I guess you didn't flee here to Texas which already had the laws on the books prohibiting Tesla's sales model. The northern states have nothing on the South as far as businesses buying off the legislature to their benefit. Except that in the South it is actively encouraged as "Pro-Business"!
True on Social Security, but Medicare has been highly undercapitalized since its inception, due to medical cost inflation and recipients' expectations which outstripped all projections when Medicare tax rates were set. Thus your Medicare taxes (and everyone else's) are very unlikely to pay (even accounting for hypothetical investment gains) for your Medicare expenses in old age. The Medicare system is unsustainable as is; the oldsters who got it already got a great deal but sooner or later that will have to change.
Let's look at the subject in more detail. First satellite, first human, first successful lunar mission -- clearly the Soviets.
First successful mission to another planet: Mariner 2 flyby of Venus, 1962, USA. Your listing of Venera 1 as the "first to reach another planet" neglects to mention that the spacecraft failed before it got there.
First successful mission to Mars: Mariner 4, 1964, USA.
First communications satellites: passive, Echo I, 1960, USA; active, Courier 1B, USA.
First spacecraft rendezvous in orbit: Geminis 6 and 7, 1965, USA.
First spacecraft docking in orbit: Gemini 8, 1966, USA.
First manned spacecraft beyond low earth orbit: Apollo 8, 1968, USA
First manned spacecraft in lunar orbit: Apollo 8, 1968, USA
First spacecraft to orbit another planet: Mariner 9, Nov 1971, USA
First mission beyond the inner solar system: Pioneer 10, 1973, USA
First flyby of Jupiter: Pioneer 10, 1973, USA
There are many others.
Now let's examine some of the Soviet space firsts:
First soft lander on the Moon: 3 Feb 1966, Luna 9, USSR, a success by any definition, sent back pictures, operated for 3 days on lunar surface
compared to:, Surveyor 1, first USA soft lander, landed 14 July 1966, operated for nearly 6 months on the lunar surface
First soft lander on Mars: Mars 3, Dec 1971, USSR, operated for 14.5 seconds on the surface, compared to Viking 1, first USA Mars lander, July 1976, operated for 6 years on the surface.
So the story that the USSR was the clear leader in early space exploration is clearly false. Both nations had impressive 'firsts', anyone who doesn't acknowledge the accomplishments of both has poor knowledge of the subject.
julian67 -- I broke my vow not to post any more on Slashdot in order to congratulate you on the greatest ever title to a Slashdot comment. The comment itself was good, too.
True about NATO expanding after the fall of the Soviet Union. However it is also true that every nation which entered NATO practically begged for it. They had their taste of Warsaw Pact life and wanted their best chance of avoiding a repeat. So what do you do when newly freed people ask to join your alliance -- tell them they are shit out of luck and first targets in Putin's next attempt to rebuild the USSR? The answer is probably, 'yes' from a cold, self interested view of the original NATO members, but it doesn't seem quite right.
"Go ahead and ask your friendly neighborhood Chinese exchange student about whose nation should be humiliated in the next 20 years" -- if by that you mean, which nation do the Chinese still resent the most, which nation has killed the most Chinese people ever, and which nation the Chinese government is most using as a bogeyman to whip up nationalistic fervor? -- that would be Japan. By the way, if the US ever pulls out of the western Pacific or looks like it is going to, Japan will field nuclear weapons within in six months, followed almost simultaneously by S. Korea, and maybe Taiwan.
USA NASA annual budget: $17.7 billion, and that is just the NASA budget, the US Air Force Space budget is another $8 billion.
China CNSA annual budget: $1.3 billion.
Total pending by all national space agencies: $40.6 billion.
So the NASA budget is over 10 times that of CNSA and almost as much as all the other nations' programs put together. Considering that the US GDP is only about twice that of China's, then the NASA budget is a far larger percentage of the US GDP than the proportion that CNSA is of China's.
Reposting what I accidentally just put up as AC:
Von Braun's group could have almost certainly launched a satellite for the US in 1957 before Sputnik 1. In 1956 they had already launched their Jupiter-C rocket to over 70% of orbital velocity and over a thousand km high with a DUMMY 4th stage. Through 1957 they repeatedly asked for permission to launch one with a live 4th stage but the Eisenhower administration considered it "provocative". After Sputnik 1 orbited, the von Braun team was given their go-ahead orders and launched Explorer 1 into orbit aboard a Jupiter-C less than three months later. Can anyone doubt they could have done it in 1957?
"They never learned to build infrastructure. They never wanted to launch a mission that had any risk." It's hard to tell what NASA you are talking about here, NASA in the '60s or NASA in the 2000's? If it was NASA in the 60's then you are wrong. NASA in the 60's was all about risky missions. I personally heard Frank Borman at a conference a few years ago state that when he launched on Apollo 8 he figured that he had a 50% chance of coming back. For lasting infrastructure, the Vehicle Assembly Building and the crawler-transporter at Kennedy were built for the first Saturn V then used through the Space Shuttle program with plans for use by SLS. Same for the engine test stands at Stennis in Mississippi. On the pert charts -- one of the acknowledged major accomplishments of the Apollo Program was the development of a management process to successfully pull off such a gigantic and fast moving program.
Everyone gripes about how the "US has given up in space" or fallen behind or some other bull, but it is just wrong. The US currently has two functioning rovers on Mars (which is two more than anyone else) , a probe on the way to Jupiter, a probe on the way to PLUTO, a functioning orbiter around Mercury and a probe which recently left orbit around the asteroid Vesta on the way to orbit the dwarf planet Ceres, and a functioning orbiter around the moon. The US spends more money on space operations, both civil and military, than any other country. The US has a temporary gap in the ability to launch crewed missions but has at least three funded projects in place to build human-rated launchers (Space-X Falcon 9, ULA Atlas 5 , and NASA SLS) and at least three funded crewed capsules in work (Space-X Dragon, Boeing CST-100. Lockheed Orion). Other countries are doing things in space, -- great!!, but the USA remains the premier spacefaring nation in the world, due to the nation's technology and will to devote the resources to do it. China or anyone else putting crews on the moon is a great thing, but the US has been there, done that, and is moving on.
Out of all the manned spaceflight milestones of the 60's, only three really stand out in history -- Gagarin's orbital mission (Vostok 1), the lunar orbit mission of Apollo 8 and the lunar landing mission of Apollo 11. Lesser milestones as far as future space development is concerned were the first orbital rendezvous of Gemini 6/7 and the first orbital docking of Gemini 8. Your caveat that things turned around in the mid-60's is a rarely acknowledged point in these sort of discussions.
The reason the NSA metastasized into what it is now is because that is what the American people wanted. After (and before) the 9/11 attacks they wanted government protection from the big bad world. Why did the Bush administration go nuts after 9/11 (Gitmo, rendition, etc)? -- it's because they knew they could stand the heat from the pundits and legal beagles who said a lot of it was illegal. And they also knew that the Bush administration would not have survived another 9/11 style attack. Same for the Obama administration -- they cannot tolerate a big attack on Americans as long as the Republicans will claim it was "lax vigilance" which allowed it (look at the insanity over Benghazi and that was only four Americans in a foreign country!). So the rational actor in that case errs all the way on the side of preventing another terrorist incident no matter the legality or cost to civil liberties. Same for the NSA now -- if the US suffers another big attack then there will be 290 million (out of about 300 million) Americans blaming the NSA for letting it happen and demanding that the NSA do "whatever it takes" to prevent another. This is irregardless of the facts of the situation. That is just the way it is. You won't fix that anytime soon. As time goes on without an attack we can get some more oversight of the NSA, perhaps, but in the big scheme of things it's not going to change until the American public gets a lot better at risk estimation, which they never will. If you don't like it -- tough, and no place else in the world is any better -- the foreigners don't have any better governments and for most of them it's a lot worse. Life isn't fair -- you were born to live in the 21st century, not the paradise of liberty which the 18th and 19th centuries were (yeah right!); or you can try living completely off the grid like it was the 18th century, for a fun time. Or you can accept that (in the Democracies, at least) the jack booted thugs aren't likely to kick your door in tonight and try to get policies changed over time, through voting and persuasion of others in the public and your government.
I will end up strengthing your argument against single payer but with an opposite factoid -- you said, "2. Being that health care is on the persons dime (either directly or threw insurance) they are more likely to make decision if a particular care is worth it or not to take care of. Vs. a single payer system, where some procedures will be deemed by a higher authority as not worthy."
However a major problem with health care spending in the USA is the enormous proportion of a person's total healthcare spending which occurs in the last year of life, futilely keeping them around another couple of months. This is only possible because the person or their family are not paying those bills directly but usually through single payer Medicare. So the flaw now in single payer is not that the higher authority is too stingy, but instead is too free with other people's money, and the people directly involved are not in a position to make rational cost-benefit decisions.
"One out of every four Medicare dollars, more than $125 billion, is spent on services for the 5% of beneficiaries in their last year of life." -- http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/11/pf/end-of-life-care-duplicate-2.moneymag/
According to the WikiLeaks/Manning revelations, the French are the worst industrial spies in Europe. "France is the country that conducts the most industrial espionage on other European countries, even ahead of China and Russia, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, reported in a translation by Agence France Presse of Norwegian daily Aftenposten's reporting."
Another quote, "In October, 2009, Berry Smutny, the head of German satellite company OHB Technology, is quoted in the diplomatic note as saying: "France is the Empire of Evil in terms of technology theft, and Germany knows it.""
In Austin, the city council just banned plastic bags last year. It would have been more elegant to tax them instead -- thus the demand is suppressed but if someone really wants a bag they can still get it, and the tax offsets the cost of the city dealing with them in the trash and picking them up off the roads and parks. After a lot of public crying by people who said they wouldn't be able to get their groceries home, everyone seems to have adapted OK.