Archive for the ‘Paying The Bills’ category

A TAX-CUT STIMULUS:Restoring Industrial Vigor

January 23, 2012


The birth of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner was a true family affair.

As a burgeoning teenager with an interest in science, girls, engineering, girls, and aviation, I took a bold step and wrote directly to a great aviation entrepreneur. I asked Robert Gross, CEO and co-founder of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, about careers in the aircraft industry. Astoundingly and reassuringly, I got a personal answer. Today, if I even got an answer it would most likely be a carefully worded vapid document that was all PR and not a true, personal response. So, what am I trying to tell you?

When Robert Gross responded to my inquiry he was a proud parent writing to me about his family – Lockheed. As the image above illustrates, a sense of family in some industrial areas (especially aviation) remains as a strong sense of corporate unity. A nationwide return to that operational and management philosophy is, in my opinion, an essential for America’s return as a leading and powerful industrial nation. I see it as a vital, two-step process.

Step One: The Favorite Uncle: Uncle, of course, goes by the name of Sam, but actually he is a polyglot mix of politicians and lobbyists interacting to put profit and power as their prime and most rewarding efforts. Since Uncle is government, he always strives to take his own cut, but also makes sure that his corporate buddies get special considerations. Uncle needs to change.

Step Two: Who’s In Charge Here:  Wall Street and its various corporate boards of directors are currently in charge. All those well-paid executives are just hired hands under strict orders to meet specific profit goals – or else.

The New Uncle: In a confused but solicitous manner, Uncle Sam has been most generous in his relationships with corporate America. The net effect has been an industrial population that is on the dole. This is counter to the strong, independent and innovative giant that helped America and its citizens both grow and prosper. The result is a continuing dwindling of that industrial prowess as their favorite uncle gently adds a few more dollars to the dole either as subsidies or as reduced taxation.

Well, as noted above, Uncle must change, and here is the plan.

  • The dole will continue if the recipient corporation stops salting away cash and starts investing it in new innovations (either of their own or from a start-up).
  • The amount of the dole is adjusted based upon the level of innovation investment each corporation spends. A full commitment to reviving American industrial strength will preserve full support from Uncle.
  • Corporations who ignore or defy Uncle will immediately lose all aspects of the dole and will be fully responsible for meeting their total tax obligations.
  • Lastly all corporations must guarantee that no less than 70% of their labor forces are resident Americans. Off-shore operations will still be permitted, but only under this new rule.

Spunky, new leadership: Certainly the Wall Street investment community will continue to play a major role in our economy and in the future of Uncle’s new offspring, but they will be required to return to their traditional roles and step away from direct efforts to control both the scope of a corporation’s business profile and the intense profit pressure that actually eliminates sound risk-taking. It is this latter bold process that is the true stimulus for corporate progress and prowess.

Corporate executives will be grown and groomed from within the corporate community. Yes, they will get dirty hands and bruises as they become intimate with the specific processes of their company. Pride in the product and in the worker-family that produces the product returns corporate leadership back to dedicated commitment to both profit and the ongoing good health of the family. Accountability, duty, and a unique degree of paternalism again becomes the character of the CEO and his or her associated executives. He or she is answerable to the board of directors and to the corporate family first and in doing so stimulates the design, development and manufacture of a quality and profitable product or service.
What It Will Take To: (a)Restore American Industrial Prowess and (b)Make It Last. Leadership willingness must become both an objective and a motive that begins, gently, in the home with the parent and the children. It then carries forward as an active value in the maturing child, and blossoms as a quality in a confident adult (male and female). Next we go back to the future by making leadership an apprenticeship process that invests the prospective employee-leader with both the knowledge and affection for what the company is, what the product is, and what doing it means to all that work at it.
We are family and in this instance it is a state of mind and a bond that produces a unity of effort that creates a quality product or service that ALL value and respect.
Will we go there? If not, think what that foretells for humankind.
Summary:

IMAGE CREDIT:

Image of roll-out of Boeing 787 jet liner. Courtesy of: www. LJWorld.com


SEND IN THE ‘BOTS: An Editorial

January 16, 2012

Yes, NASA is sending in some robotic type exploratory craft. Certainly Curiosity, on its way to Mars, is a magnificent application of robotic technology for space exploration. In fact, our entire Mars exploration program is a glorious history of robotic successes. Good beginnings, and now it is time for more advanced humanoid-style robots to be developed for the next step in our exploration of our solar system.

Yes, I hear your shouts about human spaceflight and the long history of human exploration. I acknowledge all of that including a great but furtive human exploration of Luna, but in my opinion, right now and for a considerable length of time human spaceflight, except maybe back to Luna, is beyond our future budget picture. By future, I mean the next two decades. You betcha, I hear those shouts too about how stingy the White House and Congress have been in funding space exploration programs, but right now we are nearly broke in a bad way.

By broke in a bad way, I mean we have let our industrial prowess become gravely anemic. We, this nation, have been reduced to a bunch of greedy investment types who play games with our money for their enrichment. The net effect is a starvation diet for innovation and industrial growth. In fact, we have shipped lots of it overseas. Well, that has got to change and soon, if we are going to get back up off the floor and begin to design, develop and produce in a competitive manner with the rest of the world. Eventually we should strive to capture the lead again. This will take time and an intense investment in both dollars and sense. To inspire this, we must also cut off the flow of lobby-largess that influences boundless political stupidity.  To do all this in just two decades will take a concentrated effort by the innovators and their public support. Of course, this assumes we are willing to make that kind of commitment for our future.

Space-bots of a humanoid type are a good and necessary next step. Costs for this type of exploration program are less both in launch costs and the reduced costs from not having to design in human support systems. Robots eat less and breath less, in fact they do not need either food or air to perform in an efficient and productive manner. Yes, some of the drama associated with human spaceflight is lost for now, but inside those space-bots is the incredible brilliance of our space scientists and engineers. In other words the human element is very much there and absolutely vital. The Bots Are Us in an important and innovative way.

There is no doubt we can do this. The energy, the imagination, the drive are in the wings right now vibrating with eagerness and extreme impatience. We must release this powerful and progressive force to begin to both return us back into real space exploration and also begin pulling America back up off the dirty, dingy, stingy floor.

I can cheer, even weep a bit, as I watch the launch of our first space-bot team. The thrill and the throb of that powerful launch renews my hope and my courage. How about it, will you join me?

In the meantime lets remember our first and only real human space exploration of our solar system and take inspiration from that. We will honor them by starting again with space-bots because those bots will emulate those great beginnings and successes.

IMAGE CREDIT:

Space_bot – Courtesy of Wallpaper Box – http://tinyurl.com/8ylskf7

DRIVE OUT THE “HO HUMS”:Send In The Explorers

November 26, 2010

Right now, for so many of us, the future has the look of a scattered picture puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Oh yeah, we have been here before and have survived. One of the keys of our past survivals was the abundant view of a promising new future. We were able to dream and hope and thus our struggles, though painful, held promise and actually moved us forward. Well, we need such a set of views now. Most importantly, we need to send in more than clowns. We need to send in explorers to give us realistic dreams and hopes for our future. This has always worked for all humankind and it can work now.

Lo and behold, there is just such an exploratory rescue on the horizon! The aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin Corporation has announced its plans to launch an exploratory mission to the dark side of the Moon. Now as a space exploration venture by a leading member of the private sector, this is spectacular. In our opinion to make it even more spectacular and scientifically promising we would like to see this project become a joint effort by Lockheed-Martin and NASA.

Oh yes, we hear the grind, buzz and rattle of the government budget hackers as they get ready to launch another warning rant about the high cost of space exploration. We also hear the doors slam of the White House science advisory staff who have already exhausted their limited imagination. These reactions ignore the truly realistic economic stimulus for both the private sector and the legion of space exploration specialists stuck hopelessly on idle. On top of this is the incredible benefit of an awesome, exciting and stimulating space exploration effort. It reawakens both public and media interest and support. “Ho Hums” begin running out the door.

The working relationship between NASA and Lockheed-Martin is time-tested in the cauldron of our historically successful shuttle and International Space Station missions. Adding NASA into the new Moon project adds an immense and hungry public interest as well as shared funding and technology support. For Lockheed-Martin, as the prime, this is a significant boost to an already ambitious and inspiring plan. For NASA it is a new experience as second fiddle, but within a famous symphony orchestra with a  global performance ahead. Everybody can be winners. Everybody in this case are the key players, as well as a global population of space exploration enthusiasts.

“Make It So!” This classic order from the realm of the Star Trek series is most fitting for our joint venture recommendation. This phrase should become the motto for the launch of this joint space program. It should also be the shout that echoes throughout the halls of Congress and the White House. In making it so, our politicians stand to rise in eminence by boosting our economy, by boosting opportunities for the jobless and by projecting a glimmering view of humankind’s future in space exploration.

Dare we not “Make It So?”

CREDITS:

Broken puzzle image courtesy of  “smh” on Great House Fliggerty at:http://bit.ly/gdAQSs

Header image courtesy of Lockheed-Martin, and  POPSCI 

TAG-ALONG SCIENCE – PART II: Taking The Lead

November 22, 2010

It is our opinion, and we emphasize opinion, that humankind is on the cusp of an evolutionary leap. Key words are cusp and leap. Cusp in our context means turning point, and we use leap because we see the transition as abrupt and significant and not gradual and possibly insignificant.

The cusp is at the intersection of our scientific and technological (S&T) progress, and the steady decline in humankind’s support of S&T. This diminishing public interest in S&T and its benefits to human society is expressed through political policy decisions that rarely give priority to S&T goals and benefits.

The leap constitutes the direction and benefits, or the lack thereof, depending upon which way humankind moves in the next several centuries. Wait! Wait, don’t let the time factor turn you away with shrugs of indifference. Humankind has reached the level where time increments have accelerated so that when we speak about centuries we are literally talking about immediate concerns. What we start or stop today has an accelerated impact that extends well into mega-millenniums.

Turning the leap into a long-jump: Yes, we are following our opinion and are turning forward not backward.  Most importantly, we envision a series of both policy and program changes that begin the process of bringing S&T into the daily lives of humankind in very obvious and tangible ways. Regardless, none of this is will be a flash-bang magic show. It is envisioned as an orderly and very dedicated process. The following represents the key preparations we must make for that long-jump.

A new S&T model: Right now the majority of our science and technology programs have tight links to political policy. As a result many very important programs suffer: (a) see-saw levels of importance and (b) funding cycles that range from affluence to total poverty. A twist in political party power often puts an S&T program in jeopardy. Usually the threat is preceded by deflated funding or the lack thereof. This lack of consistent and long-term political and policy support short-changes both research and its beneficiaries; the citizens of this nation and usually the world.

A new and different Office of Science and Technology Policy. Exclusive of those specialized programs associated with defense and national security, S&T policies should be established by public referendum and are mandated to persist regardless of changes in the current political party controlling the  government. This means that the current Executive Branch’s  Office of Science and Technology Policy is replaced by a very open, and broad-based S&T policy administration program. This program forms the core of the public S&T referendum.

A new governing body: Key members of the science and technology community come together under a Federal mandate to draft the structure and initial program definitions that the public will consider and approve or disapprove. Participation is by all divisions of the National Academy of Sciences, by leading private research institutions, by major university science and technology departments, and by all Federal agencies and departments that have S&T functions and responsibilities.

The National Institute for Science and Technology Policy (NISTP): We have boldly stepped forward to prepare a preliminary definition document for the NISTP and how it can work. You may get access to it here, as a download, in PDF format.  We have done it this way to avoid producing a very, very long blog page, and to give you ample time to review our document. We sincerely hope you will take the time to consider it and hopefully comment here.  Please remember, what we are proposing here is a system whereby S&T research and development is for and by the people and not just the product of political or special interests. Our document gives attention to this transition and how it can be both developed and sustained.

Reflections and Conclusion: In many pages of this blog as well as in others we have written, we emphasize that we must become a spacefaring nation. Actually we extend this to include a spacefaring world as an important evolutionary step for humankind. Well, to achieve this highly essential state we must first become a nation and a world community where science and technology are in the forefront of our daily lives. No, we are not talking about a civilization that is dominated by S&T, we are talking about a civilization that is universally enriched by S&T research and development. Enrichment in this case is both economic and sociological.

Most importantly humankind, as we have consistently maintained, is here not to fail but to move forward in time and space.

We are now pretty certain that we are not alone in this universe and although we have never met ET, they are out there and in time we will meet, and, in our opinion, peaceably. None of this will come to pass without our immediate involvement in the growth and spread of S&T as humankind’s vital evolutionary resource.

As we have proposed here, S&T growth should be essentially in the hands of we-the-people and not at the whim of politicians and/or special interests. We also believe that what is coming will be the most exciting, the most fulfilling moment in our evolution since that time when we rose up from the sea and stepped upon this land. In all of this, time never waits, and we believe neither should we. It is time, now, to take the lead.

REFERENCES:

Scientific regress: When science goes backward

Planning for the Future of American Science

CREDITS:

Clip-Art Cartoon, modified by Waddell Robey to include the letters “S&T” on a cartoon figure.


 

TAG-ALONG SCIENCE: Following The Money

November 16, 2010

With spurts of government boldness, great moments in science have been born. With spurts of corporate courage equally great breakthroughs in science have occurred.  Our global history of scientific, engineering and technical achievement relates the endless struggle by new discoveries and new ideas to receive the financial support they need to reach their goals. Fickle government budgeting and the absence of vision by corporate leaders are the key barriers to progressive and successful scientific progress. Miraculously humankind has progressed this far because of those spurts of boldness and courage. We need more and we need them consistently.

Saving Science: Right now, the key dependence of science and technology (S&T) for funding support is upon the political system and the budgeting process. This is an extreme variable that depends on too much politics and too little attention to S&T input.

Within our government there are a host of Congressional committees and subcommittees involved in various ways in the process of providing funding support for S&T. Additionally the Executive Branch of government has its own advisory staff that makes recommendations on what the priorities should be for funding these research efforts. For example:

“Almost every congressional committee is in some way involved in S&T policy decision-making or uses the scientific and technical knowledge currently available to help them make decisions.” (From: Science and Technology Policymaking: A Primer by Deborah D. Stine – Congressional Research Service. (http://bit.ly/9wvcAA)

Taking S&T out of the lobby: In line with the various committee involvements in the funding for S&T, there is, of course the interactions of lobbyists to seek to direct that funding toward the organizations or corporations they represent. In some cases this helps certain, but limited S&T programs, but it also can deprive other critical areas of needed funding. You may click here to get and example of the lobbying process and how funds are diverted to select organizations (Data related to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act [ARRA] -2009). These activities are costly and produce well paid lobbyists at the cost of a more equitably and better funded S&T community.

Is there a better and definitely more equitable way? We think there is, and in this two-part presentation we will offer our idea of how that can become a reality. What we are looking at is a way for all S&T programs to have increased access to all funding resources. This would be within a setting that brings to bear a more focused assessment process of S&T programs that use much broader and definitive measures to make funding decisions. The key consideration is public benefit. In stating this we acknowledge the challenge it will be to clearly and universally (politically and ethically) define public benefit. Right now, the majority of  S&T goes unnoticed or discredited by the public. One of the key aims ,therefore, of our presentation is to directly address the publics’ “opinions about science and technology.” Additionally, what we will avoid in our presentation is relegating the S&T/Public interaction as a dispute between science and religion.

In closing this first part of our discussion on this topic we emphasize that we absolutely dislike categorizing people who have a weak grasp of S&T as stupid (lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.). We find this demeaning and we find it a common reaction to those persons who openly display their confusion or misunderstanding of parts or all of S&T. Yes, unfortunately, there are some of us who through a variety of physiological causes suffer cognitive dysfunction. These people have our understanding and compassion. The rest of those often called stupid have, instead, extreme shortages of formal education, especially in basic science, as well as having experienced cold rejection by some in the S&T community. In our opinion this latter situation must be changed if we want increased public awareness and support for S&T.

Coming Soon, Part II: S&T, A Common Cause and Benefit.

CREDITS:

Header Image: Original photo-art by Waddell Robey (c)2010

Lab researcher: Modified clipart from Microsoft. Modification (Traffic sign) added by Waddell Robey.