They Are Not All Shills

They Are Not All Shills

February 8, 2010 Opinion, Our Policy Voice

Over the last week or so a number of people, including me, have pointed out that much of the dissembling about the proposed NASA budget is being done by people with a financial and/or political interest in maintaining the status quo.  It has been particularity disturbing how often those representing vested interests fail to disclose their relationship.  (With that in mind I am explicitly disclosing that the Space Frontier Foundation is in the business of advancing NewSpace through public education and totally dependent on donations from people who, for a variety of reasons, want the same.)

I’m troubled, however, by some in our midst who have been painting all of our opponents with this same broad brush.

I want to make it clear that not all the people trying to save to Ares I have a vested interest, or are shilling for those with a vested interested.  In the space arena there is a significant minority of honest, well-meaning people who genuinely believe that government must be in charge when doing complicated things.  For them it is inconceivable that the private sector would produce safe products unless the strong hand of government forces them to do so.  It’s fine for the means of production to be in private hands, so long everything is under firm government control.   In other fields these people would be called socialists, or more accurately national socialists.  For historical reasons in the space field they are called  Von Braunian, after the German-American rocket man.

These Von Braunian Socialists are wrong and disconnected from American realities.  They are not liars and do not deserve having their honesty called into question.


  • Allen Edwards says:

    I think you meant to say "I want to make it clear that not all the people IN FAVOR OF Ares I have a vested interest …".

    And I agree with that. This goes to a larger issue with much political "discussion" lately … we don't need to demonize opinions to disagree with them.

  • Ben says:

    I'm a fan of SFF, but how is calling people Nazis better than calling them dishonest?

    • Bob Werb says:

      I did not call anybody a Nazi, not even Von Braun who was indeed one. I called them national socialists (with on caps) because it is an accurate description of those who believe that the means of production belongs in private hands, so long everything is under firm government control. I frankly wish there was another term for this perspective and if you know of one, I’ll gladly use it in the future.

  • Bob Werb says:

    Oops, sorry about that. I just fixed it.

  • Bob – My Fellow Blogger…as the guy who came up with the term Von Braunians, I have to say it hit me recently that Even Von Braun wanted us to develop an orbital space facility to support missions to the Moon and Mars…and was over ruled as the White House wanted to sprint to the Moon and beat the Russians….lol (I will blog on this later…)

    Without it, we couldn't hold the Moon…and NASA was about to do the same thing…

    and yes, Von Braunians are socialists…the point is that they want to spend our tax dollars to do large government works projects of their own design and making (naughty reader…no one on our end used the term Nazi…any more than all communists are Soviets)


    • Bob Lancaster says:

      Bob, Rick,
      The other faction in honest opposition are the ones who should be most on our side as free market capitalists and that's conservative commentators like Charles Krauthammer:
      Their audience is huge and there needs to be a better effort to communicate with them…
      …and don't dismiss them as teabaggers, because you know me and where I come from politically.

  • Doug Gard says:

    Bob you are way off point and painting with your own brush. I oppose FLEX, I oppose Ares (Griffin's warped idea of VSE), I oppose HLV, I oppose the NASA of the past forty years, but most of all I oppose random unfoucused,non-specific programs and projects like FLEX. I am a libertarian, I support private, commercial new space, I believe commercial is the way to go, and I am a Von Braunian, but most of all I believe in VSE as it was originally concieved, and hold that moon is the gateway to the cosmos, the moon is the goal that lays the ground work and then pulls (not pushes) pulls commercial development outward including LEO access tech. Its not about Ares or commercial it is about the FLEX-UP look but don't touch fiasco that has been adopted. We didn't to need chuck VSE out the door with Apollo Ares in order to do commercial. Abandoning VSE will doom even the best intentions and ambitions due to its random meandering non goal driven look but don't touch, land, dly or go, its a stifling plan.

  • J L Brown says:

    As Bob and Rick made clear, the label 'Von Braunian' is about government running space–calling yourself both a 'Von Braunian' and a 'Libertarian' in the same breath seems a little… odd. The VSE as it was originally conceived was yet another 'big government & pork barrels in charge of space' project, the latest in a very long line of boondoggles. To its credit, it did have vision & imagination, and may have provided a bit more excitement about space issues than the rest of post-sixties NASA activities.

    But it was also a straight-jacket, tying us to colonization of Luna and Mars–when we finally make living and working in space routine, those goals may not be ones that make sense. By canceling the Ares program (and the VSE, which was its whole raison d'etre), and simultaneously increasing NASA's budget, vast sums are made available for other–more libertarian-spirited–endeavors. If a Luna colony is important, NASA now has the funds and a mandate to offer a prize for establishing one; similarly, all of the VSE can still be pursued.

    The major difference is that now it will be private companies striving to do these things, and to do them well and cheaply in a marketplace–a marketplace where NASA can exercise tremendous buying power. This is precisely as it should be.

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