In the first half, tax change advocate Bill Spillane discussed the 'FairTax' alternative-- a flat retail tax that would replace income and payroll taxes, along with a rebate for those who can't afford it. The current US income tax code is "a giant anchor on our ship, and we're trying to drag that anchor down the waterway and it's slowing us down and causing us all kinds of trouble," such as sending jobs overseas, and making locally made products more expensive, he remarked. The FairTax is not merely a reform-- it's an actual replacement for all forms of federal income taxes, including estate taxes, capital gains, alternative minimum, self-employment etc., he explained.
People will have more money in their pockets and can decide how they would like spend it. According to the plan, everyone will pay the same flat tax rate at the cash register-- 23%. Legal residents will be eligible for a "prebate"-- a rebate on taxes based on the size of their family, which makes the tax progressive, he explained, adding that the amount of tax a person pays will depend on how much they spend buying items. One benefit of FairTax is that it will create enormous job opportunities in the US, as new business investment comes flooding in, he said. Spillane suggested that people contact their local political representatives to push for the H.R. 25 FairTax Act (Congress, currently has 67 Representatives as co-sponsors) and the S. 155 FairTax Act (Senate, currently has 6 Senators co-sponsoring).
In the latter half, astronomy professor Chris Impey detailed the latest news in space exploration. As the environment on Earth changes, space travel could be essential to the survival and evolution of mankind, he believes. The privatization model for space exploration has become more predominant, he said, because private companies can move more nimbly than governments, and by having a profit motive, they strive to keep costs down and be more innovative. The Mars One project, which aims to place colonists on the Red Planet is still in play, though they've pushed back the launch date to the mid 2020s, and there is some skepticism that they can technically achieve their goals, Impey noted.
One of the space technologies he finds exciting is solar sails, which coupled with miniaturization techniques, could harness the sun's energy to move through the solar system. Developing a space elevator could greatly reduce costs of missions in our solar system, he added. One of the most compelling targets for further exploration is Saturn's moon Titan, which has liquid methane oceans, said Impey. If it has life, it would be based on a different kind of biology than what is found on Earth.