After a productive meeting with my colleagues on AUSU Council, I decided to peruse the news of the day offered by my ISP, SaskTel/Sympatico. Imagine my surprise when I read that Lance Bass of the “boy band” *N Sync will be flying as part of a Russian Space Agency mission to the International Space Station.(SEE:http://www.space.com/news/bass_update_020619.html).
It is not the idea of him going to the ISS that bothers me, but the fact that 20 million clams US will be spent to make this “vital part” of space research a reality. In the end, what will this accomplish other than to inflate a few people’s already swollen egos?
Yes, the RSA needs the hard currency to fund its participation in the ISS, but is sending Lance Bass there really the answer? Is it not possible for resources to be found within Russia, or within the world community that will ensure that Russia has a full opportunity to participate in the construction of the ISS? It is a pretty sad day when publicity gimmicks of this nature are needed to fund scientific endeavours and exploration.
And as for Lance Bass (and his sponsors), if he has so much money that is burning a hole in his pocket, what about the needs of the people here on earth? According to the Canadian Department of Agriculture’s “Nutritious Food Plan”, the average daily cost of food is $ 6.02 per person (1) , Mr. Bass’ jaunt into space could conceivably buy meals for a whopping 14,230 Canadians for one year! (2) On the other hand, if housing was more of Mr. Bass’ forte, then for the same amount of money, he could provide basic housing to 8200 people for 1 year (3). Yet the lure of space is much more important, it seems, than the needs of the people on Mother Earth.
There are so many things that need to be done to help the less fortunate on this planet, that this endeavour into space proposed by the RSA and Mr. Bass and his “people” just boggles my mind. I know that each of you as good AU students do whatever you can to support people in your communities, and I thank you for it, but when I see this kind of waste of resources when there are so many people here on earth that could use the hand up (not a hand out), it angers me. In the end what will happen is that Mr. Bass will get his 20 million clam ride into space, and there will still be malnourished people on earth who could have used the money to buy some food and perhaps arrange for a roof over their heads, but do the beautiful people care? Well, I leave that up to you to decide. In my perspective, to quote a famous song by the group REM, “It’s the end of the world as we know it…” and I don’t feel fine. As for Lenny Bruce, with this kind of thing going on, he should be afraid: very afraid.
(1) Based on 1994 data for food located at http://www.cfc-efc.ca/docs/ccsd/00000323.htm, and allowing 3% per year for inflation.
(2) Based on an exchange rate of $ 1 USD =$ 1.56331 CAD, obtained at: http://www.xe.net/ucc/convert.cgi)
(3) Same source for food data, but inflation rate calculated at 5% per annum to provide a really “basic” form of accommodation.