Anna Gregoline | January 9, 2004
Ok, so the Bush Administration is taking a new approach to space exploration (at least in words, if not yet in funding). This discussion on Metafilter is making me think about all the issues involved. Do us humans and specifically Americans, need a romantic issue like space travel to work towards, something to inspire us to be greater, or would it be more practical to try to inspire passion in something that will help people NOW, like eliminating homelessness, or health care for all? I'm all for space exploration, but this new plan worries me a bit, and whether you like him or not, we do currently have a spend spend spend, bomb bomb bomb president, and an ever-ballooning deficit. I'm not sure this is the right move for now, although new technologies that arrive from these kinds of projects are certainly beneficial.

Scott Hardie | January 10, 2004
There's an undeniable bread-and-circuses element to Bush's upcoming announcement, but I can't help but support it anyway. In peace or war, no matter which president announces it, a resumed focus on our space program is long overdue. There are obvious benefits to science along the way, but beyond that, it's good for the soul of the human race. As a nation, we need an achievement to pursue, and the search for Osama ain't cutting it. Humankind will never forget what we achieved in the summer of 1969, and I believe that another such pursuit is worthwhile. There are problems facing our country, such as the ones you listed, but it's not as if we don't have enough money or enough care to go around.

My approval of Bush has risen sharply in the past few weeks after this, the improved treatment of our immigrant workers, and the capture of Saddam. If he can keep this up for another ten months, the fucker might actually get my vote.

Kris Weberg | January 10, 2004
Don't raise that approval yet. Bush wants six years max for his immigrant workers proposal, and it takes ten to get any benefits. Basically, they'll pay taxes, do cheap work, but not have the vote or the promise of social security.

Likewise, Bush is cutting NASA's budget tro pay for his tax cuts. Since he's committed them to space exploration, this means the chunk comes out of research. Since exploration takes rockets, a lot of the remaining money goes to aerospace contractors.

Don't be fooled.

Mike Eberhart | January 10, 2004
Well, I have no problem with that.... immigrant workers shouldn't get to vote, or get my social security. They did nothing to earn it. They are here illegally to begin with. I have no problem with giving them the chance to become legal, but until they become citizens of the country, they aren't entitled to these specific rights.

As for the NASA cuts, do you work for the government or something? How is it you know how Bush's administration works all the time? I don't have a problem with the money going to contractors. Contractors are a major chunk of the employees for the government. They also do very good work. I should know, I am a government contractor.

Scott, I'm happy to hear your approval of Bush is increasing. As for me, I will vote for Bush AGAIN, this coming election. I know that's not a shock to you all, but I figured I might as well state it.

Scott Hardie | January 10, 2004
Oh, I'm not being fooled; I know and approve of the above. As I said elsewhere, I believe cheap immigrant labor to be the essential basis of our economy's strength. I would have preferred an acceleration of their citizenship process, but I'm glad at least that they're still welcome to come here and work, no matter how shitty the conditions. It's still much better than shutting the borders completely, which is where I feared Bush was heading. As for contractors taking over the space program, nobody wants to see Bush/Cheney cronies get any more sweetheart deals, but the work should get done faster and more efficiently with contractors. More importantly, it doesn't tarnish the achievement itself, which is the reason to undertake the mission at all. Much of the Apollo program was achieved by contractors, for better or worse (Apollo 1).

Scott Hardie | January 10, 2004
Addendum: If I am being fooled, it's that this mission will even take place. Bush must know full well the unlikelihood of this actually happening. There's a great many things that could end the mission over the next fifteen years, and this time we won't have the promise of a revered dead president to keep us going. However, all Bush can do right now is announce it, and I approve of what he's doing right now. (And this pointing out how it could go wrong, how Bush could be planning to blame Democrats when it does, etc, seems to me to come from an urge to cover our bases, to be able to say "well we knew it" after the fact.)

Kris Weberg | January 10, 2004
So immigrant workers are, as this proposal seems to admit, econmically necessary, but should get no benefits from the country whose economy they prop up? As to "they did nothing to earn it," did you miss the part about "working?" What have any of us on this board done to earn the rights we have a s citizens, other than being born in the right place?

Kris Weberg | January 10, 2004
Oh, and before anyone says anything, Bush proposal does not grant any special chance to become a citizen because you're a migrant worker -- it just allows you to work here without the INS forcibly deporting you. Of course, this is all dependent on the grace of your employer, because the minute you're out of a job, you're illegal again. All the proposal does is grant temporary worker staus to such immigrants, and allows the government to tax their wages without providing themt he social services that their own taxes will then help fund. It also grants noneof the basic federal protections extended to workers -- under bush's plan, there's no guarantee of minimum wage, right to organize, etc.

Why, a cynical person might imagine a situation in which this law protects the employers of migrant workers by giving their workers some legal status, but allows them to maintain the same conditions by threatening to fire or revoke work status for anyone who gets out of line, asks for decent wage or treatement, etc.

But such a person would be a nasty cynic, obviously unacquainted with the situation of migrant workers.

Scott Hardie | January 10, 2004
Of course it's a raw deal for the immigrant workers. They deserve better. Bush's proposal doesn't go far enough for them. But it does go a lot farther than I expected Bush to go. It's a compromise, from a president who has been uncompromising on so many matters. And it's a pleasant surprise. I want more.

Kris Weberg | January 10, 2004
How is it a compromise, except in name only? It essentially maintains the current abominable standards surrounding immigrant labor, except now there's no real justification for legally pursuing the employers -- the people who'd rather pay sub-minimum wage to immigrants than hire American workers for honest pay -- because they're no longer facilitating illegal immigration. Not only doesn't this help the immigrants, it doesn't really help anyone except the greedy sorts who already exploit immigrants. This doesn't create jobs, it doesn't improve anybody's life. It's meaningless at best, and arguably designed to facilitate exploitation.

If this is compromise, I see nothing in it to laud.

Scott Hardie | January 11, 2004
What am I missing here? What I've read of Bush's proposal, in both the news and the op-ed pages (pro and con), is that it would let millions of illegal immigrants obtain renewable work visas for three years, on the condition that they remain employed. It's not about making their lives or their working conditions better (or worse), it's about giving them an established legal right to stay here and work. Is that not a step in the right direction? Fox wants a blanket amnesty for all Mexicans working in the U.S., and Bush refuses to give it, but at least Bush is willing to give a little on the matter. And on a larger scale, this proposal is also about viewing the huge body of illegal, undocumented immigrants in this country as something other than potential terrorists. If the proposal is largely symbolic, at least it gets its message right.

Kris Weberg | January 11, 2004
Yes, but look at your own statement, Scott -- it doesn't make illegal immigrants' lives or work conditions better, it's wholly symbolic, it places a condition ont heir presence that will likely be used as leverage against workers who -- in Bush's own words, as I read at CNN -- "Do the work Americans don't want to," but on superficial level it sounds really good.

When did pretending to do good to appease political opponents while actually doing nothing become a laudable act, rather than a cynical, dishonest political move that reflects the hypocrisy of its authors? I'm not so desperate for Bush to do something decent that I'll seize on any apparent move he makes as a step in the right direction. This compromise manages to "give" exactly nothing except a congratulatory headlines which no substantive analysis will support. Oh, and some approval points, of course.

Anna Gregoline | January 11, 2004
I liked this article too.

Scott Hardie | January 11, 2004
I still wouldn't say that. I refuse to look at most things cynically; it is illogical and dishonest and self-defeating to do so.

The proposal is "largely symbolic" because for the time being, it's just a proposal. It is an overview that is light on the details. We can approve or disapprove of the specific plan when one is introduced. I do not have any illusions about the weight or consequence of this event; that's why I called it symbolic. Am I not allowed to approve of a step in the right direction? I believe I should.

My real support of Bush (a vote) awaits more real results from his administration, such as Saddam Hussein crawling out of a spider-hole and into our custody. But for now, I see no harm in saying, "I approve of what Bush is proposing," because I do approve of it, limited though it is. To say otherwise would make me the dishonest one.

Jackie Mason | January 12, 2004
[hidden by request]

Kris Weberg | January 12, 2004
Scott -- Bush's proposal includes a rather specific plan. And it's that plan I'm critiquing, both for its own shortcomings and for the disingenuous way it's been presented.

Scott Hardie | January 12, 2004
Huh. Well, we're probably reading different media then, which might actually explain a lot. ;-) Most of the news items and op-ed pieces I've read about this have pointedly mentioned that Bush's announcement is light on specific details, that it amounts to an introduction only. It's all good, though; I'm tired of talking about this stupid thing. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't misunderstood earlier.

Anna Gregoline | January 12, 2004
I don't think we can accurately talk about this yet - it's too early. Perhaps when more details come out, we can discuss the specifics of Bush's plan. I can't find the specifics anywhere online, so if Kris knows, I'd like to see them. I was really more interested in the idea of humanity having a romantic goal like this, that will probably not affect our individual knowledge, more of our total knowledge.

Kris Weberg | January 13, 2004
Actually, I'm taking my info from the White House's own Fact Sheet on the matter. They give a three year, renewable, but with an end figure for the term of theese visas, make very certaint o point out that this is only about border mobility and nothing to do with wages or the like, claim that they will work to get workers their labor credit in whatever benefits programs exist in their "home countries" (i.e., usually none), and attach most of the weight of the contract to exact reported term of employment -- something almost meaningless for actual migrant workers who are usually hand-picked on a given day.

It's quite a terrible proposal, really.

Kris Weberg | January 13, 2004
As to "cheap immigrant labor" being the basis of our economy, one could say the same thing about sweatshop labor and the price of sneakers and clothing. Anybody want to come out in support of potential legislation to ease up on sweatshop imports?

Jeff Flom | January 13, 2004
I thought this post was about space exploration.

Anyways, We must be going to Mars because China is going to the Moon.

This is the only reason why governments spend billions on space exploration. It's a cover for military research and muscle flexing.

I suppose one could say that the U.S. already knows more than enough to blast China to kingdom come but you always want to stay ahead of the game. Besides there's nothing like a gentle reminder to the Chinese that our capabilities are far superior to theirs.

Anna Gregoline | January 13, 2004
Yeah, Kris, if you have details about the space plan, please post them.

Jackie Mason | January 13, 2004
[hidden by request]

Anna Gregoline | January 13, 2004
He usually does, he should post more often. =)

Scott Hardie | January 14, 2004
This discussion is still about space exploration. Kris and I were just having our own talk on the side. It's not the first time we've talked ourselves completely away from the point of the discussion... I still cringe when I think of barber shops. ;-)

Anna Gregoline | January 14, 2004
I know, I'm just disappointed that there aren't details of the space plan. But happy as well, cause that means my web searching skills are still up to snuff! I swear, I should do it for a living.

Jeff Flom | January 16, 2004

Thank You

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