By Ned Dodds
When you come right down to it, the bottom line isn't the bottom line.
Space exploration is not about the cost. And it’s not about fixing all our problems at home first either. That's an impossible requirement to attain because problems at home will never end; solving them all will never happen.
No, exploring the Solar System is about giving those at home some relief from their own daily problems by giving them some hope that there's something worthwhile ahead, something to look forward to, a reason for working through the immediate problems, to surmount them and to go beyond them. And it's a bargain.
Program costs per American FOR ONE YEAR
(Data from the White House, U.S. Census Bureau, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.)
|Whole Federal Budget (FY2004)||$7996.55|
|- Social Security||$1696.55|
|- Department of Defense||$1293.10|
|- Medicaid (FY2003)||$927.76 (see Note 1)|
|- Medicare & SCHIP*||$917.24|
|- HUD-Welfare Programs||$129.79|
|- Department of Homeland Security||$96.55|
|- Federal Research and Development Budget||$437.82|
|-- Space R & D (non-defense, all agencies)||$33.94|
|-- NASA's entire budget||$51.72|
|-- Moon-Mars & Beyond (FY05 request)||$6.14|
|Note 1: Medicaid cost $269 billion in 2003 for medical care, nursing homes and prescription drugs for the poor.--USA Today, 3/1/2004 That's nearly 18 times NASA's entire annual budget and is money that only maintains Welfare recipients as they are without doing a thing to improve anyone's circumstances.|
NASA's budget is only a fraction of the total Federal Research and Development budget; the rest is in other agencies. This is the funding that develops new technologies, or advances old ones, to develop new products that build new small businesses which create new jobs that can improve people's circumstances.
Yet only 5.5% of the whole Federal Budget is devoted to Research and Development that will result in new technologies, new products, new companies and new jobs.
And the new Vision for Space Exploration is only a tiny piece of that. . . So the question your elected officials need to hear from you is this:
"Since the future of the U.S. Economy depends so much on new technologies, new products, new companies and new jobs, why is the R & D portion of the Federal Budget, especially for the new Vision for Space Exploration, so small?"
Humanity will not be bound to one planet. It needs to expand beyond the Earth as it has expanded beyond known frontiers into unknown territories ever since the human species first arrived on this planet. Someone will do it eventually; it doesn't matter who from a human survival viewpoint, but we want the history books of the future to show that our country maintained its leadership role in continuing human expansion into the space frontier.
Perhaps the following facts will help your discussion with those critics who are still concerned about the costs vs. benefits of opening the space frontier:
NASA's entire $15.1 billion FY2005 budget, if canceled and used elsewhere:
Some places to check:
Many space exploration advocacy group web sites are linked on my web site at the URL shown below.
Beyond Earth Orbit Fact Sheet: http://www.beyondearthorbit.org Ned Dodds 2004 email@example.com
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