Can Bush balance his checkbook? |

Can Bush balance his checkbook?

I can’t believe it. I thought the Republican Party stood for sound fiscal management. Since George Bush II was elected, though, we have changed from paying off the national debt to growing it beyond comprehension.

How can President Bush even consider establishing a permanent base on the moon and manned missions to Mars when he has already run up the national debt to a trillion dollars (that’s trillion with a “T” – a thousand billion) with his unconscionable tax breaks on top of over-the-top annual spending?

We can argue about how expensive shock and awe and occupation and rebuilding are vs. whether it was worth it, but where is the fiscal restraint to compensate? I mean, get real. If you don’t want to pay for stuff with taxes, don’t spend the money.

Hey, what’s a couple hundred billion dollars here for leveling Iraq (that’s billion with a “B” – a thousand million), a couple hundred billion for developing Star Wars space weapons when the Cold War is long over, a couple hundred billion for technology to put a permanent base on the moon, a trifling couple hundred billion more to actually do it? Then we can start spending real money to send folks to Mars.

Forget any more unmanned space missions, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, which revolutionized our understanding of the universe for spare change (comparatively speaking) and awed us with its views back through cosmological time. Forget any more missions to Jupiter and Saturn and comets and asteroids and other planets. Forget science altogether. President Bush wants to hide the cost of the early years of returning to the moon by cutting NASA’s budget for everything else it does. Get good video of space suits kicking up red dust, but forget everything else.

At least when President Kennedy launched us to the moon, we were not buried in debt and we were in a life-or-death struggle with the Soviet Union. Expensive as it was, Apollo was one heckuva lot cheaper than building a moon base or visiting Mars.

Remember when Daddy Bush proposed on July 20, 1989 – the 20th anniversary of the first moon landing – to establish a moon base and send manned missions to Mars? That didn’t get very far, and the national debt was so much lower then. The lesser Bush can’t even come up with a new idea for blowing more money, but he’s doing an awesome job with the old ideas. He revived daddy’s war in Iraq, and he’s trying to revive daddy’s born-dead, man-on-Mars space program, adding new meaning to the concept of the born-again president.

Can the presidential son of wealth even balance his own checkbook? Every single one of the 280 million of us Americans, every man, woman and child, owes $3,570 to pay our share of the trillion-dollar national debt, right now. Get out your checkbook. Got a family of four? I hope your checking account is healthier than mine. After we empty our bank accounts to pay what we already owe as citizens, then we can start thinking of a permanent moon colony and humans on Mars.

It’s awfully hard for me to oppose a new space initiative, because I was once a planetary scientist for NASA. But I’m worried – awfully worried – at the way that the Social Security trust fund has been raided by Democrats and Republicans alike over the years. I depend on Social Security disability because of an unfortunate injury. Our aging population will require more of Social Security while the burden of paying for it shifts to our children.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that succeeding generations won’t be happy with the bill. It doesn’t take a genius to see that we old folks and disabled folks are going to take it in the shorts.

I’m worried. And I’m angry.

Tony Finnerty is a resident of Grass Valley.

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