Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An open letter to Senator Obama:

Dear Senator Obama:

I'm very upset by recent statements you have made about funding education by "postponing" elements of the space program. Let me tell you why this is a very ill-advised position.

1. It makes you look like an idiot.

If you do indeed postpone Orion by five years, you have effectively killed it. The project will lose its knowledgeable personnel, its production schedule will be canceled and there will then be no replacement for the 40 year old shuttle fleet. The Russians (and perhaps by then, the Chinese) will be the only nations with manned access to the ISS and to space.

2. It makes you look like an idiot.

The entire space program soaks up about 0.15 % of the federal budget, the DoD currently consumes about 31% of the federal budget (when you include the costs of our several wars). As president you could extract the entire NASA budget from the DoD budget and they wouldn’t even know it was gone, it’s a rounding error. In addition, the space program is the only government program in our nation’s history which can be shown to have paid for itself – in terms of fiscal and medical benefits derived from cutting edge technology which NASA either invented or sponsored.

3. It makes you look like an idiot.

Every self-serving, tub-thumping, ill-informed, moronic, blowhard political hack in the past fifty years has attacked NASA to herd the ‘proles’ to his side. By pandering to the Luddite, anti-intellectualism rampant in American society, they hope to send a message to the masses: “I’m one of you, I hate smart people too.” This is certainly not hopeful, nor audacious, it’s just old-time political quackery.

4. It makes you look like an idiot.

American education isn’t just about “readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic” so you can go out and make great gobs of money. There must be goals – great ones, dreams far larger than rolling up a nice, fat 401K. In order to meld us together as a nation, we need aspirations that demand greatness from us. Young people need to see that there is opportunity to actually accomplish their dreams and a purpose larger than earning a living.

Fools and madmen use our fear to conjure threats, precipitate useless wars and make cowards of us all. Do not be this kind of politician, we have more than enough already.

Leaders address the best that is in us, qualities we didn’t know we had and demand that we rise to meet those expectations because we can rise and we can create something new, beautiful and bold.

The space program represents those qualities of aspiration, expectation and accomplishment that we must embrace as a nation if we are to prosper and live long.

The choice you currently espouse leads, inevitably, downward, stifling creativity and handing the future to others. It is also intellectually lazy and can easily be shown to be massively counterproductive both economically and scientifically - and, it makes you look like an idiot.

You still have the chance to reverse yourself and reject the foolish counsel that proposes to cut off our future in order to make political points with fools.

It’s your choice as to what company you will keep – what will you do?


Craig Della Penna

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