Debate Forum: Left, 4/19/11

NASA’s Decision Is All About Looting

by Mark Luedtke

Mark Luedtke

According to the Dayton Daily News, “Ohio politicians were smarting from NASA’s announcement Tuesday that it decided not to award an orbiter to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.” No doubt. If NASA had sent a shuttle to Dayton, it would have been a real coup for Senators Brown and Portman, and Congressman Turner. It would have meant more money in their campaign coffers, less likelihood they would face a primary challenge in their next election and most likely a weaker opponent in the general election. Instead, this decision makes them look weak, which will translate into less campaign money raised, a greater likelihood of a primary challenge and facing a stronger opponent in their next general election. This is especially true for Democrat Brown, who looks vulnerable in 2012.

As disappointing as NASA’s decision was to the people of Dayton, Brown understands the situation. The Dayton Daily News reported, “A congressional investigation of how NASA made its decision to allocate space orbiters for permanent display could shed light on the process, but is unlikely to change the outcome, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said Wednesday.” So even though it won’t change anything, Brown wants to waste our tax dollars, money stolen from the people at the point of the government’s gun, on an investigation anyway.

But Brown already knows why NASA made the decision it made. Like all government agencies, NASA’s primary mission is to loot the American people. The shuttle program is probably the most spectacular example of government looting Americans, other than war fighters, have ever witnessed. The shuttle was designed to impress the American people by placing the white elephant on top of the most gigantic column of flame NASA could produce. Advancing American interests in space was a distant, secondary priority that could have been accomplished more effectively and for much cheaper. The space shuttle was shock and awe for Americans.

And it worked. Every spectacular launch of the space shuttle engendered feelings of patriotism in Americans, which government exploited to steal more money from the people. Even the shuttle catastrophes that killed 14 astronauts boosted those patriotic feelings government uses to manipulate us. The shuttle program was so successful that NASA stole about $450 million from us for each mission on top of the cost of developing, building the shuttles and maintaining a full time staff of thousands to service the fleet. By comparison, an Ariane 4 rocket costs $65 to $115 million to launch. According to Wikipedia, “The total cost of the shuttle program has been $145 billion as of early 2005, and is estimated to be $174 billion when the shuttle retires in early 2011.” That’s some serious looting.

So, when NASA bureaucrats retired the shuttles, they used them to maximize the money they could loot from the American people in the future. First, they satisfied the overlords in Washington by sending one to the federal government’s museum dedicated to making the federal government look good: the Smithsonian. This guarantees Washington aristocrats won’t overrule or fire NASA’s bureaucrats. Second, since Kennedy Space Center was the site of all those spectacular shuttle launches and it’s the most visible branch of NASA, they sent one there to keep people looking at NASA. Finally they sent the last two to the two biggest cities in America where they are likely to impress the maximum number of people into allowing the government to steal even more of our money.

NASA had nothing to gain by sending a shuttle to Dayton. The people of Dayton are already big supporters of aerospace because of Wright-Patterson and Dayton’s history. That wouldn’t change.
Senator Brown knows this and so does everybody else in Washington. The people have nothing to gain by an investigation into NASA’s decision, just money to lose. But Brown and other elected officials in Ohio and Texas, who was also weakened by the decision, have something to gain by wasting our tax dollars on this investigation: power. If they force an investigation, they will have “done something,” and even though that something is worse than useless because it wastes our tax dollars, constituents always want their representatives to “do something”. If they force an investigation, it will advance their power at our expense, and that’s what government is all about.

But what have we lost? Who would have thought when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969 that Americans would not have a permanent base on the moon by now? Who would have thought Americans would not have landed on Mars by now? But we’ve achieved neither of those things because they couldn’t be used to loot us as effectively as recurring shuttle launches. Plus, the shuttles served the military. What a waste.
Ending the shuttle program won’t end the looting. NASA will loot us with other programs and continue to hinder Americans in the private sector from rocketing past it and exposing it as the enemy of human advancement it’s become. We should auction off all of NASA to free American inventors and entrepreneurs to revolutionize space travel, explore space and exploit its unlimited resources.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at

Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at

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