Archive for April, 2012

What We Need is another Sputnik

On a personal note, it was in October 1957 that the world awoke to the beep-beep sounds of the Russian launched Sputnik satellite. And the race was on.

I was a first semester freshman EE student at Washington University (St. Louis) – and we were abuzz with the implications. I was too young to understand my good fortune in choosing EE over Chemical Engineering – but it was an exciting time.

In April 1961 The Russians launched Yuri Gagarin and his Vostok 1 spacecraft into orbit making him the first human in space (Alan Shepard was to fly in March 1961 but his flight was put off until May 5, 1961).

Jack Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election in a close finish over Richard Nixon (thanks to a 120% voter turn out in Chicago – and Nixon refusing to challenge that vote). President Kennedy challenged us to “put a man on the moon within the decade”. The technologies to make this happen hadn’t been invented yet, and the collateral off shoots of the space program made possible microprocessors, advance medical devices, enhanced communication systems. For the billions the government invested in the Program, the payback was measured in the trillions of dollars that accrued to our economy not to mention the giant leap in our life styles that this technology afforded us.

So how did Kennedy, the supposed liberal, pay for this? He lowered taxes and encouraged and supported private businesses which resulted in enhanced revenues for the US Treasury. This will probably come as a shock to most progressives today – particularly those that loved Jack Kennedy (maybe they got confused with the actions of his brother Teddy). Lower taxes and eliminating unreasonable restrictions on small business resulted in a large increase in US revenues.

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