Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Toys for Rich People - Billionaire to the Moon

I generally favor a (massive) redistribution of wealth from the extremely wealthy to the extremely poor (understood globally). Imagine that we were to transfer $1 trillion from the wealthiest of the wealthy to the poorest of the poor. Entrepreneurs will then suddenly discover a lot less reason to invest in building toys for rich people, and find $1 trillion reasons to start looking for ways to deliver food, education, medical care, clean water, security, and sanitation to poor people.

However, not all toys for rich people are created equal.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa bought himself a trip around the moon.

Yes, we have problems here on Earth to worry about, but the long-run survival of the human species depends, in part, on changing the fact that we are currently carrying all of humanity's eggs in one planetary basket. There are reasons - beyond the hedonistic pleasure of a billionaire - to be developing ways to live and work in space.

Indeed, the development of space resources may well be a solution to some of those earthly problems. Compare, for example, the environmental costs of turning a dead asteroid in the radiation-filled cold of space into metals and a system for collecting (solar) energy compared to the environmental costs of accomplishing the same thing on Earth.

NASA - and other space agencies - are not so much engines of space development as they are engines for transporting tax money into the bank accounts of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and other large companies . . . for producing very little.

So, there might be some merit in letting wealthy people have some toys, then those toys serve an important social end.

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