# Billionaires Blast off

#### SLD

##### Well-known member
Does anyone else find themselves secretly hoping that one of them explodes?

That’s wrong I know, but what’s the point of these trips? They aren’t advancing science. They’re just going a multi million dollar thrill ride.

#### Tigers!

##### Well-known member
We do not know what we might learn esp. concerning construction techniques etc.
I am young enough to remember that the Apollo program faced the same thoughts.

But up front yes it is a lot of money.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
We do not know what we might learn esp. concerning construction techniques etc.
I am young enough to remember that the Apollo program faced the same thoughts.

But up front yes it is a lot of money.

The Apollo program broke new ground, and pushed the boundaries of the possible.

These billionaires are making short sub-orbital flights that don't even get into space. If you don't cross the Kármán Line - 100km altitude - you aren't in space. If you don't complete at least one unpowered orbit, you didn't make a space flight. The US military have their own definition, but like imperial measurements, nobody else in the world uses it.

What these guys are doing would have been impressive and innovative seventy years ago; But it's neither today. Anything that might have been learned from this was already learned a lifetime ago. Today it's just showing off their wealth in a pathetic display of conspicuous consumption.

#### Loren Pechtel

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
Does anyone else find themselves secretly hoping that one of them explodes?

That’s wrong I know, but what’s the point of these trips? They aren’t advancing science. They’re just going a multi million dollar thrill ride.

I think it's a good thing we have more players in the launch business. Carrying billionaires to space contributes nothing but it's like the Tesla they threw to the asteroids--the value was in the launch, not the payload.

Bezos is donating $200M to the Smithsonian, so it’s not like he’s only spending his fortune on himself. I don’t understand all the hate for these rocket flights. We don’t know who it will inspire or what technological advancements may come. What should he do, ride around the Mediterranean on a super yacht doing very unsavory things like some other super rich folks who have been in the news lately? #### Derec ##### Well-known member Does anyone else find themselves secretly hoping that one of them explodes? No. Why would you? That’s wrong I know, but what’s the point of these trips? They aren’t advancing science. They’re just going a multi million dollar thrill ride. What's wrong with thrill rides? If you go on a tourist trip to the Galapagos or something, you are not advancing science either. It's not like you're going to catalogue previously unknown flora and fauna while there. But just because Charles Darwin did it almost 200 years ago, does not mean your trip there would be pointless. These people have a lot of money. I see nothing wrong in spending it on stuff not affordable to us mere mortals. Bezos' jaunt to the edge of space is no more pointless than his longer-than-football-field yacht. #### Toni ##### Well-known member Does anyone else find themselves secretly hoping that one of them explodes? No. Why would you? That’s wrong I know, but what’s the point of these trips? They aren’t advancing science. They’re just going a multi million dollar thrill ride. What's wrong with thrill rides? If you go on a tourist trip to the Galapagos or something, you are not advancing science either. It's not like you're going to catalogue previously unknown flora and fauna while there. But just because Charles Darwin did it almost 200 years ago, does not mean your trip there would be pointless. These people have a lot of money. I see nothing wrong in spending it on stuff not affordable to us mere mortals. Bezos' jaunt to the edge of space is no more pointless than his longer-than-football-field yacht. I don't agree. First of all, the impact on the environment must be very significant and I don't think it's justifiable just to massage the egos of a bunch of rich people. But the other more important thing is that it would be a very, very grave mistake to allow wealthy people to somehow stake a claim to any part of space or space exploration or the intellectual property rights to any discoveries made as part of these missions. Of course you are way too young to remember the early days of NASA and the beginnings of space exploration but I'm not. Today, the world is filled with products and devices that directly arose from the space program. I don't want Jeff Bezos near any of the next waves of technology and innovation to arise. That belongs, by rights, to the world, not to any individual who has the ego and the pocketbook to grab even more for himself. It's obscene. And dangerous. #### Angra Mainyu ##### Well-known member Does anyone else find themselves secretly hoping that one of them explodes? That’s wrong I know, but what’s the point of these trips? They aren’t advancing science. They’re just going a multi million dollar thrill ride. Yes, Some people probably find themselves hoping that secretly, and others not so secretly. I'm not in either category. They're using their own money to have some fun (and also it's publicity). You could argue against that on, say, environmental impact grounds, and that would at least get some matter for debate. But you seem to hate them just because it's a multi million dollar thrill ride. What if it is? (though it's actually also for publicity, as they want to sell such thrill rides to other very rich people). #### Angra Mainyu ##### Well-known member Bezos is donating$200M to the Smithsonian, so it’s not like he’s only spending his fortune on himself. I don’t understand all the hate for these rocket flights. We don’t know who it will inspire or what technological advancements may come. What should he do, ride around the Mediterranean on a super yacht doing very unsavory things like some other super rich folks who have been in the news lately?

They're rich. The hatred is there mostly because so many people believe they stole the money from others and/or that their money belongs to others, they should donate it all, or something like that.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Bezos is donating $200M to the Smithsonian, so it’s not like he’s only spending his fortune on himself. I don’t understand all the hate for these rocket flights. We don’t know who it will inspire or what technological advancements may come. What should he do, ride around the Mediterranean on a super yacht doing very unsavory things like some other super rich folks who have been in the news lately? No, he - like everyone else, shouldn't be super rich at all. Nobody has done enough in their lives to deserve such wealth. Nobody. OK, maybe Stanislav Petrov. Maybe. And he never got any wealth in return for his genuinely meritorious actions. Fuck them all. If you've got, let's say, 500x median income for your nation or more, you should pay 100% tax on all further income. We can hand out a trophy with "You won capitalism" on it or something. Maybe put up a statue of them for the pigeons to crap on. But nobody in the history of the world has done enough with their lives to earn more than$16M in today's dollars.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Does anyone else find themselves secretly hoping that one of them explodes?

That’s wrong I know, but what’s the point of these trips? They aren’t advancing science. They’re just going a multi million dollar thrill ride.
Yes, Some people probably find themselves hoping that secretly, and others not so secretly. I'm not in either category. They're using their own money to have some fun (and also it's publicity). You could argue against that on, say, environmental impact grounds, and that would at least get some matter for debate. But you seem to hate them just because it's a multi million dollar thrill ride. What if it is? (though it's actually also for publicity, as they want to sell such thrill rides to other very rich people).

Unless you're an autocratic king or dictator, nobody has their own money.

Money is a measure of what your society owes you. It's not property, or a commodity, and it doesn't belong to you. It's a measure of what society owes you at any given point in time, and your society gets to decide how it fluctuates in value. You might have some of it taken away as tax, or some of the value of it taken away by inflation. Or you might be given some for whatever reasons society has to give it away - as payment of salary for bureaucrats or soldiers; as a benefit to people otherwise unable to support themselves, or their families; as a grant for education, or public art, or scientific research.

Money hasn't been a commodity people can own for almost a century.

It's a measure of what the world owes you. And nobody's done enough for the world to be owed a super yacht, or a private spacecraft.

#### Derec

##### Well-known member
The Apollo program broke new ground, and pushed the boundaries of the possible.
It did. But it stalled. The science since then has been done with unmanned probes.

These billionaires are making short sub-orbital flights that don't even get into space. If you don't cross the Kármán Line - 100km altitude - you aren't in space.
Well, Bezos' trip will be just above the Kármán Line for what's that worth. I think these trips are best described as to "the edge of space" no matter what side of the Line they are on.

What these guys are doing would have been impressive and innovative seventy years ago; But it's neither today.

They are not pushing the envelope on how high or how far. They are not boldly going where no man has gone before. But nobody is pretending they are. The point is a) that it is fully private spacecraft and b) that the purpose is to fly paying customers for the purposes of tourism.

Anything that might have been learned from this was already learned a lifetime ago.

They are not just flying to the edge of space. They created companies that designed and built the hardware to do so, hoping to attract enough paying customers.
If they manage to bring the cost to say $10k or$20k per launch over time, that would be a tremendous thing.

As far as it being pathetic, why? Because Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shephard have done it 60 years before? Bah! Space, even suborbital space is still a very exclusive club, with fewer than 600 people going there out of maybe 10 billion humans who have lived on Earth since 1961. That's far fewer than the 10,000 who have climbed Mt. Everest since 1953, just as a comparison.
Today it's just showing off their wealth in a pathetic display of conspicuous consumption.
If they can afford it, why not? I think conspicuous consumption is only pathetic when you are living beyond your means to front. Like leasing a BMW when you don't know where your car insurance payment will come from. But this? What's the problem?

#### Derec

##### Well-known member
It's a measure of what the world owes you. And nobody's done enough for the world to be owed a super yacht, or a private spacecraft.

And then what, comrade? Expropriate the rich like they did in the glorious Soviet Union? How did that work out?

#### Derec

##### Well-known member
I don't agree.
I am not surprised.

First of all, the impact on the environment must be very significant and I don't think it's justifiable just to massage the egos of a bunch of rich people.
Not really. Those trips are going to be one-offs for most of the passengers. It's not like Branson or Bezos or any of their customers are going to be taking the trip on a weekly or even yearly basis.
But plenty of rich people fly in their private jets pretty regularly.

But the other more important thing is that it would be a very, very grave mistake to allow wealthy people to somehow stake a claim to any part of space or space exploration or the intellectual property rights to any discoveries made as part of these missions.

Why? The government is pretty good on basic research, but developing practical uses has always been best left to the private sector.
And even in the Age of Exploration, the voyages were funded based on the hope of finding lucrative trade routes or new territories to settle and make use of. That's why for example the East India Company was founded.

And if Blue Origin develops technologies that may be useful and profitable, why should it not be able to profit from it for the 25 years prescribed in the patent law? Other than envy of some posters here of course.

In fact, I think Bezos is being too timid. With his wealth, plus some outside investors, he could really secure his place in the history books by building a permanent Lunar colony. I think it would be feasible to do it by 2040, complete with space port and a practical Lunar Shuttle system. And after that is done partner with a high end hotel chain like Four Seasons or Mövenpick to build a full service hotel as an annex, maybe by 2050.

Of course you are way too young to remember the early days of NASA and the beginnings of space exploration but I'm not.
True, I grew up in the age when NASA was but a shadow of its former self.

Today, the world is filled with products and devices that directly arose from the space program. I don't want Jeff Bezos near any of the next waves of technology and innovation to arise. That belongs, by rights, to the world, not to any individual who has the ego and the pocketbook to grab even more for himself. It's obscene. And dangerous.

If Bezos' company develops a technology, then, by rights, it belongs to it for a limited time. Just like any technology developed by any other company. That's the whole purpose of the patent law.
You do not encourage innovation by saying, ok you invested money, hired great engineers, steered R&D in a particular direction etc. but that doesn't matter since all your base innovation are belong to us the government.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
It's a measure of what the world owes you. And nobody's done enough for the world to be owed a super yacht, or a private spacecraft.

And then what, comrade? Expropriate the rich like they did in the glorious Soviet Union? How did that work out?

Ah, yes. Everything that's not the exact system approved by twenty-first century libertarian leaning small-government Americans, is Marxist-Leninism as practiced by Joe Stalin in the 1930s.

There are only those two possible ways of running an economy.

It's amazing how easy everything becomes when you deliberately avoid learning about anything other than devotion to the current system, with the only alternative being damnation.

I keep forgetting that US economics is just US Christianity with a funny hat.

#### Jayjay

##### Well-known member
I don't really care about one-off hops into space either way. But if Bezos or Branson can make a sustainable business out of hauling millionaires to the edge of space, I'm all for it. Some of the money is going to be spent developing next generation ships and maybe extending to orbital flights or space hotels, which in turn creates more opportunities for something else like moon colonies or asteroid mining.

#### bigfield

##### the baby-eater
Bezos is donating $200M to the Smithsonian, so it’s not like he’s only spending his fortune on himself. I don’t understand all the hate for these rocket flights. We don’t know who it will inspire or what technological advancements may come. What should he do, ride around the Mediterranean on a super yacht doing very unsavory things like some other super rich folks who have been in the news lately? No, he - like everyone else, shouldn't be super rich at all. Nobody has done enough in their lives to deserve such wealth. Nobody. OK, maybe Stanislav Petrov. Maybe. And he never got any wealth in return for his genuinely meritorious actions. Fuck them all. If you've got, let's say, 500x median income for your nation or more, you should pay 100% tax on all further income. We can hand out a trophy with "You won capitalism" on it or something. Maybe put up a statue of them for the pigeons to crap on. But nobody in the history of the world has done enough with their lives to earn more than$16M in today's dollars.

Wealth, shown to scale
https://mkorostoff.github.io/1-pixel-wealth/

We can have a world in which wealthy people exist, without handing nearly all money to the super rich.

A trillion dollars is such a large figure, that you might as well say "eleventy gajillion zillion dollars." So in this section, we will try to understand the scale of this figure by looking at what could be accomplished with various chunks of this wealth.

Some will argue that using this wealth for public benefit is not possible, because it's "tied up" in stocks, and therefore inaccessible. This is just not true.

As we proceed, try to keep in mind: all of this wealth is controlled by a group so small, that they could fit on a single 747 airplane—with 260 seats left over.

#### lpetrich

##### Well-known member
Elon Musk is also involved in spacefaring, with his rocket company SpaceX.

There is some value in these spaceflight indulgences, I think. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are aiming at space tourism, and more tourists involved will likely bring down costs, from economies of scale. Such economies have happened with many technologies, and those economies may happen here also.

However, Elon Musk does not seem interested in running a space-tourism business.

But there is another indulgence that does not have nearly as much value. Yachts. Especially superyachts. - typically at least 40 m / 130 ft long to as much as 180 m / 590 ft.

The current size champion is . It is *huge*. One might almost say ... titanic.
• Gross tonnage (volume measurement): 13,136 (45,000 m^3).
• Length: 180 m / 590 ft, its beam 20.8 m
• Beam (width): 20.8 m / 68 ft
• Draft (depth below water): 4.3 m / 14 ft 1 in
• My estimate of displacement (mass): 10,000 metric tons
• Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
It was commissioned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. it cost more than $500 -$600 M.

The Azzam can have a crew of 70 to 80 people and it can have as many as 36 guests.

It has four engines, two diesel engines for long-distance travel and two turbine engines for great speed. The ship uses water-jet propulsion, with two fixed jets and two steerable jets. It's top-speed fuel consumption is 13 tons/hour. That's about 0.01 miles per gallon.

Azzam Superyacht - Ship Technology

#### lpetrich

##### Well-known member
The largest sailing yacht is about 120 m / 390 ft long at the waterline.

It has three masts with one big fore-and-aft sail on each one.

Next in line is the Sea Cloud, at 77 m / 250 ft long. It looks much like a late 19th cy. clipper ship, with lots of square-rigged sails and some fore-and-aft sals.

Of the other big sailing yachts, Eos, Athena, Aquijo, and Mirabella V have all fore-and-aft sails, much like the A, and much like a typical sailboat.

There are two big sailing yachts with a very innovative kind of sail setup. The Maltese Falcon and the Black Pearl both use DynaRig, a system with three masts that can rotate, each one with five remote-controlled square-rigged sails.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
bilby said:
Unless you're an autocratic king or dictator, nobody has their own money.

Money is a measure of what your society owes you. It's not property, or a commodity, and it doesn't belong to you. It's a measure of what society owes you at any given point in time, and your society gets to decide how it fluctuates in value. You might have some of it taken away as tax, or some of the value of it taken away by inflation. Or you might be given some for whatever reasons society has to give it away - as payment of salary for bureaucrats or soldiers; as a benefit to people otherwise unable to support themselves, or their families; as a grant for education, or public art, or scientific research.

Of course your money belongs to you, in the moral sense anyway, and legal technicalities aside.

And sure, it can be taken away as taxes. But so can - say - gold, or wheat, or oil, or anything. And you might be given some not by "society" but by some other individual, in exchange for something you do or give. Just like gold. Or salt. Or maze. Or pretty much anything. And the value might fall due to inflation. And again, that is the relative value against other things. Which might fall for anything, e.g., gold's value might fall because people do not value it anymore to the same extent, etc. So, your argument would apply to pretty much anything if it were proper.
Governments and central banks cannot manipulate the value of commodities. They don't control supply or demand.

But they can control money supply. Money isn't like a commodity. There are similarities, but there are very significant differences.
But be that as it may, when I say 'their money' I do not mean necessarily cash or currency in a bank account. In fact, most of their money is in terms of property, in turns in the form of shares of companies. And to get cash, they either get paid by some of those companies - not by society - with money some other individuals, companies (and so in the end other individuals), etc., pay them, or they sell shares, things like that.
Any of which transactions are subjected to tax, so that the amount of money they get is controllable by the government.
bilby said:
Money hasn't been a commodity people can own for almost a century.

It's a measure of what the world owes you. And nobody's done enough for the world to be owed a super yacht, or a private spacecraft.
Even if people did not own money, they do own super yachts. And private spacecrafts. And companies. And so on. And they get them because they get money. Which other people generally give them, willingly, by means of transactions they do of their own free will.
and which can be taxed at various rates.
It's not about what a nebulous 'society' owes you. It's about what other people choose to give you, usually but not always in exchange from what you give them.
It's a combination of both. But ultimately the value of money is determined by what it can buy, which is entirely dependent on what society can and does produce. The whole point of money is that it doesn't specify what it can be spent on. It's redeemable against any good or service available in society.
Well, that and what you inherit, but usually parents too choose to leave those resources - which they own - to their children, and would do so even if there were no inheritance law to make that transition smoother.
And again, such transactions can be (and often are) subject to taxes.

The dismantling of aristocracies worldwide has been achieved by taxation OR revolution. Taxes aren't theft, they're a civilised alternative to theft, that allows people to keep both their heads, and some of the wealth that they do not deserve all of.

When (as we see today) an aristocracy becomes hugely wealthy while disregarding high levels of poverty, something has to be done to reduce that inequality. It's better for all concerned that that something should be an orderly redistribution of wealth, because disorder tends to destroy both the wealth and the wealthy.

#### SLD

##### Well-known member
It's a measure of what the world owes you. And nobody's done enough for the world to be owed a super yacht, or a private spacecraft.

And then what, comrade? Expropriate the rich like they did in the glorious Soviet Union? How did that work out?

Well, actually better than the tsarist system that preceded it, but not as good as good as the system instituted by the west, which included high marginal tax rates for the uber wealthy, and significant antitrust enforcement, as well as other significant regulatory environment.

#### lpetrich

##### Well-known member
JB's new yacht is to have a support yacht with a helipad on it. That is because his main yacht will have three large masts on it. Will it be a sailing yacht?

From Bloomberg,
“The market’s been roaring,” said Sam Tucker, head of superyacht research at London-based VesselsValue. The number of transactions in recent quarters “was record-breaking -- the second-hand market is absolutely red hot.

If anything, demand for extravagantly high-end yachts has outstripped supply. “It’s impossible to get a slot in a new-build yard,” Tucker said. “They’re totally booked.”

The inland waterways of northern Germany, home to several highly regarded shipbuilders, are crammed with the city block-size steel hulls of future superyachts as well as existing yachts back for a spruce-up. In total, there are about 50 boats longer than 100 meters currently under construction, Tucker said. Bremen-based Luerssen is responsible for 10 of them.
The SCMP mentioned Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Richard Branson of Virgin, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, David Geffen, Larry Ellison of Oracle, Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller, Steve Jobs of Apple, Niklas Zennström of Skype, Jim Clark of Netscape, Charles Simonyi of Microsoft.

However, Elon Musk and Bill Gates like private planes, and some of these yacht lovers have bought secondhand yachts.

#### Derec

##### Well-known member
Convenient then that the rich write the laws, neh?
Bezos and Branson do not write the laws.
Hell, Bezos wasn't even able to build his HQ2 in Queens because a certain socialist freshman congresswoman objected.
The government is A LOT more powerful than the billionaires.

#### Derec

##### Well-known member
Thus being like the

Some people want to go beyond short suborbital flights. From the NYT,
The era of nonprofessional astronauts regularly heading to orbit may also begin in the coming year. Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire, is essentially chartering a rocket and spacecraft from SpaceX for a three-day trip to orbit that is scheduled for September.

In December, Space Adventures has arranged for a Japanese fashion entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa, and Yozo Hirano, a production assistant, to launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket on a 12-day mission that will go to the International Space Station.

Another company, Axiom Space in Houston, is arranging a separate trip to the space station that will launch as soon as January.

The orbital trips are too expensive for anyone except the superwealthy — Axiom’s three customers are paying $55 million each — while suborbital flights might be affordable to those who are merely well off. If we are counting hitching a ride on existing government (i.e. Russian) spacecraft and staying at the ISS as a paying customer, then that era has begun 20 years ago with Dennis Tito. Profile: Tito the spaceman #### Shadowy Man ##### Well-known member Convenient then that the rich write the laws, neh? Bezos and Branson do not write the laws. Hell, Bezos wasn't even able to build his HQ2 in Queens because a certain socialist freshman congresswoman objected. The government is A LOT more powerful than the billionaires. Bezos and Branson aren’t the only rich people. There are plenty of laws written to benefit rich people and their corporations, often at the ultimate expense of those less fortunate. Who do you think wrote those laws? Poor people? #### Angra Mainyu ##### Well-known member bilby said: Governments and central banks cannot manipulate the value of commodities. They don't control supply or demand. First, they can significantly manipulate the value of many commodities in the domestic market by means such as increasing or decreasing taxation, banning some imports or exports, etc. Second, they do not fully control the value of money, either: for example, the local peso falls vs. the dollar despite government efforts to prevent it. And of course, there is inflation. Third, that is not the point I was making. Rather, the point is that the properties of money you were listed are also properties of other things. For example, you say bilby said: You might have some of it taken away as tax, or some of the value of it taken away by inflation." Sure. And the same happens with wheat, corn, gold, or land: they can be taken away as tax, or some of the value is taken away by market forces, or by government intervention in the market, etc. bilby said: But they can control money supply. Money isn't like a commodity. There are similarities, but there are very significant differences. First, they can control to a considerable extent the supply of pretty much anything: they cannot increase supply indefinitely, but they can certainly limit it massively - how well depends on how well they can prevent smuggling. Second, no government can increase money supply of other currencies. And people can use other currencies. Third, that it's not a commodity is beside the point. It's still, for all intents and purposes, their money. But this is all beside my central point, which is that they are using their resources, regardless of whether they pay with dollars, euros, bitcoin, Tesla shares, or whatever. bilby said: Any of which transactions are subjected to tax, so that the amount of money they get is controllable by the government. And the same goes for any transactions in which they use, say, gold. Or wheat. Or shares of a company. Or a private currency. The point is that the government, at least if sufficiently powerful, can certainly use force to restrict the freedom of people to engage in transactions. My point is that it's not wrong in general to use one's own money (which pretty much means the same as 'one's own economic resources') to have some fun. bilby said: and which can be taxed at various rates. Yes, and even banned. Of course, the government, if sufficiently powerful, and take away people's money by force. And people's property, of any sort. I was not and I am not arguing that governments do not have enough power to take away people's stuff. bilby said: It's a combination of both. But ultimately the value of money is determined by what it can buy, which is entirely dependent on what society can and does produce. The whole point of money is that it doesn't specify what it can be spent on. It's redeemable against any good or service available in society. But I wasn't talking about the value of money (whatever that is, but leaving that aside). I was talking about how people give other people money, which is a convenient way of exchanging resources. bilby said: And again, such transactions can be (and often are) subject to taxes. Yes, and that happens to transactions using gold. Or bitcoin. Or shares. Or wheat. Or whatever. bilby said: The dismantling of aristocracies worldwide has been achieved by taxation OR revolution. Taxes aren't theft, they're a civilised alternative to theft, that allows people to keep both their heads, and some of the wealth that they do not deserve all of. Taxes may or may not be theft, depending on the case. But I'm not sure why you bring up 'aristocracies'. Revolutions tend to change one group of powerful people for another, at the cost of many lives and more suffering. bilby said: When (as we see today) an aristocracy becomes hugely wealthy while disregarding high levels of poverty, something has to be done to reduce that inequality. It's better for all concerned that that something should be an orderly redistribution of wealth, because disorder tends to destroy both the wealth and the wealthy. Massive inequality would come back again, as a result of the free choices of people. You could try to take away freedom to reduce inequality. But even in Cuba or North Korea, there is still massive inequality given the resources available to regime higher-ups. It is not destroying anything, except perhaps when some people decide to cause destruction. #### Derec ##### Well-known member I guess this guy never heard of log scales, or feels about them the same way Cueball does. We can have a world in which wealthy people exist, without handing nearly all money to the super rich. US household wealth is at ~130 trillion, so, no, the "super rich" do not own nearly all of it. Hell, US takes about the same amount from taxpayers every year as richest 400 Americans own and spends about twice that amount. A trillion dollars is such a large figure, that you might as well say "eleventy gajillion zillion dollars." No you might not. A trillion (short scale) is just 1000 billion or a million million. 1012 in the other words, or one terabuck. Now a long-scale trillion would be a truly baffling amount, much more than the estimated total wealth of the world, but it is still a well defined number (1018 or one exabuck). Some will argue that using this wealth for public benefit is not possible, because it's "tied up" in stocks, and therefore inaccessible. This is just not true. I guess it could be stolen. But like Soviet Union and Venezuela learned, eventually you run out of rich people to steal from, and then what? If you scroll far enough, you get to some spending ideas, given the$3.2 trillion controlled by the 400 richest Americans:

I do not see how they priced some of these things anyway. And with things like eradicating malaria the issue is not so much how to pay for it, but what approach to take. Gene drives (where you don't just modify some mosquitos' DNA but you put CRISPR-Cas9 machinery in there so it will modify the DNA of any offspring) offer a lot of promise, but are controversial.

So let's put the figure another way. The $3.2 terabucks 400 wealthiest Americans own would not even pay for the pared down version of the faux-infrastructure bill Dems want to push through reconciliation and it is about half of the full 6 terabuck Dems-alone bill lefty Dems like Sanders wanted. And this wealth, once confiscated, is gone and can't be used for the next item on the government's wish list. #### Derec ##### Well-known member Bezos and Branson aren’t the only rich people. Of course not. There are plenty of laws written to benefit rich people and their corporations, often at the ultimate expense of those less fortunate. Who do you think wrote those laws? Poor people? Politicians, of course. And different politicians are beholden to different groups of people. A law written by Bernie Sanders and AOC will be very different than one written by Lindsey Graham and Dan Crenshaw. #### Derec ##### Well-known member Ah, yes. Everything that's not the exact system approved by twenty-first century libertarian leaning small-government Americans, is Marxist-Leninism as practiced by Joe Stalin in the 1930s. If the jackboot fits, wear it! It's amazing how easy everything becomes when you deliberately avoid learning about anything other than devotion to the current system, with the only alternative being damnation. You are the one talking about how all money belongs to the government and how people should not be allowed to own more than you think proper. The only major difference between you and Comrade Kaprugina is where you want to draw the line. I keep forgetting that US economics is just US Christianity with a funny hat. You mean, without a funny hat? #### bilby ##### Fair dinkum thinkum If the jackboot fits, wear it! You are the one talking about how all money belongs to the government and how people should not be allowed to own more than you think proper. The only major difference between you and Comrade Kaprugina is where you want to draw the line. Which is a non-trivial difference, though you appear unable to grasp it. There are two insane extremes - Libertarian capitalism where taxes are considered theft; And Leveller communism in which any and all variation in wealth is considered criminal. Neither is rational; Between the two lies a wide spectrum of possible degrees of acceptance of redistribution of wealth. Clearly a profit incentive is useful. Equally clearly, no individual has done so much more than the average as to deserve four or five, much less six orders of magnitude more than any ordinary working person. The only thing such vast wealth achieves is power, and power in a democracy shouldn't be something a person can buy and sell. Of course, it's not only acceptable but practically necessary in an aristocracy. But I personally see a lot of major problems with aristocracy, and would expect that Americans, in particular, should feel the same - if you wanted to be ruled by unelected rich dudes, you could have skipped the whole Revolutionary War thing and stuck with the wealthy (and apparently therefore worthy) British monarchs. I keep forgetting that US economics is just US Christianity with a funny hat. You mean, without a funny hat? View attachment 34507 Yeah, I nearly edited that change in as soon as I wrote it. #### Ford ##### Well-known member Does anyone else find themselves secretly hoping that one of them explodes? That’s wrong I know, but what’s the point of these trips? They aren’t advancing science. They’re just going a multi million dollar thrill ride. I'm going to go back to something I said in another part of the board: How many people are lobbying their elected representatives to put more people into space? How many are signing petitions and forming community groups to say "we want space tourism now!"? Elected officials and politicians are clamoring to get more views and hits on social media for outrageous things they say and do, while Branson's brief flight got more than twice the hits (if you're counting official channels) as NASA's far more groundbreaking helicopter flight on Mars. I get it. When I was watching the wrap-up of the Virgin Galactic flight, it frustrated me to no end that the featured shot was of Branson walking alone away from his ship to swelling music as he "returned to Earth" triumphantly. And the pilots who became astronauts that day, and the other crew members who went into space with him were nowhere in the shot. It was absolutely an ego celebration...as we've come to expect from Sir Richard. Yet while he was walking in slow motion and Khalid was singing his new single, what were our elected representatives doing? A few of them were going on the Sunday talk shows to once again do the dance where the host confronts them with video of some outrageous shit they said, to which they respond with rehearsed talking points and the host lets them off the hook and says "thank you Senator for speaking with us today." When it comes to manned space flight - even if it's sub-orbital - governments are saying "we've got far smaller fish to fry." If billionaires blasting themselves into (almost) space gets the public interested in space flight, then so be it. The question of "should these people even be that rich?" is a separate discussion. For me personally? If I had a quarter of a million in disposable income, would I buy a brief sub-orbital ride in Branson's space plane vs another Bentley to park in my driveway? Yes. In a heartbeat. Thing is, it's something that only the ultra-wealthy can afford...for now. Will it always be a toy of the rich? Maybe. Maybe not. I remember when the first big flat-screen high definition televisions came out. They looked amazing, but I couldn't afford to drop 10 grand on one. I have something similar in my bedroom right now. It cost about 350 bucks. Maybe by the time I get to Branson's age (about 15 years from now) the cost of a sub-orbital tourist flight will have come down a bit. Maybe not. But at this point, the billionaires are the ones taking the shot. If they want to throw their money at space tourism, I say let them. #### lpetrich ##### Well-known member$500 million for a yacht? One can get a simple, no-frills motorboat for $5,000 or less -- essentially a rowboat with an outboard engine attached. That means that that yacht costs as much as 100,000 simple motorboats. A houseboat is more expensive, something like$500,000, making that yacht equal to 1,000 houseboats.

If one wants to spend that much money on a big boat, why not spend it on something that will be more broadly useful? Like Australian businessman Clive Palmer with his proposed . Yes, that ill-fated ship, but with lots of updates. He intends it to be a cruise ship that at least approximately re-creates the style of the original.

Or other replicas of notable ships of the past.

#### Swammerdami

Staff member
Were those who watched the video impressed with the obvious delight of the buxom woman frolicking in free-fall? She looked much too young to be a Virgin executive; should her seat have been given to a Nobel Laureate or a top statesman?

I think I was especially envious of the exclusive free-fall club that Branson doubtless joined once the camera was turned off.

#### RVonse

##### Well-known member
(though it's actually also for publicity, as they want to sell such thrill rides to other very rich people).
This is what it is.

They aren't doing it for a joy ride. And they aren't doing it to advance science either. They are doing it to make money which is how capitalism works in a free economy.

It is the same business model that Elon Musk used with Tesla. First you market a product that only the rich can afford (Roadster) while improvements and advancement can be made to production until a price point is realized for average consumers. For Branson, that will mean providing quick and low cost travel between cities very far away. He may not succeed but that is the goal of all of these billionaires.

They did not become billionaires by being stupid.

#### DBT

##### Well-known member
Not stupid, just greedy, egotistical, and the means with which to achieve their goals.

#### RVonse

##### Well-known member
Not stupid, just greedy
Yes
egotistical
You can't really tell. Sometimes the marketing requires the entrepreneur to appear egotistical
and the means with which to achieve their goals.
Yes, but that is good. Even if you are a little person when they achieve their goals, your life also gets incrementally better too. Technology advancements for the average person to travel from NYC to Sydney in 2 hours flight time.

#### hurtinbuckaroo

##### Well-known member
Amazon shareholders will probably be crapping themselves as Bezos gets strapped in.

#### TomC

##### Well-known member
Technology advancements for the average person to travel from NYC to Sydney in 2 hours flight time.

Is that a good thing?

For some people, it might well serve their immediate purposes. But over all, does it benefit the Human Family as a whole?

I doubt it.
From transporting viruses to pumping green house gasses into everybody's environment, I'm certain that this is fundamentally immoral.

Legal. Profitable*. But immoral.

Tom

* Check out the history of the French jet Concorde to see how profitable earth stupid transportation is, sometimes.