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?
Reposting what I accidentally just put up as AC:
"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.
As a native Texan I have to respond! To be fair, Texas is just the largest and most influential gangrenous pustule. I'd put the morons running Alabama, Mississippi, S. Carolina in with the Texas government morons, with plenty of their like sprinkled throughout the country (see 'Idaho'). If it was just Texas, the state would just be an amusing spectacle, not a source of problems. Seriously, only 60% of the electorate of Texas votes for these morons, 40% of us don't, but 40% doesn't get you much in elections in this country. I think Texas politics are either at bottom now or very close. Things should look start looking up in a few years. Even now, none of the big cities are run by crazy people, just statewide and out in the sticks.
As I just replied to Dark Ox for his similar comment; having to dig up the events at Kent State 43 years ago is really stretching it. That's forty-three years, most American residents alive now were not born at that time. You at least have to make a reasonable argument that things are not any different now. I can make lots of arguments that things are different in the US than in China. Read your own link about all the investigations, larger protests, etc which occurred after Kent State. As far as calling out the National Guard -- they did good things in the South during the civil rights confrontations of the 50's and 60's.
Considering that you are referring to events 43 years ago in the US which occurred before over half of the residents of the country alive now were born (median age: 37 years) isn't this a bit of a stretch? The US Army charged on the Bonus Army protesters in 1932 -- do you want to use that as an example, too?, It's just as applicable.
I'm in my 50's and have taken antibiotics twice and in both cases the doctor at the emergency room said I could have easily died without them -- once with pneumonia which I thought I could "tough out" at home and once when a cat bite swelled up my hand to twice its normal size, with red lines going up my arm. I'm glad the antibiotics were there and worked both times!
World War I and World War II were "periods of instability" caused to some extent by the economic changes of the Industrial Revolution. I'm not sure we want to see the period of instability called WW III by the survivors.
The AC is cherry picking the space firsts as is usually done with this common post. Not to take away from the Soviets who really did accomplish the 'firsts' listed, the USA had: first successful mission to another planet (Mariner 2 flyby of Venus in 1962), first successful mission to Mars (Mariner 4 flyby of Mars in 1964), first orbital rendezvous (Gemini 6 in 1966), first spacecraft docking (Gemini 8 in 1966). These were all within the first 10 years after the Soviets launched Sputnik 1. Arguably the USA could have had the first satellite and first man in space except for policy differences -- the US Jupiter C booster had launched a payload on a reentry test to nearly 90% of orbital velocity in 1956, a year before Sputnik. Wernher von Braun and his Army group at Huntsville were subsequently ordered by the Eisenhower administration not to launch a satellite or even allow another launch to 'accidentally' go into orbit as it would have been considered 'provocative'. After Sputnik, the Jupiter C did launch the first US satellite in Jan 1958 less than 90 days after the team being given the order to go ahead. As far as the first man in space -- the last unmanned test flight of the Mercury-Redstone manned system was on March 24, 1961, three weeks before the launch of Vostok 1. This last test flight was added because of some anomalies with the previous Mercury-Redstone which had successfully carried a chimpanzee. If not for this decision, MR3 with Alan Shepherd would have launched before Gagarin in Vostok 1. However, Vostok's orbit of the Earth was considerably more of an accomplishment than MR3's suborbital mission even if Vostok had not come first -- as I said, I give full credit to the Soviets for their accomplishments of that time.
In case anyone was wondering, the US succeeded on the country's second attempt to launch a mission to Mars. This was the Mariner 4 flyby launched Nov 28, 1964. The first US attempt, the identical Mariner 3, failed three weeks earlier when the shroud on the launch vehicle failed to open properly.
The second attempt by the US to orbit Mars was also successful; Mariner 9 in 1971 became the first (human) probe to orbit Mars (or any other planet), followed within a month by the Russian Mars 2 and Mars 3.