Land of Enchantment to Finally Develop Economy?


by Angry Midwesterner

 

Someone needs to call Guinness! For once in its pitiful existence, New Mexico may be on the verge of developing an economy! For a state which currently has a pitiful GDP of $61 billion, ranking it soundly under the poverty stricken states of Arkansas and Mississippi (the poorest states overall in the nation), and placing it globally among such wonderful contemporaries as Nigeria and Bangladesh, fortunes may soon rise for New Mexico, if only the voters can find two brain cells to rub together. Are the days of New Mexico begging for handouts soon to come to a close? Will New Mexicans finally become responsible contributors to the national economy? I have my doubts, but it would be nice for them to stop free loading. Currently, for every dollar a New Mexican pays in taxes, they steal $2.00 from the national pot, making them the largest drain on our tax dollars of any US state, and second only to DC if you include federal territories.

If New Mexican voters approve the current plans for a spaceport they might finally be able to develop a serious industrial and commercial sector around it. With recent innovations and corporate support already putting out cash and interest, the time is ripe for economic development, something New Mexico could use dearly. Given the surplus of arid and open land, useless for other economic activities, New Mexico is well poised to exploit the newly developing sector of space tourism, and the industrial enterprises which are sure to crop up as space is finally opened to the private sector.If they want to cash in on this opportunity the voters will have to act quickly and decisively, as they aren’t the only ones with their eyes on the prize. Wisconsin also has plans to develop a spaceport; plans have already been approved to go forward with the new Spaceport to be situated in Sheboygan. Florida, California, Texas, and Virginia also have similar plans to pursue the economic benefit sure to be provided by such a development.

In truth, the only thing which will win this project for New Mexico will be decisive action placing them on the market first (and gaining the momentum imparted by being the first), and full support from the community, as there is little else that New Mexico can offer to make itself attractive. Unlike California, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, and Virginia, New Mexico lacks a highly ranked University with good marks in engineering and research. The copious amounts of empty land it can offer are also assets held by California and Texas, and unlike California, Texas and Florida, it has no experience in dealing with access to space.Still if voters in New Mexico are smart enough to realize the opportunity presented by this deal, the state could be on its way to a healthy economy, and decades of prosperity as they reap the benefits of innovation. In the long run this will likely improve the quality of life enjoyed by everyone in their state, and reduce the burden they place on the shoulders of their fellow Americans, as we constantly work hard to help dig them out of their collective poverty. Please, New Mexico, for our sake and yours, vote yes on the Spaceport.

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Who the Heck Thought Handing 198 million Taxpayer Dollars to a Crazed Rich Guy is Sound Policy?


by Angry New Mexican

 

As the state of the union with the highest number of PhDs per capita and a 50+ year history of R&D on the most destructive weapon mankind has ever devised, we’re no strangers to bleeding-edge technology here in the Land of Enchantment. Besides, if my quick look at the Top 500 List tells me anything, we’ve probably got more computing power per capita than any other state. This isn’t a surprise; along with California, we’ve been driving serious computing for over half a century. So I suppose it’s natural, that seeing New Mexico’s brainpower, Richard Branson, would choose us as the location for his $198 million phallus spaceport.

Fortunately for Mr. Branson, New Mexico is run by a man who wants to be President and he’s failing at it miserably. So despite being bat-shit insane, Mr. Branson clearly knows a mark when he sees one, and Bill Richardson appears to have “stupid” written all over his forehead. With his proposed UNM embryonic stem cell institute in shambles (ANM: radio reports indicate the legislature nixed it, but the Internet has reported nothing yet), Mr. Richardson is desperate to piss away state money to revive his campaign. Actually, I misspoke, he’s desperate to get the population of Dona Ana county to put up the equivalent 2.7% of their yearly median household income to fund Mr. Branson’s latest crazed venture (about $49 million overall; statistics here). Despite having much better things to spend money on, Mr. Richardson is willing to put the state in hock for another $149 million just so Mr. Branson can have a place to shoot his toy rockets into space.

Now I’ve always been of the opinion that funding a space program on the good graces of people whose sole redeeming virtue is that they have enough money to make Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller look poor, is the least sensible thing I’ve heard since thinking it was just fine to let a young Austrian wallpaperer remilitarize the Rhineland. Good grief! If Mr. Branson wants a spaceport, he can pay for it himself! I mean, the total cost is about 3.4% of his $5.72 billion net worth. But no, like any good bourgeoisie snob, Mr. Branson must insist on milking the public teat for every last drop. Why he chose middle-of-nowhere New Mexico for his self-monument is beyond me. I mean, the place is a three hour drive from the nearest airport (and that’s in the booming metropolis of El Paso, Texas). I suppose the advantage of having your spaceport in the middle of nowhere is when your spaceship explodes into a fireball, it’ll at least minimize the casualties (and lawsuits) by us ordinary Joes when fiery ash rains down from the skies. Well, if Mr. Richardson insists on taxing us for this latest insanity, I can at least get a good view of the fireworks.

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

JFK, speech given at Rice University in Houston, Texas on September 12, 1962.

In December of 1903 two Midwesterners ushered in a new era for human civilization on a lonely beach some 700 miles from their home in Dayton. Together they proved that sustained powered flight was possible. By 1905 they had perfected the world’s first fixed wing aircraft. Yet the US government wouldn’t see the value of their craft until they reluctantly signed a contract in 1908, beginning a long standing tradition of the US government failing to fund important aerospace projects.

The Wright Flyer ushered in an era of amazing progress. Though modern man had taken thousands of years to learn how to fly it would be just 66 years after the Wrights first flew in Kitty Hawk that man would first set foot on the moon. Surely mankind would reach new and greater heights in the years that would follow? Yet here we are, nearly 40 years after man first set foot on the moon. Not only have we not expanded our horizons, but we have even lost the ability to go back. Concerns such as budget cuts have left numerous spacecraft unfinished in hangers around the nation, and heralded the death of many successful projects. What happened to the visionaries in the US government? What happened to those who had the courage to aim higher? What sort of fool cancels a project which has successfully built and tested the fastest aircraft ever conceived? In the past we strove for these goals because we understood the vision behind such grand things. Now it appears our leaders only understand bureaucracy. Where once we challenged ourselves by purposefully tackling those problems which seemed insurmountable now we see fit to let dreams die.

With NASA now promising that we will return to the moon by 2020, I am filled with the mixed emotions of excitement and doubt. Will even this project, the utterly unambitious goal of establishing our self on the moon, a mere 50 years after we first landed, ever get off the ground? Or will it instead fall prey to the lack of vision our leaders all seem to share? I don’t know if I believe NASA will ever get back to the moon. I have become so jaded by the countless canceled and aborted projects, budget shortfalls, and other pointless obstacles which have haunted NASA that I can muster little to no excitement over this prospect. Why is it that Kennedy could get us to the moon when no one else had even tried, yet today our leaders don’t seem capable of getting us back to someplace we have already been. The failure of our space program should be a source of shame for all Americans. We have not failed because we lack the ability, or the knowledge. Nor is it the case that we lack competent scientists. We have failed because our leaders are so spineless that they refuse to reach for the stars.

But all hope is not lost. There may be people and projects in our future which do indeed have the courage to press ever forwards. Maybe they will be enough for us to reclaim our place in the history of aerospace innovation. Whatever the case may be I can say that two years ago, on the shores of Lake Winnebago, I felt excited and hopeful again. While witnessing one of the last flights of SpaceShip One I realized that not everyone has forgotten that dreams are important. On that day in the hearts and minds of the people present the flame first ignited by two brothers from Ohio, and later rekindled on the surface of the moon by another Ohioan, still burned bright.

-Angry Midwesterner


Angry Midwesterner

On April 13, 2036, the asteroid aptly named Apophis may hit the Earth. Sure, the odds are low (around 1 in 45,000 it would seem), but obviously this would be, as they say, a “bad thing.”

So what to do about it? Well deflect it carefully of course. And, more importantly, who to do it? Why the UN, of course, the world body renowned for its forthrightness, efficiency, progressive thinking, and speed of action. I mean, it’s not like the UN would ever sit on its hands when faced with a crisis of world-shattering prospects. Certainly they wouldn’t dither around while millions of lives are on the line. And, naturally, petty concerns and rivalries won’t get in the way of speedily working to avert a major crisis. I mean, sure as the Earth is a giant cube, the UN is just the group to handle it.

Oh, wait, I’m sorry, that’s the Bizarro UN, from Bizzaro World. But sadly, just as technically, the bathroom of a bus station isn’t considered Bizarro World, technically the actual real-world UN isn’t actually good at doing anything. Except talking. And passing resolutions blaming Israel for all the world’s problems. They are good at that. So if we could convince them that it was a Jewish asteroid…

Hmm, perhaps they should have named it “Ariel Sharon” or “Golda Meir” or some other demon from the UN’s pantheon.

But sadly, as it is, I don’t think the UN’s quite the group for the job. Especially not a job that requires a 300 million dollar mission needing finesse, panache, and precision. Three traits that the UN does its best to eliminate from the hiring pool on any project it oversees. If we task the UN to do this, we can guarantee that when April 12, 2036 comes around, they will have convened another committee to review the results from the Second World Consortium on Stopping Asteriods Using Environmentally Safe Methods Not Offensive to Muslims Which Also, Simply Coincidentally, Shower Debris Over Jewish Areas of That Portion of Palestine Which A Couple Member Nations Call Israel (SAUESMNOMWASCSDOJATPPWCMNCI). Of course, since April 12, 2036 is a Saturday, they’ll have actually rescheduled the meeting for Monday, the 14th.

So, who does that leave. Well, NASA is out, of course. If they can’t even hit Mars more than one time in three, I don’t think we want them in charge of something actually important. And if NASA policy forbids employees from even communicating with a subcontractor enough to ensure that everyone’s using the same units, I don’t think we want them in charge of the Gravity Tractor. “What do mean you imparted 3000 m/s, we wanted 3000 ft/s?” No, this is a recipe for moving the asteroid from one part of Earth, which we can at least predict at some level, to some other part of the planet at random.

Really, who should you trust in a case like this? Everyone knows the actual answer. The US Air Force. Easy when you do the math. Okay, we want a group which:

  • ideally has experience conveying payloads to precise destinations far away (nukes, Cold War, USSR, tiny little silos, just one try)
  • considers 300 million dollars to be a reasonable amount to spend (real problem here is getting them to take 300 million seriously, I mean that’s like 1/6 of a B2 bomber)
  • isn’t terrified up front by the prospect of failure in a life or death situation (Hey, guys, can you build a system that launches nukes on a confirmed launch warning by the other guys and thus ends all life on Earth? No problem, Mr. President.)
  • doesn’t get cold feet at the last minute when death is on the line (arclight, rolling thunder, Operation Linebacker, the Road of Death—okay that last one, not so much, but only because higher ups put the kebosh on it)
  • can say “mistakes were made” with a straight face if everything goes horribly wrong (okay, not so good at this, but only because nothing goes wrong, by definition)

I think it’s pretty clear that the USAF are the guys for the job. Especially if we arrange a high-level briefing for the Air Force brass at the impact site on April 13, with the President teleconferencing (due to his busy schedule, naturally). Now, Pentagon procurement ain’t exactly swift or cheap, but we have nearly 30 years to spend that money, and if we invest the 300 million today at about 5% interest, we can afford the inevitable cost overruns sure to come. And remember, when that waste and corruption comes around, at least it’s going to patriotic American corporations, and not the UN. I mean, those corps may be greedy jerks, but at least they don’t consider child sex rings and drug sales to be the usual course of business…