Congress Is Cheap

In 2010, lobbyists gave members of Congress $3.5 billion to influence their decisions. Compared to the benefits received, this is peanuts – which is why lobbying flourishes. Here’s some speculation on what it would cost for the people to buy Congress. Pass the hat.

What they didn’t mention of course is that we also need to buy the President. The shenanigans with LightSquared show that he can be bought, just like Congress.

The four-star Air Force general who oversees U.S. Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.

Lightsquared acquired spectrum for a satellite network and now wants to re-purpose it for ground-to-ground 4g phone service. This means increasing the ERP (effective radiated power) of the devices by several orders of magnitude, leading to spillover into US GPS frequencies and loss of precision GPS services in wide areas. Quite apart from the military issues, the FAA’s NexGen air traffic control system depends on reliable precision GPS to allow replacement today’s radar with position information signals from the aircraft themselves (ADS-B). Lightsquared’s response is that new GPS receivers should be redesigned to filter out the interference and, as for existing GPS receivers – that’s just too bad. That this proposal is being allowed to live is just a symptom of Washington’s corruption. No-one wants to tell Falcone “no” while he keeps pumping money into their pockets.

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  • ..vt  On September 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    We were flying cross country September 14-18. On two days running, our GPS lost its satellites at least once during the “testing” period time specified on the notice issued by the FAA. We had no other loss of GPS during the 25 hours flying in the entire 5 day trip. As requested on the notice, we informed the FAA flight following services each time this happened. Both days the controllers assured us it was our problem. The first day the controller knew nothing about any testing. The second day, the controller knew testing was scheduled, but didn’t think that it would impact us. So we doubt that there is any official report of any GPS interference for General Aviation during the testing.

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