“How is it they can send a man to the moon,” goes the popular complaint, “but they can’t make a [insert product here] that can [insert desired functionality here]?” It’s true, while many important earth-bound issues remain more or less neglected, America continues to invest in zooming off into space just to look around and remark, “Jeepers. The earth looks so tiny from up here.” Over the years, our country has spent approximately fourteen gazillion smackers on our space program. That may not be an exact number, but it’s a pretty fair estimate. The expense is not all that surprising; space stuff is pricey: the aerospace-grade titanium for the ships, the super high-tech equipment, the cameras and other recording apparatuses, the training, and the spacesuits, not to mention all that Tang.
For some reason, all this rocketing around has become a symbol of patriotism and national pride (despite the fact that outer space isn’t in the USA . . . at least not yet). But frankly, the Curmudgeon has never quite understood what all the hoopla is about. It’s not that I’m unintrigued by what might be out there. Who wouldn’t be? I’m just a bit stumped by the priorities.
Imagine all the things we could fix with just one of NASA’s many gazillions. I’m betting it would be enough to permanently house all the homeless, feed all the hungry, fund Social Security, clean up Flint’s water, and finally buy Greenland—all far more important than collecting moon rocks.
Consider this: If your house is full of mold and falling apart with holes in the roof, missing window panes, gaps in the floor, termites, and a weird smell, signing yourself up to go away to expensive science camp might not be the wisest allocation of your funds. It would perhaps be more advisable to use your money to fix those things in your home before galivanting off to spend it elsewhere. The way I see it, we haven’t quite worked out caring for our little piece of Earth yet. In fact, so far, we’ve rather botched it. I say until we can learn to pick up our toys, no science playset for us.
For many, my point of view would be considered sacrilege. Reduce funding for the space program? Perish the thought! What if someone else gets ahead of us and takes all the coolest moon rocks? And that kind of obsession strikes me as distinctly male . . . and not in a good way. We men seem to have a need to mess with things and see what they do. We like to push buttons—in fact, all the buttons—to see what happens. We have a childish craving to be first, biggest, and best. We must conquer places and plant our flag in the ground to mark our territory. So we go up there with a big, fast, macho rocket that has cool-looking fire coming out of it and a big USA on the side, and we make sure to film it so everyone knows what we did.
Well, we have put a man on the moon. In fact, we were the first to put a man on the moon. And while there are several others I’d like to shoot up there for good, I think it would serve us better to rest on our laurels for a bit and redirect all those gazillions toward needs of greater (forgive me) gravity.
But what to do with all that left-over metal? Hmm . . . I believe someone wanted to build a wall. There you go. I just saved us that expense as well. I tell you, someone ought to let me run this whole thing.