I can’t help but be reminded of (one of) the founder(s) of FermiLab, R.R. Wilson, who when being questioned by a Senate committee about the cost of the institution and was asked ‘how does this facility contribute to the security of then US’ answered ‘it doesn’t, except the existence of such a facility makes the US a little more worth defending’.
OK, yes I have paraphrased, the actual answer in response to a question regarding the value of high-energy physics research to the security of the US was “It has nothing to do directly with defending our country, except to make it worth defending,”
But let me ask another question;
‘What is the point of research into cancer treatments?’
Now, sounds obvious doesn’t it, except think of it this way, every single person who is successfully treated for cancer, eventually dies anyway - so does that mean that the money spent on their treatment and general cancer research is ‘wasted’ and could be better spend on ‘other things’, not too sure what these 'other things’ could be though - I invite suggestions from other posters or interested parties.
We (humanity) spends money on basic research because as a species, we absolutely have to know, 'what’s over that hill', 'what’s beyond that sea’, ‘what’s at the top of that mountain’? We will expend resources in finding out because we have to!
Of course there are global issues closer to home which also need addressing, climate change, energy generation, food production, access to basic needs, water, food, sanitation, education, for all 8 (or so) billion of us, not just those who happen to be fortunate to live in the first world.
But despite these, then the day when we, as a species, stops looking up and wondering ‘what is that in the sky and how can I find out’, is the day when we start the inevitable decline into extinction!