Saturday, October 22, 2011

Risk, Wisdom and Whining in the Space Age

I'm thrilled to live in New Mexico which has been in the forefront of many scientific advances. We're also a western state where the wild, wild west with all it's amazing Indian cultures; mythic gun fights and noble, heroic cowboys and settlers are part of the landscape.

I'm not so thrilled with what has happened to our national attitude toward space exploration, NASA and where our priorities should lie. It's incredibly short-sighted and narrow-minded to say that space exploration is a waste of money. Worse, it's a lie. The list of innovations and advances space exploration has brought to us is long and impressive. 

New Mexico's former Governor Bill Richardson ran a corrupt administration marred by foul pay-to-play politics and spendthrift ways that left the state treasury in the hole. Not everything he did was bad, but not everyone agrees with everything he did "right." Breaks for the movie industry being one of the decisions people have argued about. Another is the space port. Spaceport America. The verdict is still out on that one, but I think in the long run, it's a wise investment. Innovation and risk taking are two of the pillars that lead to prosperity for all people, not just the people who have the cash to fund such things.

Space, or any kind of exploration for that matter, has always been a risky business. In the past, government has been good at taking on risky business. But lately, the zeitgeist of safety and security takes priority over all other concerns murdering the zeitgeist of innovation, risk taking and liberty. Safety and security is boring and stifling, which then generates a rebellious mood amongst youth who have been blinded to other options, so they launch futile protests against things and persons they don't understand. The safety and security mind-set leads to the regulation mentality that leads toward autocratic government and ends liberty. Forget risk taking. Persons who take risks are punished under autocratic systems, if they can obtain the where with all to even imagine taking any risks. Too much regulation which always includes reams of poorly written and poorly thought-out law by people ignorant of the fields they are trying to regulate stops innovation.

The last moon launch was canceled because the zeitgeist had shifted. It didn't matter that the money had already been spent, that if the launch didn't go through it would be wasted. Even though the way the money had been used was ostensibly the point, it really wasn't. The objective was change and power. While the zeitgeist that ruled during our quest for the moon may have had its problems, no zeitgeist of any era is perfect, I prefer it to the soft, whining zeitgeist that reigns now. The present ruling mood, an offspring of the one that shut down the last moon launch, has underlying it, not just ignorance, but an inherent lack of wisdom, which is worse than ignorance. These people don't understand where their food comes from; they don't understand what it takes to be free and they don't understand where prosperity comes from. For some unaccountable reason they seem to think prosperity is evil and that somehow, even though prosperity is evil, they will have pleasant lives without it. Too many have become a bunch of babies whining for their bottles.

"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law (God's Law)," Proverbs 29:18. 

Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." 

Rather than taking risks in areas where it could do the culture good, the push is toward willful rejection of the familial, political and cultural structures that have been built over the course of 2000 years. Without a comprehensive understanding of why those systems, values, mores and methods were constructed in the first place, this course is not only stupid, but far more dangerous to the culture than the sorts of risks human beings used to take all the time, risks which governments so thoroughly strive to protect us from now. Casting off social restraint, tearing down the old ways and replacing them with disastrous new ones will make a society incapable of innovation and advancement. Few kids from broken homes or raised by almost exclusively by women alone become the sort of adults who generate innovation, scientific advancement and exploration. They have to spend their lives sorting through the basics of living--if they get that far. Reflecting the rebellious, underlying attitude all people gravitate toward, government breaks its own laws on a daily basis and practice arbitrary law enforcement according to some bureaucrat's whim further punishing innovators and risk takers. And, because so many of the people who are making the most noise, or rather, listened to so thoroughly by the press (and this shows the wisdom of the press), lack wisdom, they are inviting destruction upon themselves and the rest of us if we can't stop the slide into dependency, ignorance and poverty.

The spaceport in New Mexico is a step forward even in the midst of this era of whining, diapered babies. Someone had vision--Governor Richardson and Richard Branson and Burt Rutan and all those who've played a role in this adventure into space. This effort sends a huge message of hope which the press in their typically near-sighted way has largely overlooked. Diapered, whining babies have no big dreams, they have no grand vision. Their dreams are small and their vision is petty. The main things they seem to want are student loan forgiveness, expanded welfare, more months of unemployment, free healthcare and the collapse of capitalism, though they actually have no idea what results that collapse would entail for persons like themselves who don't know how to work, don't know how to farm and have no useful skills. Small dreams lead to small accomplishments, they can do nothing more.

Chaos seems to loom on the horizon. But in the midst of chaos is also great opportunity, therefore, anyone who has a great vision and big dreams may have to be more creative, but the chance for huge achievement is available. The spaceport and the sub-orbital ships that will be launched there are steps in that direction.
Spaceport America, photo credit: Virgin Galactic