- NASA Watch
- March 13, 2023
Shutdown Aftershocks for Science
The Government Shutdown Was Temporary, Its Damage to Science Permanent, Scientific American
“In many ways the federal government shutdown was a huge, unplanned experiment in what happens when we give up on science for two weeks. The experiment is now over and the results are still incomplete. But so far, they are ugly.”
Shutdown’s science fallout could last for years, Politico
“Even if the government opens tomorrow, a significant amount of damage has been done,” said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, a nonprofit advocating for science-minded agencies. “This isn’t about a few people who can’t go to the labs like they’re on vacation or something. The whole research enterprise depends on operating 24/7.”
Science Gets a Cameo in U.S. Shutdown Vote, Science
“The day before the decisive vote, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), threw a rhetorical double-punch, linking concerns about home-state and international impacts in a plea to end the shutdown. Some “97 percent of NASA employees in Cleveland and Sandusky in northern Ohio have been furloughed,” he noted, while Ohio’s academic scientists were worried about their grants. “If you are a research scientist … [and] see these interruptions, if you are furloughed for 3 weeks in October 2013 and then again some time next year … the most talented researchers are going to walk away, and we are going to lose so much of the edge we have in this country.”
Somehow a health care system can be created that isn’t affected by a shutdown of the government, but we can’t structure research and spaceflight programs that can do that? NASA and it’s contractors should not be political pawns for whichever socialistic & human services oriented agenda that is most popular at the moment. Everyone want’s a free TV, shut NASA down, everyone wants a free car shut it down…. we’ve got to get these two disconnected. I wonder how many DARPA, DOD, and Pentagon programs were shut down, I would venture to say that few dark programs went offline.
Your dislike of social programs has been evident in a number of your posts. Exactly who is getting free TV’s and free cars, or is that just hyperbole used to support your anti-social program claims and agenda?
You’re free to put forth whatever propaganda makes you happy inside, but I’d suggest doing a little fact checking on what programs were affected by the shutdown. There was more than science programs shut down. A simple internet search shows that many people were affected by the shutdown of more than a few social programs.
I could care less what your politics are, but if you’re going to rant at least get your facts straight and find reliable sources for your “facts”. The shutdown was bad for just about everyone.
Since 2000 we’ve had the transition to HD-TV which gave every American who applied a 40 dollar coupon towards a HD-TV converter conservatively speaking say 50 million people out of the 311 million or so people in the US decided to get the coupon that would be 2 billion dollars in coupons, and as to cars, perhaps you don’t remember the cash for clunkers program or “Car Allowance Rebate System” I’m certain that your favorite NASA program could have done quite well with 3 billion dollars that program cost.
If you want to call my concern a rant, then be aware of the real issues, American infrastructure is factually crumbling, as nation we have not been investing in our highway systems or mass transit, rather we have been saying save that for later, we need to worry about the environment, and of course retirement and health. Space Flight has been playing the role as a novelty in the public eye. Meanwhile America continues to drop in it’s global status. If you don’t believe me just watch a few of the TED talks about the capitalism paradox.
I really could care less what who’s political persuasions are, because the parties on both sides are responsible for creating this nasty mess, I will say that I have noticed that fewer conservatives use the internet or voice their opinion than those of a liberal bent. If you dare question policies that are functionally terminal to the nation you’ll get lots of negative feedback from both sides, while I have not found statistics I would bet that there are more social media and communications engaged persons in liberal circles, which isn’t altogether great for a nation because all parties must be addressed, not just the loudest with the most access to public address means.
I cannot and will not be thrilled as I see millions clamor for blind environmental policy, exorbitant heath systems investment, and the further corruption of the American educational system for very passionate yet political reasons. We have STEM and STEAM but before that we apply common core? Ask your local high-school if any science class will be Observing comet ISON? The likely hood is that most won’t be.
You’ve mentioned “FACTS” but listed none. While it is sad that many people went without pay, that is the cost of operating government in a partisan matter getting whatever each side desires without consideration of the cost or impact to the nation.
I have personally lived the outcome, and I can tell you it’s not good for the future of this nation when space flight is last priority. Research programs related to space flight branch into energy research and materials technology & medical research. De-funding those things for freebies that lead to votes is blind leadership.
There’s no propaganda in walking down halls at JSC and looking at the paint peeling in the Astronaut training area, parts not open to the public. Or seeing the Space Shuttle cockpit avionics program scrapped 1 year from completion after 5 years of operation. Bush canceled that, promising Moon Mars and Beyond, and then Obama re-structured that, and while Moon, Mars and Beyond is still a nice thought we’re going to go Asteroid fishing when we still don’t have a rouge asteroid defense system in existence.
Tell me about how right things are when the visual interface for tracking the shuttle and pretty much all mission control flights, looks like a cheap 1980’s Atari game. And the mission control head defends that as working quite well and it’s very readable “once you get used to it. “
The technological outcomes of American spaceflight have created the edge for the people living on this continent, I despise the theft, by the greedy and uneducated from the future of my family, friends, and myself, all while stating it’s for our good! I’m with Elon in getting off the planet before these people get their Greek and Roman style social collapse with all the predatory spending, and cannibalization of research and space flight programs.
I had to look up the HDTV converter thing since I couldn’t believe it was that much, having never seen or heard of one of those converters myself, though I knew of the program. Well I found it and wow it was actually almost $1.4 billion, with 34 million coupons redeemed.
The money for the $40 digital TV converter coupons came out of the 10 to 12 billion that the government made from auctioning parts of the UHF television spectrum to private wireless interests (so that the citizens can buy back their access to that spectrum through insanely high prices paid for wireless data plans). Your data also shows that 29 million of the 64 million coupons expired before they could be spent, largely due to lack of coupon-eligible converter boxes in stock in the stores and the very short lifetime of the coupons. The alternative would have been to force every American to buy a new television or subscribe to cable TV. And the government funded converters were not for HDTV, the specifications for coupon-eligible converters specifically prohibited them from supplying HDTV reception, they could only supply standard definition signals for viewing on the older analog TV sets. Nobody got a free HDTV upgrade from the government, they only got a device that would enable them to continue watching standard definition TV on older analog TVs that would otherwise have been rendered obsolete on the day of the digital transition. When TV broadcasting went from black and white to color in the 1960’s, the FCC specifically required that the color system be backward compatible with existing black and white TVs to avoid the sudden obsolescence of millions of functional TV receivers. The $40 converter coupons were a similar attempt to protect the value of the existing consumer investment in equipment.
Ok good info. Yes I knew that was the function of the converters.
I strongly believe that “social programs,” considered as a whole, is a term to be avoided because it is both misleading and tends to include undertakings that are much too different in nature and importance to be lumped together.
Hospital emergency services, for example, are a very high priority to the public, and anyone who has ever had need of them will surely argue this.
At the same time, many people who benefit from “social services” programs were mildly hurt or inconvenienced by a two-week shut-down, but probably very few, if any, were actually endangered within that period.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are many programs and subsidies paid for under the banner of social programs that didn’t really affect anyone, good or bad, during the shutdown. These latter “programs” are the ones that are typically more controversial, having been dreamed up by psychologists who would otherwise have to find real work.
Clearly this is a subjective issue, and measuring all “social programs” with the same yardstick can only be misleading and make for statements that are interpreted differently from what was intended. I think we need to stick to specifics and avoid generalizing. Just my opinion.
Emergency services are not in the same category, I’m not sure what you would call something that on an individual basis they don’t really have to have all the time, but want it guaranteed anyway. Or stuff that you don’t pay for paid for by other people’s money so you can spend your money on things you want instead of what you need.
A for instance is a person might want an IPOD or some sort of tablet device, but they need to buy insurance, and their car needs to be repaired, does the government really need to subsidize their spending preferences by giving them the money to repair their car discounting their insurance or making it free so then they can buy an IPOD? I just saw statistics about how Americans as a whole are working less hours while Koreans are working as much as Americans did in the 50’s
TEDTalks: The Capitalism Paradox: “Shashi Tharoor: Why Nations Should Pursue ‘Soft’ Power”
If people want stuff and they have the ability to work for it, then they should work for it, government should be focused on making it reasonable for corporations to operate business and manufacture inside the US, not outside and import in. The reward for hard work, and contribution should be health care, retirement and so on, the reward for intentionally doing nothing while having the capability to contribute should be nothing.
If the government had done its job and protected people from securities fraud by banks, and predatory practices like Enron, many people would still have intact retirements and not need to depend on Medicare. People were so upset by Microsoft’s monopoly, but they don’t even hear about the food conglomerate monopoly, or the communications industry monopolies. Then even in that the government is still not doing it’s job defending the public by collecting taxes from foreign entities that buy up American businesses.
This comes back to the issue at hand in that when you have wealthy billionaires holding large amounts of capitol over seas of course it’s near impossible to find funding for NASA because the lions share of the American wealth is exiting the country and leaves the system. It’s one thing to import goods another completely to export a huge base of industry overseas and not expect a massive loss in tax revenues which equates to an ever growing national debt.
The first sentence of the first article of the Constitution says “Congress shall have the power to raise taxes.” That means taxes on all of us, including you. If there are other countries that will give you a better deal, perhaps you should consider emigrating. Our democratic government pays for NASA and your salary, if you work at JSC, with our tax dollars. Tax dollars are also used to help some people who work harder than you but are suffering because they cannot afford essential health care.
In article 1 section 8 to which you refer so vaguely, it also states
“To promote the progress of science
and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors
the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”
You must love the glorious Mickey mouse protection act that grants unlimited (more than a life time) protected status to not only the copyright holder and their family but to any corporate holding that wishes to exercise domain over it’s many copyright holdings.
Such activities by design stifle American markets and creativity by locking down concepts and IP in such a regulated manner as to prevent free enterprise rather than the original purpose of encouraging it.
I’d say that perhaps those looking for a free ride system should emigrate to the Nation of their choice, and stop trying to convert America for their own edification.
I have worked for habitat for humanity, and I’ve worked in the social services sector, I’ve also traveled across the nation, and lived and participated in diverse areas of this nation, working with the highest income and the lowest income persons. My varied employ brought me through at least a thousand homes, where I observed any number of living conditions.
People buy and do what they want, they do not live according to their means, the world is not and never will be a utopian statistical dream world.
The main point of what I have said is that if working individuals and for their part corporations don’t exist within the bounds of the united states, making a profit, it is much more difficult to tax or have congress levy any tax that can fix any problem, from space flight to healthcare.
If you don’t make money you can’t have Taxes.
The modern American government is not afraid on either party line to consider a tax and put everyone into debt even if they can’t pay, then just start collecting land and assets until the poor and middle class don’t own anything anymore.
I have heard it said “Ghandi thought institutionalized poverty was a good way to go, but I don’t think most people who have lived in poverty conditions would agree.”
Do you not see a problem with a system in which a government employee might have a better healthcare system than someone working a 40 – 60 hour work week at minimum wage? What’s worse than that, now the great idea is to deduct more from a minimum wage workers pay to give them quality health care?
I don’t think you know how social security funds are used, you might want to read about that, before extolling the wondrous use of taxed dollars.
The era of the poor widow with 8 kids who lost her husband to war, industry or something noble has passed. Those programs are abused, where they were designed to serve perhaps 2 percent of the population, and use a tiny administration to do the job, they have mushroomed in to an administrative bureaucracy larger than NASA, NASA asks for 16.6 billion, while Social security Administration gets $571 Billion. These programs and the abuse therein exist thought all presidents and political parties. Do keep in mind that NASA came to be out of a budget from the US military as part of the Common defense, listed before in all instances the general welfare.
Me thinks you expand the term General Welfare too far.
Interesting stuff, when I thought people have been saying working hours have just gone up, and the US has long working hours compared to other first world countries (probably not Korea though). Can you link something for this any chance? I’d like to read it too.
Hey thanks for the link. It seems like Europe working hours < USA working hours < Asia working hours maybe, but we are closer to Europe than we are Asia, and hours have gone down a bit, not up. I wonder how they measure that. Is there any way they account for salary people working longer hours than they used to? I don’t know how that’s reported unless it’s based on a surveys. Also, at the beginning of the article it says “average American” but later it says “average full-time American employee”. One includes unemployed people and the other doesn’t so there’s a big difference. The chart itself says “persons engaged”. I guess I have to dig to learn more.
Just put in perspective, the federal government spends about 10% of the GDP in those social programs you disdain that help about 50% of families in the country, mostly children and elderly. For comparison we pay 6% of the GDP on the interest of our 14 T debt obligations, half of which was created by Bush, and he wasted the 2T surplus he inherited from Clinton. We are spending a small fraction of our income and helped a lot of people, it is called a good deal. Republicans always argue that we can do the same without the government and rely completely on charities. This is not supported by data. Americans only donates ~4% of income each year to different types of charities and non-profits, which is far from enough.
Have you ever bothered to ask why those children and elderly need help? Or do you just say help them? Government is designed to solve problems before they happen, not after. I grow weary of these political party divinations, Bush was just as BAD as Clinton, for all the lauding of Regan he was terrible too. Have any presidents in recent decades actually done something to secure greater freedom, or guarantee greater individual prosperity. We have institutionalized illegal search and seizure with the creation of the TSA, patting down and backscatter scanning small children and grannies?
We talk about Moon, Mars, and Beyond, we talk about heavy lift vehicles, but there is no stable initiative to guarantee the existence of any of these. I saw the heads of NASA bickering like petty children over funds for their projects, and their departments, trying to justify their needs over all others….. I don’t think that’s the way to operate a successful space program. Perhaps one day I’ll release the video, but I love what NASA meant to me as a Child before Challenger blew up, I sadly understand all too well exactly why we are not on the moon, and the real barriers to getting to Mars which are more political for NASA than technical.
If you ask why should we go to those places, it’s simple all life on this planet is at constant risk of total annihilation, the geological record says it pretty clearly, and our DNA record too shows indications of past global catastrophes. If people turn out to be as dumb as the life in the previous 5 major mass extinctions perhaps they haven’t earned the right to inhabit the cosmos.
The goal of ending poverty and sparing suffering is noble, but futile if all their progeny is killed. Space flight has yielded the means to provide security to everyone, while bureaucracy has managed to eliminate prosperity and surplus for economic purposes. Fictional markets of fictional goods with bubbles of greed and graft designed to drain the wealth out of the market. More stuff government is not supposed to be doing and was actually designed to prevent, that has been instituted by both political parties.
It’s not all bad, soon there will be an AI and the transparency it forces will make all the roaches scurry about, there will no longer be dark corners to hide in in the near future. Perhaps then we will be able to save the humans.
I was actually surprised to see that over half the DOD employees were furloughed during the shutdown.
That’s pretty bad, it’ll definitely have long range impact on many of the completion dates for in progress ships and Submarines. I had hopped that under military service contracts that wouldn’t be the case, some of those delays will likely cost millions.
I don’t know how any more to be sarcastic than with “oh please!”
Is that in reply to someone’s comment or the story at top?
Is whining now the national sport?
I’m guessing if that whining pays something, more than likely yes.
It’s like that old adage, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The problem is I’ve seen farmers dump an old rusty tractor in a field once it becomes too much trouble.