By Mike Swetnam
On this day of love, let’s talk about war.
The US has maintained some level of peace and stability (not withstanding little wars we can't seem to break our addiction to) for almost 60 years. We have done this by building the largest and most capable military in the world...by far!
The US spends more money each year on defense than the next ten countries on the list! By every conceivable measure, our military is more powerful and capable than any and more so than all of the rest combined.
Yet, we continue to worry that we cannot defend our country. Thinking that terror attacks that kill a few thousand are the existential threat that we faced in WWII. Not true.
There is no question that our large defense investment helps keep us safe and in a position of world power. However, the question really is: How much is enough? Does the USA need to be 100x more powerful than everyone else or would 5x more powerful do?
Please understand each magnitude of superiority costs billions of dollars. Here is an example, the F35, our newest fighter jet costs $400 Billion.
What else could we do with $400B?
Bob Zubrin, former NASA executive, says a Mars direct mission to put a handful of people on Mars would cost $30-50B. We could start a Mars colony with a hundred people for $400B. Space X and Elon Musk think they can establish a Mars Colony for even less.
Space X also has a plan to build a supersonic Underground Railroad from LA to San Francisco for about $10B or from LA to NYC for about $80B. Travel time La to San Francisco, 30 mins. From LA to NYC or DC in an hour and a half.
Estimates of the cost of an artificial island city that uses ocean currents for power is in the $400-600B range.
But is $400B really that much? No, it really isn't. It works out to only $1200 for each man, woman, and child in the USA today.
So, why aren't we building a colony on Mars? Building a supersonic train system? Creating island cities?
We think we can afford another fighter airplane even though our old ones, the F15 and F18, are still the most advanced airplanes on earth.
How did we manage to spend $819 Billion on the American Reinvestment and Recovery act of 2009 and not do any of the things I mentioned above?
What's more important? Being 100x more powerful than the next guy? Or leading the human race into space and the next frontier?
Maybe we need to only be 5x more powerful than the next guy and also be 5x more advanced in evolving the human race into space and beyond.