Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Report: NASA’s bad management of infrastructure projects routinely leads to cost overruns and delays

A report released today [pdf] by NASA’s inspector general has found that NASA’s management of its infrastructure projects — designed to replace or upgrade existing facilities — is badly organized and routinely leads to cost overruns and delays.

According to the report, NASA has been spending about $359 million per year on its infrastructure for the past five years, about $1.8 billion. And what have we gotten from this spending? This quote from the report sums it up nicely:

Of the 20 [Construction of Facilities] projects we reviewed, 6 incurred significant cost overruns ranging from $2.2 million to $36.6 million and 16 of the projects are 3 months to more than 3 years behind their initial schedules. Costs increased primarily because requirements were not fully developed by the Agency before construction began, requirements were not fully understood by contractors, and contract prices were higher than originally estimated. Delays occurred because projects faced postponed start times and changing requirements, among other reasons. Finally, NASA did not provide effective oversight to determine whether the Agency’s portfolio of [Construction of Facilities] projects met cost, schedule, and performance goals. [Facilities and Real Estate Division] has failed to consistently keep up with oversight requirements of approved and funded projects and current oversight guidance does not align with Agency facility goals. [emphasis mine]

But don’t worry. Congress is about to pour several more billion dollars into NASA’s coffers for infrastructure work. I am sure the agency will figure out ways to go overbudget and behind schedule with this money as well.

For more than twenty years I have seen government-run projects fail miserably, across the board, Whether it be big rockets, high speed trains, military actions in foreign countries, foreign intelligence, or health policies in response to new viruses, our government routinely fails, its effort quickly falling far behind schedule while costing many times its initial budget. Worst of all, the final product is often useless or completely unable to achieve its initial stated goals.

And yet, Americans don’t seem to notice. We still turn first to government for everything. Too many of us depend on the CDC for our health advice, though its advice has been repeatedly mistaken, inconsistent, or just plain wrong for years. Others think NASA is the only one who can build and launch a manned space mission, though almost all of its in-house manned projects have been disasters for decades.

And above all, we must use our military to shape and reshape nations worldwide, though our military has done poorly in almost every war it has fought since World War II.

There are exceptions to all this, but the overall pattern is clear. As Tucker Carlson said recently, “We are led by buffoons.”

It really is past time for Americans to stop relying on these fools. Whether Americans will finally do so however will tell us whether we are buffoons as well.

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15 comments

  • Jake

    The article makes me think of a comment the late Senator Edward Kennedy said about the “The Big Dig” road and tunnel project in Boston that was estimated to cost $2.8 Billion in 1982 and finished for over $8 Billion in 2007 ($21.5 Billion adjusted for inflation).

    Kennedy dismissed the incredible cost overruns because all that money “created good union jobs”. You see, oversight doesn’t matter and isn’t wanted.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Tucker Carlson said recently, “We are led by buffoons.”

    Maybe because a buffoon is the only one that would want the job?

  • To my knowledge, no breakthrough has ever resulted from a Five Year Plan / Ten Yeat Plan / Twenty Year Plan .developed by a committee of risk-averse bureaucrats who have never read Murphy’s Laws of Combat.

    And the buffoons had the gall to denigrate the last guy who halfway did right by the ordinary citizen while in public office, as … a buffoon.

  • Jeff Wright

    And cost cutting buffoons poisoned Flint and would leave NASA sites. Ayn Rand was the biggest buffoon of all.

  • James Street

    I liked Tucker Carlson’s analysis but I disagree with his conclusion. I don’t think we’re led by buffoons. I think we’re led by evil.

    This 1 minute video of the Afghan pullout that Richard Grenell (former Acting Director of National Intelligence) posted isn’t as well known. It shows the piles of cash the State Department left behind for the Taliban. This was intentional as were the 100 billion of dollars of equipment and weapons.
    https://twitter.com/i/status/1431279926460755971

  • wayne

    Lex Fridman Podcast (October 2020)
    w/ Michael Malice
    “Ayn Rand doesn’t have all the answers, but she has all the questions…”
    https://youtu.be/oC2nWeEhvcw
    9:23

  • pzatchok

    Nasa is run by its cost plus contractors.
    They the contractors influence Nasa to propose specific designs and they then lobby congress to fund those projects.

    Get rid of cost plus contracts and Nasa will again be in control.

  • Ayn Rand was the biggest buffoon of all.

    While I don’t necessarily agree with every idea attributed to her, the basic message I get from Rand is that letting “the system” call all the shots does not serve the interest of the individual, and that the individual has to act to (1) secure their own interests and (2) limit the ability of “the system” to impose its will over you.

    That is not buffoonish … not at all.

    And I will add that the individual has to act, even if it requires more effort – and/or the assumption of risk – than simply letting “the system” decide and (maybe) deliver. We see this particularly in public education, where the operatives have gotten so accustomed to letting “the system” – i.e. said operatives – decide that they push back against anyone who challenges their de facto monopoly.

  • wayne

    ref Flint and their water supply;
    (have friends in Davison, which is decidely not-Flint.) ((total tangent- Michael Moore likes to say he’s from Flint, but he grew up in Davison. His lavish vacation home in Traverse City, is defitely not-Flint.))
    Flint sadly, represents a lot of towns/cities in Michigan; Concentrated industrial production + unions + decades of democrat-controlled politics. The auto-industry collapses in the late 1970’s in Flint (to be off-shored, to be sure; plenty of blame to go around), and the tax base collapsed shortly there-after. Decades of lavish spending on everything but infra-structure, leads to a collapse of the infra-structure.
    –It wasn’t the free-market libertarians that chose get their water from the Flint River Vs. getting it from Detroit. They balked at paying the ever-increasing rates from Detroit but simultaneously couldn’t really supply their own water.
    They weren’t doing it to ‘save money,’ they did it on the cheap. Two different things!
    The whole lead-contamination thing—Flint was advised by their engineering firm to treat their old piping with a chemical that seals the inside against lead, again they chose to ‘save money’ and skip that step.

    Lex Fridman Podcast 178 (April, 2021)
    Michael Malice / Yaron Brook:
    “Ayn Rand, Human Nature, and Anarchy”
    https://youtu.be/Pl3x4GINtBQ
    -> 4:25:18 (a challenge!)

  • wayne

    a repeat from me, but appropriate….

    Elon Musk & Akira The Don 🎵
    -> “If You Don’t Make Stuff, There Is No Stuff” 🚀
    (June 2020)
    https://youtu.be/nA4Ya-yKJ0A
    3:23

  • {quote}
    And yet, Americans don’t seem to notice.
    {quote}
    That’s the part that baffles me. How can anyone NOT notice? Yet these people exist in the 10s, if not 100s, of millions.

    The Murray Gell-Mann effect only goes so far as an explanation. At some point, one must just shrug and admit that humans are idiots and even the gods despair in the face of man’s stupidity (Schiller, iirc).

  • Lee Stevenson

    Just a fly by posting, I’m working crazy hours right now, so my posting , and indeed unfortunatly even reading time is limited… But a couple of questions for you… Discussion points more than questions, as I will try to interact, but I’m working like a horse for the next week or 2.
    Given that you all believe that you live in the land of the free, the greatest democracy on earth, etc. How come your government manages to pork out so much tax payers money?, Don’t you guys have any independent oversight on the actions of your government?
    And I don’t even try to understand your system of tax Vs return, but over here in Sweden, it’s all transparent, and centralised. I pay my tax, X percent goes to health care, X to social care, X to infrastructure, X to investment in business, X to foreign relief…. And if I don’t like the distribution, I vote for change. We have a multi party system, which usually means a coalition government, and a compromise, but the government broadly represents the will of the people.
    If any government was feeding so much pork to corporate pie eaters, they would be called out, and voted out, or ot the very least be much reduced in power.
    Perhaps it’s your political monopoly that’s to blame… A 2 party system is better than a single party system, but is it better than a more representative multi party system?

  • pzatchok

    We have states with larger budgets than your whole nation.

    Its just easier to change a small entity,

  • pawn

    pzatchok,

    I was hoping you have read and considered the replies you have gotten wrt. your opinion that NASA is controlled by contractors. This is very wrong. The cost plus structure is what NASA has promoted as it is very effective at redistributing pork and not promoting innovation.

    There is a very good summary of the politics that got us into the SLS misadventure here:

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2021/09/decadal-survey.html

    I hope you can find some way to change your mind on who is responsible for the mess of a space program we have today.

  • pawn

    Lee, you are so funny. How much of your income is really yours? You pay dearly for all that central control and the fact that you call it transparent seems to give it some positive quality but knowing what is going on and having some control over it are not the same. You may even have less control over your government that we do. Both governments seem to be embracing immigration from the third world even though the citizens generally oppose it.

    Not to mention you get little entertainment from your own space program.

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