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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Freddie's picture

Let The Weyland-Yutani Corporation take over NASA.   Here is Peter Weyland giving a speech about it.

mkkby's picture

"We should have colonies on the moon by now, and more: We should be mining the asteroids and developing real estate on Mars."

NASA was never more that a cold war project to build better missiles.  The shuttle was little more than a mule for launching spy satellites.  The moon landing and other manned flights were PR stunts to overshadow sputnik.

Once it was clear the military objective was met, NASA degraded into desperate PR attempts like making astronauts out of teachers.  There was never an objective to advance science or colonize planets.

surf0766's picture

Lost me after collective.

Canaduh's picture

Did they even land men on the moon?

Seriously, strap on your tin foil, and spend some time blowing your mind. (Hitler was also a fan of The Big Lie)

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the video footage that is missing. Also allegedly beamed back from the Moon was voice data, biomedical monitoring data, and telemetry data to monitor the location and mechanical functioning of the spaceship. All of that data, the entire alleged record of the Moon landings, was on the 13,000+ reels that are said to be ‘missing.’ Also missing, according to NASA and its various subcontractors, are the original plans/blueprints for the lunar modules. And for the lunar rovers. And for the entire multi-sectioned Saturn V rockets.

AlaricBalth's picture

Charles Krauthammer is a neo-conservative windbag.

Ignatius's picture

"Windbag" is generous.  If Krauthhammer is for it, I'm against it on principal.  What principal?  That Krauthammer is a neocon cunt, principal.

Problem Is's picture

Krauthhammer is a classic Useful Idiot, Moronic Pontificater of the Corporate Whore Media...

Let's call neocons what they really are... National Socialists... Jingoistic stooges... Krauthhammer is esentially a Nazi... That's why he loves von Braun and N-ASS-A...

Krauthhammer Suffers From Cranial Rectitis
The only black hole is Krauthhammer's ass where is head has been firmly lodged throughout his "career"...

Larry Dallas's picture


Its principle. Not principal which you mentioned not once, not twice, but 3 times... 

You're ignorant. Change your handle so as not to embarrass the worthy and go home and read more.

You obviously never took the SAT...Don't lie. You're whole report card is here for all to review..


Creepy Lurker's picture

Ahem. That would be your whole report card...

And also; Ignatius.

Always remember to check your spelling and grammar when functioning in pompous ass mode.

This has been a public service announcement.

DaylightWastingTime's picture

that shit right theY're just about killed me!

Ignatius's picture

Oh, right, you got me on my hurried spelling (I was running out the door to hear a lecture and sign a petition to amend the Constitution and repeal 'corporate personhood', but no matter).  As has already been pointed out in my absence you seem to be struggling with the mental puzzle, which would be the spelling of my avatar name: I-g-n-a-t-i-u-s.

My problem with Krauthammer is not with his grammar.  No, my problem with Krauthammer is the same problem I have with you:  shitty ideas.  One thing one can count on, however, is that a neocon shit-bag will come running to defend other neocon shit-bags regardless how stupid, corrupt, immoral or inane they may be.

Harbanger's picture

List a few modern "true conservatives."   Please, I'm curious.

Harbanger's picture

I'm also curious what kind of a Lib VJJ, junks a general question.  Bring it on GF.

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

Here's an article by a "true conservative" in American Conservative magazine. I think he's dead right, and I'm a liberal.



OnyerMarks's picture

 type type type type    schmatt!


Label Applied

Cursive's picture

Krauthammer's thinking is the same as, "If PBS didn't do it, who would?"  Well, Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic Channel, etc.  And that's before we even address the question as to whether or not the activity is even worth doing.  Maybe we should be reading more.

Freddie's picture

TV is for idiots who support the elites and The matrix with their drooling viewership. I bet you fall into that serf category.   Only retards watch the matrix.

Krauthammer is not a conservative but a Neocon corporatist.


cnhedge's picture


An update on TARGET2

ACP's picture

Krauthammer? Sounds like the kind of guy the Greeks would want to run their government.

BigJim's picture

This Miller guy sounds like a terrist to me.

Acorn10012's picture

More like a wanker. No problem with NASA as a scientific endeavor - not thrilled with the Muslim outreach. Kind of says it all, from cutting edge science to a bullshit social program.

tony bonn's picture

"...Leading neoconservative (read “closet Trotskyite“) commentator Charles Krauthammer’s .."

krauthammer and all of the other thugs who write for nr, commentary, and other revanchist fascist magazines are generally a bunch of jingoistic masters of the universe terrorists who do whatever they can to conquer and control.

krauthammer is a nazi without disguise.

on the other hand, the space program has been fabulous and really is not extravagant.....if you want to cut waste, start by putting the military on a south beach diet.

the only reason he mourns the space program is the possible loss of collateral high tech weapons technology to brutalize other nations.....

Yen Cross's picture

 I like this guy! " Charles Krauthammer" has always been a straight shooter!  He maintains his " Ideas", and argues against them with class!

   I have watched the Gentleman argue against the best of them.

     When it comes to finance? /

CH1's picture

Krauthammer is bright, but a statist through and through. That renders much of what he says poisonous.

Yen Cross's picture

  Apparently I'm missing something?  " CH1 "? 

  Thank God it's not my turn in the [ BARREL] ,.

Problem Is's picture

"Krauthammer is bright" ?????????

That worthless cock sucker is a complete and utter moron...

Crassus's picture

When that crooked old whore dies they'll have to screw her into the ground.

Yen Cross's picture

 Problem is/ We have a group of very smart people, in a forum!

 The guy is Smart! I like Space Exploration!   ( ASS HOLE)

Jack Burton's picture

The whole space shuttle program was a waste. The most expensive way possible to reach low earth orbit. Even Russia had the sense to use bargain basement rockets with proven reliability to launch into space.

Some former space engineers of the glory days when America put men on the moon were quoted years back as saying "If we had not wasted our time and money on the space shuttle, America would already have sent men to Mars and have put permanent stations on the moon".

Now you can argue the use or even the reason for doing that. I am not sure we need to be on Mars and the Moon, BUT what has the stupid expensive space shuttle done that regular rockets could not have done at much more value per dollar.

One suspects that much of what the space shuttle did was military based which we never were told about. Low earth orbit is of little value unless you are using space for military purposes.

Zgangsta's picture

Actually, the Soviets had their own space shuttle.

And the reason we need to be on Mars or the Moon: single point of failure.

dwdollar's picture

And they canceled the project after they realized how ridiculous it was...

Centurion9.41's picture

Of little value blondie?

Remember that the next time you use your smart phone to tell you where you are and your nearest smoothie joint.

Not to mention what economic good is it to build a station on the moon with one-shot vehicles?  It's like building a rocket to move a freight train of material across the country.  The technology of rail did not develop over night.  Nor does re-usable space vehicles.

Oh yea, there's also that pesky little fact that the US is able to protect you and the rest of the free world with precision weapon systems.  That rely on low earth orbit satellites.

In short, congratulations, you've joined a long list of blonds and dumbasses.


tarsubil's picture

I wonder if you gave back all the wealth the federal government stole to put satelites up in orbit if the free market could have developed GPS? Yeah, that is quite the fucking mystery. I wonder if bears shit in the woods too.

You are falling for the same fallacy every liberal falls for. If food stamps didn't get funding, people would starve. Total fucking bullshit. Essentially, mobsters hand out free turkeys on Thanksgiving and you think they are awesome. You belong in the slums of Detroit. 

GMadScientist's picture

You think the CEOs of the Fortune 500 would bet on tech that didn't have a known profit center and required building an unknown delivery system that had a non-zero chance of exploding on the launchpad? 

Could have? Maaaaybe. Would have? Fuck no.


BidnessMan's picture

Actually the Air Force put up the GPS satellites to guide weapons, and added an error factor for years to discourage free riders from other militaries. NASA has been a bureaucracy in search of a mission since the lunar landings ended in 1972. The world would have gotten by without Tang. Most other stuff would have still been invented. But, have to admit Velcro has been handy.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


Oh yea, there's also that pesky little fact that the US is able to target you and the rest of the formerly free world with precision weapon systems.

Fixed it for you.


LetThemEatRand's picture

Mars is an eight month trip even if you accept the most optimistic case.   A year plus otherwise.  In ZH terms, parabolic in terms of technical requirements.    

ClassicalLib17's picture

Just a question; how would they manage to repair the Hubble Space Telescope without the utility of the space shuttle?  Would it have been much cheaper to just build a new telescope and launch it when the technology improved?  I don't know

Dave Thomas's picture

Well first when designing a space telescope, and you're well a consortium of space agencies, You make sure you design the primary mirror for almost near weightlessness! Not for earth gravity. It would have been much cheaper had they taken into account the primary mirror would be at zero G. Talk about the DOH! of the century.

And all this hand wringing over the loss of the space shuttle. Please it was an absolute waste of money as a delivery/launch vehicle. The amount of mollycoddling it needed for every flight could have funded 3~4 Delta IV launch vehicles.

Good idea in theory, in reality a bit too expensive.

mkkby's picture

We would not be on mars, nor will we in 30 years.  Nobody has any idea how to do that, regardless of cost.

Hohum's picture

Doug Casey may be good at spotting sociopaths, but he doesn't have a firm grip on reality.  Maybe everyone here at ZH can help him start his own moon colony.

Freddie's picture

Doug Casey is always picthing his little development in Argentina - another country run by kleptocrats.   Casey's old man got rich off the explosion of the federal govt after WW2 cause he developed real estate in the beltway.  Doug's daddy was rich.

As far as NASA?  It became the US Post office after the Germans stopped running it.   Too many as*holes watch Star Trek and think NASA is great.  Another waste of money. THese AH all want to be Capt Kirk or live in space.  

We ain't going to Mars in anyone's lifetime posting here if ever.  We are going to fiat bankruptcy hell.  Think the falkl of Rome or a more violent fall of the USSR.  We cannot afford to go back to the moon.


sangell's picture

The space telescopes are beyond dollars. Interesting that the first American president born in the space age is the first American president who cannot send an Americo/Indonesian/Kenyan or even a monkey into space.

Zgangsta's picture

NASA sucks.  If the spirit of the 60's had been kept intact, we'd have had a Starbucks on Mars by now.

Acorn10012's picture

Just no pride in this country anymore...iCrap, KFC and candy bars.

Real Estate Geek's picture

NASA was ready to go, but the money was cut off to pay for Nam and Great Society. 


NASA actually had three more Apollo/Saturn stacks (Apollo 18-20) complete AND paid for, but couldn't even afford the variable costs to do the missions.

The budget cuts were even starting during the first moon mission.  Mike Collins said that he joked with Buzz Aldren about sprinkling some gold dust on the samples so the budget wouldn't be cut.