparing the state of a former colonial power to a nation that was a former colony and thus doesn’t even have a significant modern history of self-rule (as is the case with many of the nations we might ‘throw stones’ at) is to just discount reality for the sake of a value judgment, in my opinion.

    On the other hand, when looking back to the actions of WWII and the actions of nations, it would be wise to remember that essentially no nation of that time would think that it was improper to attack civilian populations, whether directly or via indiscriminate bombing, if it helped win the war. This is a rather new notion, in part brought on by the industrial-scale suffering inflicted on civilians in that war.

    @CraterJoe:

    Wait, wasn’t this whole thing about the JWST? I bet all the congress critters devolve into the same arguement once someone tosses in “military spending”. No wonder nothing gets done.

    Actually I think that’s just why the issue of cutting military spending never comes up. That, and if someone does actually bring it up, someone (from the district of the affected defense contractor most likely) will shout “You don’t support the troooooops!” and the offending Congresscritter will shut up.

    So that debate is usually pretty short, and isn’t why nothing gets done. :)

  51. Nigel Depledge

    CB (49) said:

    This comment is just a silly strawman because you state that he assumes what he heard applies to all muslims, when he then goes on to explain at great length that it does not apply to all muslims, but rather a specific subset (a subset who in general is known to hold this belief). You basically ignored 95% of what he said in order to be able to call him a bigot. I think that while he may have come off that way originally, he’s demonstrated that he is not, and by ignoring contrary evidence to retain your prior prejudice, you have demonstrated you are. At least in this case. So stop, please

    Actually, I read his first paragraph and replied to that, and didn’t get around to reading the rest of the comment.

    So, I stand corrected. Wzrd1, I apologise for that comment.

  52. Nigel Depledge

    CB (50) said:

    On the other hand, when looking back to the actions of WWII and the actions of nations, it would be wise to remember that essentially no nation of that time would think that it was improper to attack civilian populations, whether directly or via indiscriminate bombing, if it helped win the war. This is a rather new notion, in part brought on by the industrial-scale suffering inflicted on civilians in that war.

    IIUC, WWI was the first major conflict (well, the first one for perhaps 500 years) in which civilians became targets, when dreadnoughts were shelling coastal towns from miles out at sea. At the time it was seen as deeply shocking. Clearly, by 1940, it had come to be seen as necessary, for whatever reasons. I’m not sure that people ever accepted it as “proper” wartime behaviour.

    It may well be that our present attitude to the idea of inflicting civilian casualties arises in part from the latter months of WWII.

    Then again, I do recall terms such as “megadeath” and “collateral damage” being bandied about during the Cold War. If a worldwide conflict had arisen involving the use of nuclear weapons, civilians would have been primary targets, because the battlefield is almost irrelevant when you have several hundred ICBMs to lob at your enemy’s cities. So perhaps our present attitude arises out of relief at the end of the Cold War.

  53. The Federal budget deficit for 2010 was $1.17 trillion.

    That means, for the year 2010 ALONE, the Federal government spent over a TRILLION DOLLARS MORE than it collected in revenue.

    And 2010 was a TYPICAL year for the Federal budget. The 2011 deficit will be similar, and probably, so will the 2012 deficit.

    They’re in the HABIT of spending a TRILLION more dollars than they take in … and yet, they’re worried about where the money for JWST is going to “come from”?!

  54. Anchor

    “The current planned cost for JWST is $2.4 B from now to launch, and about $1B for 10 years of operations.”

    – JWST Project Manager, NASA

    “The combined capabilities and performance of U.S. weapons systems are unmatched throughout the world, ensuring that our military forces have the advantage over any adversary.”

    Oh yes, we can certainly be assured of that: including science. it is evidently an adversary too:

    “The DoD (FY) 2012 request totals $553.1 billion, of which $203.8 billion is for Procurement, and Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) programs.

    “The funding in FY 2012 includes both Base ($188.4 billion) and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) ($15.4 billion) funding:

    “For RDT&E appropriations: $75.7 billion (Base, $75.3 billion; OCO, $0.4 billion);
    For Procurement: $128.1 billion (Base, $113.1 billion; OCO, $15.0 billion). Of this amount, $85.3 billion is for programs that have been designated as Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAP).”Fiscal Year 2012 Modernization – Base and OCO: $203.8 billion”

    Space-Based Systems: $10 billion

    Aircraft: $54 billion

    C41 Systems: $11 billion

    Ground Systems: $14 billion

    Missile Defense: $10 billion

    Missiles and Munitions: $11 billion

    Mission Support: $55 billion

    RDT&E S&T: $12 billion

    Ship-Building & Maritime Systems: $24 billion

    Read more: http://www.defencetalk.com/program-acquisition-costs-by-weapon-system-2012-32084/#ixzz1a2yNQlOQ

    Read more: http://www.defencetalk.com/program-acquisition-costs-by-weapon-system-2012-32084/#ixzz1a2zVrzPh

    Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

    “The United States intends to buy a total of 2,443 aircraft for an estimated US$323 billion, making it the most expensive defense program ever. The United States Air Force (USAF) budget data in 2010, along with other sources, projects the F-35 to have a flyaway cost from US$89 million to US$200 million over the planned production of F-35s. Cost estimates have risen to $382 billion for 2,443 aircraft, at an average of $156 million each. The rising program cost estimates have cast doubt on the actual number to be produced for the U.S. In January 2011, the F-35B variant was placed on “probation” for two years because of development problems. In February 2011, the Pentagon put a price of $207.6 million for each of the 32 aircraft to be acquired in FY2012, rising to $304.15 million ($9,732.8/32) if its share of RDT&E spending is included.”

    “On 11 March 2010, a report from the Government Accountability Office to United States Senate Committee on Armed Services projected the overall unit cost of an F-35A to be $112M in today’s money. In 2010, Pentagon officials disclosed that the F-35 program has exceeded its original cost estimates by more than 50 percent. An internal Pentagon report critical of the JSF project states that “affordability is no longer embraced as a core pillar”. On 24 March, Gates termed the recent cost overruns and delays as “unacceptable” in a testimony before the U.S. Congress. He characterized previous cost and schedule estimates for the project as “overly rosy”. However, Gates insisted the F-35 would become “the backbone of U.S. air combat for the next generation” and informed the Congress that he had expanded the development period by an additional 13 months and budgeted $3 billion more for the testing program while slowing down production. Lockheed Martin expects to reduce government cost estimates by 20%.

    “In November 2010 as part of a cost-cutting measure, the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform suggested canceling procurement of the F-35B and halving orders of F-35As and F-35Cs. At the same time Air Force Magazine reported that “Pentagon officials” are considering canceling the F-35B because its short range means that the bases or ships it operates from will be within range of hostile tactical ballistic missiles. However Lockheed Martin consultant Loren B. Thompson said that this rumor is merely a result of the usual tensions between the US Navy and Marine Corps, and there is no alternative to the F-35B as an AV-8B replacement. He also confirmed that there would be further delays and cost increases in the development process because of technical problems with the aircraft and software, but blamed most of the delays and extra costs on redundant flight test.

    “The Center for Defense Information estimated that the program would be restructured with an additional year of delay and $5 billion in additional costs. On 5 November 2010, the Block 1 software flew for the first time on BF-4 which included information
    fusion and initial weapons-release capability. As of the end of 2010, only 15% of the software remains to be written, but this includes the most difficult sections such as data fusion. But in 2011 it was revealed that only 50% of the eight million lines of code had actually been written and that it would take another six years and 110 additional software engineers in order to complete the software for this new schedule.”

    V-22 Osprey

    tiltrotor aircraft – since early 1980’s to 1988 prototypes – controversial developmental and cost overrun issues:

    V-22’s development process has been long and controversial, partly due to its large cost increases. The V-22’s development budget was first planned for $2.5 billion in 1986, then increased to a projected $30 billion in 1988. As of 2008, $27 billion had been spent on the Osprey program and another $27.2 billion will be required to complete planned production numbers by the end of the program.”

    Program cost US$27 billion as of 2008
    Unit cost US$67 million (CV-22 flyaway cost for 2010)

    F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet

    Produced 1995–present
    Number built 500 as of April 2011
    Program cost Total procurement: US$4.85 billion (through FY2011
    Unit cost US$55 million (2011 flyaway cost)

    E/A-18G Growler

    Unit cost US$67 million (flyaway cost, FY2011)

    “In an April 2006 report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office expressed concerns. The GAO felt the electronic warfare systems on the EA-18G were not fully mature so there is risk of “future cost growth and schedule delays”. The report recommended that the DOD consider purchasing additional ICAP III upgrades for EA-6Bs to fill any current and near-term capability gaps and restructure the initial EA-18G production plans so that procurement takes place after the aircraft has “demonstrated full functionality”.”

    “The U.S Navy has ordered a total of 57 aircraft to replace its existing EA-6B Prowlers in service, all of which will be based at NAS Whidbey Island save for Reserve Squadron VAQ-209 based at NAF Washington, MD. The US DoD gave approval for the EA-18G program to begin low-rate initial production in 2007. The EA-18G was scheduled to finish flight testing in 2008. The Navy planned to buy approximately 85 aircraft in 2008. Approval for full-rate production was expected in the third quarter of 2009, and was given on 23 November 2009. Boeing will ramp up production to 20 aircraft per year. On 9 July 2009, General James Cartwright told the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services that the choice had been to continue the F/A-18 production line because the war fighting commanders needed more aerial electronic warfare capability that only the EA-18G could provide.

    “The Navy’s submission for the 2011 defense budget put forth by the Obama Administration calls for the addition of four EA-18G Growler squadrons to be added to the fleet. On 14 May 2010, Boeing and the US Department of Defense reached an agreement for a multi-year contract for an additional 66 F/A-18E/Fs and 58 EA-18Gs over the next four years. This will raise the total to 114 EA-18Gs on order.

    “The Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation determined that the EA-18G was “still not operationally suitable” in February 2011. Prime contractor Boeing is working to address issues with software updates.”

    And we’re whining about where an extra $2.4 for completion and launch + $1 for 10 years of operation = $3.4 billion for TEN YEARS OF JWST OPERATION is going to come from when the Defense Department request for 2012 ALONE is $553.1 BILLION for their toys???

    Adjusted comparable cost of JWST each year over 10 years of operation: $340 million.

    Estimated military related weapons programs/systems cost overruns for FY2001-2008 ALONE: (very) approximately $920 billion. (Not counting the cost of two expensive military invasions, one of which was utterly unrelated to any tactical need EXCEPT to keep oil corporations happy).

    Cost of those wars: between 900 billion and 2 trillion dollars, depending on what statistics from the government one consults.

    Number of military programs that were scrapped for being over-budget: ZERO.

    They’re ALL still alive.

    But we can’t fund JWST???

    DIFFERENCE: the HORRIBLE EXTRA COST OF JWST OVER THE NEXT TEN YEARS REPRESENTS ABOUT 1/1600 of the cost of the REQUESTED FISCAL YEAR 2012 MILITARY BUDGET.

    Do you understand now?

    You know what? It’s clear that this country is far more interested in exploring terrorists than it is in exploring the universe…evidently politicians figure its so much more ‘cost effective’ to sell/scream “NATIONAL SECURITY!!!” than it is to support something that makes people smarter, doesn’t kill anything, or doesn’t even pose a security risk.

    Compare the mythical economic nightmare that JWST has been portrayed to be (engineers trying to push the envelope of what is possible) with the joke the military gets away with all the time, and multiply it by 1600, and you might get the picture.

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