Freedom in the final frontier: response to editorial on NASA’s Curiosity

The author of this USA Today editorial claims that the Curiosity program is practical and inspiring and is therefore worth the hefty price tag. In my letter to the editor, I argue that individual rights trump whatever societal advantage may be gained by publicly funded space exploration:

Yesterday’s editorial on the Curiosity landing correctly identifies the value of this great human achievement and of space exploration in general, but irresponsibly dismisses the fact that a massive amount of taxpayer dollars was spent on it – essentially claiming that the $2.5 billion price tag imposed on the public was a means justified by its end – and that opposition to it on economic grounds is “short-sighted”. In fact, the end did not justify the means, and critics of the space program are right to complain.

Those $2.5 billion were taken from individuals – be they those who could not care less about space or those who are pioneering the private space industry. Some of those individuals might very well support the space program, but that is irrelevant to the fact that each and every one of them is the proper owner of his own life and therefore of his own money. Individuals have the right to act on their own judgment so long as they do not impair the ability of others to do so. Such a right includes the right to spend – or not to spend – one’s money as one sees fit. Those who want to see the conquest of space in their lifetime may properly donate their money to the private space industry or begin their own endeavors. Those who do not should not be forced to.

Fascination with space, an insatiable desire to find answers to the “big questions”, or the potential for scientific discovery and economic growth, does not entitle an individual or NASA or any other entity to other people’s money. The exploration of the final frontier must be left to private initiative and funds. The road must be cleared for companies like Virgin Galactic and Space X to embark on the worthy project without forcing other people to support them. For that to happen, the space program should not only be cut, but eliminated – not because it is hard, but because it is right.

One thought on “Freedom in the final frontier: response to editorial on NASA’s Curiosity

  1. Realist says:

    Ah yes, companies like Virgin Galactic and Space X that definitely do not take advantage of the complex, expensive, and innovative technologies created by NASA. Some things should be funded collectively. Space exploration is without a doubt one of those things. This is why your “philosophy” is not only deeply wrong-headed, but also extremely primitive.

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