Friday, January 27, 2012

Space Invaders

I am coining a new word today, and I expect to be compensated when it becomes part of the cultural vocabulary:

Astro-Newts:  Those first space travelers who colonize the moon for the United States thanks to Newt Gingrich’s funding of a bold proposal to conquer the rock by 2020.

We should not be surprised.  Newt has been an unapologetic champion of re-entry for years now, and the prospect of Newt living in a weightless environment certainly has personal benefits for him.

For those not paying close enough attention to Mr. Gingrich’s steady descent from short term front runner to long term cautionary tale, while campaigning along Florida’s “Space Coast” this week, he pledged to build a moon colony within 8 years of becoming President.  So if you’d like to go to the moon, Vote Gingrich – Bang Zoom to the Moon! 
Perhaps this multi-billion dollar pander won over the undecided Major Nelsons and Major Healeys of Cocoa Beach, but state polls so far have not launched skyward since his promise.  It is clear to me that Newt was counting on the aging snow birds of Florida to imagine a new world where they could live out their days without gravity, thereby extending their lives indefinitely.  Newt actually began running the movie Cocoon as a campaign ad, and has a rally scheduled with Wilford Brimley.  “Vote for Newt…you’ll never grow old, and you won't ever die.”
In Newt’s crystal ball, he sees an interplanetary industry that will grow “precisely on the model of the airlines in the 1930s.”  That can only mean one thing – the long-awaited return of the stewardess class that was outlawed by political correctness in the 80s and 90s.  When the airlines started in the 30s, it wasn’t long before the industry learned that sex appeal sold tickets.  I am sure Gingrich envisions hot chicks serving hot meals and even hotter banter on those long flights to our newest and hippest colony in the sky.  Imagine your hot towel being delivered mid-flight by Yeoman Rand.  Forget the Mile High Club – Newt offers us the 100,000 Mile High Club!

I actually would like us to invest in space travel and enjoy the fruits of the discoveries and inventions here on earth, but only a space cadet would think this is a good proposal in the middle of a primary defined by descriptions of our empty government coffers and our impending slide towards a Grecian entitlement debacle.  This is the little fly in his ointment.  Republicans in Congress have campaigned since January 20, 2009 on the platform that we are broke as a country (which is surprising, since we were filthy rich on January 19, 2009 to afford tax cuts, 2 wars, and Medicare expansions).  No money, no space trips.  Bummer.

Obama figured that out pretty quickly.  He cancelled George Bush’s lunar landing project in 2010 because it was deemed too expensive, instead opting to fund private companies’ space exploration work.  Damn pragmatist.
No worries, GOP primary voters.  Newt promised to re-prioritize funding to pay for this adventure, and offer a cash prize to the first citizen who builds their own rocket to the moon.  It does leave one wondering, however, how this jives with Republican free market ideology.  The freedom to construct a rocket ship on your property is consistent with the libertarian segment of the base, and Ron Paul would no doubt approve, but doesn't offering government money as incentive remove money from citizens wallets because the government has decided that a lunar colony is the better way of spending those funds than the things on which the taxpayers would spend them?  Doesn't it also distort capital markets, reducing economic efficiency by artificially incentivizing less economically viable enterprises over more inherently productive ones? 
I knew it! Newt Gingrich is the Socialist from Outer Space, a sort of intergalactic Manchurian Candidate.  This would have been more obvious had Gingrich proposed a colony on the Red Planet, Mars (named after Roman warrior god who first preemptively attacked a Middle Eastern country for trying to obtain catapult weapons of mass destruction).

After yesterday’s GOP episode of Survivor on CNN, this whole debate on moon colonization may be moot.  Newt is coming back to earth in the polls and GOP insiders and outsiders are scurrying away from his “bold” agenda faster than a shooting star across the vacuum of space.  And that’s a shame.  An estimated 19,000 jobs have been lost in Florida either directly or indirectly because of decreased NASA funding.  I would have liked a longer debate on how that problem should, or should not, be addressed.
It may not be the message.  I think it’s the messenger.  As soon as the Chinese plant a flag on the moon, I’m sure it will come up in conversation again, and we will start training those Astro-Newts for the mission.

To infinity and beyond!

No comments:

Post a Comment