Hey, here's an idea: how about using our collective wealth for feeding starving kids in Africa?!?I like Stuhlinger's words on this subject.
That does sound like a solid argument. And it is! Thank you for sharing it; very well said. However, there's a small problem: USA it's not the Earth, as a whole. While that count in the story is free to spend his money anyway he wants (Who is John Galt?) and NASA's budget can only be directed to a specific goal, my issue is that Earth as a whole doesn't do enough to fight poverty in third world countries.
When Bregma stated, "Imagine using our collective wealth for advancing humanity instead of trying to destroy it." I was thinking to Earth as a whole, all countries, and not to NASA specifically. In your mentioned article there was also the subject of stimulation of technological development, and generation of scientific knowledge. I believe we do this very well onboard the SSI right now. I even believe we can do this here on Earth by setting up laboratories throughout the desert and giving scientists the opportunity to research new technologies. It's also safer.
These people would also be pioneers and WOULD help advancing humanity. Occasionally cut supplies, input new events, force them to build a self-sustainable colony for themselves. Think of it as a reality show... Give these men a lot of money to participate and yet it would be less costly than actually sending a spaceship to Mars. Besides, there is still much to learn from living under the sea. Our oceans should be the next logical step for colonization since they're enormous, you can use blue-green algae to feed the population and there's an abundance of hydrogen and oxygen available. Colonizing other planets seems only logical for spreading human life, for making sure we continue to exist in case of a global, catastrophic event. Still, I will repeat myself, I would go to Mars if given the opportunity.