26 November 2007

Space Exploration and the Myth of Scarcity

A while back I ran across a woman who actually thinks that the United States should hold off on space exploration until the lions' share of Federal funding goes to feed and take care of all the disadvantaged folks in the country. As I tried to deboggle my brain I thought she said that we should dismantle NASA, and JPL and move the pipe filling those coffers over to some social programs...that we should just take what you have in data and photographs and re-focus all our intentions and attention on "improving lives." So someone has to visit that school and tell that child, who just saw Teacher in Space Barbara R. Morgan and the rest of the crew of STS-118 and dreams of becoming an astronaut that she can't because the Americans haven't all been fed and clothed yet. And until that happens the space program has to stop.

Now maybe later on after the national alimentation has occurred, maybe, just maybe, we can send another unmanned probe somewhere but we can't even think of sending people up again. It just all costs too much.


Now maybe if the unemployment figures were at 95% and we were looking at an unprecedented full unemployment, we would have scarcity in the system because the five percent would be the source of tax revenue for the nation. But we've never gotten to that point. There has been a pretty steady stream of people going to work and having their wages garnished for Federal income taxes so it's not a problem of money supply for the government to pay for programs. Government mismanagement of funds?

Taking money from NASA and buying commodities with it to feed a nation would not sustain the nation beyond a brief period of time. We are dealing with bureaucrats and governments. It is impossible to know that a dollar taken out of one budget will land in any other or that this other is necessarily the best or a better place for it.

Then what happens to the disadvantaged? The system is designed to take care of itself. We're not dealing with a single pie that one has to make an infinite number of slices to feed everyone. If that were the case we'd all have murdered each other long ago over half-eaten, infinitely thin pie slivers.

Stop thinking in terms of being under siege.

As I've said earlier, there is money moving through the system all the time and out of that we're constantly using that to buy food and clothes and it also goes to buy space ships. It's what we've done all along. I don't think it can be put any more simply.

So don't go into that school and tell that little girl that she can't have her dream and follow it. Instead tell her to dream more. And tell all her friends to dream and follow theirs. Because that is what our future is built upon...not shunting life from one to another in a sick daisy-chain of assumed interdependence. That's not the world we live in. Nor is it one we'd want to raise our children in.

Someone's got to do the dreaming in the world. And if you shatter the little girl's dream of going into space, someone, somewhere is going to shatter your dream of full bellies everywhere. It's a karma thing.

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