I admit a lot of kids see this and dream of becoming a sports star or rock star. Is this a productive use of a human lifetime? Some say it is, some say it isn't, and I am not qualified to state. All I know is advancement of science is a dream to me. As far as I am concerned, Space Exploration is to science like programming games is to computer science. Its the stepping stone, the common basis of knowledge, from which we spring off whatever comes up.
NASA has always been an icon for me - an entity who is actually doing something that has never been done before. Will I benefit from a romp on the moon? Probably not. Would I benefit from stronger alloys, higher energy density batteries, more sophisticated CAD systems, and legions of kids which were motivated by the Scientists at NASA. I believe I will.
Our society seems to be quickly succumbing to what the economists refer to as "tragedy of the commons", where everybody is in it for themselves regardless of the cost to others. Our government is passing all sorts of laws encouraging "rent seeking" ( ownership benefits ) at the expense of production ( job creation ), leading us into a welfare state. I see big social problems ahead with this leadership model, as the ownership faction will run amok, leading to enormous wealth disparities between those who labor and those who own. We are setting ourselves up for a civil war between the worker and the politician/banker classes.
We seem to have no problem funding enormous salaries for someone to hit a ball with a stick. Here we have fostered an intelligence great enough to have placed a part of ourselves on another planet, and we bicker over whether we can even fund manning the operation? I am quite sad over this whole affair. It seems the only idols we are given is all this bread and circus crap. No more Spock, Scotty, or Steve Squyres.