I know I'm supposed to be flag-waving patriotic and glow all over at the news that Phoenix has landed on Mars. Of course, it took years of work by some of our best scientific minds, and I admire their abilities to take us beyond this world. But, when I heard the Phoenix Lander reached out its automatic shovel and discovered ice, it was somewhat of a letdown.
Big deal! If some government bureaucrat wanted ice, why didn't he just look in his refrig. Yeah, if he's a Senator or Congressman, he knows where the ice is in his ice box ... just in front of the $500,000 stash of cash bribe he took home from some other taxpayer-robbing military-industrial-oil, money-sucking giant. And by the way, if that bureaucrat's home toilet is acting up, he can always get NASA's space plumbers to float over and fix it for a couple of billion or so.
NASA's multi-billion-dollar missions back in the 60s and 70s seemed necessary in an era when the U.S. and the Soviets were each preparing to win a nuclear war by wiping out all life on this entire planet. Additionally, their mission to the Moon may have been even a bit romantic in a sci-fi way, and it only cost us several billion bucks to see their funny home movies of space-suited guys bouncing around in low gravity. In reality, and although no one on the NASA payroll will admit it, that was also a colossal waste of money.
However, today, despite all the alleged advances in technology created and discovered by space travel, America is still fighting a futile war where our GIs are being killed by primitive street bombs made in Baghdad or Tehran back-yard workshops. Billions are being spent every day to pursue the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, like NASA's missions to Mars and nowhere in particular, our government keeps screwing up and piling on billions, hoping something good will come out of it eventually.
Meanwhile, back in America, that taxpayer money the government sends into space and war could well be used to help the people in the Midwest today who are trying to dig out of the devastation caused by widespread flooding. If you think that kind of help will come any time soon, think Katrina. Three years later, the damage and human misery caused by the hurricane in New Orleans and other parts of the South are still not resolved.
Another reason the whole idea of the Phoenix Mars Lander mission brings no feelings of pride and empathy to many American taxpayers, is that we are suffering from the most egregious oil rip-off in history. While being forced to pay $4.50 a gallon for gas, we know something is desperately wrong in our government, but no one in authority is doing a damn thing about it.
Oh, I forgot. Someone did try to help. President Bush went to Saudi Arabia to hold hands and kiss various fleshy parts of the oil sheiks. With all the dignity he could muster, our esteemed leader probably knelt down and politely begged them to cut the price of oil. Trying to keep from laughing out loud into their burnooses, they said, "Forget it, George. We're having too much fun destroying your infidel economy."
I hope you'll pardon me, NASA, if this taxpayer doesn't get too excited about your Phoenix Lander's digging up sand and ice on Mars. Maybe if you could get it to dig up some oil here in America, we'd all feel a hell of a lot better about your mission.