[From Bill Williams 18 January 2004 10:40 PM CST]
I don't think the trade-off between the man space program and space science is a zero sum game, I think it is a negative sum game.
I think the resources, the resources now availible at the current state of technology could support most of things I'd like to see done for poor children at least in the United States, and a space sciences program. I have doubts about a Mars program and fixing stuff that I feel is of more urgency here on earth.
In the current scheme of things, the manned program is being used as an excuse to justify abandoning Hubble. There might be good reasons for this but at least some of the people involved are angry. There are also people who say Hubble's had its day, but I've never heard that any viewing time, Hubble's that is, was going to waste. So, I suspect that it may be possible that the people saying that it is time to junk Hubble are hired hands telling us what they have been told to tell us.
I don't know that we are in anything approaching complete agreement regarding economic issues, but I will say if people in the sciences would take the time to understand what you understand I think there might be less opposition to science programs.
From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet) on behalf of Martin Taylor
Sent: Sun 1/18/2004 8:24 PM
Subject: Re: Because it is there?
[From Bill Williams 17 January 2004 2:15 PM CST]
[Martin Taylor 2004.01.17.1456]
[From Bill Williams 16 January 2004 12:00]
would the expenditure on going to Mars generate a result that is of
equal value to that which might be spent on poor children in need of
basic medical services? Is this the conclusion that you've reached
regarding the comparative values of the two alternative uses of a
dollar of government expenditure?
-I think there is a misconception. It is only if the government
-arbitrarily decides that there is s spending box that a dollar spent
-on one project is a dollar less for other projects. As Bill P keeps
-pointing out, the dollar spent on even the most useless
-dig-a-hole-and-fill-it project goes into the pockets of the workers
-(who may be the very poor about whom you are concerned). They spend
-those dollars on other things, allowing more people to be employed,
-and generating more taxes that allow the government to spend more on
-other direct projects.
There one thing about which there should be little or no doubt--
there isn't any shortage of misconceptions. But, I'm not sure what
point you are attepting to make in the above. What you are saying is
either so obvious or so profound that I'm not sure why it is being
I have thought for years that it is obvious, but it seems to be
denied by all the political commentators and economists who advise
I'm not opposed to space exploration itself. I'm actually in favor
of mildly increasing expenditures for things like telescopes, both
on the ground and in space, and robot probes and so forth. But, I
do think the manned space program has been pretty much a waste. At
least that's what friends who are involved in what seem to me to be
genuinely scientific work tell me.
They say their work is being curtailed because as they say it, "the
money's being sucked into Flash Gordon adventure/fantasy schemes."
And they are right, because the political climate says that money
spent on manned space will be money not spent on unmanned space or on
reducing on-earth poverty. My point was simply that thei is a human
political choice, not a law of economics, no matter what the
economists tell the politicians.
.., I think there are things here at home in the real world that need fixing.
There sure are! amd the more governments help money to circulate from
the rich to the poor and back again to the rich, the sooner they will
get fixed. Let the _real_ limits be the ones that affect us, not the
artificial ones imposed by dogma.
I'm not sure why you say it's so obvious that the limit isn't in the
money, and then say somethinglike this. I do know that I cut in my
quote a bit about if there's so many trillions spent on space, it
will mean that real resource will reach their limits. I don't think
the kinds of resources that will be limited by space exploration are
the kinds required by the kids, so I think even there you are
applealing to the illusory limits on available money--treating money
as if it were a stock rather than a flow, to use SD terminology.
Perhaps it might be better if I modified my argument and frame it
this way. As I understand it, at least as I read the news, the Mars
project will result in cut backs for things like telescopes in space
(maintaince and resupply for Hubble), and other good stuff. And,
Since I'm in favor of science in space I am opposed to spending
money on space adventures.
I'm opposed to limiting the money spent on space by doing that kind
of zero-sum game.
Will you forgive me for thinking briefly about children who are hungry?
You aren't the only one who thinks of them. But we do seem to differ
on ways to help them. I think spending trillions on getting humanity
able to live off this planet will have both a long-term and a short
term benefit for those children. You think spending the money on
space means it will not be spent on children, and you may be right.
What I say is that if you are right, it will be because of choice by
a few decision-makers, not because it must be so.
What I would like to get across to all those levels of government is
what you, up top, say (and I agree) is so obvious.