L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 210, February 10, 2003
STARS AND WARS
THE 'FINAL' FRONTIER
L. Neil Smith's and William Stone's philosophy espoused in TLE #209 appears to dance around the idea that space will be more effectively explored when there is commercial purpose in doing so which makes tons of sense to me. Right now we are exploring space via the same central planning economics called a failure by the USA's principal partner in the Space Station. I call it central planning or monopoly as today there is but one buyer of the activity of getting into space and back--that being Government. When there was a space race with the USA and the USSR competing we certainly appeared to travel a bit faster and further into space. As Libertarians we must always oppose government monopoly.
Given the technology we have today it is easy to see many parallels between early ocean exploration and space exploration today. The sheer number of shipwreck remains found indicate that such exploration was far from safe so it must have been profitable. The recent work of Robert D. Ballard shows with little question that earliest exploration of the Mediterranean and Black Seas was driven by the desire to trade with others. Following the money is always a good strategy for investigation and analysis especially when going as far back as the dawn of modern civilization. There are maps and many detailed discussions of the trade flow at: www.nationalgeographic.com/blacksea/.
Anyway, people take chances on exploration for trade and commerce. It works. It has taken us several thousand years to develop a planet wide trading and communication system with a roughly 25,000 mile circumference.
The challenge for the century we have just entered is to expand the next 250 miles (just a 1% increase by the way) into space. (Alan C. Tribble defines that distance or actually a bit less as the nearness of the boundary at: pup.princeton.edu/chapters/s6915.html. Once you escape Earth's gravity well, the movement is no longer as expensive in terms of energy.) In space, there is wealth to acquire beginning with access to more direct energy from our nearest star and tremendous mineral deposits. The metal from one mined or otherwise harvested asteroid could build forms of wealth at an entirely different magnitude than the gold reserves beneath New York City (You can take the tour which is described at www.theinsider.com/nyc/attractions/2federal.htm).
My own observation is that space will be conquered at the point in time we as either individuals or corporations can make a return off the investment necessary in getting there. So far the central planning mechanism of space exploration has provided incredible pictures, stories, heroes, and inspiration. It has only indirectly provided returns on investment and that is in the arena of technology transfer. A cash return to investors will bring about rapid changes for there will be many different approaches from a multitude of entrepreneurs trying to acquire a portion of that so far unharvested wealth.
Steven B. Cousineau [firstname.lastname@example.org]
THE ADMIRAL'S LYRIC
In his Letter to the Editor, Patrick Martin quoted a verse that was appropriate but he failed to site the author. Since his signature appears below the verse it almost looks as if he were claiming credit. The author is Robert Heinlein from "Ordeal in Space".
C. Cathey [email@example.com]
RE: STATE OF DISUNION 2003 I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Stone. I have been a libertarian since, well, maybe since conception. Anyway, since I can remember. I was a libertarian before I could even give it that label.
(N.B.: I am not defending the current government's choice to attack Iraq.)
Mr. Stone states, "No libertarian can be in favor of any kind of war." This statement implies that, if a libertarian country is attacked, then the residents of that country must NOT fight back. The act of defending themselves would disqualify them as libertarians.
This makes no sense to me. Libertarians must be ready, willing and able to strike back. They must strike back with enough force that their attacking neighbors, and any others with similar designs, will think long and hard about attacking this country in the future.
An obvious parallel would be personal protection. If someone threatens me, am I not, as a libertarian, allowed to defend myself? If a thug pulls a knife on me, am I not, as a libertarian, allowed to pull my gun and dispatch him with "extreme prejudice?"
The American Heritage. Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, defines aggression as "the act of initiating hostilities or invasion." Usually, one side of a war is responding to hostilities initiated by the other side. At times, it is appropriate and even honorable to engage in hostilities.
By Mr. Stone's standards, our founding fathers could not have been libertarians. Would Mr. Stone have had the courageous residents of Lexington and Concord stand by on April 19, 1775 and give up their guns? They did not initiate the conflict, but they certainly responded appropriately and the war began.
Thucydides said, "The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom is Courage." This includes the courage to hitch up your pants, strap on your gun, and jump into the fray. Whether the fray is one on one or thousands on thousands is just a matter of numbers.
Joe Burns [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Going through the pages of Wilhelm Reich's "Listen, Little Man!" I was surprised to read the following words:
PRESIDENTIAL "STATE OF THE GOVERNMENT ADDRESS"
The "State of the Union" address is falsely advertised. This country has not been a union of several states since the War of Northern Aggression. Additionally, the address is not as much a statement of the current status of the "United" States, but, rather, a presidential wish list.
An honest statement of our current condition could be made in two sentences: "Our country is being strangled by a bloated, overbearing government. It is filled with people, like myself, who are more concerned with gaining and maintaining power than we are about maintaining the principles which made this country great in the first place."
Joe Burns [email@example.com]
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