Like so many in this great nation I was glued to my TV this past Sunday afternoon watching the SpaceX’s Dragon capsule successfully splash down off the coast of Pensacola Florida. While I was watching the live coverage for several hours I was filled with tremendous pride because the United States is once again a space faring nation, something we have not been since President Obama canceled the Space Shuttle ten years ago.
What impressed me the most about this particular space flight was the fact that SpaceX is a private company rather than a government agency. The free market has always been the engine that propelled the United States into becoming the most prosperous nation in the history of the world yet almost the entire US space program was placed in the hands of the federal government. As a believer in free market capitalism I always considered this to be a mistake. This article John Stossel: The private space race and the successful mission that concluded Sunday proved me right.
This week, American astronauts returned to Earth. Their trip to the space station was the first manned launch from the U.S. in 10 years.
By NASA? No. Of course, not.
This space flight happened because government was not in charge.
An Obama administration committee had concluded that launching such a vehicle would take 12 years and cost $36 billion.
But this rocket was finished in half that time — for less than $1 billion (1/36th the predicted cost).
That’s because it was built by Elon Musk’s private company, Space X. He does things faster and cheaper because he spends his own money
All during the SpaceX mission the commentators discussed the numerous innovations that were built into the Falcon Rocket and the Dragon capsule. These innovations were swiftly and cheaply brought about because SpaceX is a private company. The John Stossel article documents how and why this type of innovation was rarely produced by NASA, a government agency.
When I read the following quote in the article I was completely surprised.
Fortunately, President Obama gave private companies permission to compete in space, saying, “We can’t keep doing the same old things as before.”
Competition then cut the cost of space travel to a fraction of what it was.
I had no idea that President Obama was the person that opened up the US space program to private sector competition. It is something that was completely out of character for him considering how far to the political left he is.
This quote from a Milton Friedman interview that took place on the Johnny Carson show perfectly sums up the overwhelmingly positive benefits produced by the free market. A record that has never come close to being matched by any government entity of any kind.
Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.