Thursday, January 26, 2012

actually it is crazy

i've been a sci fi geek for as long as i remember. so it kills me a little inside to come out as anti-permanent moon base. but that's where i am. i just don't see what is to be gained from having one.

sure, there are probably lots of unforeseen benefits to a crash program to establish a moon base. the apollo space program resulted in all kinds of technological advances that no one expected. presumably a new push for a permanent lunar presence would spur other scientific advances that no one has thought of yet. but it's just as sure to have all kinds of unforeseen costs too. it's dangerous and expensive to have people live indefinitely in an environment that is completely unsuitable for their basic biological needs--a lot more dangerous and expensive than just sending a handful of people to the moon to walk around a bit and then come home. it's hardly clear that the unforeseen benefits will outweigh the unforeseen costs. so what foreseeable benefits are there to having people living on the moon? it's not clear there are any that can't be covered by the international space station.

newt seems to be for it for the same reason my gut wants me to be for it, it would be really cool to have a moon base. but newt promises to cut taxes and balance the budget. without cutting defense, that can only mean deep cuts in programs that help actual people. cutting poor people's medical benefits just so we can have a cool moon base is both cruel and crazy, harming actual people for some mad dream.

david weigel says the newt's moon base proposal is "not actually crazy." but he's just talking about political strategy. in a place like florida, where there is a space industry, a moon base proposal effectively comes across as a jobs program. but if you look at it as a policy question and not just a way to buy votes,  especially in the context of newt's embrace of austerity for the non-rich, it is crazy after all.

ADDING: in other words, what atrios said.