Since President Barack Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued 2,827 new final regulations, equaling 24,915 pages in the Federal Register, totaling approximately 24,915,000 words.
The Gutenberg Bible is only 1,282 pages and 646,128 words. Thus, the new EPA regulations issued by the Obama Administration contain 19 times as many pages as the Bible and 38 times as many words.
The Obama EPA regulations have 22 times as many words as the entire Harry Potter series, which includes seven books with 1,084,170 words. They have 5,484 times as many words as the U.S. Constitution, which has 4,543 words, including the signatures; and 17,088 times as many words as the Declaration of Independence, which has 1,458 words including signatures.
Using the Regulations.gov website and the Federal Register itself, CNSNews.com found 2,827 distinct rules published by the EPA since January 2009 covering, among other things, greenhouse gases, air quality, emissions and hazardous substances.
The Federal Register publishes documents, including proposed rules, notices, interim rules, corrections, drafts of final rules and final rules. The CNSNews.com tabulation included only final rules from the EPA.
To get an approximate word count for each EPA rule in the Federal Register, CNSNews.com evaluated a few random rules from the 2,827 EPA regulations published since Obama took office, and calculated an approximate average of 1,000 words per page. From this, CNSNews.com calculated that the 2,827 final EPA rules that have been published in the Federal Register so far take up 24,915,000 words.
This is only an approximation because some pages in the Federal Register carry more words than others, and some regulations end in the beginning or middle of a page. For example, one of the regulations was five-pages long and totaled 5,586 words, an average of 1,117 words per page.
Another regulation was three-pages long and 3,150 words, which averaged to 1,050 words per page. another rule was four-pages long and 4,426 words, or an average 1,106 words per page.
“The broader question of whether the Obama Administration’s EPA is “overreaching” in its regulatory effects has not gone away. Critics both in Congress and outside of it regularly accuse the agency of overkill,” states a Congressional Research Service report, EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?
“EPA’s actions, both individually and in sum, have generated controversy,” the CRS report states. “Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have expressed concerns, through bipartisan letters commenting on proposed regulations and through introduced legislation that would delay, limit, or prevent certain EPA actions.”
Yet, EPA proponents are fighting for more rules. “Environmental groups and other supporters of the agency disagree that EPA has overreached. Many of them believe that the agency is, in fact, moving in the right direction, including taking action on significant issues that had been long delayed or ignored in the past. In several cases, environmental advocates would like the regulatory actions to be stronger,” said the CRS report.
Right to work laws have led to skyrocketing manufacturing growth in the auto industry, according to a new study.
The National Institute of Labors Relations Research, an employment policy think tank, found that the auto industry’s flight from coercive unionization has produced a boom in right to work states, such as Tennessee. The institute traced federal labor statistics from 2002 to 2010 and discovered a dramatic shift in where the nation’s cars are being built.
“Considering just the 22 states that had Right to Work laws from 2002 to 2012, the Right to Work share of nationwide automotive manufacturing output grew from 36% to 52% over the decade,” NILRR researcher Stan Greer wrote on the institute’s website. “Real manufacturing GDP in these 22 Right to Work states grew by 87% from 2002 to 2012, but fell by 2% in forced-unionism states.”
Foreign carmakers, such as Toyota, Honda, and Volkswagen have established factories in right to work states, as well as non-union shops in Kentucky. Additionally, Ford, GM, and Chrysler have shifted jobs and supplier contracts from forced unionization states to right to work states.
“As recently as 2002, just 21% of the total U.S. output in automotive manufacturing took place in Right to Work states,” Greer found.
That gap will likely widen when the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis release manufacturing data for 2013 later this year.
Michigan and Indiana, two of the largest automobile manufacturing hubs in the United States, became right to work states in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Those laws will allow autoworkers to opt out of the United Auto Workers when their current contracts expire, which could signal a steeper decline of the number of cars built by unionized workers.
Auto expert Ted Niedermeyer said that Big Labor’s dominance of the auto industry “is on its last legs.”
“The fact that the UAW has not responded well to competition explains why auto production in this country is only expanding in non-union states,” he said.
The UAW has been trying for many years to insinuate itself into a manufacturing facility in a right-to-work state in order to boost its sagging membership. The union had its best chance when it secured Volkswagen’s support to unionize a Chattanooga, Tenn., facility, Niedermeyer said. While management embraced unionization, workers soundly rejected the UAW in a February vote.
Patrick Semmens, a spokesman at the National Right to Work Committee, said that workers have witnessed the negative effects that come with union representation, as companies shift jobs out of traditional manufacturing sites. The fact that business is booming in union-free shops reminds workers of the potential downsides of unionization.
“The moral case for Right to Work as a means of protecting the individual rights and free choice of workers is strong enough all on its own. But time and time again we see that freedom for workers also benefits the economy of states that choose to protect worker choice and the booming auto industry in Right to Work states is just another example,” Semmens said.
Niedermeyer added that the rejection of the UAW in Tennessee is only the first sign of lagging support for unions among autoworkers.
“Beyond even the UAW’s rejection at the Chattanooga, Tenn., Volkswagen plant we are now seeing pro-union workers at the Mercedes plant in Vance, AL telling the UAW that their presence has been counterproductive,” he said. “The UAW-affiliated automakers have been shedding production capacity over the long term due to eroding market share, and are unlikely to add any significant amount of new production jobs in the US any time soon.”
These trends could play a central role as right to work laws are debated in Missouri and other states, according to NILRR’s Greer writes. Lawmakers should have to reconcile the impact that forced unionization could have on local economies.
“The overwhelming advantage Right to Work states have enjoyed over forced-unionism states in attracting automotive manufacturing investment ought to put the burden of proof on Big Labor legislators in forced-unionism states like Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio who claim it makes no difference to companies considering new plant construction or expansions whether unionism is voluntary or not,” he said.
We were warned…
In January 2008 Barack Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle:
“Under my plan of a cap and trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Businesses would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that cost onto consumers.”
He promised that his plan would cause electricity rates to skyrocket.
He wasn’t kidding.
On Monday the Obama administration unveiled the first-ever national limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.
FOX News reported:
The Obama administration on Monday unveiled the first-ever national limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants, a controversial regulation aimed at fulfilling a key plank of President Obama’s climate change agenda.
The Environmental Protection Agency wants existing plants to cut pollution by 30 percent by 2030, under the plan.
The draft regulation sidesteps Congress, where Obama’s Democratic allies have failed to pass a so-called “cap-and-trade” plan to limit such emissions. The EPA plan will go into effect in June 2016, following a one-year comment period. States will then be responsible for executing the rule with some flexibility.
They are expected to be allowed to require power plants to make changes such as switching from coal to natural gas or enact other programs to reduce demand for electricity and produce more energy from renewable sources.
They also can set up pollution-trading markets as some states already have done to offer more flexibility in how plants cut emissions.
If a state refuses to create a plan, the EPA can make its own.
Obama’s energy policies will disproportionately harm the poor, middle class and minorities.
Real Clear Energy reported:
A study by Eugene M. Trisko for American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity reviewed the disproportionate impact of higher energy costs on differing income groups from 2001 to 2011.
The study found that the amount of money spent on energy for half of American households that make less than $50,000 almost doubled rising from 12 percent in 2001 to 20 percent in 2011.
Minorities with lower average incomes than white households are disproportionately harmed by rising energy prices.
For example, in 2009, 67 percent of black households and 62 percent of Hispanic households had average incomes below $50,000 in contrast with only 46 percent of white households.
Since minority households have lower incomes than white households, rising energy prices will take a larger share of their family’s disposable income leaving fewer dollars for housing, medicine and clothes.
Obama’s refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, new greenhouse gas regulations from the EPA and discussions of a carbon tax provides more evidence that Obama’s anti-fossil fuel agenda will force energy prices higher.
The Internal Revenue Service ruled it will impose a tax penalty on employers of up to $36,500 per worker for dumping employees into the Obamacare exchanges.
The New York Times, which broke the story, reports:
When employers provide coverage, their contributions, averaging more than $5,000 a year per employee, are not counted as taxable income to workers. But the Internal Revenue Service said employers could not meet their obligations under the health care law by simply reimbursing employees for some or all of their premium costs.
The IRS ruling is an effort by the Obama administration to stop employers with 50 or more workers from doing what critics of the health law said they would do: pay a penalty for not providing insurance and dump workers into the unpopular Obamacare program.
With the Nov. 4 midterm elections looming, the Obama administration could not allow massive waves of employer cancellations before Democrats face an already angry electorate. So the IRS ruled it would slap any employer with a $100 tax penalty per day per worker that used tax-exempt health insurance monies to cut workers a lump check and dump them on the Obamacare exchanges.
The new IRS rule comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s announcement that it will bail out insurers which participate in the Obamacare program which lose cash. As the Times notes, “Administration officials hope the payments will stabilize premiums and prevent rate increases that could embarrass Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.”
You have to wonder if the CEO of Jack in the Box is kicking himself after making the decision to request all gun owners to leave their guns at home. It was not even 2 weeks ago that Jack in the Box essentially banned guns from their fast food joints, and now the third armed robbery has taken place since then.
According to Click2Houston, 4 men put on gloves and masks before walking into a Houston Jack in the Box, robbing the restaurant at gunpoint. The armed crooks robbed both employees and customers who were eating at the fast food place.
Who would have thought that criminals would break the restaurant’s policy? But at least they did not have any law abiding gun owners to try and stop them and make their job more dangerous. These gun owners would have to either leave their guns at home or eat somewhere else.
For this to happen for the 3rd time in about 10 days has to make one wonder if armed criminals are just targeting Jack in the Box since they know law abiding citizens will not be armed there. You can read about the 1st armed robbery at Jack in the Box that we reported here.
The whole gun-ban fiasco at Jack in the Box started with some gun owners who were open carrying at another Jack in the Box a few weeks ago. Anti-gun groups saw the pictures and were so outraged by it that they fabricated all kinds of lies about employees cowering in fear in locked coolers.
Because of pressure from Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, Jack in the Box decided to ask gun owners to disarm themselves.
This story comes after Chipotle has just asked gun owners to disarm themselves at their restaurants as well.
North Carolina restaurant The Pit was robbed at gunpoint on Sunday. Normally, local crime stories like this wouldn’t merit a Townhall post, but this one is different: The Pit has a “no weapons” sign displayed prominently on its door declaring the restaurant a gun-free zone, and bans patrons from carrying concealed weapons.
Authorities said just before 9 p.m. Sunday, three men wearing hoodies entered the restaurant through the back doors with pistols, and forced several staff members to lie on the floor.
The bandits assaulted two employees during the crime, but they were not seriously injured.
What groups like Everytown for Gun Safety or Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America seem to have an issue grasping is that criminals have no respect for the law by nature of being criminals. Criminals aren’t going to be stopped by a “no guns allowed” sign. If somebody is going to rob or shoot up a Chipotle, for instance, they’re not going to care that they cannot (or have been politely asked not to) bring a gun onto the premises. Criminals are not going to submit to background checks. They’ll use straw purchases or just buy a gun from an illegal source. All these policies and laws do is make it harder for legal gun owners to protect themselves.
While I am thankful nobody was hurt, this certainly harms the narrative that “gun free” places are safe places.
When a controlling shareholder in a corporation sells shares to the public, and the corporation subsequently discloses damaging information known to it at the time of the sale, the SEC normally gets to work investigating a possible crime. Withholding such data can be a crime, defrauding investors by withholding material information.
It would appear that something like that happened when the federal government sold GM shares to the public. In the private sector, it would be time to call in the criminal defense lawyers.
Writing at The Federalist, Sean Davis notes, “GM Sure Recalled A Lot Of Cars Right After The Feds Sold Their Shares”:
…at least GM acted as soon as it knew there was a problem. Because it’s not like the company would sit on the information and do nothing about it, right? Right?
Not so much.
GM knew about serious problems with the ignition switch for years, going back to at least 2007. At that time, GM had hard data from multiple crashes showing that some of its ignition switches had failed to function properly. The U.S. government officially bailed out the automaker in December of 2008. Throughout the five-year period of U.S. government ownership, nothing was done to address the deadly switch. According to one timeline of events, GM’s new CEO, Mary Barra, claims she did not even learn of the problem until December of 2013, which just so happens to be when the federal government sold its final shares of GM stock (at a loss of $10 billion, naturally).
Even though the company had data demonstrating a faulty ignition switch for years, it didn’t initiate a full investigation or recall until February of 2014, two months after the government sold its stake in the company. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t initiate a full investigation of the issue until later that month, even though the U.S. government had owned the company for 5 years. The Justice Dept. also showed up late to the party, confirming that same month that it had initiated a criminal probe into the matter.
The timing of claimed knowledge of the problems is so suspicious that a full scale criminal probe by the SEC is warranted. That would be the case if any private shareholder had sold shares under similar circumstances.
Law professor and Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds sarcastically remarks, “I’m sure the SEC will be right on this.”
But even if the SEC doesn’t take action, buyers of GM shares have a case to make in civil court, if they take a loss on the GM shares. In such cases, the doctrine that a CEO “should have known” the damaging information applies.
I can assure you that executives at Toyota and other foreign automobile manufacturers are noticing that Toyota was fined a record $1.2 billion for failing to disclose safety-related complaints relating to sudden acceleration, while GM was fined a paltry $35 million for failing to disclose safety-related complaints for ignition switch problems involving 2 million vehicles and fatalities. This looks a lot like a national government putting its thumb on the butcher’s scale to favor its own producers.
We have entered a phase of corporatism in the United States, with the government rigging the game for favored companies, it would appear. And in the world of corporate integrity, appearances are as important as reality.
Progressive policies at work…
Remington Arms Company, Inc., founded in 1816 in upstate New York, announced in February they will build their new factory in Alabama and not the Empire state. Since New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) signed the SAFE Gun Control Act, multiple gun companies have left the state. And, now Remington will not build its new plant there.
Fran Madore, president of United Mine Workers Local 717, blamed Remington Arms expansion to Alabama on New York’s SAFE Act which was passed by Democrats last year.
Today, Remington announced they are closing plants in New York and moving operations to Alabama.
The buzz around the industry early yesterday was that Advanced Armament Corp was being closed down and relocated. Before the end of business yesterday, employees at six Remington properties along with two production lines in Ilion, New York, were told their companies- and jobs- were relocating to Huntsville, Alabama.
Here’s the official company statement from spokesperson Teddy Novin:
“Earlier today we announced the consolidation of multiple company plants into our Huntsville, Alabama facility. This was a strategic business decision to concentrate our resources into fewer locations and improve manufacturing efficiency and quality. We are working hard to retain as many from the affected facilities as possible.”
The companies being relocated and their current locations are:
Advanced Armament Corp, Lawrenceville, Georgia; Montana Rifleman, Kalispell, Montana; TAPCO, Kennesaw, Georgia; LAR Manufacturing, West Jordan, Utah; Para-Ordnance, Pineville, North Carolina; and DPMS, St. Cloud, Minnesota. Additionally, the Bushmaster production and Remington 1911 production lines will also be relocating from Ilion, New York.
A Remington source tells The Outdoor Wire Digital Network the company will be offering relocation opportunities but an attractions of modern state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities like the one in Huntsville, Alabama is their innate ability to eliminate head count without negatively impacting production outputs.
Graduating college seniors face a grim job market little improved since President Barack Obama’s reelection, and many say they are concerned about their future.
The effective unemployment rate, referred to as U-6, now stands at 15.6 percent for the youth, ages 18 to 29. U-6 adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work. That rate since 2012 has only improved slightly, from 16.4 percent.
The unemployment picture for others in this age group remains stubbornly high. For African Americans, the U-6 rate is at 23.6 percent, the rate for Hispanics stands at 16.2 percent and the rate for women is currently at 13.3 percent.
College seniors are frustrated by their inability to land a job.
Lauren Dwyer of Hampshire, Ill., who is graduating from Aurora University this week with a major in English Education, has yet to find a job. She said she has been looking since March.
“I applied to 50 jobs and have had no interviews,” Dwyer said. “It’s very competitive. I’ve been told there are roughly over 1,000 applications applying to teaching jobs every day.”
Dwyer has $25,000 in student loans she must start repaying in October. She says she will be living at home with her parents. “I knew it would take some effort, but I didn’t know it would be this difficult” to find a job, she said.
Justin Roth, of Lancaster, Pa., who is graduating from Lebanon Valley College, is in a similar position. Roth has landed an internship, which he said was not an easy task. While interning, he hopes to network for a full-time job. “I’m looking for a full-time job, and hopefully can get one from a client,” Roth said.
Like Dwyer, Roth said he will move back home and hopefully will move out on his own if he gets a full-time job.
“I haven’t heard of any friends getting full-time jobs,” Roth said. “Most of my friends have gotten internships.”
According to Generation Opportunity, 1.916 million young adults are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force. These young people have given up searching for work due to the lack of jobs.
“It’s very frustrating. Sometimes the official unemployment rate goes down because people stop looking and older people decide to retire. Young people can’t retire,” said Corie Whalen, spokesperson for Generation Opportunity.
Even more alarming is how many college graduates are stuck in positions that are unrelated to their field of study.
“Young people aren’t even using their college degrees in their work,” Whalen said. The latest data shows approximately 50 percent of young people are in that situation.
The struggle is not limited to college graduates.
Adele Coghlan, 18, of Chester, Pa., will be attending Westchester University in the fall and majoring in psychology. She has been looking for work to support herself and save for college. She has been unsuccessful.
“It’s really hard. I’m from a small town. The first day an ad goes up, the job is taken,” Coghlan said. She said the prospects for her future “really concerns me.”
“I do not want to be a boomerang,” Coghlan said, “I don’t want to return home when I am done with college.” But that is a distinct possibility, according to Coghlan. “That’s an issue for a lot of people. They want to be independent, but the job market is so tough right now.” Many of her friends, she said, are in the same situation as she is.
“My parents provide for me,” Coghlan said. “I feel bad about it. I have siblings and I should be able to support myself. I feel bad that I am taking away from my brothers,” Coghlan said.
A new powdered alcohol product announced just days ago has had its approval promptly reversed following a barrage of negative publicity surrounding fears that it could encourage irresponsible – and even underage – drinking.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved Palcohol’s powdered vodka, rum, and other cocktails ‘in error,’ Tom Hogue, the agency’s director of congressional and public affairs, told The Associated Press via email. The agency did not respond to further questions.
The company behind Palcohol, Tempe, Arizona-based Lipsmark, said that ‘there seemed to be a discrepancy [about] how much powder’ is in the packets, which are meant to be mixed with water.
According to the website for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, multiple varieties of Palcohol received ‘label approval’ on April 8.
Palcohol had previously announced six varieties of powdered alcohol, including vodka, rum and four cocktails – Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Powderita and Lemon Drop.
The company agreed to surrender its approvals on Monday and has said that it will resubmit the product for approval by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
No sooner had Palcohol announced its initial products than critics where questioning the potential dangers of a powered form of alcohol which could fit into a pocket, making it more portable than a bottle or flask of liquor.
The company initially did little to discourage these fears as the Palcohol website featured a lot of information on how the product could be used to consume alcohol in unusual ways and little about promoting ‘responsible drinking’.
‘Maybe you’re a college football fan. So many stadiums don’t even serve alcohol. What’s that about; watching football without drinking?! That’s almost criminal. Bring Palcohol in and enjoy the game,’ stated the website.
As well as adding the alcoholic power to water, the site also suggested that Palcohol could be poured over food.
‘Sprinkle Palcohol on almost any dish and give it an extra kick. Some of our favorites are the Kamikaze in guacamole, Rum on a BBQ sandwich, Cosmo on a salad and Vodka on eggs in the morning to start your day off right.’
There were even some rudimentary cooking instructions: ‘Remember, you have to add Palcohol AFTER a dish is cooked as the alcohol will burn off if you cook with it… and that defeats the whole purpose.’
The company also appeared to be encouraging users to try snorting their product: ‘You’ll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose.’
Those posts were quickly taken down and the company claims it was simply experimenting with ‘edgy marketing’ that wasn’t meant to be seen by the public.
‘As Palcohol is a new product, we have yet to understand its potential of being added to food,’ the website now states, along with warning people that the powder shouldn’t be snorted.
According to the site, the product’s founder Mark Phillips came up with the idea because he is an ‘active guy’ and wanted a way to enjoy an adult beverage after long hours hiking, biking or camping without having to carry around heavy bottles.
‘What we can say now is that we hope the product will be used in a responsible and legal manner. Being in compliance with all Federal and State laws is very important to us. Palcohol will only be sold through establishments that are licensed to sell liquor.’
Powdered alcohol is not a new concept. Such products are already being sold in other countries including Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands.
According to some, alcohol laws would in general only apply to liquids.
This would mean that powder-based alcoholic beverages could be sold to minors and that the powder would be exempt from alcohol tax and laws, as is the case with certain products in the Netherlands.
Would you like some brains in your beer?
Philadelphia’s Dock Street Brewing Company will release a zombie-friendly brew in honor of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
The American Pale Stout, which has been dubbed Dock Street Walker, is made with malted wheat, oats, flaked barley, cranberry and an extra-special ingredient – smoked goat brains.
“The pre-sparge-brain-addition provides this beer with intriguing, subtle smoke notes,” the brewery says in a press release. “In true walker fashion, don’t be surprised if its head doesn’t hang around forever.
The beverage, which Dock Street Brewing Company is calling “quite possibly the smartest beer you’ll ever drink,” will be released on Sunday before “The Walking Dead” season finale.
This isn’t the first time a brewery has crafted a beer in honor of an AMC drama.
Marble Brewery in Albuquerque, N.M., made two “Breaking Bad” brews in honor of the series’ finale in August. However, those didn’t contain any unusual show-related ingredients.
Obamanomics in action -
One million fewer Americans are working today than before Barack came into office.
The US labor participation rate has fallen behind Great Britain for the first time in 36 years thanks to Obama’s failed big government policies.
Liberty Unyielding reported:
The labor force participation rate – the proportion of adults who are either working or looking for work – started to decline in the US in 2000 and has plunged since 2008 from 66 to 63 per cent.
The equivalent of 7.4m people are no longer part of the labour force. Yet participation in the UK has held up remarkably well despite the country’s prolonged downturn and now stands at 63.6 per cent – the first time in 36 years that it has been higher than the US rate.
Economists have been surprised by the trends, not least because the US labour market has long been seen as one of the most resilient and flexible.
“America is even more flexible than us and yet there is this complete contrast,” said Paul Gregg, economics professor at the UK’s Bath university.
And, then there’s the long-term unemployment disaster:
Fact of the Day: the # of long-term unemployed Americans has more than doubled since 2007, from 18.4% to 39.3%: http://j.mp/1m3XCCc
12:00 PM – 25 Mar 2014
22 Retweets – 6 favorites
Click HERE For Rest Of Story
Later this month, if all goes well, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, will achieve a spaceflight first.
After delivering cargo to the International Space Station, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket used for the flight will fire its engines for the second time. The burn will allow the rocket to reenter the atmosphere in controlled flight, without breaking up and disintegrating on the way down as most booster rockets do.
The launch was originally planned for March 16, but the company has delayed the launch until at least March 30 to allow for further preparation.
The machine will settle over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of its Cape Canaveral launchpad, engines roaring, and four landing legs will unfold from the rocket’s sides. Hovering over the ocean, the rocket will kick up a salt spray along with the flames and smoke. Finally, the engines will cut off and the rocket will drop the last few feet into the ocean for recovery by a waiting barge.
Future flights of the so-called F9R rocket will have it touching down on land. For now, a water landing ensures maximum safety in case the rocket goes off course.
The test of SpaceX’s renewable booster rocket technology will be the first of its kind and could pave the way to radically cheaper access to space. “Reusability has been the Holy Grail of the launch industry for decades,” says Jeff Foust, an analyst at Futron, a consultancy based in Bethesda, Maryland. That’s because the so-called expendable rockets that are the industry standard add enormously to launch costs – the equivalent of building a new aircraft for every transatlantic flight.
SpaceX began flying low-altitude tests of a Falcon 9 first stage with a single engine, a rocket known as Grasshopper, at its McGregor, Texas, proving grounds in 2012. The flights got progressively higher, until a final test in October, when the rocket reached an altitude of 744 meters. Then, following a flight to place a communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in November, a Falcon 9 first stage successfully restarted three of its nine engines to make a controlled supersonic reentry from space.
The rocket survived reentry, but subsequently spun out of control and broke up on impact with the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a call with reporters after the flight that landing legs, which that rocket lacked, would most likely have stabilized the rocket enough to make a controlled landing on the water. The March 16 flight will be the first orbital test with landing legs.
After recovering the rocket from the water on Sunday, SpaceX engineers and technicians will study it to determine what it would take to refurbish such a rocket for reuse. SpaceX also has plans to recover and reuse the second stage rocket, but for now, it will recover only the first stage and its nine Merlin engines, which make up the bulk of the cost of the rocket.
Even without reusable rockets, SpaceX has already shaken up the $190-billion-a-year satellite launch market with radically lower launch costs than its competitors. The company advertises $55.6 million per Falcon 9 launch. Its competitors are less forthcoming about how much they charge, but French rocket company Arianespace has indicated that it may ask for an increase in government subsidies to remain competitive with SpaceX.
Closer to home, SpaceX is vying for so-called Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, or EELV, contracts to launch satellites for the U.S. Air Force. Its only competitor for the contracts, United Launch Alliance, charges $380 million per launch.
Musk testified before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense meeting on March 5 that his company can cut that cost down to $90 million per launch. He said the higher cost for a government mission versus a commercial one was due to a lack of government-provided launch insurance. “So, in order to improve the probability of success, there is quite a substantial mission assurance overhead applied,” Musk said in the hearing. Still, SpaceX’s proposed charge for the Air Force missions is a mere 23 percent of ULA’s.
SpaceX is counting on lower launch costs to increase demand for launch services. But Foust cautions that this strategy comes with risk. “It’s worth noting,” he says, “that many current customers of launch services, including operators of commercial satellites, aren’t particularly price sensitive, so thus aren’t counting on reusability to lower costs.”
That means those additional launches, and thus revenue, may have to come from markets that don’t exist yet. “A reusable system with much lower launch costs might actually result in lower revenue for that company unless they can significantly increase demand,” says Foust. “That additional demand would likely have to come from new markets, with commercial human spaceflight perhaps the biggest and best-known example.”
Indeed, SpaceX was founded with human spaceflight as its ultimate mission. It is now one of three companies working with NASA funds to build ships capable of sending astronauts to the International Space Station. Musk plans to take SpaceX even further—all the way to Mars with settlers. And colonizing Mars will require lots of low-cost flights.
Michael Belfiore (michaelbelfiore.com) is the author of Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space.
Updated on March 14, at 3 p.m. EST, to include mention of the delay.
More than 500 economists, including three Nobel laureates and several members of past administrations, have signed an open letter to the White House and Congress urging them to reject a federal minimum wage increase.
They warned that hiking the minimum wage would cause economic damage:
“One of the serious consequences of raising the minimum wage is that business owners saddled with a higher cost of labor will need to cut costs, or pass the increase to their consumers in order to make ends meet. Many of the businesses that pay their workers minimum wage operate on extremely tight profit margins, with any increase in the cost of labor threatening this delicate balance.”
For some reason, this has always been a hard concept for liberals to grasp. Whether it’s an increase in taxes, cost of materials or cost of labor, businesses will always – always — pass those increased costs along to the consumer; they always have, they always will. It’s called capitalism.
The economists cited the recent bipartisan Congressional Budget Office report which found that increasing the minimum wage would lead to job loss.
“The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) most recent report underscores the damage that a federal minimum wage increase would have. According to CBO, raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cost the economy 500,000 jobs by 2016.
Many of these jobs are held by entry-level workers with limited experience or vocational skills, the very employees meant to be helped.”
And therein lies the irony; while Obama trotting around the country espousing the virtue of raising the minimum wage may sound good to some, not only will many of those minimum wage employees be laid off; many more won’t be hired in the first place.
Obama and the Democrats fully understand this concept: it doesn’t really matter as long as they win the PR battle because Democrat voters have shown time and time again they don’t keep score; they never do. Liberalism has not proven to be about results. Emotion and intent are all that seem matter to the left.
How else can one explain the fact that 50 years and trillions of dollars after Lyndon Johnson launched the “War on Poverty,” urban Americans are no better off today, yet continue to overwhelmingly vote Democrat?
The world’s largest bitcoin trading exchange shut down on Tuesday, sparking a massive sell-off that calls into question the long-term viability of the nascent virtual currency trade.
“This is extremely destructive,” risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank Examiner Mark Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “What we’re seeing is a lot of the flaws. It’s not only fragile, it’s fragile as eggshells.”
The halt in trading occurred when reports hit the Internet that the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange suffered the theft of 744,000 bitcoins worth an estimated $380 million.
Internet currency forums are now asking the question whether “bitcoin” has morphed into “shitcoin.”
Others expressed optimism that the crisis will spawn better measures.
“I think it’s a significant event, but I think there’s a decent chance that it is part of what we would call this sort of shaking out of the industry as it matures and slowly becomes a little more regulated,” New York state’s top financial regulator Benjamin M. Lawsky told the New York Times.
It’s not all good news, though. The Pew found that both the share of college-educated 25 – 32 year-olds unemployed and those living in poverty is greater than any other generation of the 20th century at the same age. And while salaries for college grads have grown by $7K over the last 40 years, median earnings for those 25 – 32 have been stagnant for decades, even as the cost of education has soared. Other data from the University of Waterloo actually shows Millennials underearning their parents at the same age.
As well, there are important limits to the Pew’s research to consider. Their data only includes Millenials who were employed full-time during the previous year, regardless of education level. In essence, they’re only surveying those Millennials for whom education has actually paid off as to their views on education. It’s easy to say that education is a worthwhile investment if your degree has actually benefited you in the form of gainful, career-oriented work. Absent from the discussion and from the Pew’s somewhat heartening news are the attitudes of the millions of recent college grads who are unemployed or underemployed, like the 15% of 2013 grads who fall into one of those camps, or the 36% working jobs that don’t require their degrees.