White House rejects Death Star petition: '$850qn too pricey'
'This isn't the petition response you're looking for'
Remember that "We the People" petition begun last month that asked the Obama administration to build a Star Wars–style Death Star? Well, the White House has responded with a witty rejoinder that essentially boils down to "Fuggedaboutit."
"The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense," writes Paul Shawcross, the White House headman of the OMB's science and space branch, "but a Death Star isn't on the horizon."
The Obama administration set up the "We the People" petition site to solicit opinions and promote discussion "on a range of important issues facing our country," and promised to respond to any petition that garnered over 25,000 signatories – which the Death Star petition did.
And so Shawcross has responded in a document headed in formal Washington bureaucratese as "OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016". His response, entitled "This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For," is in this Reg reporter's opinion well-reasoned and unarguable. To wit:
That's $850 quadrillion, in case you're having difficulty counting all those zeros
Shawcross' cost estimate, by the way, comes from a group of students at Lehigh University, who calculated the cost of building a Death Star to be approximately $852,000,000,000,000,000 – a full $2 quadrillion higher that the figure Shawcross cites. But, hey, this is Washington, where a couple of quadrillion bucks can be a rounding error.
After delivering the bad news, Obama's science and space budget analyst attempts to mollify the sure-to-be-disappointed petitioners, reminding them that "we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth," and that NASA has a pair of robots roving around Mars, "one wielding a laser."
He also notes that although NASA is not yet able to "do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs," the future is wide open. "Help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field," he suggests, saying that if you do pursue those areas of study, the Force will be with you.
"Remember," Shawcross says, "the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force." ®
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