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Blog, interrupted July 27, 2008

Posted by shubber in Manned Space, NASA, public service announcement, smack talk.

Apologies for the radio silence over the past few weeks – real life stepped up and threw in a couple of major time consumers (big project for work, moving from DC to St Louis, packing/unpacking, speaking at a couple of conferences, etc).

I thought i’d share a little bit of info to further my point made months ago about externalities impacting the space program – specifically, how manned space (NASA, that is) is going to be shut down in the next decade due to budget constraints as we juggle many other issues on the national agenda simultaneously, regardless of who gets elected.  Let’s see, as major constraints we have:

  • Multiple wars (and the resulting need to re-arm, refurbish, restock, etc (so buying stock in MICs may not be a bad idea…)
  • Huge social entitlement programs becoming more problematic as baby boomers retire
  • Increasing cost of fuel – in the big city you may not notice this as much, but many small, poor towns in rural America are seriously hurting as a result of a 150% increase in the price of gas over the past 18 months.  Drilling or no drilling, this is a problem TODAY.
  • Increase in food costs – especially as a result of a retarded effort to turn our food into gas for our cars.  Those who saw my presentation at the SBSP conference in Breckenridge last year might remember the charts i displayed on the caloric inputs required for the production of a calorie of food – so I ask you: does it make sense to poor energy into making corn only (at a 4.7:1 ratio) to turn around and make ethanol out of that corn to, um, burn?   Meat, corn-derived products, basically a large percentage of the food we eat is experiencing price inflation – which again hits Joe Sixpack right where it hurts: the wallet.
  • Bailout #1 – you’d have to have been in a coma or on a seriously disconnected vacation island somewhere for the past 12 months not to have seen the crack fest known as the housing bubble finally start to come to it’s long overdue end.  What is criminal is that those of us who did not partake in this little exercise in self delusion are getting stuck with the check, now that President Bush has gone back on his veto promise and plans to authorize the pandering legislation that the Democratically-controlled house and senate has passed.  In other words, those of you too stupid to figure out that you can’t afford that million dollar house on $43,000 a year, or those of you who don’t understand that the “A” in ARM stands for “adjustable” – and that you’d better be able to make the payment when it resets have no business buying the house in the first place, much less taking out a loan (because here’s a clue for you: it AINT YOUR MONEY TILL YOU SELL THE HOUSE DOOFUS).
  • Bailout #2 – of course you couldn’t have excess greed on the part of the consumer without corresponding excess greed on the part of the banks who lent the money.  So of course we the taxpayers are getting hosed again, in the form of a massive bailout of the banking system.  “Too big to fail”, my ass.  I say let them fail – then the shareholders of those worthless banks can hopefully take a lesson and not do it again the next time they’re presented with something too good to be true.  Socializing risk while privatizing profit – which is exactly what we’re doing with this bailout of “fannie” and “freddie” (such friendly sounding names for such a fucked up way of doing business).

So it is within this context of macroeconomic forces that I look at our space program and make the bold assertion that, post Shuttle the US Government (i.e. NASA) will be out of the manned space program for at least 5-10 years.  They may have aspirations, and plans, for a future VSE, but there’s going to be NO money for it.  Last year’s reporting on the housing foreclosure market showed this graphic for the State of California:

That’s not too bad, right?

For those of you who think the markets have priced all of this in, or that we’re touching bottom and now is a good time to buy, there’s an old saying about trying to catch a falling knife…  and now for the update on that graphic:

Thanks to rjmason for providing these great graphics.