Capitalism rears its ugly head once again, the monetarist, penny-pinching obsession concentrating more on the bottom line of the accounts than human welfare or well-being. Three days after the tragic event which left seven families devastated, the truth begins to come out: NASA employees who voiced concerns about the safety of the programme were dismissed.
Last August, a letter was sent to president George Bush by aerospace engineer Don Nelson, who warned of a “catastrophic shuttle incident” unless policy was changed. He claimed he had been reprimanded twice by NASA in 1999 for voicing his concerns outside the usual internal channels, a situation which led to his resignation.
Ten years of budget cuts for NASA saw the agency make cut after cut, causing a hail of criticism from experts and government auditors, who complained that the safety of the programme was being put at risk, a position which NASA itself admitted to Congress in April 2002, when the Aerospace Safety Advisory panel claimed that disaster was imminent unless funding was increased.
Another concern that has been voiced is that there was insufficient control over the public-priuvate mix of companies which services the shuttle fleet, after part of the services were outsourced to private enterprises in 1996 to cut costs further.
The capitalism model in general and the monetarist one in particular do not comprehend the fact that there are certain operations which require money and that COST does not have to be understood as a four-letter word, especially when the human cost is so elevated.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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