The space race is alive and well, but it’s not being conducted by nation states. As befits a degraded world run by oligarchs, this latest iteration of interstellar stupidity is being carried out by arrogant billionaires whom our culture, for reasons I will never, ever understand, considers to be visionaries.
According to Bloomberg Technology, which I’ve never been bored enough to consult until now, 16 of the world’s richest 500 people are invested in space travel projects to the tune of 513 billion. Apparently, they think humanity has done such a bang-up job managing the earth that we simply have take our show on the road. The universe must not be deprived of our gifts. The thought of some distant, forlorn alien species living without free markets, globalization, credit default swaps, corporate mission statements, fragmentation bombs, Wal-Mart, mountaintop removal and the iPod is just too fuckin’ much for a compassionate human to bear. It’s a wonder anyone can sleep at night knowing there’s never been a TED Talk in Alpha Centauri. Opportunity costs be damned, we must spread our wisdom through the galaxy.
The usual suspects are involved, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Obama’s kitesurfing partner and brand new BFF, Richard Branson. But there are some unusual names on the list as well, such as Sheldon Adelson, a casino billionaire who was Newt Gingrich’s pimp daddy in the 2012 Republican primaries, as well as one Ricardo Salinas, described as a “retail and banking billionaire.”
Yes, in the future, Mars will be bustling with casinos, Amazon fullfillment centers and banks, all hooked up to the Internet with access to Facebook and the Washington Post Online. The only thing missing will be a native population to exploit. Maybe they can fly up the Bangladeshis after global warming completely floods out their country.
Our society’s greatest luminaries will be able to chill out among themselves, far from the sweltering earth, basking in each other’s genius and debating such relevant topics as the latest iPhone, the future of AI, or whether it’s better to use your left or right hand when masturbating. Markets and entrepreneurship will be praised, but the billions of dollars of government subsidies they’ve received will be kept strictly on the QT. Genius grants, you see.
I wish them luck. I hope they fly as far as my dreams can carry them, out into the distant reaches of space where there is nothing but cold dead planets and hostile alien creatures that feed on pretentiousness.