Current Events: U.S./What is a Cash Cow?

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Hi. I am wondering what the word means. I thought I knew what it meant from a book I am reading about the NASA space program, the writer said that the Space Shuttle is a Cash Cow. Meaning it was a horrible rotten mistake. He basically said cash was thrown at it for bad political reasons, but it ultimately did not produce or become what it was supposed to be. So it was like saying it was a junker or clunker. A Cash cow.

Today on Fox though, a business analyst says Cash Cow talking about a company, says, It's doing very well. Invest stock in the Cash Cow, meaning it will make you money. So from that I am guessing it is a good thing.

What is a Cash Cow? A clunker? or something good and prosperous? Or is it one of those orwellian double think words that don't really have a meaning.

Thanks,
Mark

Answer
A cash cow is something that produces money, regardless of whatever else it may be doing. If you were an employee for NASA, the space shuttle was a cash cow because it was always going up and producing money for those who worked on it OR if he was referring to people who contracted with NASA, it was a cash cow because companies were paying boat loads of money to have their things taken up in space - like Direct TV satellites.

The term doesn't refer to quality, only that it is making a lot of money.

Current Events: U.S.

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