Such an amazing event! I stayed up to watch the Curiosity landing on NASA's live stream of the NASA TV link. A very beautiful thing to see such a complex feat accomplished - imagine if politicians were 10% this good at what they are supposed to do - or the average business was half as good.
I'm a big believer in scientific exploration and unmanned probes and robots are the right platforms for the task. Manned flight tends to be bound to low Earth orbit and is extremely expensive - it is also old hat and not very much is done that couldn't be done by a robot (I know - there are examples like fixing the HST, but the cost of the repair mission was about half as much as the Hubble alone. Throw in the extra cost of the Hubble launch and you could have nearly purchased a new Hubble mission from ground zero).
If you can afford it manned missions can have other values, but it really isn't exploration. That said, I'd love to go along for the ride and see the sights. The romance has a certain value and perhaps it is inspiration to kids thinking about an engineering career - but I'm not convinced on the later point.
There was a period during the late 50s and lasting through the 60s, where manned spaceflight - ending in putting people on the moon - was making enormous technical breakthroughs. Many of these had a huge impact on society. You see figure like a 10 or even 20 to 1 return on investment and I can easily believe that. I wish there was a way to recapture that level of development - I suspect there is somewhere, but even if we had it I doubt that it would be pursued. That would probably be up to China at this point.
There is some very low cost real exploration that could be done - namely understanding the oceans. To categorize them as an alien world is an understatement and a large scale effort could be mounted for very little compared with manned space But this has been an area that has nearly been zeroed out in the budget.