The United State Space program

With the landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis last Thursday, the Space Shuttle Program comes to an end and a chapter of United States history also comes to a close. Based on the current priorities within the beltway of Washington DC, there has been insufficient budget to have a replacement vehicle in place for a seamless transition from the Shuttle program. The United States is in the same position it faced in the mid-1970s when the Apollo/Skylab programs ended and the nation had to hold its breath until 1981 as we had no manned presence in space.

This time we will still have the Space Station, but we will be dependent on other countries to keep that vehicle properly manned and supplied. Most notably, we will be dependent on the Russians who, as the Soviet Union, were our chief rivals in the space frontier for more than forty years. Now we will take a break from manned space travel as we work towards a new vehicle (which appears most likely to be upgrades to the capsules used in the 1960’s and 70s) while the Chinese push forward with an aggressive program of their own. We have a significant lead on the Chinese, but we cannot depend on that lead when we consider our national safety. The Chinese will not have to spend as much time or money to get to the level of the United States simply because we have shown what can and cannot be done.

I therefore want to make a call out to all Americans and specifically those who have been elected to run our country. Refocus on Space – NOW.

The United States Debt Ceiling

There are a lot of opinions about raising the debt limit for the United States federal government. Frankly, I do not care. If the debt limit is not raised, automatic budget cuts are activated to keep the country running, which is exactly what individuals have to do. There is a lot of noise about the county’s credit rating dropping if we do not get the limit raised. From what I have seen, if you keep upping your limit your credit score goes down, not up. If you pay off your debts your credit score goes up not down. Now maybe things work differently in Washington DC then they do in my house, but I would prefer that they did not.

I find it comical that we hear on the news that the only way to get of debt is to spend more money that does not exist. My whole life I have learned that the only way to get out of debt is to pay off that debt. That means, on a personal level, a reduction of funds spent on entertainment, transportation, housing, and, at times, even food. When ever I have resorted to getting more credit, I have used that credit and gotten further into debt. My take on this debate is to let it keep going with the congress doing nothing at all. At least while they are arguing about this, they are not enacting more laws that make the nanny state that much more intrusive. Over the last few years, the federal government has decided how much water we can use to flush, what kind of water heater we can have, the amount of energy a dishwasher or clothes dryer can use, and what kind of light bulb goes into light fixtures. I have always been much more at ease when congress is NOT in session

The NFL Lockout

This is probably the most important topic I wanted to bring up this week. Are we going to have a professional football season this year or not? This is not a life or death question. I can always survive watching college football, and I am sure that many more games will be broadcast if the professionals cannot get their act together. Some dollar conscious schools will move games to Sunday and even Monday night to fill the void.

As of this writing, the Billionaires (owners) have approved and presented a proposal to the Millionaires (players). Now the Millionaires have to reorganize and vote on whether they like the proposal or not. The reorganization is required because they dissolved their union. Many people do not understand why they dissolved, thinking it is just adding more difficulty to the decision. They dissolved to avoid federal arbitration. If a union and a corporation come to a deadlock in negotiations, either side can ask for binding federal arbitration. What ever the arbitrator decides is binding to all participants. The players did not like the odds when most of the owners are politically active at the federal level (one is even an ambassador), so they dissolved the union. No union means no union-employer deadlock, therefore there is no basis for arbitration.

I personally have no idea what the overall conflict was about or what is in the proposal. I really do not care either. I just want to know what I will be doing on Sunday afternoons this fall. The players and the owners are the only ones who can decide if there will be a season. That decision will determine whether I spend time watching their product and the advertisements that substantially help pay their income, or whether I spend my time doing something else. Their choice, I hope they choose well.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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