Subject: Re: Tom W. Bell paper
From: simo <s@ssimo.org>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 12:44:47 -0400

On Tue, 2006-09-12 at 12:18 -0400, Russ Nelson wrote:
> simo writes:
>  > 
>  > On Mon, 2006-09-11 at 23:07 -0400, Russ Nelson wrote:
>  > > simo writes:
>  > >  > You wouldn't even have the man of the moon without government funding,
>  > >  > let's not think of all the technology the fell down from it.
>  > > 
>  > > Please, Simo, I'd like to see some better economics from you.  There
>  > > is no such thing as "government funding".  There is redirected
>  > > taxpayer spending.  Had the government not taken the taxes, taxpayers
>  > > would have spent the money on something else, which would have
>  > > directed investment elsewhere.  The choice is not between government
>  > > spending and no spending.  The choice is between government spending
>  > > and taxpayer spending.
>  > 
>  > Sorry but I consider this nonsense.
> 
> That's a bizarre thing to say.  If somebody says "Look at the sun" and
> points up, do you consider that nonsense?

You know, looking directly at the Sun will burn your retina! It _is_
nonsense :-)

However the reason why I consider it nonsense is that I believe that the
private sector is simply not interested in research that is not
immediately profitable. So Government spending is the only viable way to
fund basic research to date.

> Government spending displaced some other kind of spending.  You make
> yourself a fool to say "In all alternative histories, none of them
> included private parties putting a man on the moon."  Whenever you say
> "X wouldn't have happened unless Y", you open yourself up to all sorts
> of refutation.  In particular, NASA had a legislated monopoly on space
> travel.

I think that you are speculating here not me. And facts tell me that
there isn't a single private company that is in the space business
without heavily relying on government funds, and the reason is evident:
it is not yet a self sustainable business. It does not produce profits
to cover the basic research needed for rocket science. The apollo
program was started in the 60s (and the rocket research started in the
30s just thanks to a lot of government war funds on all sides of the
later WWII conflicts).
So we can say that after 70 years of research we are still facing a
field where it is not yet profitable for a private to get in.
How do you think space technology could be developed by private
companies that have profit as a driving force?

> Many things are *easier* to do when they're done through forcible
> extraction of resources.  It's *easier* to sell proprietary software
> than sell open source software.  So why don't we pursue the *easier*
> course?  Why are we here?  Why do we do what we do?

It's easier only when there is a simple way to profit form it. Which is
not the case for a lot of basic research and that's why that research is
funded because of political choices at government level. You must be
free to waste money to be able to fund basic research, public companies
aren't and private companies aren't either because the amount of money
(and other factors) needed to do research in some fields is simply too
much for any single company, even for companies that want to go berserk.

>  > > Let's look at it from a businessman's perspective.  Who would you
>  > > rather have as a customer: the person who earned the money, or the
>  > > person who took it from him?
>  > 
>  > The person that pay.If we want to look it strictly from a businessman
>  > perspective, I care only of the customer that pay the money, do not
>  > really matter to me where or how they got them.
> 
> You're neglecting the cost of the earnings.

Can you elaborate more? It seem we are speaking about 2 different
things.

Simo.