Be sure to thank NASA for saving your life
One of the few memorable quotes from last nights GOP debate came from Mike Huckabee. In describing the "earthly benefits" devolped by NASA:
"Whether it's the medical technologies that saved many of our lives and the lives of our families, it's the direct result from the space program," he said. "We need to put more money into space and technology exploration."
To its credit, NASA is directly responsible for dozens of inventions and innovations (1 2). However, Huckabee and other proponents of a nationalized space industry assume that private companies and individuals are incapable of developing the same goods and services. This is the perfect example of the seen and unseen. While an outside observer can easily see billowy plumes of steam rising into the atmosphere, the unseen effects of this resource allocation is difficult to visibly trace. Not only are scarce engineering talents being diverted from productive industries, but so too are rare chemicals and earthen resources. And at the end of the day, why should the coerced taxpayer be forced to fund and subsidize an industry that could otherwise be operated by privately financed entrepreneurs? Are non-governmental institutions somehow incapable of constructing a rocket? See also: A World Without NASA Do We Need NASA? What Won't NASA invent next?