The Nanny State in Space

From Mark Reiff <markreiff@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date Thu, 18 Nov 2004 16:46:28 -0600


"The Nanny State in Space"

: No sooner had SpaceShipOne safely landed in the Mojave Desert,
: making history as the first privately-funded manned space vehicle,
: than government officials rekindled their desire to regulate this
: nascent private industry. Such concern for the safety of future
: space travelers is commendable but somewhat disingenuous, given
: Congress' rather poor record of oversight in maintaining the safety
: of NASA's Space Shuttle program.

: While Rutan's company was busy making history and revolutionizing
: the space travel industry, our concerned representatives in
: Washington were busy drafting legislation to regulate a commercial
: space industry that does not yet exist. Showing great concern over
: our safety, officials are once again working to expand the power of
: the government, this time into space. For months now they have been
: trying to pass legislation to protect us from ourselves. Such
: fretting over our wellbeing is indeed commendable, but given the
: myriad problems we have seen with NASA, our officials should strive
: to clean up their own act first before reaching for more control
: and responsibility.

: Presently NASA's shuttle fleet is grounded at least until next
: summer, while America's space program is wholly dependent on Russia
: to shuttle our astronauts to and from the International Space
: Station. Now we're supposed to hand over the reigns of the private
: space industry to that same group?

: No one disputes the good intentions of our elected officials and
: their concern about the dangers of space travel. But there's a sage
: saying about a proverbial road to hell being paved with such
: intentions. Some reasonable government regulations do indeed serve
: a worthy purpose and have been helpful in supporting commerce,
: insuring the integrity of the stock market, cleaning up the
: environment, and protecting consumers. However the impulse to over-
: regulate and stifle freedom and innovation in the name of "safety"
: is an ever-present danger with the government behemoth.

: Already thousands upon thousands of unnecessary rules and
: regulations control every aspect of our lives. In the name of
: safety, conservation, or any one of a myriad of other worthy
: justifications, a massive body of laws now constrict our liberties
: and limit our personal autonomy. Even the volume of water used when
: toilets are flushed is now determined by government bureaucrats.
: Such substantial encroachments into our liberties are contrary to
: the American spirit of freedom, risk-taking, and personal
: responsibility. This was never the intent of our Founding Fathers
: and the limited government they had envisioned.

: Relinquishing control to government has the effect of creating
: a "nanny" state where individuals give up more of their freedoms
: and choices, in exchange for the promise of collective "security"
: and "comfort." This in turn transfers personal responsibility from
: individuals and empowers government to act on their behalf,
: allowing more and more adults to skirt their personal
: responsibilities and avoid adulthood. A state of perpetual
: adolescence has been established.

: Officials in Washington should heed Mr. Semler's advice and begin
: treating American space pioneers like the mature and intelligent
: adults that they are. Government is already too big, too
: inefficient and too overextended to start regulating space. It was
: smart enough to leave the Internet alone and let it flourish and
: prosper. Now it needs to get out of the way and stay out of space.
: One planet is more than enough for them to play with. Leave space
: for the rest of us.

: Chris Banescu is an attorney, university professor, and public
: speaker. He also manages the conservative site,
: writes articles, and has given talks and conducted seminars on a
: variety of business, cultural, and religious topics.

Mark Reiff <markreiff@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

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