Guest Post: Charles Krauthammer Mourns Over NASA Cuts, I Celebrate

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by James E Miller of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute of Canada,

Leading neoconservative (read “closet Trotskyite“) commentator Charles Krauthammer’s latest Washington Post editorial pays homage to the glory days of NASA and the retirement of the space shuttle Discovery.  Titled “Farewell, the New Frontier,” the piece evokes mental images of Uncle Sam losing his international prestige as President Obama scales down NASA’s space exploration endeavors.  Much like his incessant urging for war with any nation predominantly inhabited by Muslims, hypocrisy runs high from a pundit who has made a career out of denouncing big government.  But then again the infatuation conservatives have with imposing democracy abroad through military occupation and financing brutal dictators has always made the National Review and Weekly Standard crowd look like laughing stocks to anyone with a slight concern for logical consistency.

Neoconservatives like Krauthammer often gain readership by peddling “American exceptionalism” to simpletons who take comfort in their country succeeding while, in fact, it is the war contractors and corporate bed partners  of Washington who benefit from the governance of those who preach the doctrine of “limited government.”  Of course the left, who literally run their campaigns on promising to pilfer more wealth and create a constituency of obedient dependents, is equally guilty of attracting the various bedfellows of crony capitalism.  But at least their admiration for centralized planning and tightening the leash on civil society is openly professed.

For decades, the conservative movement has been an embarrassment to those who believe in true free markets, peace, and liberty.  Krauthammer’s pity party over NASA is more of the same as it represents the type of economic ignorance and worship of big government that has become a predominant feature of the mainstream “right.”  He writes:

As the space shuttle Discovery flew three times around Washington, a final salute before landing at Dulles airport for retirement in a museum, thousands on the ground gazed upward with marvel and pride. Yet what they were witnessing, for all its elegance, was a funeral march.


Who cares, you say? What is national greatness, scientific prestige or inspiring the young — legacies of NASA — when we are in economic distress? Okay. But if we’re talking jobs and growth, science and technology, R&D and innovation — what President Obama insists are the keys to “an economy built to last” — why on earth cancel an incomparably sophisticated, uniquely American technological enterprise?

For a man who hilariously chided President Obama’s blind commitment to throwing away more and more taxpayer dollars at politically favored firms under the guise of a six-year “stimulus” plan by declaring “even Lenin had the modesty to stop at five,” Krauthammer still operates under the assumption that perhaps a few of the various arms of federal bureaucracy are capable of generating wealth.  According to him, the staff at NASA is on the forefront of developing technological innovations:

We lament the decline of American manufacturing, yet we stop production of the most complex machine ever made by man — and cancel the successor meant to return us to orbit. The result? Abolition of thousands of the most highly advanced aerospace jobs anywhere — its workforce abruptly unemployed and drifting away from space flight, never to be reconstituted.

Judging by the above passage, Mr. Krauthammer has difficulty distinguishing between jobs which produce wealth and those that are utterly wasteful.  In order for a job to be productive, it must garner some type of return on investment.  Whether its the lawyer opening up a law practice or the hamburger flipper at McDonald’s, the outcome of profit and losses determines the success of each.  The market process of monetary calculation allows for the efficient distribution of resources.  Where profit, that is the money earned after paying for wages, land rent, interest, and other inputs, fails to materialize, then resources have been wasted as consumers send a proverbial referendum of dissatisfaction to producers by voting with their wallets.

The state, by nature of acquiring its funds through theft, does not have the same concern for profits and loss.  This renders those who carry out its operations incapable of economic calculation.  In the words of Ludwig von Mises:

There is no possible way of establishing by an objective criterion whether a district or a province is being administered well or badly, cheaply or expensively. The judgment of the activity of public officials is thus a matter of subjective, and therefore quite arbitrary, opinion. Even the question whether a particular bureau is necessary, whether it has too many or too few employees, and whether its organization is or is not suited to its purpose can be decided only on the basis of considerations that involve some element of subjectivity.

Rather than facilitate advances in technology and promote space travel, NASA has only inhibited such in being a functioning apparatus of the government.  The state only ever acquires those resources forcefully taken from the private sector.  The labor and industrial technology employed by NASA since its inception has been forever designated to and wasted by a political bureaucracy incapable of legitimately garnishing a real profit.  Without profit and loss, the effective use of resources is impossible to determine.

Krauthammer goes on to question the private sector’s viability in achieving profitable manned-space flight.

Nor for the private sector to get us back into orbit, as Obama assumes it will. True, hauling MREs up and trash back down could be done by private vehicles. But manned flight is infinitely more complex and risky, requiring massive redundancy and inevitably larger expenditures. Can private entities really handle that? And within the next lost decade or two?

The question isn’t whether the private sector can handle such a task.  It’s what policies does the government actively promote, from taxation to currency debasement, which prevent the capital accumulation necessary to fund such a costly endeavor.  With less resources being squandered away by NASA’s bureaucracy, that means more left in the hands in entrepreneurs who “might have a chance to actually prosper down the road” and “carry the water instead of drink the water,” to borrow a phrase from Rick Santelli.  If space travel can’t be funded by entrepreneurs and investors looking to buy low and sell high, than it ends up being another avenue in which to destroy wealth.  Government is and will always be incapable of allocating resources effectively.  The political time horizon only runs as far as the next election.  The return on investment for any politicians means convincing enough saps to check the ballot box next to their name.  It has nothing to do with economization and all to do with paying off campaign supporters.  NASA’s various attempts at space travel are bridge to nowhere projects like every other government boondoggle.

And as this exhaustive report conducted by Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason Magazine shows, space exploration is being pursued by a number of private individuals and companies.  These “Rocket Men” are interested in offering a service at a profit and not appeasing their political benefactors.  Their success will be dependent solely on whether the methods and technology they utilize actually enrich the lives of others.  It won’t aid in the advancement of the static bureaucracy known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Mises pinned down the fundamental predicament massive bureaucracies like NASA long ago:

Thus, the characteristic mark of bureaucratic management is that it lacks the guidance provided by considerations of profit and loss in judging the success of its operations in relation to the expenses incurred and is consequently obliged, in the effort to compensate for this deficiency, to resort to the entirely inadequate expedient of making its conduct of affairs and the hiring of its personnel subject to a set of formal prescriptions. All the evils that are commonly imputed to bureaucratic management — its inflexibility, its lack of resourcefulness, and its helplessness in the face of problems that are easily solved in profit-seeking enterprise — are the result of this one fundamental deficiency.

Contrary to Krauthammer, NASA has never represented America’s collective vision of frontier exploration.  It has been just another bureaucratic black hole for Washington to throw dollars at in hopes of buying reelection.  As investor and avowed anarchist Doug Casey thoughtfully observes on the inefficiency of NASA:

We should have colonies on the moon by now, and more: We should be mining the asteroids and developing real estate on Mars. There should be active homesteading going on out there right now. As you say, the technology for doing it is fairly mature – and would be far more so if the field had been left to the private sector, which always does things faster and more efficiently than the state.

Because one of the main tenets of economics is considering the unseen, then it can be assumed that space exploration would very well be advanced far beyond what we see today if it was left completely out of the hands of the state.  If Krauthammer truly wished the human race capable of traveling into the new frontier of the stars, he would welcome NASA cuts rather than lament.  I know I am.

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SAT 800's picture

Nasa is just more alphabet soup; more wasted billions flushed down the toilet; and I am a rocket scientist, thank you.

I think I need to buy a gun's picture

i'm an astronaut and i'm going to miss my trips :(

Manthong's picture

They can't put a man in space anymore and are working on muslim outreach..

Shutter them, at least for now ..   Sorry, Charlie.

SilverTree's picture

Wernher von Braun was a Nazi

Manthong's picture

Maybe I was a little harsh with the knee jerk .. NASA has done a lot of great things, can have worthy endeavors under the right political leadership and is an agency worthy of right sized and managed funding.

Most NASA folks likely feel frustrated and hamstrung by the lousy situation and politics of the day, too.

The problem is that considering the path the country is on, stuff has to get scaled way back to be reasonable and the largesse and cronyism of the past is not affordable anymore.

Maybe if they just killed a few truly worthless departments and agencies like Energy, Education and most of DHS we could play in space again.

flacon's picture

Every human to walk on the moon was a Freemason... just sayin... 

JW n FL's picture



Public Service Announcement!


POGO sent a letter today to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees recommending that an expensive and severely flawed variant of the Littoral Combat Ship program be eliminated. The letter comes on the heels of POGO's release of Navy documents revealing serious cracking and corrosion problems with the ship--along with evidence of dangerous equipment failures.

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a surface vessel commissioned to operate close to shore. It’s supposed to be the jaguar of Navy ships: fast and agile, with the flexibility to both engage in surface combat with modern-day pirates, and also take down submarines and mines. There are two variants of the LCS: one built by a team led by General Dynamics, which will cost $345.8 million per ship; and the other built by a team led by Lockheed Martin, which will cost $357.5 million per ship.

LetThemEatRand's picture

All of you fucksticks have no idea what NASA did for you.  
GPS anyone?

Let's start with that and then tell me why government never "creates  wealth."

Crassus's picture

GPS is there to track you, shithook.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Bet you use it everyday.  Hypocrihook.

Crassus's picture

That's General Hypocrihook to you, menstrualenvy.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue?

Crassus's picture

Sorry, I didn't realize that you're a dull-witted child. I guess that your pop culture reference is to a 1980 movie. Do you have any idea what is orbiting above you? Do you? They're not looking outward. NASA is 85% surveillance, 15% exploration.


Also, my histrionics are to sharpen your wits for dealing with the off-site, ordinary, walking-holes-in the ground, that you must deal with in your real world. That is my understanding of the purpose of this site.

insanelysane's picture

GPS is a luxury and not a necessity.  Maps have worked for 1000s of years but of course with the morons being turned out by the US Dept of Ed, GPS will be a necessity for the next generation.

Have a friend who's daughter just started driving.  She was following friends home down a highway and missed the fact that they exited. (most likely on cell phone)  Got lost and was panicking.  Of course car had a gps in it but .....

Badabing's picture

  We my friends, are under attack!

Slowly but surely we are being converted to a third world status.

  As countries like North Korea and India develop ICBMs that can put anything they want onto orbit we are being industrially raped. Over the years a lot of technology came out of the space program that has benefitted our economy.

  This argument about a bridge to nowhere is irrelevant, regardless some one made money or it would not have been built. Many times on ZH people have stated you can dig a hole and someone can fill it to create jobs, isn’t that what man does out side of being hunter gathers? History is full of impressively large endeavors, from the pyramids to the Great Wall of China. Landing on the moon was up there with these unbelievable achievements. It gave America unity and pride something we have very little of these days! So go ahead, side up with this dick Miller, but don’t forget profit isn’t everything, look at Goldman or the Morg these fucks are pure profit with no physical product!

Rentier's picture

wrong peter cheeks.  The surveillance that speak of is done by non-NASA groups.  Like ULA, Lockheed, Boeing and is done on the Air Force side.  Get your head of your ace and maybe you could see what is orbiting above you...

piceridu's picture

If space exploration was left to private visionaries and creative entrepreneurs, who knows what we would have already guess is much much more...and by the way, get rid of the theft that is DARPA...or rename it for what it is: WAR-PA

LetThemEatRand's picture

It is totally available to private visionaries.  

piceridu's picture

Was the marginal product of capital equalized across its alternative uses? Well functioning markets are supposed to allocate capital so as to equate its marginal product in all its uses to the interest rate that is paid to savers for their savings. Government cronies and their lobbyists are the epitome of (mis)allocation of available capital and NASA is the product of this (mis) allocation.

sessinpo's picture

LetThemEatRand                       2372388

It is totally available to private visionaries.



This is correct. NASA was a great project decades ago. The main problem with those that suggest the private sector would have done better is this. No one at the time was willing to take the financial risk because the profit potential was unknown. When comparing the investment required to the potential gain - no takers.


I have to agree that NASA as many programs became more of a political tool. If any thing, I think NASA has opened the eyes to the public sector to whatis possible and of course a ton of current and future technology came from their research.


This is one of those rare situations where a guy like myself believes in private sector investment, but the government had to get it started because the pros and cons were preventing the private sector from making the initial investment.


AnAnonymous's picture

Nice admission. In US citizenism, the private sector lives off the public sector.

Everything is debt and the burden of the debt has to be taken in charge by someone so that profits can kick in.

Oh, by the way, Smith, the prophet of US citizen economics, admitted that straight away, that in its conception, there would be an issue with infrastructures but that infrastructures had to be built to enable his smithian profitable society.

US world order. And with the now impossibility to flush the debt on to a larger domain like outer space, well, Indians, those freedom lovers who freely sponsored the US of A humanitarian project, are more than ever the most sought resource of all.

Who is going to foot the physical debt required to maintain US citizen economics expansion scheme?

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Nice trained monkey propagandism. In Chinese citizenism, the Chinese citizenism sector lives off the Tibetan sector, the Mongolians sector, and the Uighur sector.

Oh, being the way by here, Sun Yat-sen, contradictator and prophesy of Chinese citizenism economic algebraic coconutism, on a straight line of its conception admitting, there would roadways need of building with roadside expanse to enable relief of Chinese citizenism Sun Yat-sensational society profiting is.

Chinese citizenism world odor. And impossibility being now to flush roadside piles cannot, those excretion lovers upon unencumbered roadside seeking. Those clear roadsides of Nepal being resource sought ever more the now.

Who is going to place foot in roadside physical dung piles required the expansion maintaining Chinese citizenism shame?


Max Fischer's picture



If space exploration was left to private visionaries and creative entrepreneurs, who knows what we would have already guess is much much more...

oh, look!... another idealistic - and incredibly fucking dumb - libertarian.

Private visionaries and creative entrepreneurs are free to do whatever space exploration they'd like. With exception of some Richard Branson endeavors, not much has materialized other than some around-the-world balloon trips.

Same goes for the postal service.  The libertarians always babble about how private enterprise could do it so much better.  It's bullshit.  If private enterprise could, they would!  Instead, private enterprise has picked out the profitable parts of the postal system (next day air and package delivery) and left the unprofitable .40 mail scraps to the USPS. 

The simple truth is that we need government to perform unprofitable, yet necessary functions.  Not everything in this world is about making profit.  


Edit in:  looks like "let them eat Rand" said the same thing a minute or two before I got this posted.

piceridu's picture

...and to you Mr. Fischer, you have that fish mouth of yours so securely attached to the government teat...ah forget it, just fuck off.

BeetleBailey's picture

"Same goes for the postal service.  The libertarians always babble about how private enterprise could do it so much better.  It's bullshit.  If private enterprise could, they would!  Instead, private enterprise has picked out the profitable parts of the postal system (next day air and package delivery) and left the unprofitable .40 mail scraps to the USPS. "

Tell ya what - go to your governmental masters and allow use of the mailbox, Mr. Monopoly. You stink of fear, and I can smell it from here. Not only are you spectacularly wrong, you cannot show one area where government both provides a "necessary service" and does it well....or even mediocre.

"The simple truth is that we need government to perform unprofitable, yet necessary functions.  Not everything in this world is about making profit"

Damn you are as dumb as they come. Really now? So, in your fucked up, twisted mind-set, it's OK to both lose money, and run an inefficient, bloated "service" - because "it's necessary". Asinine.

Obama-troll much - douchebag?


An AMERICAN (FUCK the labels of any party; don't even try that shite-tactic with me)

Sean7k's picture


Just have to remember that MAX loves his fascism good and hard...

macholatte's picture

The mission John Kennedy gave to NASA was awsome and the work product was too. The advances that were the offspring of the space program are numerous, including this PC, and may very well be the single shining star that shines a light on the concept that government can create economic activity. Unfortunately, that mission and the organization that put a man on the moon has morphed into just another government program. The author of the article is quite narrow minded yet his views are somewhat valid. Too bad. All glory is fleeting

Freddie's picture

We had competent Germans back then to build NASA and the space vehicles too.    Now we just have F-ups.   Even back then the shit built by American subcontractors usually failed and killed people.

BidnessMan's picture

NASA has never had anything to do with GPS.  GPS was designed and built, and is still operated today, by DoD.  

Sanksion's picture

Do you have no idea what the nazis did for NASA ?

Let's start with that and then tell me how the whole process, the full process, not only the slice that please you, has create wealth and death.

Ar-Pharazôn's picture

how many billions they wasted to have gps?

Sean7k's picture

Did you read the article?

At what cost? Could a private company have done it? How do you measure the efficiency of production? You can't.

NASA had a monopoly on space for military reasons (high ground). They were not doing us a favor.


ATM's picture

So what you are saying dumbfuck is that without NASA no one would have independently developed a GPS system? For fuck sakes do you know that the same thing is accomplished by cell towers right now? 

You're utter ignorance is astounding. That which is UNSEEN.....

Not too hard to grasp.



PersonalResponsibility's picture

+1 for explaining further your musings.  Lots of smart folks pained by what they went through.  sad

BidnessMan's picture

Sorry to say NASA has been a boondoggle for decades. Back in the early 80's I dated a flight attendant who was on one of several jumbo jets chartered for a day trip from Washington down to Florida to watch a NASA shuttle launch. For about 1,500 NASA-ites. The rudest passengers she ever had - a drunkfest down and back. Got really hostile when they had drunk through every drop of booze, and they were over-catered. A disgusting boondoggle - could have taught the SBA a trick or two.

Max Fischer's picture



That's your measuring stick on whether funding NASA is a worthwhile expenditure?  A single report from an ex-girlfriend flight attendant from 30 years ago?


Libertarians are funny.


SilverTree's picture

I live in Huntsville, Alabama and say its time to move on from NASA

LetThemEatRand's picture

I flew into Huntsville recently.   The airport is full of government funded weapons systems billboards.  Welfare [Warfare].   Queens.

Max Fischer's picture



Alabama?  That's not surprising.

Are you aware that the reconstruction and repaving of Memorial Parkway in Huntsville was part of the Economic Recovery Act?  Next time you take your horse and buggy on it, thank Obama for the $17M needed to refurbish it. 

A total of over $500M was granted to Alabama for highway infrastructure projects, of which almost $300M has been spent.  Are you aware of any private individuals who would have paid for this, if not for the government?  Did you know that over 3,200 teachers in Alabama were NOT fired in 2011 because of $2.1B in federal stimulus money?  Again, any private individuals around Huntsville that would have picked up the tab? 


Sean7k's picture

Yes, but I won't thank Congress (they funded it, not Obama) because I will never use it, but be forced to pay for it anyway. Whether people would have paid for it? How could we ever know? Fascists don't give you the freedom to choose.

Liberals are so amusing, when they're not out advertising manacles for all.

ATM's picture

Interesting that you choose to use a specific federal governmnt power as an example of the govt doing good - To establish post offices and post roads.

Where is this Federal power to fund teachers? We the People established a form of government with limited powers so show me the fucking power of rthe Feds to fund teachers salaries??

Harbanger's picture

So what's a great "kiss my monkey ass" SAT score? 800 out of a perfect score of 2400?  Not!  A rocket scientist? In your dreams.

Waffen's picture

If NASA was so important why dont they ask for donations?

Taxation is theft!

Jay_Son's picture

Fuck you and James E Miller of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute of Canada.  NASA's "wasteful spending" has given the U.S. enourmous scientific and technical expertise which we have used to dominate the world.  The market is only good at allocating resources; it is terrible at advancing national interests (like meritocracy, education, and science).

Neill DeGrasse Tyson says it best...

Sean7k's picture

That is because "national interests" are what fascists use to control the population. 

NASA didn't give anyone scientific expertise, it was paid for at great cost, costs that would have been much cheaper if universities could have pursued the same research and then found private enterprise products and solutions to use it on. Dominating the world militarily is vastly different from doing it economically and more dangerous.

ATM's picture


It is those of limited intellect that cannot see that truth. 

Eireann go Brach's picture

This fucking guy is a cross between Chewbacca, Nancy Pelosi and Elephant man!

Freddie's picture

NASA was great when the Germans ran it.  I could just see Oba-m trying to order Von Braun around or push hm to do islamic outreach. 

Let private industry take over but not some crony deal with Elon Musk, the Google Boys or Buffett.