We’re never going to colonize the moon (or anywhere else for that matter) until someone can make a buck off of it. The government is great for getting the initial technology up and running but they’re not going to turn it into a consumer product for the rest of us. That’s not their job.
For instance: the internet. Developed and built by the government with Al Gore playing a pivotal role in ensuring the funding (which is all he ever claimed credit for, by the way), the internet was turned into a commercial “product” by the private sector. It has made, literally, trillions of dollars and fundamentally altered the way we interact with the world. It wouldn’t exist without the government and it wouldn’t be the economic and social force it is without the private sector.
This is the fundamental misconception of liberals by conservatives. They claim we’re all anti-capitalism and think all private business is evil. How childish. Liberals (except for a fringe minority) do not say this. We’re perfectly happy with a balanced mix. No one wants Apple to go out of business. People LOVE their iPhones! Even liberals love the iPhone. What we want is for Apple to stop using slave labor to make it. We want them to pay their workers a fair wage and stop treating them like disposable cogs. The ends do not justify the means. It’s also not “punishing success” for corporations to pay their fair share of taxes or have regulations that keep them from endangering the public, but that’s a different conversation.
On the other hand, conservatives claim that the government can’t do anything right at all and should be shrunk small enough to drown in a bathtub. Do you think we would have gotten to the Moon with that kind of government? And no, this is not the fringe of the conservative movement; this is the mainstream conservative mantra. They believe that the private sector will magically replace all the government advances in technology. Pure idiocy. No corporation would have spent the money to invent the internet or GPS. But try explaining that to a conservative.
Anyway, back to the profit motive. Some things just won’t get done under the auspices of the government, affordable space travel is one of them. For that, you need the private sector and they’re working on it:
Score one for corporate America. This morning at 8:56am the SpaceX Dragon, a privately owned space module, became the first of its kind to dock with the International Space Station. This is the first step in NASA’s latest strategy (due to budget cuts) that will allow private companies to handle orbital and “routine” operations. It is NASA’s goal to focus on larger projects, such as Mars exploration, while the private sector focuses on bringing supplies to and from the station without having to rely on the Russian Soyuz rocket.
We, the people (in the form of our government), footed the bill to develop the technology to reliably reach space. Now it’s time for the second stage where the private sector finds a way to make it profitable and therefore worth continuing. Space tourism, medical experiments, asteroid mining, all of these things will continue to drive corporate America to further develop space travel and that’s good for everyone.
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