The Salience of Political and Financial Climate in Policy Frames
Politics often guides the course of technological development. One of the most obvious places that this has occurred, and continues to occur, is the United States’ NASA program. With the US essentially still fighting two wars, the looming health care, Medicare, and Social Security crises, and the general poor state of the economy, many question the relevance of space exploration in the world today. In order to keep NASA going, scientists and administrators are increasingly switching NASA’s mission to one of scientific advancement rather than manned exploration.
The symbolism of unbridled Capitalism where the U.S. could afford many Apollo missions, the ability to “beat the Russians” in the space race, and all the other things that created an era of romanticism in the space flight are no longer important. It is easy to compare the change in mission of NASA to change in other areas where government funding and politics intersect. The current healthcare debate is one example. Recession and economic downturn are things that politicians can appeal to when they argue about the mission of healthcare. They can also argue that universal healthcare is a “romantic” notion that is not realistic. Framing the debate about healthcare around necessity, as NASA has done to stay alive, will be necessary if healthcare reform is to succeed.