Dale Carrico believes he is a smarter businessman than Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Eric Anderson, Charles Simonyi, K. Ram Shriram, Ross Perot, Jr, Robert Bigelow, John Carmack, Burt Rutan and Richard Branson… combined.
I do not agree.
A few days back, +Dale Carrico posted an attempt to sum up why he believes there is no possible way for private industry to have anything but a supporting role in space.
He is spectacularly wrong.
I have already commented on +Mars One and I am willing to go on record as saying I don’t think the reality show has much chance of getting on the air, let alone sending anyone to Mars. Dale starts off by ridiculing Mars One in an attempt to implicitly tie it to all proposals for private enterprise in space. It is like insisting on starting a discussion on the viability of mining by attacking Discovery Channel’s "Gold Rush". I don’t believe this is simply an ignorant oversight on his part, but a deliberate rhetorical subterfuge to damn by association something that he has an ideological antipathy toward.
You would not be remiss in assuming Dale Carrico’s area of expertise is talking rather than doing.
In that post, Dale shows a fundamental lack of understanding of markets, libertarianism, +NASA , the goals of private space enterprises, and the dynamics of government spending versus private investment… I struggle to see where he has a grasp on any portion of this debate?
Right off the bat, he shows that he doesn't even understand our goals. The very last thing we want is a private space program to "spontaneously crystallize into an interplanetary NASA or United Federation of Planets". That is our worst nightmare and the exact opposite of what we want.
His insistence on using what he seems to believe are cutesy insults every time he references anything related to the free market indicates his argument is driven by his emotional aversion to individualism and capitalism. He is like the western apologists for the Soviet Union and Maoist China from the middle of last century insisting that there is no way for the capitalist pigs of the West to equal the efficiency of a properly commanded economy. The polite name for these people was "useful innocents". I am sore tempted to use the less polite version even though I don’t believe Dale to be an idiot… but I have even less faith that he is an innocent.
Just because a government purchases goods or services from a private company, does not make them an arm of the government. With hundreds of millions of dollars in industry launches on its manifest, +SpaceX has a private space "program" just like +Ford Motor Company has a private automobile "program".
For decades, the communication satellite industry has been a multi-billion dollar per year "for-profit space program"- and while it has been piggybacking on the national space program, SpaceX is showing that to have been a detriment rather than an asset.
By its very nature, government is at least an order of magnitude less efficient and cost effective than private industry. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that a statist can’t comprehend this fundamental efficacy gap and so would be unable understand the economics of utilizing resources in, and from, space. He is told by the government that mining an asteroid or setting up a moon base as a $50-100 billion project and so sees a $30 billion return on investment as a losing proposition.
Like a blind man trying to imagine the colour red, he simply can’t wrap his mind around private industry getting it done for $5-10 billion.
The men behind the private space programs have built up personal fortunes in the tens of billions of dollars while establishing track records of creating and running companies worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Rational people are influenced by the fact that, after thoroughly investigating the science, technology and market- these extremely capable and very intelligent men are investing their own money in private enterprises in space.
One of the more pointless statement of his is "no extraterrestrial site more hospitable than the least hospitable place on earth". Building comfortable and safe habitats in space is an engineering exercise, neither intractable nor overly complicated.
The statement that betrays Dale’s biggest lack of understanding of the social motive for colonizing space is "there will be no extraterrestrial colonies to re-enact brutal "Age of Discovery" exploitation fantasies". I am not sure what delusions Dale is suffering from but:
1) If there were anyone out there, libertarians would not have fantasies about subverting the most basic foundation of their philosophy.
2) There is nobody out there to exploit!
Dale goes on insist that it won’t relieve overpopulation pressure… even when rational people understand that the "population bomb" is yet another failed Malthusian prophecy. We won’t see even 10 billion people on the planet earth- of course there will be billions more off the planet but they will mostly be born there, not emigrate there.
The crux of Dale’s apoplexy over private space enterprises is encapsulated in his statement: "Indeed there will be no escape hatches via space from any of our urgent and intractable political or environmental problems." To those with this mindset, the only thing worse than these "urgent and intractable" problems is to have them solved by individuals and businesses.
Dale continues with more ridiculing of "libertopian SpaceX Cadets" and "Heinleinian flim-flammery" while insisting that the "collective accomplishment" is the only justification possible for going to Mars. Setting aside that calls to the "collective" directly led to the slaughter of almost a hundred million people last century, what he sees as justification is actually a horrendous waste of other people’s money on his intellectual masturbation.
If there is no private case for space, there is no case for space.