Planet-seeking telescope funding denied, thanks to you-know-what.

February 1, 2008 | By | 6 Replies More

Is there a better way to spend the money we are currently spending in Iraq?

The January 18, 2008 issue of Nature reports that Congress is telling NASA that NASA needs to dig up $60 Million in funding for a planet-hunting telescope out of its general budget, money that simple doesn’t exist (this article is available on line only to subscribers).  NASA is outraged. Congress will not provide any additional funding. The stated purpose of the project is undeniably worthy according to scientists.  Because of the attitude displayed by Congress, however, other NASA projects are also endangered, including “missions to study dark energy, gravity waves and X-ray astronomy.”

The thing that struck me on reading this article is the tiny amount in controversy regarding this NASA project, relative to enormous size of the Iraq budget.  We spend $275 million per day to do the things we do in Iraq.

This makes me wonder? How many other worthy science projects are not getting funding because of Iraq expenses? It would be interesting and depressing to see people raise their hands in response to this question:  How many of you have had federal funding denied on worthy projects because of the “lack of money in the budget.”  We need to constantly call “lack of money” for what it is. It’s not lack of money.  Rather, we’re spending that money on Iraq.

It’s not simply that we are pissing away money on the “War on Terror”  (BTW, it’s not a war and it’s not about terror, though it pretends to be).  And this “war” effort is even worse than a simple misallocation of money.  We are causing massive political damage by doing the things we are doing in Iraq. People around the world hate what we are doing in Iraq and have no respect for the reasons we utter for pursuing this “war.”  The great majority of Americans now agree with the people around the world (those people we used to scoff at when they doubted our intentions and methods).

How many worthy projects will never be funded? And how many unfunded humanitarian projects are not being funded because of the “war”? What could that money have accomplished?  What about new cures for malaria, TB, cancer and dozens of other diseases that take the lives of millions every year?  What about funding new methods of conserving, generating and storing energy, to lessen our dependence on oil?  What about new improved methods of birth control, to reduce the demand for abortions, which, in turn, might put somewhat of a damper on the culture war that is tearing the U.S. apart?

Dollars and hours are fungible, which means that the Iraq “war” is utterly immoral, especially so in that it has accomplished none of its stated objectives; further, it’s failed to accomplish those objectives at horrific cost.  We can see much of the carnage and destruction, but there is equal amount of damage that we can’t see.  This invisible damage consists of things that we could have done with the time and money we have squandored on Iraq.  Iraq is, and always was, a domestic issue.

All of these unfunded projects must be viewed in the context of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and wounded and the millions that have been displaced in pursuit of the misbegotten so-called “war.”

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Category: Corruption, Iraq, Politics, Science, Technology, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

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  1. Mythprogrammer says:

    Science usually hurts under wars and I'm sick of it. Nasa and other noteworthy projects capable of improving mankind and its understanding should not come second best to a "war" that can not be won because not everyone will like everyone else. Nasa I feel for you.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    What is the reputation of the United States? Here are the numbers.  Link here.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    "What is the reputation of the United States?"

    Heck, Bush doesn't care what *Americans* think of him, why should he care what 'furiners' think?

  4. Neil Fiertel says:

    One can say, of course, the war in Iraq has nearly bankrupted the US..One can also say, why exactly is the US SPENDING MONEY ON THE STUPID, USELESS, SPACE STATION?? It delivers zero science, a lot of air pollution, losses of many lives via the uqually stupid Shuttle, likely long term decrease in life span for the inhabitants and..no planet seeking telescope…The Earth, the home of the human species ought to be going into space all working together to colonise via the moon instead of pretending to be doing space research and in so doing, funding the planetary telescopes would be a part of such ongoing expansion of our species off the earth…One needs in a sense to look ahead before going!

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Neil: I agree with your comments about the space station. From everything I've read, it's not orbiting up there as part of the pursuit of science.

  6. Dan Klarmann says:

    My father fought the space station project since its first proposal in the '80's. But he had no more clout than any other scientist working for NASA. That public relations behemoth was built at the expense of all other space research for 2 decades. It is full of compromises that make it neither an adequate station for extended human occupation, nor a good base for micro-gravity industry.

    I'm not worried. China plans to have a moon base in the next decade. They can sell data to us, if our fast-increasing debt to them allows.

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