Is NASA spending a waste?


#61

Oh I don’t worship money. Money and prices are just a way to measure relative worth.

Actually society does place a dollar value on everything including motherhood. For instance if a surgeon harmed a woman during an operation and made her unable to bear children she would be compensated for the value of motherhood.

Also even Catholics can examine motherhood based on money. For instance a couple can decide that it isn’t good to have a child right now because they can’t support it.

None of this means that all things are valued based solely on money.


#62

It would take 1000 years to pay off the debt if we A) stopped it from growing and b) reallocated NASA’s budget to paying off the debt. While that’s occurring a significant source of Earth science, monitoring, research and development goes away. What nation can survive a millennium without investing in itself?


#63

And yet you’ve only discussed the financial aspect of government programs. Perhaps you could bring your nuanced evaluation to bear on those as well.

What would the non-financial cost be to the US if we abandoned being at the leading edge of discovery?


#64

You’ve created a false dilemma. You are saying the US can either fund NASA or not make discoveries. I reject that because we make lots of discoveries without NASA. I also reject that because without NASA we could still make the same discoveries through other private institutions.

If NASA is so great then people can fund it privately. People can contribute to it. I wonder when the last time was someone gave NASA a donation?


#65

#66

If the military is so great then people can fund it privately.

Agreed?

That’s $8000 in the pockets of that family of 4 you were worried about.


#67

Absolutely.


#68

Again, something I do not agree with, and something quite unprovable, making the word “demonstrable” odd. Such is the nature of history, though most know better than to be too dogmatic about such things.

In any case, you vote your way, support what you want, I will do the same.


#69

You name something you think only the government can do and I’ll come up with an example of the private sector doing that same thing.


#70

Fire department. And I’ll save you the trouble.


#71

The initial exploration of Europe. Landing on the Moon. Sending a probe beyond the solar system. Building the first national system of roads across an empire. Photographing Pluto. Landing a rover on Mars.

That last one may be done in the future, but I believe it could not have been possible without the work first done by NASA.


#72

The reason private enterprise couldn’t do the research government entities like NASA do is that private enterprise has to turn a profit quickly or else it fails. Nations can conduct research that benefits not just their military but their civilian projects over the long term.

Why not just do research that benefits only civilian projects and not military ones?

First off, defense of national sovereignty is not an immoral end. We didn’t hear St. John the Baptist telling the soldiers who asked him what they needed to do to quit their jobs, but only to be honest in how they did their jobs and to content with their pay. As Edmund Burke famously put it: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” If good people never did anything in the military realm, the Hitler-like types would be running the world.

Does anyone really wonder what our taxes would look like if only those bent on domination ever ventured into military matters?

Secondly, knowledge does not exist in neat little baskets marked “war” and “peace.” As others have pointed out, discoveries made in the course of putting a man on the moon had a myriad of unforeseen benefits for the civilian life we live today.

Take satellites. No satellites, no advanced weather forecasting. Without that, how many more lives would be lost in major storms? Satellites are also invaluable in advanced cartography, which is in turn invaluable in every sort of decision-making having to do with the lay of the land.

Thanks to technologies that lead to cell phones and electronic banking, businesses in small hamlets in rural countries can do all their banking via cell phones. They do not have to venture out where the meager profits of their businesses are vulnerable to highwaymen. In other words, technology really does benefit all, from the least to the greatest.

The poorest of the poor aren’t paying for NASA. We are all benefiting from things NASA does. Of course it is our responsibility as voters in a democracy to keep tabs on the ways the government spends tax money. We don’t have the right as voters to tax other people any way we like, even though we arguably have the power to do it. Having said that, I’d argue that our current governmental structure does more for the poorest of the poor than any “hands off” societal structure ever did. Anyone who can point to a nation in which a weak hands-off government lead to better treatment of the poorest citizens is welcome to do so, though.

As for arguing that the United States has unfairly fettered the capacity of its citizens to amass wealth, that seems preposterous to me on the face of it. Anyone who believes that is refusing to admit what a really oppressive government looks like or how extremely comfortable life in the United States is even for those who complain the most about how hard they have it. Tell that to an ancestor who lived 150 or 200 years ago. IMHO, they’d be disgusted at the ingratitude, honestly.


#73

I don’t get it. You recognize fire fighting was private. And this goes back to Ancient Rome.

Private interest can do all of that. You are saying because the government did this then only the government can do it. But that doesn’t follow.


#74

Let me remind you of what you said.

I’ll come up with an example of the private sector doing that same thing.

You can still say it is possible, but I will still say it is not and at very least say the word you used (“demonstrable”) is demonstrably ill-used. In the end, we will be governed by the opinion of the majority of the people, more or less.


#75

Well that obviously isn’t what I meant. I meant something more general. Otherwise you could say only the government could build the White House. But there are plenty of better houses built by private interests.


#76

Ah fair enough, I misinterpreted what you said. I gave you an example of where private industry handling a service lead to catastrophe and death and a centralized public system worked better. Certainly private industry ‘can’ do everything a government can. For example we could have private police instead of public, but history has suggested it’s a bad idea, because private interests rarely serve the public good.


#77

Wait now I’m confused, now you’re using “better” as the criteria, so I go back to my original link. Private fire-fighting was catastrophic, public did it better.


#78

The most obvious example may be quantum physics (or quantum theory). Although NASA was not directly responsible for the its ultimate discovery, some of their scientists helped advance it. When quantum physics was discovered and during it’s initial advancement, its influence in practical applications was not understood.

I feel strongly that it would be a colossal mistake to rely solely on private enterprise to discover and advance ideas. A true capitalist system has its own set of issues and is not able to cover all necessities and possibilities.


#79

No, private anything is always better. Your argument would seem to be that some institutions are corrupt or dishonest. Obviously you know government is corrupt and dishonest too. We could find plenty of corruption and incompetence among public firefighting. Just take a look at Detroit.

Private scientific research has been around a long time. The National Geographic society is an example. Universities are another.

It is true that in our modern time a lot of research comes from government. That isn’t because government is so great but because it sucks up so much money it controls everything.


#80

I know that I have a whole lot of minority opinions that I will never see even put forth as a viable issue. But I would still like to see someone like @exnihilo in Congress just because I miss Ron Paul. We need those that are skeptical toward every dollar spent. There is more wisdom in people of unlike minds coming to an understanding than groupthink.

There in is the rub. Capitalism is a positive force, but it can also be a negative force (Catholic doctrine). In any case, it only does what it does, and that isn’t everything.


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