Weak leader Obama made a good call

If you live long enough, what goes around comes around, and you learn people trip over their assumptions sooner or later. Your scrivener trips now and again himself.

In my lengthening life it happens less often these days, but perhaps it happened again this month because of President Obama’s budget proposal regarding space exploration.

My assumptions must always be open to challenge. It’s best to use critical faculties to probe deeper for certainty. An assumption might hold up or fall apart. So let’s get started and at the same time see how this might affect Nevada.

Star Trek taught generations that we can eventually go where no man has gone before: space, the final frontier. Yet it ended up on the Obama administration chopping block in the budget he sent Congress.

Not surprisingly, talk of salvaging the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) bacon (pork, remember) began immediately in Congress.

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, a Democrat like the president, protested. Nelson in 1986 became the second member of Congress to fly a space mission. He was payload specialist on a flight of the space shuttle Columbus.

Nelson is well-positioned to protect his turf. He serves on the Senate Budget Committee and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics and Related Science.

Now let me hasten to say I’m not anti-space exploration. I was thrilled after the late President John F. Kennedy inspired us with the goal of putting a man on the moon, and we later did it—more thrilled with the goal than with JFK. And I still would love to see us continue the quest to conquer space, but not on the public tab.

While a young university student, I was exposed to an economics professor with liberal Keynesian leanings and grew aghast at his gleefully held reasons for praising all pre-moon landing space probes.

As I recall—I’ll never forget the gist of his argument—he said it was a boon for the economy to fire unmanned rockets into space because money spent to develop and send them up circulated in the economy and the hardware circulated around Earth. Consequently, he said, you just kept on doing it, and the money kept us in the pink.

In the red, I thought, and decided economics wouldn’t be my major or minor. A journalism major and political science minor beckoned, but I kept reading about the economy. I discovered the Austrian school of economics, which questions government overreach and cautions prudence regarding centralized planning.

Now comes President Obama’s spending blueprint seeking cuts of nearly $100 billion in NASA’s 10-year funding, leaving just $6 billion for continued research. Meanwhile, Obama keeps pushing an alternative energy initiative, which should help Nevada industry and jobs. During his campaign, he promised $150 billion over a decade to go green.

Though the president definitely is liberal and buys into Keynesian counsel, he made a conservative call here. Debt and deficit spending give us no room for both. Ending dependence on fossil fuel-rich enemies trumps government-backed trips into space now.

My assumption is the president deserves kudos for a conservative move. But he won’t get them from me until he shows mastery over Congress, notably absent to date, and on this one gets alternative energy funding through while stopping the NASA/space lobby.

Otherwise, it’s just another dead-on-arrival proposal from a weak leader, and perhaps even a planned distraction at that. Let’s face it, this stuff ain’t rocket science—it’s just politics as usual if he can’t make his plan stick.