Monday, August 13, 2012

Question 4 -- Budget

In your opinion, should NASA's annual budget (currently about $18 billion) be substantially increased, be substantially decreased, or remain at about the current level – and why? [In responding to this question, assume that an increase in NASA's budget would require reduction(s) elsewhere in the federal budget and, conversely, that a decrease in NASA's budget would enable increased funding elsewhere in the federal budget.] 

NASA should be funded at level that is 1% - 1.5% of the nation's budget. Yes, two to three times higher than the current funding level.

We either make this critical long-term-investment, or we stagnate.

NASA-derived-technology is already the basis of many earthbound enterprises. NASA's proven ability to spin out technologies can be and must be driven to even more rewarding levels.

Every dollar spent on-or-by NASA is spent on Earth, mainly as American jobs. Leverage NASA's additional funding as an economic-force. It attracts educated, well payed citizenry who build communities and set higher standards of living. And in more ways than one, drive the 'desire for higher-education', which is currently a serious-issue in many parts of our nation. How much is that alone worth?

The space programs of the 1960s/70s captured and drove the imaginations of a couple of generations of young people who grew up and built Silicon Valley and myriad large and small high-tech industries across the country. The return from these industries in the form of corporate and personal taxation is above average. This alone makes adding to NASA's long term budget justifiable but it will also result in many intangible and some very tangible dividends to American industry, culture and lifestyle.

"But where will the money come from?".

An off-the-cuff answer would be, from where it was produced to fund the wars America engages in. Or the same-place the money comes from for bailing-out industries too-big-to-fail, NASA with it's network of industrial-and-academic partners is also too-big-to-fail... However, a couple necessarily-simplistic (space-constrained) possibilities:

Additional NASA funding could be *considered* funding *for* and *from* other federally-funded initiatives, in fields that it benefits, including education, medicine, technology, environmental-monitoring, especially of the military and intelligence-gathering, and
several others.

Consider allowing voluntary contributions from taxpayers similar to the collection of dollars for political-elections.


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