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European Scientists Make a Case For a Return To the Moon

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  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:10PM (#40278853)

    Right, just when you are drowning in debt it's time to spend billions on a massive program to do something with no commercial value whatsoever. You can just as easily create jobs by paying people to scratch their butts but guess what, broken window fallacy is called fallacy for a reason.

  • by rrohbeck (944847) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:53PM (#40279027)

    I have a feeling that even a ruined Earth is still way more hospitable than Mars, let alone other places.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:41PM (#40279257)

    The return on that $150B investment has been many, many times that amount. How much return on the NSF investment is there in an equivalent 10 years since the money was spent?

    Maybe the NSF has an even better rate of return. Even if you exclude the incomparable inspiration of the Apollo programme. All that means is that we should spend $150B again on space R&D, and on NSF R&D. Instead of on war and the banks.

    No it has not. The return on the $150B investment has been virtually non-existant. Why? Because the government, who invested the $150B didn't get to profit from the returns on that investment. Private businesses did. These same businesses were also paid for their services and products, so they made a profit from the actual work performed and a windfall from all of the discoveries that the government or should I say the people paid for.

    If NASA had been allowed to patent the inventions created for the space program, they wouldn't need government funding today.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:42PM (#40279267)

    The US is spending 25.7 billion (17.7 billion NASA [whitehouse.gov], 8 billion for the military [space.com] (GPS, etc)) on space in 2012

    ESA spent 4 billion Euros (about $5 billion) [esa.int]... a total of 413 million EU on human space flight.

    There's a lot of talk in the paper about "global" exploration of the moon. I can only assume that means they don't plan on increasing that.

    That's why the EU is making a case to return to the moon -- so somebody else will foot the bill for them.

  • Re:Anything Please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:45PM (#40279285)

    Until the individual scientist is viewed (and paid) like the athlete, investment banker, doctor, lawyer, etc. you aren't going to get kids engaged in it. Why go to college for 8 years and run up so much debt that you will never be able to buy a house when for a lot less work and money, you can have a career that pays a lot more to boot?

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:06PM (#40279371)

    Yep, that is exactly it. Seriously. This isn't 1850. We understand a great deal more about economies than we used to, and *now* is definitely the time for massive government spending. Otherwise we'll keep wallowing around waiting for someone to try massive government spending to kick up demand. And I don't know about you but waiting for the chinese to spend their pile of 2 trillion dollars, and hoping they spend it on stuff we make, at some unknown abstract point in the future doesn't seem like a good economic plan.

    It's not actually a fallacy. For an example, see Japan, because of the Tsunami their economy grew year on year about 4.7% (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/japan-raises-january-march-economic-growth-estimate-to-12-percent-amid-disaster-recovery/2012/06/07/gJQAQASYMV_story.html) Spending is spending. Considering the tsunami cost them about 2.3% of GDP, and they've seen 2.9 percent net growth mostly from reconstruction they are net ahead, and reconstruction isn't over yet. The new windows are better than the old ones so to speak. Education, health care, roads etc. have no more commercial value than that which we place on them. Space exploration is absolutely no different. EADS was largely organized and funded by government because as a commercial enterprise all of the precursor companies were wholly uncompetitive. That *investment*, which was made on the backs of taxpayers, notably rich ones, kept 100 000 direct jobs in europe, + all the spinoff jobs that would have otherwise gone to the US and boeing etc. Investing in space exploration now is probably not the most efficient stimulus plan available to europe, but it wouldn't be all that big of a stimulus plan anyway. 100 billion euros a year is probably less than a 10th of the spending they need.

    Most of europe isn't drowning in debt. Quite the contrary, the only country drowning in debt is really greece, with italy a distant and not particularly serious second. Greece's debt problem is compounded because as they make cuts to government spending they're driving down the ability of those workers to spend, which is reducing private sector demand, contracting the economy, making their debt proportionally larger. They're fucked because the thing to do in this situation is either be Florida, and have a large portion of your spending be buffeted by the 'federal' (european) government, think medicare, social security etc, which wouldn't devalue just because one local area is having a bad time, or to devalue their currency to encourage a growth in exports. Europe won't go along with a federal union, and they can't devalue their currency... so they're boned. They are effectively trapped on a gold standard.

    When you're drowning in debt you need to either shrink the value of that debt relative to your foreign holdings (devalue your currency), or grow your economy, or both, since one will naturally lead to the other. Since every country in the world cannot devalue against each other, and we've all devalued quite a bit against china there's not much to be done there.

    When times are good and the economy is booming, that's when the government needs to lay people off. Right now, paying them to scratch their butts (lets call it unemployment) would be better than what they're currently doing. When the economy needs jobs you need to start laying them off from the public sector. When the private sector won't hire the public sector needs to, or else you start contracting the economy in a spiral.

    To use another example of the broken window not actually a fallacy is how WW2 spending pulled economies out of recession. The new deal and so on in the US were essentially the same thing, a start if you will. Building a huge amount of stuff that was of no commercial value created jobs for the better part of 7 or 8 years (depending on where exactly you where), and that boom continued on well after because you had a demobilizing of public sector workers (soldiers) into the private sector as the economy grew.

    Part

  • Re:We're still /. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stargoat (658863) * <stargoat@gmail.com> on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:10PM (#40279383) Journal

    Slashdot was once the gold standard of IT information websites. The community was vibrant and rambunctious. It was interesting, funny, and frustrating. I'm not entire sure what happened. Maybe the Internet grew up around us. Like the Old West, someone fenced the cowboys away. Maybe we got rid of the goofs that were our necessary yeast. Dunno. But it's not the same Slashdot it was a decade ago.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:18PM (#40279415) Homepage Journal

    If we have $300 billion, why should we spend half of it on a LESS productive program?

    Because the sum of returns is bigger.
    If a > 0 and b > 0, then a + b > a.

    Also, if you believe that doubling the funding for the currently most effective research will lead to twice the research or more, you are wrong. There is no synergy effect in research, rather the opposite - a law of diminishing returns. You want to financially back single projects instead of heap funding, because the latter gets eaten by bureaucracy - especially the kind of bureaucracy put in place by conservatives to make sure everything is done as cheaply as possible costs an awful lot of money. NASA could become more effective again if the cuts were done among the paper pushers and bean counters, and not the engineering side.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday June 11, 2012 @12:10AM (#40279695) Homepage Journal

    Yes, Mars. But, the moon is closer, cheaper, easier. The moon also provides a staging point from which to launch to Mars, and points beyond. Unless I am seriously mistaken, infrastructure and assets on the Moon won't degrade, or at least will degrade very slowly compared with infrastructure and assets built on earth.

    The moon is a very valuable resource, and development of that real estate should commence immediately. The moon is no longer a "goal", but a "waypoint".

    The only reason we don't have multiple bases on the moon now, is that mankind has it's collective head up it's collective ass. My nation, which actually put men on the moon, wastes more resources on the invasion of other nations than it would have taken to build and maintain a base capable of housing 1000 personnel. Of that much, I'm certain. I suspect that said base could be much larger, and that maybe a few satellite bases might have been built with all the money wasted in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Some of our lesser actions could probably have paid for one of those small satellite bases.

    Oh yeah. Read my third sentence again. Points beyond. To me, Mars should just be considered a practice mission. Plant a real colony, close to home, for practice, so that we can do the same further out. We NEED to spread out, so that a single epidemic, or a catastrophic event doesn't wipe us out!

  • by Endovior (2450520) on Monday June 11, 2012 @01:32AM (#40280063)
    This. The moon doesn't really have much going for it but 'fairly close'; if you want a staging point, you're far better off with a space station of some kind. That way, you're not only even closer then the moon, but you don't have that pesky gravity well imposing an additional cost.
  • Re:Canned Ape (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ongelovigehond (2522526) on Monday June 11, 2012 @03:17AM (#40280487)
    After analyzing 1000 rocks, the chance that the 1001th rock is going to provide some new information is getting small. The only difference is that the rover takes a few years to analyze those rocks, while a trained human could do it in a few days. After that, it's probably better to send some new instruments, and look in a different place. Now compare the time and effort it would take to send a trained human to Mars, and have him survive for a few days, compared to the effort to send a small rover and have it survive for a few years. It's not so obvious the human still wins.
  • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Monday June 11, 2012 @06:00AM (#40281195)

    Sure they'll run out, but it will give humanity time to figure out how to expand to the next pile of resources, AND give us experience in extracting them in non-terrestrial conditions. Or we can wait on Earth for a few hundred years, until resource depletion and resulting wars make it impossible to ever develop the technology we'd need.

  • by virg_mattes (230616) on Monday June 11, 2012 @09:53AM (#40282797)
    Oh, here we go again with this canard. The breakdown that always seems to escape those who claim that taxation is theft is that firstly, taxes exist because the taxed population chose to create the tax load, and second, paying for what you use and only what you use is an absurdly inefficient way to run a society. Sure, you think it's fair to pay for the roads you use. But pay with what? Did you pay for the infrastructure necessary to create and secure the money you're using to buy your groceries, or do you have to work out a barter or deal with a bunch of incompatible currencies? We did that back in colonial times, and tossed it aside in favor of a central treasury because it's nightmarishly inefficient. The Interstate Highway system came into being because the "pay for what you use" concept simply didn't get the job done. There are a thousand examples of how this works, and the simple fact that virtually every society on Earth uses taxation should clue you in that it's probably not nearly as bad an idea as you'd love to believe.

    I can't walk into Wal-Mart, pick up whatever and walk out can I?

    No, but you can get to the parking lot and you can enter the store without fear that it'll collapse on you and you can buy stuff with a reasonable assumption that you'll get what you're paying for and you can trust that they won't just beat you up and take the money you brought and so on and so on, all because society decided that individuals having to secure all of that personally makes for a crapsack world. If you think you can do better, there are places you can go such that you pay only for what you personally use, but they're far away from most other people and you'll find that you spend an inordinate amount of time and energy just surviving.

    The current method of taxation steals from those who provide the most to society in order to pay for those who either produce nothing or produce less.

    It is to laugh. Do you really think that those with the most income are necessarily the ones who contribute the most to society? If so, you're unrecoverably naive. If you think that money is the measure of value, then I'll thank you to tell me what Paris Hilton has done to earn the vast millions of dollars she has access to. If she hadn't been born into it, she'd be a waitress somewhere in middle America and we both know it. Society is full of people who create value in excess of their paycheck and people who drag in tons of money without contributing much at all, so the whole "steals from the rich" argument falls apart in that regard.

    Theft is compulsory, so is taxation.

    Taxation isn't compulsory. This isn't the Soviet Union. Taxes are just a requirement for being a U.S. citizen, so if you don't want to pay taxes to the U.S. government, then leave the country and renounce your citizenship, and nobody will stop you. However, if you want the benefit of being a U.S. citizen, then you have to pay taxes. As I said above, there are many places in the world where paying taxes isn't required, and you could avail yourself of any number of those places if you don't like taxation. Just don't sit here with your safe drinking water and your anti-fraud legislation and your right to ask for aid if random chance turns you into one of those "less productive" people and whine about having to pay for it. Walk the walk, and all that.

    Virg

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