January 25, 2017

Wondering on Wednesday (v76)

How's everyone doing tonight, you all OK? Anyone other than me wondering about stuff, like how to get my arms around what the new Administration and Congress are up to?

Like, where does the $15B or so it will take to build The Wall on our southern border come from, while we're waiting for some point in time, when we convince or coerce Mexico to pay for it somehow? I saw someone in one of the Texas border towns talking to a reporter tonight, he thinks The Wall is dumb but he's more than happy to work on it and make a ton of money while we figure all the back-end payment deals out behind the scenes.

Or, when the country is at almost full employment now, by the most commonly used measure, and at "way more better employment than we've been in many years" by the other number that makes things look worse, where on earth are the people going to come from who will build The Wall? See, we have the massive infrastructure program that's coming and we have the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines coming, and we have The Wall, and we have all of the manufacturing jobs that are coming back... I wonder, who will work on all of this stuff?

Oh wait - maybe I have the answer already. I wonder, will all of the people who are currently employed working on implementing regulations, managing regulations, auditing regulations, trying to find ways to pay for regulations and the like, end up working on The Wall once the Administration removes 75% of our current regulations? I mean that's more than handful of million people right there who are apt to be at risk of losing their jobs once the regs are gone.

Heck, I may be one of them, who knows.  I wonder if I should start getting myself shovel-ready?

And speaking of regulations, here's another thing I wonder about: you'd think that maybe Congress would be thinking about what regulations they want to save, rather than focusing on putting more rules and laws into place, or no?

Seems that's a no. For example, here's a bill passed by the House already that's just chomping at the bit waiting for Senate approval: meet HR 321, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act, and which, given my understanding of our need to get rid of unnecessary regulations and to reduce government spending, is totally unnecessary.

What does this bill do? Let's take a look:
Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the (NASA) Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a plan for how NASA can best facilitate and support both current and retired astronauts, scientists, engineers, and innovators, to engage with K-12 female STEM students and inspire the next generation of women to consider participating in the fields of science, technology engineering, and mathematics and to pursue careers in aerospace. This plan shall -
(1) report on existing activities with current and retired NASA astronauts, scientists, engineers, and innovators; (2) identify how NASA can best leverage existing authorities to facilitate and support current and retired astronaut, scientist, engineer, and innovator participation in NASA outreach efforts: (3) propose and describe a program specific to retired astronauts, scientists, engineers, and innovators; and (4) identify any additional authorities necessary to institute such a program. 
OK - lots of science-ey and astronaut-ey and engineer-ey and innovator-ey stuff in there, and it all sounds good. But what does it really mean?

  • NASA, tell us what you're already doing with current and retired folks to get people interested in aerospace careers; 
  • figure out how you can do more to get current and retired folks to do outreach with school-age females already participating in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, programs in school, and inspire them to think about participating in STEM fields and get involved in aerospace careers. 
  • Document the plan you come up with, and
  • tell us anything else we need to know to help implement a plan. 

You might be thinking, what's making her wonder about this particular bill? Doesn't she think women belong in the STEM or aerospace careers?  Of course I think women with an interest in STEM careers should absolutely be encouraged to participate. A friend's daughter interned with NASA, and now works at the Goddard Space Flight Center, which I think is really cool. And it makes for some really great presents for her little sister, I have to say. 

And, speaking of the Goddard Space Flight Center, according to HR 321, NASA already runs the Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research (SISTER) program there,
designed to increase awareness of, and provide an opportunity for, female middle school students to be exposed to and explore non-traditional career fields with Goddard Space Flight Center women engineers, mathematicians, scientists, technicians, and researchers. 
And then, there's NASA GIRLS and NASA BOYS,
virtual mentoring programs using commercially available video chat programs to pair NASA mentors with young students anywhere in the country. (The programs) give young students the opportunity to interact and learn from real engineers, scientists, and technologists.
And then, there's the Aspire to Inspire (A2I) program, which
engages young girls to present science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career opportunities through the real lives and jobs of early career women at NASA.
All of these programs already in place sound a lot like this bill is telling NASA to do. Which makes me wonder, why do we need HR 321 to tell NASA to come up with stuff like they've already come up with?

In the overall scheme of things, this is not that big a deal - but all of these not-that-big-a-deals add up. And it makes me wonder if our elected officials (who may or may not have benefited from any government-directed mentoring programs before pursuing their chosen career), have any idea what it means to stop passing unnecessary rules and regulations, whether they impact our bloated federal bureaucracy or our businesses, in advance of getting rid of the ones we already have?

And, finally, I wonder how much fun the president will have tweeting at all of these unnecessary rules and regulations passed by his own party if they keep this stuff up. That'll be a hoot, don't you think?

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