We Choose To Go To The Moon

Earlier today I saw a Saturday Night Live skit mocking the idea of building a settlement on the moon.  I don’t like Newt Gingrich, but when he spoke of building a moon colony, I was proud that a popular leader was trying to inspire people to think about space again.  To dream.  We as a nation used to dream of exploring the cosmos and was dedicated to funding its exploration.  We believed in ourselves, our scientists, and we took pride that we’d be the first to accomplish such a great feat.  We used to have great presidents like JFK.  You mention his name and he’s unanimously praised, and rightly so.  He was a great man.  A great president.  But you know what?  He wanted to go to the moon.  He wanted us to explore space.  Have you ever seen his 1962 speech?  I rarely hear words that inspire me, but his do.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard.  Because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”

– John F. Kennedy, in a speech to Rice University, Sept 12, 1962

Mock me if you want to.  When Newt mentioned space, it made me happy.  I saw a glimmer of a leader trying to inspire us again, even if just a little.  Listen to the crowd when JFK exclaims, “We choose to go to the moon…”   They burst into applause and cheers.  He has to stop and wait for them to quiet down.  That was America in the 1960s.  Now look at us.  We as a nation sit back with our arms crossed and give derisive looks to anyone who mentions the idea.  What happened?

I haven’t done a lot of research into what happened with NASA and the space program after our initial voyages to the moon.  All I know is we’ve completely lost faith in all of it.  I’ll have to search Amazon.com for a book on the history of the space program, and find out what all has happened, and what went wrong.

5 thoughts on “We Choose To Go To The Moon”

  1. Counter-arguments include already having a moon colony if government had just stayed out of it. If I run across any good examples (not presently a priority, but bound to happen sometime) I’ll post them below.

    A similar point is that the industrial revolution was commandeered by special interests not wanting competition and partnering with government to achieve this as much as possible. For instance incredible amounts of wealth diverted by war preparations, war, cartels, monopolies (especially government), and countless other toxic practices to benefit only elites.

    In a free market, those in favor of a war could send money and others wouldn’t have to. This is exactly what Henry David Thoreau was jailed for in relation to the Mexican-American war. The same holds true for every single thing the institution of government (individuals claiming a geographic monopoly on “legitimate” violent aggression) does.

    I believe the free market should do the space thing if enough people freely choose to invest. Are you personally are willing to have me personally thrown in jail or worse if I refuse to be taxed for government to do (or try to do) the space thing?

    1. I’m just a sucker when it comes to space. I dream of one day seeing mankind land on Mars, and look forward to future exploits in space. In many ways I’m not particular about how it’s funded, and maybe that’s wrong of me. I too would prefer it be done by private investors, as it is sure to be a lot less wasteful. I hope the space programs Richard Branson and others are working on really take off, and we see a lot more money pumped into this sort of thing. As I was saying in the post, I don’t know a lot about what has gone on with NASA since its early days. I imagine there’s been a lot of waste. I want to get a book on space programs around the world over the last fifty years. I wonder why there hasn’t been more progress. Like you’re saying, it seems like we should already have a moon base by now.

  2. Last century governments killed over a quarter of a billion people, tortured and brutally incarcerated millions more, and caused all but a ruling elite and a few escapees to suffer mild to extreme serfdom. It’s not just the waste done by the oligarchs, it’s their ongoing atrocities as the price to give them their cut of, and let them control, any significant human progress. The oligarchs rely on governments to collect their cut and to administer limits on the human spirit so as to prevent the brightest from replacing the most elitely entrenched. No offense, nothing personal, it’s your privilege to block me from your blog: A lot of slaveholders were suckers for their perceived beauty of chattel slavery, where the master could get laid anytime, even if his wife or her husband had a headache — George Washington WAS the “father of the country.” So when the oligarchs get taxes for space exploration, frisbee research, etc., ten to twenty percent goes to such purposes and the rest to maintain hyper-parasite lifestyles where common decency doesn’t apply — the oligarchs live in compounds where they bathe in their “luxury” of pedophilia, extreme mood altering substances, and everything else prohibited for the human tax livestock they suck blood from. My bad for taking the red pill. So far I’ve concluded there is no middle ground between the red and blue pill, but that fantasy of the middle ground sure makes the fake steak taste good, doesn’t it?

    1. Pete,

      I appreciate you commenting on my posts. I’m glad you’re sharing your views with all of us. There’s no way I’d ever block you. How could we have a discussion if we do things like that? As you point out, governments have been guilty of many atrocities throughout history. Then again, was our distant past any less violent before governments began to form, or has civilization had a tendency to pacify human beings and make us live more peacefully? In his latest book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, Steven Pinker argues that we’re living in the most peaceful time in human history. I can try to offer a brief outline of the books contents.

      It is a huge book, but as Pinker says, it is a huge subject. He outlines six significant trends which have led to a decrease in violence.
      1. Our evolution from hunter gatherers into settled civilizations, which he calls the Pacification Process.
      2. The consolidation of small kingdoms and duchies into large kingdoms with centralized authority and commerce, which he calls the Civilizing Process.
      3. The emergence of Enlightenment philosophy, and it’s respect for the individual through what he calls the Humanitarian Revolution.
      4. Since World War II, violence has been suppressed, first by the overwhelming force of the two parties in the Cold War, and more recently by the American hegemony. Pinker calls this the Long Peace.
      5. The general trend, even apart from the Cold War, of wars to be more infrequent, and less violent, however autocratic and anti-democratic the governments may be. Call this the New Peace.
      6. Lastly, the growth of peace and domestic societies, and with it the diminishing level of violence through small things like schoolyard fights, bullying, and picking on gays and minorities. He titles this the Rights Revolution.

      So when I consider the facts, and compare statistically the amount of violence (per number of human beings living) to today’s statistics, and compare violence before governments and with governments, I see the opposite being true. But your other point is that kings, nobles, and oligarchs have lived off the backs of the masses all throughout history, and nobody would ever contest you there. The world is filled with injustices. And as you rightly point out, big government programs tend to attract vultures and parasites.

      I’m glad women are no longer viewed as property because they have so much to contribute to society. I don’t know anything about drug use or pedophilia, but I have heard about Catholic priests messing around with young boys. Thanks again for your comments. I haven’t had a chance to write that Spinoza post, but I do plan to!

      – Jason

  3. Hi Jason,

    Earlier I asked “Are you personally are willing to have me personally thrown in jail or worse if I refuse to be taxed for government to do (or try to do) the space thing?”, a yes or no question. I took “I’m just a sucker when it comes to space” as “yes”. Steve Pinker’s book reinforced the “yes” answer, correct?

    When the book first came out I read about it, watched his TED talk, and listened to him a lot on C-SPAN and YouTube. Then I was more an unwitting sophist than a philosopher so mostly agreed with him. Now I’ve dug deeper. I half agree because he also gives credit to nongovernment factors. I disagree with the overall impression of violence-based government is a necessary evil (please see endnote).

    About a year ago I read Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’ book “The Old Way: A Story of the First People”. The first half is about the way it was in 1950-51 when she lived with the Kalahari Bushmen; the second half about the way it is now. The 1950-51 experience was mostly like a time machine going back to pre-civilization days. Additionally, that ethnic group is the only one sharing DNA with everyone else on the planet (from later separate research). Based on that and much else I agree with the rebuttal of Steve’s book at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-ryan/pinkers-dirty-war-on-preh_b_1187329.html, that his statistics are slanted to justify the institution of government.

    Most people accept Steve’s statistics as automatically valid because he’s a big name PhD. In philosophy this is called the argument from authority, a false argument. The comfort people get from having their pre-existing beliefs “confirmed” is the argument from emotion, another false argument. People vulnerable to these are also vulnerable accepting illogic as logic. For instance it’s a non sequitur error to infer the tribes he chose to represent hunter-gatherers accurately reflect human nature. While he may or may not specifically say this, he does infer it and most people accept that as confirmation for the government view of human nature. The huffingtonpost.com rebuttal points out more non sequiturs.

    Steve’s book argues in favor of government based on necessity and the past rather than on morality. This is similar to arguments made in favor of the now largely extinct social institution of chattel slavery. That institution existed for thousands of years and the 1700s’ abolitionists were mostly seen as crackpots; the middle 1800s’ abolitionists weren’t. Those favoring chattel slavery mostly argued based on its alleged necessity, that it had always been, and that Africans would be incompetent to survive if freed. That is, whether or not slavery was moral mostly wasn’t an issue for those in favor of it; abolitionists in effect said “Be moral and the details will work out”.

    I’m a history, current events, and economics buff and have concluded those “three subjects” are separated only by toxic culture. That is, history/current/economic events are to philosophy what data is to a scientific experiment, and rulers don’t want nonruler philosophers. History/currents/economics research allows me to compare perspectives such as Steve Pinker’s with many others. I was only able to do such research after retirement; up to that point I believed most of the ruler-friendly perspectives that were crammed down my throat by parents, churches, schools, jobs, and peer groups that were all socially engineered and did so to me. Prior to retirement, I considered Steve a guru; now I conclude otherwise. I also have experience with statistics from years in quality control and always look deeper. Another thing rulers don’t like.
    So here’s my comparative perspectives on Steve’s Six Points:
    1. The pacification process: In early folklore such as the Garden of Eden story, being “cast out” represented agriculture. Hunting was a much richer life than pre-industrial agriculture, and those early civilizations were much more brutal for the average person than the rulers. Before agriculture rulers couldn’t raise large armies, make huge buildings, etc. Mainstream thought sees those as “progress”, I doubt if the ruled of the time did. I see the armies, buildings, etc. as wastes of life.
    2. Centralized Authority and Commerce: Very extensive commerce existed before agriculture. I don’t see what’s so great about all the centralization.
    3. Humanitarian Revolution – The rulers did and continue to resist individualism.
    4. and 5. The long/new peace – Detailed statistics are at http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM, contradicting “the long peace” as does much non-mainstream history/current events. I was in the USAF from ’74 to ’94. For comparison, the Hiroshima bomb was about 100 kilotons of explosives. The bombs I was around were approximately 45 megatons, and there were thousands of them. The USSR typically had 100 or more megaton bombs to make up for their lower accuracy. The USSR safeguards against mistaken launches and other mishaps were much worse than ours. We came close to nuclear exchanges, some mistakes and some escalations, a lot more times than the general public knows. There’s a good argument for all those stand-downs being mostly due to dumb luck.
    6. Rights revolution – Just as government responded with statolatry when divine right of kings no longer worked, they now respond with more predatory economics/totalitarianism when divide-and-conquer, i.e., the ruled fighting amongst themselves, no longer works. Since 911 the expense of U.S. government has doubled, a minority president voids the U.S. Constitution, an openly unconventional gender preference federal prosecutor sends Bernard von Nothaus to ten years prison for nonviolent free speech, etc. Progress never comes from government but parasite government always takes credit and their socially engineered hosts always buy it.

    Another perspective on violence is the book “Evil Genes” by Barbara Oakley. It’s the information Steve omitted. Human noncooperation (different than free market competition such as who decides to go on a date with who) is due to a small minority; government is an unnecessary social structure attracting them and propelling the worst to the top. It’s less conspiracy than it is our specie’s most highly evolved form of pack behavior, largely creating and depending on big name intellectuals.

    Freedomainradio.com is a philosophical discussion. http://board.freedomainradio.com/forums/t/33966.aspx?PageIndex=1 is about Steve’s book. Here’s some highlights:

    AnarchoB: “The one area he blew it on, is his complete lack of acknowledgement to the effects of abuse on the mind. He excruciatingly explores various areas of the brain that are linked to violence, as well as the effects of evolution on neurobiology. He does not however, differentiate between a mind brought up in the horrors of life centuries ago, and compare its perception of reality to a mind brought up in a nurturing, (truly) non-violent environment. To me, this is darn close to deception by omission… What is human nature in the absence of abuse? Can one even make a claim of human nature having causal effects in the presence of significant abuse?”

    John Ess (read the book): “We as a society will outgrow the need for the state. My concern is whether we survive it. Pinker’s book seems to be offering us reassurances that, in the big picture, things are going well. I have a problem with that. The average reader will not read between the lines, or look at his scientific description of the state as the legitimate monopoly of force, and see the state as the manifestation of violence. They will most likely be sedated by the optimism, and all the more accept the state as the only solution…
    The state is like the HIV virus. HIV attaches itself to the host and hides from the hosts defenses. It can evolve to evade treatments and hide from obvious detection. It weakens the host from within and makes them susceptible to multiple other environmental contaminants. HIV doesn’t kill the host, but cripples and weakens it until it cannot fend off typically harmless entities within the environment. We have voters, politicians, economists, businessmen, and intellectuals all attempting to “treat” the symptoms of disease caused by the state, but none able or willing to correctly diagnose the state as the virus it is…
    I would say that humans have a seemingly limitless potential to adapt and thrive. The type of eco-system we adapt to is up to us.”

    JamesP: “It is far safer to live in today’s world, at least in the west, than in any other point in history. That said, the amount of violence inflicted on us is still quite massive. We may experience less interpersonal violence, but with 90% of parents hitting their children at one point or another, the massive predations of taxation, inflation, and debt by the government, I don’t know that violence has really decreased.
    Philosophically, the state doesn’t exist, so it couldn’t have reduced violence. What has reduced interpersonal violence is the extension of personhood to previously excluded classes. That was not done through the application of violence but the increased universalization of morality.

    bbeljefe: “When one looks at it from that perspective, it becomes clear that the state has done nothing to reduce violence, nor has the church. On the contrary, they’re simply tools that we have used over time and to be sure, we have used for much too long… not unlike a 21st century carpenter who still uses hand saws and home cast, square nails. His productivity is vastly hampered by using those old fashioned tools. Religion and the state are those old fashioned tools and while they may not currently be escalating human violence, they are certainly slowing its reduction to a near grinding halt.”

    Endnote: Government is the monopoly on the “legitimate” initiation of force in a geographical area. HDT was jailed because people came to him and demanded money in exchange for something he didn’t ask for and he refused. Only representatives of governments (plural, aka “The State”) do so but generally aren’t considered criminal.
    – “…to be opposed to the state does not necessarily imply that we must be opposed to police protection, courts, arbitration, the minting of money, postal service, or roads and highways. Some anarchists have indeed been opposed to police and to all physical coercion in defense of person and property, but this is not inherent in and is fundamentally irrelevant to the anarchist position, which is precisely marked by opposition to all physical coercion invasive of, or aggressing against, person and property.” – From “Society without a State”, http://mises.org/daily/2429.
    – “The basic axiom of libertarian political theory holds that every man is a self owner, having absolute jurisdiction over his own body. In effect, this means that no one else may justly invade, or aggress against, another’s person. It follows then that each person justly owns whatever previously unowned resources he appropriates or ‘mixes his labor with’. From these twin axioms — self-ownership and ‘homesteading’ — stem the justification for the entire system of property rights titles in a free-market society. This system establishes the right of every man to his own person, the right of donation, of bequest (and, concomitantly, the right to receive the bequest or inheritance), and the right of contractual exchange of property titles.” – Murray Rothbard, “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution” http://mises.org/daily/2120 – This explanation also shows nonaggression as part of responsible self-ownership.

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