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Property Rights In Space?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the looking-forward-to-the-2049-dilithium-rush dept.

Space 269

ATKeiper writes "A number of companies have announced plans in the last couple of years to undertake private development of space. There are asteroid-mining proposals backed by Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, various moon-mining proposals, and, announced just this month, a proposed moon-tourism venture. But all of these — especially the efforts to mine resources in space — are hampered by the fact that existing treaties, like the Outer Space Treaty, seem to prohibit private ownership of space resources. A new essay in The New Atlantis revisits the debates about property rights in space and examines a proposal that could resolve the stickiest treaty problems and make it possible to stake claims in space."

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269 comments

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Don't worry, there is plenty (4, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 years ago | (#42339741)

There's plenty of space out in space!

Re:Don't worry, there is plenty (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#42340319)

When you are mining an asteroid as it's passing by Earth, ownership is determined by who has the most/biggest guns in the immediate vicinity.

And once you transport it back to Earth, it most definitely is yours.

For the most obvious example, see the treatment by the US gov't of the so-called "moon rocks". They claim ownership of every bit even after giving away a bunch of it to other countries.

Re:Don't worry, there is plenty (3, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | about 2 years ago | (#42340603)

Considering the enormous expense and effort that went into obtaining those moon rocks, it's not surprising they were technically "loaned" rather than "given away" as you mistakenly assert.

The point is there needs to be a legal framework in place so such expenditures are protected. The only way to spur private space exploration is to make it possible to profit from it. Otherwise it's simply a huge waste of money - what benefit does humanity derive from, say, letting the hyper rich shoot themselves into orbit for a short while?

Extraterrestrial resource extraction could mean endless supplies of things like rare earth minerals needed for high tech manufacturing. You do like cheap computers and cell phones, don't you?

Re:Don't worry, there is plenty (2, Interesting)

thereitis (2355426) | about 2 years ago | (#42341011)

The point is there needs to be a legal framework in place so such expenditures are protected.

I suggest that for starters treating all space bodies as public domain is the best way to go.

Otherwise, how do you separate people with plans in motion to go there from those who are merely being 'patent trolls' by claiming something and doing nothing with it? Or claiming something with the specific purpose of making sure someone else can't make use of it?

Having ownership in space seems destined to create an 'artificial scarcity'. Maybe I'm wrong, but an ownership based framework seems ripe for greedy people to abuse.

Re:Don't worry, there is plenty (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#42340917)

When you are mining an asteroid as it's passing by Earth, ownership is determined by who has the most/biggest guns in the immediate vicinity.

In other words, the same rules as we have on Earth. A government claims a land because they want it and they have the means to defend it against other claims. Said government then "sells" pieces of said land to its citizens.

Re:Don't worry, there is plenty (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#42340349)

How does one delineate property borders in space? Orbits with respect to earth's location? The sun's? From Lagrange points? How do I know if you're leaving your space junk in my space-yard?

Serious question.

Re:Don't worry, there is plenty (5, Funny)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 2 years ago | (#42340783)

Lagrange points?

I hear they got a lotta nice girls there. A HAR HAR HAR HAR.

plan B just patent stuff needed to get to space (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42339753)

plan B just patent stuff needed to get to space even if it's just the smallest of things.

Re:plan B just patent stuff needed to get to space (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#42340829)

Those patents wouldn't be worth much if no one can claim ownership of the things that they bring back with the patented technology.

Get off my lawn (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#42339777)

I already bought all the best bits of moon. Now get off my land!

Re:Get off my lawn (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 2 years ago | (#42340711)

I claim all inhabitable planets in all galaxies to be mine. Except for two which I offer to my wife.

Re:Get off my lawn (1)

Shark (78448) | about 2 years ago | (#42341013)

Private property already barely exists on earth... Fat chance of that in space. As a previous poster said, it all boils down to the larger guns and that makes it a government-only game in space and on earth. If your government is nice, it can let you pretend that the property is yours (at a recurring cost of course) so long as it doesn't need it for its own ends.

TL;DR? (5, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42339793)

Short version (it's a very long article)

There is precedent in the U.S. federal government's history of land grants to railroad corporations -- once the corporation owned the land, it had a strong incentive to increase the land's value by laying track. The situations are not quite parallel: in that case, the land rights only covered surface uses, not mineral rights; and of course, in the case of the Moon, the federal government has no land to grant. But while the general recognition of secured property rights would here take the place of grants from a previous governmental owner, the central premise still applies.

In the scenario envisioned here, the government would recognize claims and register titles, and claimants could then begin to grant, sell, and trade property deeds.

Re:TL;DR? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 years ago | (#42339841)

So, the moon plot that I bought isn't really mine?

Re:TL;DR? (1)

chill (34294) | about 2 years ago | (#42340927)

Only if you go there and plant little flags to mark the boundaries of the claim.

Re:TL;DR? (1)

candude43 (998769) | about 2 years ago | (#42339869)

In the scenario envisioned here, the government would recognize claims and register titles, and claimants could then begin to grant, sell, and trade property deeds.

Whose government?

Re:TL;DR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42339997)

Whichever government has the people who are going to the Moon and claiming land. Or possibly the one who has bandits going to the moon and stealing land.

Re:TL;DR? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340259)

Whose government?

Why, the American government of course, the rightful and natural rulers of the universe.

Re:TL;DR? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42340505)

I didn't write the article, I only quoted it.

Re:TL;DR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42339929)

The government's rule over who owns what only extends as far as they're willing to point their guns at people who are willing to give up and stop defending what they own.

Re:TL;DR? (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#42339947)

In the scenario envisioned here, the government would recognize claims and register titles, and claimants could then begin to grant, sell, and trade property deeds.

Don't forget, that if you are short on cash you can sell the improvements for half their price, flip the deed over and mortgage it.

Oops, this is about the moon, sorry, I had it confused with a different fictional scenario.

Re:TL;DR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340117)

The moon is not US goverment property. Outer space has no owner. We must learn from ancent Greece... the purpose is the knowledge and the knowledge is universal.

Re:TL;DR? (5, Insightful)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about 2 years ago | (#42340195)

Outer space has no owner

Whoever goes there and brings the most guns owns it..

You got it. (1)

marcus (1916) | about 2 years ago | (#42340485)

No different from the way it is here.

Re:TL;DR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340503)

Exactly... Pretty much first dibs and/or whoever's enable to enforce it. Somebody can claim all they want, but it doesn't mean jack-shit if they can't get there. In turn, if you get there first you've got to be able to defend what you've got.

In some ways it'll be like the "wild west" or "pirates of the Carribean" all over again until things get sorted out and settled.

Re:TL;DR? (0)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42340237)

really?

isn't that a US flag at The Sea of Tranquility

Re:TL;DR? (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42340135)

The question would be how to resolve governmental control, which government can grant which chunks of land to who, and what laws people on those plots need to follow.

Arguments about regulation aside... I think most of us can agree that private space countries that do not even have the pretense of a judicial system are a scary concept.... and not one that has historically gone very well.

The 51st State? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42339803)

Cool. That means the US gets the Moon - we were there first.

Re:The 51st State? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340209)

No, you were only the first publicly there.

Re:The 51st State? (4, Interesting)

Motard (1553251) | about 2 years ago | (#42340345)

We planted a flag. That's how these things are done.

Later on, the shooting starts.

Re:The 51st State? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42340411)

I am there right now, so there.

Don't think so? Then you come up to the moon and prove me wrong.

The tricky thing with space (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42339811)

Is that everything is always moving.

other problem (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42339821)

all of these — especially the efforts to mine resources in space — are hampered by the fact that existing treaties, like the Outer Space Treaty, seem to prohibit private ownership of space resources

That is one problem, but a somewhat bigger problem is that nobody has yet come up with a plan to mine moon rocks and return them to earth where the cost of the missions doesn't greatly exceed the value of the rocks.

That's why, unsurprisingly, even folks like Jain who claim [theweek.com] that "private companies can do things better" are wholly dependent on taxpayer subsidies.

Re:other problem (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42339897)

Just wait. Eventually various materials will become rare or entirely used, and the value of the rocks won't matter. You need it.

Re:other problem (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42340157)

Maybe, maybe not. Unless there is some breakthrough, moving stuff into orbit will continue to be very expensive, probably more expensive then increasingly advanced recycling techniques.

Re:other problem (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 2 years ago | (#42340539)

Unless there is some breakthrough, moving stuff into orbit will continue to be very expensive

If only there was stuff already *in* orbit. If only people were planning means of accessing the stuff that's already in orbit. Alas...

Re:other problem (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42340581)

If you need it, and the only way to get it is expensive launching, then you will either eat the cost or you will find a way to do it cheaper ("you" in this case meaning whomever needs it, or us in general).

Recycling won't get us any more material than we already had. Eventually that will not be enough.

Sorry. You are missing an important point. (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | about 2 years ago | (#42340529)

You wrote

and the value of the rocks won't matter.

If you need it, and the material is very scarce. Its value will matter a great deal. Its value will become very high. This in relation to both its utility and scarcity.

Re:Sorry. You are missing an important point. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42340601)

You seem to be missing a point yourself: the value doesn't matter here. If it's needed, it will be obtained. Sure, it might cost you a lot, but that is not my point.

Re:Sorry. You are missing an important point. (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 2 years ago | (#42340811)

The value of something is exactly what you're willing to pay for it. Saying that something is needed is just another way of saying that its value is greater than any potential cost. The idea that "the value doesn't matter" is nonsense. This entire thread is about nothing but value; whether you realize it or not, you're saying that the value of these materials is greater than the cost of going to space to mine them.

Re:other problem (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | about 2 years ago | (#42340113)

The plan Page/Schmidt had involved using the rocks to build things in orbit, not sending down the rocks. The idea being that creating the heavy infrastructure for space stations could be done without having to get it out of the gravity well. The price they're chasing is the price of launching rockets with giant chunks of space station attached, not the price of raw materials on Earth. Not to say that they're anywhere near capturing an asteroid and figuring out how to refine ores in space, but I hear they have a bit of cash to blow before they give up.

Homesteading (2, Informative)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#42339829)

Governments tend to prefer to pretend that natural rights don't exist, imagining that the rights of the people come from THEM. But the truth is that they do exist. Homesteading is one such right. By mixing one's labor with the land, whether it is rolling plain, or an asteroid, one gains ownership of that land.

Governments have the guns though. But then, the space miners would have the asteroids, so I would guess that they would leave them be after the first asteroid made a near miss of the planet.

Re:Homesteading (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#42339943)

Your 'homesteading' right is ultimately defeated by an even more natural right: The right of he who has the sniper rifle to shoot you and your family from a safe distance, then come loot your home and take over your land.

Rights are an artificial construct, and exist only so long as they can be enforced either directly (Employ enough guards to secure your home against any threat) or indirectly (Have a government that will, reasonably reliably, either defend you or remove the economic incentive for attack by finding and imprisoning the attacker afterwards). A right that is not in some way backed up by physical force simply doesn't exist: You can whine all you want about your 'right' to property, but it won't do you one bit of good if there isn't ultimately the threat of violence to back it up.

In space violence isn't very practical, so property rights would be backed up by the threat of governmental seizure of the earthbound assets of offending companies or individuals... and again, you still need the men with guns sitting around somewhere just in case a CEO converts all company product to gold and tries to hide it in an abandoned mine. Not that any of them would be that stupid, because they know that if they defy a court ruling long enough sooner or later violence will happen.

Re:Homesteading (4, Informative)

Niris (1443675) | about 2 years ago | (#42339965)

Read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein. They had prisoners who mined on the moon, and when they rebelled against the government, they hurled down moon rocks. Good little story.

Re:Homesteading (3, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42340199)

'natural rights' are meaningless. Rights only exist in so far as something strong enough can stop people from violating them. Take away that state force and it just comes down to people having the resources to stop others.. in other words, become states.

'Homesteading' has nothing natural to it.. it was a piece of paper from the government saying that they would let you go settle in someone else's territory, and if those people got uppity you had the backing of the military.

Re:Homesteading (1)

elfprince13 (1521333) | about 2 years ago | (#42340843)

You're confusing homestead grants with the Homesteading Theory of Property Rights.

Re:Homesteading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340545)

"By mixing one's labor with the land, whether it is rolling plain, or an asteroid, one gains ownership of that land."

So astronomers own those asteroids, or is there something magical and different about building fences that conveniently fits the anarcho-capitalist ideology? Years from now, the actual occupants must either consent to the laws of the planet's "owners", or face the low-pressure consequences. The work to get us there, from thousands of earthlings over several generations, for the betterment of humankind... shall be privatized by whoever first shows up to mark it. Feudalism by way of "dibs".

Or every private endevor in space can lease from.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42339833)

Us the public. Pretty simple. You want to mine an asteriod lease it from the people of the world, sell your product, make a profit, but do it in such a way that we all benifit to some degree, even if its just a tiny percentage.

Basically your then paying everyone for a right to use the common material in space. This does not preclude making a personal profit, just that you must acknowledge first and foremost that it belongs to everyone, then you may make your profit.

Re:Or every private endevor in space can lease fro (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#42339991)

That is you enslaving men even as they venture out into the stars. "Dont go too far bold adventurer, you owe us and we shall be paid, no matter how far afield you wander." Fuck you.

Re:Or every private endevor in space can lease fro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340065)

Hehe you are right and that is why I posted my comment, I wanted discourse. It would be a bad thing to force space explorers to pay lip service for eternity to their parent worlds. I did not look at it from that perspective. So we are back to determining ownership by force and sovereignty.

I sure as hell hope the right minded people can find the will to colonize space, by force, if neccissary.

Re:Or every private endevor in space can lease fro (1)

kasperd (592156) | about 2 years ago | (#42340293)

That is you enslaving men even as they venture out into the stars. "Dont go too far bold adventurer, you owe us and we shall be paid, no matter how far afield you wander."

I think there need to be a distinction between going there yourself and sending a robot to do it. Any person who is prepared to leave Earth and settle on an uninhabited celestial body can reasonably claim ownership of the area in which he settles. But if you build a robot to go and mine resources, and perhaps use some of those resources to build more robots, which can harvest even more resources, while you are staying back on Earth simply reaping the profits, then you shouldn't be able to claim ownership in the same way.

Re:Or every private endevor in space can lease fro (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#42340203)

What id you and a number of people wish to mine an asteroid, use the materials to create a new space station, and live independantly and separately from the nations of earth?

You do realize that this, assuming we are not wiped out before it happens, is the natural progression. Those of us who are unhappy with existing arrangements and affairs are going to want to leave. In fact, this may be the first time in history where such migrations have been nearly entirely infeasible. That will not last forever....and once it begins anew, it will take a LONG TIME to fill up just the locally earth bound space

Eventually exiting empires will simply be in the situation of King George when the colonies declared independance.

In a real way the Golden Path is the future, though, i doubt it really will require a sand worm god emporer to bring about, its natural human instinct to become disgruntled with the current order and want to leave and form new colonies.

If you can defend it, it's yours (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#42339963)

There are currently no governments with the ability to enforce their laws in space. Therefor if you can get to it in space and defend it from those who want to take it from you, it's yours. Of course, if you want to sell some of it back on earth, you will need to get governments to agree to let you sell it (unless of course you smuggle it in, but that is yet an additional expense).

Re:If you can defend it, it's yours (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42340235)

In other words, form a government and get recognized by other governments.

Re:If you can defend it, it's yours (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 2 years ago | (#42340455)

That's incorrect. As long as the government has its headquarters on Earth, it is vulnerable to attack.

Isn't it more fun though.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340633)

to get them to pay you NOT to give it to them?

Just have those asteroids in orbit and they can pay you anually to keep them from deorbiting onto their land.

It's win win win. :)

Similarity to the New World... (3)

Tomster (5075) | about 2 years ago | (#42339999)

Property rights in space will likely be determined by who gets there first, and who can muscle away the competition, either by military or political means.

Personally, I'm terribly excited about the upcoming prospects for things like asteroid mining and permanent settled colonies on the Moon and Mars (as a couple good early candidates). It looks like we are on the cusp of an explosion in private commercial space flight, exploration, and development. And with China getting into the game, we may have another space race.

Re:Similarity to the New World... (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | about 2 years ago | (#42340367)

So is there anything worth mining on the moon?

Re:Similarity to the New World... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340583)

Just to be funny, transformer parts.

But yes, there is stuff there. You might be able to mine the moon for space based industry and living. I don't think its worth sending back home just yet. But if your plan is to build stuff in space or do experiments, or store stuff, or live there, the moon has great resources.

I'm pretty sure but not 100% sure helium 3 is there in some abundance.

Trickle Down Theory? (3, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#42340005)

There are asteroid-mining proposals backed by Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, various moon-mining proposals, and, announced just this month, a proposed moon-tourism venture.

Just shows that Reaganomics got it part right -- if you keep giving more and more money to a smaller and smaller sliver of society, they will find things to spend it on. Unfortunately, not cost efficient things that trickle down to smaller businesses, entrepreneurs, and working people. They spend it on ever more gigantic toys. "Oooh, Larry, let's build a billion dollar spaceship!" Great. Too bad we don't have a thousand small businesses spending that money on labor, rent, stock, and taxes instead.

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42340341)

Someone has to build the space ship. Is the rich guy gonna do that?
Someone has to design it. Is the rich guy gonna do that?
Someone has to fly it. Is the rich guy gonna do that?
Someone has to maintain it. Is the rich guy gonna do that?
Someone has to launch it. Is the rich guy gonna do that?

I guess all those guys work for free though, right?

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (5, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#42340853)

Velocity of money [wikipedia.org] does not change significantly based on who is spending it. Every transaction has subsequent transactions that support the economy, and they cancel out. The question is the efficiency of the transaction under consideration. Does that spaceship, a giant chunk of capital, a great heaping pile of allocated GDP, produce wealth as quickly as a thousand small businesses? (please be rigorous in your consideration of the definition of "produce wealth")

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42341023)

I think the farther you go down that road, the more automation will be involved.

Eventually entire billionaire device construction yard will be fully automated to the point you press a button and a few days later, a space ship pops out.

The more automation is involved, the worse the 'trickle down economics' will work. This includes downloading copies of programs. While I like to think that everyone has in it to become engineers or scientists, I don't think everyone believes me in this.

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340389)

Cause, y'know, that ship will just appear out of mid-air, not like anybody has to be paid to build it.

captcha: splurge

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340513)

They weren't "given" money. They organized land, labor and capital in such a way as to create wealth for themselves, their partners/investors, employees and customers that would not otherwise have existed.

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#42340911)

They weren't "given" money. They organized land, labor and capital in such a way as to create wealth for themselves, their partners/investors, employees and customers that would not otherwise have existed.

That's only perfeclty true if the system is perfectly efficient. If the system is biased against the wealthy, they get paid less than they earn. If it is biased in their favor, they get paid more than they earn. Both cases, interestingly, have occurred in the US within the past 70 years. Check the IRS SOI [irs.gov] for back records on income concentration, then compare that to GDP per capita growth rate -- if we have increasing concentration and a decreasing growth rate, it would mean we are paying the wealthy more and getting less growth -- ie: inefficiently distorted in favor of the wealthy. For a second dimension along which to measure, check GDP per capita versus Gini of the world's nations. Here's my chart on PPC/Gini [traxel.com] , and I've done the math with the SOI -- but don't take my word for it. Do the research yourself to confirm.

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (2)

dpidcoe (2606549) | about 2 years ago | (#42340549)

They spend it on ever more gigantic toys. "Oooh, Larry, let's build a billion dollar spaceship!" Great. Too bad we don't have a thousand small businesses spending that money on labor, rent, stock, and taxes instead.

Unless they can wave a magic wand and have the spaceship assemble itself out of the dollar bills that they keep in their swimming pool, it would be pretty hard to keep the money from spreading out everywhere. I'm pretty sure that the billions they spend on the rocket go to all sorts of useful things such as workers to build the rocket, the space to build it in, the engineering firms to design it, the small companies that make crazy one-off things that really only have use in a rocket (don't underestimate how much stuff that no one has ever built before is required), and the payroll taxes to hire all those people.

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#42340933)

Velocity of money [wikipedia.org] does not change significantly based on who is spending it. Every transaction has subsequent transactions that support the economy, and they cancel out. The question is the efficiency of the transaction under consideration. Does that spaceship, a giant chunk of capital, a great heaping pile of allocated GDP, produce wealth as quickly as a thousand small businesses? (please be rigorous in your consideration of the definition of "produce wealth")

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340631)

Where exactly do you think that billion dollars goes? *hint* It isn't launched into space. It goes to pay all employees and suppliers who work on the spaceship.

Just like evolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340691)

Trickle Down is just a theory.

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42340747)

You make it sound like the Reagan years and policies were bad.

The economy grew, faster and bigger than it did before and after his term
The poverty level and the population in it shrunk.
The avg family income grew.

"Interest rates, inflation, and unemployment fell faster under Reagan than they did immediately before or after his presidency. The only economic variable that was worse in the Reagan period than in both the pre- and post-Reagan years was the savings rate, which fell rapidly in the 1980s."

Basically nothing you said had anything to do with the 80's.

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#42341035)

The economy grew, faster and bigger than it did before and after his term
The poverty level and the population in it shrunk.
The avg family income grew.

Same is true of Clinton, but he did it while running a surplus instead of a massive deficit. Oh -- except the part about poverty -- Clinton didn't just shrink it, he set records for shrinking it.

Now, giving Clinton credit for the tech boom isn't fair, but failing to account for Reagan's reckless stimulus spending is equally inappropriate.

Basically nothing you said had anything to do with the 80's.

There is some truth to that -- we did start stimulating the top incomes before Reagan, as a result of failing to adjust the brackets for inflation, which caused them to start to eat into the entrepreneurial set, but Reagan did at least as much more on top of that.

Re:Trickle Down Theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340803)

Billion dollar spaceship? Pfft, try the Trillion dollar spaceship [buildtheenterprise.org] .

Awesome ... (3, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#42340019)

Bring on the space pirates.

But, more seriously, I think the problem was when that treaty was signed, it took the resources of a nation-state to get someone into space. And now increasingly, it's private corporations doing this.

At some point, someone will actually land something on an asteroid or something and say "we own this now", so at some point, this really is going to be needed.

This life-ending Asteroid has been brought to you by Coca Cola.

Re:Awesome ... (1)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about 2 years ago | (#42340097)

And the name of the asteroid is Dottie.

This is not OK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340027)

WTF?

Possession (1)

Lanforod (1344011) | about 2 years ago | (#42340071)

How about just using the good ol' 'Possession is 9/10ths of the law'?
Whats wrong with that? Not like we need to worry about space pirates just yet, and there are always legal avenues on Earth for pursuing criminals.

Re:Possession (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42340271)

If private entities get out there then that is probably what will determine who owns what. However, if they still have terrestrial assets like bank accounts or buy supplies then they will still be subject to what the nations they get those from say.

Where's the shadow government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340077)

When you neeeeeeeeeeeed it?

Shouldn't the Moon be off limits? (1)

Formorian (1111751) | about 2 years ago | (#42340087)

Just curious. Why mess with a body the so affects our world?

Also, if you mine an asteroid are you then changing it's trajectory and potentially putting it into earth's path?

I'm more apt to be OK to mining other bodies in space, but the Moon, I'd want to see some serious studies done on the affect of mining on the moon effects on the earth.

Re:Shouldn't the Moon be off limits? (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | about 2 years ago | (#42340221)

You overestimate what we humans can achieve in comparison of the sheer scale of cosmic objects.

If an asteroid is big enough to be a threat to Earth, it's too massive to move. And the moon is 400000km from the Earth. Taking dirt from the inside and throwing it on the surface will not change its gravitational pull one iota.

Re:Shouldn't the Moon be off limits? (1)

Tomster (5075) | about 2 years ago | (#42340597)

...why mess with a body that so affects our world? Umm, look around -- we've been messing with our own planet pretty seriously for a century or so now. Anything we do to the Moon will have minor-to-none effects on the Earth for long enough that by the time there is any noticeable impact to the Earth it won't be a problem for us.

As for accidentally putting an asteroid into the Earth, we understand calculation of trajectories well enough to prevent that sort of thing.

Who will enforce it? (3, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#42340151)

A property right without a sovereign to back it up with arms if necessary leaves me at the mercy of anyone bigger than me who wants to take my claim away.

A property right with a sovereign to enforce it with arms if necessary may put that sovereign in violation of treaties it has already agreed to.

Even if it doesn't, such a sovereign would have to be willing to stand up against the combined military might countries who are willing to go to war to defend the "right of all mankind" to "own" the asteroid or whatever piece of property is at issue.

In other words, any country which says it will back a claim to "space real estate" is betting that the rest of the world won't care or at worst, will just whine about it but take no real action. Any person or company making such a claim is betting the same AND betting no other person or company will attempt to fight the claim by force.

Re:Who will enforce it? (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | about 2 years ago | (#42340365)

Nobody CAN enforce it, which makes the whole discussion academic at best. Until we have technology sufficient to create a property conflict in space, it's all just talk. The ultimate issue will be decided the same way colonial boundaries were decided in centuries past: you get as much land as you can win a war on.

no government can claim ownership (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340303)

to the best of my knowledge no government can claim ownership to any satellite body of the earth or solar system(UN accord?) however i believe a private person has claimed the moon as their own property in the '60s or '70s and has been selling an acre of moon for $20, people have already been buying land on the moon, like various space show celebrities.

this all comes down to who was the first individual to lay claim. and what laws and treaty actually existed before that person had lay claim. of course possession of actual property is a major hurdle.

You don't need porperty rights to mine (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#42340329)

I don't think ownership of celestial bodies is necessary to conduct business on them. We shouldn't write laws concerning the future, because we simply have no idea what space enterpreneurship will be like. Once we have reached a level where getting profit from outer space becomes possible, we can create our laws while having much more information available. TFA's claims that private space projects are limited by legal problems is bullshit, ambitious space activities are limited by financial and technological problems, not legal ones.

Occupation or location control (1)

RichMan (8097) | about 2 years ago | (#42340361)

You can own an non-terrrestial property if
a) you occupy it for a significant length of time
or
b) you control its location

Failure of a) or b) for beyond a determined length of time shall result in loss of title.

how-to-buy-land-on-the-moon (1)

Rick Richardson (87058) | about 2 years ago | (#42340391)

http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-buy-land-on-the-moon/

no problem (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 2 years ago | (#42340415)

existing treaties, like the Outer Space Treaty, seem to prohibit private ownership of space resources

No problem. When you get to your asteroid or whatever, you just declare yourself an independent space faring nation. You certainly have far more claim to that title than those who didn't get there. And you'll want to do that anyway, otherwise all of your profits will be taxed by the earthworms who think they are entitled to most of your profits and to tell you how to do things, even though they took mo risk and provided no service to you.

A few Questions: (1)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#42340487)

If property rights are granted, does this mean we have no space left for .... whatever?
Or is this a property rights troll on everything?
Or maybe ... Oh, its a god thing....

At any rate can someone enforce their property right to the space between the ears of some politicians and who ever else....

No property without jurisdiction (1, Interesting)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42340519)

Property is something that can only exist within a given jurisdiction.
Until a government claims jurisdiction over space, any one can go to space, establish a settlement and claim sovereignty and ownership.

Any attempt by a government to claim you're on their land would then be an act of war.

idiots would try it too (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 2 years ago | (#42340637)

That would certainly be fun: " We down here in this deep gravity well declare war on you people up there among all of those rocks! "

sh1t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340679)

Usenet is roug4ly I see the same

As a native American decendant (1)

Frontier Owner (2616587) | about 2 years ago | (#42340713)

The world has a precedence of going places, calling it theirs until someone kicks them out. go to the moon, mine it, call it yours and sell what you get to the highest bidder. No one gave early explorers permission to come here and claim it for what ever purpose.

Columbus? (1)

murder_face (2574275) | about 2 years ago | (#42340833)

Didn't Columbus claim the Americas in the name of Spain when he planted a flag? Did we not do the same when we planted a flag on the moon?

Re:Columbus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340997)

I think you are correct, also Spain and the Franch both traded and sold New World land until we eventually owned it. So it wouldnt be unreasonable for lunar property to be sold here on earth until it officially breaks away or becomes part of a Lunar Colony, a-la, America sells the land to Lunerica01 at a later date. Lunerica can still pay the America of earth something for it.

I'm guessing that this is sorta what happend with the New World, colony A was founded by Spain, B France, C England. Colony C revolts from England. Colony C buys land of colony A and B. Slowly other colonies D-infinity break away or become official parts of the parent Nations.

So to some degree based off that previous model, there might be some merit to property rights, but only if an earth based Nation can establish ownership... see the rest of the thread over that =) Of course they would have to resign from their treaty.

A voyage of discovery (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 2 years ago | (#42340879)

Y'all seem to have forgotten your history.

A long time ago people ventured out to discover new land with the intention of CLAIMING said land.

Once claimed (for the country, usually) the land could be developed under the laws of said country.

While I understand and agree with the proposition that it'd be unfair (or at least, unreasonable) for any country to claim an entire planet (at least, any planet in this system) but Asteroids and Various Other Miscellaneous Bodies should quite literally be UP FOR GRABS.

Of course you'd have to land on it, stake your claim, and maintain a permanent facility there. This can all be done with robots/remote-landers but it IS entirely achievable.

Dibs on L5! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42340885)

I call dibs on L5 (and a 100 km radius sphere centered on that point). I have an attractive LASER PRINTED DOCUMENT to prove it!

Just read a history book (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 2 years ago | (#42341025)

Our history of full of empires, merchants, new lands...

It basically boils down to what nation/institution is powerful enough to control the space property and whatever rules they impose on it.

It could be one powerful country that takes space exploration on its own. We could a bit more cordial and share the costs of exploration via some kind of international agency and then auction of any property rights.

We could even parallel something like the Antarctic Treaty which basically ban military activity on the continent.

No one can tell for sure how property rights will be handled in space, but our own history has ample examples from bureaucracy to genocide.

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