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The problem is not that billionaires are spending their money on space exploration. The problem is that we have many billionaires and millions (billions world wide) are barely surviving. Do you want our species to expand to other planets with this kind of society? We will all end up being slaves if this keeps going on, not in 19th century sense but modern kind - forced to work endless hours just to scrape enough money for food. Elysium style society but without happy ending.



The issue with this line of reasoning is that money is generally not going to solve the problem of people barely surviving. In the vast majority of cases, sociopolitical issues are the root cause and throwing money at things doesn't really help. If you don't believe me, look at the history of aid to sub-saharan Africa. So there's no reason we can't both spend billionaires' money on space development and fix terrestrial problems with social and political reform.

And if you want to argue that billionaires only became so wealthy by exploiting people... well, yes, and? Their wealth already exists so the options are 1) they spend it on stupid stuff like more yachts and mansions, 2) they spend it on humanity-advancing things like space exploration (Musk/Bezos) and philanthropy (Gates), or 3) we have bloody revolutions to claw it back and hope for the best.


> In the vast majority of cases, sociopolitical issues are the root cause and throwing money at things doesn't really help.

This ignores the fact that extreme and worsening inequality is the sociopolitical issue people are talking about. That's literally a problem between where the money is and where it should be. Billionaires becoming billionaires by extracting value from the bent backs of workers is actually a problem that can be addressed by just moving money around.

If Bezos built a penis rocket _and_ fed and clothed and cared for the homeless until he only had even 1 billion dollars left, or if he shared his profits with his employees until he only had even 1 billion dollars left, nobody would mind the rocket (though people would still make fun of it for looking like a penis), and 1 billion dollars is still incredibly obscene.


This strokes my interests...thinking aloud a bit here. This is somewhat offtopic, but it interests me and I can do what I want :)

>3) we have bloody revolutions to claw it back and hope for the best.

The structure of modern society, wealth and finance looks to render this option extremely pyrrhic and more or less impossible. Moreover, I kind of reject that "Their wealth already exists so" -- their wealth is an idea created within a much larger system. It's also kind of crazy to consider that "what to do with it" is actually a very deep consideration.

The wealth that is held by, say, Bezos* (I'm going to define Bezos* as any very wealthy individual for the purpose of the thought) is predicated only by its possible use in society. The money he can use isn't in bills or bullion, but is some kind of leveraged asset like stocks, real estate, insurance, or other investments and the like. The value in it lies not in what it is, rather in projected stock prices, capital for use in other financial prospects, etc. If you took that away with a wand,(and you would need magic for this) it would render him as just a bald guy with a boat.

To grok the way Bezos* can access his absurd billions largely tax free (and they do) is to first recognize that money isn't a real thing like rice is a real thing. The facts of fractional reserve banking and investments mean you have value that you can exchange for untaxed credit, loans, or other endeavors that will add to it. You don't need to get a dollar bill to use a dollar bill if you are a Bezos*, and anyhow these people aren't thinking: "Man, if I can just get another 0.7million prime subscribers, I'm gonna be able to buy this really great suit!" They don't need it to buy medical care. They don't need it for that at all. I think of this whole thing as the Xaro Xhoan Daxos[0] principle.

They can leverage their assets for loans and other instruments which are untaxed, with deductible interest, or trust schemes, and use the proceeds for increasing the value of the process. The wealth-credit that is generated can be used to finance any endeavor, or just buy a jet or a yacht. The jet or yacht is also probably something that can be used in this way, but in general assets like this are that which generate profits (probably incorporated to reduce tax burdens) and feed the self-beneficial cycle.

In the event of a worker revolt or some kind of economic coup, there isn't any cash to steal because it is fiat and will probably be drastically devalued and also exists solely in a computer. Insofar as there even is any gold to reclaim, that won't be particularly useful because that isn't something that works in the economies that we are habituated with and has its own problems aside. Reclaimed art or designer goods, maybe that is ok, but with the economic system so drastically changed, it will be of extremely limited utility in the short term.

In my mind that leaves things like the means of production. Industrial, production, storage, transportation goods and straight up food will be really desirable, but with the finance system crippled and devalued it will not have the continuity of paychecks to maintain their operation. It is entirely possible that the general supply chains will degrade and halt the flow of fuel and medical capabilities, among many other things. This generally dissuades this sort of activity in the US.

The only way I see that it could happen is a drastic political turn, but at that level Bezos* has very much power. The Xaro Xhoan Daxos effect is strongest politically, officials are reticent to act against these kinds of figures in the US today.

The money powers simply have a lot going for them, for example just by owning real estate. This alone is difficult to touch, because of the convoluted nature of this kind of ownership, nobody at all seems the least bit interested in addressing that. Despite the constant hand-wringing about housing crisis, no progress is being made because of how many Bezos*, corporations, and people have interests in how the system works to benefit them today. The best solutions are to build more and finance individuals. I think these kinds of thing are spelled out largely by Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent"[1] project.

Part of why these kinds of things generate so much rattling is this: We're living in a society mediated by mostly false views of life its self. It is extremely difficult to engage with society at large without being drawn into varieties of false dichotomies, us-vs-them, incorrect views of life such as social media influencer crazes with rented Gulfstreams. Mass media, "social media", doesn't respect or promote thought like that, it will quickly direct users to whiz-bang-wow stuff, side-hustle culture, scapegoating hate, straight up pornography... It is pretty plain to see.

I don't think its an unwashed masses kind of thing, its more that we're inhabiting something like Debord's[2] reality. Even the wealthiest paragon of Bezos* is trapped by perceptions like these, and you can read the language in every discussion: "Billionaires have created so much value for society that they deserve their fabulous lifestyles!", but their lifestyles aren't loving family dinners, self actualized personality traits and an active social life. Increasingly, nobody's is.

The Bezos* reality is children raised by workers and bought the best connections, para-pathological obcession with "business", and completely alienated, probably paranoia-inducing interactions with people who want their influence and of course, stuff.

[0] - https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/GameofThro...

[1] - Excerpts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTBWfkE7BXU

[2] - https://libcom.org/files/The%20Society%20of%20the%20Spectacl...


No, I think he's got something here. Surely Bezos could also spend some of his billions overthrowing African kleptocracies.


The issue is not overthrowing them, but finding a good replacement. Overthrowing one just to get another similar one is kinda pointless.


I was assuming he would turn the countries into fulfillment centers.


Kim Stanley Robison's Red Mars explores exactly this problem of colonising a new world whilst the old world is brokenly unequal and has ecological disasters tearing it apart.

Really good book. I won't spoil it too much, but think it offers a powerful challenge to the techno-utopianism of Mars Colony obsessives. The Martians cannot escape their terrestrial ideologies, because those ideologies are still rooted in the old world that they rely on for survival, and because they carried over those ideologies in their own minds.


You could say this about basically all progress anywhere in human history, though. Leonardo Da Vinci's patrons were spending their money on art and research when they could have been feeding their peasants better. The same with Isaac Newton's patrons and countless others.

We fund science and technology research because it improves expected outcomes in the future, for everyone. The idea that we can't fund research until everyone is fed is an oxymoron, we would never be able to get there without funding research.


How is this situation any different from past cases where people decided to spend money and time discovering new worlds instead of trying to improve the living conditions of their own people?

Endless money and effort has gone into trying to solve world hunger and misery, yet they still exist. Yet inventions like GPS and other technology that came out of the space race has probably had more impact worldwide.


The overall population is still way better now than it has been historically. I don't understand why both cannot be done in parallel anyway. It's not like we are investing everything in the space race, plenty goes on more earthly concerns.




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