China landed their Chang’e 4 Lunar robotic spacecraft on the dark side of the moon, successfully, on Jan. 3. An amazing accomplishment. They had to have a satellite orbiting the moon so the ship, on the dark side of the Moon, and China’s mission control, on Earth, could bounce radio/video communicates back and forth with each other, as the dark side of the moon never faces our planet.
The Chang’e 4 is carrying scientific instrumentation to analyze the geology, conduct some biological experiments, and perform low frequency radio astronomy, since the equipment is shielded from radio noise from Earth, by the Moon. One experiment has a container with six live species from Earth: cotton, rapeseed, potato, fruit fly, yeast, and Arabidopsis [a flowering plant], to try to form a tiny biosphere.
In 2017, China announced it was planning to send astronauts to the Moon. They will also begin building their own space station next year, with the plan of it operating by 2022. The last manned landing on any part of the Moon was Apollo 17 in 1972.
That’s very exciting news. Sadly, it is China who is accomplishing these great things and not the United States. What are we doing? Well, we seem to spend our time not getting much accomplished as grid lock never seems to end in Washington DC.
Did you realize that prior to 1972, when the first US government shutdown occurred, under President Ford, that counting the Trump shutdown, the nation’s government has been shutdown 18 times? 1 for Ford, 5 for Carter, 7 for Reagan, 2 for Clinton, 1 for George H.W. Bush, 1 for Obama, and 1 for Trump. Something very negative has happened in our nation since 1972. From 1787 to 1972 we never had a government shutdown, now they happen rather frequently, why?
It seems that Congress or the President will use a government shutdown to try to force their respective will on Congress or the President, and sadly the American people. Some taxpayers may think shutting down the government isn’t such a bad thing, as it will save us tons of money. According to some analyst’s, the folks at Money Magazine spoke with, that is not true. They report the economic costs may have already passed the $5 billion-dollar amount that President Trump demands for his border wall.
Nine out of 15 federal departments with many agencies and programs have closed or reduced services. About 800,000 federal employees have been told to stay home at no pay, or are working without pay, during the shutdown. Consider the impact that has on these workers and their families. Most of them, like most Americans, live paycheck to paycheck.
Their mortgage, car payment, utility bills, etc., are still due, and those companies don’t care that the government is shut down, they simply want their money. How many of these workers credit ratings will get ruined due to not being able to pay their bills through no fault of their own? An example of how things may start working for federal employees in the near future.
A person goes to get a loan to buy a car, house, etc., and when on the form they write federal government employee, their loan request gets denied. Who's going to want to give these folks a loan, knowing every couple of years, the folks in Congress along with the President can and probably will shut down the government to try to force some agenda item. We may find it difficult to recruit qualified people to work as federal employees. Who is going to want to have a job where every few years you get “laid off” because the jokers running the government decide to shut it down.
The official report made by the Office of Management and Budget [OMB] of the October 2013 shutdown said, they estimated the shutdown lowered the real GDP growth by 0.2% to 0.6%, which amounted to a loss of economic output between $2 billion and $6 billion dollars.
So, shutting down the government is not a smart thing to do, it hurts the economy, yet it keeps on happening. Politics has become a blood sport where those in Washington will hurt their fellow Americans, in their wallet, to get their way.
The United States used to be the nation making exciting headlines as President John F. Kennedy set our nation’s course on landing a man on the Moon and bringing him home safely, back in 1962. The 60’s had its problems, but we were the nation that did things that mattered. Civil Rights, Labor Laws, Telstar, new medicines, and yes landing men on the Moon.
What once was, a nation that used its vast resources for doing good things, in Science and Technology, being the world’s leading manufacturer of goods, helping the little guy live a prosperous life, has sadly allowed itself to become a nation that just doesn’t seem to have that spark that we had under JFK. My New Year’s wish, for our nation, is that we somehow relight that spark that truly made America great, and let me be very clear, that is not the approach I see either from Trump or Congress. Neither deserves to get their paychecks much less our praise and admiration.
They need to put the folks of America ahead of any and all lobbyists and simply do the job they were elected to do. We want nothing else from them, than that.
Mike Cannatelli’s column appears every other week in the print edition of the Avon Grove Sun and Kennett News.