It's been awhile since the United States had a space mission that inspired our whole nation. In this short speech, Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a compelling case for why being inspirational is an important thing for a government agency to be doing. "NASA is a force of nature like none other," he argues, that "knows how to dream about tomorrow" and is one of those rare things that can inspire kids from a young age to say that's what I want to be when I grow up; and that force nurtures a whole educational pipeline that fans the fire inside that kid.
But NASA is underfunded, he argues. Its goals aren't lofty enough. We're setting our sights too low -- always asking why we should spend money to go "up there" when we've got all these problems "down here." At some point, Tyson says, you gotta look up.
Tyson points out that 1/2 cent for every dollar we pay in taxes goes to fund NASA. Would you be willing to pay more? Or, as Tyson puts it, "How much would you pay for the universe?"