Monday, January 6, 2014

Looking Up to the Heavens (Then Down to Hell)

Imagine a world without smartphones. And one without weather forecasts. And one without contemporary air travel. And one without cable & satellite TV... Wait, no "Honey Boo Boo" and "Real Housewives"??!! ZOMG!!!

Believe it or not, none of these would be possible without NASA. If one has ever asked why space programs matter these days, one need not wonder any more. Without the research, development, and technological advances that NASA has nurtured, we wouldn't have the 21st century as we now know it.

So why is NASA again on the chopping block on Capitol Hill? During last fall's epic Shutdown Shitfest, NASA nearly had its Mars exploration program derailed. And it was forced to pull the plug on its TV channel (until the shutdown finally ended). After all, educational programming and space exploration aren't nearly as important as Real Housewives, Honey Boo Boo, and a certain storied "Dynasty" (/snark). It's just that none of those shows would appear on our TV's if NASA wasn't around to authorize satellite launches. And now, NASA launch authorization is being held up in that infamous lower house of Congress.

It doesn't make sense. Investment in NASA means investment in our economy and our future. Why has this become such a major fight?

Well, why has extending unemployment benefits become such a major fight? Remember when Congressional Republican "leaders" stood with their beloved "TEA drinkers" when they fought to exclude extension of longer term unemployment benefits from the Ryan-Murray Budget Deal last month? It turns out that it wasn't a fluke. They're now hell bent on letting the jobless suffer.

Why? Even Senator Dean Heller (R) supports the extension, for goodness sake! It wasn't that long ago when this kind of policy was easily bipartisan. This is probably why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) is Furious today.

Like investment in space programs, aid to the jobless helps the economy. It helps to have more people spending money on such "luxuries" as housing and food. After all, we know what happens when people don't have money to pay for housing and food. (Hint: Stop by a local shelter some time.)

Once again, we seem to be cutting our own noses to spite our faces. And we're doing so because of the G-O-TEA's obsession with the very austerity policies that failed Europe. Why do they want to take us down the same dangerous path that's led to disaster for Greece, Spain, Ireland, and other troubled parts of the Eurozone? Are these G-O-TEA politicians really that allergic to sound economic policy, or does Brian Beutler have a point about the lengths many Republican politicians in DC will go to poison President Obama's reputation?

Whatever the motives behind their stunts, these latest G-O-TEA stunts threaten even more unnecessary pain & suffering. If we can't even think ahead and invest in the next frontier, what makes us think we'll ever conquer the future? And if we can't even invest in our own people when they're down on their luck and need only a helping hand to start climbing back up, then what good are we as a society?

Think about that. And by the way, Happy New Year. It's just too bad that the same old dunces on Capitol Hill don't want us to have one.

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