We all love Glenn Beck, but on his Fox News Channel show on Tuesday he said things that left me more shaken than stirred.
In summer 1969, Beck said, Americans witnessed the rock concert at Woodstock and American astronauts first landing on the moon.
Woodstock he described as dope-smoking hippies rolling erotically in the mud with strangers.
The moon landing he described as one of humankind's most impressive achievements.
Glenn Beck is right on both counts, as far as he goes. But I was troubled when Beck proclaimed these two events as our choice between two kinds of America.
Beck is one of the most libertarian voices in American media, but in comparing Woodstock and Apollo 11 he never made a libertarian analysis.
At Woodstock, freedom became licence.
Many concert-goers simply tore down token fencing and entered what was supposed to be a commercial concert without paying anything — the hippie (and welfare-state socialist) definition of freedom.
These revelers were what economists call "free riders" who did not pay their "fair share" for the entertainment.
They made a huge mess, leaving others to repair this damage.
As libertarian science fiction writer Robert Heinlein would have told them, "TANSTAAFL" — his acronym for the truism "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
If you stumble into a gala where people are giving away ham sandwiches, the lunch may cost you nothing, but somebody paid to grow the wheat, bake the bread, raise the swine, and more.
Woodstock was irresponsibility run amok, if not a riot, on many levels. Any society using Woodstock as its blueprint is doomed to failure.
But does Glenn Beck want the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as his model for rebuilding American ideals?
NASA is big government.
The Apollo program cost taxpayers more than $25 billion in 1960s dollars.
Thanks to NASA's employees and courageous astronauts, America won the space race, was first on the moon, planted flags and brought back moon rocks. But when the political value of such missions waned, so did NASA's budget for moon shots.
NASA, like any government bureaucracy, has limped forward by doing whatever the politicians are willing to fund.
In recent years this has included ultra-politicized research into purported global warming to justify vast expansions of government regulation and taxation.
NASA for the past three years has stonewalled Freedom of Information requests for its hard climate data — data that NASA's global warming zealots such as Dr. James Hansen seem reluctant to make fully available to skeptical scientists.
Even more frightening to those of us who anticipate humankind's future among the stars is that NASA is the manifestation of unyielding socialist rule forever in outer space.
Like other government institutions, NASA is eager to reshape the world in its big government image. NASA might actually have the power to do this literally on the moon, Mars and worlds beyond.
This could mean that on planets where NASA first plants the flag — soon a United Nations flag — regulations will instantly be imposed to create the equivalent of a national park or a pristine nature preserve planet-wide.
The development of tourist hotels, golf courses, McDonald's restaurants and other earthly manifestations of capitalism and individual freedom will either be entirely prohibited or permitted only under the tightest of restrictions.
Is there an alternative to NASA prohibiting capitalism in outer space (beyond the token examples that even President Barack Obama says he wants)?
Yes. Let free enterprise take the risks, pay the costs, and reap the rewards. As on earth, at least in America, so let it be in the heavens.
"Coca-Cola refreshes you best" should have been the first words Neil Armstrong spoke on the moon.
In exchange for this everlasting advertisement, quoted for centuries via every history book and video of the event shown to schoolchildren, Coca-Cola would have relieved taxpayers of the entire cost of the Apollo space program.
We thus could have commercialized space from the beginning, initially to help fund NASA to capture "the new high ground" for America's national defense.
And almost from that launch we should have offered tax benefits and other incentives to encourage private spacecraft development.
Imagine if the U.S. allowed private companies to stake capitalist private property claims on other worlds.
A single asteroid whose orbit comes close to earth could contain $4 trillion or more worth of iron, nickel, platinum and other valuable resources, a prize worth owning.
But NASA represents government ownership of outer space, a socialist future on what was supposed to be the new frontier of American ideals and entrepreneurial opportunity.
What if America had been settled not by freedom-seeking pioneers but by NASA, which claimed all property in the name of big government?
Glenn Beck, is NASA really who you want to rule humankind's future in space?
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