Increase NASA funding to promote technological growth
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NASA is an organization dedicated to the advancement of Humanity's technology, and understanding of the universe. Throughout its existence, NASA has launched numerous functional satellites, landed exploration "rovers" on our nearest planetary neighbors multiple times, and has placed humans on the moon on six separate occasions.
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE:
Currently, NASA's ambitions are limited by only one factor: Funding
WHY SHOULD IT CHANGE:
Due to the gradual decline in NASA's budget since its peak in the 60's, the organization has been forced to pick and choose between missions, and even wait multiple years to have enough funding to finish a project.
If NASA's budget were increased, the rate at which missions could launch and would be greatly improved. As such, the organization would provide employment for more trade and STEM educated workers, generate new technology faster, and reach long-term goals (such as a Moon or Mars colony) sooner.
HOW MUCH SHOULD IT CHANGE:
Currently in 2017, NASA's budget is 0.47% of the entire US budget, which is approximately 19.5 billion USD. With a proposed doubling of budget to 1% for the year of 2018 (and sustained past that year), NASA would be able to increase the number of concurrent projects, active employees, and rate of technological advancement.
HOW WILL IT CHANGE:
And increase of 100% in budget for NASA will require some budgetary wizardry to say the least. For something to receive more funding in the US, another organization (or multiple) must receive reductions in their funding. This "balancing game" has proven to be the hardest part of budgeting, as the committee's in charge of determining the federal budget have difficulty reaching a consensus. To make any progress with a budgeting bill, the target of the petition must be an individual directly involved in the decisions on US budgeting. As such, the most appropriate target for this petition is Mike Enzi, the current Chair of the Senate Budget Committee. Unfortunately, petitioning the president alone is only as effective as providing a suggestion to the ultimate decision makers without context, even if the petition were successful and Donald Trump were to propose the said increase for his 2018 budget request.
WHAT CAN WE CUT:
Thankfully the US has multiple high-budget divisions that would not suffer heavily from minor budget cuts, and nearly all of the funding could be reallocated without damaging the funds of the numerous other "small" agencies. Optimally, NASA would receive its funding from cuts to National Defense, which currently makes up 15% of the US budget. Cuts here would impact the general populous and employment at a minimum, which is the ultimate concern for the majority of budget agreements.
The largest alternatives are Social Security at 36%, and Medicare/Health at 28%. Both of those alternatives have a low chance of successfully being cut, as they negatively impact citizens and voters when cut. In summary, the best agencies to cut are ones with sufficiently established backbone, and with employee costs making up a low enough percentage to not heavily risk job loss. As the largest components of National Defense’s expenses are the procurement and construction of new assets, cutting back approximately 20 billion from those categories would allow employment and the upkeep of current assets to remain unharmed, while still retaining the majority of the Defense Procurement budget.
WHY SHOULD NON-CITIZENS CARE (OPINION):
NASA may be a US organization, but its international importance is without question. The International Space Station has become perhaps the greatest symbol of peaceful cooperation between nations, and provides grounds for numerous countries to work together for the benefit of humanity. NASA’s work with satellites early in its existence inspired the US Department of Defense to commission the Global Positioning System project, which provides location services to anyone with a receiver regardless of national origin. NASA advocates for the peaceful exploration of the cosmos, and stands as a role model for individuals worldwide. The products of NASA have become available to all, free of charge. NASA is not an organization that takes pictures of space, or designs satellites and rovers just for Americans. It is an organization that shares its discoveries with all, admiring the beauty of the universe and the aspirations of explorers young and old. NASA stands for exploration and the betterment of humanity, regardless of the flag that human may hold.
WHY I CARE (OPINION):
I am a graduating high-school senior, and intend to study Aerospace Engineering. Nothing would make me happier than to design the rockets that take humans to extraterrestrial colonies. I strongly believe that collaboration between nations and the pursuit of knowledge and resources through space travel will serve as a uniting force for humanity in the future. Currently, I believe my country (which is the United States) has not dedicated enough of itself to peaceful and world benefiting ventures. I believe organizations such as NASA show the world a better side of America, and are not only beneficial but are necessary. I want to work hard to make the world a better place, not just my own life, and I see my calling in the stars as my passion and talent. No greater challenge than the vastness of space will ever beckon at humanity’s doorstep.
I believe increasing NASA’s budget is the best starting point for a better humanity, and I encourage other young people from my nation and worldwide to implore their countries to pursue space travel. Not only do I believe space travel and exploration can unify humanity, but that it will be necessary for our species’ survival. Simply, start expanding to other planets sooner rather than later.
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