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11 April 2013

Here's Your Fucking Refund!

So today, science minded people are lamenting the lack of funding that NASA gets, and looking at the President's FY14 budget. I'll let Dr. Phil Plait discuss the budget and everything that it means. Instead, I'd like to make the NASA budget more personal.  A lot of folks may know what part of the federal budget is dedicated to NASA, but in case you don't know, it's around half a percent. A little more than half a penny of every federal tax dollar ends up at NASA. That means that a family with the median household income ($49,777 according to the U.S. Census Bureau), which pays $6,629 of federal taxes, pays the space agency...

$33.

Yeah, that's it. $33 measly dollars.  I bet you waste more than that on coffee in a single month. Every time I hear someone complain about NASA getting money, I feel that I should always carry $33 wrapped around a brick.  That way I can throw it at their head as I yell, "Here's your fucking refund!"

As a point of comparison (without making any judgements on personal spending), according to a November 2003 report by Barna Research Group and the Baptist Press, Americans are spending -- in ONE year -- an average of:


$586.5 billion on gambling;
$80 billion on illegal drugs;
$58 billion on alcohol consumption;
$31 billion on tobacco products, and;
$250 billion on the medical treatment for the above related issues

Additionally, during 2003, Americans also collectively spent:

$224 billion to eat out;
$191 billion on personal water craft;
$67 billion on frozen dinners;
$25 billion on gardening;
$22.1 billion on hunting;
$21.3 billion on extravagant pet products, and;
$15 billion on junk food snacks

Again, this is what people spend their personal money on, but if they think that because they contributed $33 to the NASA budget they can poo-poo the work, well, I am going to get angry.  Especially considering the return on investment we have received from NASA. A 1971 NASA study by the Midwest Research Institute concluded:

"The 25 billion in 1958 dollars spent on civilian space R & D during the 1958-1969 period has returned $52 billion through 1971 and will continue to produce pay-off through 1987, at which time the total pay off will have been $181 billion. The discounted rate of return for this investment will have been 33 percent."

This statement is plausible since those were the years when NASA's spending on the Apollo program was at its height, but NASA also invested in other programs and they are included in the mix, so the conclusion is not as definitive as one would like.  Also, a 33 percent return on investment is not really big enough to make the normal venture capitalist go wild -- but for a government program, however, a 33% ROI is quite respectable. A short article in the prestigious British science journal, "Nature" (January 9, 1992, pgs. 105-106), reported:


"The economic benefits of NASA's programs are greater than generally realized. The main beneficiaries (the American public) may not even realize the source of their good fortune..."

So if you want your fucking refund you selfish bastard, I'd gladly deliver it with a brick up side your head...

1 comment:

Celina said...

This is awesome!