"Standing armies consist of professional soldiers who owe their livelihood and income to the government. Unlike civilians who render periodic service in local militia, professional soldiers do not own property and therefore do not have any source of income other than the government’s military paymaster. Thus, they are more likely to serve the government’s interests, regardless of whether its leaders are dishonest and corrupt or not. In fact, standing armies may even promote rapacious foreign or domestic policies if such policies enrich the army. In contrast, arms bearing, property owning citizen militiamen have a stake in the health of the republic as a whole and can be trusted to act in the republic’s best interests, whether those interests call for action in support of or against the political leadership of the nation." ~ Anthony Dennis
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.