The Morality of Space…

I live in an upper middle-class suburb in Southern California.  I, myself, am under the federal poverty level, but I manage to live paycheck-to-paycheck with some left over for savings/retirement.  Lots of my neighbors don’t.  I didn’t notice it really take off until 2008, but my community has at least quadrupled its homeless population.  More women. More children.  More young men, in their 20’s.

I love space and space exploration.  As a 7-year-old I remember that July day in 1969, living in Fresno, California watching the moon landing on a 17″ black and white T.V. with rabbit ears…grainy images.  I walked outside and looked up at the moon…hoping to catch a glimpse of Apollo 11.  My imagination  fired and my pride swelling…I was proud to live in a country that could accomplish this.

Space exploration will forever be seen as a national source of pride, a barometer of our success, a benchmark of our scientific progress.  The best minds, the cutting edge of innovation.  All good stuff.

There’s a lady with a couple of kids sleeping in a car that might argue that landing a rover on Mars is not quite as important to our national pride as allowing a child to starve in our own country.  It’s simply a matter of priorities.  And morality.

I have a household budget.  I cannot buy a new car if I can’t put food on my table. Period. What is our choice to be, as a nation, when our own people are starving, are living in cars, are living with their families in storm drains.  Do we provide the morally defensible “safety net” that provides a measure of safety and dignity to these human beings?  Or do we continue to fund NASA?

Do we put food on the table and shelter our neighbors or do we continue to spend an estimated 17-18 billion dollars a year on space exploration (the proverbial “new car”)?

The moral answer is simple in my view.  The political & cultural answers are much more complex and wide-ranging.  I don’t have the answer but I think we, as the greatest nation in the world, as a country that has long defended its moral standing in the international community, need to start addressing the issue of poverty and homelessness before we approve another NASA budget.  If we don’t, we will be driving that new car on an empty stomach…and that will only last for so long.

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About Conversations With The Moon

Divorced father of two amazing young adults. College student, plodding away at a liberal arts degree. Formerly a Fire Captain and Paramedic. Dabbler in fashion. Liberal. Believer in Karma. View all posts by Conversations With The Moon

2 responses to “The Morality of Space…

  • Lucky Lucy

    I like a well rounded blogger. Not just politics, not just errant starlets, but the issues that dominate some parts of what appears to be the American dream. I am not wealthy by American standards, but by many other barometers, I am pretty rich. I live a relatively simple life. I garden, I conserve and recycle. Always did. In my community we have two food banks. All mostly supported by my church and some other community service groups. Local business are also very generous. I feel it is my responsibility to contribute and it helps take the edges off my conscience. I think those in gentler climates see much more of the homeless situations than I do in the Northeast .Once our seasons shift, so does the transient population.

    While there are many shelters here, it is never enough. Now how does this affect the NASA budget? I always felt that the whole business was rather wasteful in the larger picture of poverty and homelessness. Someone much wiser than I explained how certain elements of space exploration benefit mankind far beyond the next bowl of soup. He was a great thinker, expansive, brilliant. That said, one of the most generous persons I ever knew, he would give away his coat, literally his last dollar and split a pack of cigarettes without blinking an eye. But any time a rocket was launched he was there, he followed each event and experiment closely. So, in my head I have no resolution for this question. Like so many others, it bounces around waiting for clarification.

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