Wasteful government spending, unfunded projects and prom dates

Many people who discuss energy and environmental issues often complain that if only project X or funding for Technology AB was cut or reduced and the billions not wasted on it then that money could go to the energy technology that I like or the energy project that I think would work.

This is massively flawed reasoning for several reasons:
1. The assumption that the massive waste and inefficiency in government spending would re-assign freed up tax dollars for “the good project” does not make sense given the track record.

Think of dates for the High School Prom.
If the girls are funders of projects and the guys are projects to be funded, then if all the football players are somehow banned from the prom it does not follow that all of the chess club members would now get dates.

2. Lack of available funds is not the reason that certain projects are not getting funded.

There could be a highly worthy (based on science and engineering) energy project like the Fuji Molten salt reactor whose design is languishing for lack of a few hundred million or a billion dollars of funding. There is a world economy of $60 trillion/year and $1-2 trillion per year is going to energy infrastructure for building it or researching it. So it is like there is a population of 60,000 women. 20,000-40,000 of them have to work on the farm or in the offices to keep the city running. There is potentially 20,000 who could go to the prom if it was important enough. Like 20,000 of them went to the World war 2 mobilization prom. Many will choose to stay home or do something else and just are not interested in the prom. Meanwhile 1000-2000 are already going to the energy infrastructure and research prom. The fact that one guy could not convince one of the 1000-2000 to go with him instead of one of the other guys is not the only reason he did not get a date. He could have asked and tried to convince one of the 18000-19000 available and eligible women to go with him. Only 15-25% of the women work for a government [tax money and the rest are private money]

So the suggestion would be that the dateless guy/unfunded project needs to look at dressing better, working out and re-inventing himself so that he is successful in getting a date/funded. In the case of project, creating better plans, finding ways to do more preliminary research that justifies the project and considering if the project really makes sense given the overall situation in different regions and countries.

Also, certain kinds of funders/women will never fund certain projects. The chess club guy/fuji molten salt reactor may need to reconsider only asking large breasted, blond women/specific nation with a specific department for money and try to go for other sources.

Governments waste, corruption of the system and inefficiency is a lot bigger than a few billion here or there.

Here is a Heritage foundation list from 2005 of top ten items of US government waste.

Some of the items:
Overpaying for medicine in medicare ($25-30 billion) could be saved with reform.
Defaulted student loans $25 billion (some of the students did not exist)
Other fraud

2007 report indicates that government waste is at an all time high

Big science projects that are unlikely to achieve the goals that someone would want (International Tokamak fusion project supposedly trying to achieve abundant,cheap and clean energy) may get cut but the funds will not go into a better fusion project or a good advanced fission but instead will go to funding the wars and defence spending.

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6 comments

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1

actually all deaths in the Iraq war. (500,000 to 1 million) and the Vietnam war (2 million) is less than half of the mining, transport, disease deaths from coal over 5 years .

So 33 virginia deaths from two major wars is less than chernobyl 60 versus 5 million coal deaths.

2

How many deaths for Chernobyl ? 60 deaths all Russian for a model of plant that has been modified to have a containment dome like all others. Compared to coal ? Coal had over 4 times that many deaths this last two weeks.

Chernobyl deaths were 20 years ago. In that time just coal mining has killed over 150,000 people.

Over 2000 times more.

Add in coal transportion deaths (people hit by coal in trains and trucks) and we are looking at another double.

Then include the numbers from coal air pollution? one hundred times more than the already high mining deaths.

A comparable comparison in terms of number of deaths would be the virginia campus shooting against the 5 years of the Iraq War (not just US deaths but all combantant deaths).

3

Hmmm, one word about deaths indirectly due to Uranium mining:

Chernobyl

4

Brian, you write about the impact that coal mining has on people, animals and the local environment.
What are the consequences of the collection of the nuclear fuel?

5

It would be nice to have a breakdown of these coal mining deaths by country.

Rather than blaming them all on a "coal industry" it might be more perceptive to blame the government officials in the countries involved who oversee mine safety. Or even to blame the consumers who create the demand that "the coal industry" is filling.

Whenever there is a profit to be made, you will always find someone willing to risk other people's lives, if they can get away with it--even in a People's Republic.

6

Thank you for calling attention to this, Brian. It absolutely sickens me how callous the coal industry is with human life, and how the media never calls them to accountability.