Where's my flying car? Hell, where the fuck is my space colony!
Only private enterprise in a business environment w/o government screwing things up can deliver either of those to real life.
It is mainly the diversion of resources from long-term goals to short-term profiteering caused by capitalism that prevented us from developing space colonies.
Capitalism is inherently short-term. We could have had mp3 players back in the 1960s and fiber optic Internet connections in the 1980s. Business does not make long-term investments.
Here's how capitalism works. An idea comes about and lays dormant for years, decades, even centuries because no resources are devoted to it. No resources are devoted to it because there is no expectation for profits until years or decades later.
Eventually technological advancement reaches a point where is becomes plausible to profit on the idea with a few years. Then a game a chicken occurs. No one wants to be the first person to contribute resources to developing the idea since it's still a few years off. No one is willing to spend even a few years developing the idea even though once developed, it will return the investment many times over. It's still too long of a horizon.
As technology continues to advance and become cheaper, there comes a tipping point where all of a sudden everyone wants to immediately develop the idea as fast as possible before someone else capitalizes on it. A land rush occurs. The idea is implemented in a rushed manner with all corners cut, quality is shit, and smoke and mirrors are used in place of actual working components. The same assholes who wouldn't look at the idea a year or two ago, now expect the engineers to do all the work implementing the idea in a few months. The engineers, of course, have to do a rushed, crappy job as a result.
And that's how capitalism works. It's a short-sighted resource allocation algorithm that results in substandard development, incorrect architecture, shotty products, and great wasteful of time and resources. Yeah, other economic systems may be worse, but capitalism sure as hell isn't the best we can do, especially in the technology age.
I guarantee you that once space travel becomes relatively cheap, there will be a tipping point where mega corporations try to land grab all the asteroids and planets for their natural resources. There's more gold in asteroids alone than has been mined in all of human history.
Only capitalism (or a close derivative) can make individuals work together.
Is that your idea of an epiphany ?
Even Russia and communist China have capitalism. The question isn't whether capitalism works.
A far more specific and interesting question is, are there better ways to make capitalism work well ? Surely we are nowhere close to reaching that. And I guarantee that in the long run, governemt's role is here to stay (even if we briefly swing towards too much privatization and fascism).
Some coldly argue for social darwinism, and for the harsh view that poverty is in a sense necessary, to provide an ample source of cheap labor to our capitalist system. And they argue that too many programs supporting the poor (through taxation ) are evil and anti capitalistic.
I think the question is: Is it possibly to have a fairer and more economically sound (capatalist) system while still having plenty of room for incentivising hard work and rewarding talent appropriately?
I too believe that the money that we spend on prisons and on programs supporting the poor could be better spent other ways. And I believe that under a different system, many people who are in prisons or on "welfare" now could be gainfully employed and paying taxes instead.
The problem with the space program was the Space Shuttle. It didn't perform as advertised (we should be at STS-1000+ by now, not 133), with a 3-4 month turnaround per mission. Instead it was more like a year and a half-two year turnaround. It's also a very expensive way of getting payloads into space.
The Space Shuttle is the reason NASA lost a great deal of income, and the USAF had to step in just to launch their own needs as the Shuttle's schedule kept falling so far behind that military-critical satellite launches were delayed by years.
What we need are our heavy rockets back.
The program kept going because it was a big boondoggle for certain congressional districts. It was a good technology demonstrator, but the concept should have been retired 20-25 years ago.
We need to get our ass to Mars because it's there. And it should be a one-way trip with no expectation of return for the first astronauts, like other exploration missions. There would be no shortage of qualified volunteers, who could all be 55+.
Unlike the Shuttle, the Mars Rovers actually performed many times beyond their estimated life time, so we're ahead of the 8 ball there.
No Company is going to spend $50-100B a year over 10 years just to land somebody on Mars.
Nixon is the only President that put a man on the moon.
He was also the only president impeached for lying.
1. Engineers put men on the moon, not presidents.
2. If you are going to give any president credit for the lunar landing, it would be Kennedy who allocated the resources to do so.
3. Nixon was not impeached for lying. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached for his role in the Watergate scandal. You see, back in the 1970s sabatoshing elections was actually considered illegal rather than a legitimate campaign strategy.
4. If you are suggesting that the lunar landing was faked, well, I can't say that I'm completely surprised.
It's amazing what science and engineering can do, and what religion and superstition cannot.
I am always amazed that people are not continuously amazed at the "power" of science.
People, will gasp and stutter about "accuracy" of a vague horoscope, but shrug and yawn when someone tells them what sex their baby will be months before it is born.
No other discipline has been able to accurately predict the future, but science does it with such accuracy it has become boring.
Anyway, there may be limits to what science can do. We are not going to be able to colonize the galaxy without faster than light travel, generational ships, or "stasis." These things simply might be impossible.
But, yes I agree that we should be trying to escape the earth.
Keep in mind I am the offspring of a Lockheed/Aerojet/Loral aerospace engineer. My father worked on numerous space vehicles, platforms, the shuttle and was a chief engineer on the ISS. My childhood and adolescence revolved around the space program including all the bust and boom times. My cynicism towards the space program is reflective of what my father shared with me about his experience working with NASA.
I also recognize the reality of what is out there - hard vacuum, lethal radiation, tiny rocks moving at speeds that make bullets look pedestrian, temperatures extreme enough to liquify helium or ionize anything with very little compromise. On top of that space is enormous. The NEAREST stars are 4.3 LIGHT YEARS away. How far is it to the nearest habitable rock? No idea, we haven't found one yet.
You say we have to get off the earth - I ask TO WHERE?
I also recognize the reality of what is out there - hard vacuum, lethal radiation, tiny rocks moving at speeds that make bullets look pedestrian, temperatures extreme enough to liquify helium or ionize anything with very little compromise.