Space, The Final Frontier…for US Statehood?January 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Posted in Opinion, Science News | Leave a comment
Tags: newt gingrich
Popular Science ran an interesting headline that seemed odd for a site not oriented toward politics “The Moon Should Be the 51st State, and Other Space Dreams From Newt Gingrich.” First off that’s a long title, but secondly and more importantly are the statements Mr. “I want to be Number 45″ said recently in Florida. According to PopSci:
At the sunset of Newt Gingrich’s putative presidency, the moon would be the 51st state, colonized by permanent American settlers. Tourists would honeymoon in low-Earth orbit, space factories would manufacture goods in microgravity, and America would have a rocket powerful enough to send us to Mars.
Lofty goals from a man who likes to say he has grandiose ideas. So how does Newt Gingrich plan to accomplish the task of reinvigorating America’s space program? Through private enterprise. On the face of it, this makes some sense because there really isn’t a lot of money to go around to beef up NASA for the task of conquering the moon, Mars, and the rest of space. While US tax money would still be poured into inducing private enterprises to make the leap, it might prove cheaper than purely government funded agencies like NASA. Yet details are still sparse, and most likely Gingrich’s space talk is just to help him in the Florida polls.
That said, turning the moon into the 51st state has some interesting implications. The sound of the statement surely does something to stir American patriotism, but from an international stand point, it would cause a lot of tension. China certainly wouldn’t be too happy about the USA laying claim to the moon when they’re pouring their own money into a space program to get there. Setting aside statehood, having civilians on the moon would also raise some questions about governance. Would factories not based on Earth still pay taxes? What laws would people abide by when on the moon?
Sometimes a simple statement can lead to deep complications. For sci-fi fans, living on the moon or just having a moonbase is the stuff of dreams. Yet the more we begin moving off planet, the more we’re going to have to consider political control. Ventures on the moon will need to be international ventures with new sets of rules not oriented toward specific nations, or countries on will most likely Earth find themselves waging wars over the final frontier.
Somehow the 51st state sounds a lot like World War III.