So my question is, why are we not trying to build an outpost on the moon? This to me seems like the clear next logical step. It seems a lot of people are wanting to skip this step and go right to Mars and I think that's a costly mistake (both in therms of money and lives).
I think it's just the coolness factor. Manned space "exploration" has primarily been an exercise in national prestige. We've already been to the Moon and there's nothing cool about being the 13th person to land there.
Scientifically though, there's a lot of excellent reasons. Unfortunately, it's just too darn expensive to fund purely science missions to the Moon at the moment.