The NASA Question
Is something in the water over there on the Wampanoag Trail at the WPRO studios? I’m amazed at what I’m hearing. First, today Dan Yorke was going on about how great the Mars landing was for NASA and his opinion that this is the kind of thing that we should be spending tax dollars on. Skip ahead a couple hours to the Matt Allen Show and Matt has a similar opinion. He’s all geeked out about the technology and how successful it all was and how he also seems to agree on using tax dollars to fund space exploration.
I couldn’t disagree more.
First, I’ll agree that it is an awesome achievement and I share Matt’s “what ifs” with questions like what if NASA finds traces of DNA or some new element that is a cure for cancer. Those are great reasons to be there. I just feel we should not be using tax dollars to do it.
When my friends on the left tire of my whining about the federal budget, they’ll ask something along the lines of “Ok smart guy, what would you cut?” expecting the usual “Welfare!” My first answer is always the same “NASA.” Last fiscal year, the NASA budget was $18.4B. Sure, that’s about one half of one percent of the entire federal budget, but imagine what else we could do with $18.4 billion. That’s still a lot of money. It’s about $118 per federal income tax payer. Relatively peanuts? Maybe to some, but that’s also the point.
Some people believe that this is an awesome accomplishment and love the fact that they’re helping to pay for it. That’s great and I don’t want to stop people from doing so. However, I don’t want to force everyone else to pay for this as well. My solution is to privatize it.
I would offer all of NASA to Sir Richard Branson for one dollar. He can have the whole thing to do with it as he sees fit. Or, if it could be done, break up NASA into other logical divisions and sell those off to other various corporations, like a Lockheed-Martin, that could do some good with it.
My basic feeling is that if a government organization like NASA does so much good, then the private industry could do it as well. I think the reason that people don’t beat NASA at their own game is in part due to the fact that not just anyone is allowed to launch a spaceship to the moon or elsewhere into outer space. Also there’s an attitude of why not just join them? It’s government funded, so become a partner with NASA or work for them directly.
My feeling is that government should provide infrastructure and defense and to me, NASA doesn’t do either one. Flying to Mars really is an awesome accomplishment and all those scientists deserve all the praise in the world (in the universe?) but I just think they shouldn’t be publicly funded.