Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Empty space in the budget

The Obama Administration’s proposed budget would decimate the Mars Program and planetary science, canceling the planned missions for 2016 and 2018. Late last week, Congressman Adam Schiff, whose district includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, grilled the head of NASA about it in an effort to grab some attention and maintain funding.

Schiff posted a bit about this on his Facebook wall, including a link to the hearing, and I was pleased to see he mostly got a lot of support. He also got at least one response of the sort I’ve come to expect:

“I don’t understand you. The USA has NO MONEY. Mars has been there for millions of years and we be there for millions more. What on earth is so important that you totally bankrupt the country right now? You need to wake up sir. Stop spending money you don’t have and quit gutting the constitution. I know its late in the game, but when you begin to be responsible? When will you start representing the voice of your district?”

Given that the response was overwhelmingly positive, and given the makeup of his district (a lot of scientists and tech people), I think he IS representing the voice of his district.

There are many reasons to support the space program, but here are just a few: it creates jobs, it creates new technologies that create new jobs, it furthers interest in science and math education, it dovetails with our history as a nation of explorers, and it’s the right thing to do. And then there are always all those unforeseen benefits. Here’s just one example, of how space research actually led to improvements in firefighting technology. And here’s another — and take it for what you will — without the development of technologies necessary to send people to the moon, we wouldn’t have personal computers or miniaturized computing, and you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. So think about it this way: When you support space funding, you’re indirectly paying for this blog. Thanks!

Leave a Reply