Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Cost of...

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
-Ben Franklin

I began writing this as a discussion of military spending vs. space exploration costs. I would have liked that to be a central theme, but my anger grew as I gathered more and more numbers until I decided to instead basically list a few interesting numbers to give a perspective on spending.

The general misconception is that NASA gets a bunch of money. It is then sometimes attacked as a waste. "We can spend that money on feeding the poor... etc," they exclaim. One thing I have personally come to dislike is military spending. Now, I enjoy the fact that our country has a large military, the largest. We account for close to half of the entire worlds military spending. What I think is that it is too large. Lets look at some numbers.

Now, to date, the Iraq war has cost approximately $515.75 billion. That is around 341 million dollars a day. The 2008 budget for NASA was $17.318 billion, or about 50 Iraq days (ID's). The highly successful Mars rovers cost around $820 million, 3 ID's. The Cassini Probe, another fantastic adventure, cost $3.26 billion, 10 ID's. The entire budget of NASA to date, adjusted for inflation totals to $618.412 billion. The cost of a meaningless war equals sending man into space, landing on the moon, building all the shuttles, a space station, sending countless probes and satellites and robots into space, and all the other stuff NASA does, all of which have added immensely to our base of knowledge.

I guess it just makes me a little sick.

Other numbers:
Yearly cost of nuclear weapons: $15.1 billion
Money spent on gambling in US, 2005: $84.65 billion
2008 Social Security: $608 billion
Money spent on pets in the US a year: around $40 billion
Nation Science Foundation 2008 budget: $5.9 billion

We need our priorities, but math and science and technology are taking a back seat to many other programs. Which of these programs are going to help our nation in the end? Which are going to keep us competitive in the global market? Which will inspire new technology and innovation, thus leading to a strong economy and more jobs and better education? I think it is easy to see.

Good Links:
*(other data was collected easily using the Force =>Google)
Death and Taxes Poster

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