2
$\begingroup$

The question is why and how the politics plays into this. Why does NASA and other space agencies usually not (if ever) complain about their minuscule budgets? I can only assume that doing so would be politically foolish. If NASA were to complain about their small budget---which probably seems very high to the general public and probably to the typical politician too---maybe they would seem careless, greedy or incompetent, and get even less support. Is the smart thing to do politically to never talk about failures and problems, and only talk about what positive results are being achieved with what you have the way to go? To be optimistic even when the situation almost couldn't be worse? Is that the reason why they are doing this?

Since this is such an important issue, I wouldn't be surprised if there has been conducted scientific studies on how to manage the public and the politicians regarding the budget. If there are any such literature it would be a great part to include in any good answer.

Some simple justification for budget issues (adjusted down from a lengthy mostly hand-waving rant, and toned down):

For NASA, the budget was around 4.4% of the federal budget [1] during the Apollo days, whereas it is now around 0.5% [1]. It also appears that there do exist resources, but they are allocated for other projects, e.g. the F-35 program at approximately $1,5 trillion [2]. ESA and RFSA both have a fraction of what NASA presently has, and doesn't appear to ever have had big Apollo-like budgets [3][4], although RFSA certainly had more resources at its disposal during the space race.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA#Annual_budget.2C_1958-2017

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-35

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Space_Agency

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roscosmos_State_Corporation

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Consider moving the actual question - "the end of the question" - to the top, and the potential "rant" afterward. That way "This question may read like a rant..." does not show up like this: i.stack.imgur.com/e5gKv.png Then, consider removing the rant entirely, if you are interested in a thoughtful answer, and not just in a way to cleverly disguise a rant as a question. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 25 '17 at 2:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Done. Sorry, I couldn't help myself, I find the current state of affairs to be beyond disturbing. $\endgroup$ – AttributedTensorField Mar 25 '17 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ Looks better! Can you add a few more facts - for example NASA budget, total US budget, and then the ratio of the two? It helps give a quantitative justification to the terms "small" and "minuscule". It may be harder to calculate the ratios for other agencies like ESA, or those of Russia, China, India... but anything you can do to further support your premise will help. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 25 '17 at 3:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A study done in 2007 showed that a majority of the respondents believed that NASA gets a quarter of the Federal budget. thespacereview.com/article/1000/1 My fellow citizens apparently believe that US social programs are funded by magical money trees. Just fixing that misperception is an enormous PR task. The linked article is pretty relevant to your question. That said, NASA wastes a shocking amount of what budget they do have on redundant personnel and facilities. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 25 '17 at 13:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble ouch! omg, you said it - you said the sentence that shall not be said! :) Everyone knows that NASA is extended over so many states to save Congress money and time, so that Congress can work quickly and efficiently. Without a facility in each of so many different states, it would be much harder for Congress to "keep an eye on it." $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 26 '17 at 7:21
2
$\begingroup$

In the US, it is illegal for Federal employees (e.g. NASA civil servants) to take active part in partisan political campaigns, based on the Hatch Act. Other laws restrict lobbying Congress, such as the Anti-Lobbying Act, described as:

The Act places certain restrictions and limitations on career federal officials lobbying Congress, especially with respect to engaging in certain types of grass roots activities aimed at influencing pending legislation.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Although it's not the same situation, the US government seems to be serious about enforcing federal law from time to time: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…, at least for non-billionaires. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 26 '17 at 13:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ NASA has big defense companies as its biggest suppliers. They should have interest in lobbying for NASA's budget as well as for military spending. Astronauts and Nobel prize winners should get more engaged too, they must be great door openers. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Mar 26 '17 at 14:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The defense budget is ~ 32 times bigger than NASA's. It's more effective for contractors to lobby for that. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 26 '17 at 14:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.