I saw this article recently, an uncommon perspective for a conservative column:
The writer is kind of a sci-fi type, which is hard for me to take seriously. But he makes a good basic point. As humans continue to consume resources on the Earth, for energy and manufacturing, the only logical place to look for future reserves is up. But that will not happen under socialism, which will instead lead the human race toward poverty and misery.
Liberals always contend that the Earth is running out of resources, while conservatives maintain otherwise, and have consistently been proven right. For example, consider the famous wager between Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich. However, it is a simple fact that Earth’s resources are finite. They will run out eventually, given enough consumption for a long enough period of time.
Meanwhile, there are nearly infinite resources out in the solar system and beyond. The technology exists right here and now to commence the harvesting of these resources. Though there has not yet been a geological survey of the asteroid belt, there is every expectation that valuable minerals could be mined from this region. The asteroid 16 Psyche is composed entirely of iron and nickel with a “street value” in the quintillions of dollars. The asteroid belt is zero gravity environment in which such mining could take place with minimal energy expenditure, compared to the considerable energy required to lift mined products up from the gravity of a planet.
While the initial investment would be enormous, a space mining venture would pay a considerable return. Also, since there is no nighttime or clouds in space, there is unlimited 24/7/365 solar energy. This could enable processing and manufacturing steps to also be performed in space, so that any resulting pollution is kept away from the Earth. Many processes could even be automated so that human workers not be at risk.
Some people will roll their eyes and scoff at such “science fiction” prospects. But the entire premise of Star Trek is that the infinite resources of space could someday abolish all need and want here on Earth. If the USA would take this step, we could soon have a quadrillion dollar GDP that would make our burgeoning $30 trillion national debt seem trivial in comparison. This is how the American economy has always grown throughout our history, by continuously exploiting new resources as they become available. But if the USA does not take this step, rest assured that China will.
Back in the late 90s, I rankled space enthusiasts with the following statement:
“Someday, an eccentric billionaire, someone like Bill Gates, will finance a private space venture and figure out how to make a buck off of space. Then there will be a ‘gold rush’ to the high frontier as corporations invest capital above Earth. And then, boom, instant space colonies. And everyone will say, ‘NASA who?’”
At the time, this sentiment was scorned and ridiculed by the “true believers” in government-oriented space programs. But Elon Musk was still in college at the time and such small thinkers had no vision to foresee the potential of private entrepreurship in space.
However, as the above writer insightfully observes, socialism would derail such hopes and would move humanity in the wrong direction. Rather than making the required considerable investment in space development, a socialist system will parse out and redistribute that those assets in well-intentioned but naïvely inadequate programs which would equally reduce everyone to poverty.
Meanwhile, the human population will continue to consume the limited resources of Planet Earth within a closed system of socialism. A time will eventually come where the Earth would no longer possess the resources required to make the jump to explore and develop the bounty of space.
Our civilization currently has a window of opportunity. This window may remain open for a quite a while, maybe even a couple centuries. But if the window closes without developing space-based resources, humanity will be stranded on the Earth forever. And our descendants dwelling on the Earth will know that all the easy non-renewable resources are already picked over. They won’t be going back to the “horse and buggy” era, but back even further to the stone age, with no hope of human civilization ever advancing again.
America and the world are literally at a crossroads, right here and now in 2021. Will our civilization continue to prosper “to infinity and beyond” under a conservative free market system, or will our culture follow a path of liberal regression into a grey twilight of “stone knives and bearskins” under socialism?