Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Friday, January 16, 2004
 
To Infinity and Beyond

I'm a supporter of the space program. I want to see eventual visits to Mars, and hope it happens in my lifetime. But Bush's proposal looks like a cross between a joke and a disaster.

His father mused a bit about a Mars push, but gave up in the face of the budget problems. Bush Jr, surprise, just doesn't care about those details. He pushes forward in spite of a much worse budget problem, entirely of his own creation, than his father ever faced. And on top of that, he throws in a permanent Moon station - a hugely expensive proposal that has just about nothing to do with getting to Mars. And he seems to be planning to wipe out most of NASA's best research programs to make way for Mars, although cutting those programs will make up for only a tiny portion of the cost.

Is Bush's willingness to go ahead with his plans in the face of huge deficits just another instance of his basic irresponsibility or something else? One thought that occurs is that Bush's experience may play into his fiscal craziness. Bush likes to brag about being the first president who was also a CEO, but a look at his career will show the Bush was a rather unusual type of CEO: he never really was under any sort of pressure to make money. Cushioned by his father's influence, he fell repeatedly, but always up. At Harken he was given other people's money to invest. He blew through most of it, not creating any value in the process. But selling his nearly worthless assets for a pile of cash was no problem. And the purchasersweetened an already sucrose added deal with a job at a six figure salary which was free of burdensome requirements such as showing up and working. He's spent his whole life not really caring how those long columns of numbers added up, and it's certainly worked for him so far. He has no obvious motivation to change now.

I also wonder if he has any real grasp of what the government's financial situation actually is. By his own admission he doesn't read newspapers and gets his information almost entirely from a small group of aides. And those aides who tell him news he doesn't want to hear are shown the door. This is an awful way for any executive to operate; it guarantees that he's out of touch with things he desperately needs to know.



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