...But Can We Afford It?

The US Space Program recently announced that it’s planning to return to the moon by 2018 with plans to travel to Mars not much later. The space shuttle is being cast to the wayside in 2010 to make way for the CEV, or Crew Exploration Vehicle, which will transport up to four astronauts to the moon and back and even transport supplies to the International Space Station. NASA Administrator Michael Griffith has referred to the vehicle as “Apollo on steroids.”
Yet while according to NASA, the price of the new space program is only fifty-five percent of the original Apollo program after inflation spread out over thirteen years, Americans must still ask the question of whether we want to foot the bill at this chapter in America. Some are predicting the costs of assisting the survivors of Hurricane Katrina to be between two and three hundred million dollars. We’re still fighting a war in Iraq, and while it may not be widely publicized, we’re still working a little on Afghanistan. President Bush still intends to keep his tax cuts in place while the Federal Reserve raised interest rates another quarter percent to its highest point in four years. The economy is doing well even after a national tragedy of rebuilding a city and a war in which over 1,900 soldiers have died, but is it well enough to cover this new cost? Our economy was on an upturn, but this will not be for long. Even as we are facing questions like where we are going to pay for Social Security or stopping budget reconstruction that could eliminate nine billion dollars set toward government-funded financial aid, the President wishes to add another bill.
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t travel into space. I’m all for exploration, but I’m also for feeding people who have lost cities and continuing my college education. I’m for bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice and maintaining stability in the new nation of Iraq. I’m for giving North Korea whatever aid it needs so they don’t develop nuclear weapons and being able to retire happily. I’m for paying for what I already have and not bringing on new bills.
Let’s rebuild New Orleans before we put stations on the moon. Let’s make sure that Iraq is squared away before we try to conquer Mars. Let’s make sure that Americans are getting their tax dollars’ worth out of the programs they are already funding before the President buys us steak when we have trouble affording Ramen. I’m all for steak, but let’s not set our goals too high. Maybe we can put a CEV on layaway.


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