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back to article SR-71 Blackbird follow-up: A new TERRIFYING Mach 6 spy-drone bomber

The famous SR-71 Blackbird was put out to pasture over a decade ago – but the legendary Skunk Works aviation wizards that built it have been showing off a replacement that can travel twice as fast and it could be in the skies within a decade. The SR-72 will be unmanned, saving a lot of the weight needed to keep the two fleshy …

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As an intellectual and technological excercise...

great fun---toys for the boys. On almost every other level: O dear. One day the US of A might get over itself. Hubris is very cruel, and as usual it's the weakest and most vulnerable who bear the brunt of the consequences. Perhaps the US has better things to be doing with its brightest minds and ever growing national debt.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

Many technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of military research. I suspect the amount of public and private wealth realized from the Internet dwarfs the money put into developing ARPANET.

Getting reliable and cheap scramjets makes it easier to get humanity into space, which is ultimately where humanity needs to go in order to survive.

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Re: humanity in space

>Getting reliable and cheap scramjets makes it easier to get humanity into space, which is ultimately where humanity needs to go in order to survive.

By far the biggest issue with us humans being able to survive extended periods in space is the social issues that will arise more so than technical. Yes we will soon be able to make/create the tech required and perhaps even build it on the 'fly'. But the consequences over so much as a small disagreement over which bolt to tighten first or what angle the socket driver should be held at could very conceivably lead to disastrous rash actions that here on earth are less dangerous than in a confined inhospitable environment.

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Trollface

Re: humanity in space

"... he biggest issue with us humans being able to survive extended periods in space is the social issues that will arise..."

You mean you don't look forward to sharing a cabin with Simon Cowell for six months...?

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

"Many technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of military research. I suspect the amount of public and private wealth realized from the Internet dwarfs the money put into developing ARPANET."

Actually true.

"Getting reliable and cheap scramjets makes it easier to get humanity into space,"

Written by someone deeply ignorant of the difference between "launch" and "cruise".

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

NOTHING LEFT TO CUT!

"Many technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of military research. I suspect the amount of public and private wealth realized from the Internet dwarfs the money put into developing ARPANET."

False dichotomy fallacy. Many more technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of non-military research. The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?

I will also say that the bill for all this has not even be paid yet. There WILL be suffering. MUCH suffering.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

>I will also say that the bill for all this has not even be paid yet. There WILL be suffering. MUCH suffering.

Those under 35 or so are projected to pay 10% more taxes in their lifetimes to get a similar level of government services.

I also agree that private innovation is more efficient, though, it would mean that we could be at risk of another country without openness using such innovation against us. There is a reason that large industrial endevours like nuclear, air and space transport, and communications are often run under government auspices as there are often military side projects off these that are of interest from a tactical perspective.

For example, the diversion of nuclear material for weapons, space flight is easily re-purposed for ICBM use, and, well as of a few months ago, we need not speak of government and communications. I make no claims as to this being the way things should be, but given human nature, I am hardly surprised.

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Re: humanity in space

social issues? like "why are you discriminating against me? Because I don't believe in mutant space goats?'

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

Whenever you pour money into doing cutting edge stuff the chance to explore new untried ways of doing things occurs.

It doesn't HAVE to be military. But traditionally it oftens has been.

- Radar

- Spread spectrum radio

- GPS

- The integrated circuit.

- The internet.

- Nuclear power

- Early robotics

These are all ideas that got their first airing as part of defence programs.

Against that you have a few technological breakthroughs that are only partly associated with the military

The Laser - originally it was the Maser a useful thing for radar, but laser development was entirely civil up to star wars time.

Most biotech.

Web applications and the like.

But these last would not have been available without te enabling technology of IC based computing and teh internet.

The military spend creates enabling technologies which are then adapted to civil uses.

And that is because military needs are civil needs as well. To carry a load of bombs a long distance in WWII large 4 engine bombers with extreme range were developed, They are in they end practically airliners - remove the bomb bays and add seats , pretty hostesses, and a pressure skin and there you are.

Accurate global positioning is a must for long range weapons. Its jolly useful for hill walkers in fog, too.

This isn't a justification for military spend per se, but it is a justification for targeted application of large sums of money towards developing technology that can in the end repay the investment a miillion times more effectively than simply keeping a few more people on the dole at a slightly higher level of comfort.

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Re: humanity in space

"You mean you don't look forward to sharing a cabin with Simon Cowell for six months...?"

Depends on the 'toys' I can take.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

"False dichotomy fallacy. Many more technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of non-military research. The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?"

YES! YES! YES! ('D.A.M.', have my babies!) :-)

This has always been a bugbear of mine - not specifically relating to military spending.

The number of times some project is defended with 'think of the benefits to other stuff that our consequential inventing of x...y....z... has given'

My response is that if the project had simply concentrated on developing x...y...z... in the first place, it would have been cheaper, and likely better.

Another one I hear is 'I do the lottery to help good causes'

Sigh - if you wanted to help good causes, you could give 100% of your stake, not 10%..

Sorry, rant over!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

If you pay tax, you can give 125% of your stake to good causes.

The reason that military research leads to new discoveries is simply that politicians like military research.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

"False dichotomy fallacy. Many more technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of non-military research."

Such as?

Sorry, that was a rhetorical question. All our current tech can be traced back to Government R&D programmes. Indeed, the industrial revolution was built on military tech for boring accurate canons. These machine were repurposed after the Napoleonic War when it was found they could produce "ultra" efficient pistons, which made steam engine technology viable.

"The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?"

You too are guilty of an informal logical fallacy: the "appeal to probability" fallacy. No company would invest hundreds of billions over decades for technology with no market. There was no demand for the technology produced for the Government, other than the Government.

You are letting your ideology cloud your judgement.

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Re: humanity in space

You mean you don't look forward to sharing a cabin with Simon Cowell for six months...?

Surely he would be assigned to the 'B' ark . . .

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

It would be interesting to know the fuel usage this thing accomplishes - I've read theories that scram-jets could be made to sip fuel, when compared to per mile usage by other technology. It might actually pay to have a transcontinental passenger jet with this development. Imagine getting across the Pacific at Mach 6? About the time you opened you peanuts, here comes the landing! Of course there are equally offset theories that fuel usage could be worse if cooling is difficult. With today's extreme heat resistant alloys, I'd bet the former could be realized.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

You forgot to mention the digital computer.

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Re: Imagine getting across the Pacific at Mach 6?

You could reconstruct that sensation by letting a lorry drive over you.

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@Ian 55

No chainsaws! The internal combustion would pollute too much.

Other stuff should be fine.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

>>Many more technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of non-military research. The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?

There's truth and there's truth, WW1/WW2 gave us huge medical advances, as you get really good at stitching people up when you have a lot of people to work on (and since 1900, around 150 million died because of war) - the question is, if we didn't have war (and therefore didn't have such an intense knowledge) would we be worse off, the same or better off, and there's arguments for all three, what's true is that we made the best of a bad job.

What about technological advancements? I guess it's a similar thing is true, would we have achieved more without broken infrastructure (like schools and universities) the loss of (typically) young men when they would otherwise be contributing/graduating intellectually makes me think that while necessity is obviously one of the parents to invention, perhaps we could have done more with a few more children.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

Boring accurate canons?? I am sure that well respected man of the cloth the Reverend Canon Dr. Joe Bloggs can indeed sometimes be boringly accurate.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

@itzman

While it's absolutely true that much funding has come from military, it's logical to assume if we didn't spend money on the military, we'd spend it on something else, or conversely, because the military was funding it you didn't need to fund it elsewhere.

However, look look at your specific points;

RADAR Christian Hulsmeyer first used radio waves to detect ships (collision avoidance) - Not military

Spread spectrum radio - the link between this and CDMA (etc.) is tenuous at best, it is similar technology but with decades between them it's hard to credit this development with what is used today.

GPS - pretty much a military funded invention, pretty sure it wouldn't have happened (at least as soon) without this funding (I'll give you that one) doesn't mean it wouldn't have been invented of course.

The Integrated Circuit - not sure why you think this is a military invention, Werner Jacobi first suggested (and patented) this idea (simple amplifier) and proposed it's use in hearing aids, the first people to use IC's was the USAF, but it's hard to call it a military invention per se.

The Internet - merely a network of networks, often attributed to the military because of it's "redundancy during attack, ARPANET" this is untrue and a popular myth, notwithstanding, even if this was the case I think it's pretty obvious that universities were going to connect their networks regardless of the military aspect (and proposals for networks such as Merit preceded it, X25 etc.)

Nuclear power - This is an odd one, primarily because the first looks into nuclear power were non military, then the use was militarised (for weapons), and only after WW2 was nuclear power used for (usable) engery creation, there is an argument that the use in war stunted development for power as the government regulated and controlled it's use (with explicit classification).

Robotics? seriously?

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

Yeah, let's stop inventing aero technologies, because it's not like that invention and development ever leads to anything for us, is it.

</sarcasm>

My only personal reservation is the whole "speed is the new stealth" thing. It's far cheaper and easier to develop a hypersonic missile than a plane, and that's obviously going to be the next move in the arms race, which moots the hyperplane.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

"My response is that if the project had simply concentrated on developing x...y...z... in the first place, it would have been cheaper, and likely better."

Yes, but there is no public sector drive to do so. The best we get is military sector research. Even private sector research is hamstrung by needing to pay off, which stops lots of promising avenues of investigation.

"Another one I hear is 'I do the lottery to help good causes'."

Clearly bullsh!t: People do the lottery to help themselves, with the charitable donation just there so they can justify their gambling habit. And poor choice of gambling habit at that: Lotteries are a tax on people who can't do maths.

"Sigh - if you wanted to help good causes, you could give 100% of your stake, not 10%.."

More than that. Although the UK Health Lottery gives less and is essentially a grey-area scam.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

" the question is, if we didn't have war (and therefore didn't have such an intense knowledge) would we be worse off"

Well, we'd be more over-populated, so I guess: yes!

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

It's a valid point, but at 8 billion people, losing 150 million over 100 years isn't that much impacting to population, it's more of a problem that the people we lost were those who would make the biggest (positive) contributions, those in the prime of their working lives (unlike the old and young).

Notwithstanding, all that wasted money, infrastructure etc. we did get the NHS out of it I suppose, I guess where we can all agree is that it would have been better to have development without death, if only there was some way of making that happen!

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

" Yes, but there is no public sector drive to do so. The best we get is military sector research. Even private sector research is hamstrung by needing to pay off, which stops lots of promising avenues of investigation."

Good point, and I agree with you.

""Another one I hear is 'I do the lottery to help good causes'."

Clearly bullsh!t: People do the lottery to help themselves, with the charitable donation just there so they can justify their gambling habit. And poor choice of gambling habit at that: Lotteries are atax on people who can't do maths."

Oh, definitely! That's why I then suggest they instead give all their stake to charity if they care so much!

And yes, it's no coincidence it's known in some circles as "a tax on the stupid!"

""Sigh - if youwanted to help good causes, you could give 100% of your stake, not 10%.."

More than that. Although the UK Health Lottery gives less and is essentially a grey-area scam."

Ah yes, as someone else piinted out, there are tax breaks etc.

As for the UK health lottery, I didn't realise that. I don't do any lottery, but thanks for the heads-up - I will bear that in mind if I discover any friends do.

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Joke

Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?

Fart apps?

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

I don't think electricity was strongly associated with the defense and was instead civilian. And while there are certain areas of chemical or metallurgical research strongly associated with defense, I suspect equal amounts with little defense input. Certainly anything in the area of fertilizers is primarily civilian.

That being said, the one area where technological advancement is strongly correlated with defense, and even more precisely, hot wars is surgical breakthroughs and artificial limb replacement.

If you put all the eggs in either basket something will be stymied. The question is where to draw the line. I'd probably make it 80:20. Civies get 80 and government gets 20. I think private is more efficient but tends toward evolutionary rather than revolutionary. So even though short term gains are easily quantified, getting the big picture is rather more difficult. Government is better at the revolutionary stuff, but at the cost of efficiency. You fund a lot of dud ideas to get that one really good one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

Yes, but imagine the stupendous sophistication and power of the fart apps which could thus have been wrought!

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Vic
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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

> As for the UK health lottery, I didn't realise that.

Look at the small-print on the TV ad: it's a revolving selection from 51 regional lotteries. IOW, if you pay for it every week, you only even get *entered* into a lottery once a year...

Thieving bastards.

Vic.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

History tells us that humans have always been at war with each other and therefore it will always be that way in the future... People fight. It is a waste of time to think otherwise, and an even bigger waste to spend time thinking "what if" there were never any wars at all.

What isn't a waste of time is thinking about ways we can benefit from it...

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

The fact of the matter is that, even with the examples that were started or invented before the military, the military took these inventions and improved and streamlined them faster than what would have happened in the free market.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

"As for the UK health lottery, I didn't realise that. I don't do any lottery, but thanks for the heads-up - I will bear that in mind if I discover any friends do."

Please do!

I nearly purchased a ticket once, by way of "I've had a crap day, I fancy daydreaming about having a million quid, and can legitimately do so for £1. This new health lottery seems more focused in expenditure and a good idea."

Luckily, I decided not to and instead spent the evening googling -aghast- stuff on the health lottery.

Firstly, it's not run by Camelot, and not an official national lottery, despite the similar branding and marketing. It is run by Richard Desmond's company: Porn baron and now owner of OK! magazine, the Express and the Star.

It's not a traditional 50:50 lottery and only gives 20% to charity, instead of the National Lottery's 28%.

Finally, it's basically only legal because the lawyers found a loophole. A true lottery requires a government license, and only Camelot have one. Instead it's run as a number of local lotteries, to effectively skirt the law.

Probably the worst thing about it is the sheer deception: Trying to portray it with adverts and marketing deceptively similar to Camelot's so we assume it to be an off-shoot, the false inference that it gives more than the National Lottery, and the legal shenanigans behind it.

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Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

" It is a waste of time to think otherwise, "

A bit like conversations starting "If humans weren't such greedy bastards, communism would be great!".

Yes: It would, on paper. But any political concept which fails to account for the fact that we are human beings isn't so much as flawed in practice as utterly useless in the first place!

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I wonder if SABRE will suddenly get a lot more attention...

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I hope so! But I wonder if someone from Skunkworks has been taking photos, wouldn't be the first time the US has taken British aerospace research....

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"We are ready to proceed—the only thing holding us back is the perception that [hypersonics] is always expensive, large and exotic."

So, only a mere $20 billion then? Congress could easily get that from Food Stamps and only a few millions would starve...

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"Congress could easily get that from Food Stamps and only a few millions would starve..."

/And those would be Democrat voters.

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Maybe you're making a joke, and I missed it, but in one of the weirdest things imaginable, the majority of food stamp beneficiaries that actually bother to vote, vote Republican. Why the poor support them is simply beyond me; but the lack of education among the poor seems like a good candidate.

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Strangely enough...

Interestingly, in the US, it's the poor who are most likely to be obese. Calories are so cheaply available due to industrial-scale food production that activists must now go through ever more intricate contortions and phrasings to pump up their numbers and make it seem as though people in the US still suffer from food shortages that are not secondary to other issues such as mental illness.

Fasting has become a trendy new health activity here, whether for successive half-days or for part of a week.

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Re: Strangely enough...

I've had pretty good luck being satisfied with a sub 1/4lb burger for dinner instead of the Double McDouble Triple with Bacon. The portion sizes here in the US are so unbelievably huge. I watched a fat man and his fat wife and two fat kids eat what must have been half a cow and an acres worth of French fries the other day. If it wasn't so sad it would have been hilarious.

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Re: Strangely enough...

Obesity !=nutrition

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Re: Blonde Jefe Re: Strangely enough...

"..... I watched a fat man and his fat wife and two fat kids....." Terrible, eh? I mean, the idea of a successful economic model that actually allows the excess of getting fat. I suppose you'd have been happier watching a family of skinny Africans starving to death whilst their politicians build another "workers' paradise", wasting international aid on vanity projects? I know a says admin that used to live in Poland, he remembers standing in the snow for hours to queue to get meat when he was a kid, he remembers going with his parents on hunger protests in 1981. When he came to London he could not believe that you could just go and buy as much food as you wanted. So, yeah, being fat is not good, and the current US and UK economies are not perfect, but they sure beat a lot of alternatives. One of those is the unfortunate side issue of it allows numpties like you to complain about the freedoms of choice you and others are given, but I suppose I can put up with that as long as I have the freedom to laugh at your stupidity.

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Re: Blonde Jefe Strangely enough...

There's nothing successful about the model when the bulk (ha!) of fat people are the poor and lower middle class. The idea that corpulence as an indicator of wealth died out in most countries with lead based makeup and aversion to the sun.

I guess it makes sense though, those highly successful poor people don't have much education under this 'successful' model. They don't know that they'd live longer if they smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and that their kids will be excluded from activities. They don't get a chance to learn those things because the money for a decent education system is spent on military/security garbage and anti-drug enforcement.

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Re: Incredilby Obtuse Jefe Re: Blonde Jefe Strangely enough...

".....I guess it makes sense though, those highly successful poor people don't have much education under this 'successful' model....." Really? Want to compare public education in the West with say that of Angola? How about comparing it with only a hundred years ago in the US or Europe? The lack-of-education myth is one of the biggest fallacies perpetuated by the handwringers, it is complete baloney. Indeed, the public education system will allow the poorest person in the UK or US to school right from kindergarten through to a degree, with plenty of social aid and support (food stamps, benefits, etc.). The thing is many of the poor CHOOSE not to follow a career path or education because they get hooked on the get-rich-quick, have-luxuries-now mentality and make poor life choices. None of us are immune to it - I could have got better grades at school and uni but I also wanted to have some fun, but I tempered my fun with enough learning to get by. The obvious example of someone that bucked the poor-means-no-options trend is Sir Alan Sugar, who started his business empire selling electrical components out of a van whilst living in a council flat and working for the civil service. On the other hand, the best CEO I worked for left school at fifteen with no formal qualifications, he simply had the attitude required. The lack-of-education myth is just apologist nonsense.

".....They don't know that they'd live longer if they smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and that their kids will be excluded from activities....." Your arrogance is astonishing, but typical of the "we-know-what's-good-for-you" crowd. You really think most smokers, poor or rich, don't know that smoking is bad for them? Puh-lease! Once again it is a life choice, they CHOOSE to smoke DESPITE the wealth of warnings. People are not very good at making the most logical choice 100% of the time, they usually cop out on some, and smoking is a very obvious example. Please do try and pretend no-one educated smokes, just for the comedy value.

".... They don't get a chance to learn those things because the money for a decent education system is spent on military/security garbage and anti-drug enforcement." Complete cobblers. Once again, you need to step out of your cosy bubble (probably somewhere like Islington or Berkeley), stop assuming you know about people, and get a clue by actually going out and looking at the World. You can find figures for the UK budget here (http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/breakdown), please note the largest consumer of funds is pensions followed by the health service - defence gets about half of what education gets. The figures for the US are on this site (http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/budget_gs.php) and again pension, healthcare and education are higher spending areas than defence. Now please stfu or do better research rather than just rebleating what was spoonfed to you.

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You do know that it's the red states that have more people on food stamps ?

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>You do know that it's the red states that have more people on food stamps ?

Lets not confuse the issue with facts. Beliefs are more important.

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Shocking news!

Education in the richest country in the world is better than in one of the poorest.

I don't think your arguments get any better from there.

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and of course, it would be a new line of business

the history of the Skunk Works is that they always generated something nice when the moths in the safe started getting really, really hungry. but the trend is for the pilot of the future to need a nice comfy seat and a low-noise environment in an office, rather than a high-G suit and a working pee tube.

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