Politics & Policy

Build the Death Star

Five reasons we need a small moon — wait a minute, that’s no moon . . .

Well, it’s taken 80 years, but the post–New Deal, post-military-industrial-complex mega-state has finally come up with a single good idea: the construction and deployment of a mobile, moon-sized, planet-killing death ray in outer space.

Here is the language of the official petition to build a Death Star–style “space-superiority platform,” submitted to the White House under President Obama’s “We the People” initiative:

Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.

By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.

The signatures, 30,000 and counting, have already far surpassed the number needed to prompt an official response from the White House, and for good reason. Building a Death Star would be wildly popular, and sound policy to boot. If it could be done long ago in a galaxy far, far away, then only a pernicious acquiescence to American declinism would prevent it from happening again here. If President Obama is serious about his legacy, he can, should, must, and will build a 382-million-cubic-kilometer intergalactic doom sphere by the end of this decade.

Here are the top five reasons why:

Fiscal Stimulus x 1015

The American people are understandably suffering from stimulus fatigue after the trillion-plus in debt-fueled pump-priming government spending the Bush and Obama administrations have undertaken since the financial crisis and the advent of the ensuing recession. But the principle behind Keynesianism is sound, and most economists (including, I’m pretty sure, Mark Zandi) agree that the multiplier on fiscal stimulus is somewhere between 1.3 and 1.7. Let’s split the difference and call it 1.5. That means that even though the fabrication of the steel needed to build the Death Star is alone estimated to cost about $852 quadrillion (that’s $852,000,000,000,000,000, or about 13,000 times global GDP), most of which would presumably be debt-financed, it would result in an increase in GDP of $1.278 quintillion dollars — or roughly half the net benefit of the Death Star plan that Paul Krugman thinks we should have passed.

The Ultimate Jobs Program

This is something of a politically sensitive subject, since the Rebel Alliance never formally apologized to the Galactic Empire for the deaths of huge numbers of Imperials on the first Death Star at the Battle of Yavin, much less for the deaths of those crewmen and non-combatant contractors killed on the significantly larger Second Death Star, destroyed while under construction near the forest moon of Endor. The Rebels confirmed that at least 1.16 million Imperials were killed in the destruction of the first Death star, though the Empire contests this number and sets the toll of the “Yavin Massacre” in the almost certainly hyperbolic range of 800 million to 1 billion. But even the conservative number would mean over a million new jobs created by a fully operational American Death Star, and perhaps five times as many temporary construction and support jobs. Six million new jobs would cut the number of jobless in half and bring the U3 unemployment back below the mythic 4 percent line.

Winning the Future

Dovish Democrats reluctant to support the Star of Death Initiative (SDI, for short) might change their tune when they consider the following: Since hydrocarbons don’t burn in a vacuum, and there isn’t enough oil in the world to sustainably power the Death Star in any event, SDI will require massive outlays on renewable-energy technologies, an “all of the above” approach that makes key investments in nuclear, solar, smart-grid, and other cutting-edge solutions. Think of the Death Star as the world’s largest laboratory for infrastructure spending, and a testament to what we can accomplish when the government and the private sector join together to Win the Future. My sources tell me that even though construction has yet to be approved, the government’s team at ARPA-E is already generating some exciting and innovative ideas, including an ingenious design that would vent thermal exhaust from the Death Star’s reactor core not just through a main port but through a small, two-meter-wide port just below it.

Bipartisan Support

And it’s not as if there’s nothing here for Republicans to like. After years of NASA atrophy, “National Greatness” conservatives like David Brooks should be among the first to champion the Death Star as helping to reestablish America’s reputation for doing Big Things. Certain neoconservatives will display similar enthusiasm, and not just because they will rightly view the Death Star as a powerful deterrent to the likes of China (which by most accounts is still 20 years away from superlaser capability) and Iran (which may or may not be pursuing superlasers for other than peaceful purposes) but also because they are well-known students and admirers of the Galactic Empire. Jonathan V. Last, in the pages of The Weekly Standard, offers the most compelling and concise apologia for the Empire. He views Palpatine as a largely benevolent dictator, Darth Vader as concerned primarily with reestablishing order in a galaxy wracked by strife, and the Old Republic, which together they overthrew, as a sclerotic and ineffectual bureaucracy that had grown ungovernable. Whether they say it publicly or not, many on the right agree with him.

Planet Killer? Or Planet Healer?

Even if the Death Star is never used in anger, it could still prove vital to American — and, indeed, to Homo sapiens – interests. It might just save the planet. Consider that carbon-dioxide lasers are still the most powerful continuous-wave lasers currently in existence. Where can you find enough CO2 to power a superlaser like the one on the Death Star? Bingo: Earth’s atmosphere. Heretofore the greatest challenge to “carbon sequestration” was what to do with all of it. The Death Star represents the definitive answer to that question, at 1028 joules. Even if removing the Earth’s excess CO2 proves insufficient to reverse the warming trend on its own, the Death Star would still provide America with a tool that gives the word “earthmover” new meaning. Not only could it, say, trim a little off the top of Mercury to shift Earth’s orbit ever so slightly Marsward, thereby cooling the planet, but it could also serve as the galaxy’s largest lifeboat for the lucky millions whom President Obama’s “Death Star Panels” select to evacuate a dying planet.

Reader, for all these reasons and more, Americans deserve to witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station! We must build the Death Star.

— Daniel Foster is news editor of National Review Online. Many Bothans died to bring you this article.


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