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Virgin Galactic's Quiet News: Virgin Now Owns The SpaceShip Company

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the big-spaceship dept.

Space 112

RocketAcademy writes "While all eyes were focused on SpaceX, which is preparing for another launch to the International Space Station, Virgin Galactic quietly put out a press release. Virgin Galactic has acquired full ownership of The SpaceShip Company, which will build production versions of SpaceShip Two. Ownership was previously shared with Scaled Composites, which built SpaceShip One and is building the SpaceShip Two prototype. There have been rumors of strained relations between Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites. This news, which was not announced until after the close of business Friday, raises some interesting questions about Virgin's relationship with Scaled and its plans for the future."

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Interesting questions (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41570883)

I'm going to skip the rhetoric and just ask my question as food for thought for anyone who reads this: Why are we building space ships for rich tourists, while real science languishes in the land of budget cuts and resource shortages? Why is it okay for the very wealthy to build yachts in space while poor people starve and wonder if they'll be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive? I know these aren't easy questions -- any answer I can provide seems woefully inadequate. But I think we should be asking those questions too, not just about the businesses, but their relationship to the larger society.

Re:Interesting questions (3, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#41570915)

Because our society is largely based on capitalist principles which uses the profit motive as an incentive to create economic growth and technological development. Being able to afford space yachts is one of the incentives that encourages this growth.

Re:Interesting questions (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41570979)

Because our society is largely based on capitalist principles which uses the profit motive as an incentive to create economic growth and technological development. Being able to afford space yachts is one of the incentives that encourages this growth.

That's a lie that's told over and over again to justify massive wealth inequity. But after the first couple of million, you've got enough to live a very comfortable life, and there's no relationship between comfort and a desire to create. In fact, quite the opposite is true: It's adversity that is the mother of invention. We aren't creating multibillionaires because these people are millions of times more productive or valuable than others.

Re:Interesting questions (2)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#41571119)

That's a lie that's told over and over again to justify massive wealth inequity.

Which part? We do have a society largely based on capitalist principles. The stated reason for this is that it promotes innovation. Evidence seems to suggest that it does so.

But after the first couple of million, you've got enough to live a very comfortable life, and there's no relationship between comfort and a desire to create.

Of course there's not. It's not about comfort. It appears to be more about competitiveness. After the first million, money's just a way of keeping score. Of course there is the incentive that if you really excel you might get to go to space.

We aren't creating multibillionaires because these people are millions of times more productive or valuable than others.

No we're not. And nobody says we are. This is a side effect of the system.

We have a system that largely works. Yes, it does lead to wealth inequality. Yes, this is a problem that should be addressed. The fact that the super-rich can afford this sort of thing isn't the problem though. It's just a symptom.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41571453)

We aren't creating multibillionaires because these people are millions of times more productive or valuable than others.

No we're not. And nobody says we are. This is a side effect of the system.

Well, if, as you say, money is just a way of keeping score and the multibillionaires are not any more productive or valuable than other people, then what is the money keeping score of, and why are we using it if it doesn't keep proper score?

Re:Interesting questions (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#41575061)

Well, if, as you say, money is just a way of keeping score and the multibillionaires are not any more productive or valuable than other people,

I'm not saying they're not more productive either. Just not thousands of times more productive.

and why are we using it if it doesn't keep proper score?

What do you propose we replace it with? And how do you propose we get mass acceptance of this? If you can answer these questions, then great! For now the system we have works pretty well.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41573391)

That's a lie that's told over and over again to justify massive wealth inequity.

Which part? We do have a society largely based on capitalist principles. The stated reason for this is that it promotes innovation. Evidence seems to suggest that it does so.

Evidence seems to suggest that it promotes innovative ways to protect one's own wealth, systems which create dependence on those with money, systems like endless copyright and a patent system that forces abandonment of promising technologies, "walled garden" computer systems, drugs that don't cure but merely treat symptoms, and predatory lending systems that loan money to people with the intention of keeping them permanently in debt.

Otherwise, evidence does not seem to suggest that it necessarily produces innovation.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571187)

Correct they are only 10 or 100 or 1000 times more productive.

Every working American citizen will have 1 million dollars in their lifetime if they work full time from 18 to 68.
$10 an hour 40 hours a week for 50 weeks is 2000 hours a year for 50 years. If you want to claim there are people who can't make $10 an hour then $5 an hour for 16 hours a day.

My point is that even the poorest of us has 1 million of capital to allocate in a lifetime of work.
Those who save the majority of that money move up the ladder. Even wonder why illegal immigrants are able to save more money than legal workers making 3 times as much? They live in much less space, share it with many more people and drive cars that are much cheaper.

Food and clothing is going to eat up some of the money but its possible for 10 people to get together and form a poor man's corporation and buy a house even on $5 an hour. Fast forward and that poor man's corporation isn't made up of poor men anymore. That 10 million of capital has now been allocated in a better manner, subtract 30% for real necessary consumption food, clothes etc. Thats $500 per month or $16.50 a day.

So with the remaining 7 million dollars these 10 guys are able to buy how many houses?
How much of that money can be passed down to their children?

Even the poorest of the poor can move up if they are dedicated to working and communal investing.

Thats what the rich do... If thats not your thing thats a personal choice.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 2 years ago | (#41573495)

what wealthy person ever made their fortune from working for a wage?
you're a wacko.
wealth is made by either inheritence, gambling (including stock investment), crime/corruption or innovation+personality (in the case of successful startups).
a large part is also luck.
anyone who says you make your own luck falls into the corruption category.
nobody's time is actually "worth" any amount that would lead to what the media would coin as "wealth" (millionaire+). those that are on rediculously high salaries have abused their influence or position of power to attain it, not hard work (so they also fall into the corruption category).
just because some forms of corruption are legal doesn't make them any less corrupt.
Robert Owen [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Owen] had the right idea.
everything else (capitalism, communism, fundamentalism, etc) is all shit

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41574585)

what wealthy person ever made their fortune from working for a wage?

wealth is made by either inheritence, gambling (including stock investment), crime/corruption or innovation+personality (in the case of successful startups).

a large part is also luck.

anyone who says you make your own luck falls into the corruption category.

nobody's time is actually "worth" any amount that would lead to what the media would coin as "wealth" (millionaire+). those that are on rediculously high salaries have abused their influence or position of power to attain it, not hard work (so they also fall into the corruption category).

just because some forms of corruption are legal doesn't make them any less corrupt.

I can name several people who are quite wealthy that at some point or another in their life they started with very little money and needed to work for an hourly wage for a great many years before finally being able to get what would commonly be called "wealthy" by most standards. I also think you have a very warped view of what capitalism really is and what amounts to be a legitimate investment.

Gambling is attempting to play a "game of chance" where in advance the odds are stacked against you mathematically so you will not win in the long run over time. That is how plush casinos are able to stay in business because they can even predict what their daily "take" will be in the long run even if some occasional people may be temporarily lucky. A legitimate investment is almost always a "win/win" or "lose/lose" situation where the investor and the people you are working with will also profit with the investment or will also lose their shirt if you lose. There is no random chance involved at all, other than perhaps the general things that happen in life... which isn't really random chance either. A great many of those things can even be predicted to a small extent.

The point of the post you were responding to is largely correct: If you live in a 1st world country and are employed in ordinary jobs through a typical working career, you will have the equivalent of what is today a million dollars (adjusted for inflation in the future) in your working lifetime pass through your hands. Most people squander that money on frivolous things or become indentured servants to banks in a variety of ways, but that is your money you are throwing away and not somebody else's. That some people can through thrift or intelligence avoid squandering that money shouldn't be surprising either.

There are very ordinary people who by the time they reach retirement age have well over a million dollars that they have put aside for their "old age". That you may not be aware of them is largely due to your own age (if you are just starting your own working career) or the fact that they tend not to show off their wealth... part of the reason why they have been successful at saving up that kind of money. Not everybody who is wealthy lives like Donald Trump or MC Hammer.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 2 years ago | (#41576529)

You know that taxes alone already account for at least 30% right? And if you think that the other 30% will account for the "real necessary consumption" you're incredibly naive. You're saying that roughly 500 bucks a month is enough for:
- rent
- food
- health costs
- transportation
- home appliances
and possibly even stuff required for kids, such as
- new clothing every year
- school books

In my calculation a wage of 10$ an hour is enough to barely live an adequate life - without savings and without kids.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41571465)

That's a lie that's told over and over again to justify massive wealth inequity. But after the first couple of million, you've got enough to live a very comfortable life, and there's no relationship between comfort and a desire to create. In fact, quite the opposite is true: It's adversity that is the mother of invention.

And here I thought adversity made you get a second job at McDonald's to pay your rent because your immediate needs are so precarious that you can't afford to think about the long run. Or at work, the people running from one near-disaster to the next don't ever get around to fixing the causes because they're too busy putting out fires. Sure poor people do get creative at stretching their dollars, but rich people get creative at finding ways to make their life more convenient, pleasurable or exotic. For example I'm pretty sure the reasons GPUs are where they are today is because I and many other gamers have spent lots of money on graphics card for nothing other than our pixel-pushing pleasure. Our comfort - the fact that we got time to waste playing video games and the money to pay for it - drove that innovation, not our adversity.

Re:Interesting questions (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41572007)

And here I thought adversity made you get a second job at McDonald's to pay your rent because your immediate needs are so precarious that you can't afford to think about the long run

Some people would be happy with just one job; And instead are selling their medications on the street or prostituting so they can keep gas in their car, which is also their home, running on cold winter nights.

Sure poor people do get creative at stretching their dollars, but rich people get creative at finding ways to make their life more convenient, pleasurable or exotic.

... That is not what "adversity is the mother of invention" means. It means that when people get in trouble, they get creative. It doesn't mean there aren't other motivations for creativity, it just means that nothing motivates a person better than statements ending with "or die." Much of our advancement from a pre-agricultural society to present was based on scarcity of a resource. It's also the principle reason why we commit acts of violence. Desperation focuses the mind like nothing else does. That does not mean we should strive to make a society of desperate people, nor does it justify having so many desperate people so a few can live in superfluous abundance.

It seems painfully obvious to me that a society that prizes personal liberty would know that personal freedoms don't mean much to the starving, sick, or weak. All they want is to not be starving, sick, or weak. Our founding document for this country talks about "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" as essential and undeniable. Why then, do we allow an increasingly smaller number of our population to actually achieve those in any meaningful capacity?

Wealth inequity is destroying our way of life. There is no justification for it: Every argument you can make for it I can just point to any of the other 19 largest countries (by GDP) and say "No. Wrong." We don't need to be paying CEOs 450 times the income of their lowest-paid worker... in Japan, it's about 23 times. Nobody's going to sit here and tell me the Japanese do not find ways to make their live more convenient, pleasurable, or exotic. They're designing fully animatronic sex dolls right now for shits and giggles... and there are not many Japanese starving to death or dying of preventable causes per capita compared to us.

Give me an example, any example, of where a multibillionaire, through the act of hoarding money, has benefited society. There aren't any. So we're left with the idea that we need to reward people with billions of dollars. Why? What service does a single person provide that can be worth so much? I can at least entertain the idea that there might be someone, amongst the nearly 7 billion currently on this planet, that may be able to provide some insight, some product, some innovation, so valuable as to justify this.

But I can't find any examples.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41573555)

Hmm... lots of Carnegie libraries in cities big and small (ones I know of, Green Lake Library in Seattle, WA, and the Lusk library, in Lusk, WY).

BillG seems to be trying to do something with his lucre, more so than Paul Allen. It's hard to argue that the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, owned by Paul Allen, are benefitting society in any lasting fashion. The EMP is a nice fringe benefit for Seattle, as is Paul Allen's airplane museum by Boeing Field. But I'll take BillG's post-Microsoft work, even if I or my kids will likely never directly benefit from it.

OK, a portable robotic laser mosquito zapper would be cool when backbacking up in the Cascades in the early summer, so maybe...

Re:Interesting questions (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 2 years ago | (#41573605)

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is what you're possibly referring to here [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs]

the lower down you get in the pyramid, the more motivated you are to achieve results... when you get to the bottom there aren't really any limits (desperation, every man for himself, even cannibalism isn't ruled out)

co-operatives are the solution... as in exactly the same as normal companies except that there are no shareholders and the company is capitalized by loans, grants, etc.

in another hundren or so years (if we haven't blown ourselves to kingdom come by then) we will look back on capitalism as a failed but necessary experiment

Re:Interesting questions (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#41577949)

First off the idea that income inequity increasing is the lie. In take home dollars it might but in total compensation (at least from the cost side) the delta between what the CEO gets and what you get is actually shrinking.

Take it from someone who has made it her career to understand these things:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-to-keep-the-young-unemployed-2012-08-01 [marketwatch.com]

Second I don't think necessity or adversity lead to the sort of "invention" that elevates society as a whole. "Or Die" type motivation does not enhance our understanding of physics or increase our ability to produce as a society at large. What it mostly does is enable one individual to come up with some third rate hack of solution that gets them by but has other undesirable side effects for them or worse to be born by others.

Re:Interesting questions (3)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41574651)

If you have been working at McDonald's for 20-30 years and still are a grill cook, either you have some serious mental handicaps, are a total jackass that make you unpromotable, or you are deliberately sabotaging your career in other ways. I have no problems for the mentally challenged in this country being able to do something useful with their lives by being a grill cook either, but somebody who has the mental capacity to do more should over time.

At the very least, after 30 years of working at McDonald's you should be managing your own restaurant, if not being in a position of higher management. Opportunities even exist for somebody who is a career McDonald's employee like that to own their restaurant or at least be earning a very respectable salary. It takes hard work and dedication to the job, but not much more.

For folks who either have incredibly bad luck by getting hired by company after company who is closing down, or if you are such a lazy jerk that you don't bother showing up for work or do something equally stupid like picking a fist fight with your boss on a regular basis....of course you are going to struggle throughout your life and be incapable of holding down a steady job.

If you have the attitude to work hard and show some respect to your potential employer, you will usually be able to hold down a job for a reasonable length of time. You may end up quitting that job at McDonald's, but that is because you have a higher paying job. It may be a gamble to quit and move on to another employer, but that is a risk you take in life for any such career move.

This doesn't even cover those who may follow a more entrepreneurial route to achieve their life goals, but lazy people shouldn't be rewarded for being lazy.

Re:Interesting questions (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#41576273)

That would all be true if everyone started their career from the same place, but obviously some people have much better upbringings and education than others. If your local school is a sink and your parents can't/won't help you may be unable to reach your potential though no fault of your own. That isn't being lazy, that is life screwing you.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41576373)

There are certainly some places that the economic opportunities are much more limited than others. That is one reason why people migrate and move to different places around the world. I also don't dispute that the background of somebody has an influence upon the kinds of opportunities which can come your way. There certainly exist prejudice and all sorts of horrible things of society that can and should be criticized.

That said, by far and away it is people being lazy that stops them from achieving their potential. It takes a whole lot of hard work, but also working smartly to be able to take advantage of opportunities which come your way. I should point out this isn't anything new either, and the ability for people to improve their circumstances and to pass on a heritage of greater opportunities to their children is something that frankly most people strive to achieve as a life-long goal in life.

Most people who are "down on their luck" in an economic sense usually made the situation they are in by either making stupid career moves or pissing on people who are trying to offer them an opportunity to succeed. I'll even admit that I've thrown away opportunities that I should have taken advantage of in the past that would have made my life a whole lot better in a number of ways.

In America in general and most 1st world countries (however you define that term) the opportunities are certainly there to do just about anything you really desire... if you put the effort into trying. How you were born, the kinds of parents you had, and to some extent even the physical disabilities you may have are largely secondary importance to your willingness to get the job done when it is needed.

I am saying that with McDonald's restaurants in particular... a company who has restaurants world wide and is famous for being one of the first jobs that many people have been able to land, there is very little that stops you from getting promoted to managerial positions... and most of the senior executives got their start in the company as a grill cook or some other very ordinary positions. They offer training to their employees both with internal schools (such as Hamburger University) as well as general scholarships to help their employees succeed in college training if that is the path they want to go. It is also an example of a company that doesn't have particularly high requirements for somebody getting an entry level position.

Not all companies are as nice as McDonald's in terms of these training and promotional opportunities, and sometimes you need to switch to other companies in order to be able to have a successful career. Sometimes you need to grovel when you are in your 40's or 50's and take that entry level job from a teenager. Yeah, that sucks for both the teen as well as the 50 year old, but you do what you need to do. Regardless, somebody in their 50's taking a job at McDonald's or a similar business should also not be bitter at life but rather try to take advantage of other opportunities that present themselves.

Re:Interesting questions (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41572289)

you've got enough to live a very comfortable life, and there's no relationship between comfort and a desire to create. In fact, quite the opposite is true: It's adversity that is the mother of invention.

- why did Steve Jobs not quit in 1985? He never spent the money that he even made by that time in his life, so why did he bother?

Why does anybody bother once they make enough to live off of for the rest of their lives comfortably? It's because people who are good at this do not want to stop doing it, it becomes an incentive in itself. Being able to take an idea to a full implementation and see it succeed is something great in itself.

Of-course if you are always an employee you don't see it that way, you want to retire as soon as you possibly can, but of-course as an employee your value is limited by what the market says you are worth with millions of others just like you being available to do the same thing as you are applying to. When you apply for a job, you are asking one of the people who you think are not more productive and valuable than others to hire you.

But really, you are making a 'moral' argument about something where your morals clearly do not belong. What does it mean somebody is not 'millions of times more productive' than somebody else? Of-course they are.

Not everybody who makes more money is more productive, but many people are millions of times more productive than many other people. A person who started and developed a successful business that sells millions in products or services is clearly more productive than somebody who is hired as an employee, that's because without them that business wouldn't exist in the first place.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 2 years ago | (#41573683)

people like Steve Jobs aren't really millionaires... they are only wealthy on paper because of their interest in a successful company

they don't actually have millions in cash just laying around their houses or in their bank accounts that they can withdraw whenever they feel like buying a new mcmansion

if their investment fails, they fail

you might argue that they could just sell their share of the company, but when the company is successful enough to make you "wealthy" i don't think you can just sell out like that... lots of employees jobs at risk and whatnot. there are probably all sorts of legalities associated with selling out (otherwise principals would do it all the time if they had forewarning of a once successful company's impending doom - maybe it's something to do with insider trading or whatever), not to mention that you would have to pilfer your riches on security to prevent the angry mobs from destroying your new mcmansion after they all lost their jobs because the company went bust

many people are millions of times more productive than many other people

what a load of shit that is. maybe compared to someone that doesn't work at all (as in zero work) but then you could say that everyone that works is infinitely more productive, but as far as comparing working people, nobody is "millions of times more productive" than anyone else, and a lot of people who make more money merely think they are more productive because they are full of themselves. there is actually a well known principle that highlights how often the least productive people are promoted just to get them out of the way [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dilbert_principle]. salary rarely equates to productivity.

Re:Interesting questions (-1, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41575013)

"wealthy on paper" - you can call your fiat system that. You think you are wealthy if you have cash? Dollars? Let me tell you something, I rather have no dollars or any other fiat currencies at all and have stake in dividend paying companies and various assets, it's a much better plan than holding fiat currencies, whose value can only go down, because the control over them is in the hands of politicians.

However you are forgetting something: death tax. If you have a company and you die, the IRS (and State gov't) wants your heirs to give them cash, for that they want you to liquidate the company, which often means at firesale prices. That's why Warren Buffet loves that tax, his company, BH, comes in and buys the equity at a depressed value because of and then later makes money by reselling it.

lots of employees jobs at risk and whatnot. there are probably all sorts of legalities associated with selling out

- well, if it's a post-IPO company, then there SEC rules when you can sell your shares, if it is a private company it's nobody's business, if you can sell it and you want to, you sell it. People don't sell because they want to keep running their business.

what a load of shit that is. maybe compared to someone that doesn't work at all (as in zero work)

- no, they are millions of times more productive than any one particular employee if they build a company that sells to millions of people.

If you can build a product and sell to millions of people, that's being productive on the scale of millions. If you can satisfy millions of customers, then that's your productivity. An employee is interchangeable, he has a specific function, a business owner who built the business made the company that satisfied millions of customers.

It's the same thing as building millions of products and providing them to millions of people all on your own, your employees matter, but they are part of the machine that you built.

Re:Interesting questions (2)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 2 years ago | (#41572663)

You can do IT by doing everything manually, OR you can write scripts to do most everything for you and collect a check for browsing Slashdot all day. Well, what the rich do is write a real-world script that makes money.

if rent-house-occupied = True;
then collect rent payments;
else advertise house for rent;
fi

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41573181)

"That's a lie that's told over and over again to justify massive wealth inequity."

It is nothing of the sort. It is the best fucking economic system yet devised by man, despite the recent abuse of it by government and corporations.

Re:Interesting questions (2)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | about 2 years ago | (#41573629)

It is nothing of the sort. It is the best fucking economic system yet devised by man, despite the recent abuse of it by government and corporations.

If it's subject to abuse, and it is (and has been for centuries), and because of those abuses, can drive the world economy to its knees, which was within several hours of happening in 2008, how again does it make it the best fucking economic system yet devised by man?

If I was going to put my trust in the best fucking economic system yet devised, I'd want to make sure that it could indeed negate the abuse. That's yet to occur.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571043)

Yeah, I mean, if it weren't for the thought that one day I might be able to have my very own Space Yacht, why, I wouldn't even get up and go to work in the morning. I'd probably just kick around the house, get high and eat Croonchy Stars while collecting my welfare checks. But with the incentive of a Space Yacht, I'm more than happy to work 65 hours a week to make $38,000 a year, even though I can barely afford my one bedroom apartment, because I know, any time now, that Space Yacht is going to come down, pick me up and fly me off of this Godforsaken planet!

God I love Capitalism!

Re:Interesting questions (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#41571227)

Would you like to earn more than $38000 a year for less than 65 hours a week?

If you had the skills that people were willing to pay for that allowed you to do so, would you?

If so, then you're accepting that the capitalist system works. If you can find a way for the system to work without offering ridiculous rewards for those at the top, then great. You should write down your thoughts and publish them. Who knows - you might become successful.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41574595)

Just about every other wealthy country -- including the US's own past self -- manages a capitalism that doesn't have the same ridiculous division in wealth. And the excuse that the American economy was better hasn't worked since shortly after Clinton left the office.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 2 years ago | (#41575097)

I don't have a great problem with them earning lots more, though 450X base rate seems unreasonable, but I do dislike how the rich and super-rich don't want to pay taxes, this is harming society. They want good little consumers to buy and consume their stuff, but now they don't want to pay their workers as full time employees with good benefits, they want someone else to pay the workers and have them buy their stuff. If there or no good jobs, eventually demand will fall as people just wont have enough for the new stuff.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | about 2 years ago | (#41573969)

Our society is based on the principle of specialization of labor. Until the printing press, there was no way you could expect to know how to do something technical like ruling or manufacturing--and I mean, you had no idea at ALL; you may not even know how to read or write, you had no idea what anyone else had ever thought unless someone told you person to person--unless you had access to good teachers, who were very scarce, and controlled by people with money, or by churches. With massive numbers of textbooks that were eventually printed, the average teacher could go from terrible (pre-books) to middling. With the internet, it can get a lot better, but that's a couple decades old at this point.

Understand that every generation since before humanity was humanity has seen learning and experience as something necessarily--not artificially--reserved for the few. Because we believe so strongly in specialization of labor, it makes intuitive sense that the people with that learning and experience control the flow of power. It's only when we see it actually happening that we realize that they're human--corruptible, distractable, foolish--and we seek to find the best candidate to fill any given position.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570981)

The answer to your questions: We are spending trillions on a war effort, instead of fixing the poor and starving problem. Don't blame private space exploration for problems with social heath care -- If the rich could fix the latter they would, but they can't, so some do the former.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41571087)

We are spending trillions on a war effort, instead of fixing the poor and starving problem

There basically isnt a "starving problem" in the US on any scale that could be remotely affected by a government problem. I think just shy of 20,000 people die of "exposure" or "malnutrition" per year in the US, and IIRC a good number of those die because they are old and unable to care for themselves. Its sad, but it also means they wouldnt be capable of requesting help from the government either.

Id also point that at 20,000, its a really really bad candidate for federal aid-- this is exactly the sort of thing you handle on a local level, so the areas that need it can handle it well rather than having a mediocre program across the nation.

And regardless, we ALREADY have programs in place for such situations. There are reasons people starve or die of exposure in the us, but "not enough government help" isnt one, not to mention the zillions of charity organizations which provide food and shelter.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41571457)

It is not that we have programs, but that we spend on one thing instead of another. And it does not matter if the money is a tiny percentage of the budget, andy money spent on frivolous things is wasted. As Romney said in the debate, we cannot fund programs, even popular programs, if the money has to borrowed from china.

The theory of spending for much of the past decade has been that giving money away is wrong, and providing jobs through the TSA or military is better. The TSA is fine, it can employ people for a lifetime, but the military has proven to be very expensive. The taxpayers have pay for rehabilitation and medical care when a soldier comes back wounded physically or mentally. Often youngster who leave the army do not use their money to go to trade school or college, so they are not employable and the taxpayer has to pay for incentives for someone to hire them. We may pay for them to go to school, and maybe they don't finish, so that is money down the drain.

So the question is is the military jobs program or direct assistance program better use of taxpayer money. Certainly by Romney's definition if we have to borrow money, then we have to cut one the other or both. An arguement can be made for direct assistance, as those are often short term.

Re:Interesting questions (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41571635)

It is not that we have programs, but that we spend on one thing instead of another.

Who is this WE you speak of?

Virgin is a private company. They will sell their services to whoever pays them.
Or are you suggesting someone like you should get to dictate where they spend their money?

Money is never WASTED.

All the money Virgin spends is spent here on Earth, in the US, putting people to work all up and down the supply chain. How is this different than having the government taking from Virgin to give to some homeless drunk? Oh, wait, Virgin will be taxed, as will the space tourists, and the engineers, and the guy that sweeps Virgin's hangers, and waters their corporate lawn, and those taxes will prop up the drunkard, and the salary for those that support him, and we get both frivolous space tourism AND social programs.

Money is never WASTED.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41573053)

More succinctly, who are any of us to decide what a guy does with the money he makes?

Re:Interesting questions (2)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#41575171)

Most of the time, when you get rich, you do so leveraging an infrastructure mostly paid for by average workers (roads, electricity, water, etc...) It only makes sense they contribute back to the system that enabled them to rise in the first place. In the US, the interstate and space program was paid for by taxing the very rich something like 90% of their income. Bear in mind it happened just after the great depression of the 30's and it was a compromise to not just take everething past 1 million dollars (not sure of the exact figure, may have been 100,000$US then).

Re:Interesting questions (2)

Smauler (915644) | about 2 years ago | (#41575951)

Money is never WASTED.

Sounds to me like you're falling victim to the broken window fallacy [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Interesting questions (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41577789)

Sounds to me like you slept thru economics 101.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41572151)

The theory of spending for much of the past decade has been that giving money away is wrong,

Its not wrong, its just an incredibly bad idea to do charity at governmental level on a large scale. You generally just make the problem worse.

Re:Interesting questions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570985)

I think the answer is that I can smell you through your pants. When I walked by you at the bar last night, you were sitting on the stool with your legs slightly open, wearing those thin yoga legging things, and I could smell you through your pants.

That's fine that I can smell you through your pants, it's not necessarily an unpleasant smell, and it was hot in there and there were more scents-of-the-rut than just yours -- however -- just as people can discern individual conversations in a room full of speakers, I in fact could discern the musky scent of the inside of your pants. Not everybody has enough time to shower before their friends drag them to a bar on Friday night - and that's fine, even though it was noticeable. Not as noticeable as that of a menstruating women wearing a dress in the hot summer, but noticeable enough. Perhaps you were aroused, subtly. Maybe the pheromones of the attractive young athlete by the pool table caught your nose and your body's reaction was involuntary.

Now let's talk about me - I didn't bother to strike up a conversation with you at the bar last night, but that was due to circumstance. I am quite the ladies-man, a silver-tongued devil if you will, and that line never fails to get a woman home with me that night. What line, you ask? Well, I ask a lady if she wants a drink, introducing myself with a firm handshake and an easy smile. We talk, and when I feel that I can get close enough to her, I whisper in her ear...

"...I can smell you through your pants. "

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571231)

From one AC to another, that was freakin hilarious!

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41573483)

That was you?

See, I know this girl, more intimately than you might imagine, and I can tell you that, while she is quite odorific on occasion, it takes a little extra something to get through those leggings.

Last night, though, I happen to know that she was fraternizing with some of the kitchen staff--those Mexican guys. She disappeared with one of them (yeah, you know which one I'm talking about) and came back about 30 minutes later. That, my friend, is when the scents started flowing. Those leggings aren't as water tight as a frog's ass, and drippings from her "aventura con el cocinero" were making their presence known up and down the bar. That must be about when you strode in, hands in your pockets, thinking, "sniff, sniff Damn, she wants me!"

You're not the first, brother, so don't worry about it. But take my advice, friend, if you do run into her again--Double Bag that Shit!!!

Re:Interesting questions (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 2 years ago | (#41570993)

I think it's good to see that people can become rich as it motivates those who are willing to put in the time and effort to attain the same goal. "Spreading the wealth" is a dangerous position unless there's some way to motivate people to improve their situation or to ensure only those that truly need help get it (e.g. keeps the moochers and freeloaders out of the system).

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571041)

s/Spreading the wealth/Taxes/ -- Now, make your argument to the socialists who enforce your government to foster civilization.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41571383)

I think it's good to see that people can become rich as it motivates those who are willing to put in the time and effort to attain the same goal

This assumes they have any reasonable chance of becoming rich, or richer. Anyone who's successful will tell you one of the ingredients is being in the right place, at the right time. It's not just about hard work. Plenty of people work hard their whole lives and die penniless. Some famous guy who invented AC power and set the stage for the industrial age, Nicoli Tesla, could probably provide some additional insight as well.

"Spreading the wealth" is a dangerous position unless there's some way to motivate people to improve their situation or to ensure only those that truly need help get it (e.g. keeps the moochers and freeloaders out of the system).

People who want to be poor are like unicorns: They don't exist. I have yet to find a person who doesn't want to live comfortably, to have their medical needs looked after, food to eat, and a safe place to sleep. If they do exist, they need medical care, because there's something very, very wrong with them. Most people want to work because it carries certain rewards; But when the only reward is surviving until tomorrow, it's not surprising to find a lack of motivation, and innovation. Especially since they're told every night on TV about the lives of people who are so very much better than they are.

Spreading the wealth isn't a dangerous position. Why is it so much easier for some people to believe that there are tens of millions of lazy people, rather than a few hundred greedy ones?

Re:Interesting questions (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 2 years ago | (#41572775)

People who want to be poor are like unicorns: They don't exist. I have yet to find a person who doesn't want to live comfortably, to have their medical needs looked after, food to eat, and a safe place to sleep. If they do exist, they need medical care, because there's something very, very wrong with them. Most people want to work because it carries certain rewards; But when the only reward is surviving until tomorrow, it's not surprising to find a lack of motivation, and innovation. Especially since they're told every night on TV about the lives of people who are so very much better than they are.

There are plenty of people satisfied with not working as long as they can get food stamps, WIC, and any other money they can get via government programs. There have been quite a few people admit that in the news a while back. I don't blame them for taking "free money" but we have to realize the government doesn't have an infinite amount of money so these programs need to be limited to those who truly need them.

Spreading the wealth isn't a dangerous position. Why is it so much easier for some people to believe that there are tens of millions of lazy people, rather than a few hundred greedy ones?

I think people, given the choice, would prefer to not work and collect money rather than work hard in hopes of making something of themselves...kind of human nature. I like to lounge around at home but I feel a responsibility to earn my living at work and get a strong sense of gratification from hard work. Heck, I even look forward to digging out stumps at my house as it's hard work but I like the result (other than my back pain). Again, I'm not pointing my finger at anyone other the the government who needs to reform the rules and qualifications for determining who gets the money from these important programs to limit their abuse (e.g. buying iPhones with food stamps). We really need to look out for our fellow Americans but money's tight and we have to spend what we have wisely to make the most impact.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571011)

Why do you believe those goals must be mutually exclusive?

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571031)

More funding for NASA won't have any effect on people who can't afford medications.
If private industry, through the motivation of profit, can innovate and reduce the cost of space launches to the point of being affordable by (rich) citizens, and NASA can contract out research-based missions for cheaper than it would cost for a publically-financed system, then resources have been freed up at the public level for other programs.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 2 years ago | (#41575111)

The private space industry can do this because they are standing on the shoulders of NASA and the like. This is good though, as now NASA is free to get into more advanced research and exploration.....if they get funding....

Re:Interesting questions (2)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | about 2 years ago | (#41571093)

The simple answer is:

There's no profit in helping the poor. They have no money, and what little they have is spent on luxuries like clothing, food, and shelter. That leaves them no left to pay anyone back for helping them.

Simple fact is, nobody becomes rich by giving stuff away. You only become rich by ensuring you get a healthy profit on anything you do.

Even people like Bill & Melinda Gates, who have setup foundations to help the poor have structured them in such a way that they only give out money that is essentially profit on the foundations investments. This keeps the foundation solvent and going for years after the donations stop coming in.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571239)

There is a massive profit to be made if you actually cure the problem.
Poverty isn't a lack of money. There are lots of people who have a lack of money but very bright futures.
Poverty is a culture. Poverty is winning the lottery and being broke 5 years later.

Thats a very common thing by the way, winning millions and wasting all of it.

Education is where you should spend money if you want to cure poverty for those who want to be cured.
$50,000 spend once can change a person's life and they will actually be able to pay you back.
Many nations have a program where school is free so long as progress is being made and the taxes are a bit higher to pay it back.

Once you have done that you have a moral right to only pay the most minimum to avoid starvation etc for those who don't make anything out of their lives.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#41575185)

I personnaly could afford to give money and 1 year of my time to a charitable entity. To actually help others get off the streets or off drugs is a terrific experience. I plan doing that for my retirement as it was the best experience of my life yet.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41571113)

Why are we building space ships for rich tourists, while real science languishes in the land of budget cuts and resource shortages?

Because these spaceships are orders of magnitude cheaper than previous rockets and will allow real scientists to do more real science than ever before, for less money? Leaving more for the poor and sick people you talk about?

I actually doubt that you are building spaceships for anyone, however. :-)

I know these aren't easy questions

Then you set the bar for your questions very low. Next time try something harder, like "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" :-)

Re:Interesting questions (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41571117)

Hmm. Apparently it's a "troll" if you ask people deeper questions about personal and corporate responsibility, instead of pointing and saying "Oh look! Something new and shiny for the rich!"

Re:Interesting questions (4, Insightful)

petsounds (593538) | about 2 years ago | (#41571293)

The more work private companies to do on this problem -- that is, the putting people in space and on planets problem -- the better we get at it, the cheaper it becomes, the more sustainable the industry becomes, all of which enable more science to be done. There's also the whole deal of creating jobs for Americans (and other countries), which is a nice bonus. It's the same model as Tesla -- build an expensive sports car for the wealthy, use those profits to use a somewhat less expensive sedan, and on down the line.

Maybe it doesn't fit into your Platonic ideal of how this should go, but if you have a better idea then float it. Unless you were suggesting that spaceflight is a waste of time compared with the problems we need to solve on this planet, which I don't think has to be a binary answer.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41571845)

Maybe it doesn't fit into your Platonic ideal of how this should go, but if you have a better idea then float it. Unless you were suggesting that spaceflight is a waste of time compared with the problems we need to solve on this planet, which I don't think has to be a binary answer.

I don't have a Platonic ideal about anything: I believe in the production possibilities curve, and getting as close to it as possible, rather than living well inside of it as we are now due to high rates of unemployment. Every day a person doesn't work who can and wants to is a day wasted that didn't need to be, and we can't get it back. Building space yachts for the rich might employ a few thousand -- seizing the bank accounts of those rich people and using the funds to build roads and fund people's educations would employ hundreds of thousands, and result in a much-improved quality of life. And what's the point of science and technology if not that?

Re:Interesting questions (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41572585)

We've danced that tune already [wikipedia.org] . It's a common staple of revolution to seize the assets of the rich and redistribute the wealth to the poor... but then what? The money itself isn't worth much and just inflates, because the people were just given handouts. The education isn't valued any more than any current government-sponsored public school. The roads might be nice for a while, but then they'll deteriorate, assuming they can even be built in time... then the money runs out. Then what?

Do we let the new distribution stand? The only ones who have been hurt then are the original multi-millionaires who lost their money, but soon the owners and investors who benefited most from the redistribution are just as wealthy, and civilization has done nothing of importance.

Do we find the next group of rich folks and seize their assets as well? That works fine for the first round or two, until people realize that as they accumulate wealth, they should immediately move out of the country to somewhere more amiable. Then you don't get their money or their taxes. Those that stay in the country must do anything they can to hide their wealth, so charity's out of the question.

Here's an alternative idea, perhaps better: Support your current millionaires. Yes, I'm serious. When a big donation is given to guarantee the local community theater's continued operation, make sure the local paper knows and runs a nice article on it. When an important bit of research is finished, make sure the funding foundations are noted in the press release. Do your best to show appreciation for charitable grants and gifts, so the wealthy are encouraged to support their communities. While there are some folks who will hold on to their money no matter what, most I've worked with are happy to give to a good cause, and fully aware of the fact that they just don't need as much money as they have.

I believe it was John D. Rockefeller [wikipedia.org] who at one point quipped, while writing a large (by anyone else's standards) check, that in the time it took to actually give the money, he'd already made more. This is a common problem today for rich folks. While everyone's quick to say that the millionaire could give them the money and they'd spend it easily, it's actually very hard to find good ways to spend a lot of money. Not every school will actually use the money for improvement, not every church's message is beneficial to spread, and not every unemployed person actually wants to work. This is why so many donations come from "foundations" rather than directly from wealthy individuals. The foundation itself does the due-diligence research into whether a cause is worth supporting.

Disclaimer: I currently work for a firm catering to high-net-worth individuals. We help them find ways to manage their fortunes, leave assets for their futures and families, start their foundations, and connect those foundations with charities.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41573673)

I believe it was John D. Rockefeller who at one point quipped, while writing a large (by anyone else's standards) check, that in the time it took to actually give the money, he'd already made more. This is a common problem today for rich folks. While everyone's quick to say that the millionaire could give them the money and they'd spend it easily, it's actually very hard to find good ways to spend a lot of money.

Rockefeller, unlike most of our current crop of multimillionaires and billionaires, was a philanthropist. He believed that he had a responsibility to give back something to a community that had given him so much. But that's a rare viewpoint amongst the "old money", that is -- people who were born into wealth. The rich have very different ideas about money, people, relationships, etc.

I'm not saying we should storm the castle, but we do need to redistribute the wealth much more evenly than we do now -- I don't mind the fact that there are multimillionaires. That's not unreasonable, and it's not actually a whole lot of money. But when we start talking about people with hundreds of millions, or billions, in personal assets, we need to start asking ourselves why. And I think the very simple solution is to cap inheritance. In other words, earn all the money you want during your life and keep it! Spend it however you want. But once you're dead, your descendants only get a certain maximal amount - say, 10 million, even 20 million, per immediate family member, less for extended family, etc. We need to break the cycle of generational wealth, where some very small number of families accrue more and more wealth, until it becomes so concentrated that society starts to feel the effects of wealth deprivation. As to where the rest of the money goes -- same place all your taxes go.

I'm not against people earning whatever the market will pay them. I just don't like the idea of people who are born into wealth, who are handed power, and who don't ever do meaningful work, who never produce anything of value to society. Everyone should contribute; And everybody deserves similar opportunities in life. Inheritance of such large fortunes deprives people of that chance. People should be able to provide for their families, to share and share alike, but to a point. We need to reward people for their hard work, not their great-great-grandparent's hard work.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41574251)

Rockefeller, unlike most of our current crop of multimillionaires and billionaires, was a philanthropist.

Citation needed. Specifically with regards to the "unlike" bit. Of all charitable donations, 41% comes from the top 10% of incomes [theatlanticcities.com] . From households (excluding foundations or nonprofit companies), 3% of households account for over two thirds [equilaratlas.com] of household donations.

He believed that he had a responsibility to give back something to a community that had given him so much. But that's a rare viewpoint amongst the "old money", that is -- people who were born into wealth.

Nope [equilaratlas.com] . The 10% of gifts (by number) that come from inheritance account for about 10% of gifts (by money). That means that those who donate at all are donating an equal share (I can't find any meaningful statistics on what percentage donate). I don't think giving a fair share is particularly wrong. In fact, it's actually the new-money donators (whose wealth comes from their salary) who give the least.

But once you're dead, your descendants only get a certain maximal amount - say, 10 million, even 20 million, per immediate family member, less for extended family, etc. We need to break the cycle of generational wealth, where some very small number of families accrue more and more wealth, until it becomes so concentrated that society starts to feel the effects of wealth deprivation.

I get the distinct impression that you don't really know how inheritance works. As stated earlier, I work with high-net-worth individuals. Practically none of them (that I recall offhand... I'm not ambitious enough to write and run a report, and I doubt it'd be legal to do so, anyway) are giving more than one million to their families in easily-liquid assets (public stocks, bonds, cash, etc.). Rather, the majority of their wealth is in their assets - the family company, the real estate, and other individual items that just happen to be worth a lot to other people.

I'm not against people earning whatever the market will pay them. I just don't like the idea of people who are born into wealth, who are handed power, and who don't ever do meaningful work, who never produce anything of value to society.

Fortunately, there are extremely few people like that. The few that there are, though, are lambasted by the media for their carefree lifestyle, so they're in the public eye often, and their lack of contribution is highlighted. The vast majority of heirs use the money for productive purposes, whether it be founding a company, investing in other companies, or even just giving to charities, then they get a real job and live a normal life like everyone else.

We need to reward people for their hard work, not their great-great-grandparent's hard work.

Ah, how nice it'd be to live in a world of karma. The sad reality is that hard work does not guarantee a comfortable life. Having money set aside (by anybody, of any generation) acts as a nice safety net. Those that have such a safety net and don't use it pass it on to their children. For someone whose life was well-spent, who worked to ensure that their fortune grew, what better reward than to know that their children and grandchildren will be shielded from the wrath of an uncaring world?

Re:Interesting questions (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41578745)

Citation needed. Specifically with regards to the "unlike" bit. Of all charitable donations, 41% comes from the top 10% of incomes. From households (excluding foundations or nonprofit companies), 3% of households account for over two thirds of household donations.

Rockefeller donated 10% of his total income to church, and an unspecified additional amount to other charities throughout his life. In general though, the richer you are, the less [npr.org] you give, as a percentage of income. Absolute dollars is a meaningless comparison: Someone who's poor and gives away his last piece of bread is showing his humanity. A multibillionaire handing the poor a piece of bread does not, because he isn't giving up very much relative to his station. Percentage of income: The more you earn, the less you give. pSo there you go. Citations given. Now sit down and shut up.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41573275)

Right, steal from the rich and give to everyone... What could possible be wrong with that!

Err I'd rather keep the religious nuts running the country than have someone like yourself in power. While I dislike the 1% I wouldn't dream of stealing from them outright.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41574299)

seizing the bank accounts of those rich people and using the funds to build roads and fund people's educations would employ hundreds of thousands, and result in a much-improved quality of life.

The money's not in bank accounts. It's in the shares of the companies in which they invest, and some of those companies are tightly held. If you'd tried to do that to Jobs, Brin, Bezos, and Gates, you'd have nationalized AAPL, GOOG, AMZN, and MSFT.

*poof*, no more IT sector. No iToys, no search engines, back to walking to the bookstore and hoping it's in stock, and ... well, at least we'd be spared Windows 8.

More to the point: what you propose would work for the first year or two. But since we're only talking about a few hundred people, what would you do when you'd run out of people to loot?

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41573057)

Technological advance is just about the only thing that trickles down from the top 1%. Including the military industrial complex.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) | about 2 years ago | (#41575409)

The more work private companies to do on this problem -- that is, the putting people in space and on planets problem -- the better we get at it

Hang on - don't forget that private companies put men on the Moon!

NASA provided program management and Uncle Sam provided dollars, but it was private industry ( Boeing, North American, Douglas, Grumman, IBM and thousands of smaller companies... ) that designed the hardware and made it work.

The only exception I can think of in the Apollo program was the Saturn V's Instrument Control Unit, which was designed by the staff at the Marshall Spaceflight Center but implemented by IBM.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41577411)

Every time this issue comes up I recommend that people read _Fallen Angels_ by Niven, Pournelle and Flynn. You can find it here in Baen Books Free Library. http://www.baen.com/library/067172052x/067172052x.htm

It is the very best story to refute the '...money better spent elsewhere...' philosophy.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571199)

I'm going to skip the rhetoric and just ask my question as food for thought for anyone who reads this: Why are we building space ships for rich tourists, while real science languishes in the land of budget cuts and resource shortages? Why is it okay for the very wealthy to build yachts in space while poor people starve and wonder if they'll be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive? I know these aren't easy questions -- any answer I can provide seems woefully inadequate. But I think we should be asking those questions too, not just about the businesses, but their relationship to the larger society.

The medication you're talking about is a result of technology. Do you think that comes from sitting on our ares at home and learning nothing about the world around us?

Re:Interesting questions (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about 2 years ago | (#41571407)

while real science languishes in the land of budget cuts and resource shortages

Are you trying to insinuate that this someone is lacking in "real science"? Are you trying to say that things like being able to launch things into space inexpensively doesn't benefit all of mankind? Like GPS satellites? A lot of technology and know how is being done that will transfer over to other areas that will benefit everyone. Saying that this is solely for space tourism for the rich is doing a disservice and extremely simplistic.

Why is it okay for the very wealthy to build yachts in space while poor people starve and wonder if they'll be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive

Because one doesn't necessarily exclude the other. Building private spaceships doesn't have any effect on people starving unless you plan on instituting some law that says if you have over x dollars you must give away all your extra to help the poor. Personally, I would also like to know why hard working people have to give money in order to feed a bunch of baby makers that are having babies for the sole purpose of getting more handouts. Perhaps you should turn your attention that way? Solve the waste (both monetary and human) plaguing the planet first. That money could have been used better to feed people who are actually trying and in need.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41571515)

WE aren't building spaceships for rich tourists. Richard Branson is. And he can do whatever the fuck he wants to do with his money.

Re:idiotic questions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571571)

Fuck the poor. Fuck them with a steam shovel. There is no reason why we should hamstring ourselves by restricting the search for truth to only those truths idiots like you find worthy. The manned space program was never about 'the poor', it was an offshoot of the military arms race AND as its result today we have technology which makes life possible for a great many people. Quit trying to shove your smelly populist ideology into the intellectual commons, you brainless git. Your very ability to expel your worthless ruminations into public debate space exists as a side effect of the arms race.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

ATestR (1060586) | about 2 years ago | (#41572345)

Virgin Galactic is doing this because there is a market for it. As far as general business & science, I refer you to exhibit B, SpaceX [spacex.com] , that is not catering to rich tourists, but instead investing on equipment that will eventually allow them to do the things you mention by developing new extraterrestrial resources.

As far as letting people starve and die without medicine... you want to take away more of the rich people's money so they won't spend it on space vacations? That would put all those spaceship builders out of work (and their suppliers, etc.).

Re:Interesting questions (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#41575345)

you want to take away more of the rich people's money so they won't spend it on space vacations?

That is exactly how the great depression ended... space vacation aside.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572513)

I hate commies.

The ships are cheaper than the ships our governments build.

And less tax money spent on space means more money for food.

I thought you I had planned to skip the rhetoric, what happened to that?

Re:Interesting questions (1)

SixAndFiftyThree (1020048) | about 2 years ago | (#41572561)

Note that XCOR (disclosure: I own shares in it) is also developing a suborbital craft and plans to make it available for science missions, at prices substantially lower than what scientists now pay for expendable rockets. The kind of science you can do with a few minutes up around 100km is not as glamourous as the Hubble, but still useful. NASA will pay for some of it: https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/platforms/ [nasa.gov] in fact, NASA will even pay for science missions aboard SpaceShip Two.

Re:Interesting questions (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 years ago | (#41572599)

Why is it okay for the very wealthy to build yachts in space while poor people starve and wonder if they'll be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive?

Stopping the building of this "space yacht" wouldn't cause that money to go to better uses, and spending this money here doesn't mean any other programs are going to be cut or slowed because of it. And you can ALWAYS find slightly better uses for your money... Why are we buying candy, when there are people in the world that are starving? Why are you spending time on the internet, when there are people in the world that are starving?

Your argument is a rather simple, old logical fallacy. That's why you got modded as a troll.

http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/fallacies.html#Argumentum%20ad%20misericordiam [csun.edu]

Re:Interesting questions (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41574203)

Your argument is a rather simple, old logical fallacy. That's why you got modded as a troll.

To quote the link you provided (yes, I can read): "You should not call your opposition down for committing this fallacy unless they rely on appeals to pity to the exclusion of the other necessary arguments."

I asked why money is being spent on a superfluous luxury when there are clear and obvious better uses for it. We're not talking about slightly better, we're talking about massively better. Even in the space industry. Even in the transporting people into space industry. Even in the transporting private people into space industry. It's a space yacht, okay? It's not going to help satellites get into orbit that'll do useful work. It's not going to help conduct any valuable scientific research. It's built for one purpose: Take rich people into orbit so they can earn prestige points amongst each other. That's it. They want their name next to the names of real astronauts, real scientists. But they don't want to do all the hard work that goes with it -- it's just a joy ride for them.

For the kind of money these guys are paying out, I could build an amusement park in the middle of most of the top 100 largest cities in this country, and pay for its maintenance, upkeep, and staff, without collecting a penny from the attendees, for a decade. My argument isn't to the money can't be put to better use -- it's to the opportunity cost. In economics, the opportunity cost is all the other things that could have been done with that money, which go away when you use that money on whatever the opportunity is.

The bottom line here is, my position is that spending billions to create an industry simply to hand out membership in the most exclusive future country club yet built... is shameful. Almost any other use I can think of would be better. Buying pools of lime green jello filled with prostitutes wearing nothing but marshmellows would be money better spent. There's a point beyond which something ceases to be entertainment, and becomes something so decadent as to be in the form of an added scourge. This, sir, is one such time.

That isn't a fallacy, and I'm getting really damn tired of you petty intellectuals going through lists of fallacies and then saying "See! I'm right and you're wrong!" There's a fallacy for everything a person can possibly say. "The sky is blue because nitrogen absorbs all the red." Ah, the troll replies, "correlation is not causation! Fallacy! Fallacy!" ... It should be a crime punishable by tasering to the balls (or tits) to formally mention any such 'fallacy' outside of academic circles. Almost invariably, the original author didn't want to over-explain something and cover every. last. fucking. point, and Sir Fallacious Argumentus comes along to air out his/her inadequacy issues, as if arguing with someone on the internet is somehow going to cure that.

Rant done. You may now mod to oblivion.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41574369)

(Different space nerd AC chiming in here.)

In economics, the opportunity cost is all the other things that could have been done with that money, which go away when you use that money on whatever the opportunity is.

In other words, wealthy people are choosing to blow their money on space joyrides, rather than investing it in their own property, plants, or equipment. If there's an economic loss here, it's being imposed on the customers of the private spaceflight companies. As it should be: recreation isn't about making an economic gain. A $200K spaceflight for them is no different than a $2K vacation in Europe for the rest of us.

Buying pools of lime green jello filled with prostitutes wearing nothing but marshmellows would be money better spent.

OK, we could redistribute the wealth that way too! At $500/night per hooker, and $2/bag for the marshmallows, it's gonna take a while. (Really, that's what we're doing here, except that we're using a spaceflight company as an intermediary between the flying customer and the worker at the grocery store...)

There's a point beyond which something ceases to be entertainment, and becomes something so decadent as to be in the form of an added scourge.

On the whole logical fallacies bit:

Perhaps that's why the other AC is having such an issue with it; you're talking at cross-purposes. If we accept your premise, your argument is valid and we're haggling over price, but if we deny your premise, your argument ceases to be valid.

Speaking for myself, if I accept your premise and your price point (whether it be $30M for orbit or $200K for suborbital hops), we merely disagree on both the place where where that line is drawn. A starving child in Thirdworldistan would feel the same about my $2K Euro vacation. Who's to say that either of us has any claim to a moral high ground?

This, sir, is one such time.

Thinking about where I would personally draw the line between "entertainment" and "so decadent that it's a scourge", (if it exists in my mind, it's in the multibillion-dollar "purchase a country, declare yourself Supreme Dictator, institute 100% slavery, order the unattractive citizens to work in the green jello and marshmallow factories..." category), I think I not only reject your price point, so long as people are merely buying their decadence with dollars and not actual bright-line violations of UN treaties on human rights, I also reject your premise: I hold that there is no expenditure on entertainment that is inherently immoral.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 years ago | (#41574767)

Ignoring most of your rant, I will take issue with the claim that this will never have any benefit to mankind.

The very design of the ship is fairly novel. This isn't an updated V2 rocket. All the things they've come up with, the solid rubber fuel engine, the hinging tail, the launch from a conventional plane, is unique, and further development of them is worthwhile. They may prove to be more efficient, cheaper, or more reliable than the conventional alternatives. Or maybe their benefits will be smaller, but it'll be a mature technology, that everyone knows about, and will be an option in the back of NASA engineer's minds when they're developing the methane plane designed to enter Titan's atmosphere... Or even if it is a technological dead-end, we'll learn that, and why, sending future developments down another path, instead of someone else (NASA?) expecting it to work, and wasting their money.

Or back to more conventional uses... There's been talk of large commercial passenger space-planes for decades, which hasn't gone anywhere. This is the closest thing I've seen in the works that is developing towards that goal. It's also the only thing I've seen which could claim to be the successor of the Concorde. You can dismiss the Concorde as a toy for the ultra-wealthy, too, if you like, but it was mostly a profitable aircraft which filled a legitimate need.

With all these possibilities, I refuse to believe science, and the public, won't benefit in some way from this development. Maybe it'll be tiny advancements in knowledge, or maybe they'll luck out and it'll be a game-changing vehicle, that will be used extensively for commercial passenger flight for the next 50 years, like the first passenger jets before it.

In any case, as long as it's being developed with private money, and not taking away from "save the manatees" or whatnot, it's difficult to complain about, since you and I aren't being negatively affected by it. Why don't you reserve your venom for ACTUAL multi-million dollar yachts? You're sure to get someone to chime-in on how even they are actually *good* for the economy, too.

It is not a zero sum game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572921)

Space tourism is about bootstrapping space flight with by giving a small prize to the people who pay for the R and D.

The end game is the addition of entire planets worth of resources,

The intermediate game is cheaper science because the market for the tools the scientist need has grown large enough to bring the costs down.

It is all about making a bigger cheaper pie so that everyone can eat.

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41573571)

1) These are "spaceships" the same way a kayak is an aircraft carrier.

2) Real science isn't languishing, we've just harvested all the low-hanging fruit.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41573893)

1) These are "spaceships" the same way an Apple II is a computer.

There. I fixed that for you. :-)

If you're upset because Virgin isn't building the Starship Enterprise, get over it. You have to crawl before you can run. Do you think the first airplane ever built was a 747?

Re:Interesting questions (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#41573657)

Why are we building space ships for rich tourists, while real science languishes in the land of budget cuts and resource shortages?

Because we still have not solved the problem of pairing investors with people who can solve problems. Even inside companies people are often not utilized in the best way. You'd think the term "human resources" would refer to people trying to solve this problem, but that is not the case.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

kellymcdonald78 (2654789) | about 2 years ago | (#41573877)

How can you spend time reading and posting on /. while millions starve? Why are we building computers and smartphones for the rich first worlders when children remain unvaccinated (like it or not, when you look at the world as a whole, all of us here are 1%ers)? Why do you not spend every penny you earn beyond what you need for minimum survival to feed the world? Why do you not spend every hour of your day beyond work and sleep addressing the ills of the world? I guess it's ok for you to live a life that the vast majority of the human race would consider wealthy beyond their dreams, but for those you consider wealthy, it is unacceptable What exactly is your suggestion? That we shut down all yacht companies (and throw their middle class employees onto the unemployment line?) What level of luxury is considered too extreme for you?

Re:Interesting questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41575465)

I'm going to skip the rhetoric and just ask my question as food for thought for anyone who reads this: Why are we building space ships for rich tourists, while real science languishes in the land of budget cuts and resource shortages? Why is it okay for the very wealthy to build yachts in space while poor people starve and wonder if they'll be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive? I know these aren't easy questions -- any answer I can provide seems woefully inadequate. But I think we should be asking those questions too, not just about the businesses, but their relationship to the larger society.

What is this we part? WE are not building this. WE are not paying for this. It is Virgin Galatic that is paying for it, not WE. There is no tax dollars going into it. As such, what RIGHT do you have to tell VG or Scaled what to do?
Now, WE are paying 100%+ for the SLS, along with small part of private space launchers. WE, the tax payers, DO have rights to speak about how the money is spent. However, considering that less than 1% of our budget is spent on NASA, I would say that it is mostly useful money. Of course, spending on the SLS is wasted money, but that is a different issue.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

ET3D (1169851) | about 2 years ago | (#41575643)

If it's space ships for tourists vs. no space ships at all, I'm definitely all for the tourists.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

Aquitaine (102097) | about 2 years ago | (#41577289)

Why is it okay for the very wealthy to build yachts in space while poor people starve and wonder if they'll be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive?

Because buying medication for poor people does not in any way address the root cause. It creates a dependency on whatever system it is that bought them their medication.

Spaceships, on the other hand, at least presumably, might create an entire industry of space travel, which in turn will require spaceship builders, painters, repair-people, flight attendants, travel agents, parking garages, et cetera, all of whom can presumably afford medication more than whomever it is you suggest that wealthy people should buy medication for.

Of all the things wealthy people could do with their money, I'm much more excited about space yachts than I am about some guy buying an island condo or a plain old water yacht. Those things both support industries too, but they're not going to launch entire new sectors of the economy.

Who is this 'WE' you mention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578637)

What are you talking about?

Re:Interesting questions (1)

servant (39835) | about 2 years ago | (#41578793)

Because, so-far, this is a 'free society'. Once people have played by the rules, paid their taxes, they are still allowed to do anything they want that is not illegal with the rest. Save it, spend it wisely or foolishly, give it away, or burn it.

There is a reason why the Pre-BO takeover GM brought out new technology in Cadillac first. It let the 'rich' pay for the goods and bads, and shake out the worthwhile technology, that then slowly rolled down to the common person in the Chevy.

The best vengance is to get rich and do what you want without regard to others thoughts or shaking fingers. I look forward to seeing what you are held in contempt by do-gooders over once you are 'rich'.

Re:Interesting questions (1)

jep305 (1288822) | about 2 years ago | (#41578937)

"Why is it okay for the very wealthy to build yachts in space while poor people starve and wonder if they'll be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive?"

Why? Why on Earth do some poor fuck's oozing sores somehow constitute a claim on me and what I do with my wealth?

The UK government took away their trainset (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571127)

What would any sane person do from orbit, once they got there???

Its the only way....

Quietly? (1)

tooyoung (853621) | about 2 years ago | (#41571139)

How does a company quietly put out a press release?

Re:Quietly? (3, Insightful)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41571193)

How does a company quietly put out a press release?

By releasing it after the close of business on Friday, prior to a three-day holiday. Better still, do it while another company is grabbing all the headlines.

Re:Quietly? (2)

jfengel (409917) | about 2 years ago | (#41571237)

By putting it out on a Friday after work. The main business journalists will have gone home for the weekend, and the business people who might read it are going to pay less attention to the Saturday paper. It also means that people don't rage-sell the stock the following day. They hope that by the time Monday's market opens, tempers will cool a bit.

It's not a secret. You couldn't hide it; it's public knowledge. You just dump it when nobody's paying much attention and is too busy mowing the lawn or watching the kids play soccer to get all that outraged about it. You get to put your spin on it without the business news channels putting it in heavy rotation. It's not secret; it's just "quiet".

(pl0s one InformAtive) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571969)

firSt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572451)

about half of t4e baby...don 't fear

Remember (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#41573691)

Scaled is now owned by Lockheed. So any strain in the relationship may have something to do with that. TSC is a separate company from Scaled as well - as you can see from the purchase. It makes perfect sense that Lockheed didn't really care about TSC. I'm sure moral has declined a notch with all the corporate shuffling too.

Re:Remember (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41573931)

Scaled is now owned by Lockheed.

That will come as a big shock to Northrop Grumman.

Ion thruster (0)

jonfr (888673) | about 2 years ago | (#41573741)

They don't even have Class 2 and Class 3 ion thruster to use. They are not going to go above 600 km, or Earth orbit to be exact. Current class 1 ion thruster technology is only good for deep space probes (small units).

Current technology that humans use for spacecrafts is not going to get us far. Regardless if the we call it Virgin Galactic, NASA or European Space Agency. The simple fact is the we are not investing anything to forward space technology towards the level it makes human space travel useful. We rather send robots to work in space. Rather then humans.

There is a way to travel in space safer and faster. But it takes time and money to get there and a lot of mistakes in the long run.

I smell money (1)

epSos-de (2741969) | about 2 years ago | (#41574073)

Something tells me that Virgin Galactic is going to make decent money from luxury trips to space. Brandson did it in other forms of transportation before and he will do it in space. He was named after the brand and has connections to the people who will pay. The company seems on the right track to make space travel reality. I hope they will make it fast, while space is still popular with rich people.

Re:I smell money (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41575065)

The interesting thing will be to see what happens if Spaceship Three ever gets built. That is supposed to be an orbital spacecraft, unlike the current vehicle being built and flown by the company.

The one market that Richard Branson has apparently completely taken over (even though the vehicle has yet to fly) is the sounding rocket market. While Spaceship Two isn't a complete replacement, it largely works that way right now. A number of companies (including NASA and other government agency contractors) have a real need to test equipment in a "microgravity" environment, and the added ability to send a technician with the equipment into that environment can make a huge difference too. That the equipment can be tested for less than a million dollars is an added bonus, and certainly far cheaper than an orbital launch or even the cost of a sounding rocket that did a suborbital trajectory.

In fact, this research market instead of the "space tourist" market may end up being the real money maker for Virgin Galactic and is certainly something that will continue even after the "fad" of going into suborbital flight becoming the 20 thousandth passenger fades off into being rather ordinary. A great many of those research flights may even include professional astronauts operating the equipment and not just flying the vehicle.

Another major market for Virgin Galactic is to do point to point delivery (including passenger service, but this is cargo delivery I'm talking about). Think of this as Federal Express (as a "premium service" even for FedEx), but on a faster scale where you can have packages sent almost anywhere around the world in less than a couple hours. Yes, there are real-world needs for delivery of a critical item and people who would be willing to spend a million dollars for a smallish item to be sent somewhere distant in a short period of time. If a billion dollar factory with a couple thousand workers is shut down for a day or two because a special part is needed from the other side of the world, it would certainly be worth the premium. FedEx ships stuff like that even now as a "priority delivery" with air courier services that even fly equipment on demand for special charter flights for stuff like this even today if FedEx is too slow.

Check the toilet design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41575923)

You DO NOT want to be on a Virgin spaceship if they use the same design that was used on Virgin trains in the UK. The capacity appears to have been based on half the number of people likely to be present on board * half the journey time * average dump rate, with fumes venting into the cabin.

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