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Print 77 comment(s) - last by EricMartello.. on Oct 12 at 8:58 AM

National lab project is unlikely to produce results and is being misrepresented, allegedly

California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) -- located on the grounds of the University of California, Berkley (UC Berkley) -- is the center of a growing controversy regarding a $7B USD laser fusion project, dubbed the "National Ignition Facility" (NIF).

I. LLNL Says Project is Near Fusion, IEEE Editor Says "No Way"

The project -- launched 15 years ago in 1997 -- has yet to achieve "ignition"; the point at which the laser-confined fusion produces more energy than it consumes.  And it carries a sticker price of $290M+ USD per year in operating costs.

But those issues didn't stop LLNL from releasing a cheerful press release, proclaiming:

Fifteen years of work by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) team paid off on July 5 with a historic record-breaking laser shot. The NIF laser system of 192 beams delivered more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to its target. Five hundred terawatts is 1,000 times more power than the United States uses at any instant in time, and 1.85 megajoules of energy is about 100 times what any other laser regularly produces today.

The release was hardly coincidental.  It came just months ago, in hopes of swaying Congress, which is presently deciding whether to sustain funding for the troubled project.

NIF Laser pre-amps
Pre-amplifiers are pictured pumping up the power to the LLNL's record-setting laser.  But is all that power being wasted on pipe dreams? [Image Source: LLNL]

But according to IEEE Spectrum editor Bill Sweet, a veteran of India's nuclear power development project, most physicists view laser-contained (aka. "inertial confinement") fusion ignition as a pipe dream.  He argues that most agree that magnetic confinement fusion is far more likely to be realized, though still a difficult problem.  

William Broad, chief nuclear issues reporter for The New York Times, agrees.  He writes that the National Nuclear Security Administration's project overseer, Donald L. Cook, has serious concerns.  He quotes Mr. Cook as saying, that even with the latest power milestone considered, the project simply "has not worked", and that the NNSA is "going to settle into a serious investigation" of the NIF's sliding ignition deadline.

II. Protecting the Nuclear Stockpile?  Maybe Not...

Mr. Sweet also takes issue with LLNL's other justification for the project -- that it provides a test-bed to simulate nuclear weapons performance, a key national security goal.  

LLNL comments, "[The NIF] is the only facility with the potential to duplicate the actual phenomena that occur in the heart of a modern nuclear device -- a goal that is critical to sustaining confidence that a return to underground nuclear testing remains unnecessary."

But Mr. Sweet counters, "Richard Garwin, for decades the most highly regarded independent specialist on nuclear weaponry in the United States, told IEEE Spectrum six years ago that it would be 'a mistake to assume that NIF experiments are going to be directly relevant to weapons testing. The temperatures in the NIF chamber are much lower than they are in actual nuclear weapons, and the amounts of material being tested are much smaller.'"

He adds, "For decades the joke about magnetic confinement fusion--much the more plausible approach to harnessing the energy of the sun--is that the technology is always 20 years away. So when will inertial confinement fusion be delivering commercial electricity? That one is easy. Never."

NIF lasers
Congress is debating whether to scrap the NIF. [Image Source: LLNL]

It sounds like there's some serious credibility question regarding the project's security and energy claims.  That said, there might be some merit to the project, even if Mr. Sweet is at least partially right.  

UC Berkley astronomy Professor Dr. Raymond Jeanloz, comments, "Already the most incredibly tightly controlled and most energetic laser in the world, it is remarkable that NIF has achieved the 500 TW milestone - quite a significant achievement.  This breakthrough will give us incredible new opportunities in studying materials at extreme conditions."

Indeed, from a pure science perspective, the device is a pretty impressive accomplishment, even if it turns out its fusion goals are indeed pipe dreams.  It could indeed yield some novel materials research, if it escapes this round of funding reviews.  Ultimately the issue appears not so much that the super-laser lacks novelty, but rather that its critics argue that it is being misrepresented.  For that reason, Mr. Sweet infers, the NIF is the "mother of all boondoggles".

Sources: IEEE Spectrum, LLNL, The New York Times



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I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/2012 12:00:08 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe the funding could be reduced a bit, but I'd rather have my tax money spent on developing awesome lasers than pay for unnecessary wars on the middle east or tax cuts for the wealthy...




RE: I'm fine with this
By Schrag4 on 10/9/2012 12:07:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, since it's somebody else's money, why wouldn't you be fine with it?


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/12, Rating: -1
RE: I'm fine with this
By GTVic on 10/9/2012 2:47:03 PM , Rating: 3
Who exactly is the narrow minded racist in this scenario?

Always interesting to see that complaints about conservatives (that would be the politically correct term for red-neck bible thumper) come from supposedly enlightened people that somehow manage to believe that it is perfectly ok to lump anyone in a red state or anyone that attends church on Sunday into a single group.


RE: I'm fine with this
By senecarr on 10/9/2012 3:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
Technically, he's prejudice if he assumes these attributes about people from the south by default, but he's not racist. There is no race called the south.
So what point isn't it fair for him to assume things about people? Will he need to defend himself against hating racists (if he does) because he's lumping all racists into one group?
At the end of the day though, he is correct about money flow. States that vote blue tend towards net loss in under Federal tax and spending while red states tend toward net gain.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Solandri on 10/9/2012 5:45:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Technically, he's prejudice if he assumes these attributes about people from the south by default, but he's not racist. There is no race called the south.

I thought rednecks were a race? :D
quote:
At the end of the day though, he is correct about money flow. States that vote blue tend towards net loss in under Federal tax and spending while red states tend toward net gain.

You can't have it both ways. The flow of tax revenue to red states is a consequence of the country's progressive tax structure. Prices and wages tend to be higher in urban areas, which tend to be liberal. The opposite for rural areas. Consequently the urban, liberal states tend to pay a higher percentage in taxes, while the rural red states tend to receive a higher percentage in government entitlements.

If you advocate higher taxes on higher income citizens and distributing more to lower income citizens, it's disingenuous to then complain that the net flow of money is away from blue states. Either you're taxing and distributing based on income, or you're taxing and distributing based on political affiliation. Take your pick.

Red states OTOH are saying even though the current tax structure helps them, they don't want that help and would prefer moving to a tax system which helps blue states. They're the ones staking the noble position here, not the folks imposing a higher tax on themselves and then trying to blame it on the recipients of that tax revenue.


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/12, Rating: -1
RE: I'm fine with this
By cashkennedy on 10/9/2012 7:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
Louisiana's Republican Governor did turn down most of Obamas stimulus package. You can turn it down but that doesnt mean theyre going to tax less, or going to spend less. Its human nature to take what you can / and abuse the system. Thats why the system shouldnt be giving things out because they will always be abused...


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/2012 8:06:52 PM , Rating: 1
The reason he refused medicaid extension is due to their state being full of uninformed ignorant people currently not signed up for any program and this would make them sign up. The south has indeed found a solution to their budget issues: Social Darwinism where the poor and the weak are left to die. If you want to live in such a society, go ahead.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/9/2012 9:41:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They're welcome to turn down the tax money coming from blue states and send it back.


Rick Scott has also turned down hundreds of millions, the largest of which was a light rail project to feed Disney tourists directly from Orlando's airport (third-party rider projections suggest extremely little use by locals), but there's been a host of little things too.


RE: I'm fine with this
By jdonkey123 on 10/11/2012 12:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
They're not taking a noble position, they're taking an ignorant one! Poll them, and they would overwhelmingly (and incorrectly) respond that they are the ones who are funding urban moochers.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Kurz on 10/9/2012 3:10:09 PM , Rating: 1
Then call for immediate stopage of all proping up of everything. Government plays favorites and picks the winners and losers, let the market decide.


RE: I'm fine with this
By tayb on 10/9/12, Rating: 0
RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/9/2012 3:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
http://www.fuckthesouth.com


The feeling is mutual.


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/12, Rating: -1
RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/9/2012 3:57:01 PM , Rating: 1
I'll point out the North, man to man, had measurably inferior soldiers. Ya'll just used to breed like rabbits. If it weren't for Grant having no regard for how many men he lost, it'd of gone totally different.

But if you'd let the South go its own way then, you wouldn't have the problem.

Besides, your math, like all liberal math, is skewed. NJ is extremely dense in terms of population. A state with lots of farmland but the occasional expensive ICBM silo is obviously going to have a poor ratio.

Really though, the South's also beat you at politics, having relatively more federal programs located there; not just military bases, but NASA facilities, research, government contractors of various sorts, agriculture subsidies, etc. Despite a disadvantage in population.

I'd say man up, but you probably dont know what I mean by that. :P


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/12, Rating: -1
RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/9/12, Rating: 0
RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/10/2012 12:35:57 AM , Rating: 1
The only way that is even remotely possible is if you brought back slavery, which I would not past the current southern Republican politicans. One of them already wrote in his book that it was a blessing in disguise.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 5:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, because all of those countries have slavery.

/sarcasm


RE: I'm fine with this
By EricMartello on 10/12/2012 8:58:05 AM , Rating: 2
Just wanted to drop a bit of fact on your "enlightened" discourse. During the civil war, which you've indicated you'd sign up for, the south was largely DEMOCRATIC. The so-called northern democrats were a bit more "liberal" but maintained pro-slavery ideology.

It was the GOP - formed specifically as an anti-slavery, pro civil rights party, that really started to drive the country away from its racially divided roots. President Lincoln was a republican and he was reviled not only by the democratic south, but also by many in the north as well. During his time, it's not like he was some "hero" that united all people - which is a large reason the war occurred in the first place.

The point that you and many other "modern democrats" fail to realize is that your party is representative of America's worst elements.

Over the years following the civil war there has been a lot of 'spin' trying to position democrats as the 'forward thinking' group that wants freedom and liberty for all, at the same time painting republicans as the narrow-minded oppressors...but the underlying leftist agenda that is fundamental to democrats has not changed and this is easily evident in the types of policies they tend to support and champion.

There is no such thing as a right-wing dictatorship; the best place to be, politically, is moderate-right. You cannot be a lefty and proclaim that you value INDIVIDUAL rights, freedoms and liberties...to do so is a contradiction.


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/10/2012 12:41:25 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Ireland.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA oh wow!!!!
All of these countries have Universal Healthcare and mostly allow abortions. There is NO WAY IN HELL the ignorant dumbfvck south would resemble anything close those countries. You guys are too dumb and too religious to be successful like that.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 5:19:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
All of these countries have Universal Healthcare and mostly allow abortions.


Thanks for again proving you don't know what you're talking about. The Swiss model of health care doesn't get much more competitive.

Speaking of people too dumb and ignorant to adopt successful policies, i'll point out that in places like Sweden charter schools are the norm, not controversial at all. It's not the South with its head in the sand.


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/11/2012 1:12:18 AM , Rating: 1
Swiss healthcare system from Wikipedia:

As far as the compulsory health insurance is concerned, the insurance companies cannot set any conditions relating to age, sex or state of health for coverage.

Sounds like Obamacare to me, which the southern hicks are vehemently objecting to...


RE: I'm fine with this
By Paj on 10/10/2012 9:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
If by growth you mean cheap unsustainable loans flowing to an oversaturated property market, then by all means follow Ireland's example.

Like Spain, most of their recent economic growth was building far too much, on the back of loans that then became toxic, resulting in bankruptcies and writedowns.

Like many other countries, Ireland had a debt-fuelled purple patch until the GFC, and now, like everyone else, they are actually doing pretty badly.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 5:27:59 PM , Rating: 2
Ireland had a housing bust, yes, but it has a lot of strong fundamentals. Net exports seem to be doing better, and it shows flickers of life but, IMO, due to its understandably powerful links to the Euro-zone it's getting dragged down by that crisis that just refuses to die.

They were also powerfully hurt by bailing out their banks; would've been FAR better for Ireland to let them fail, but Germany wouldn't of stood for it; word has always been that it'd of caused Deutche Bank to fail, so pressed Ireland to jump on its own sword.

Regardless, there's no denying that in international rankings Ireland is extremely competitive. It's closest comparison would be Spain, which had the next-largest housing boom and bust, and Irelands unemployment is about 11% points lower and GDP bouncing between flat to slow growth. Can try to spin it however you like, but facts are facts.


RE: I'm fine with this
By prophet001 on 10/9/2012 4:59:39 PM , Rating: 2
Just a little quote from your leader...

"Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty."

Abraham Lincoln
First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1861


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/2012 5:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
So, what's your point? The norms of 1860s are a lot different than today.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Reclaimer77 on 10/9/2012 5:25:28 PM , Rating: 1
You keep making this argument, and it's idiotic. Your tax money goes to the Federal Government, which it then redistributes in a variety of ways. But to keep making the statement that your tax dollars "props up" southern states exclusively, is typically for you, bigoted and retarded. And not nearly accurate.

quote:
I also pay a lot of taxes, five figures, a year to the federal government alone.


And yet, you're still a Liberal. Brilliant...


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/12, Rating: 0
RE: I'm fine with this
By Reclaimer77 on 10/9/2012 5:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
so it's obviously going to prop up the red states.


No, it's not. That not how it works. But you're so clouded with ignorant hate and bigotry, you won't listen. And frankly discussing things seriously with you is a waste of time.

quote:
There are very few blue states that take more federal money than they pay in taxes,


Umm since when?

http://www.moneychanges.org/2012/04/blue-state-bud...


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/2012 5:58:39 PM , Rating: 2
That link says nothing about FEDERAL tax money collected from each state's residents/businesses and how it's distributed. The blue states would not have budget shortfalls if their federal tax revenue came back to their state instead of to red states.

Try this:
http://visualeconsite.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/...


RE: I'm fine with this
By Reclaimer77 on 10/9/2012 6:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The blue states would not have budget shortfalls if their federal tax revenue came back to their state instead of to red states.


AHAHAAHHA!!!!!!!!

You're too much! Have a nice day, I'm done lol. Just..WoW

AHAHAHAHAH!!


RE: I'm fine with this
By shmmy on 10/9/2012 9:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
Don't argue with Reclaimer its like arguing with a child. He knows everything and you are stupid..........


RE: I'm fine with this
By phlogiston on 10/9/2012 6:39:28 PM , Rating: 2
Instead of labeling everyone who disagrees with you a white-trash idiot, maybe you should consider both sides have equally valid arguments. Which side you identify with has more to do with your value system than with "rightness" or "wrongness." The ironic thing is, both liberals and conservatives NEED the other to provide some perspective that each group lacks.

Unfortunately, debate in this country has descended into name-calling and character assassination. Thoughtful consideration of other points of view is too difficult, too taxing. It's much easier to label all red states "Dumbf**kistan" or all blue states the "Democratic Peoples Republic of America" than actually think.

Eveyone who argues politics on DailyTech should take a look at this TED talk, for some food for thought: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_mor...


RE: I'm fine with this
By arazok on 10/9/2012 7:26:02 PM , Rating: 1
The irony of this statement is that the people in the red states generally oppose the types of tax and spend programs that make this the case, while those in the blue states demand more.

So really, you have nobody to blame but yourself – or at least your fellow NJ voters.


RE: I'm fine with this
By StevoLincolnite on 10/9/2012 12:19:42 PM , Rating: 3
Well, without research we would not have any of today's modern medicines and technologies, that means computers, cars, space flight, advanced medicines... You name it.

I would much rather Governments prop up research and development which is likely to have a massive impact not only in the future of a country, but can have massive beneficial effects all around the globe.

It makes more sense than bailing out failing companies at any rate or propping up welfare.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Kurz on 10/9/2012 3:15:53 PM , Rating: 2
I see only one thing that is was initially funded by the government. Space Flight. Rest the government entered late/recently in the life of research.

The rest had a market demand for it.


RE: I'm fine with this
By MadMan007 on 10/9/2012 4:03:31 PM , Rating: 3
How ironic that you post such a statement on the *internet.*


RE: I'm fine with this
By NicodemusMM on 10/10/2012 12:31:55 AM , Rating: 3
How blind that you think it wouldn't have happened anyway... and possibly better. Since its inception what contributions has the government made to the technology behind the internet?


RE: I'm fine with this
By StevoLincolnite on 10/10/2012 1:10:42 AM , Rating: 2
Allot of governments assist in building network infrastructure, either submarine, backhaul... You name it.

Or, in Australia's case, rolling out 100mbps fiber to 98% of the population.

Regardless, that's more infrastructure building where governments do assist allot, research on new internet technologies is mostly done by private companies these days.

However, if you dig a little deeper, NASA (Which is assisted by the Government) actually assisted in developing the integrated circuit which has roots in all our computing devices today, be it routers (To run the internet.) to computers (To view the internet on.)


RE: I'm fine with this
By NellyFromMA on 10/9/2012 12:36:38 PM , Rating: 5
There isn't enough money to do everything anymore. Thank your mothers and fathers and grand parents for depleting it mostly without even knowing it.

Yes, you could argue endlessly about how one program is favorable over another or that its 'indespensible'. In fact, I wager to veture a guess that all currently funded projects are considered indespensible to someone.

The problem is, you either have the money to do it or you don't. It's simple in that sense.

Some things simply cannot be afforded anymore. I don't necessarily have an opinion on this specific project, but it sure doesn't sound a hell of a whole lot of useful seeing as how it is in the long-term phase already and has no promise or projection of even benefitting mankind in any meaningful way in the next 50 years even.

People are going to have to accept the fact that American life has changed and you are being politely nudgeed into accepting that and will continue to be over the next decade or two.

We just don't have a blank check anymore. Some things will simply need to stop.


RE: I'm fine with this
By kattanna on 10/9/2012 12:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Maybe the funding could be reduced a bit,


yeah.. like 100% It will never be any good at the 2 things it has been touted to do.

initially it was all about fusion.. but even a cursory glance over the program showed issues. Aye.. they might be able to do a one off shot of fusion, but then the thing would have to be shut down, cleaned and opened to insert a new tiny fuel pellet target. this would not ever make a usable reactor that could do sustained reactions to generate actual power. This was from my own readings of their program from years ago.

and the nuclear weapons testing.. is a new add-on to try to continue funding.

quote:
but I'd rather have my tax money spent on developing awesome lasers than pay for unnecessary wars on the middle east or tax cuts for the wealthy...


now i am for ultra high end laser research, but there are better ways to do that then this program.


RE: I'm fine with this
By MozeeToby on 10/9/2012 1:20:02 PM , Rating: 1
Quite the other way around actually, fusion bomb designers are desperate for new information on the way an implosion fusion reaction takes place and treaties make testing your new H-bomb design impractical or impossible without ticking off a lot of people. We've had 30 years of improvements and tweaks made to the models, but they need some actual data to verify that the models are correct.

As to the rest, of course it's not going to be a power producing reactor, it was never intended to be. As you said, there's no infrastructure in place to refuel the system. More importantly, there's no practical way to cycle the lasers at rates that would be economically viable (I've heard you would need at least 1Hz, probably closer to 10Hz to make such a system work).

NIF was designed to answer the questions of if we have the technology to produce an energy positive fusion reaction with laser confinement. Actually harvesting that energy comes much later and is largely (except perhaps the problem of cycling the lasers) an engineering problem. And yes, they are very, very close to ignition (producing more energy than they are injecting).

Killing this program now, when they are so close to success would be the real boondoggle. $7 billion is obviously a lot of money, but it's also sunk cost. For $1 billion more you can demonstrate fusion, cancelling the project now doesn't magically give you the money you already spent back.


RE: I'm fine with this
By gamerk2 on 10/9/2012 1:21:11 PM , Rating: 2
Agree with this assessment 100%.


RE: I'm fine with this
By rdhood on 10/9/2012 1:44:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
And yes, they are very, very close to ignition (producing more energy than they are injecting). Killing this program now, when they are so close to success would be the real boondoggle.


Well, at least one person drank the koolaid.

Here's a clue: they will be very,very close to ignition right up the the time they kill this project. That might be this year... maybe next year... maybe 10 years out. They will always be so close to ignition that "killing this program now, when they are so close to success would be the real boondoggle."


RE: I'm fine with this
By kattanna on 10/9/2012 1:48:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Quite the other way around actually, fusion bomb designers are desperate for new information on the way an implosion fusion reaction takes place


of that, I'm sure. but this method is a poor replacement. albeit it is more empirical then a computer model, but it has so many variables different then a real Fusion device as to question its usefulness.

quote:
For $1 billion more you can demonstrate fusion


but we can already demonstrate fusion via magnetic containment. Also, if the reaction cannot be sustained, then really..whats the point?


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/9/2012 3:50:48 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking about this just the other day. Why not allow the occasional underground test?

Yes, I know, international treaties. They're like gun control laws; they keep the US and UK, France, etc from working on their nuclear programs, but don't do a thing to slow North Korea, Iran or Syria (prior to Israel bombing it).

So asides from treaties, why not? Particularly when our warheads are getting so old. If radiation was 1/100th as bad as environmentalists would claim, the entire American Southwest would be devoid of all life, whereas last I heard the Trinity site was in fact a tourist attraction. Indeed.. population of the entire region is expanding. I'd think a few tests would do little harm but provide a lot of useful insights, possibly quite a few for science more broadly.


RE: I'm fine with this
By kattanna on 10/9/2012 4:17:36 PM , Rating: 2
i feel the same way about our self imposed ban on reprocessing nuclear waste


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/9/2012 9:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, one of the most insulting bans of them all. Thank you, Jimmy Carter, for trying to keep a nuclear power from becoming a nuclear power. That cat was out of the bag when that guy was still growing peanuts.


RE: I'm fine with this
By m51 on 10/9/2012 10:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
Fusion weapon design is no longer a high priority. All the fusion weapons in the stockpile have been retired. The only deployed warheads now are simple fission or boosted fission devices. There is no need or desire for high yield devices (>1 Mton) anymore, the focus is on precision delivery.

I'm also skeptical of any fusion research project achieving economical power production in the next 50 years. The problem is incredibly complex and difficult and there are a number of unsolved/unresolved issues like the first wall problem and tritium production. Even if solutions are found the capital cost of the equipment and operations and maintenance costs put fusion power costs way out of line with other much simpler and energy dense systems like nuclear power, let alone competing with natural gas.

On the other hand I am loathe to cut research funding. It's often attacked because the benefits are not immediately visible or quantifiable, yet looking back historically basic research always pays off. Keep an oversight on it, but don't kill it. Technological advances yields economic advantages, it keeps the economy on the leading edge.


RE: I'm fine with this
By KFZ on 10/9/2012 1:02:10 PM , Rating: 2
Your regurgitated bile of propaganda to rationalize government spending speaks to a lack of critical thinking. Indeed, combat operations have put up staggering figures over their lifespan, but you're comparing two different long-term interests, yet to trash the benefit of a Democratic Middle East is not only blind but significantly stupid. It's in everyone's interests, except tyrants and violent extremists.

Now to say that's a pipe dream is certainly valid criticism, but you haven't, you simply called our action "unnecessary". More to the point, the greater War On Terror would have been more successful had it solid management and strong, long-term International and public support, rather than weak, whining cesspools across the world. In the end, don't fool yourself, people truly look out for themselves.

But let's really get down to brass tacks: to say that the wealthy don't pay enough income tax (evidenced by your whining over tax cuts, rather than the capital gains rate, for example) is just a tone-deaf talking point. People are taxed enough on their incomes. A robust argument goes after the tax code and addresses what is known as tax fraud/evasion. In layman's terms (just for you) people avoid the living crap out of taxes they owe and hundreds of billions in revenue isn't there for the government. Jacking up income rates on the 1% isn't going to fix anything, but it sure makes you sound brilliant to compare a research project to Mercedes-driving golfers.

I'm not saying to make the middle and low-incomes foot more, I'm not saying anyone's income tax rates should go up. What should go up is the tax code. In flames. In the meantime, quit spreading this ridiculous propaganda that's unhelpful and will ensure things don't change by supporting the ignorant minds who develop the sort of insipid and misguided logic of yours.


RE: I'm fine with this
By gamerk2 on 10/9/2012 1:19:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'll say it again: I support the basis of Huntsmans tax plan. You MUST remove all deductions (loopholes), then reduce the rates somewhat. Feel free to argue what the final rates should be, but in principle, this fixes a lot of the loopholes in the code.

Secondly, tax all income at the same rate. Sorry, but if treating capital gains as regular income makes investing unprofitable, guess what? Thats capitalism for you. Income is income, regardless of source.

Sales taxes, while somewhat more recession resistant then income taxes, are VERY biased against startups (large startup costs leads to a massive tax bill before any product can be sold). So a sales tax can not be used as the sole form of taxation, even though its the "fairest" of all possible tax policies.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Masospaghetti on 10/9/2012 4:03:37 PM , Rating: 2
I would be for this, too - but once people realize that its THEIR home interest deduction you are taking away, or THEIR health care non-taxible status, then suddenly the support for closing "loopholes" suddenly vanishes.

This coming from a recent home buyer...


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/2012 1:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder where exactly do you get that I only support increasing income tax? I am in agreement with you that we should not touch income tax but, get rid of treating capital gains differently, it should all be taxed at the same rate.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/9/2012 4:13:02 PM , Rating: 2
As long as people understand that treating capital gains differently will satisfy their personal biases and desire to stick it to 'the man' but will be self-defeating in terms both of economics and revenue generation, then okay.

In terms of economics, this isn't 1960 any more. Why invest in the US when one can invest elsewhere much more favorably? It's all just a few clicks on a computer. Capital gains also represents an extra layer of taxation; companies pay taxes on income, then capital gains taxes hits again when its equity price rises to reflect its growth, or even more transparently, when that income is distributed as a dividend.

In the most severe case, it's likely some wealthy people, and equity funds, would leave the country entirely. It's going on in France, and its been happening to the US as well, although quietly. When people leave, the tax rate gets pretty easy to figure up: 0% on all income, all the time.

In terms of revenue generation, it never fails that tax hikes to income (in all its forms) disappoints compared to projections. People always seem to find ways to switch income around; CEO's being compensated by stock options originally came about this way. Our current health care structure, employer-based, came about from WW2 era wage controls. Where they move depends on how a final bill reads, but its certain at least some income would get shuffled around.

But, go ahead. Lets just not pretend its economically efficient or will do anything meaningful towards closing our deficit. All it would really accomplish is a fleeting feeling of accomplishment for the Occupy crowd.


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/9/2012 5:25:48 PM , Rating: 2
Sure leave the country but as long as any income earned from any US based business or investment is still taxed no matter who is earning it, we'll be fine.
Income taxes are high in pretty much throughout Europe, yet people aren't leaving.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/9/2012 10:00:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sure leave the country but as long as any income earned from any US based business or investment is still taxed no matter who is earning it, we'll be fine.


The point is that there would be less of that investment taking place, since tax laws would make it less attractive compared to an investment with the same underlying potential returns made elsewhere.

quote:
Income taxes are high in pretty much throughout Europe, yet people aren't leaving.


False. If you paid attention at all to the news out of Europe, you'd of read about all the tax layers and high-end real estate agents getting once-in-a-lifetime waves of business from French high-earners, fleeing France for lower-taxed places, namely London and Switzerland due to their business hubs but also Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore and a few to NYC. This news has been pretty steady for at least six months, ever since it was clear Hollande had a good shot.

On a lower level, Italy and Greece have had a hard time keeping their college graduates from leaving for more business-friendly countries for many years, waaaay predating the crisis over there. Every bright graduate that flees Italy for some hotbed of start-ups or education or business represents a sizable dent in that countries future GDP potential, because once they leave they rarely come back.

It'd be cool if you had at least a weak semblance of an idea about WTF you're talking about. If you paid attention to this sort of stuff at all, at the very least you'd of heard about Cameron making a huge joke at France's expense by "rolling out the red carpet" for Frances wealthy.

And I don't like it, but even as it is, thousands of Americans over the past several years have been handing in their passports to escape the IRS; why? We're the only developed nation that taxes foreign income, and the only way to escape it is to rescind citizenship. I don't like it but the fact is that America's been bleeding some of its highest quality labor for years. Considering at the end of the day people have to look out for themselves and their family and not tie themselves to a sinking national ship that forsakes them anyway, I have a hard time blaming them too much.


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/10/2012 12:45:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The point is that there would be less of that investment taking place, since tax laws would make it less attractive compared to an investment with the same underlying potential returns made elsewhere.

Not if you spend the tax revenue bolstering research and education. Not to mention the world's financial heart beats in NYC. Investing in America would still be the best bet due to the growth and bolstering of the economy from the bottom up, just like it was in the 50's and 60's.

And your words are meaningless without facts and figures from reputable studies. I would bet that any such migration is at an insignificant level.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 5:43:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not to mention the world's financial heart beats in NYC.


Not true. Mark Haines at CNBC always got a little heat for starting off his show "Live from the financial capital of the world," but really London in many ways has a better claim to that, because London wasn't ashamed of making a buck by being a trade hub to the entire planet.

quote:
And your words are meaningless without facts and figures from reputable studies. I would bet that any such migration is at an insignificant level.


Well, the US reports some data;

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-01/wealthy-a...

There was a similar surge a couple years ago as well, something to do about a change in tax law.

If you paid attention (and I know you don't) then the flight from France you'd be well aware of too; every reputable finance/economics news outlet out there has reported on it extensively. It's too recent, though, to have hard numbers. Most of the beneficiaries are privately owned real estate, law and smaller accounting firms, and have no incentive to share hard numbers that might tip off their competitors.

That said, seems like just in the last 24 hours news is spreading around that 400 homes worth more then 1M euro's have flooded the high-end market. For that expensive of homes, thats a lot.

Hollande even knows its a disaster; he's backed off on it being an income rate, switched it to a top effective rate (otherwise it was going to total up to 90%), and promised it'd only last 2 years.

And I get a kick outa you demanding data. You never support your BS with data.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 5:46:31 PM , Rating: 2
Remember, too, that those numbers are low in relative terms; a country will never lose net population that way. But when you consider they're probably all part of the "1%" or, at the very least, the top 5%, each of those tax refugees represents potentially tens of thousands of middle class people in terms of tax revenue, revenue that's gone and will never return.


RE: I'm fine with this
By corduroygt on 10/11/2012 1:09:04 AM , Rating: 2
The data you provided shows 1780 people out of 6 million. That's a very small percentage. Also, with new laws saying any investment in the US will be taxed if the money leaves, it would not even matter as long as US is stlil the center of research and education and a strong middle class with strong consumer spending, it will still be the #1 country to invest in, regardless of tax rates (which would still be less than most of Europe)


RE: I'm fine with this
By Zingam on 10/9/2012 2:20:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, right! Bomb for Democracy. That's definitely going to work!!!


RE: I'm fine with this
By senecarr on 10/9/2012 2:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with the long term benefits of a democratic Middle East is you can't make a country become a democracy, if you try to, it is automatically not one, you're being a dictator to it.
Simply removing one dictator doesn't mean we'll get a government that is long term beneficial or beneficent towards the US.


RE: I'm fine with this
By Cluebat on 10/11/2012 7:12:13 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure that I agree with you. And it's just as much my tax money as it is yours.

I do agree with you on the "too big to fail" part.


RE: I'm fine with this
By NicodemusMM on 10/10/2012 12:24:01 AM , Rating: 2
While I would much rather spend tax revenue on the pursuit of science than many other money sinks...

Your credibility plunged headfirst out the window to it's unceremonious demise with the idea of paying for tax cuts. Just... wow.


RE: I'm fine with this
By inperfectdarkness on 10/10/2012 2:53:29 AM , Rating: 2
i'm gonna get downrated for this, but here goes:

when you can convince every millitent terrorist to just play nice, then i'll be convinced that the wars IN (not on) the middle east are "unnecessary".

why do people seem to forget that we left afghanistan alone for 10+ years before 9-11...and the reward from that non-intervention was a catastrophic nightmare?


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