Apparently there have been some murmurings about the cost of the Rosetta-Philae mission to comet 67P.
The response to these criticisms from one scientist was to quote BA Baracus’, “I pity the fool”. Me too. Well, “pity” is too kind; “feel contempt for” is probably closer.
This illustrates a very common theme and ignorance of economics. What actually is the cost of a big science project? A whole bunch of people in employment? Perhaps the critics imagine that if the people working on a big project were all sacked they’d cost society less; or they’d all go and help alleviate poverty somewhere in the world. What about raw materials? In a tiny spaceship and lander? Come on. Did the project consume a vast amount of electricity that could have been better deployed elsewhere?
The elephant in the room of western society is just what we are all going to do with ourselves. Politicians talk wistfully of full employment but really the problem is finding ways for society not to crumble as the amount of real, or vital work diminishes. Apart from generating power, “growing” food, extracting raw materials and care work, all the remaining work for us to do is essentially opening doors for each other; doing each other’s hair, or nails; or teaching or entertaining each other.
So a whole bunch of people employed on a fascinating and enriching project for a large number of years is brilliant.
Thinking about things a bit before making this post, all I could come up as to real costs of the Rosetta-Philae mission was the polution as the rocket lifted it against our gravity. So the sooner a few thousand people more get to work and start to research and then build a space elevator, the better.
- Amazon Logistics
- And Not A Moment Too Soon