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John Winters Columnist

Published Sunday, January 20, 2013

Obvious answer to quadrillion dollar question

There will be no Death Star.

If what I can only say was a bit of levelheadedness for once, the U.S. government has nixed the idea of building something that would, basically, destroy everything.

For the few of you without children or don’t believe in electricity or look bewildered when someone mentions The Force, the Death Star was to be the ultimate weapon in the “Star Wars” movie series that will never die. The Death Star, basically a small planet, was constructed for one purpose really, to blow up other planets. The Galactic Empire built it. They are the bad guys.

I say “was to be the ultimate weapon” thanks to our rebel hero, Luke Skywalker. He flies his X-Wing Starfighter, basically a space version of an F-16, into the bowels of the Death Star and blows up its power source. And yes, he flies out safely in the nick of time. You can relax. Well drat, I just spoiled that one for you, didn’t I? Sorry.

This all occurs in the first “Star Wars” movie that came out. However, it’s actually the fourth in the series. Confused? You ought to see the SONs of Thunder try and explain that to the Little Black Dress.

Back to the purpose of this column, because I know you were wondering where I was going with this.

We the People is an online site where we, as in the people of the United States, can address petitions to the government. If the petition reaches more than 25,000 signatures within a 30-day period, the government is supposed to respond.

And lo and behold, enough “we the people” wanted the government to build a Death Star.

I have to pause and ask the obvious question - why would anyone want to build something that destroys entire planets? As far as I know, Earth is the only inhabited planet.

I guess we could have the Ultimate Fireworks Show and blow up Pluto. I say that because it would end the debate about whether Pluto is a planet or whatever. The only problem is the Ultimate Fireworks Show wouldn’t really be live because it would take between four and five hours for the actual explosion to reach Earth, which kind of means it happened in Pluto’s past and our present when we actually see it.

Light travel is so confusing.

Anyway, the government did respond with three nice little bullet points, all thanks to Paul Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

No. 1. “The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.”

I am told that number is $850 quadrillion, but I am not necessarily smarter than a fifth-grader. The second sentence, however, gave me pause.

Since Obama took over, the national debt has increased by more than $4 trillion, or more than $1 trillion a year. A trillion does not have as many zeros as a quadrillion, but it’s still a lot of money. Put it this way, it’s way, way more than Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have together, times a lot more.

“Working hard to reduce” isn’t working for me here.

But we can all agree that adding $850 quadrillion really would downgrade our credit rating.

No. 2. “The Administration does not support blowing up planets.”

Despite how one feels about the current government, this does, at least for me, give me some comfort.

No. 3. “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

This is what I talked about before. Our brave Luke used The Force and destroyed the planet-killing, planet-sized space station.

But here’s the problem with these really smart scientist types. The answer is staring right at them and they missed it. We need a little creativity here.

Yes, let’s dump the $850 quadrillion Death Star. But seriously, how about a couple of X-Wings? I mean, if they can blow up a Death Star? Why continue to have astronomical cost overruns on systems, like the F-35, that still don’t work.

The best part about the X-Wing? We already have the blueprints. We already know they can fly. Just watch the movies.

Sometimes, the obvious is just too obvious.

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John A. Winters is a staff writer for The Newnan Times-Herald. His personal blog is at justflipthedog.com . You can reach him at john@newnan.com .

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