The end of NASA's Education and Public Outreach

"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return." -Leonardo da Vinci

It's been a busy week here at Starts With A Bang, and with the two recent big posts -- one on the eve of Planck and one just after the first big data release -- I certainly wasn't planning on writing one today. After all, there are only so many things one can do in a week, and we've certainly learned some unprecedented things about the Universe just over the last couple of days.

Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration. Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.

Planck is a mission from the European Space Agency (ESA), with a contributory role played by NASA and many other partners. Although both the ESA and NASA held press conferences, the ESA one happened while I was asleep, but the NASA one happened early yesterday morning my time, and I was able to attend remotely.

Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration. Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.

And perhaps it's a good thing that NASA isn't the primary funding source for Planck. Because as great as it was to be able to not only be a recipient of the education and public outreach that's a part of NASA, to not only augment what I already know with the new finds, and to share all of that with you and the rest of the world, that all ends today.

Because -- thanks to the sequester -- there will be no more education or public outreach coming from NASA in any way, shape or form. They just released an internal document mandating the cessation of all education and public outreach activities. If you thought the sequester didn't affect you, now it does, even if you don't live in the United States. Below is the entire internal memorandum, with the important bits highlighted in bold by me:

Image credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Image credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Subject: Guidance for Education and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration

As you know, we have taken the first steps in addressing the mandatory spending cuts called for in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The law mandates a series of indiscriminate and significant across-the-board spending reductions totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

As a result, we are forced to implement a number of new cost-saving measures, policies, and reviews in order to minimize impacts to the mission-critical activities of the Agency. We have already provided new guidance regarding conferences, travel, and training that reflect the new fiscal reality in which we find ourselves. Some have asked for more specific guidance at it relates to public outreach and engagement activities. That guidance is provided below.

Effective immediately, all education and public outreach activities should be suspended, pending further review. In terms of scope, this includes all public engagement and outreach events, programs, activities, and products developed and implemented by Headquarters, Mission Directorates, and Centers across the Agency, including all education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects.

The scope comprises activities intended to communicate, connect with, and engage a wide and diverse set of audiences to raise awareness and involvement in NASA, its goals, missions and programs, and to develop an appreciation for, exposure to, and involvement in STEM. Audiences include employees, partners, educators, students, and members of the general public. The scope encompasses, but is not limited to:

- Programs, events, and workshops.
- Permanent and traveling exhibits, signage, and other materials.
- Speeches, presentations, and appearances, with the exception of technical presentations by researchers at scientific and technical symposia.
- Video and multimedia products in development (and renewal of existing products).
- Web and social media sites in development (excludes operational sites).
- External and internal publications, with the exception of Scientific and Technical Information as defined by NPD 2200.1B.
- Any other activity whose goal is to reach out to external and internal stakeholders and the public concerning NASA, its programs, and activities.

Additional information regarding the waiver and review process will be issued by the Associate Administrators for Communications and Education. The Agency has already made tough choices about conferences and travel. For those activities planned to be held between the date of this memorandum through April 30, 2013, that your organization deems to be Agency mission-critical, the Headquarters Offices of Communications and Education will conduct a waiver process to promptly evaluate those specific efforts.

For future activities, the Offices of Communications and Education have established a process to assess and determine, in light of the current budget situation, what education and public outreach activities should be determined Agency mission critical and thereby be continued or implemented. We are requesting Mission Directorates and Headquarters organizations submit a summary of activities, including those planned by their respective programs and projects. We are also requesting that Centers submit a summary of Center-sponsored or supported activities. For public outreach activities, these should be submitted to David Weaver, Associate Administrator for Communications, no later than April 15, 2013. For education activities, these should be submitted to Leland Melvin, Associate Administrator for Education, also no later than April 15, 2013. Required summary and waiver documentation is being provided for distribution to Mission Directorates, Centers, programs, and projects through the Communications and Education Coordinating Councils. The Headquarters Office of Communications, working in conjunction with the Office of Education, will review the requested data and will make a timely and appropriate determination regarding what activities will go forward as planned.

This guidance is to be applied to all NASA employees, civil servants, and contractors (working through their contract officers). Leadership in our Centers, Mission Directorates, as well as individual program and project managers are responsible for ensuring that all public engagement activities, including the education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects, are suspended and submitted to the review process. This guidance applies to existing and future efforts at least through the end of FY2013.

As our budgetary situation evolves over the coming months, NASA senior managers will continue to review this guidance and adjust, as appropriate. We appreciate your cooperation during this challenging fiscal period. Any questions on this guidance should be directed to David Weaver, Associate Administrator for Communications, Leland Melvin, Associate Administrator for Education. Dr. Elizabeth Robinson, Chief Financial Officer, or David Radzanowski, Chief of Staff.

Even the United Federation of Planets facepalms for this!! Even the United Federation of Planets facepalms for this!!

Thank to Jason Major for bringing this onto my radar, and if you haven't yet contacted your senators and representatives about this mess... what are you waiting for? It's your Universe, too; you have a right to share in what we know about it, so don't let them take it from you!

More like this

NASA will be at the Festival and at the Lockheed Martin Stage there will be panel discussions with astronauts. WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA is joining more than 500 science organizations in Washington this weekend to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers…
As first reported yesterday by Chris Hamby at the Center for Public Integrity's IWatch, an internal report on the agency's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), submitted in November 2011 to OSHA chief David Michaels is now public. Over the months, I'd made my own inquiries to OSHA's public affairs…
How does science and engineering save us, improve us, and preserve our world? Which solutions can be re-imagined for a better tomorrow, and how? Where should we explore next? What should we build next? How will we get there? The next stop is the future! The National Academy of Engineering (NAE)…
Two weeks ago, I spent my spring break at the Exploratorium, as a visiting Osher Fellow. One of the projects I consulted on was the Exploratorium's "evidence" project, an exciting initiative that will provide Web and floor content introducing the public to how science works as a process and how…

To put this into a broader perspective.
The date this article was posted, March 22nd, 2013. It was a slow day with only $1 022 689 679.00 spent. The day before was a bit better with $1 919 171 269.00 but still a low performing day overall.

We all love to point at north korea with a starving population while the government spends its money on its missile/nuke development.
In reflection...

We REALLY have to make those Republicans go away! They are doing too much damage!

By Average Reader (not verified) on 22 Mar 2013 #permalink

You know, for some really smart people, you have been taken in by slimeball politics. If Obama and company can send $250 million to Egypt plus 200 tanks and 20 f-16 fighter jets, do you really think the "sequester" has ended NASA'S outreach and White House tours? The "sequester" is such a tiny fraction of overall budget that it's laughable. Those mean old Republicans are trying to save the country from this idiot(Obama).

By dennis sautelet (not verified) on 22 Mar 2013 #permalink

Love the double face-palm post,
freakin' hilarious!

By joey connor (not verified) on 22 Mar 2013 #permalink

"do you really think the “sequester” has ended NASA’S outreach and White House tours?"

Yes because the spending cuts are mandated by law. As always, Congress controls the purse strings and specifies what government organizations get how much money and for what. Money cannot simply be shifted from one organization to another. Obama signed the bill, so of course his hand is involved too. But aside from agreeing to what Congress says with his signature, the fact that there is money for tanks and jets and not for NASA educational outreach is out of his control.

If the Republican party wants to get serious about cutting defense spending then I'd be all for it, but I'm not holding my breath.

The sequester is heavy handed but I think it's refreshing in a way. We (politicians and of course we do elect them) have spent money that we don't have for far too long. One way or another at one time or another it does have to end.

The one good thing the sequester does is to show just how far reaching the government is. Several marginal airport control towers are being shut down in my area today as well.

Each program is useful to a degree. It's just that when taken as a whole each program is more than we can afford.

It's a issue only because we have let it go on for so long. In our personal lives we don't have the means to let anything get this out of control.

The NASA public outreach program is nice. Having air traffic controllers at smaller airports is nice. Having perfectly paved roads is nice as are school lunch programs for our kids and so on.

When we can't pay for them however it doesn't matter how nice the program is just as it doesn't matter how nice it is for us personally to have a car. If we can't pay for it we don't get it.
At least the sequester hits every program. If this goes on awhile before Congress gets their act together to come up with a more rational plan we (as a country) will see how we are actually able to live without a lot of the current spending and life will still go on.

We will probably find a lot of things to permanently cut as a result of this experiment. Whatever we can afford with a balanced budget I'm all for.


I agree with you on all of those things, except for NASA. And it's not that I am just partial NASA. I am a pilot, so the control tower issue is important to me as well.

The difference, though, is that the implications of stopping NASA's outreach are far beyond those of lunches, roads and towers.

I can also say, as someone in a STEM field (engineering), that a loss in outreach is another loss in the future of kids today. And that will affect us all when they grow up in a world unconcerned with answers.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it best. Can't remember the exact quote, but to paraphrase, when money was being spent on NASA we were dreaming about tomorrow, and furthermore, people were flocking to STEM fields.

It's pretty sad how little money NASA gets compared to all the advancements they've made. I recommend checking out the book of spin offs from NASA's technology.

Oh, phooey. Before you light the torches and brandish the pitchforks to kill all the idiot RethugliKKKans, remember three things:

* The White House proposed the sequester. Google it if you don't believe me.

* NASA *chose* which programs to suspend, not Congress. The bureaucrats could have chosen to suspend development work on the "Space Launch System" instead of Education and Public Outreach; it won't be operational for years (if ever), it has no clear mission other than pork, it provides no capabilities that cannot be provided by other means (smaller launchers and fuel depots, or advanced rockets from SpaceX), and it's behind schedule and over budget. Oh, and it consumes a much larger proportion of the NASA budget than education and outreach does.

* Thanks to some spectacularly poor PR, if the public thinks about NASA's education and outreach at all, they think it's mainly outreach to the Muslim world ... and they aren't in favor of it.

By Herp McDerp (not verified) on 22 Mar 2013 #permalink

GB, while I basically agree with what you are saying, there is so much more wasteful and unnecessary spending going on. Our government as a whole is to blame, both Democrats and Republicans.

The last time the budget of NASA exceeded 1% of the annual federal budget were the years 1991-93. It’s been downhill for NASA and the USA ever since then and the budget percentage has declined in almost every year since that last hurrah of NASA’s golden age. It now receives less than 0.5% of the US budget.

I have no idea what linking url bracket configurations work or fail miserably on this board but you can track down the details here:

I have worked in the government sector for many years. When cooking up rationales, you throw in everything plus the kitchen sink, valid or invalid, in any explanation of why funding has to be reduced in this or that area. Many (but not all) of the reasons advanced are mostly B.S.

My guess is that the sequestration story adds little or nothing to the ongoing problem of insufficient NASA funding that has gone on for several decades. Sequestration or no sequestration, NASA would have benn forced to cut down on its activity levels. This internal report is merely a rationalization of something that would have had to happen anyway.

For some of the commenters above: this isn't the only NASA cut, it's just the one that hit Ethan most immediately. The one that hits me most immediately is the cut in training -- given that just this week one of my kids was chosen for a NASA research internship.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 22 Mar 2013 #permalink

This is really terrible!

I dont understand the reasoning behind this. Education for the public is one of the most important tasks of NASA, or any space agancy for that matter. Sure, they shoot people in orbit, build telescopes and space probes. But all this is worthless if the general people dont understand whats going on. The money for NASA comes from the people, so the service that NASA provides should be FOR the people. That is not only true for NASA, but for all scientists. We (me included) are servants for society. Our task is to find out new stuff AND SHARE IT WITH EVERYBODY. Finding out new stuff and keeping it for one selfs is worthless. Therefore, public education is, beside science it self, the most important part of Science, including NASA. And now, they want to cut it off. This is crazy. If they continue with this, NASA is going kill one of the two legs that ensures its very existence. And everybody knows, you can't stand on just one leg for very long. NASA needs to rethink this.

I am not living in the USA, so I cant influence anything. It hurts me to see this stupidity. I hope you solve this issue and end this craziness. Ill keep my fingers crossed for you!


Your pretend president inposed the sequester.
This is all about politics.
This is nothing more than a load of bovine fritters.
What's funny is it's only 85 billion dollars that won't be spent, and everyone is loading their skivvies.
There are 107 thousand government employees who owe back taxes to the tune of 1 BILLION[......]NASA is nothing more then a go along to get a long entity otherwise it's " NO SOUP FOR YOU"!

By Joseph Russo (not verified) on 23 Mar 2013 #permalink

"We REALLY have to make those Republicans go away! They are doing too much damage!"

The nut fringe is in power and, if not in power, so scared are the rank-and-file (and more especially those in charge but not, by preference, nutcases) of the nut fringe and their rabid violent tendencies (the teabaggers are almost indistinguishable from the Taliban or Al Quaeda except by dress and background scenery shots), the party as a whole panders to them.

Obama can afford to denigrate, lambast and marginalise the progressive and liberal supporters because of this.

They can't vote for Republicans because they're even more rightwing and nuts with it.

There isn't another platform.

So Obama's team only have to woo the republican supporters who are not merely not nutcases, but are actively put off by them.

He has free reign to move as far to the right as he likes because the Republicans are dragged to the nut fringe and any movement to the less-right is rabidly attacked.

Indeed, this entire situation may be why the Kochs et al are supporting the teabaggers. Not because these lunatics will be in charge, but because by putting them there, both parties have been moved to the right and are moving further right.

In which case, no matter who gets in, they win.

And voter turnout for those who AREN'T insane is practically nil.

The non-insane include Dem and Rep supporters.

There are some ideals of the Dem party that for sane and rational Rep voters are antithetical and cannot be voted for, and from their acceptable morality, rightly so. So they, like progressives for Dems, have nobody to vote for.

Some have tried for Rand, but he turned out when people really started looking, to be as nuts on a different axis. Same with some progressives.

So neither turn out. Nothing to vote for.

the visible face of the Republican party is driven by the most insane elements and egged on by right wing media, and ineffectively scrutinised by the nearly-left-wing media.

Try and remove that.

IF that fails, then you're left with your option there.

"When we can’t pay for them however it doesn’t matter how nice the program is just as it doesn’t matter how nice it is for us personally to have a car. If we can’t pay for it we don’t get it."

YOU, however, can't tax. Government spending is ENTIRELY UNLIKE household spending. It is, however, a useful lie for the rich because in a depression, the value of their money goes up. Well, until revolution.

Government spends money on education, reducing class sizes and employing more teachers.

The money spent on this is spent by those people. Poor people have to spend their money because they have so little to spend, it all goes on necessities.

Each of those spends gets taxed, giving 20% back to the government.

That money goes on others, who spend, that's taxed and some goes back to the government.

After a half-dozen or so moves, it's all come back to the government and can be spent again.

Where this falls down is when hoarding money becomes more profitable than spending it. Taxing the rich makes spending the money they have more profitable.

Low capital gains tax means that some rich bugger can go to the bank and say "I want to borrow $1Bn, as collateral, I have a bank statement showing I have $100 Mn, showing I'm good for the loan". Bank OKs it, DOES NOT take money from the rich person. Rich person then uses the tax break on the payments to reduce the tax. Invests the billion abroad, makes more money than the interest payments (which is then used to reduce tax burden, giving them MORE back), and pay back in five years the $1Bn, having siphoned off more money from those lower down who cannot borrow at such low rates and get money back with tax dodges.

Worse, they can go to another bank and say "I want to borrow $2Bn. As collateral, here is $1Bn in assets".

Indeed, this is how 95%+ of the money lost in the crash happened, not by mortgage defaults. But the above scam.

Government spending if done by a flat cheque to every registered citizen would return the money to the government within weeks, months at the outside.

Government spending if done by a fat cheque of the same total value to a handful of large corporations may not return to the government for decades. If at all.

Does this include Muslim Outreach?

The apparent tea baggers above are, as always, clueless. They have apparently bought the fact free notion that President Obama has expanded government (it is smaller now than it has been in years), exploded spending (again, numbers show that to be false), added immensely to long term debt and deficit (major drivers there : the two wars and their continuing cost as well as the revenue lost by the stupidly continued tax cuts). But the 'false president' comment tells you all you need to know about their interest in facts.

I don't think the amounts of money specified in the sequester are the issue (is it a stupid policy? Yes, but clearly one the Republicans believe they can hammer the administration with) - the fact that there is no way to look at programs and make reasoned decisions about which to cut and which not is an amazingly bad methodology.

Well, spending in several areas have gone up, but mostly because he inherited the need to pay for what the idiot previously in charge put on the credit card.

His involvement in that increase still soundly exists: he's refused to change the M.O. And that means he's refusing to cut the war-footing spending and still giving money to rich people to beg them not to leave and give the poor people hope that they may make some money shining their shoes.

Those failures are bad enough, but the situation is one he inherited and perpetuating that is a lesser failure than making it happen in the first place.

As a young college student I interned at NASA Ames Research Center. I had spent 4 years in the Marine Corps, so was used to government waste and self serving bureaucratic stupidity, but what I saw at NASA took it to a whole new level.

The fact is, NASA's budget for 2013 is $17.8 Billion, and the sequestration will cut $52 million from that budget, or .3%. Yes, 0.3%. NASA management could cut 0.3% across the board and minimize the impact, but as is typical of a bureaucracy dependent on public funding, NASA has decided to maximize the impact by targeting one area: education outreach.

A smarter way to save money would be for NASA to get out of the space launch business and instead spend the money on space research and 'grand discovery' missions. NASA has spent tens of billions of dollars on a follow on spacecraft to the Space Shuttle and so far every penny has been wasted.

And a good thing that has come out of the sequester is a realization that there are a lot of government programs that we don't really need.

"Government spends money on education, reducing class sizes and employing more teachers."

And the result of all this spending is that educational scores remain exactly where they were before the Department of Education existed. The department of Education is a perfect example of a government program that has never done what it was supposed to do.

Another thing Wow: You appear to have no clue as to investment and finance. "Rich" people do not sit on their money. They invest it. The trick is to encourage them to invest into areas that grow the economy. Another thing is that the higher the tax rate the less incentive there is for somebody to invest. Investing is based on a calculation of risk and return. The person will invest if he or she thinks that they are comfortable that the overall risk is low enough so that - on average - they will make more money than they lose. Increasing taxes lowers the return while the risk is unchanged. This means that the investor is going to avoid the higher risk investments - such as venture capital - in favor of investments that carry a lower risk.

Something else that you should also keep in mind is that the typical American millionaire is middle aged, lives in a typical suburban home, and drives a Ford or Toyota that is over 5 years old. How to determine you level of wealth in the future is a very simple equation:
Wealth = (income - expenses) * time.

People get rich by _not_ spending money.

It's not just NASA, it's many aspects of the federal government. The FAA has had to shut down over 150 air control towers.

Everyone loves the idea of a balanced budget (although the budget doesn't need to balance for economic prosperity) but hates it when it impacts things they care about. Good for the Administration to demonstrate that cuts have consequences, because they do.


This is the government we elected. Unfortunately.

And the result of all this spending is that educational scores remain exactly where they were before the Department of Education existed.

Please prove that assertion. Because it sounds like complete and utter bullshit.

It sounds not only do you not know what goes on in education today, but also have absolutely no clue what went on in education in the past.

I suppose this is just because it's government, therefore ebil, yes?

“Rich” people do not sit on their money. They invest it.

To get more back than they paid.

And when Bush Jr's tax cuts came in and the investements (IIRC) went up by 1/3, where did the investment happen?

Oh, that's right, in foreign countries.

So you're effectively condoning the payment from government to foreign governments as long as it's done via rich people who can make money off it.

And now, when the money is given to the banks to help move liquidity and get the market going, what's happened?

They've kept the money and hoarded it.

From a selfish point of view and only in the short term, this is their rational economic action.

But it is completely counter to your rose-tinted-spectacles view of what they do.

Or, in short, BULLSHIT.

Another thing is that the higher the tax rate the less incentive there is for somebody to invest.



If you tax them, they will make more money investing it in their business. Increasing the business by 40% will increase profits 40%. But if they keep it, they get nothing more for it. Its income is taxed at the higher rate.

But this is what you've been fed by those people who do this. Ever considered they may be telling you lies so they can make out like bandits?

People get rich by _not_ spending money.

Yes, they use their money to garner more.

They can afford their house without a mortgage. The house costs the sticker price.

The poor person has to get a mortgage, which is the money the rich person has in the bank loaned out to the poor person.

The poor person pays more for their house than the rich one, and a large part of the difference is taken by the rich person as profit.

Money flows UP, not trickle down.

And it flows up quicker the harder you squeeze the bottom.

Will we be spared James Hansen now? He can focus on NASA work and not climate fear mongering?

There are some remarkably ignorant posts above, and it's pretty interesting how it's devolved into a political back-and-forth, so I will simply go with:

Congress signed a budget bill, so the sequester isn't really a sequester anymore. The same amount of money will be cut, but they're allowed to utilize some discretion now (whereas before, it was idiotically random).

So, if NASA is still losing money in the cut, it's because of the reason Alan pointed out: NASA just doesn't get much of funding in the way anymore, at all. The continuation of budget cuts to NASA is easy for Congress, because they already don't care about NASA's budget.

Yes, Bob, if there's a problem but it is inconvenient for you to change to avoid it, it must be silenced.

You're wanting to silence people.

Very STASI of you.

I would like to point out that in the Universe Today article, there have been several updates to the story after Jason Major did what journalists do (and apparently not bloggers) and talked to someone in NASA. In short, programs are not ending, but suspended pending review and most are expected to continue.

The full update:
Update #3 3/23: After discussing this online today with Bob Jacobs, Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications, I learned that while most expenditures will now be critically reviewed first, it’s not like NASA is simply canceling all their programs wholesale.

“There’s a waiver process in place and there will be exemptions for mission activities…most activities will continue, I am confident of that,” Bob said. “But there are always things you can do better or more efficient, and these cuts are going to force the entire government to reduce services.”

“The more money saved the more likely you can avoid furloughs and maintain safe mission operations, which is the agency’s priority,” Bob added.

And the result of all this spending is that educational scores remain exactly where they were before the Department of Education existed. The department of Education is a perfect example of a government program that has never done what it was supposed to do.

Citation needed - and more specificity. "Educational scores" means what, exactly? Tracking scores on SAT and ACT is especially difficult due to changes in the tests themselves, scoring methodology, and an increased test-taking base. Coupled with he factors of huge discrepancies in class sizes, state and local funding, and you find that making a one-size fits all statement like yours is meaningless except as a quick one-off talking point.

I have created a petition to support repealing the cuts to the NIH and NSF budgets. Please consider signing it as Obama prepares his FY2014 budget.

Very sad news. I hope that it is a political stunt to drum up future support. I fear for our future as a country.

By Other Colin (not verified) on 23 Mar 2013 #permalink

In general I support NASA, but this is just pure political propaganda and nonsense. It is embarrassing to NASA and it is sad that it does not understand that. Pathetic

Regarding school class size and other related topics...that has nothing (very little) to do with the Federal Government. That's taken care of predominately by local taxes.

WOW is clueless :) A rich person (apparently) is anyone who saves any other words a responsible person :) Capital gains (long term) are lower than ordinary income (short-term capital gains generally aren't) to encourage investing (taking more risk).

Otherwise people would just sit on it (savings account/CD's etc.)

In the WOW scenario rich people buy houses and poor people buy houses with rich peoples money. Therefore, if there were no rich people in this scenario...poor people would have no chance to buy a house?

The world isn't about rich people and poor people.

As was pointed out, this is no permanent (NASA programs) and they could have chosen some other area to cut.

It's probably a PR/political tactic anyway. They would like the public to contact Congress to demand more funds for NASA.

If they cut some other program there would be little public outcry.

"WOW is clueless"

Yeah, the idiots always say that. :-)

"A rich person (apparently) is anyone who saves any money"

Aye, knew it. Moron. No. That wasn't what was said. Someone who saves $100Million is not poor. Not middle class. Not upper class. They are rich.

But then again, you're clueless :-)

"poor people would have no chance to buy a house?"

Look up how co-operatives were started and why.

You idiot :-)

Korrigeerima PEAB üldiste kõrgmudelite ("Ühtse Välja Teooria taoliste!?) "tõendamiste katseid" - otstarbetult kulukaid.
Näide: Lõpetagem Higgsi bosoni "tõestamised" - ja jätkakem haridustööd!
Lõpetagem Ülisuured (suurushullustuses ?) projektid - osakeste kiirendamisel - vaadelgem "aeglasi osakesi" - millest me midagi siiani ei tea!

By Tõnu Eevere (not verified) on 23 Mar 2013 #permalink

Sequester forces federal government agency to uniformly cut spending, but gives the agency discretion in how they cut.

NASA is doing what every government agency is doing. Purposefully choosing to cut funds/programs that are most damaging and visible to the public in order to sway the public into continuing to support a federal government spending level that cannot be sustained over the long-term.

For some so-called intelligent people, most of you are completely clueless as to the reality of the sequester situation, believing your favorite liberal media source rather than investigating the truth for yourselves. Very unscientific. Please research the truth about how the sequester came to be before you make ridiculous statements about how evil Republicans are, how awful capitalism is, yada yada yada. Bunch of arrogant, self-aggrandizing, partisan hacks. And you wonder why conservatives roll their eyes at the incredible arrogance of modern scientists, who apparently know everything about everything.

"believing your favorite liberal media source rather than investigating the truth for yourselves"

.. says a Fox News reader....

Agencies have considerable discretion as to where to make cuts, as well as increases. Now we are talking about a 0.3% cut, thanks @nomail. That NASA chooses to prioritize public outreach to sensationalize the impact of this 0.3% cut as much as possible is indicative that NASA is an out-of-control bureaucracy, just like the rest of them. The first priority of a bureaucracy is its self-preservation, not the mission for which it was created.

Hint to some of the posters above: if your aim is to persuade, use of the term "teabaggers" and similar insults does not help your cause. It is guaranteed to prove that your post is not worth reading or response. If your aim is not to persuade, then I wonder why you bother.

"teabaggers" is the first name those clowns gave themselves. Your concern is noted and ridiculed. (Calling them that is even too much respect, considering their lack of contribution of anything helpful or sane.)

To start, I would like to say blind sequestering across the board is a pretty bad way to approach this problem (then again, do people expect smart solutions to financial problems from the govt?), but we need to start doing something about our deficit and debt. I’m not a Democrat or Republican and I’m always confused to see the intense blanket of hate thrown onto the opposing party and the vehement defense of party members who make stupid decisions.

I'm also always shocked to see scientists (or those with a deep interest in science) lose their objective and logical approach to problem-solving when faced with economic issues. It happens a lot more than one would hope (I even saw this with astro, physics, math and stat professors in college). First, the overall sequester just slows down the increase in spending (i.e. the US government will still spend more money in 2013 than 2012). Second, NASA is losing 0.3% of their budget and it is entirely up to them as to what they want to cut. Following in the footsteps of other bureaucrats, it appears as though NASA is cutting areas that are most visible to the public. It's like the White House cutting tours when they could simply cut one golf outing President Obama had with Tiger Woods in Florida. This is all political b.s. and it's sad how easily even the brightest minds around us succumb to the black hole of government propaganda. I don't mean to be insulting in any way--swimming against the current of brain-deadening propaganda isn't easy--I just wish my scientific friends would drop the childish name calling and stick to the facts.

I also wish the government would take an honest look at their expenses and make meaningful cuts, but that’s a bit too ideal. There are politicians (such as Rand Paul) who came up with ideas of how to meet the sequester “cuts” without firing one person, but those aren’t useful to most politicians who just want to use scare tactics and possess more allegiance to their party than the US population.

As for the education debacle I saw going on, please see… or… to start. Or you could do a quick Google search. Educational scores in this country have not kept pace with the ridiculous amounts of spending on “education.” In fact, it is a well known feud that teacher unions fight against merit evaluation (i.e. they don’t want to be evaluated on whether their performance as a teacher has an impact on the year-to-year graduation rate/test scores of children in their classes). Plenty of charter schools do this, which alters the incentive structure for teachers, and they become so successful they must hold lotteries for students because they don’t have enough room for all of them. I’m not pretending to know all the answers to this stuff, but there is enough evidence and data to get a feel for the direction we need to be heading (with regards to education or financially)

By The Fatal Conceit (not verified) on 24 Mar 2013 #permalink

Yup, it's a bit of an embarrassment for them, so they try to rewrite history (as they to with so much else: look at their mythology of the founding of the USA...).

They PROUDLY called themselves "teabaggers".

Until they found a dictionary of slang and someone read the words out to them.

" Purposefully choosing to cut funds/programs that are most damaging and visible to the public in order to sway the public into continuing to support a federal government spending level that cannot be sustained over the long-term."

No, there's no immediate ROI for research.

Nobody with money to argue the case.

So it can be cut.

There is no immediate ROI for anything that NASA does.

Hence no money maker cares. Never for tomorrow (unless it's about a tax hike for them, then the future is all they think about).

I think the conclusory sentence to this post was needlessly infantile. A debate about natural rights, and a related right of NASA to a continuously growing budget, to support our collective "right to know about the universe" may or may not be in order, but fostering a sense of blame that programmed budget increases will not be sustained is just irresponsible.

It's needlessly disrespectful of divergent opinions as to the policy implications of our government's fiscal irresponsibility. I feel the scientific community would be better served if it more often appreciated the generosity of the United States taxpayer, and wealth generating class in general.

"I think the conclusory sentence to this post was needlessly infantile"

Well write your own blog then :-)

It’s needlessly disrespectful of divergent opinions as to the policy implications of our government’s fiscal irresponsibility. I feel the scientific community would be better served if it more often appreciated the generosity of the United States taxpayer, and wealth generating class in general.

I'm not sure how you realize there is no appreciation. I'm not sure how you think cutting back on scientific investigation could be, in any sense of the word, a good thing.

And I'm really not sure how people miss the point that if the economy hadn't been screwed by foolish tax policy, an expensive war that wasn't paid for, and a second expensive war, there wouldn't be an economic "crisis" now (that's ignoring the facts that
* there is no immediate crisis
* one of the oft-stated reasons for problems, Social Security, isn't a drag on things
but facts have never been of big importance for the extreme right's reaction to the current president

Now, if they were to criticize him on
* expanded authority for detention (continuation of a President Bush policy)
* continuing the operation of Giutmo
* expanding the drone attacks with weak oversight on who can be counted as a legitimate target

They would have seriously valid points.

"and wealth generating class in general."

That would be the increasingly absent middle class and the poor.

SME's employ more people and, due to not being able to dodge taxes "legally", contribute more back to the country.

"And you wonder why conservatives roll their eyes at the incredible arrogance of modern scientists, who apparently know everything about everything."

The above comment is the type locality of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Please keep posting so we can collect more samples.

By Douglas Watts (not verified) on 25 Mar 2013 #permalink

You know what's sad about that quote?

Conservatives don't do that. Not as a group thing.

But the nut fringe think that they are the majority. This makes them not wrong. Which is rather odd since the same idiots will prattle on about how science isn't done by consensus and agreement is proof of conspiracy.

Don't they realise that their assertions of the "general agreement" to that rolling-of-eyes thing is a consensus and therefore likewise proof of conspiracy?

" 'Well, science doesn't know everything.' Science knows it doesn't know everything, otherwise it'd stop." -- Dara O'Briain.

I know I use that quote a lot, but only because it's so often relevant. I dream of the day when it's not.

I am so frakking tired of education being the first thing cut when governments get pissy with their people.

Human beings choke on food more easily than any of our close cousins. Know why? Because humans benefited so much from speech, we evolved tongues that helped us to talk at the risk of death from a berry. We are an education based species. This year, more than 2,000 Americans will lose their lives so that we may educate one another.

Education isn't just our future. It's our present. A lack of education is why our economy tanked. It's why we've struggled to find a way out of this recession. And, most notably, I think, those regions of the US with the best education rates are doing the best at fending off the worst of the recession.

We don't need to have a 100% educated society, if that was even possible. But we do need the best and brightest to be educated the best we can. This means we need to give everyone the chance to rise to the top. This means public schools and NASA and open access journals funded by the government (augmenting, not replacing, the equally important subscription based journals) and USDA and CBO and everything else we need to help our neighbors help themselves.

Full disclosure: I am an educator.

This is the beginning of the dismantling of the govt and the country. The tea baggers must be giddy with anticipation. Well it was nice while it lasted. It was a good run.

By TheDoctor (not verified) on 27 Mar 2013 #permalink


While I agree with you that education is important, there are other important things that need to be funded as well. We should not short change education, but resources are finite. It is legitimate to discuss how big a portion of the pie should be devoted to education, just as it's reasonable to discuss how big a portion of the pie should be devoted to any number of other priorities. You can't just spend everything on education. If so, the elderly will go homeless and without health care as Medicare and SS go away. Criminals will go unarrested and unpunished. Rogue states may well invade our suddenly defenseless nation, and people with disabilities might stop receiving the care they need, just to name a few.

This case, though, strikes me as not so much being about education, per se, as it is about the way government works. An example (albeit an admittedly extreme one) will illustrate what I mean. Suppose you are in charge of an agency of a local government. Your agency is responsible for two tasks: providing the water supply for the community and building statues of Adolph Hitler. The mayor comes to you and tells you that due to budget constraints you must eliminate one of your agency's two functions. Which one do you eliminate?

Obviously, the rational choice is to continue to provide water service. However, the incentives of government lead you to cut water service and continue statue building. Why? If you cut statue building, the public would probably not notice or care. They might even start to question why you were building all these statues in the first place. Your budget cut will become permanent. If you cut water service, however, the hue and cry from the public would be so great that the government would be forced to restore your budget to keep the peace.

I have no real knowledge of the inner workings of NASA, but I suspect that there are less visible, and more readily cut, things in NASA's budget than the outreach program. Cutting the outreach program, though, is more likely to generate the outrage that will result in restoration of funding.

"We should not short change education, but resources are finite. "

This isn't correct.

Since money is just a figure in the bank calculators, money is not finite and spending it on education doesn't matter. Only if we decide to limit finances are they limited. Entirely by our decision, not any external limit.

Coal and oil are finite. But we don't think "Lets leave it there" do we.


I never said money was finite. I said resources were. I count human beings as a resource, probably our most valuble one. If we trained all adults to be teachers, we would not have any soldiers, doctors, police officers, fire fighters, etc. That would not be a desirable society. Human resources are most definitely finite.


Also, while it's true that money is not finite, money is just a way to allocate REAL resources, which are indeed finite. We could spend as much money on education as we want, but guess what that would lead to: hyperinflation. Spending unlimited amounts on education would lead to spending similarly unlimited amounts on other priorities due to the vast increase in the money supply.

"I never said money was finite. I said resources were."

Since paying teachers doesn't cost resources. I.e. you don't actually have to build humans, they build themselves, in what way are resources (like, for example, tin, copper, coal, oil, etc) used up by employing the teachers that are unemployed?

"money is just a way to allocate REAL resources"

They are promissory notes.

Nowadays, not even that. They're promises to give you the wealth they represent AS LONG AS YOU DON'T ASK FOR IT.

"They're promises to give you the wealth they represent..."

Which is what? Gold? Silver? Something else? Gold and silver (aside from industrial uses and use in jewelry) have no intrinsic value in and of themselves. Gold and silver are just alternative forms of money; they only have value because people are willing to give you things you want in exchange for them. Gold, silver, and money (outside of the industrial and jewelry uses of the metals) are equivalent; they are media of exchange. They are ways to allocate resources.

What is real wealth? Real wealth is the goods and services that people need and want. Real wealth is food, shelter, clothing, cars, TV's, computers, etc. Money can certainly be exchanged for these things.

Think of it this way. If society were to totally collapse, which would you rather have:

1. A supply of seeds capable of growing edible food, a plot of land sufficient to grow it, and a year's supply of non-perishable food items that can sustain you until your crops are ready to be harvested.
2. Some quantity of a shiny yellow metal that is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity?

What would you do with the metal? Eat it? Put pieces of it in the ground and hope that it would grow food for you? Real wealth, as distinct from societal measures of wealth such as money, is the goods and services that fulfill your needs and wants. As such, money can certainly be exchanged for real wealth.

"Which is what? Gold? Silver?"


Promises. Nowt more.

NASA public outreach and education seems to be focused on High school and younger children so I wont be missing it, the blogosphere does a far better job of communicating than NASA does. So the real issue is whether American education will suffer from the change, and I think it probably will. On the other hand I'm not sure its NASA's budget that should be spent on promoting STEM in education.

"2. Some quantity of a shiny yellow metal that is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity?"

Less so than many other metals. And it's pretty pants at being a metal. it's about as useful as a metal as lead.

It get used because it is a noble metal therefore doesn't RUST or suffer from electromigration. Therefore used in contacts on electrical boards.