In replacing the existing radar systems with GPS, this seems a very stupid thing to do. Clearly, the safety and security of the travelling public should be first and foremost. While GPS seems to have proven itself for a myriad of applications, does it mean we place all of our trust in that system of satellites? A more logical approach would be to merge radar and GPS to have a system that can tolerate the failure of either method and provide fault tolerance in the process.
Imagine a scenario where a plane is being directed to fly along a particular path that is being tracked by GPS and the radar system does not identify the object appropraitely? I more intensive triangulation can be done to determine the true location of the flight and take appropriate action. Ideally, this could be logged as a exception automatically while adjusting the Air Traffic Controlling system information to the most accurate data. There is true inherent value in having two separate and distinct processes that can maintain survivability independently, and the odds of a random occurrence taking out both at the same time (short of an engineered attack) would be highly improbable.
In addition, radar is more of an absolute method of measurement, meaning that detecting an object can be done without requiring any action (or equipment) being used by the object being tracked. I think that if GPS rules, then that will be the first thing that terrorists will assume absolute control over in a plane.
You're correct in that too many people on the left seem to think the purpose of stimulus is just to "save/create jobs." But too many people on the right use that to blind themselves and sit comfortable in the idea that the invisible hand will magically solve everything without that pesky gubmint stealin' their tax monies.
The primary benefit of stimulus should be infrastructure. Putting people to work and keynsian multipliers are all just gravy. Unfortunately infrastructure has become is all the more important in the modern era where fear of dinging a companies quarterly earnings report has choked of most private investment in the future. Keynes didn't get that either. You don't build something just to build it, you need to have an eye toward future value.
The railroads, telegraph, telephone, interstate, and internet were all funded, at least in part, with public money and those investments have paid for themselves many times over. As per your example, the Panama Canal was a publicly funded project that probably paid for itself (hard to quantify the cost of all those malaria deaths). Similar investments in domestic energy, and wireless communications should have started 20 years ago. There's nothing wrong, and a lot right, about the government building something and then selling or leasing it to private companies with an agreement to serve the public good.
Stimulus certainly can be a good idea. Now as for the way the current administration has been spending that money... Umm... Not so good.
Personal electronics ban is trying to regulate stupidity. Won't help, it will only hurt those of us who don't fly large aircraft which have working toys. I think Congress needs to do a bit of flying during the summer in singles or light twins while dodging thunderstorms with no onboard wx RADAR and see if that smartphone (or netbook) is worth it's weight in gold for near live RADAR updates.
I mean, everyone thinks that ET will be some kind of Yang science-fiction saviour, (s)he'll cure cancer and possess a quantum computer to deal with them prime numbers very quickly and then there'll be No More War and then the future will shine with a glowing white light halleluhahaha
But what if ET shows up and it's just a gang of uneducated thugish assholes who've stolen a spaceship that they only barely know how to operate and they've crashed it here and then the Tough family welcome them into their homes and right away call the president or the US of A?
Doesn't anyone read Flannery O'Connor anymore? Or Stephen King, for that matter.
Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"