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Privatizing the Moon Seems Like a Really Bad Idea!

A scene from Georges Méliès‘s 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, the moon with a rocket in it's eye

A new paper argues that the key to ending poverty on earth is to privatize the moon. Now, I’m not an economist but that seems like a really bad idea!

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The idea comes from a self-described neoliberal (formerly libertarian) think tank called the Adam Smith Institute, which says that “creating a clear system of property rights in space could turbocharge scientific discovery and give all of humanity a greater stake in space exploration.” They also insist this system would have “serious financial rewards,” not just for those buying up space realty, but for “the other direct and indirect beneficiaries of space ownerships.”

It’s like trickle-down economics (already a flawed, basically entirely debunked system), except it’s trickling all the way down from outer space.

A large section of the paper proposes dividing the moon into parcels and basically “renting” (rather than truly selling) them out to individuals. In addition to encouraging space tourism and whatnot, it seems the idea is that those “renters” will have to pay property taxes similar to how they do on Earth.

The obvious question, of course, is how we’re going to rely on space taxes to solve Earth’s problems when we can’t even get the people who could afford to rent this property to pay their fair share of taxes here on this planet.

A major obstacle to this proposed system of space ownership is that it’s straight-up illegal. The UN’s 1967 Outer Space Treaty forbids the “national appropriation” of the “physical domain” of space. But the paper’s author, Rebecca Lowe, argues that the treaty is outdated and too idealistic. She also points to an executive order from Donald Trump stating American citizens “should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space, consistent with applicable law” as being a possible workaround to the treaty.

Yes, just in case you weren’t convinced that this idea is … let’s be polite and say questionable, it also hinges on a Trump declaration. Never a great sign.

(via: The Independent, image: public domain)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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