Fri, 30 Jul 1999 08:09:12 EDT

In a message dated 99-07-29 09:22:27 EDT, (Todd Huffman) wrote:

> I will be the first to admit that judgement without complete knowledge can 

> be dangerous. I apologize for making such a rash statement, perhaps the
> wording was not well thought out. I justify my statement by a rule of
> that I use. When in doubt, dont let the government get involved. I am a
> firm believer that govt agencies are inefficient. Even if a particular
> agency is productive at a given time I feel that they inevitably become
> detrimental. If you disagree with this I would be happy to continue via
> private e mail (no need to clutter the list).

No need to apologize and I don't really disagree with you as a matter of principle. It's just that my personal prejudices on this subject are fairly well known, as I've been discussing them here lately. When I was younger, I followed the space program the way most kids followed sports and the astronauts were to me what the Dallas Cowboys were to my playmates. You'd get the same touchy reaction from most men my age who grew up in Texas if you dissed Don Meredith. On a rational level, I'm fully aware of how "artificial" the whole process was, but when Neal Armstrong put his bootprint in the dust of Mare Tranquilitas he won what for me was the ultimate Superbowl.

There is a deeper issue here, though, which we've discussed in the "Big Science/Big Government" thread some time back. Government subsidies ARE like a drug, but the question is whether going cold turkey at a particular time can do more harm than good. The fact is that the current NASA administration HAS engaged in a serious program of "reform", and Dan Goldin has made "smaller, faster, cheaper" into an effective motto that has yielded positive science and technology goals. I want to see space science weaned from the corrupting influence of government support as quickly as possible, but I WOULD like to avoid destroying the life work of a whole generation of space scientists in the process.

     Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley