Flutterby™! : To the moon, Alice!

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

To the moon, Alice!

2004-01-14 17:07:54.244913+00 by Dan Lyke 11 comments

crasch had a link and commentary on Alex Tabarrok's challenge to blogdom. I've tried several times to paraphrase it, but can't seem to pare it down, so in its entirety:

President Bush reputedly asked his big-think guys to come up with a new vision to unify and motivate the nation and they came up with ... a moon base? It's so been there, done that. Going to the moon was one of the greatest accomplishments of mankind but I am not inspired by imitation. Are you?

Hence, I issue this challenge to the blogosphere. What's your big-think idea to unify, motivate and inspire the nation? A moon-base will cost on the order of 200 billion so let's economize and say that the idea should cost 100 billion or less - a better idea and 100 billion to spare! Ideally, the idea should be mostly free of politics and have a strong possibility of success given that the money is spent. Email me and I will post the best ideas with full credit.

I mentioned that the Democratic primary is doing its best to return me to my Libertarian roots and that I'm not a fan of government supported manned space missions, so my first reaction is "Use it all to pay down the deficit and get the U.S. back towards a stable financial footing!", but let's brainstorm...

[ related topics: Politics Libertarian Invention and Design Space & Astronomy ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-14 17:22:50.85878+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Perhaps he'll chime in here, but crasch proposes research into cryogenic preservation of the brain.

My list:

  1. as of 1990, NASA had under 20k employees. Give each NASA employee half a million bucks and shut down the agency. The private space industry will no longer be competing with an inefficient but U.S. government funded ("subsidized" is too weak a word) organization so they'll have a chance to actually have a market, and they'll have the option of hiring ex-NASA employees.
  2. There's got to be some sort of education proposal I could come up with, but I'm having trouble with this one because the problem with education is, as always, motivating the parents.
  3. Split the money up amongst the offices of the various states' attorneys general for prosecution of financial fraud cases. This could restore faith in public companies, lower the income gap between rich and poor, and bring back a belief in economic mobility that could spark a boom like this country hasn't seen in a long time.

There's gotta be some other ideas...

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-14 18:30:38.405901+00 by: aiworks

  1. Buy every household in the U.S. a Macintosh and 2 years paid internet access (ISDN or better). I think that works out to about $100B.
  2. Plough it into a single health initiative: general viricide, cancer, paralysis.
  3. Spend it spreading English throughout the world (towards the goal of a true worldwide language).
  4. Annex/buy a country (i.e. historical Lousiana, Alaska). Give each household their share of $100B (i.e. Canadian households receive ~$10,000 in "repatriation funds").
  5. Change it into $1 bills and stack and glue those bills together. Instant space elevator.
  6. Use it to reconfigure transportation in the U.S.: maglev trains, reformulated gasoline, etc...
  7. Make the quarter millenial celebration in 2026 a "really" big party.

I could do this all day... Tongue in a cheek on a few of those.

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-14 20:06:15.895692+00 by: Dan Lyke

Aha! Another one: Give that money to the patent office for re-examination of patents, and up the standard to "innovative".

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-14 23:23:01.062582+00 by: meuon

100 billion..

Would that fix the railroads and get 75% of the semi's off the highway.. containerize cargo (trucks haul from railroad depot's), and as a byproduct give us a train system capable of supporting human traffic: ie: Amtrack (only done right).

Could we pump into into REAL education.. we need a smarter generation, whose idols are engineers and thinkers that can change our world.

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-14 23:45:57.255738+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think that the "...idols are engineers and thinkers..." are what those who propose manned space missions are hoping for. There's no practical reason for manned space.

I kind of like the "revamp transportation" theme, I'm just not sure how to implement it. What happened to railroads was straight out of Atlas Shrugged[Wiki]; I actually think the better way is to tax cars at a rate that more closely reflects their macro-costs (ie: at least have automobile taxes pay for roads, and in a perfect case subsidize the health costs they impose...).

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-15 01:35:36.193285+00 by: crasch [edit history]

Dan linked my favorite idea (thanks, Dan!), but I wouldn't mind if it were spent on the following:

  1. "Buy land, they aren't making any more of it." goes the old adage, but if we developed seasteading technologies it would no longer be true. The ability to grow floating land masses will have a profound political and economic impact, and will, in the nearterm at least, benefit many more people here on earth than a moonbase. Imagine if you could secede and take your country with you.
  2. Abolish the patent system, and issue prizes for specific social and scientific advancements in the form of social policy bonds.
  3. Set up a series of real gladiator games to kill off the expected surplus of 30 million unskilled, uneducated Chinese men with no hope of getting married
  4. Replace coal/diesel fired electricity plants with small scale nuclear plants
  5. Per Greg Benford's idea, Freeze the Library of Life.

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-15 15:01:24.578601+00 by: ebradway

I'm not a big fan of technology like the small scale nuclear plants or seasteading... I do like the idea of revamping transportaton, and rail makes alot more sense than new cars. How 'bout:

  1. Free public university education (or vocational school)
  2. Buyout and shutdown "harmful" industries like cigarette companies and Micrsoft
  3. Give more funding to public television (Big Bird = Big Bucks)
  4. Honestly and directly attack the population problems (i.e., condoms, education, abortion)

BTW, anybody see the research results showing that girls taking abstinence vows in high school are less likely to use condoms when they have sex?

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-15 17:31:58.73009+00 by: aiworks [edit history]

Re: my #4 above.

From the Onion, U.S. to give every Iraqi $3,544.91 and let capitalism do the rest.

I really like the picture of a U.S. serviceman throwing cash bundles off the back of a truck.

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-15 18:13:54.634485+00 by: petronius

Well, I rather support manned space exploration, but I think the money might be better focused. Right now it takes about $10K to put a pound into earth orbit. Any possible space-going scenario, from L5 colonies to extensive robot planetary probes run up against that limit. Focus the agency on doing anything to get the price down by 90%. Revive the Delta Clipper or X33 projects, or some other easier way to get up into orbit. Then stand back and see what happens. This is analagous to the loans the government gave to the railroads to connect California to the East. The economy was paid back a thousandfold for the investment.

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-16 19:46:12.483736+00 by: Dan Lyke

More crasch proposals.

#Comment Re: To the moon, Alice! made: 2004-01-16 21:33:55.176251+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

There's no practical reason for manned space.

The practical reason I see is that we know we will eventually have to leave Earth - that the sun will expand and make it unliveable. (Okay, you can argue that we don't know it - any more than we know for certain the sun will come up tomorrow - but we're really, really, really sure.) Fifty years - or even a few hundred - before we have to leave is not the time to start a manned spaceflight R&D program.

Note that this doesn't necessarily mean I favor a government funded organization for the task, but in general I've been happy with what NASA has been doing and would like to see more public support (interest, not dollars) for it.