Alright. I admit it. I am a space nerd! I love all things space. The exploration and hopefully one day colonization of Mars; Mining near earth asteroids; Hopefully populating other star systems within the next few hundred years. All of this is incredibly exciting to me. Few things are as neat to me as space exploration. I mean really, when is the last time you saw deer blasting off into space, even a raccoon talking about warp drive? The human species is special, extraordinary, and space exploration is just one instance of this fact.
But, many people don’t like NASA right now. They look around at the economy, the looming fiscal cliff, and think to themselves: “What a waste of money!” I can understand this thought process. NASA spends A LOT of money. But, let’s explore the fundamental error in this thought process.
How can you possibly “waste” money? You see, money isn’t like the gas in your car. It doesn’t get used up and disappear. You could even try to call it “money mismanagement.” You’d be hard-pressed to defend that claim though. To understand this, we can look at the latest mission to Mars; The Curiosity rover. This latest mission cost the United States $2.5 Billion. That’s a whole lot of money. For what, you might ask? Let me explain.
In an economy where we are ever worried about job creation, and not just any jobs, but well paying jobs, NASA employs hundreds, if not thousands of people. And, that’s not it. People who think that the government is taxing us at too high a rate should be happy with programs like NASA. Essentially, NASA received $2.5 Billion from the government, with which they invested in products made by privately owned companies. This federal money was handed to NASA, which they put into privately owned business, who paid their employees payroll, which they used to buy food from privately owned grocery stores, who paid payroll to their employees… You get the point. Money cannot be wasted simply by spending it.
It isn’t like once money is spent it disappears. Actually, economies thrive when money is circulated in this fashion. The more money moves, the better we are. This is why the current administration, and perhaps its predecessor, spend money the way they do. It’s called Keynesian Economics. There is certainly more to it than this, and has not been practised correctly by any Presidency that I am aware of. Once the economy starts to do better, you need to raise taxes to pay for the debt collected during the times of high spending. No president has done this so far, because nobody like taxes (no matter how good they are for the economy.).
But, I digress. 🙂