Nightcap

  1. Why should we care about landing on the moon…50 years ago? Jill Lepore, New York Times
  2. U.S. escalates cyber attacks on Russia’s power grid Perlroth & Sanger, New York Times
  3. Stupid humans (is there hope?) Caleb Scharf, Scientific American
  4. The decline and rise of poverty in America Bryan Caplan, EconLog

Nightcap

  1. Conservatives, sex, and the aspirations of women Rachel Lu, Law & Liberty
  2. Hello Mars, farewell Mars Caleb Scharf, Life, Unbounded
  3. Terrorism justified: a response to Vicente Medina (Machiavelli) Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth
  4. The third gender of southern Mexico Ola Synowiec, BBC

State of Florida Wants NASA Land

…so Tallahassee can develop a commercial spaceport.

This is both good and bad. Here’s why:

Liquidating NASA as a government entity will likely have the same type of effect on society that liquidating the computer industry had. There is a lot of technology in NASA that is just waiting to be developed by average, everyday geeks wanting to get rich.

Unfortunately, when I read that the state of Florida wants to buy up land and, presumably, technology from NASA I see a big problem ahead. It’s the same type of problem that always happens when “privatization” occurs. Instead of full-fledged privatization, as was the case when computer-based technology was passed on to the private sector, what we are seeing is a hybrid-type of privatization where the state still has a say in the process.

What’ll end up happening if Florida is any indication is probably nothing with big financial loses. “Nothing” by itself, however, is a bad sign, because again, there is a lot of potential bottled up in the NASA program. If the politicians in Florida really want a commercial spaceport, they would do well to heed to historical precedent and let the greedy geeks of the world make it happen with their own time and money being invested and potentially lost, rather than the taxpayers.

Many good economists have been talking about a “great stagnation” looming ahead for the West – a period where all of the available technology has been used up, as have all the available new ideas – and this stagnation may well come true, but I think that the de-socialization of NASA could help to alleviate this looming problem in a major way. It’s a shame that politicians think so lowly of their fellow citizens.

Also on the backburner: aside from the inevitable failure of a project like this, think of the ominous associations being created with ventures like these. Government and business working hand-in-hand to create a new niche in the economy for the citizens of Florida and the United States. This is the worst kind of fascism at work. The private sector could do much better, as could the American people.