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To Mars?

Editorial for Jan. 22, 2004

There's a lot of appeal in President Bush's call to go back to the moon, and then eventually on to Mars.

It's a grand plan: We'll go to the moon, build a base, and from there build more spacecraft that will take us to Mars. Pretty ambitious, you'd have to say.

The American people of course have an affinity for exploration and breaking through barriers. That's a national characteristic, and we are right to be proud that the United States was first to get a human to the moon.

Yes, a visit to Mars is a grand plan with a lot of appeal -- but little in the way of good sense.

Reality ought to play a role in this decision. The current proposal is for $400-$500 billion to pay for this venture, which would require at least 25 years of preparations. Obviously, that will be long after Bush has left office. The problem is, decisions by Bush has already created so much debt that we'll be having to deal with the interest charges for many many years. How are we expected now to add hundreds of billions on top of what we as a nation already will have to repay?

This idea is grand on more than one level. It is symbolic of the current administration's philosophy about spending, which seems to be a cynical and reckless one: "If I have a credit card, I can buy whatever I want."

But the credit card is the American taxpayer, and we're already more than tapped out financially. We simply cannot do everything, and this is one very expensive item that we ought to shelve, no matter how attractive is might look. The cost is simply prohibitive.

By all accounts, we'll all be paying off the existing Bush deficits for a decade or more. This is no time to go out and ring up a huge new debt on our national credit card.

Someone needs to take Bush aside and in a fatherly way explain to him that he's already bought way too many items and he can't just keep spending on new things he'd like -- until he pays for what he's already purchased.

If Bush gets his way on this one, it will give new meaning to the nickname "the red planet." Think in terms of seas of red ink.



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