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    By Ed Chen | October 8th 2009 06:31 PM | Print | E-mail
    To my fellow students:

    The economic depression is likely to last for some time without the opening of some new economic frontier for further exploitation.  Indeed, after this financial crisis it seems the last 15 years have been more economic redistribution rather than economic growth.  Do not get me wrong, I am not innocent of going after some of that redistribution.  And I would likely continue chasing after personal economic prosperity, even after having thought through the consequences of taking the post-ivy league path of corporate economic security, and having borne it for some short time in, because I, like every individual educated in the economic orthodoxy, believes in the power -- no sovereignty -- of free markets.
    Before I continue, please let me apologize for using some touchy terms.  I am striving for accuracy.  We will have to think more about the term capitalism.  Capital, from which the term, "Capitalism" was derived, is described by John Maynard Keynes to be like water.  Wealth was a measure of the total amount of water in the system, while economic activity the flow of capital.  Thus, if there is no economic growth, there is a finite amount of water being redistributed.  This is what happened to the world in the last 10 years.  Redistribution of capital, without real growth in capital.  The losers were: the bank share holders and government.  The people of america have not lost yet.  They did not have to pay for it.  The treasury bills paid for it.  And don't forget, with credit, one can always default. 

    So if there is no new wealth generated, and a lot of economic activity, there is redistribution.  Redistribution is bad -- we all know this. When our current president was accused of wanting this on the campaign trail, he demurred and said rather, we should think of it as spreading it around more.  But if there isn't anything more to spread around, it is redistribution.  And if it is redistribution by the state for the sake of the corporate and private interests, it is fascism.  Here, the state, takes the water from the pool of wealth, and gives it to corporations.  Then, it calls this economic activity, since water flowed from the pool of wealth, when the government expropriated it, or in the more contemporary sense, when the government sold a promise (US Treasury) to give water back at a later date to basically whoever has water.  If it is redistribution for the sake of supporting individuals with handouts, it is communism.  In this case, the government takes money from the pool of wealth, and gives it to people who didn't have any water, for various reasons, possibly good, possibly bad.  Both sound great, but if history is any guide, usually, the people giving out the water, can't help but drink a little bit of it, and take some of it for later, and give some to their friends.  

    The less new space there is the more for a hybrid of fascism and communism -- lets call it socialism, just for argument sake.  Give some water to the corporations, give some water to the people with no water.  Who cares, as long as the Chinese are still willing to buy Treasuries.  At some point, the Chinese will.  No one likes it when someone, even the government, takes something away from them.  And, no one likes to take someone else's stuff if they can just rip it out of the earth.  Many have argued that the tremendous economic growth seen in the modern age is due to the opening of the Americas, to the old wold economy.  This economic space was free to all who dared to venture.  Resources were fresh in the virgin territory of the New World.  Even some of the economic growth that occurred in the last 15 years was real growth, with efficiencies gained due to the IT revolution.  However, except for the internet, and perhaps third world markets, new space did not open.  

    In fact, to say the Earth has virgin territory left may become something quite laughable, with the white snow quickly melting, leaving even the poles bare.  Sure, we could still exploit the deep ocean, and the poles.  In fact, its great we'll finally be able to sail through the Northwest Passage after all these years.  But that doesn't solve the extreme weather problem -- actually it makes it worse.  And without that ice, we'll get a lot warm, and then... maybe a lot colder!

    Thus, my modest proposal: To space! And beyond!  There is energy in space -- more energy than we can ever generate on earth before choking ourselves to death from oxygen depletion.  Solar? Or even Fusion?  No problem.  Light up the sky.  Cheap energy for everyone, everywhere, without all that heat. It could be done, if we could all just get along!

    Indeed, once, it was the West which held a young person's fortune.  However, today, there is no such place.  Only the eager, and ambitious minds of the students of the world can conjure up ways to utilize the vastness of space to solve the earth's problems.  Of course, as they say, mo' money mo' problems.   And likely it will be that opening space will solve our current problems only to bring on new ones.  But that is what keeps things fun.  

    Consider these facts:
    • We may collect energy in space and beam that energy back to earth, representing a virtual unlimited source of free energy (for our current puny level of civilization).  
    • They have found that there is water, even on the moon.
    • Mars also has subterranean water, and likely many other precious metals.  (Gold is trading above $1000!).
    • A space based economy would make the thermodynamics of our system much more favorable towards our survival, as well as prosperity.
    • There may be aliens in space, who must have some gold as well, somewhere.     

    So I say, to Space! We will find our fortunes there!  And from there, we may also save our Earth.