Fans of increased government intervention in the economy often like to justify their position by pointing to the success of the moon landing. “If we can put a man on the moon,” the refrain goes, “we can surely rebuild our crumbling infrastructure (or provide everyone with healthcare, etc.).”
There’s no question the moon landing was a fantastic achievement.
But there’s also no question that it was extremely expensive. The Apollo program, for instance, cost about $100 billion in today’s money.
Skeptics of government intervention point to such massive costs of government programs to argue that it’s not that government cannot do things, but it’s just that it costs us all so much more when they do.
In the new Learn Liberty video below, Nebraska College of Law Professor Gus Hurwitz explains how, today, it’s private enterprise that is taking space exploration to the next level. For example, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, sells tickets to take people into space for $250,000. Elon Musk built his own rocket at a fraction of the cost of NASA’s.
Such private space exploration will be more efficient and more focused than the government’s space program. “And that’s the beauty of the free market,” says Professor Hurwitz. “It encourages smart risk-taking that produces incredible, unexpected new technologies and discoveries.”
This is true about the space economy and beyond.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, many private companies still receive government support. SpaceX, for instance, received $20 million from the government to build new facilities in Texas. However, as a private company, SpaceX still has to win contracts and prove its value to private investors. If it fails to do so, it will lose money or be beaten by competitors.
That’s why, despite the government support, SpaceX pushed itself to create a rocket that cost far less than the one NASA had already developed. Clearly, this is a huge improvement over government monopoly, and one can only imagine how much more growth would occur if government stopped interfering in the private sector altogether.