in reply to
The most important near-term goal of a space program:
I definitely vote for "establish permanent human colonies." We need to keep our eggs in several baskets, particularly since the one we're in is showing signs of abuse.
And for those anti-science hippy¹ types who like to say "we shouldn't colonize the Moon, Mars, etc., until we've learned to take care of our own planet", I reply "if you really believe that, then you can't have children until you're perfect."
1. Of course, those who know me know I have "hippyish" tendencies, but not the "anti-science" part.