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Someday You Will Have to Look Up

April 15, 2010

One of my most vivid memories from childhood is walking out into the light polluted sky and looking up at the stars.  As a youth I came to realize the importance of space, that’s where the future is, up there in that star-flecked sky and America better get up there and win it.

America’s subsequent triumph in space, as the first and only nation to land men on the moon and safely return them, is the greatest achievement of the 20th century and all the benefits of that mission have led to uplifting prosperity. So it makes perverted sense for Obama to destroy our pride in this matchless accomplishment and stage our humiliation before the world; America, which once deployed masterly innovation, commitment and daring to conquer space, is now deliberately surrendering the New Frontier. Once we were the masters of the sky and today our government is failing us. We are saving fish and birds and other meaningless stimulating junk.

The symbolism is breathtaking. From now on, whenever we remember with pride the courage and sacrifice of the Mercury astronauts, or Neil Armstrong boldly taking “One small step for a man, one giant step for mankind,” or Jim Lovell and the crew of Apollo 13 calmly tinkering with duct tape to repair their capsule, we’ll quickly deflate with the afterthought: “Oh yeah. Now the Russians do that. We don’t.”  There will always be a punch line, an asterisk, an anti-climactic stain at the end of the story.

And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Obama has pulled America’s big dreams back to earth.  No more of that once ubiquitous cliché, “Surely, if we can go to the moon, we can do X.” We’ll We can’t go to the moon. Or Mars. Or even into space if Obama gets his way.  President Kennedy, who launched the space program, told us, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

America doesn’t do hard anymore.  There’s no point in inspiring our children with dreams of reaching for the stars. We’re more “nuanced” now. We understand there’s only one path to greatness in the 21st century, only one way upward to the stars: through Obama. We’ve got too much welfare to pay for now so your dreams will have to die.

The eternal flame on Kennedy’s grave is sputtering out, and America is lost in the dark.

Lets start with what NASA means to us as a nation. If I had a nickel for every time someone said “why are we spending money up there when we have problems down here” I’d have been able to build a colony on Mars by now. The problem with the type of thinking that says, why do it when we have such problems is that it’s a lot like walking while watching your feet, at some point you have to look up. NASA is something that can do far more empowering than just looking down, we need to look up and to dream that is the best way to empower the next generation.

 The current Obama plan promotes access to low earth orbit, the only problem is that that’s no longer a space frontier. The original space act of 1957 said NASA needs to advance “a space frontier” but Obamas plan commands NASA to boldly go where hundreds have gone before, it’s not a frontier and more, It’s time to move on to the next step. NASA should expand the frontiers, while private space industry takes over from NASA each step of the way after NASA has blazed the trail.

What does the new program allow? Well it says were not going to the moon anymore, maybe we’ll go to Mars one day and that worries me. Without a specific destination in mind we will have no direction for a long time and we ultimately will do nothing because those who would have pioneered the technologies will have long faded away. The foundations of the economy in the 21st century will be laid by investments in science and technology and we’ve known that since the industrial revolution. The nations that make investment and explore out on the frontiers are the ones who lead the world, America is fading right now. This is about the effect of NASA on the nation about what we have been and for a time forgot we could be.

Nobody in this administration is dreaming about tomorrow anymore there stuck in a little world of subsidies and welfare entailments that they think are going to be supported by a bottomless well of taxpayer money. What will happen when the people who make it possible to produce wealth are tossed to the curb?  The most powerful particle accelerator is in Europe and the fastest trains are German trains running in China while our infrastructure is collapsing and no one is dreaming about tomorrow and the tools to create it are rusting. Politicians are running around putting Band-Aid’s one problem after problem while the most powerful tools of imagination and wealth creation, our science and technology projects lay underfunded, mission less and rusting. Our institutions of education (both high and low) are rusting and failing away while we live in an increasingly darker world. This world is only the product of our choices. In the end though we all deep down know the truth you can’t give away everything without starving yourselves. This country wasn’t built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness and happiness was and is possible. They are taking us into darker times than any we can imagine or have ever known. This is your choice, thinking and prosperity or emotion and poverty.   

So the question America is this: How much would you pay for the future?   

Its time to look up.

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