I'm glad y'all weren't advising President Kennedy when he planned to put a man on the moon. Unlike the pie-in-the 'investments' of the current administration (that were payoffs for campaign kickbacks), the space program has a proven record of spinoffs that have been good for the country and of all humanity. The computers you are reading this on, the satellites that move countless terabytes of information, even the fuel cells that might power the next generation of MacBooks all had their genesis from NASA research.
Not to mention that the BEST place to get experience with a serious Mars trip is our own moon... at least convenient to Earth. If you want it to pay for itself, read The Man Who Sold the Moon. How many of those dreaded 1% would shell out big bucks for a piece of the ACTUAL FRIGGIN MOON. Plus, you could probably pay for it with the rounding error from the pork barrel programs we should cut anyway, heh.