My first thought on reading the predictable backlash against Newt Gingrich’s moon base idea was, “Americans suck.”
I thought that because the backlash is so short-sighted of all the positive things building a moon base would bring to the table. It’s not like the money and effort to build a moon base would be poured into a hole. It’s not like the science and technology needed to make a moon base happen would not spin off into all sorts of other applications. It’s not like a moon base would go unnoticed, failing to fire imaginations and motivations.
One of America’s great historical strengths has been its capacity for embracing and solving hard problems in ways that benefit all of humanity in some way. Yes, that is a grandiose claim, but it is also true. Time and time again, Americans have done things that have boggled the minds of the rest of the world. Look at our industrial prowess during World War II. Look at what we accomplished with the Apollo Program. Look at what we did by inventing the Internet.
Yet, I think most Americans think those efforts and the idea of a moon base are a waste of time not because those ideas are not worthwhile but because they imagine the money better spent on themselves.
You see, the reason there has been such a backlash against a moon base is because people want to use that money to pay for their non-production. Sure, we call it Social Security and Medicare, universal healthcare and unemployment, but I call it not doing anything except consuming more. Harsh? Yes. True? To a great extent.
Let’s say, for example, that putting a permanent base on the moon would cost $1 trillion. That’s $1 trillion of scientists and engineers developing the technology. That’s $1 trillion of factories building the parts. That’s $1 trillion of an army of technicians building and launching things.
Further, that’s $1 trillion of houses being built for the people doing those things. That’s $1 trillion in tax revenues for localities and school districts. That’s $1 trillion in groceries and restaurants feeding people. That’s $1 trillion in shopping malls, gas stations, and hair salons.
Besides the fact that $1 trillion opens the door to all kinds of possibilities we can’t even imagine right now simply because we don’t have a base on the moon.
Nope, instead we’d rather retire and hang out on the taxpayer’s dime.
Meanwhile, the Chinese, Indians, and Russians don’t feel that way at all. One of those nations is going to build a moon base even if we don’t. Then, suddenly, nobody will be talking about the amazing things America once did. They’ll be talking about the amazing things the Chinese or Indians or Russians are doing wile the Americans were all retired and hung out.
Yeah, Americans suck.