Saturday, April 08, 2006

what would you do with 61 billion dollars?

I don’t know about you, but every year I hear about the billions spent at NASA and wonder what it’s all for. I mean, consider our trip to the moon. Cool? Sure. But what did it gain us? It was basically a billion dollar version of a “who’s is bigger” battle between the United States and the Russians (on a side note, tradition has always suggested an unwritten rule that whoever plants their flag first is the owner. Does that mean that the United States owns the Moon? I mean, all but that part that Tom Cruise bought? ) Velcro was cool for a while but eventually the fad went away and we were left with nothing but a really loud adhesive. And every once in a while you stumble across a heat resistant surface that uses “the same technology as is used on the space shuttle” but c’mon, if you’re heating your fry daddy up to those levels, you should probably steer clear of grease and fire anyway.

So I got to thinking, what if we scaled NASA down to the bare minimum for five years. For five years all we paid for was costs on the International Space Station (because we’ve made promises to assist…but then, that never stopped us before) and maintenance and security costs to keep both the Houston and Cape Canaveral facilities in working order (including the staff to do it). And if, for five years, we took the rest of the budget, could we pay off the U.S. national debt? Here are the figures.

NASA’s budget for 2007 is 16,792.3 billion dollars.
Minus our International Space Station costs of 1,811.3 billion dollars
Assume that it wouldn’t cost us more than 700,000 dollars to pay security and maintenance staff.
And then throw in another 3 million for actual building upkeep (and I think I’m being generous).
And you still come up with a savings of 14,997.3 billion dollars. Or 59,989.2 billion dollars over the course of five years.
Add to that the fact that NASA’s budget is due to increase by just over 300 million dollars each year, and you can tack on another 1.2 billion dollars.
That’s a savings of over 61 billion dollars in five years.


Yeah, I was too until I realized that the national debt is at over 8 trillion dollars and climbing at a rate of 2.4 billion dollars a day which means that, even if we froze the national debt and it did not collect a penny of interest, it would still take us fifty years to pay it off using NASA’s budget.

So, still believing that NASA isn’t worth 17 billion dollars a year, the question now goes out to you. What else could we do with 61 billion dollars?

Comments on "what would you do with 61 billion dollars?"


Blogger Dave C said ... (3:46 PM) : 

Hmmmmm....*puts pinky to lip*...61 Biillllllion Dolllars....

I would definitely set up some kind of trust fund for officers doing missions work so they could be paid on a regular basis. And I would also set one up for officers kids, so tey could choose the college they wanted to go based on their grades and acheivments, not just the little amount of money their parents make. Other than that, I'm not sure...


Blogger Bret said ... (4:38 PM) : 

You could help a lot of starving and neglected children. . .help cover the cost of illegal aliens. . .provide better health care for the poor. . .


Blogger Bill said ... (9:24 PM) : 

There are obviously a lot better things to do with 61 Billion dollars than send ships in to space or to maintain the space station.

It amazes what we spend our money on this days.


Blogger Jon said ... (11:18 PM) : 

I feel sad to say that spending that amount of money on NASA's budget doesn't amaze me. I am studying economics at the moment and can understand that this kind of money could be a good investment for an economies future. Also American national debt is at an acceptable level in comparison to its GDP($12 1/2 trillion), which is the important way of looking at it in economic terms. Also without the national debt(essentially investment) America wouldn't be the land of 'milk and honey' that it is percieved as.

I am in a place where I struggle with understanding capitalist economics and how I relate to it as a Christian. My only conclusion is that greed is so powerful and overwhelms too many people.


Blogger surrendered said ... (4:12 AM) : 

you know i have to play the devil's advocate...

someone I work with once told me that for every $1 of NASA's budget, something like $100 in inventions was returned. things like: satellite dishes, medical imaging, bar coding, vision screening systems, ear thermometers, fire fighter equipment, smoke detectors, cordless tools, thermal gloves and boots, invisible braces, advanced plastics and a host of other things. i just pulled this list together from this website.

i guess the question is: are these things worth it? I know I've benefited from several of them. I'd be interested to see if any space exploration has led to medical breakthrough that has helped save lives in third world countries.

Maybe there should be a moratorium on future space travel till we conquer world hunger?


Blogger peter said ... (8:17 PM) : 

I think there is some value in exploration (both in space and underwater). New inventions, technologies, medicines... I think its more a matter of balance.

If we can agree that space exporation has some merits, then perhaps we can, instead of scrapping it all together, cut its budget in half. Frankly it would likely be as beneficial if the space industry was privitized. Let corporations who want to fly to space fly to space Put Bill Gates name on the next space shuttle for all I care. Let the private sector pick up the costs and allow the money to be invested in actually helping people (what a novelty for the gov't)

That's all for now from this side of the ocean. Of course our country has little to no space program and we are not that far ahead as far as social welfare. So I would imagine that money would probably be funneled to some other private enterprises, not to the needy.


Blogger Dave C said ... (4:52 PM) : 

I agree that the advancements on other areas have been worth it.

I also like Peter's idea of privitizing NASA. Things are almost always much more efficient and done better when they are done privately when there are personal investors involved.



Blogger Pete said ... (3:45 AM) : 

You know what gets me fired up is all the looney toons who are pushing for a Mars landing and/or investment in the half-baked concept of terra-forming to try and produce some kind of atmospheric conditions for plant life, or whatever the goal is. Absolute lunacy!

This post reminds me of the movie, Dave, where acting US president Kevin Kilne corrects the budget issues by cutting a ton of incredibly obvious "fat". (As George Foreman would say.. "KNOCK OUT the fat!")

(..NASA and the fry daddy - hysterical! Thanks for the laugh!)


Blogger Pete said ... (3:55 AM) : 

(UGH! In hashing and re-hashing my comments, I always seem to miss correcting the conjugation of the verb "to be" - many apologies to the English majors for the apparent and ghastly butchering!

..and for turning Kevin Kline's into a pottery oven.

be, am, is, are, was, were...)


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