The Debate Show

Moderator: Hello and welcome to The Debate Show. Tonight we will be discussing the US Space Program. Our panelists tonight are: Mr. Ben Laurance, President of the Northwest Space Fans Association and author of Are You There Scotty? It’s Me, Kirk; and Mr. Paul Gude, unemployed performance artist whose favorite word is “monkey”. Good evening, Gentlemen.

Paul/Ben: Good evening.

Moderator: Mr. Laurance, we’ll begin with you. You have twenty seconds.

Ben: Thank you. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin says “It’s about hope, it’s about imagination, it’s about the future,” regarding the United States’ re-entry into space travel following the successful launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery on the morning of July 26, 2005. And I have to agree with Mr. Griffin’s assessment. The US Space Program’s history is rife with benefits ushering mankind into the future, while instilling in all people, young and old, with a sense of achieving previously unimaginable possibilities. It IS about hope. It IS about imagination. It IS about our future.

Moderator: Mr. Gude, your rebuttal?

Paul: Thank you.
A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey’s on the moon)

Moderator: Mr. Laurance, how do you respond to Mr. Gude’s statement?

Ben: Uh. I’ll admit the US Space Program is not without its flaws, however I believe the successes we have attained far outway the failures. Now, I in no way mean to downplay the human losses, however, the demands of space exploration are rigorous and dangerous, and all of the astronauts who gave their lives did so knowing these dangers. And personally, I don’t feel any of our departed explorers, nor their friends, families, fellow astronauts nor citizens would want their sacrifices to be in vain.

Moderator: Mr. Gude?

Paul: I can’t pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey’s on the moon)
Ten years from now I’ll be payin’ still.
(while Whitey’s on the moon)
(’cause Whitey’s on the moon)

Ben: Mr. Gude, what you may be overlooking are the numerous technological advancements that have come out of the Space Program, such as infra-red thermometers, composite forcepts, and non-invasive laser surgery. And that’s just in the doctor’s office. Thousands of products you use every day can trace their origin to space flight, from smoke detectors and water purifiers to satellite television and your car’s global positioning capabilities. You can’t stand there and tell me you have not benefitted from mankind’s ventures into space.

Paul: No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey’s on the moon)
I wonder why he’s uppi’ me?
(’cause Whitey’s on the moon?)
I wuz already payin’ ‘im fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)

Ben: Yes, that’s true. NASA is a government agency and is supported by your federal tax dollars, but with a budget of just over sixteen billion, it is somewhat of a drop in the bucket as far as federal agencies go, falling somewhere between the Department of Energy and the International Assistance Program. To put it in perspective, the top two recipients of our tax dollars are the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services, annually pulling in about 450 billion and 550 billion dollars, respectively.

Moderator: If I may stop you there for one moment, Gentlemen. Mr. Laurance, you state as your reference “the internet”. Is that correct?

Ben: Yes, that’s correct.

Moderator: And Mr. Gude, it appears you’re doing nothing other than reading “Whitey on the Moon” by Gil-Scott Heron, an articulate, uncompromising, angry young black man whose art finds its roots in the social and racial injustices of the mid nineteen seventies.

Paul: Yes, that’s right.

Moderator: Okay, I just wanted to make that clear. Mr. Gude, I believe it is your turn to respond to Mr. Laurance’s statement regarding NASA’s budget.

Paul: Thank you.
Taxes takin’ my whole damn check,
Junkies makin’ me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin’ up,
An’ as if all that shit wuzn’t enough:
A rat done bit my sister Nell.

Moderator: Mr. Laurance, how do you respond?

Ben: If you’re asking if the benefits justify the expense, then I have to give you a resounding yes. Not only are a wide variety of consumer products available, but a whole catalogue of industrial and commercial devises have been developed because of the Space Program, as well as advancements in ecological preservation, efficient farming and safer firefighting. All of these technological and human advancements create a better world for all of us, for our children, our grandchildren, and their grandchildren.

Paul: A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face an’ arm began to swell.
(but Whitey’s on the moon)

Ben: Mr. Gude, if I could please clarify one thing-

Paul: Was all that money I made las’ year
(for Whitey on the moon?)

Ben: Mr. Gude, if you could let me state-

Paul: How come there ain’t no money here?
(Hmm! Whitey’s on the moon)

Ben: We’re not on the fucking moon, alright? And we haven’t been to the moon in over 30 fucking years. And it’s not just “whitey”, motherfucker. Blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and more have all traveled on the Space Shuttle, so lay off! Jesus fucking Christ.

[awkward silence.]

Moderator: Mr. Gude, your response?

Paul: Y’know I jus’ ’bout had my fill
(of Whitey on the moon)
I think I’ll sen’ these doctor bills,
Airmail special
(to Whitey on the moon)

Moderator: I believe that’s all the time we have tonight. Mr. Laurance, Mr. Gude, thank you both. We’ll see you next week on The Debate Show. Goodnight, everybody.

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