I love rockets, too, but I think this perspective is important.

Meanwhile, in Syria, where hundreds of thousands of refugees may be forced to return to unsafe homes amid “global anti-refugee backlash”, an anti-government activist said despondently that he is no longer sure why he bothers to videotape the effects of bombing, since nobody ever pays attention: “I don’t know what the point is.” The UN human rights coordinator for Syria pondered what level of violence it would take to make the world care, saying that they are “running out of words” with which to try to describe the crisis.

Yet even on the theory that there’s no moral problem with frittering away hundreds of millions of dollars, and inequality is fine, there’s another reason we are permitted to care about what Musk does. A great deal of his fortune is not actually his own: it’s ours.

Musk’s empire is fueled by billions of dollars in government subsidies.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/07/elon-musk-spacex-launch-utterly-depressing

16 thoughts on “I love rockets, too, but I think this perspective is important.

  1. SpaceX and NASA are some of the few things left giving me hope for humanity, to be honest.

    My dark and morbid rebuttal:

    1) There’s always something horrible going on in the world. Always. Arguing that you shouldn’t spend money on innovation when other people are suffering is a never-ending situation.

    2) Case in point: Let’s see what was happening around the time of the Moon Landing:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre

  2. < ![CDATA[SpaceX and NASA are some of the few things left giving me hope for humanity, to be honest. My dark and morbid rebuttal: 1) There's always something horrible going on in the world. Always. Arguing that you shouldn’t spend money on innovation when other people are suffering is a never-ending situation.
    2) Case in point: Let’s see what was happening around the time of the Moon Landing:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre]]>

  3. Emily Vitori Point well taken.

    Thing is, I absolutely see value in the commercialization of spaceflight and finding ways to reduce the costs. The government obviously does not give a fuck about NASA any more, so someone needs to take up the torch.

    Plus, Musk actually does a lot of philanthropy, so he’s probably given away more money for various causes than he’s spent on SpaceX.

    Still, I sympathize with the criticism. At least, I think it’s worth keeping in mind.

    And maybe instead of launching a monument to himself, he could have launched a real payload for some org that couldn’t otherwise afford it? And pay them back in case the rocket blew up or whatever?

    And it’s also worth keeping in mind that, ultimately, Musk is in this for the money. Making spaceflight more affordable is in turn about making it more profitable.

  4. < ![CDATA[Emily Vitori Point well taken. Thing is, I absolutely see value in the commercialization of spaceflight and finding ways to reduce the costs. The government obviously does not give a fuck about NASA any more, so someone needs to take up the torch. Plus, Musk actually does a lot of philanthropy, so he's probably given away more money for various causes than he's spent on SpaceX. Still, I sympathize with the criticism. At least, I think it's worth keeping in mind. And maybe instead of launching a monument to himself, he could have launched a real payload for some org that couldn't otherwise afford it? And pay them back in case the rocket blew up or whatever? And it's also worth keeping in mind that, ultimately, Musk is in this for the money. Making spaceflight more affordable is in turn about making it more profitable.]]>

  5. Well yeah, that’s what happens when the government stops funding NASA. If a business has to do it, they’re going to do it so they can make a profit from it, and Musk is going to put something up there that gets people talking about his business.

    At least the Starman had a purpose… that suit is one of their new designs for astronauts that’s sleeker and more manageable. They’re running tests on it while he’s on his cruise around the Earth. 😉

    Also, those rockets were still being tested… probably better not to waste lives or other company’s stuff in case they exploded.

  6. < ![CDATA[Well yeah, that's what happens when the government stops funding NASA. If a business has to do it, they're going to do it so they can make a profit from it, and Musk is going to put something up there that gets people talking about his business. At least the Starman had a purpose... that suit is one of their new designs for astronauts that's sleeker and more manageable. They're running tests on it while he's on his cruise around the Earth. 😉 Also, those rockets were still being tested... probably better not to waste lives or other company's stuff in case they exploded.]]>

  7. The article is unfairly targeting SpaceX and Musk. Yes, of course we should fight inequality, end poverty, cure diseases, and end wars. But Musk can’t do those things on his own, and not launching this rocket isn’t going to fix those things. The article paints a false dichotomy.

    We can fight poverty and still send rockets to space.

    And yes, sending a sports car to space seems wasteful, but it’s nothing compared to the everyday waste of cars blown up for movies, money spent on advertising, money spent on fireworks that are just blown up and add a bit of pollution for no meaningful gain other feeling good for a fleeting moment. It’s nothing compared to money wasted through corruption, crime and mismanagement. Money spent on entertainment and vacations.

    Should we end all fun as long as there are people suffering? We should absolutely do more to end suffering, but banning fun or progress are not going to help there.

  8. < ![CDATA[The article is unfairly targeting SpaceX and Musk. Yes, of course we should fight inequality, end poverty, cure diseases, and end wars. But Musk can't do those things on his own, and not launching this rocket isn't going to fix those things. The article paints a false dichotomy. We can fight poverty and still send rockets to space. And yes, sending a sports car to space seems wasteful, but it’s nothing compared to the everyday waste of cars blown up for movies, money spent on advertising, money spent on fireworks that are just blown up and add a bit of pollution for no meaningful gain other feeling good for a fleeting moment. It’s nothing compared to money wasted through corruption, crime and mismanagement. Money spent on entertainment and vacations.
    Should we end all fun as long as there are people suffering? We should absolutely do more to end suffering, but banning fun or progress are not going to help there.]]>

  9. While I think it’s always worth putting some money towards research and science, the other thing is that Musk’s own company mistreats his workers and prevents them from unionizing. This isn’t a case where we’re talking about subsidizing for everyone’s good, this is a guy who is rich on exploitation plus subsidy, and there’s no indication that will change with anything else he does. Philantropy means little if your direct business plans involve taking from others unjustly to begin with.

  10. < ![CDATA[While I think it's always worth putting some money towards research and science, the other thing is that Musk's own company mistreats his workers and prevents them from unionizing. This isn't a case where we're talking about subsidizing for everyone's good, this is a guy who is rich on exploitation plus subsidy, and there's no indication that will change with anything else he does. Philantropy means little if your direct business plans involve taking from others unjustly to begin with.]]>

  11. As a commie and a former rocket scientist: the whole thing needs to be burnt down so we can build a new world where there isn’t a choice between rockets and children. We obviously need both.

  12. < ![CDATA[As a commie and a former rocket scientist: the whole thing needs to be burnt down so we can build a new world where there isn't a choice between rockets and children. We obviously need both.]]>