I have heard it said that we cannot afford to send another space ship to Mars. We need housing, education, food for the poor.
Well, duh The money spent to send an expedition to Mars is not spent ON Mars it is spent in the USA.
Instead of paying the poor people for being poor, it is paid to highly educated mathematicians and scientists. It is also paid to parking lot attendants, dish washers, floor scrubbers.
They use their money to build houses, pay farmers for food, educate their kids.
It is just another way to distribute money. This way distributes it to the educated, the gifted, instead of the homeless, hopeless, or hapless.
Even if there were NO scientific benefits, it would be good for US to have a project. And there ARE scientific benefits.
Come to think of if maybe this would be a good worldwide, international project. Get countries working together, not competing.