May 27th, 2008

NASA, Legalized Theft, and a Waste of Money


photo credit: pingnews.com

This week has brought us new images from Mars, as NASA’s latest mission gets underway on the red planet. While a few media pundits are reporting on the mission’s progress, not a single one is soliciting or encouraging debate on the existence of the agency itself.

Students of government know perfectly well the truth of the following maxim uttered by the pre-presidential Ronald Reagan:

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth! (Ronald Reagan, via Quoty)

Since its inception, so-called leaders in government have been quite fond of this un-Constitutional agency. NASA’s $17 billion annual budget is a taxpayer black hole of astronomical proportions, providing scientists with the resulting bounty of legalized theft. Max Raskin eloquently portrayed the NASA problem thusly:

Is there really anything incredible about giving billions of dollars to a bunch of rocket scientists and telling them to have fun? It doesn’t take the aforementioned rocket scientist to know that people behave differently when they aren’t spending their own money. They will take unnecessary risks, pay themselves greater salaries, and have no way of verifying whether what they are doing is cost-effective. Private entrepreneurs who actually have to work for their money and convince others of the worthiness of their endeavors are much more honorable. They do not rely on the the coercive arm of government and do not force others to subsidize their mistakes.

And it is this system of private enterprise that the government discourages most. When the government taxes income, it taxes success. When the government prevents competition, it prevents progress. When the government regulates, it discourages innovation.

The billions of dollars that get funneled into the black hole that is NASA are siphoned off from the productive private sector. However interesting one finds space travel, one must recognize that forcing other people to pay for one’s interests and hobbies is wrong.

Raskin notes here the economic malfeasance taking place at the bidding of federal officials. Any intervention by central planners (namely, government officials) to alter the economy stifles progress and rewards those who are politically favored by the current establishment. Incompetence is thus allowed and rewarded, and the drive for innovation at the heart of all entrepreneurial endeavors becomes extinct.

But ethical issues aside, is NASA a waste of money?

Certainly there are positive results from NASA’s taxpayer-funded ventures. We have learned a great deal about the universe, and have been presented with many (hopefully not Photoshopped!) photos of celestial bodies. But despite the apparent rewards, it is impossible to ignore the heavy burden imposed upon citizens of this country. I can think of plenty of better ways to spend $17 billion this year, can’t you?

The argument always made in favor of any policy or department created by our elected leaders is just that—we’ve elected these people through the democratic process, so if we don’t like what they’re doing, we’re free to vote them out of office. This concept, though, is intellectually and Constitutionally hollow; we do not have a democracy, nor are our leaders entitled to pass whatever laws they choose. Though the vast majority ignore and abuse it, our elected leaders have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, which gives our federal branches of government enumerated (specific and limited) powers. This means that even if every single official in Congress was in favor of NASA, it is still illegal (since the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, as we all learned in school) to allow the federal government to have anything to do with it.

Spare me all the platitudes of exploring God’s creations, learning more about ourselves and our planet’s history, and propelling humanity into the future. Any defense of a government-run space agency holds no water unless authority for such an initiative can be demonstrated. Instead, common sense and history both teach us that private enterprise will always succeed far better than any government-created enterprise, and at far less of an expense.

Is the knowledge we’ve gained about our neighboring galaxies really worth $17 billion annually? Perhaps. Is it worth taking $17 billion in taxes from U.S. citizens each year by force? Absolutely not.

43 Responses to “NASA, Legalized Theft, and a Waste of Money”

  1. Daniel
    May 28, 2008 at 1:30 am #

    I can think of plenty of better ways to spend $17 billion this year, can’t you?

    No. We should be spending more.

    Scientific advancement and knowledge may not seem very important to you, but you should realise that we benefit from the technological advances made by space exploration. This page lists several, including industrial, medical, and computer technology.

    Keep in mind also that if a private corporation gains knowledge, it usually stays in the company, and the benefits go to them. They are accountable to no one as to how they use that knowledge. Knowledge gained by NASA belongs to ‘we, the people’.

  2. Yin
    May 28, 2008 at 7:50 am #

    And don’t forget those awesome Swedish mattresses! Thank NASA for those!

    (I love watching the commercials with the girl jumping up and down on one end, and a full wine glass on the other end.)

  3. Connor
    May 28, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    Scientific advancement and knowledge may not seem very important to you, but you should realise that we benefit from the technological advances made by space exploration.

    As I said in the post, there are positive outcomes that stem from throwing this much money at some scientists. But it’s an absolute lie, I believe, to claim that the market would not have produced those same inventions.

    And not everything attributed to NASA really came from them…

    Keep in mind also that if a private corporation gains knowledge, it usually stays in the company, and the benefits go to them. They are accountable to no one as to how they use that knowledge. Knowledge gained by NASA belongs to ‘we, the people’.

    Bastiat completely refuted this argument in this essay (go to section 8, “Machines”). Basically, the entire economy benefits from people’s private inventions. It is a myth to claim that greedy capitalists retain all benefit, profit, and use from their inventions. This author likewise agrees.

    Again, it’s not that some positive things come out of so bloated an entity, it’s that it is a massive waste of money, since resources are redirected from private, risky ventures to line the pockets of politician-endorsed research. Any politicized research diverts funding and progress from where the market would prefer and ensures that failures and wasteful spending will occur, since funding is continually guaranteed.

    Like any government entity, NASA must come up with ways to justify its existence, and so we get all sorts of missions (complete with the added expense of fixing all the problems that result) that have very little, if any, return in value and knowledge. Why spend billions on space exploration (at a far higher cost than private entities would require) when we have a number of domestic problems in need of cash?

    Seems like an expensive hobby that isn’t producing enough results to merit its pursuit…

  4. Mark N.
    May 29, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    Would we have communcations satellites without NASA?

    And while the internet may not be traceable back to NASA, it did really come about initially as ARPANET I think (a Dept. of Defense project, which would probably be counted as a theft of taxpayer dollars just as much as NASA would).

    It’s certainly conceivable that these things would have come about as the result of private investment, and I’m generally one to side with you on the idea that all taxation is theft. Wouldn’t it be great if we were all so well off that we would voluntarily hand over sums of money to people at places like NASA so they could go play around and see what they might come up with?

    The downside to all of this tax money is that it’s usually spent in search of ways to better wage war on our fellow human beings, and then the “fun” stuff sometimes comes as a side benefit of doing so.

  5. Daniel
    May 29, 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    I’m sure glad Benjamin Franklin wasn’t a modern conservative. He might have thought that public libraries were a waste of money. Forcing people to buy books at gunpoint, you could say.

    This is one side of conservatism that just doesn’t make any sense to me. Government is confiscatory and coercive, but only when it spends money on things that don’t benefit conservatives. Roads? That’s okay. Health care? Socialism.

    So let me ask: Is your argument that taxation is theft, as Mark N. says? Or is it that NASA doesn’t provide enough to justify its place in the budget? If the latter, then you ought to show your work. Make some attempt to quantify how much NASA gives us, and then how much more you think it should provide. Otherwise, you seem to fall into the no-tax argument, and that’s going to be a harder case to make.

  6. Janet
    May 30, 2008 at 9:48 pm #

    Connor,

    I appreciate the privilege of paying taxes. It is true that those who waste our tax money (or cheat and don’t pay their fair share of taxes) are thieves, but that doesn’t cause me to think that all taxes and tax expenditures are bad. Al Gore had the vision for the future of the Arpanet when it was a college experiment. Who would have known that his haranguing congress to spend money to develop it for the military would lead to you having a job? If a private business had developed it, you probably would be very unhappy at the expense required for you to use it. Can you imagine what it would be like if the internet were patented?

    The Lord has a system of taxing his saints. Is that bad? You might say, “It’s different, it’s voluntary.” Well suppose that you don’t want to pay tithing but you want to go to the temple. Isn’t it a little coercive to require payment of tithing and fast offerings to get a temple recommend? And, is it fair for God to tax everyone 10% to pay his bills then use a sliding scale tax in the form of a fast offering to redistribute wealth? Why should someone who wanted to go to BYU and didn’t get the privilege have to subsidize your education so that they won’t go to hell or be burned at the Lord’s second coming?

    What is the difference between the Lord’s tax and the government’s tax? One is voluntary sort of… (Don’t pay and go to hell doesn’t seem all that voluntary to me.) But God looks at the heart of the tither to determine the voluntary aspects of the giving. I think that it is the same with taxes. God established governments for the good of his children. In many ways taxes are spent the same way tithing is. I do think there is more to Christ’s statement; Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s than perhaps meets the eye. Did the Nephites have some form of tax to support the widows and fatherless? I think that they did because they “altered their LAWS to rob the widows and the fatherless. Note it was a law not a commandment.

    Are you willing to give up the use of all tax provided benefits for your Utopian dream? What about when your family’s homes were in danger in the California fires? Are you willing to give up the safety net our taxes provided? I would hate to loose emergency responders, roads, fire trucks, fire fighting helicopters, air traffic controllers, airports, law enforcement officials, military personnel, hospitals, medical inventions, colleges, college professors, doctors, nurses, scientists, undergraduate schools, libraries, government personnel, embassies, food and drug oversight, NASA… the list goes on and on. All of this and more are a direct result, or an indirect result, of tax expenditures. Even if a doctor paid 100% of his college tuition, he wouldn’t have the education to save a soul without all the things that our taxes provided for his education.

    I think that it is naive to believe that private business would be more efficient, economical, prolific, benevolent and less corrupt than our government has been in providing for we the people. Our taxes, like our Constitution are for the purposes set forth in the preamble to that God inspired document. “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” And, we are taxed to pay for accomplishing that purpose.

    I think that we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I love NASA, but then I guess that one man’s pork is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.

  7. Josh
    May 31, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    I must say, Connor, you present your rubbish views quite eloquently. Keep up the good work.

  8. Clumpy
    June 1, 2008 at 10:04 pm #

    I’ve long thought that the space program was a waste of cash. The advances mentioned by some posters were not created as a result of the space program but merely to aid it; they could have been created independently by any number of developers.

    Do you honestly expect me to believe that we wouldn’t have invented the cordless drill just as quickly if we had decided to map the ocean floor? We pay billions a year for “neat stuff” that does little to improve our lives. If the Carnegie Foundation wants to pay for NASA, fantastic.

  9. Connor
    June 1, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    Mark,

    Would we have communcations satellites without NASA?

    Sure, why not?

    And while the internet may not be traceable back to NASA, it did really come about initially as ARPANET I think (a Dept. of Defense project, which would probably be counted as a theft of taxpayer dollars just as much as NASA would).

    Indeed, it was a DoD-funded project. And you’re right, I would equate DoD-related projects (except for those morally approbated by granted authority) as legalized theft just like NASA. Who’s to say that somebody else wouldn’t have created packet-switching, or created something better?

    Wouldn’t it be great if we were all so well off that we would voluntarily hand over sums of money to people at places like NASA so they could go play around and see what they might come up with?

    That raises an interesting question. Do we legalize theft to get an invention perhaps five years faster than we otherwise would get it in the free market? (That assumes, of course, that government-sponsored initiatives work faster and more efficiently than free market ones—a claim that might be true on occasion, but definitely not always.)

    The downside to all of this tax money is that it’s usually spent in search of ways to better wage war on our fellow human beings, and then the “fun” stuff sometimes comes as a side benefit of doing so.

    Indeed. Or in the packet-switching ARPANET example, you get instances of illegal surveillance. Either way, having a never-ending source of money for people to play with. That’s rarely, if ever, a good thing.

    Daniel,

    He might have thought that public libraries were a waste of money. Forcing people to buy books at gunpoint, you could say.

    Public libraries aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Federal ones are, since there is no authority for the federal government to create and maintain them. State and local governments are surely able and authorized to do so (depending on their specific constitutions and charters, of course).

    Government is confiscatory and coercive, but only when it spends money on things that don’t benefit conservatives. Roads? That’s okay. Health care? Socialism.

    First of all, your allusion to conservatives is troubling since the category is quite impossible to define. Second, government is confiscatory and coercive primarily (and usually only) when it requires funding for programs and departments it is not authorized to create nor maintain. However, even loose democracies (and other governments) that allow for ever-changing implementations of law become confiscatory when they continue to expand in size and reduce the individual liberty previously guaranteed (if any) to its citizens.

    Rarely does a government yield power and control. Instead, one of its most notable characteristics is its ever-expanding footprint and continually increasing budget demands that require more and more funding (either from taxpayers, monetary inflation, or loans).

    Is your argument that taxation is theft, as Mark N. says? Or is it that NASA doesn’t provide enough to justify its place in the budget?

    Taxation != theft. Some taxation (well, much of it) is indeed legalized theft. But taxation for some (specific and Constitutionally authorized) purposes is just fine. With regards to NASA, I believe that taxation to fund its ventures is immoral since “We the People” have not granted the federal government the authority to create or maintain it, and therefore any mandatory attempt to tax us on its behalf is immoral.

    Janet,

    I appreciate the privilege of paying taxes.

    Your lack of qualifiers in this sentence is pretty dangerous. Would you likewise appreciate the privilege if you were required to pay double what you currently do? Or what about the use of your tax money to fund abortions? To give subsidies to companies that lobby government for favors? To maintain a large standing army that serves at the Executive’s whim in foreign escapades of questionable morality?

    Taxes in and of themselves are not bad. In essence, they are the way in which “We the People” fund the government so that it can effectually discharge the duties we have assigned to it

    An analogy might help. Imagine hiring a babysitter to watch your children. For this evening, the youth is your employee. You have given her permission to order a couple pizzas for the kids, and give her $20 to do so. Upon returning home, you find that she took the liberty to remodel the kitchen (at eight times the cost of what it would otherwise be), buy a lavish car, throw a party for her friends in your living room (hiring a maid service to do the dirty work), and outsourced her babysitting responsibilities to a Mexican worker she found down the street. She then innocently informs you that she used your credit card to do it all?

    Is this ethical? Of course not. You had only authorized her, your employee, to spend $20 on two pizzas. Being empowered for the evening, however, she went out of control and used her limited authority and access to your funds to do whatever she wished. The case with our government is no different. Our elected leaders (and the bureaucrats they appoint) are our employees and we fund them (via taxation) for a specific list of duties. Any expansion of power beyond that list, or attempt to spend our money in ways we did not authorize, is egregious and immoral.

    Who would have known that his haranguing congress to spend money to develop it for the military would lead to you having a job? If a private business had developed it, you probably would be very unhappy at the expense required for you to use it.

    I disagree with this statement for a few reasons. One, I would not be out of work had ARPANET not been created, or if the internet as we now know it did not exist. As Bastiat once noted, human capital is never underemployed. I’d simply have found employment elsewhere, never the wiser of my “missed opportunity”. Second, the vast majority of my work is the result of generous individuals in the open source community who have spent countless hours creating products (the Apache web server, PHP scripting language, MySQL database, *nix operating system, etc.) which are made available at no cost to those who wish to use them. Private business have developed/sponsored these, and they are freely offered (and very widely used). So, I think that this puts to rest any argument of private entities being selfish and retaining rights and profits to their products. Especially in technology, this myth is false.

    The Lord has a system of taxing his saints. Is that bad? You might say, “It’s different, it’s voluntary.”

    Actually, my response to this comparison would be that I never gave the Lord any authority. In fact, as Creator, he can require of me whatever He wishes, and I am compelled to either obey or suffer the consequences. Conversely, those who currently tax me are only there because me and my fellow citizens have put them there.

    But God looks at the heart of the tither to determine the voluntary aspects of the giving. I think that it is the same with taxes.

    I would (strongly) argue that voluntary compliance with God’s laws and man’s laws are two entirely different beasts. As our Creator, God can command anything He wishes of us. But “We the People” created government, therefore government cannot morally do whatever it wishes without abiding by the authority we have granted it (as entailed in the Constitution).

    Did the Nephites have some form of tax to support the widows and fatherless? I think that they did because they “altered their LAWS to rob the widows and the fatherless. Note it was a law not a commandment.

    Your reference to King Limhi’s order to support the widows and their children is one I’ve addressed here.

    Are you willing to give up the use of all tax provided benefits for your Utopian dream?

    I’ve never said this. Again, I’ve never claimed that all taxes are bad—only those that fund departments, programs, and initiatives that fall outside of the authority that we have granted to our government.

    What about when your family’s homes were in danger in the California fires? Are you willing to give up the safety net our taxes provided?

    Actually, the government did next to nothing for my family. Sure, government-employed firefighters saved other homes in the area. But their incompetence and inefficiency have led to a booming privatized firefighting business that shows (yet again) how free market operations often outperform socialist ones.

    I would hate to loose emergency responders, roads, fire trucks, fire fighting helicopters, air traffic controllers, airports, law enforcement officials, military personnel, hospitals, medical inventions, colleges, college professors, doctors, nurses, scientists, undergraduate schools, libraries, government personnel, embassies, food and drug oversight, NASA… the list goes on and on.

    But thats just it! You wouldn’t lose them. They would be cheaper, more reliable, more customer friendly, and more competitive for your business. Why? Because your business is not guaranteed to them, so they have to work hard to retain you as a (current or potential) client. Competition is a genius force in the marketplace, and is the main reason why government-funded ventures are often horrible. The lack of impetus to innovate, the constant security of funding, and the use of force to guarantee patronization means that the government has no need to provide a good, efficient service for you.

    Have you ever stood in line at the DMV? Case in point. :)

  10. Daniel
    June 2, 2008 at 2:32 am #

    The lack of impetus to innovate, the constant security of funding, and the use of force to guarantee patronization means that the government has no need to provide a good, efficient service for you.

    Okay, now you’re not arguing from reality. You’re arguing from some caricature of how you imagine government agencies to be. You need to come down here and see how it actually works. Let me give you an Australian example: the ABC news service.

    The ABC news service is a federally funded agency. So you might be thinking, ‘oh, like Tass?’ But it doesn’t act like a propaganda arm of the government (unlike Fox News, a private corporate entity). It is at times sharply critical of the government. Though they have to scrape for funding every time a Prime Minister wants to shave the budget, they turn out award-winning news coverage in a saturated market. They also do good work creating shows about Australian history and lifestyles that no profit-driven network would touch.

    The ABC was tentatively critical of the Bush Administration during the run-up to the war in Iraq. Can you say the same for the private news corporations in the USA? No, you can not, probably because they are owned by GE (NBC) and Westinghouse (CBS), who also make weapons systems. Are you getting the picture? I would pick the ABC or the BBC a million times before I’d pick Fox or MSNBC because corporations are just as capable of tainting the news as any government agency, and in many cases they are worse. The market is not magical. The things it creates are a reflection of the people who run them, just as with any government.

    I want to say a lot more about your phone-book sized response, but I’ll leave it for now. I’ll just remind you that you are in the grip of a theory, my good man. I advise you to toss your copy of Atlas Shrugged and get a dose of reality.

  11. Janet
    June 2, 2008 at 7:15 am #

    And they all lived happily ever after:)

    Like I said, we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

  12. brother #3
    June 3, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    wow… you guys all got rocked! haha
    never mess with connor

  13. Blake
    June 20, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    Completely agree, Connor. At most NASA should be downsized to a single secretary and director, and be restaffed on a temporary, single project basis if needs be and approved by congress.

  14. eric
    September 14, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    What have failed to publicly materialize are the technological and economic benefits that transpire from NASA’s existence. NASA represents America’s economic supremacy and dominance. The ingenuity of researchers and scientists allows them to tackle problems that prevail in society today, such as climate change and energy scarcity. Space exploration may lead to settlement in farther reaches of the universe.

    For now, NASA’s research positively changes aspects of daily life. For example, the smoke detector, responsible for saving countless people, was initially a piece of NASA technology implemented on a 1970’s spacecraft. From this, we can conclude that other NASA innovations will inevitably stimulate drastic improvements to people’s lives.

    Taxpayers compare the space program to a “black hole of astronomical proportions.” Ironically, many use the term “black hole” to describe an area of no return, but none would know of a black hole’s existence without NASA’s research. NASA’s apparent abundance of self-promoting rocket scientists reflects the naïve public making generalizations about a passionate and dedicated group of engineers. As for private enterprise, few companies have as much funding as NASA, and are unlikely to make major discoveries.

    Tax dollars are a small price to pay for the gargantuan leaps that will continue to be made in the advancement of the human race.

  15. FreedSpeak
    November 17, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    It’s nice to finally find another rational human being who understands what a total MONEY PIT NASA and space exploration are!

    What hubris it is to believe that we should forego the health, education, and well being of earth’s CURRENT inhabitants, in the interest of someone’s jingoistic (the “space race” did, after all, escalate only to “beat” the former USSR after they launched Sputnik) vision of being The Conqueror of The Universe. What a WA$TE of precious resources, and what folly!

    Let’s Shut it Down, Send all the Rocket Scientists off to work on something worthwhile, and spend 17 BILLION on CNG, Wind, Tide and Solar energy to fuel the planet. Then, when mankind has cured hunger, disease, and housing ills, let PRIVATE enterprise (THE X-Project Ring a BELL?) advance the cause of conquering as-yet unknown galaxies.

  16. Jesse Harris
    May 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    NASA would be a lot easier to stomach if it were folded into a branch of the military to develop new defensive and offensive weaponry. (I vote Army since I don’t think the Air Force should exist as a separate branch.) Pure exploration should be a privately-funded affair and projects like the X-Prize prove that it can and does work for a lot less than what NASA spends.

  17. Phil801
    May 11, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    Your descriptions of God are very troubling to me. You describe Him as a totalitarian tyrant forcing you to do whatever he pleases. If you view yourself under God as such, it is no wonder you are so un-seated in reality when it comes to the Federal Government. You Said:

    “I never gave the Lord any authority. In fact, as Creator, he can require of me whatever He wishes, and I am compelled to either obey or suffer the consequences.”

    “As our Creator, God can command anything He wishes of us.”

    Both of these statements are COMPLETELY false.

    You actually did give the Lord authority when you CHOSE to follow Him, both in the pre-existence and in this life. He cannot require of you whatever He wishes and you are not compelled to obey. The Lord must follow the Law of Equality AND the Law of Free Agency. God CANNOT command anything He wishes of us, ever. You apparently completely mis-understand the Gospel, the nature of God and our purpose on earth.

    What I find most ironic is that your constantly push for a pure Republic. The Gospel IS a Republic in its purest most un-corrupted form. Yet you make these statements of God and His Republic. If that is how you feel about Him then I think you need to re-think whether you want to continue pushing for a Federal Republic.

  18. Connor
    May 11, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    You describe Him as a totalitarian tyrant forcing you to do whatever he pleases.

    Where have I attributed force and tyrant-like behavior to God? I’ve simply said that He has given commandments, and I can either obey or not. He is all-powerful and has authority to give such commandments. His power was not delegated to Him, nor is it enumerated by His subjects.

    You actually did give the Lord authority when you CHOSE to follow Him…

    Care to provide a scripture for that? The Lord has authority whether or not I choose to obey Him. Or are you really suggesting that God has no authority over atheists?

    You apparently completely mis-understand the Gospel, the nature of God and our purpose on earth.

    Wow, really? I guess I’ll turn in my seminary certificate. That was a waste of time!

    Really, Phil, what’s with the wild interpretation of what I’m saying here? I’m not saying that the Lord is forcing me to do what He says. I’m simply saying that He has the authority to command it in the first place. After all, that’s what we call His instructions to His children: commandments.

    The Gospel IS a Republic in its purest most un-corrupted form.

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a political or even theological institution. Rather, it is a codified set of laws, commandments, and instructions on how to return to God’s presence.

    If you’re referring to the Church and/or the kingdom of God, then I would counter that it is far from a Republic. We don’t vote for leaders, but rather give our sustaining consent to those who have been appointed by those already in “power”. While it might have Republican elements, one can’t overlook the fact that at the core it is a monarchy with a benevolent, loving dictator. :)

  19. Phil801
    May 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    This shows you almost understand:
    “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a political or even theological institution. Rather, it is a codified set of laws, commandments, and instructions on how to return to God’s presence.”

    But you need to quit thinking about politics (only for a minute, I promise) and think about what a Republic actually is.

    The Law is the Law. You gave God authority over you, under the law, when you chose to sustain Him in the pre-existence. If you had not then you would be with the other 1/3 of the host. Do you really need a scripture reference for that? If so, maybe you should turn in your seminary certificate. :)

    God does not force you to obey him, He never has. You had every opportunity to abandon Him and go your own way once before, as you do now. He does not, can not, issue a law that is unnatural or does not follow the order He is bound by. Given that we have the potential to become Gods, what is it that you think we are here to learn / be tested on? He has been through the same tests and only achieved His position after having been proven with the same test we are currently undergoing. The laws we are given by Him are not new or unique laws, they are The Law. Natural Law has Natural Consequence, we are as bound to them as He is.

    Furthermore, if God is to be equated to a dictator (which He is Not.) you would be incorrect to attach Loving and Benevolent to Him – while He indeed is those, God’s role is Justice. Christ’s role is Loving, Benevolent MERCY. God cannot show or have any prejudice based on Love under the Law, the Atonement is necessary for that.

    There is Order in all things under God. All process of Order is duplicated from the top down. In Conference we sustain the leaders and are given the opportunity to oppose. In Stake meetings, Ward Meetings and so on this is duplicated. Just as it duplicates DOWN, it is duplicated UP.

    Again, quit thinking about Politics and think about the actual Gospel, in its entirety and what it is – and think about a Republic and what it is.

  20. Connor
    May 11, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    You gave God authority over you, under the law, when you chose to sustain Him in the pre-existence. If you had not then you would be with the other 1/3 of the host.

    Um, false. The 1/3 of God’s children who chose not to follow Him were banished under God’s authority. Even though they did not want to comply with His plan, they still had to act under His law and recognize His authority. Our choices do not determine God’s authority over us.

    The rest of your comment baffles me, and I’m not sure I’m even going to attempt to respond. You claim that my understanding of the gospel is flawed and go off on a theological diatribe, which has nothing to do with the subject of this post. You choose not to respond to my response to you, but instead continue to nitpick a few items and attempt to twist them so as to try to disprove me on something. As just one example, your presume that the “benevolent, loving dictator” I referenced was God the Father, and then attempt to show why I am wrong. But I never said it was God the Father. This same thing happened in your previous comment when you accused me of calling God a forceful tyrant, when I had done no such thing.

    I’m scratching my head here, wondering why you are putting words in my mouth and then trying to slam me with them. I think we both have better things to do with our time than engage in such frivolity.

  21. Phil801
    May 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    First, this is what I originally addressed:

    “I never gave the Lord any authority. In fact, as Creator, he can require of me whatever He wishes, and I am compelled to either obey or suffer the consequences.”

    “As our Creator, God can command anything He wishes of us.”

    Which is where you called God a forceful tyrant.

    Everything else I said is in the scriptures and is the Gospel. Sorry for baffling you. I’m not trying to ‘twist’ anything you’re saying. Instead, you seem to be taking what I’m saying as some kind of attack – I’m not trying to ‘slam you with your words’. I’ve never considered studying and trying to understand the Gospel to be an act of frivolity. But you’re right, neither of us is learning anything here. Catch ya later.

  22. Carborendum
    May 12, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Who is this guy???

    “I’m not trying to twist anything you’re saying”

    That is exactly what you’ve done. Connor never said “forceful tyrant”. And . . . whatever.

    You’re so far out there, I’m not even going to try.

    I agree with Jesse. I know the original intent of NASA was not as a defensive arm of the military. But that is how I see the current role of NASA. Yes, there are the pretty showboaty things such as pictures from Hubble, etc. But one primary use of NASA is sattelite work. Sattelites are invaluable as a reconnaissance tool.

    Of course, this is a double edged sword since it can be used by government to spy on its own citizens — bad.

    Another major function of NASA is development of space propulsion. This is useful for design of ICBMs and other military devices that need to go into high orbit.

    I think I could agree with you on the wastefulness. But the military in general is pretty wasteful. Even if it is an enumerated power and it is a justified function of goverment, it is still government and will lose efficiency as such.

    But keep in mind one thing: Salaries. A relative works for NASA. I told him I was interested in some of the jobs he was mentioning NASA had open. He thought I was qualified and forwarded my name.

    Then I found out what the jobs paid. I would have taken a 30% drop in pay for a roughly equivalent job in the private sector. Whatever waste is going on, it isn’t in the salary of its employees.

    To give you some perspective, the army has contracted with a company that has developed transparent aluminium. Yes, like in Star Trek–albiet with some qualifying differences. The price tag? $10 per square inch. Compare that to $4 / sq in for high impact bullet proof glass or 14 cents/sq in for 1″ thick steel plate. Keep in mind that the $10 / sq inch doesn’t cover additional coatings that are required to give it optimal performance.

    Things like this come up in military expenses. The military wastes an awful lot. But because it serves a valuable purpose, and it is a justifiable government function, we put accept it.

    This also reminds me of Ron Paul’s interview on Google. He was asked if he thought the NSF should be disbanded since it was not an enumerated power of the federal government.

    His response: “In a perfect world, yes. But I tend to think of it as a lesser evil.”

    There’s bad and there’s really bad. Given the justifications for NASA vs. the negative points you bring up, I tend to think of it as a lesser evil.

  23. Monica
    November 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    I don’t know if this is a good enough reason, but NASA provides jobs for thousands of Americans. While super-high salaries are out of the question, is it okay for NASA to disappear and have thousands more Americans lose jobs in a rising inflation. Forgive this simple, childish thought, but shouldn’t everything the government do be for the people? Right now, the people need jobs.

    Also, NASA forces some international cooperation. The ISS would be a total failure if any one country backs out in the middle of a mission. We have people up there, and it’s risky to just back out.

  24. Theo
    April 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Department of Defense: $680 Billion or 20% of our federal budget.

    NASA: $19 Billion or 0.6% of our federal budget.

    The USSR failed as a direct result of 20 years of strategic overstretch, and too much of a proportion of it’s GNP sunk into a defense industry that was, like all defense industries everywhere, essentially parasitic upon the economy as a whole. Let’s not follow in their footsteps.

    In terms of morals (which should have absolutely nothing to do with law anyways and neither should religion, since both are very subjective, something law should never be), which seems more morally praiseworthy?

    Funding a peaceful, internationally beneficial science research and discovery program like NASA, or funding three wars (that we started) and more bombs, ammo and nukes (and guns and warplanes and ships, etc.) than we will ever be able to use, ever?

    I think it is obvious which is more wasteful in terms of cost vs. societal benefit ratio.

    Same thing with education. I can never understand why it is the first thing to be cut, even though it is an investment in our future. You think there is going to be a great war in the future? Unlikely, given the interconnectedness of the current global market.

    Military power is not the future of staying on top in the modern world. The future is education. The weapons of the future will be the skill sets of our workers, not bombs.

    Look at the rate in which India and China are pumping out skilled workers. And this is just the beginning. We need to start pouring funding into education, and NOW. That is, if we want to stay on top. Unfortunately, that will never happen.

  25. Paul
    April 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    I love the dummies who think NASA invented everything. And also the argument that getting rid of NASA would create a larger population of unemployed Americans. You people are absolutely ridiculous.

    In 2008, out of the 500,000 Americans who lost their jobs, 50% were recruiters (HR people). NASA did not invent the transistor.

    Does anyone remember Star Wars project? We were supposed to be able to blast down nuclear missiles with our satellites during the Cold War. What came of it?

    All these space missions, what came of it? Tang? Hot and stuffy temperpedic mattresses? Wow, let’s keep wasting tons of money for these unnecessary inventions. You people are seriously rediculous if you think NASA or the 25% expenditure of the federal budget the DOD approves every year serves a purpose.

    Who are we at war with? Seems like no one to me, especially when you have a country full of unmotivated people looking for a handout stuck watching Jersey Shore re-runs. Where you have a complete circus of politics with characters like Palin and Trump who are considered to be presidential candidates at some point.

    The only use NASA could provide is letting me shove one of their rockets up every Americans tight, pretentious, ignorant ass.

  26. COURTNEY ZIMMERMAN
    May 2, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    I think that the money spent on NASA is not good. They should give me all the money so I can feed my 11 kids who dont no nothing about anything. I am a women who wants yo money.

  27. Rockville Maid Service
    May 17, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    It blows my mind how much money our government spends… and the average person has no idea what a billion or trillion dollars really is. Yesterday we hit our debt ceiling, only the 3rd time in our country’s history. We’re in big trouble if we don’t stop wasting money on NASA and other dumb things…

  28. Tom
    September 30, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    http://www.spacedaily.com/news/oped-04b.html
    Nasa’s annual budget is 17 billion dollars yes, but I believe it’s money well spent. cut back on other stupid costs. Americans spend 586.5 billion a year on gambling, 31 billion a year on pets, 58 billion on a year on alcohol, 31 billion a year on tobacco products, 250 billion a year on medical treatment of tobacco and alcohol related diseases. I like what Virgiliu Pop says, “It is not the exploration spirit that Americans need to give up in order to alleviate poverty. It is the consumerist spirit.” Read the article posted above and you’ll learn this “connor” guy has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. where’s his credibility by the way?

  29. Tom
    September 30, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    In the 2007 budget, the funding for social programs (calculated here as the budgets for the Department of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Social Security, Agriculture, and Labor) adds up to a whopping $1.581 trillion. For every $1 the federal government spends on NASA, it spends $98 on social programs. In other words, if we cut spending on social programs by a mere one percent, we could very nearly double NASA’s budget.

    The naysayers often speak as if the country’s social problems would be solved if only we took the money given to NASA and devoted it to social programs. Does anyone seriously believe that increasing spending on social programs from $1.581 trillion to $1.597 trillion would make any appreciable difference?

  30. Doug
    January 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    As much as I L-O-V-E the idea of space exploration, I have to agree that the huge amounts of money poured into NASA would be better spent elsewhere. But my question is, why exactly is NASA “unconstitutional”? I’m not necessarily disagreeing—I just don’t know your basis for that claim.

  31. Jim
    January 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Lol! there isn’t any response to Theos comments about the $680 Billion spent by the defense department? I think there would be much better ways to spend that money. Yes military is constitutional. But who is ensuring that this government program doesn’t go over budget or get too large for our needs?

    For whatever its worth, I wish the military could somehow be subject to ‘freemarket forces’ to limit its size and calculated risks that the government take in a military action or operation.

  32. Luke
    June 28, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    $17.7 billion is 0.46% of our budget, you dolt, that’s half a penny out of every tax dollar. NASA’s budget used to be 4.6%. You want a “black hole” and a waste? Look at the TSA who wasted, by every definition of the word, 36 million tax dollars on bomb detection devices that didn’t even work, oh, and they’ve missed 25,000 security breaches since founding.

    Big Oil companies get $4 billion dollars in tax breaks each year. We spend $60 billion each year in the “War on Drugs” which is doing abysmally. The $850 billion spent to bail the Banks responsible for the crash of the housing market and economy is more than the 53-year running budget of NASA.

    Bitching that NASA’s $17.7 billion is too big is worse than bitching someone stole a penny when you look at the $3.847 trillion that the government takes in each year from taxes.

  33. John
    July 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    I am actually surprised NASA’s budget is “only” $17 billion, at least when you wrote this blog. Are you sure it isn’t more? I agree with you though, last time I looked at the Constitution it didn’t have anything in there about Congress having authority to tax people and give the money to a bunch of scientists to dick around all day. I met a microbiologist who was a scientist at NASA and he said his job was to determine whether there was life on Mars. After 10 years he had absolutely nothing to show for anything other than the “experience” of playing around in a lab all day. Welfare at it’s finest. Meanwhile folks in the private sector get laid off left and right.

  34. Jim
    August 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    From simpleton writers we get simpleton answers. This article and John’s comment show how ignorant America has become to what provides basic opportunity. No Republatard its not your need to have a fat free hamburger taste like a full fat burger. NASA exploration is about keeping America on a higher standard of living than the rest of the world. Despite claims that privatization will replace it, nothing could be further from the truth! Capitalist R only interested in quick rtn and high profit. Space takes dedication and science, everything the free mkt is not.

    In the mean time China and now even Russia move fwd. Eventually we will come to them hoping to get their ideas and their prods that we cant achieve because we R too profit minded. I know a lot of Repubs dont care. As long as they have wealth they say let America burn. But America didnt become America because it gave the wealthy exactly what they wanted. Why do ppl think that will work now?

  35. jimz
    August 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    John,
    Comparing a NASA scientist to someone on welfare? Thats really, really twisted. Being on welfare must be very depressing, and the opposite of creative. How many people on welfare create, launch and successfully land a probe on another planet?

  36. Euronymous
    August 11, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    Jim:

    It’s the private market that has kept us at a high(er) standard of living, not the government. If the projects NASA is working on were so worth it as you claim, the private sector would invest in it, even if it were to take a long time. Cancer drugs are such an example, which requires years and years of research and literally hundreds of millions of dollars for market approval. The opposite applies when the government is behind it. They can embark on all kinds of silly, wasteful projects in the name of “public good”, often with the notion that the people are too ignorant or even stupid to know what they should want, so they spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get tang.

    The problem is many of you NASA fans have no clue how the market works, and have bought into many of the myths that people use to justify NASA’s existence. Such crap as saying that the private market wouldn’t invest in it despite the obvious good it would do for the public shows this. Or how about the one poster who claimed that we should keep NASA around so a bunch of people don’t lose their jobs? That one was probably the worst.

  37. Euronymous
    August 11, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    jimz:

    Actually, you’d be surprised. A lot of people are on some form of welfare, whether it be food stamps, Medicaid or unemployment, and have absolutely no qualms with it. In fact, some people look forward to welfare because then they can spend their money on other things, even if they are very poor. One person told me they went on food stamps for a period of time, and got $200 to spend at the grocery store every month. That was a HELL of a lot more than he was spending with his own money, and as a result he ate a HELL of a lot better while he was on food stamps.

    So, yes, some people are ashamed to be on welfare, but you’d find a startling amount of people who are actually glad to be on it, and even TRY to get on it for the free things that result.

  38. Euronymous
    August 11, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    I agree with the one poster who said NASA is a lesser evil. It probably shouldn’t be at the top of our list when talking about budget cuts (military spending, social welfare programs and subsidization in other things such as corn, “green” technology and nonsense programs like “Cash for Clunkers” would definitely be a lot more beneficial in a return to solvency), but it is in fact no authorized by the Constitution, and doesn’t justify its existence even in a practical sense. Of course space exploration and such is a good thing, but I personally might think research on ways to make the hot chocolate machine at the gas station dispense the hot chocolate more quickly and quietly. The difference is in the private market, if such a silly endeavor were thought to be worthwhile by the private market, it would be invested in, while with the government, it would take people’s money and invest it, regardless of whether or not it was truly worthwhile, giving it a virtually limit-less budget, even if it resulted in costing far more and taking far longer than expected, with a crappier-than-expected product at the end, all at the request of lobbyists.

  39. jimx
    August 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Euronymous,
    You totally missed the point of my comment. Some in Nasa provided something for me. For example the new images from Mars. Someone on unemployment, food stamps, welfare, medicaid have not worked toward space exploration. Have they done anything creative, or something in return for the general population? I mean other than people providing services for them in some way?

  40. Jim
    August 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    @Euronymous U make these claims that U ASSUME R undeniable facts when there anything but that! No priv industry will not bring us a space program. Investors do not invest 4 the public good or to see a return after 50 yrs, and then not even to own the patent rights to what is discovered in space. U like to pretend the priv mkt gives us everything, but it clearly does not. The defense mkt would not exist without the govt period. No investor would tie up billions, even if they had that much, which they dont, to develop a new weapons program.

    The biggest prob today is ppl like U, with very little knowledge of why technology advances, think that the free mkt is the answer to everything. BTW U couldnt be more wrong about cancer research. Actually a lot of the advances in cancer research come from NASA. MRI algorithms used to today for image processing were created by NASA. MRIs are essential in cancer treatment today. U really need a better educ. in technology b4 U make these ridiculous sweeping incorrect generalizations that U make. Technology is not like running a restaurant.

  41. Rance
    August 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    @ the highly uneducated educated
    First of all, people invent, not government. Citizens elect some members of the government. Most people in government are not elected. So the citizens are not the government. That would be a democracy like in ancient Athens. We elect representative, that is why we are a republic.
    Second, private industry is bring us to space eventually everyone will have an opportunity to go into sapce. Get your flight booked today on Virgin Atlantic http://www.virgingalactic.com/booking/
    Third, government does not provide or create, government re-allocates, re-distributes, what ever you want to call it, government takes money from some and gives to others. Government has no money, only people have money. Government takes from tax payers and gives to other organizations and individuals that might be in need or are willing to do what the government wants them to do (social engineering). Like GE not paying any income tax. They took advantage of all the government programs that gave them money (subsidy) or reduced their tax burden (tax deduction). By the way income tax is not the only tax so yes I am sure GE did pay taxes, just not income tax. The Owners, managers, and employees of GE choose to be manipulated by the government and participate in government social engineering.
    Fourth, markets exist every where. They can be free, gray, or black markets. In general the more restrictive the market (less free) the more likely a gray or black market will come forth.
    Yes, government is the great inventor, I like how a government committee invented language, the wheel, cloths, tools, electricity, steam engines, trains, the automobile, I could go on and on. Sorry, my mistake government didn’t invent any of that, individuals did with the use of the free market.

  42. Anothercoilgun
    September 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    “If it wasn’t for NASA!!!…..” chants the ignorant.

    My hat off to you Connor. To go against the generational grain of question not and praise always takes some serious stones. I would enjoy to see the release and discussion of a thorough histogram detailing all which NASA has supposed to have added to societies technology along with the actual CONTRACTOR company who did the real innovation for a big government paycheck. That which has come about from space exploration or better said from orbiting the earth (struggling just to do that) would have also came about had a CONTRACTOR been awarded the same work order from any entity willing to post up the funds devoid of any space exploration agenda.

    What those who oppose your view and opinion fail to grasp is the notion of force and authority. If its not constitutional, then do what is supposed to be done to make it so, i.e. enumeration. Be the cost 17 billion a year or 17 dollars a year is irrelevant. Since ’72 how much money has been by force shifted in NASA’s direction? Had any private group achieved such a waste they would be history and used as a great example of how not to do business.

    I am still on the fence as to whether its hysterical or pathetic for people to praise a monopoly for advancements which would have been achieved by competition, cheaper and faster. The computer advancement is mind blowing. Thank you competition. The operating system advancement well….. thank you open source Linux based code. Had it not been for you Em Es would have kept us all in win 95.

    This has me thinking, its not like the challenges here on earth have suddenly vanished. Not wise to venture out to the Clubs at night knowing you have a leaky faucet, broken door lock, and children left alone. Get you nations house in order first. Then after the repairs are made and a sitter present, go forth and party.

    Remember the entire point of this article is that if any group of people wish to take on risk and spend like no tomorrow, then so be it given they do so with their own voluntarily gained funds and not by force.

  43. Anothercoilgun
    September 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    I take my prior comment back. Its too much for some. Making this simple.

    (Group A)
    - Hire smart people.
    - Buy equipment.
    - Consume power and travel.

    (Group B)
    - Stick up liquor stores to hire smart people.
    - Hit up banks to buy equipment. Balaclava style (ski mask)
    - Tap into peoples electric lines to consume power and travel.

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