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NASA: Launching new endeavors to inspire the next generation of taxpayers

December 1, 2008

by moonchow

When Uncle Sam opens up his checkbook most sensible Americans cringe in fear and disgust. Well, for one thing, the government’s checkbook is actually the taxpayer’s checkbook and, for another thing, the federal government of this great country has not had the best track record when it comes to spending that money wisely. For proof, just look at that wonderful financial bailout plan, that herald of socialism, government intervention, stupidity, and general injustice.

Indeed, the government just loves spending other people’s money, like a child with his mother’s credit card. American lawmakers seem to enjoy throwing money at every problem. And why not? Why should they actually work as a cohesive unit to solve problems and, well, do their jobs when you can just throw money at bureaucracies, pork projects and half-baked, watered down ideas. The only thing the government actually does well is defend the country, but in recent years even defense spending has been turned into a terrible money sponge.

It should be obvious, based on the above attacks on government spending, that I might describe myself as a classical liberal. Despite this, I actually believe that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, is an excellent use of taxpayer money. This might seem hypocritical and paradoxical, but the good old NASsholes—yes, the guys that spend millions of dollars to send cameras to uninhabited rocks floating in the black seas of oblivion—hold a special place in my heart.

The reason for this is simple: they’ve actually done useful things for the country and for humanity as a whole. I would be more inclined to support more social programs if they actually produced these kinds of results. I may have a self-prescribed ideology, but what I believe in more than any political ideology is efficiency, and NASA has historically produced positive results. One need only look at the various research “spinoffs” from NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program for proof.

Through research, development and funding NASA has helped give mankind a myriad of beneficial technologies: modern firefighting gear is based on lightweight materials originally developed by NASA; radial tires and safety grooving on runways, aircraft anti-icing and de-icing systems are all spawned from NASA as well. For the environmentalist, the space people also pioneer solar energy and water purification systems. Hell, they’ve even given us LED lights and those comfortable temper foam pillows that are always being advertised on TV. These are just a handful of thousands of NASA pioneered technologies and products. The best part is that they work with private companies to fund, research, and develop all of these for the consumer. See? They’re helping the economy and helping the human condition.

On that basis alone NASA justifies its budget. Besides that, the budget for NASA is just a drop in the bucket of the USA’s annual three trillion dollars. In 2008 the administration’s budget was 17.3 billion, which is only about 0.6% of the country’s annual federal budget. We have freedom of information in this country. Just check the numbers, it’s a negligible expense. I’d say we’re actually getting some bang for our buck with these guys. If they’re blowing away so much of our money we might as well get something from it, right?

Finally, NASA is worth it because of the hope it holds for the future of mankind. Perhaps it’s a hopelessly romantic notion, but just imagine the potential of humanity. Think of how we’ve advanced in just the past century and imagine the potential for advancement in the future. And, let’s face it, eventually we’re going to have to leave this planet or just die off as a species. I doubt humans will just lay down and die when the planet eventually goes bottom up. So, really, even the seemingly wasted money on trips to distant rocks can be seen as a valuable long-term investment.

Although the government wastes a lot of taxpayer money, I say that NASA is at least a positive and productive use of that money. Or we could just get rid of NASA so the government can throw that 17 billion dollars at politicians and bureaucracies. I would rather not.

Oh yeah, and space travel and pictures of space are cool. That’s all people need to know. Disregard all of the above.

Links

NASA website

NASA Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP)

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