I've written previously about some of the wacky petitions that are cropping up on the White House's "We the People" website but I came across one today which should really get bipartisan support as a massive government jobs program which liberals could love while also appealing to prodefense conservatives. I refer, of course, to the petition demanding that the United States start construction of a Star Wars Death Star by 2016.
The petition, started on November 14 and flagged this morning on Politico, has gotten 623 signatures as of this writing, 24,377 short of the 25,000 threshold required for an official White House response. "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 succinct petition states.
(By the way, if you've spent your life in a cultural bubble and don't know what a "Death Star"—or "Natural Part of Life Star," as some like to call it—is … that's what Google and/or Netflix are for.)
There is actually a surprisingly rich Internet debate about what building a Death Star would cost. Some students at Lehigh University (who founded the really interesting-in-a-completely-irrelevant-way blog Centives) ran the numbers in February and figured that the cost around 13,000 times the world's GDP, which does seem like rather a lot. (Money quote: "But then again, you can just take out a loan from the entire planet and then default on them in the most awesome way possible.") But Mother Jones's Kevin Drum pushed back, arguing that even though they underestimated the cost (he puts it at 1.3 million times the world's GDP), it is still a surprisingly cost effective weapons system.
And really, given that the we've got a president who has his own fleet of killer drones and concomitant kill list—not to mention the fact that we are a country that once plotted to blow up the Moon just to show that we could—doesn't a U.S. Death Star just make sense?
Alas as I mentioned, almost a month in the Death Star petition hasn't caught fire the way equally silly secessionist movements have. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet and modern media, you never know when something will get traction.
Stephen Colbert, I'm looking at you.
Updated 12/4/12: No word from Colbert yet but MSNBC's Ed Schultz has gotten behind the Death Star effort on the grounds that "it's a substantial stimulus project that would create millions of jobs, boost America's steel industry--gotta love that--expand our space program and basically guarantee our national security. What could be better?" Schultz noted that the petition still needs tens of thousands of signatures before the White House will be obliged to respond. "We want a response!" he said. Amen, brother Schultz.