February 20, 2011

Transparent Baloney

Hatched by Dafydd

Wanna see the whole problem with Obamanomics in a knothole, and with Democratic/Progressivist/socialist economics in general? Take a look at this and see if you can spot what's wrong with the picture:

The latest congressional showdown centers on spending for the current fiscal year, which is one-third over. House Republicans have promised to cut $60 billion from "discretionary non-security" programs. Those programs comprise only 12 per cent of the entire budget, and they exclude items such as the military, Social Security and Medicare, the government program that provides health care coverage for the elderly.

President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats say such cuts would be reckless and damaging at a time when the economic recovery remains fragile. They want to freeze discretionary, non-security spending at current levels for five years. That would slow or halt the typical annual climb, but Republicans say it's not enough....

At his news conference last week, Obama chastised both parties for even talking about a shutdown.

Federal spending must be tamed, the president said, but "let's use a scalpel. Let's not use a machete. And if we do that, there should be no reason at all for a government shutdown."

If you're not quite sure what I'm getting at, perhaps it would help to remind you that the current budget -- the one from which we're talking about cutting $60 billion -- is about $3.5 trillion... or to put it another way, about $3,500 billion.

If you're still stumped, then I suspect you're one of the few Democrats who reads Big Lizards! Here is the key: $60 billion constitutes less than 1.8% of the federal budget.

If Barack H. Obama considers 1.8% a "machete," then the "scalpel" he's thinking of must be a strand of monomolecular wire from Larry Niven's science-fiction stories. Just how thin and transparent does the president believe he can shave the baloney before the customers tar and feather him and ride him out of town on a rail?

But wait -- these reductions are taken entirely from "discretionary non-security" federal spending. Might the GOP cuts be huge and drastic compared to that one sliver of the budget?

By my calculations, that portion is a scant $609 billion. Yet the $60 billion Republicans want to cut still constitutes less than 10% of "discretionary non-security" spending alone. Evidently, even that's far more than the Left can tolerate.

Therefore I conclude that in reality, the deepest "cuts" Democrats will ever accept would be a modest decrease... in their proposed rate of increase of federal spending. And there's yer problem light there: The gap between Capitalist and socialist economics isn't sixty billion dollars; it's sixty lightyears.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 20, 2011, at the time of 5:00 PM

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The following hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr

I only wish there were monomolecular wire involved... I don't know how Niven used it, but all the other authors I recall used it as a "cuts anything it touches in half" plot device. I wish.

The above hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2011 5:40 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


On a technical note, I dispute that monomolecular wire or filament (MMF) would actually cut anything at all (other than another piece of MMF with weaker links between the molecules). I believe that an MMF would just wipe out a one-molecule-sized column of molecules in a huge, intricate substance (a crystal, a cell, etc) -- which would seal up right behind it as other, identical molecules just pushed forward, due to electon-shell attraction (whatever held the molecules together in the first place), and attached themseles into the lattice in place of the originals.

In other words, I believe it would just pass right through the target without affecting it or him in any noticible way, like slicing a razor blade through cottage cheese or tomato bisque.

The reason a very sharp knife causes a permanent severance, it seems to me, is that even the sharpest real-world blade has a thickness of several million molecules:

  1. I'm assuming a really, really sharp knife that has a maximum thickness along the centerline of 2 mm. (My sharpest Wüsthof cooking knife is not that thin.) Remember, it's not the edge, the narrowest part of the knife, that matters; it's the thickest part as it cuts through the target.
  2. I have no way of finding out the exact composition of a typical stainless-steel knife, so I'll just make a rough guess at 0.15% carbon, 18.0% chromium, and the remaining 81.85% iron.
  3. Since iron and chromium molecules appear to be about the same size (2.5e-7 mm), and there's really very little carbon, let's make it easy on ourselves by saying there are about four million stainless-steel molecules per milimeter.
  4. That gives us about eight million molecules of maximum thickness of our sharp knife.

Thus the "edges" left by the cut are (a) much too far apart for electron interactions to exert much force, and (b) jagged and irregular on a molecular level. So they stay separated and don't rejoin.

Now maybe if the MMF had some sort of molecular coating that interacted with the target, bonding with the edges and therefore preventing them from reconnecting to one another; but then an MMF would be unique to each substance, and you'd have to carry an awful lot of them around with you. Fortunately, they don't weigh much or take up much space; but the indexing would be a nightmare! Especially for a composite target like a biological cell.

I don't think MMFs would be very useful, even if you could overcome the dilemma of how to hold it while cutting. An ordinary, sharp steel (or diamond or obsidian) knife would be far more deadly in nearly all situations.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2011 12:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

The modern razor blade is the sharpest, thinnest blade I know of. Defiantly thinner than 1mm.

Niven's MMFs are usually stiffened with a force field or time stasis field, so they're used like a sword with a variable length blade.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2011 7:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: Pam

Dafydd, sorry to hijack the thread, but when you were discussing the repeal of DADT, you said that it and the DOMA had nothing to do with each other.

I said, after DADT was repealed, DOMA would become unconstitutional. Guess what happened to day: Eric Holder said the Admin would not defend it because they thought it was now unconstitutional.

I told you this would happen. And everything else I said will too, if we don't take a stand.

The above hissed in response by: Pam [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2011 12:11 PM

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