"The art of politics, under democracy, is simply the art of ringing it. Two branches reveal themselves. There is the art of the demagogue, and there is the art of what may be called, by a shot-gun marriage of Latin and Greek, the demaslave. They are complementary, and both of them are degrading to their practitioners. The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. The demaslave is one who listens to what these idiots have to say and then pretends that he believes it himself." ~ H.L. Mencken
Today Baghdad, Tomorrow Barsoom?
On January 10th, the London Telegraph, in a story titled 'George W. Bush boldly goes to Mars,' hailed Bush's plans for a manned Mars mission as an expression of 'mankind's loftiest ambitions.' Now I'm as big a fan of space exploration as anyone. I long to see Mars and other planets visited, colonised, even terraformed. I've watched the progress of the latest Mars rover with fascination. Indeed, the need to renounce NASA was probably the biggest hurdle for me in becoming a libertarian originally. But I cannot endorse a space exploration program led by an institution both inept and criminal, and funded by extortion. The Telegraph lectures us: 'To begin such an endeavour at a time when the US government is already running a large budget deficit is, in its way, heroic . . . . It would be nice if those who habitually dismiss the President as selfish and insular would for once acknowledge his largesse.' The terms 'heroic' and 'largesse' would apply if Bush were putting up his own money. When instead he proposes to fleece the taxpayers ' taxpayers already cringing in the shadow of Bush's looming deficits, which dwarf his laughable 'tax cuts' ' the appellations seem grossly misplaced. A nonviolent approach to space exploration is perfectly possible: get the State off the economy's back, thereby freeing up the resources and efficiency of the market sector to fund a cheaper and less militarised private space program. (See the marvelous satire How the West Wasn't Won.) But this would be disaster for the bureaucratic/corporate plutocracy that plans to milk the U.S. taxpayers for billions of dollars. The Telegraph acknowledges that in 'strictly practical terms,' Bush's Mars project makes 'little sense,' but gushes: 'Americans, thank Heaven, do not always think in strictly practical terms.' The Mars mission, we're told, will 'ennoble every member of the human race.' The original meaning of the word 'ennoble' is 'confer an unearned income on special interests by government fiat at the expense of exploited serfs.' Someone's going to get ennobled, alright.