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An American On Mars By 2030

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I'm surprised no one has corrected your misuse of Ayn Rand here, "Daedalus". You have been using the following as your "premission slip" to excuse and advocate further funding for NASA (let us set aside the fact that you seem to have not engaged in a single line of independent reasoning for your argument):

Not true. Read the thread. I've offered serveral good reasons to fund NASA that Ayn Rand never mentioned: the use of the moon as military high ground, the necessity of a shield against earth-bound asteroids, the spectacular expansion of freedom that occurs on a frontier.

Yet, you completely twist it to meet your own ends. Her message is very clear and somber: If America is to die, let us, the men of the mind that are left, not fuss over NASA, because here, in this moment, it has provided America with a glorious tomb-stone--an American flag on the Moon. The significance of this message is that it is a statement of priorities, assuming America's death to be certain.

1. Ayn Rand said that if we do continue down the road of a mixed economy then millions and billions should be poured into the space program. (Last paragraph of "Apollo 11") Now as someone who has kept his eye on political affairs since the 1950s, I can state with absolute conviction that we are much further down that mixed economy road today than we were in 1969.

She is not, as you have repeatedly made it seem, advocating the existence of NASA,

2. She said it was not proper for government to engage in non-military space projects. At the same time she said that NASA was non-coercive in regard to its participants, that it was the cleanest and best of all government programs and one that had earned its keep.

or pushing for more funds for it,

She is not, as you have repeatedly made it seem, advocating the existence of NASA,

See points 1. and 2. above. Furthermore, Ayn Rand made it clear that space projects with military aspects are mandatory. In that regard, I've valiantly attempted in this thread to show why our nation's security vitally depends on a large presence in outer space.

or engaging her reader in a state of glee over the prospect of America dying, just so she can see NASA get more money.

If that claim was made, it wasn't by me.

She is saying, in essence, if America's death is certain, let's not make a fuss over NASA, because it is providing us with some last spurts of greatness.

You, on the other hand, are not saying *if* America's dying, let's fund a mission to mars. You are saying, basically, "America's death *is* certain, therefore let's fund a mission to mars!" Evidently, you are using Ayn Rand to justify your twisted priorities: you are spending significant time defending the existence and furtherance of NASA, on the grounds that America's death is certain, rather than discovering whether or not this very gloomy premise is correct, and if it isn't, discovering how to bring America back to greatness.

Not really. I simply agree with Ayn Rand that if we do continue down the mixed economy road (as we very much have since 1969), it makes sense to pour money into the space program. It may ultimately provide us with our best chance of escaping a mixed economy.

In your excitement for a mission to Mars, you pray at night that America's death continues to be certain (since you already think it *is* certain), so that you can use Ayn Rand to justify your desire to see NASA great once more. But her's was not a prayer for America's death, it was an eloquent eulogy were her death to be certain.

I stopped praying before there was a NASA.

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I want to make sure I understand you. Should there be no cops on our streets, no radars scanning our skies, no prisons housing predators -- unless those activities are voluntarily funded?

Correct. And they will be voluntarily funded. People will be willing to pay for private forms of protection, whether they have to pay the government to get it or otherwise.

If someone forced you to contribute money to the hunt for bin Laden -- the use of force would be illegitimate, not the hunt for bin Laden.

The use of force is illegitimate, so whatever values have been gained by using force cannot be values (sound familiar?).

That's a stretch. NASA scientists are not the equivalent of terrorists.

Just like how it's a stretch to say that exploring the New World is nearly equivalent to exploring space.

No, the scientists are not the equivalent of terrorists, but the point is that you are advocating that we should support the "lesser of all the evils," which is, in fact, still supporting an evil.

I’ve already addressed this point. The opening up of the New World with its rich opportunities for prosperity and escape from tyranny was the result of government-funded expeditions. What we ultimately got from the Spanish crown’s grant to Columbus was the greatest experiment in freedom in mankind’s history. Well, guess what, the new New World is just beyond our atmosphere.

How did anyone "escape from tyranny"? As far as I know, the colonists were still under the same government control until they broke away by the means of war. Is this what you are suggesting we should encourage? Not to mention that in space, colonists would be unable to survive without the government bringing them supplies, so escaping the tyranny would be nearly impossible.

If we cannot reference political proposals with cases from the past, then discussion is virtually impossible. It would be like asking Congress to approve an agency’s budget without ever examining that agency’s past performance.

Not true. I answered in the affirmative and gave a reason for my answer.

Discussion certainly warrants the use of analogies. They are great for getting a point across. But they cannot be the basis of an argument.

In addition, there is a difference between using an analogy, and using historical evidence. But I hardly see how Columbus's excursions correlate so closely to space exploration.

Edited by tnunamak
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Hmm, I thought you disagreed that the money was stolen? Are you playing devil's advocate now or are you stealing concepts?
What do my beliefs have to do with whether you're a hypocrit or not? It's what you believe that counts there.

What I see is that policing is the first and foremost proper function of the government. The only way to be involved in law enforcement is to work for the government (as well it should be). Space exploration on the other hand (while in it's infancy) can be pursued privately. Space exploration is not, in and of itself, a proper function of government.
I agree with you that policing is a proper function of government, as is the military. But you still believe you're a policeman who's paid with stolen money:
However, even valid military purposes (and law enforcement purposes) are should to be paid for by voluntary funding so that's still not an argument to morally justify the theft of taxpayer money.

Space exploration is a proper function of the government. It started because the Russians launched Sputnik - demonstrating that if they wanted to, they could lob a nuclear bomb anywhere on earth. Should the US wait until private industry decides that there may be some profit in space and wait until technologies developed by the private sector are good enough to top with a nuke? That might take a while. That compromises our military strength. So Nasa was formed to take on the threat of the Russians. If Eisenhower told the military to develop rocketry, then it would have resulted in a showdown like with the atomic age. Instead he made it a civilian program that was completely open to lessen criticisms that we were upping the ante militarily. But the technologies developed for manned space flight could be used to launch nukes, and were developed into weapons. Because of our space program, the Russians knew they couldn't launch nukes at us without being attacked as well.

If I had the power to change the way it was funded, I would, and as much as I can, I will. However, changing minds on funding is not the only purpose. Changing minds on the enforcement of immoral laws is also important. In so much as I can avoid it without breaking the law myself (abuse of office, malfeaseance, misfeasance, etc.), I do not actively seek to arrest people for drugs, prostitution, and other crimes that do not involve the violation of another person's rights.
No problem there... good luck with that.
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Dr. Baltar, if a rocket scientist finds that the government dominates his industry, there is no hypocrisy in advocating the the government hand it over to the private sector, while joining and continuing to work in the industry. In fact, to practice self-sacrifice while claiming to be an Objectivist would be the real hypocrisy.

As for calling an Objectivist cop a hypocrite, that's even more strange, seeing that the police is one of the essential and legitimate functions of government.

The real hypocrite here, Dr. Baltar, is you yourself. You blatantly say that people have no volition, and you pooh pooh the idea of Ethics, and in the next breath you hypocritically pass moral judgment. Some folks might be hypocrites in action -- i.e. action contradicts thought. The worse hypocricsy is when you are a hypocrite inside your own mind.

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Ayn Rand said that if we do continue down the road of a mixed economy then millions and billions should be poured into the space program. (Last paragraph of "Apollo 11")
This is the context-dropping, cherry-picking technique that you continue to follow. She *qualified* this statement further with "If the United States is to commit suicide, let it not be for the sake and support of the worst human elements, the parasites-on-principle, at home and abroad."

You keep insisting on the "if America continues down the road of a mixed-economy" statement as if it stood alone, and means what you want it to mean. But, unfortunately for you, she meant that "if America is to committ suicide." This is a statement of *principle*. You insist, in a concrete-bound fashion, on referring to the continuance of a mixed-economy as the sanction for a NASA. No, it is not. The condition Ayn Rand *explicitly* stated for her to be able to not make a fuss over NASA is for America's death to be certain. Get that straight. Your entire argument is based on this notion of the "the continuance of a mixed-economy justifies NASA." Forget the military stuff, because that's just another rationalization you're using to justify NASA.

Just answer this: Do you accept that Ayn Rand made a statement about how she views NASA, under the circumstances of America's death being certain? If you don't, you are building castles in the sky to satisfy your own whims.

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Correct. And they will be voluntarily funded. People will be willing to pay for private forms of protection, whether they have to pay the government to get it or otherwise.

Very well, if there should be no tax-supported cops on our streets, doesn't it follow that it would be improper (immoral?) for a citizen to seek the aid of a tax-supported cop to recover her kidnapped child? Improper (immoral?) to ask tax-supported prison guards to keep rapists and murderers behind bars? Improper (immoral?) to ask tax-supported water works engineers to keep pumping clean water to our homes?

The use of force is illegitimate, so whatever values have been gained by using force cannot be values (sound familiar?).

I'm astonished! Would it not be a value for a tax-supported FBI agent to have foiled the plot to destroy the World Trade Center and save tens of millions of dollars in property and thousands of lives?

Just like how it's a stretch to say that exploring the New World is nearly equivalent to exploring space.

Feel free to explain why you think that human colonies 35 million miles away from earth don't present an opportunity for increased individual freedom. Remember, it was the distance that the averge 19th century American had from his government in Washington that made him substantially freer. One hundred and fifty years ago, the only federal employee most citizens ever encountered was a postal employee or a census taker. Some threat to freedom!

No, the scientists are not the equivalent of terrorists, but the point is that you are advocating that we should support the "lesser of all the evils," which is, in fact, still supporting an evil.

Tax collection is an evil. Tax-supported cops, highway maintenance workers and astronauts are not inherently evil. As Ayn Rand says, the matter of financing is a political issue pertaining to the money or to the method of obtaining that money. It does not affect the nature of the essential services as such.

How did anyone "escape from tyranny"? As far as I know, the colonists were still under the same government control until they broke away by the means of war. Is this what you are suggesting we should encourage? Not to mention that in space, colonists would be unable to survive without the government bringing them supplies, so escaping the tyranny would be nearly impossible.

Apparently you are unfamiliar with how the colonization of space would develop. Only in the initial stages would extra-terrrestial settlements be strictly dependent on supply ships to earth. Just as the early English colonies in North America relied heavily in their first years on mother country support and yet later became completely self-sufficent, so R&D would foster the means by which lunar and Martian colonies could exist and expand without any contribution from Planet Earth.

Discussion certainly warrants the use of analogies. They are great for getting a point across. But they cannot be the basis of an argument.

Specifically, "making analogies to the past" is what you criticized. However, to be exact, my reference to the past was to provide not an analogy but a context, i.e. a real world, known paradigm for making plans for the future. This is precisely what professionals in business, engineering and the military do on a regular basis.

Edited by Daedalus
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What do my beliefs have to do with whether you're a hypocrit or not? It's what you believe that counts there.

This is subjectivism at it's worst. Neither what I believe or what you believe matters. What matters is who has properly identified the objective reality of the situation. Since you have demonstrated such poor critical reasoning ability, I'm fairly certain that you are not the one who has correctly identified the objective reality of this situation.

That being the case, there is no value for me to pursue further discourse with you.

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This is the context-dropping, cherry-picking technique that you continue to follow. She *qualified* this statement further with "If the United States is to commit suicide, let it not be for the sake and support of the worst human elements, the parasites-on-principle, at home and abroad."

You keep insisting on the "if America continues down the road of a mixed-economy" statement as if it stood alone, and means what you want it to mean. But, unfortunately for you, she meant that "if America is to committ suicide."

Why do you suppose that "continuing down the road of a mixed economy" is not an act of suicide? If you would like to present an argument that Ayn Rand believed that America could avoid self-destruction even as it increased government control of the economy and individual lives, I'd love to hear it.

This is a statement of *principle*. You insist, in a concrete-bound fashion, on referring to the continuance of a mixed-economy as the sanction for a NASA. No, it is not. The condition Ayn Rand *explicitly* stated for her to be able to not make a fuss over NASA is for America's death to be certain. Get that straight. Your entire argument is based on this notion of the "the continuance of a mixed-economy justifies NASA."

Ayn Rand stated as her conditon of funding the space program, "continu[ing] down the road of a mixed economy." Over the past 40 years we have more than done that. Her condition has been spectacularly met. And, by the way, why should we suppose that this condition is any more concrete-bound than your purported condition that "America's death to be certain"?

Forget the military stuff, because that's just another rationalization you're using to justify NASA.

Then why not say that Ayn Rand's stipulation in "Apollo 11" that space projects involve military aspects to be mandatory is a "rationalization ... to justify NASA"?

Just answer this: Do you accept that Ayn Rand made a statement about how she views NASA, under the circumstances of America's death being certain? If you don't, you are building castles in the sky to satisfy your own whims.

No, her statement related to America going down the "mixed economy" road. As for our nation's death, how, at any point, could one declare that as certaintyin advance? And tell me how that fits into Objectivist epistemolgy?

Suppose it's okay to pour millions into NASA only as long as you know with certainty that America is going to cease to exist? Tell me, at what point do you know that?

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This is subjectivism at it's worst. Neither what I believe or what you believe matters. What matters is who has properly identified the objective reality of the situation.
It's like a priest who uses the the lord's name in vein or doesn't love his neighbor, etc. Whether I am an atheist or not, I would consider him a hypocrite because his actions do not match his beliefs.

That being the case, there is no value for me to pursue further discourse with you.
We are finally in agreement.
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Another of Rand's essays that I think is worth mentioning is the one (can't remember the title) where she addresses the question of whether or not it is moral to accept government scholarship and research grants

[snip]

NASA fits quite well into this last qualifer. Although not one of the proper functions of government, space exploration is also not "immoral," in and of itself. As long as we oppose the method by which the money was obtained, there is nothing wrong with supporting the space program. And I, for one, would much rather see the American flag on Mars than to see the Hurricane Katrina welfare monkeys spend one more day in a hotel with FEMA footing the bill.

The essay is "The Question Of Scholarships" (The Objectivist, June 1966)

Your post was beautifully reasoned. Thank you.

No it wasn't. It was a mish-mash of well-reasoned statements combined with concrete-bound non-essentials and a heapload of dropped context.

The principle behind that essay, properly applied, says that it is not immoral to be employed by NASA, provided one believes that NASA should not exist, and that one would rather be employed by a private organization doing the same kind of research.

Space exploration is not immoral as such, but government financing of such exploration is, regardless of how the money is obtained. Even under a system of voluntary taxation, it would still be improper for the government to finance space exploration and research for non-military purposes. The government's purpose is to protect individuals from the initiation of physical force. Non-military space exploration does not serve this purpose.

Moose's principle says that it is ok to be in favor of the existence of any government agency provided the agency itself does not directly intiate force and one disagrees with coercive financing of the agency. Ayn Rand's principle says that it is ok to accept support from an invalid government agency provided one disagrees with the existence of such an agency, as well as coercive financing. See the difference?

Personally, while I disagree with the existence of NASA, it is far from the top of my list of agencies to get rid of.

Edited by dondigitalia
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I couldn't disagree more. Mastering the art of spaceflight and establishing permanent settlements elsewhere in the solar system is critical to man's survival for these reasons:
  • Human freedom has always prospered on the frontier. Tyrants incubate in areas of high population density, not where vast distances separate men from one another.
  • A missile shield in the outer solar system against earth-bound asteroids is essential for the long-term survival of mankind's home planet.
  • Control of the moon will be a key component of America's national security. Any nation that rules the moon will rule the earth.

I' m not against space exploration per se. I am against the space program as it is currently running. Building a missile shield would have a purpose. So would building a space station. Or a thousand other things. But decorating the universe with American flags can hardly be seen as a valid purpose for spending at least 20 Billion Dollars each.

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In conclusion, stop making it seem like Ayn Rand advocated the existence and furtherance of NASA. She didn't. She made the following eloquent tribute to the Apollo program: If America is to die, let's not fuss over NASA, for it has shown us to be a noble beagle call at her funeral. Today NASA consists of a bunch of bungling engineers trying to appease politicians for the most part. So, not only is America's death *not* certain, but NASA today has shown that it isn't even capable of doing what it did in Ayn Rand's time.

For once (I adamently disagree with your opinions on various founding fathers of the U.S.), I have to agree with you. This is a good identification of the way that some people use that article to justify NASA.

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