66 Percent of CEOs Plan to Freeze or Downsize Workforce Size

Two-thirds of the country’s CEOs plan to freeze or downsize their workforce over the next year, according to a new survey.

“As I approach my 44th year in business, the last 20 as CEO, I can never remember a time when I felt so disenfranchised from our leadership in Washington. They seem determined to continue their ongoing anti-business attitude and to frustrate small and mid-sized businesses by uncertainty on taxes, government regulations, and simply too many bureaucratic restrictions. We desperately need a change in Washington.”

I guarantee that much of this reluctance to hire stems from uncertainty and fear of Obamacare and the regulations it brings.

The job boom for government regulators under Obama

The chart of the day, from John Merlune at Investor’s Business Daily:

Boom in jobs for regulators

Merlune’s article outlines in frightening detail how there has been a job boom in only one place during the Obama administration, the government regulatory industry.

Regulatory agencies have seen their combined budgets grow a healthy 16% since 2008, topping $54 billion, according to the annual “Regulator’s Budget,” compiled by George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis. That’s at a time when the overall economy grew a paltry 5%.

Meanwhile, employment at these agencies has climbed 13% since Obama took office to more than 281,000, while private-sector jobs shrank by 5.6%.

American manned space: dependent on the Russians in more ways than you think

American manned space: dependent on the Russians in more ways than you think.

As commentators from around the country gnash their teeth at U.S. dependence upon Russia to move cargo and astronauts to the mostly U.S. built/funded International Space Station (ISS), they’ve missed the bigger boat: With one exception, all the commercial spaceflight offerings currently in the works have Soviet or Russian engines as a key part of the rockets involved.

Legal rabbit farm raided and destroyed

The abuse of power: A legal rabbit farm raided and destroyed by Colorado police.

“They’ve destroyed me emotionally, socially and professionally,” Bell said, listing numerous ways in which local animal rights activists have publicized information about the case in an effort to make her and her four children — all adults who haven’t lived under her roof for several years — look bad. But that’s not all.

“They’ve made 4-H kids all across Colorado just sob,” she said, “because I am their 4-H connection.” Bell noted that 12 of the seized rabbits belong to 4-H kids who were planning to show them at upcoming fairs — two at the Jefferson County Fair that begins Thursday and the remaining 10 at the Colorado State Fair which runs from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5 in Pueblo.

Nebraska rare earth mineral discovery to challenge China’s monopoly

A discovery in Nebraska of rare earth minerals appears set to challenge China’s monopoly.

To me these were the key quotes from this article:

The U.S. used to produce rare earths through the Mountain Pass Mine in California, but it was shut down in 2002, primarily because of environmental concerns, including the spillage of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water carrying radioactive waste into a nearby lake.

and

Although studies have shown the U.S. has 13 million metric tons of rare-earth minerals, National Mining Association spokeswoman Carol Raulston said it does not mine any of it – partly as a result of the difficulty of obtaining permits. “One of the key problems that investors tell us about is that the permitting regime in this country is so complicated and time-consuming that it has hurt investments here in the United States,” Ms. Raulston said.

Lack of U.S. government interest in commercial refueling mission causes problems

A lack of U.S. government interest in a privately designed satellite refueling technology has caused the company to pull back its plans.

MDA had signed a contract with the communications satellite company Intelsat to refuel some of its orbiting satellites, but needed additional customers to make a go of it. It had hoped the U.S. Defense Department would show interest, but they have not.

This is exactly where the government should be investing its capital, and that it is not tells us a lot about the real lack of sincerity behind the Obama administration’s claims that it wants to encourage private space. I also suspect that the turf war with satellite companies and defense contractors helped discourage Defense Department interest.

How the end of NASA affects national security

How the end of NASA affects national security.

Though I don’t agree with all of Dinerman’s points, he provides a complete and excellent analysis of the present political state of NASA. To me, the key quote is this:

NASA’s Administrator and his Deputy worked hard, along with the President’s science advisor and the rest of the White House team, to alienate a critical mass of members of Congress by ignoring their concerns, rejecting their advice and blindsiding them with critical space policy decisions. The Obama administration then wrecked the previous program on the grounds that it was underfunded and behind schedule, and replaced it with a new program that looks as if it is now underfund and behind schedule. Congressmen and women being human, and under massive pressure to cut spending, have now cut the guts out of the space agency’s proposed budget.

Senate Issues Subpoena to NASA for SLS Materials

The space war over NASA continues: The Senate has issued a subpoena to NASA, demanding documents related to its plans for building the Congressionally-designed Space Launch System (SLS), what I like to call the-program-formerly-called-Constellation.

In related news, NASAspaceflight.com reports that those NASA documents state that the agency’s plans for building SLS will take 21 years (!), with the first flight not taking place until 2032.

No wonder NASA has stalled releasing these documents. Nor am I surprised. Based on the budget that Congress gave the agency, it is literally impossible for NASA to build this rocket any faster. And at that rate, no one should be surprised if it never gets built at all. Far better to cancel it now and save the taxpayers the money.

Public test of privately built moon lander delayed by gyro

A public test of privately built moon lander has been delayed by gyro problem. Key quote:

One customer has already bought a ticket with Moon Express, asking them to deposit a small telescope on the dark side of the Moon. Jain says the company will also offer low cost ways for anyone to use the moon as a kind of time capsule. “If something goes to the moon it stays there forever, people will pay to sends things like photos, or maybe your hair or DNA.”

NASA changes its contract arranged for commercial space

Turf war: At conference yesterday at the Johnson Space Center, NASA proposed changing how it issues its commercial space contracts so as to give it more control over their design and construction. The commercial companies are not happy.

Brett Alexander, a space industry consultant who counts among his clients the secretive aerospace startup Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., said at the July 20 briefing that industry needs to know NASA’s legal reasoning for dismissing SAAs as an option for the next CCDev round. “From an industry standpoint … we’re kind of flying blind because [NASA] has not divulged what its legal reasoning is, and I think they need to do that in writing. Not a couple charts, not things that you brief, but a legal brief that says ‘here’s why’” a traditional procurement is necessary.

My own sources say this change in contractual approach will significantly slow development of the new commercial manned space rockets and ships, possibly beyond 2017.

The only reason I can see for NASA to do this is to maintain control over manned space, even if they are not building anything. I think NASA is instead going to find out that doing anything to slow this development will be politically very dangerous for them.

Perry and other lawmakers blast Obama over shuttle retirement

Texas Governor Rick Perry, as well as other lawmakers from Congress, blasted Obama today over the shuttle retirement.

Bah. Perry claims to be a so-called small government conservative, yet he wants the government to spend a fortune to build and run the space program. Meanwhile, Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Kate Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) were around in Congress when President George Bush announced the shuttle’s retirement seven years ago. Their effort since then to fund pork through NASA and thus have NASA build a giant new rocket system, either Constellation or its new Congressionally-designed replacement, has been a disaster. Right now it would be better, and far cheaper, if they stopped fighting the new commercial space companies and instead get behind them, especially since the Obama administration itself has done a very poor job of selling this new industry.

A little support from Congress could go a long way to not only reinvigorating the aerospace industry, it could speed our country’s return to manned space, with multiple competing companies.

The U.S. and the rising Russian space program

The Russians yesterday successfully launched their first space telescope since the fall of the Soviet Union. Here is a Google translation of a Russian article describing Spektr-R’s research goals:

[Spektr-R is] designed to study galaxies and quasars in the radio, the study of black holes and neutron stars in the Milky Way, as well as the regions immediately adjacent to the massive black holes. In addition, using the observatory, scientists expect to receive information about pulsars and the interstellar plasma. It is planned that the “Spektr-R” will work in orbit for at least 5 years.

Though this particular space telescope is probably not going to rewrite the science of astrophysics, its launch is historically significant. It indicates that Russia has just about recovered from the seventy-plus years of bankrupt communist rule that ended in 1990.
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Being tone deaf is not a good way to fund a government space program

Yesterday the House appropriations committee’s released budget numbers that included no additional funds for commercial space, limiting the subsidies to $312 million, the same number as last year and significantly less than the $850 million requested by the Obama administration.

This is what I have thought might happen since last year. The tone deaf manner in which the Obama administration has implemented the private space subsidies is leaving all funding for NASA vulnerable.
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