Home > Uncategorized > Will NASA Get Chico’s Bail Bonds to Support Them? Will Public Schools?

Will NASA Get Chico’s Bail Bonds to Support Them? Will Public Schools?

September 12, 2018

One of my favorite movie scenes is from Bad News Bears when Walter Matthau’s beleaguered team of the same name takes the field with their sponsor’s name on the back of their jerseys. While other teams are sponsored by local grocers, hardware stores, and service clubs, the Bad News Bears are sponsored by “Chico’s Bail Bonds”. The unruly, unconventional, and anti-establishment Bears eventually turn into a winning team… but their sponsorship by a decidedly lowbrow business was just one of the subversive messages included in the movie which won a Writers Guild of America award for the best comedy screenwriting in 1976.

This scene was brought to mind when I read in a Washington Post article by Christian Davenport that NASA is considering the commercialization of it’s flights in an effort to raise revenue. Mr. Davenport opens his article with this:

The constant creep of corporate America into all aspects of everyday life — from the Allstate Sugar Bowl to Minute Maid Park — may soon conquer a new frontier.

The final frontier.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has directed the space agency to look at boosting its brand by selling naming rights to rockets and spacecraft and allowing its astronauts to appear in commercials and on cereal boxes, as if they were celebrity athletes.

Why is NASA considering this? For two reasons: they need the revenue and it HAS been done before in Russia!

Pizza Hut paid to paint its logo on a Russian rocket in 1999. In the mid-1990s, an Israeli milk company filmed a commercial on the space station Mir, and a pair of Russian cosmonauts even appeared on QVC to sell a pen able to write in a weightless environment.

“Is this a pen you would recommend to use in space?” the host asked.

“Yeah, they said they love this pen,” the translator said on the live broadcast…

When Mir de-orbited, Taco Bell put a huge floating tarp into the Pacific Ocean and claimed that if any piece of the space station hit it, the company would give everyone in the country a free taco.

There was a time not so long ago when we competed against Russia because it had a different economic model. Now we are competing against Russia because they have adopted our model and seem intent on using it to overtake us in the space race.

How does this relate to public education policy, you ask. As noted (and lamented) in previous posts, schools are already selling naming rights to stadia, already engaged in “public-private partnerships” to help underwrite construction projects, already using fee-for-service models to fund athletics, and already selling advertising on buses and rooftops to raise revenue.

But a former astronaut described the problem with these partnerships and the general commercialization and commodification of public enterprises:

Michael Lopez-Alegria, another former NASA astronaut, said that by endorsing products, NASA could end up competing against a growing commercial sector that is trying to open up space for the masses.

“It’s going to be really hard for NASA or any government agency to put itself in a position where it can become a de facto endorser of this product or that product,” he said. “To me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. It’s just not right. ”

He said he was also concerned that if Congress sees NASA is getting funding from the private sector, it might say, “We’re not going to pay anymore. “

Hm-m-m-m…. sound familiar? If parents are willing to pay for athletics, why should taxpayers increase their funding for sports? If parents are willing to pay for buses why should taxpayers foot the bill? Where will it end?

Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group, said that the government “should be focused entirely on what is most important for the public interest, not private gain. In fact, if a project is commercially viable, it shouldn’t have to depend on taxpayer funds or U.S. astronauts, who might be divided in their job responsibilities.”

If public schools ever become “commercially viable” maybe taxpayers won’t have to raise as much money… and school boards will become obsolete. Is THAT what we want? Is THAT where we are headed?

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