Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Show-Me

The Emperor's Has-been Society (a.k.a. NASA's 50th anniversary) Chair, Shana Dale, waltzed into Missouri this week to tell the taxpayers how much NASA should mean to them. Maintaining its official state animal as the Missouri mule, it was only fitting that Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder told Missourians how much more competitive their economy is and how much better their quality of life is because of the Emperor and his programs.

"I am honored to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA," said Kinder. "Missouri has played a fundamental role in the continued efforts of space exploration. Fifty years ago, the Mercury space capsules were developed and built here in St. Louis, helping put the first American into space."

Indeed, 50 years ago Missouri was on the forefront of the space program. McDonnell Aircraft Co. was employing thousands in the St. Louis area, drawing on talent from universities on both sides of the Mississippi. And the government paid $5.5M (in then year dollars!) each for 20 copies of the Mercury capsule. Later, twelve Gemini capsules at $13M each (then year dollars again!) were also produced by McDonnell.

You could almost imagine a backdrop of patriotic music, as Kinder continued in his display of appreciation. "Today, NASA invests over $12 million in contracts here in the Show-Me State thanks to innovative product development and research by Missouri businesses and universities. "

$12 million! Cue sound effect of needle scratching across the album. Missouri receives far less today from NASA in a year than a single Gemini capsule built there brought in back in the day.

To put that in perspective, $12 million is what Wal Mart contracted for in improvements last week for its St. Peter, Missouri store.

Last week, NASA's planetary science director Jim Green ordered a $12 million cut to the Mars rovers, threatening to kill Spirit as a result. Green rescinded the cut on Tuesday. Now NASA will have to look elsewhere to find $12 million in savings. Maybe Missouri can kick in their share to save the rover?

At this point we're not sure who to pin the tail on here. The politicians of Missouri for letting the space program business base get away, Lt. Gov. Kinder for bringing attention to it, or Shana Dale for wasting the taxpayers money to take a trip to the Show-Me state to brag about it. So while Wal Mart's minimum wage employees get a grocery sales addition and a reconstructed parking lot with a new garden center, NASA invests a whole $12M today in the remnants of the former hotbed of space vehicle design and development.

We think its time that we take a page from the Russians who are again contemplating the burial of Lenin. Dead things just shouldn't be on display.

1 comment:

theregulator said...

Why would you pin the tail on Kinder? I think he has done an excellent job as Lt. Governor, especially in the areas of tourism and eco-devo. Maybe Kinder's attempts will help prompt a rebirth of the space industry in Missouri. But don't knock him for at least trying. I really like this guy. I live in a flooded area and he has really helped us and I have faith that he will help jump start our economy (including space industry stuff) once he is elected governor in four years.