2008-01-15

If I were president

Slashdot is running a comments thread, asking contributors what they would do if they were president. It's a common thing for people to do. In fact, author Tom Clancey indulged in this idea when he wrote Executive Orders (I was half-way through the book when I suddenly realised that Clancy was being Jack Ryan and was essentially promulgating his political philosophy through that character).

So, anyway, this is what I would do:

1. Get the secret service to cover up the fact that I am not American.

2. Announce that all troops will leave Iraq within 3 months.

3. Convince the UN to send peacekeeping forces to Iraq.

4. Raise taxes on higher income earners in order to run a fiscal surplus and pay back government debt.

5. Introduce universal health care (and raise taxes to pay for it).

6. Convince the Federal Reserve Bank to have a strict inflation targeting guideline. Obviously I would want zero inflation but, realistically, I would argue that the Fed should aim to keep inflation below 2% continually.

7. Get the Air Force to meet with the Navy Air Wing and the Marine Air Wing and state that they have to use the same planes.

8. Ban the sale of new gasoline-powered automobiles by 2016. This will give the auto industry 8 years to develop and sell zero-emission cars.

9. Ban the operation of all power stations that directly emit CO2 by 2020. This will give the power industry 12 years to set up enough solar and wind generators to replace them.

10. Ban oil, coal and gas production by 2020.

11. Close Guantanamo Bay and give it back to Cuba.

12. Pay all women aged between 18 and 40 $3000 per year to have a reversible Tubal ligation if they want to. This will prevent many women from conceiving and will lower abortion rates drastically. If the woman wants to have children, she can have the process reversed.

13. Give Puerto Rico the choice of either becoming a state of America or becoming a sovereign nation - which is better than what the current situation is.

14. Get all government departments to use Linux and other open-source software rather than proprietary software.

15. Create a "Department of Information" which would then employ thousands of writers full time to work on Wikipedia.

16. Provide the Wikimedia foundation with enough money to keep it running for 50 years.

17. Remove all farm subsidies and tell the farmers that the government isn't going to pay them to grow crops anymore. They will have the freedom to grow whatever they want.

18. Create a national water grid to drought-proof the nation. This would involve the creation of desal plants on the coast pumping irrigation-quality water inland. A market for this water would also be created, ensuring that water is both available and priced accordingly.

19. Allow prescription Heroin and Cocaine for addicts.

20. Pay $1 Billion each to the members of Ride for them to reform.

7 comments:

BLBeamer said...

This reminds me of Steve Martin's old bit "How to Be a Millionaire and Pay No Taxes in Two Easy Steps."

1. Get a million dollars.
2. Don't pay your taxes.

QED

Mrs. Beamer said...

Having come from a family of U.S. Air Force pilots, I find #7 ridiculous. You are kidding, aren't you?

Mrs. Beamer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
One Salient Oversight said...

Mrs B,

The last time all three services had the same plane was back in the 1960s with the F-4 Phantom.

Then in the 1970s the Navy got into the F-14 and F/A-18 while the Air Force took up the F-15 and F-16. They're all good planes but the loss of commonality increased purchase costs and maintenance costs. Aircraft Technicians in the Navy and Air Force had little in common in their training, which would not have helped if a war erupted.

The F-4 Phantom showed that all three could get together and have the same planes. They could do it again if they really tried. Here's hoping the F-22 and F-35 are used by all three.

Mrs. Beamer said...

Neil -

I sent your ideas to a family member that is a retired U. S. Air Force pilot. He flew jets for 22 years, was a wing commander and retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel. This was his reply to your #7 suggestion.

First of all, would you want the same guys playing football, basketball, baseball and track and expect to have a winning team? I don't think so. The same goes for aircraft for different missions. The F-4 was designed as a Navy aircraft for fleet defense. It had no gun, only rockets.

The Air Force was forced to buy it because it had two engines and was a bit faster than the F-105. The Air Force lost several planes and a great number of dogfights because it had no gun for close in attacks. The missiles only worked part of the time. A lot of North Vietnamese pilots and Migs got away to fight another day. It was not until the F-4D that there was a gun available. The F-4E was the first one that was really acceptable to the Air Force.

The F-4 was really not a great airplane but a compromise. Another McNamara mandate. It was proof that if you put a big enough engine on something, you could make a brick go supersonic!

As we moved into more modern warfare, the Navy got the F-14 which was far superior to the F-4 and was used for Fleet defense and the F-4 was relegated to bombing missions and fighter escort for the A-4s and other offensive assets. Ultimately the Navy got rid of the F-4 and used more A-6, A-4, F-14 and picked up the F-18. The F-18 proved a fairly versatile aircraft after it was modified. It replaced the F-14 as the Fleet defense aircraft when the Super Hornet came along. It could also be used as a fighter and bomber.

It is strange to note that the F-18 was originally the Northrop YF-17 in competition with the F-16 for the Air Force. It lost and the Navy, in concert with McDonald Douglas, picked up the YF-17 and made it the F-18. Politics, politics, politics. The Air Force was stuck with the F-16, commonly known in its early version as the "powered lawn dart." It had a lot of engine failures and other mechanical failures that left it stuck in the dirt like a dart.

The Air Force, Navy, and the Marines have different missions with different requirements for speed, weight carrying capacity, operating from everything from concrete runways to semi-improved dirt strips. You don't try to make a stealth aircraft operate from a dirt strip and expect it to remain stealthy and have a long range. They are mutually exclusive. I have very serious doubts about the F-35 and its different versions. Another all-seasons sports team! It will again be a single engine fighter with no redundancy in combat. You lose an engine and you are done for the day, or the rest of your life.

There is a lot more, but I hope that gives you some idea of why it is not practical for a single airframe to meet the specialized needs of all the Services.

One Salient Oversight said...

Mrs B,

First of all, thank you very much for passing my points on to your relative and for posting back here.

If I could impose some more, would you be able to send him the following reply?

--------

Regarding the F-14, F-15, F-16 and F/A-18.

I'm wondering if there could've been some level of commonality that would've reduced these from 4 jets to 3 or 2.

Here in Australia, for example, our Air Force flies F/A-18s. Since the demise of our sole aircraft carrier in the early 1980s, our fleet air arm consists entirely of helicopters. As you know, the F/A-18 is not used in the USAF.

I'm quite aware of the F-16 YF-17 flyoff competition and the irony of the YF-17 design being the basis of the successful F-18. Had the F-16 not been produced and had it been replaced by the F/A-18, would that not have been better? As I point out, commonality between the services would be vital in times of warm, especially with the all important technicians. Why was it necessary to create the F-15E? Had the USAF had F/A-18s they probably would've had a better option.

Moreover, would it have been better if the USAF had adopted the F-14 rather than the F-15 back in the early 1970s?

Your comments about the lack of cannon on early F-4s is certainly poignant. Someone way up the chain of command obviously thought that missiles had replaced dogfighting (and probably had financial dealings with missile manufacturers!). The lack of cannon on the F-4 was ridiculous.

The F-35 is problematic in this way too. As far as I can tell, the Air Force version (F-35A) has a 25mm cannon but the Navy and Marine version do not. The Navy version has the obligatory folding wings, and the Marine one has V/STOL. Personally I can't see how this will all fit in. A common Navy/Air Force version should be quite feasible (so long as a cannon is common and the landing gear is common) but trying to fit in V/STOL engine is not going to work.

I mean, it's one thing being able to turn an Abrams tank into a glorified bulldozer (as they have done), but if it fails halfway through its mission the occupants just open the hatch and walk out. You can't do that in a jet flying at 30,000ft can you?

Personally I think the whole military procurement process in the US is terribly inefficient and ruled by political expediency and money-under-the-table defense industries. Getting the best weapon at the best price seems to come fairly low down on the list. And who suffers? The end users.

Mrs. Beamer said...

OK, Neil. I'll forward your comments and will post them here once he replies.