Galileo Blogs about reason, science and capitalism.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
To the Moon and Beyond, the Capitalist Way
As laudable as the goal of going to the moon is in and of itself, going there should not be the task of government. Remember that the tremendous resources consumed by the moon effort were resources taken (i.e., stolen) from every American. Nothing justifies theft of property, especially if it is by the government.
As for whether we would go the moon or Mars or another star strictly through private enterprise, we would... if there was a profit in it. That is the only way we should go there because if there is a profit, that means there is a net creation of value. A simple definition of profit is simply that the benefits exceed the costs. What is left over is profit. So, if the benefits of going to the moon exceeded the considerable costs, it would be profitable and private enterprise would do it.
Finally, on a practical level, observe that the principle of bureaucratic wastefulness that applies to all government efforts even applies to our space programs. Today, private entrepreneurs are developing space vehicles at tiny fractions of the cost of the Space Shuttle or the Saturn V rocket. These are innovative designs, quite different than the rocket technology used by NASA which is not that different from the German rockets developed in World War II by Werner von Braun.
I am fully confident that if simply left alone by the government, private, for-profit companies will exploit the solar system for tourism, materials production and sheer exploration. Government can stay out of the way by eliminating silly FAA-type restrictions on rocket flights, reforming the courts to prevent specious lawsuits that retard technological innovation (e.g.: asbestos paranoia), and simply reducing spending and taxes so that the money is there to finance something as glorious as space flight.
On a personal level, I intend to be a space tourist. I am glad that I am likely to see a vital (private, for-profit) space tourism industry emerge in my lifetime.