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.

Your rating: None
Roderick Long's picture
Columns on STR: 22

Roderick T. Long is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University; President of the Molinari Institute; Editor of the Libertarian Nation Foundation newsletter Formulations; and an Adjunct Scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.  He received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1992.  His last book was Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand; his next book will be Wittgenstein, Austrian Economics, and the Logic of Action.  He maintains a blog on his website,