Right now we have a lot of unused resources here in the United States. We have bright scientists unable to find work, brilliant engineers idled because there are no massive engineering projects requiring their skills, thousands of skilled machinists idled, and so on and so forth. This is in addition to the millions of Americans whose skills are more rudimentary. If we did a WPA-type project, the Americans without skills could be put to work picking up trash by the roads, doing trail maintenance in the national parks, and otherwise doing things that haven't been done for decades as funding dried up for anything other than corporate welfare. But what about the smart people? It would seem to me to be an utter waste of talent to put someone with a degree in biochemistry in charge of digging outhouses at a WPA camp.
So Newt Gingrich, in my opinion, actually hit upon a viable economic stimulus project with his "to the moon!" rhetoric the other day. Remember, even the ugliest dirtiest pig can sometimes turn up a truffle. This wouldn't be astoundingly expensive like back in the Apollo days because we aren't developing the technology from scratch. Rockets are increasingly a mature technology -- we know how to build'em, they're not all that expensive to build anymore, though of course still not cheap. And the same applies to space capsules and the various environmental systems needed to keep them operational. There would still be a large amount of original science to do regarding how to utilize the Moon's resources to build an actual base (as vs crash a bunch of modules into one location like we did with the International Space Station), not to mention that we'd have to go ahead and man-rate some large rocket in the first place to get our guys into space (we have rockets bigger than Soyuz that could boost people into space but none of them are man-rated, they all have too much vibration and too much acceleration for squishy biologicals to tolerate, but that could be fixed at some expense to payload), but we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed scientists in this country right now. We don't lack for the talent to solve these kinds of problems.
Which is why I am baffled at why so many so-called "leftists" are laughing at Newt proposing a stimulus program that would dwarf Obama's. Granted, he did it in the context of *also* saying he was going to balance the budget -- i.e., it's simply mathematically impossible for him to do both, and we *should* point and laugh at *that* -- but the idea of a huge moon program? Dude. It's just an infrastructure project, just like the ones Obama touts and that leftists say should have been bigger. Well, Gingrich's program *would* be bigger. The only way to dismiss Gingrich's program as "silliness" is if you dismiss Obama's program as "silliness"... which is just plain silliness.
-- Badtux the Space Penguin