THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 587, September 12, 2010
"Separation of science and state"
The matter with space policynot what, but who benefits
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
The famous Lucius Cassius, whom the Roman people used to regard as a very honest and wise judge, was in the habit of asking, time and again, 'To whose benefit?'
Thus writes Marcus Tullius Cicero in his famous "Pro Roscio Amerino." Roscius of Ameria was a notoriously-accused patricide, and Cicero's speech was in his defence. Roscius was almost certainly innocent of the crime, and the accusation was notorious because it was part of the dictator Sulla's "enemies list" project. Cicero's speech is considered an essential document of Roman history. You should read it.
Space policy is a mess for the same reason that foreign policy is a mess. The powers that control things like having hundreds of billions of dollars for corruptly allocated contracts to aerospace contractors in the defence and space industries. Which is why you find big campaign contributions and big lobbying fees when you look past the drapes even a tiny bit. Look at the FEC filings for any of your congress critters if you have doubts on this point.
General Electric has made so much money from the current crop of wars they bought the Weather Channel. Does anyone here wonder why all those private weather satellites that were proposed in the 1980s were never launched? Why dozens of private space ventures have gone nowhere? Why, even with his billions, Branson has yet to launch a single tourist despite his plans in 2004 to have tourist flights by 2007?
It has been 50 years since the technical challenges of spaceflight were first met. It has been over 40 years since men walked on the Moon. Why are there no destination resorts in orbit? Who benefits from having the policies the way they are?
Why is settlement of Antarctica off limits? Why is settlement of the sea beds or the high seas off limits? Why does the outer space treaty of 1967 prevent private property ownership in space? Who set this agenda to close off frontiers, and why? Who benefits?
Put this another way, or look at it from their point of view. What happened to the tidy little system of oppression and control that the European aristocracy had going for itself in AD 1500? It went away well before 1800. One of the first kings to lose his head over the popular revolt was Charles I in 1649. Forty years later James II was chased out of England by another parliamentary mob dedicated to the concept of classical liberalism. A hundred years later the Bastille fell and French nobles began to lose their heads.
If you doubt for a moment that the existence of a large and open frontier for trade, commerce, exploration, and settlement was at the heart of these changes to European civilisation, you are missing quite a few facts. Get acquainted with the Age of Reconnaissance and the Scramble and all the other colonial efforts. Nor should you for a moment suppose that I am sympathetic with the European colonial empires. I'm not.
You and I know that a frontier changes everything. Which means it has the potential to wreck the status quo and take away the power from the powers that be. Naturally they have placed impediments in our path. These obstacles are not incidental, they are deliberate. They are not part of a red tape fiasco to be circumvented through grit and determination, but part of a determined plan to keep us grounded.
If the dream of spaceflight exists in your soul, you need to reconsider what you are doing every day. The extent to which you are contributing financially, spiritually, and intellectually to the system that oppresses you is part of the reason you aren't ever going to fly in space.