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Captain Crunch already got his refundCongress and President Bush decided today that the best way to “stimulate” our nose-diving economy is to dish out “rebates” to pretty much all working Americans.  So the average working Joe can expect an extra 600 buckaroos for doing absolutely nothing.  Sweet, right?  I can’t wait to spend my $600 on a new iPhone, or maybe some rims for my car, or maybe I’ll just go to the casino and play with free money.  Whatever I decide to do, I’ll be doing my Patriotic duty by pumping more money into the American economy, right?

Ughh.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  The government is a corporation that’s owned by us (me and you), right?  And it’s not doing a very good job balancing it’s books.  We’re pretty close to topping the $10 trillion mark in national debt at the moment and we’re planning on adding another $250 billion to that total this year.

Now, you’re a part owner in this corporation (this isn’t a hypothetical, you are a part owner), what would you recommend we do to help bolster this failing business?  What would you do if this was a macrocosm of your personal finances?  Tighten your belt?  Cut out the name brands?  Maybe stay home and cook instead of going out?

Here’s what our government has decided to do — PARTY!!  Our economy is screwed; we’re about to go through a big market adjustment (to put it lightly) and it’s going to hurt.  So, what the hell, why not throw a party before the big storm hits? 

This stimulus package is going to cost us somewhere around $150 billion dollars.  And since YOU own this company, you know whose pocket this money is coming out of?  YOURS!

This isn’t a handout or “rebate” that the government is giving you.  It’s a forced loan.  Think about how hard you work to pay down your credit cards (or car loan or whatever).  Now imagine the government saying, “Take that credit card, and go out and spend $600 right now.”  “But I don’t want to increase my balance,” you might think.  You might get pretty pissed that the government is reaching in your pocket and spending money on your credit card.

Well, that’s what’s happening, sister.

So, when you get that check in the mail and just can’t wait to go out and spend it, remember, there’s no such thing as free money. 

X-48BWith all the green talk these days, you’d think that the development of a new airliner that could cut up to 30% of the emissions from our current fleet of planes would be a big story, right?  Well, this plane exists.  But there is surprisingly little talk about bringing it to your local airport.

The Boeing X-48 prototype is a project that’s deep in development and has the potential to bring about the next generation of air travel.  Its radical design is actually nothing all that new.  It’s called a blended wing body (BWB) design and it differs from the current “tube and wing” design in that the body and wings are essentially blended into a single frame.  Instead of having a tube, that’s basically dead weight, being carried through the air by a pair of wings and a couple jet engines, the passenger and cargo areas of the plane are actually incorporated within the wings and help to lift the plane.

It’s a design that allows for more passenger room, more cargo room, and shorter, smoother landings.  But wait, there’s more!  The current X-48 design places the engines on top of the plane where the tail typically resides in a traditional airliner.  This translates into a much quieter ride for both those aboard and those on the ground.

So, what’s the problem here?  Why is this plane only currently planned for cargo and military transport use?  If we have a plane that’s economically viable, one-third cleaner that current planes, and is already being test-flown by Boeing and NASA, why isn’t it already being introduced to the public conscience as the next mode of air travel?

Windows.

Because the concept of the “tube” is thrown out the window (excuse the pun) in this version of an airliner, the passenger hold is vastly different from the planes we’re used to.  The fuselage in the X-48 is very wide because it extends into, and is, in fact, part of, the wings.  This means that instead of the typical 3-3 or 2-3-2 seat configuration, the new setup is more along the lines of a movie theater.  Instead of every third or so seats having a window, there would be seats in the middle of the plane that may have 10 seats or more on either side before reaching a window.

Interestingly, the problem with this design has nothing to do with safety, but rather, public dislike.  When Boeing did initial research into the design, they got some pretty negative reactions from people that they surveyed.  People didn’t like being seated so far from windows and would strongly prefer to just leave things “as-is.” 

After getting this negative feedback, Boeing abandoned plans to build a passenger version of the plane and has refocused on cargo and military iterations.  This is a big mistake in my opinion.  Are we really prepared to abandon an idea that could cut billions of tons of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and make our airports and surround areas quieter, for window seats?

When I fly, I’m interested in what’s happening out the window for approximately 60 seconds after takeoff, and then I’m trying to sleep.  Am I the only one who thinks that maybe this plan was abandoned too soon?  Would you fly on the X-48 or a similar plane?  Would you give up your window seat to help save the planet?

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