Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hubble

After the disclaimers in the last two, this one is actual content. The scrapping of the Hubble Space Telescope because of budget cuts is an excellent illustration of the difference between business and government. Were NASA a business, everything and anything would be cut to save the Hubble, which provides the greatest return on investment. Instead of scrapping Hubble, a business would, for example, scrap SETI, since it has never turned a "profit", even if it meant leaving all those hideously expensive radio telescopes to rust. NASA does not need to scrap Hubble; NASA wants to scrap Hubble. By threatening to destroy its greatest asset, an agency can create howls of support so that the budget cutters back down. If the budget cutters stick to their guns, I predict that NASA will mysteriously find a way to "save" Hubble by cutting other parts of its reduced budget, since it would then preserve its threat for the next round of budget cuts.

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