President Bush will announce, next week, a major expansion of the American space effort, including establishment of a permanent space station on the moon and, in about a decade, a manned expedition to Mars.
What to make of this? I think it’s good. If we have learned anything over the last thirty years, it is the primacy of psychological factors. Optimism, confidence, patriotism–these things are more critical to progress than any material elements. And a reinvigorated space program can make a real contribution.
When Deacon and I were in college, one of our best friends was a very bright guy from Boston named Bob Cunningham. He became a conservative before we did; I had dinner with him many years ago, some time in the 1970’s, and I was moaning about the problem of diminishing natural resources. (Our younger readers may not realize that “running out of natural resources” was the liberal doomsday scenario of the 70’s.) Bob tapped his finger to his temple and said: “This is the only natural resource that counts.” He was so right, and I’ve been trying to locate him for the last twenty years to tell him so. Bob, if by any chance you’re reading Power Line, phone home!
There is, of course, one fly in the ointment, and that is the fact that space exploration costs money. The Bush administration has yet to demonstrate any commitment to the kind of fiscal economy that would free up resources for this kind of venture. Bush has been talking about establishing some spending discipline; let’s hope he means it.
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