Posted tagged ‘United States’

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.


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

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.


Space_bot – Courtesy of Wallpaper Box –

WANTED: A SciTech Revival

November 12, 2011

The ECO-FANDANGO that is going on right now is a save Big Money dance that makes sure not to disturb the profits-above-all-else motives of corporate America. Most corporations are flush with cash and are coasting along on set, big-bank supported business strategies that are enhanced by lowered worker populations. Status Quo is the rule and gets solid political support. Meanwhile, America is in an socio-economic decay cycle that will eventually undermine the status quo and all of us.

America’s rise to prominence and world leadership came about from a combination of brave, risk-taking innovators and a bold new growth of both science and technology. Right now the fiscal crisis hoax is directly seeking to discourage risk taking and definitely a turn away from aggressive science and technology advances. This is coupled with actions by Big- Money duped politicians to continue to protect corporate profit growth at the expense of employment and our natural resources conservation. Another very active example of our dedicated self-destruction.

SCI-TECH TO THE RESCUE:  First, corporations must decide to loosen their grip on their cash reserves and begin to invest in new technology. Secondly, the Federal government must inspire those corporate risk-takers by offering earned credits applied to their fully restored tax obligations. The elimination of all the tax breaks and other fiscal benefits we taxpayers provide corporations will make the chance to earn reasonable tax-breaks highly attractive. This is accomplished by reinvesting in our sci-tech revival . If done properly this becomes an attractive incentive for big business to again behave like real American industrial innovators. Additional credits can be earned by providing sci-tech employee training for those job applicants which corporations currently list as unqualified for current job openings. ‘

So what are some examples of this sci-tech revival. We will look at three key areas. They are (1) new energy systems, (2)breakthrough transportation technology, and (3)natural resource conservation. We, our government and our corporations need to understand that there is an incredible sci-tech research and development resource just waiting to be unfettered and financially supported. We must not ignore it and its almost instant availability. Let’s start the revival.

1. NEW ENERGY SYSTEMS:  Right now we are in a diddle mode by toying with systems (wind, bio, current solar, etc) that either by themselves or jointly are not going to meet both current and future demands for energy. Yes, solar could grow as a high resource, but it has its limitations as a sole resource. If immense solar array systems are linked with thorium based nuclear power systems we could very will establish a safe and fossil-fuel free energy generation, transmission and storage system. To achieve this we need to gain considerable maturity in the design, constructions and safe operation of this composite energy system. We CAN do it, We HAVE the sci-tech skills and wherewithal to start now. Status quo stalling, however,  imperils this entire energy future. In this regard, we must acknowledge that the delays to move in this direction are not precautionary, they are political obeisance to big-oil and big-money forces. We must break that choke-hold.

2.BREAKTHROUGH TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY: Again we are currently dancing around with energy efficient transportation systems. The diddle rules. Yes, there is a mild increase in both US and foreign development of electric vehicles, but we have yet to commit to infrastructure changes that will support a fully EV based transportation model. Additionally, although there are musings about fuel-cell and hydrogen powered systems this again is in diddle mode. A solid program that seeks to achieve a mixed migration from pure EV to EV+FuelCell technology is a possible strategy. Regardless, unless, as mentioned above, we can break the Big-Oil /Big-Money choke-hold on SciTech progress we are stranded in petrol-quicksand with no rescue in sight.

They, being the media, say we are too timid, too intimidated, and too indifferent to push forward. Well if we do not push forward we will surely FALL BACKWARDS!  In that case, shank’s mare will be our most innovative means of transportation.

3. NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION: What? Where is the Sci-Tech challenge here? Well, it could be the greatest and most rewarding that we can conceive. No, watering the flowers is pretty well accomplished, but dumping industrial offal on those flowers (Flowers in this case should be seen as our entire environment aka Planet Earth) kills them and most likely stifles all life in the area. This must be stopped.

Oh no, here we go with more restrictive rules and regulations and many marches of protest against polluters. Alas, more diddle! This is not to say that environmental protection by legislation and regulation is not important, but the real challenge is to find ways to give the polluters methods to produce and NOT POLLUTE! This is a sci-tech challenge, and for it to be effective it must be fully encouraged and financially supported by both government and private industry. The rewards to all parties, including Mom Nature, are immense. Here are just a few areas of research and development challenges and opportunities:

  • Just how hard have we looked at possible by-products from many industrial wastes?
  • Have we really determined the very best synthetic fertilizer for the farming industry that grows produce and does not produce stinking, life-stifling run-off?  No way?  Are you really sure about that?
  • CO and CO2 are generally bothersome, but as researchers already know they also are chemically useful. So why don’t we find more ways to pull them from our big polluters and put them to use for all of us? Stick the dollar incentive under our noses and guess what; VOILA; progress!  This is another critical joint government and private industry support activity.
  • GREEN is critical, and again sci-tech has and can produce answers to ways for we humans to co-exist on this planet while keeping it alive and well. Doing so definitely keeps us alive and well too. This latter point is conveniently ignored by both politicians and the BIGGIES.
SUMMARY: We already have the power to take these and many other progressive steps that will enrich our lives while protecting and preserving our home. Why, then, do we allow ourselves to be hoodwinked into accepting that the status quo is best for all and that progress is a hoax except where it benefits the BIGGIES? Have we given up on ourselves and on our amazing capacity to innovate and move all of us forward? If we are, in fact, giving up them we are denying our purpose as humans in the Cosmos. Well, don’t give up unless you are ready to simply let the status quo snuff out all your hopes and your life and the lives of your offspring – our future.

WANTED: A New Band of Brothers

October 28, 2011

Original photo of Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic Explorer Team.

Yes, wars create bands of brothers who often act as one and who always have each others “back.” The new band of brothers would grow together not from war, but from the incredible bond created by exploratory expeditions.  We know this too because our global history testifies to those many challenging, exciting, and sometimes deadly human probes into the unknown. In the majority of cases, it was a “band of brothers” involved in those explorations. To this very day, we continue to remember and honor their heroic efforts to explore, discover and then explain to us all the many wonders of our Earth and all that surrounds it.

Right now, we have a clear and active example of the band of brothers we are envisioning here. That example is the International Space Station. Participation in the ISS program has included astronauts from 5 countries and also includes shared launch support of both spacecraft and launch facilities. In the new band of brothers concept this shared support would increase in both the number of participating nations and in the services provided. China would be one of the new member nations along with Brazil, the ESA space familyIndia, Japan,  SouthAfrica, Russia, and the UK .

Successfully achieving this impressive band of space brothers will require some significant shifts in national policies regarding space exploration. The old competitive spirit that existed in the earliest days of space exploration would need to mellow out and instead redirect that zest in support of this new international alliance. In fact we can easily envision a formal organization known as the International Alliance for Space Exploration (IASE). We also envision the first joint space program of the IASE to be the establishment of a Lunar Research Base; more realistically known as the IASE SpaceStation. This exploration concept would enable many of the IASE members to participate in Lunar research that would otherwise be beyond their overall financial and sci-tech capabilities. This is exactly as it should be and as such insures the widest possible global dispersal of Lunar research results and benefits. At last, human space exploration is no longer reserved for just a few, but actually is the  international sharing of  space exploration goals and accomplishments.

Luna as the next International Space Station: Yes, returning to the Moon has been and remains a heavily debated mission. Many space enthusiasts see returning to the Moon as a step backwards or a kind of side step. Others, including the first human to stand on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, call for a return to the Moon as both a continuation of a mission that was never allowed to finish and as a vital preparatory step for future explorations. Supporters of a return to the Moon, that include both Russia and China, envision not just another set of short visits, but instead the establishment of a long term, perhaps permanent,  Lunar Research Base. We need to avoid a politically motivated space race, which as we have learned collapses as the politicians and public lose interest. The only way this is avoided is if we truly create the IASE. When this happens, we eliminate some of the political frenzy and on again off again publicity that controlled our earlier efforts.  Yes, it can become boring for many, but they awaken again each time there are new discoveries and accomplishments. IASE needs to be driven by program goals not political and public cheers or yawns.

Who will be the leader of the band? Russia and the United States have the greatest human spaceflight experience, and should definitely hold key positions, but as we have done with the ISS, leadership of the IASE should rotate and this again keeps involvement interest high and makes sure that many good ideas from smaller or less prominent members are presented, considered and implemented. One of the most important aspects of IASE is it lays the groundwork for commercial activities on Luna after there have been successful investigations by the IASE teams. This insures that we have exploration without desecration.

The video below clearly illustrates the unique values and public support of the ISS astro-brotherhood and its significant “first step” toward the IASE concept. As you watch please look at all images including the people who are reaching out to the astronauts right up to the launch site. We had this here for awhile in America, but  are losing it again as the shuttle program fades from our memories. IASE will not fade, because as boring as some of it may be, it moves forward and produces an array of new discoveries that will benefit us all. Can we do it? Will we do it? United we can and will with an enduring new band of international brothers.


June 30, 2011

Ages hence will remember our century not for its barbaric wars, but for its major contributions to fundamental scientific knowledge…..Whatever the scientific discoveries of future ages, they will be based upon the body of twentieth century science.” 

From: “Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science” by Alan Cromer ISBN 0-19-509636- 3(Pbk.)

When the brothers Robert and Courtland Gross hocked just about everything they owned to raised the $40,000+ to buy Lockheed from the Scottish Loughead brothers it was a very bold, very innovative move. One could say they definitely used uncommon sense, considering the fledgling world of aviation at that time. I personally hope, they regularly shake hands, even hug, as they look down on their dream today.

When that young, bold airmail pilot, Charles Lindbergh decided to enter the contest for a transoceanic flight to Paris, he had a dream far beyond that of winning the challenge money. Like the Gross brothers, Lindbergh was motivated to boost aviation as an up and coming means of safe transportation that also would spell great opportunity for humankind. When he declared he would enter the contest as a solo pilot in a single engine plane he used brave, stunning uncommon sense to fulfill his dream. I hope he and the Gross brothers, whom he knew well, gleefully join in frequent celebration as they look over the results of their efforts.

The above stories are just two examples of many, many cases where bold entrepreneurs have used uncommon sense to make dreams and ideas into productive reality. Well, right now in this country, we are running low on uncommon sense and running high or finger pointing and blame dodging which produces screeching halts in our reputation for striking, and successful innovation. Yes, the political cries calling for common sense in this and that is a daily diatribe. Once in awhile we here a faint whisper calling for more uncommon sense. The problem is, the investor, the bold entrepreneurs of the Gross and Loughead brothers type are today playing with paper (stocks and bonds, etc) rather than dreams and ideas. We have essentially ceded to EurAsia (Europe, India, China, etc) the uncommon sense modus operandi. Interesting enough, in America the continuing examples of that uncommon sense rests with those early pioneers that produced Lockheed, Boeing, Northrup, Ryan, Douglas and many other dreamers. So, why have we given up on what we do best – innovation?

When the shuttle Atlantis launches next month in its final flight and the closing chapter of NASA’s glorious, innovative shuttle program, the book of uncommon sense stands the chance of being slammed shut. Yes, just like in those earlier, innovative days, there are young design and development companies out there struggling to break out on their own. They are trying to do this in a national atmosphere of fear. Fear of deficit an arch enemy of innovation. This barrier is exacerbated by political opportunists who see the deficit as the lever to bring the nation into a sharp turn backwards. If this should come to pass then both common and uncommon sense will be locked away. The best and saving solution is an immediate burst of uncommon sense, or more practically speaking, an outburst of innovation.

Now, President Obama has spoken eloquently about the importance of innovation in our future and as a mechanism to invigorate our economy, but he too is hampered by the deficit aura. This is where the breakout must occur. The White House and Congress must exercise uncommon sense to defy the deficit by directly stimulating innovation in our automobile, energy, science research, and space systems activities. Yes, there are other areas, but these areas will respond most quickly to uncommon sense by exercising it themselves to design, develop, and discover new paths of growth for this nation and for humankind.  We need:

  • Fuel efficient cars – not legislation, but actual vehicles that use other energy sources efficiently and inexpensively.
  • To accept the responsibility of nuclear power generation as the greenest method of high energy production. The challenge is not design, the challenge is to innovate safety and endurance.
  • To discourage political opportunists who seek to stifle science not recognizing that our future existence depends on a broadly aggressive scientific research environment.
  • To prevent the stifling of our exploration of our solar system and deep space. To ignore this urgent matter is to essentially return humankind to darkened caves at a time when our continuing evolution demands that we seek understanding of all that surrounds us.
  • To acknowledge the warnings and cries for help from our environment and in doing so begin to recognize that a safe and living Earth is the most vital resource we have for our continuing existence.
So, uncommon sense, long in use to move humankind beneficially forward must not be discouraged or disabled. If  boosted by government support and allowed its fullest expression, we will see that deficit dragon diminish in pace with the increased innovation that will set us free again. Mr.  President, Congress, don’t tell us about it, DO IT,  get uncommon and sensible now and save this nation.

IMAGE CREDIT: Wright brothers first flight at KittyHawk, NC


May 26, 2011

Alone and blurred by the elements and time, Pad 39A longs for its shuttles.

“You can actually feel it” That comment refers, with sadness, to the decline of momentum in NASA’s space exploration programs. The approaching last launch of the space shuttle snaps shut NASA’s only current human space exploration activity. Most importantly it is entirely unrealistic and unfair to assume this decline  is NASA’s doing.

Throughout its fifty year history, NASA has been fiscally underprivileged and yet has managed to accomplish astounding missions. Its relations with its main funding source, the U. S. Congress, is similar to an orphaned child in a foster home limbo. Despite segments of support within that foster care setting, there is little assurance of sustained fiscal and policy support for America‘s space program.  At best, there are bushels of lip service and thimbles-full of dollars all tied together in a discouraging package.

We are past the glorious experiment and global supremacy stage. Space exploration, both robotic and human, is now a vital and integral part of our national profile. Additionally it is also a growing profile element around the globe. The esteemed Space Studies Board of the National Academies of Science defines this as an aggressive scientific and engineering effort to address a wide range of factors related to space exploration. In this regard, the SSB envisions a lunar base as the successor to the ISS after 2020 (see “Recapturing A Future For Space Exploration” NAS Space Studies Board, Document  13048.pdf  page 432). The SSB supports this recommendation with a long and detailed list of research projects all related to improving and extending the success of human space exploration. Please see the reference list at the end of this article for links to the referenced documents.

What, no Mars exploration? This is not what the study means, in fact it fully acknowledges human exploration of Mars, but first there are a host of questions that need complete answers before we put humans on the surface of Mars. The referenced report details those research objectives.

Establishing a Lunar Research Facility will enable us to fully address many of those objectives in the ideal mico-gravity and essentially hostile environment. Most  importantly that lunar environment is in close proximity to Earth and as such it can be serviced and supported with lower costs, and with the necessary reaction speeds to reduce or eliminate loss of human life. A Lunar Express shuttle would be the ideal transport vehicle connecting Earth and its new Lunar Research Facility. Yes, there would also have to be a recoverable lunar lander to complete the transportation process.  Most importantly, the research environment is no longer a low Earth orbit setting.

About Focus and Vitality: Following the range of research objectives and goals outlined in the SSB study would restore NASA’s and its host of private-sector partners’ space exploration focus and vitality by targeting a Lunar Research Facility. All the envisioned development and research activities either underway or planned now have focus and specificity. Linking all of this to an expanded research facility that duplicates but enhances the ideals of the ISS imparts renewed momentum to this nation’s space science and technology activities. Most importantly all that NASA is undertaking now in the aftermath of its shuttle program gain new direction and impetus because they become linked to the next stage of our space exploration goals. We have revived space research with the elixir of “purpose.” Return to the moon and a Lunar Research Base before others opt us out of it.

The vitality of partnerships with the attendant array of various scientific and engineering expertise fills the project with both eagerness and the cross fertilization of ideas that will grow new breakthroughs in the entire process of exploring space. Believe it,  returning to the Moon in this kind of joint effort from both government and industry will establish the operating style that will move us forward from lovely Luna to Mars and onward. Yes, politicos ramble around muttering about “common ground, shared objetives”, etc, but do little more than jiggle and talk. A cooperative, joint and global exploration program to Luna with the establishment of a true research base IS that sought after common ground.

The new international lead is this united space exploration effort. Instead of remaining a pleading, plaintive for support, a global space society lays the foundation for an entirely new focus on life here on this planet and beyond. We stop shriveling (especially psychologically) and once again, and together, stand tall. Yes, tall all across the Cosmos.

Are you coming?

IMAGE CREDIT: The image of a shuttle launch pad is courtesy of Phil Konstantin (, the modifications of that image for the purpose of this blog article is by the author.

REFERENCES: National Academies of Science Space Studies Board: Recapturing A Future For Space Exploration:

The inseparable and critical relationship between science and government:

Returning to the Moon and a Lunar Research Facility:

The Lunar Research Institute:

Bill introduced in House of Representatives for a 2022 Lunar Mission and Base.Link:

HELP! We Are Being Poisoned!

May 20, 2011

Panic stricken crowds flee from the tragic Chicago fire.

The following discussion may seem far way from the broad topic of Explorology, but that is not and never has been the case. Scientific research is exploration of the most essential kind, and that is exactly what we will be talking about here.

Well, just like shouting ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater, running out onto the street and shouting the above would either get you restrained or redirected to a mental institution. What if you are right? What if we should be shouting for help? Some of us do, and sadly too few responsible corporate and government leaders hear us. Actually, it’s pretty certain they hear us, but ignore us; hoping we will go away.

The above scenario instantly and dramatically changes if a news break or official announcement states that we are being poisoned, but by terrorists. Alarm bells ring, all kinds of serious looking people wearing protective clothing and headgear appear. Oops, false alarm, no terrorists and all the pollution samples are ignored or discarded. Everything returns to normal poisoning.

Our governments, national, state, and local all have many environmental and health agencies loaded with dedicated and skilled watchdogs. They all are ready and eager to extend their range and detection efforts, but unfortunately they are kept on short leashes. O.K. the whining and moaning stops here. The thrust of this blog article is to consider potential areas that either need expanded research or the initiation of new research.

We will approach this by considering a series of questions, some of which are hypothetical, but believed to be highly relevant.

Research and Regulation; are they compatible? Yes, they cooperatively exist today, but both need continual fiscal support, updating and solid leadership. Research has already established areas that need regulation to prevent harm to humans, but opponents of regulation legislate crippling acts that impede regulation or even abolish it. Research, is often affected by fickle funding which is also affected by oppositional lobbying attacks that either divert or stall funding for vital research into dangerous hazards to humans and our environment.

Innovation and Regulation; can they co-exist? Right now, it is a struggle. Entrepreneurs often regard regulation as barriers, both financial and operational, that prevent them from being successful and profitable. History reports many, many cases of the regulatory process being misdirected or ‘blinded’ by specific influence from corporations who seek to run outside the regulatory envelope. This is a clear example of the collapse of ‘arms-length’ relationships between the regulators and the corporate operations they are supposed to be monitoring.

Can sound and proper regulation be achieved and sustained? The first requirement is protection of regulatory agencies from politically inspired legislation that seeks to diminish or abolish their efforts. Changes, or redirection of any regulatory agency‘s operations should be exclusively the result of either or both research results and court decisions. The only legislation that would be permissible would relate to the scope of operations of the agency. In most cases this would result in White House executive orders and not direct legislative action. Most importantly, the regulatory process must be fully sensitive to new research data that either redefines or expands the target areas under the agency’s purview. Again, history records many areas where new data has been either overlooked or intentionally ignored due to political or corporate pressure.

Can scientific research receive increased government support and assurance of complete data review? Well, here again there are variables affected by political and social disputation of some findings (e.g climate change). This nation has a wealth of scientific review organizations most effectively represented by both the National Science Foundation and the National Academies of Science. These two organizations, plus the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy should exclusively moderate and resolve any such disputes. Assuming the data is correct and vital, the next step is inclusion of that data in the operational profiles of the responsible regulatory body.

Enforcement; obstruction or opportunity? Proper and complete enforcement of various regulatory issues is a variable. Screams from the offenders and their political cohorts claim “Big Government” intrusions. As a result the issue gets totally obfuscated by the harangue and the critical issue is left in limbo. If the enforcement process sought to provide suggestions and even means to derive alternative methods or products that avoid the offending process then suddenly the screams could become cheers and ‘intrustion’ bows out to ‘support’. For such a new relationship between enforcement and compliance there would need to be considerable changes in the regulatory process that would include sci-tech and financial support to induce the necessary new methods or policies. Yes, that costs money and time, but look at the money and time spent avoiding the regulatory process and the intense impact on the environment and humans. All of these avoidance strategies ultimately cost more and accomplish nothing, whereas a regulatory process that supports change as an enforcement aid could produce the desired safe environment. Most would call this constructive regulatory enforcement.

Is there a role for citizens in the research and regulatory process? The answer is,’absolutely.’  What is lacking is a fully coordinated process of taking those citizen inputs and reviewing them and assembling clear examples and descriptions of specific problems. Right now there are a host of environmental and consumer advocacy groups that take citizen input and present them to government, at all levels. The problem is, that these efforts often fall on deaf ears and no action occurs. This is often represented by glamorous, clamorous Congressional hearings that are filled with sound and fury, but yield little real results. This is an area of critical change. A clearing house process that evaluates citizen input via environmental groups provides a non-political and usually sci-tech assessment of the issue. Additionally representatives of the affected regulatory body as well as the offending organization also evaluate and comment on the issues. The end product is an official presentation to the Congress and the White House that enhances and further depoliticizes the issue. This should improve the chances of the problem receiving both full attention and support from the government. The objective is supportive enforcement as discussed above.

Come On! Is this something that can ever be put in place? Well, that is totally up to each of us. How really active are we in the entire process that evaluates and acts on environmental and health issues? Do WE consider these issues when we vote for our elected representatives? Do WE work as closely as we should with advocacy groups that seek to achieve some or all of the changes presented above? Lastly, do WE really care about our planet, our global well being, and full support for the scientific research that make all our lives better and safer? Government is US. What we do not follow up on weakens US and allows unregulated, renegade behaviors to endanger all of us. So we jump up, shout and scream and blame government, but that is US. So the ultimate solution is our own direct and immediate involvement. Can we get with it, NOW?


Panic in the streets of Chicago during the tragic Chicago Fire. From the Chicago Historical Society – Copyright 1996