Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 07, 2021

Space Oddities

Jeff Bezos is going to space, says a CNN report:

Jeff Bezos will be flying to space on the first crewed flight of the New Shepard, the rocket ship made by his space company, Blue Origin. The flight is scheduled for July 20th, just 15 days after he is set to resign as CEO of Amazon.

Blue Origin said Bezos' younger brother, Mark Bezos, will also join the flight.
...
If all goes according to plan, Bezos — the world's richest person with a net worth of $187 billion — will be the first of the billionaire space tycoons to experience a ride aboard the rocket technology that he's poured millions into developing. Not even Elon Musk, whose SpaceX builds rockets powerful enough to enter orbit around Earth, has announced plans to travel to space aboard one of his companies human-worthy crew capsules.

The world richest person will of course not pay for the trip.

Blue Origin as well as its competitor SpaceX are part of NASA's commercial crew and human landing system (HLS) programs which subsidize and support the development of various space flight and moon landing systems.

This was supposed to lead to the development of several commercial space services from which NASA can then select one for each of its missions. But when Blue Origin lost out in a recent bid to actually build the human landing system the company immediately launched a protest:

Blue Origin says in the GAO protest that its “National Team,” which included Draper, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, bid $5.99 billion for the HLS award, slightly more than double SpaceX’s bid. However, it argues that it was not given the opportunity to revise that bid when NASA concluded that the funding available would not allow it to select two bidders, as originally anticipated. NASA requested $3.3 billion for HLS in its fiscal year 2021 budget proposal but received only $850 million in an omnibus appropriations bill passed in December 2020.

Having failed to bilk the government out of several more billions Bezos called on his lobbyists:

In recent years, Blue Origin also has given its operation in the nation’s capital more muscle. It spent nearly $2 million in lobbying last year, up from a little more than $400,000 in 2015, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks spending. The company’s political action committee has amped up its donations as well, spending $320,000 in 2020, up from $22,000 in 2016.

A few envelopes changed hands and achieved the desired result:

Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell—from Amazon’s home state of Washington—tacked on $10 billion for NASA into the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that allocates funding to conduct research in technological innovation and space exploration. Presumably, Blue Origin will get a chunk of this, since Cantwell’s amendment specifically states that NASA will subsidize “design, development, testing, and evaluation for not fewer than 2 entities” for the Human Landing System Program. (Both Blue Origin and Dynetics had competed for the contract.)

That led to to a pissing contest with Elon Musk's SpaceX:

In a flier, SpaceX said the Cantwell amendment “undermines the federal government procurement process, rewards Jeff Bezos with a $10 billion sole-source hand-out, and will throw NASA’s Artemis program into years of litigation.” It adds that Blue Origin “has not produced a single rocket or spacecraft capable of reaching orbit.”
...
Blue Origin came back with its own flier subtitled “What is Elon Musk afraid of...a little competition?” with itemized “lies” in SpaceX’s flier. Its bottom line: “Elon Musk repeatedly talks about the value of competition, but when it comes to NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) program, he wants it all to himself.”

That Bezos is suddenly lauding the merit of competition, after having lost a bid with a way too high price, is more than a bit hypocritical:

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced Tuesday he's suing Amazon on antitrust grounds, alleging the company's practices have unfairly raised prices for consumers and suppressed innovation.

Racine is seeking to end what he alleges is Amazon's illegal use of price agreements to edge out competition; the lawsuit also asks for damages and penalties to deter similar conduct.

Amazon, Bezos' main company, also gets billions in subsidies and does not pay taxes.

Bezos, Musk and other billionaires are errors in our economic-political systems. They should be eliminated.

I am fine with subsidizing Bezos' or Musk's flights to space.

But don't make it round-trip tickets.

Posted by b on June 7, 2021 at 17:15 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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If we assume the chance of a 'mishap' is in the 1% region for a launch, about x̄ = $1.87 billion is the added cost for having him aboard.

Posted by: Billb | Jun 7 2021 17:21 utc | 1

I believe Bezos is just doing this for social media clout.

It must be difficult to be one of the most powerful men on the planet who can have and do just about anything one desired and yet be hollow and empty inside, with no real purpose in life but to enslave others and then strap one's self to a rocket in order to feel any sort of emotion at all.

One-way tickets! Brilliant.

Posted by: Rutherford82 | Jun 7 2021 17:34 utc | 2

Bezos and Musk are considered a couple of smart operators in some quarters. The US seems to have an inexhaustible supply of money and the space program is a pretty harmless diversion. US taxpayers don't seem to mind too much. It's also a make-work project (much like the pyramids) and I'm sure all the people who get employed by it aren't complaining.

Posted by: dh | Jun 7 2021 17:38 utc | 3

It is hard to make an anti-billionaire narrative work in the West for ideological reasons. See this as a recent example:

China executes 14 billionaires in 8 years, Culture News reports

If you read the replies to this tweet, you can clearly see why Americans tolerate the existence of billionaires: according to liberal ideology, the alternative would simply be too much worse.

The whole legitimacy of capitalism to masses lies in the assumption it is a pure and limitless meritocracy: you get monetarily rewarded in the exact proportion of your individual qualities and hard work.

The moment you start to arrest and even execute billionaires for crimes related to the economy (white collar crime), you're tacitly admitting the free market has a ceiling: you cannot get indefinitely rich, therefore you're not entirely free. It may be a tall cage, but it is still a cage - a precept that would kill the liberal concept of individual freedom.

That's why Westerners are completely ok with death penalties for crimes related to individual defects (i.e. serial killers, rapists) or related to a violation of the game (crimes against private property; robbery; rigging), but not with "white collar crimes" - no matter how much more damaging white collar crimes are to society (e.g. only one middle management guy got arrested in the aftermath of the crisis of 2008, and he got very little time).

So, the problem isn't in the fact that Westerners don't recognize that extreme wealth concentration is a problem, but that they think that this is a necessary evil, the price of freedom. It's like the Egyptians servants building the pyramids for their dead pharaohs under the fear the world will literally end if they don't.

Posted by: vk | Jun 7 2021 17:49 utc | 4

Bezos reaches his ultimate goal: Being a space cadet!

Posted by: Linda J | Jun 7 2021 17:51 utc | 5

Oh well, in the same way as renaissance painters, composers, and inventors were patronized by rich and powerful, NASA will be patronized by Bezos and other bozos.

I guess this is just the way it is.

Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Jun 7 2021 17:52 utc | 6

If you are so smart, how come you have so much money?

Posted by: Duncan Idaho | Jun 7 2021 17:58 utc | 7

Has Blue Origin done enough testing?

The failure rate for private American rockets is fairly high if I remember correctly.

It just seems an extremely expensive joyride or an extremely risky publicity stunt to boost Blue Origin's bottom line.

Posted by: Mar man | Jun 7 2021 17:58 utc | 8

I'm with b in his sentiments about the parasites Bezos and Musk.

Meanwhile, there's this development:

"In a sales contract of the Sea Launch project, the United States has prohibited Russia’s S7 from using the floating spaceport to compete with SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Head of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said on Monday.

"'Specific strict restrictions were imposed upon the signing of the contract for the transfer of two Sea Launch vessels to the Russian company and so we have no right to use them in competition with Elon Musk,' the Roscosmos chief said at the State Duma’s (lower house) hearings on Western sanctions and measures to cushion their impact on Russian politics and the economy.

The Roscosmos head also said he was surprised that government lawyers were acting on behalf of a private company. He also recalled that the United States had 'yanked out all the equipment' from the Sea Launch compound and promised to restore the floating spaceport." [My Emphasis]

Here's more info on Sea Launch, which appears to be a casualty of the Outlaw US Empire's Ukrainian Coup. The vessels will likely continue to rust.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 7 2021 18:16 utc | 9

Q: What's even more American than apple pie?
A: "A few envelopes changed hands and achieved the desired result."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 7 2021 18:17 utc | 10

China's and Russia's space efforts are state-orchestrated programs. It seems USA is now set on delegating such efforts to the free enterprise system, ostensibly a deliberate change to contrast the socialist/capitalist dichotomy debate :-). Good luck USA.

Can private enterprise company look beyond profits and costs in overcoming technical difficulties? Can they refrain from playing politics and dirty tricks to win bids and manipulate budgets? Would scientists, lured purely by high paying jobs, develop the kind of passion that sparks innovations and achievements? Can such free enterprise entities persevere and perpetuate? Can such entities be tactically managed efficiently by bureaucrats at NASA and Congressional budget committee staff who are now just techno-dumb non-accountable zombies no different from 95% of government employees of today? Hahaha.... Good luck USA.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Jun 7 2021 18:23 utc | 11

So, the problem isn't in the fact that Westerners don't recognize that extreme wealth concentration is a problem, but that they think that this is a necessary evil, the price of freedom. It's like the Egyptians servants building the pyramids for their dead pharaohs under the fear the world will literally end if they don't.

Posted by: vk | Jun 7 2021 17:49 utc | 4

//

The problem is less ideological, even if that approach is always attractive:

theoretical ceilings are attractive, too, but high taxes are a much softer way to reduce the drawbacks of billionaires. Making inheritance above 1 Million illegal is also a very soft way that will never touch the individuals concept because everything beyond death cannot be conceptionalized. There's literally a thousand ways, but having tax havens that will absolutely never vanish makes these options impossible.

Posted by: AnswerAtVK | Jun 7 2021 18:30 utc | 12

Jeff and his Brother having a fatal accident in one of those rockets would be the news of 2021 for sure. Let's wish them luck.

Posted by: Boozos | Jun 7 2021 18:32 utc | 13

@ Posted by: AnswerAtVK | Jun 7 2021 18:30 utc | 12

Yes, that's why rising taxes is essentially the only concrete argument of the Western left, as it is the only way capitalism has of recouping some wealth from the richest without "killing them" as a class. It's easy to make fun of American and European leftists for trying to paint higher and more progressive taxation as a panacea, but, if you think about it, it's the only thing they have.

The logic of higher taxation is specially irresistible to the center-left: after all, the rich must, at some point, start to distribute at least some of their exorbitant wealth to the poorest masses because of some fear of revolt/revolution, right? Right!?

However, in practice, higher taxation is not feasible. First, because the rich control the governments. Second, because, if they didn't, it would simply be better for the proletariat to go full revolutionary mode and take control of everything. Third, the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall implies that higher or lower taxation tends to become a matter of life or death for the capitalist system the more it develops.

Posted by: vk | Jun 7 2021 18:43 utc | 14

@ Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Jun 7 2021 17:52 utc | 6

Except it isn't. Space exploration was born and only makes sense in the context of national interests.

Posted by: vk | Jun 7 2021 18:45 utc | 15

Bill Gates must be so jealous.

I would be a gift to uw all if he were hoist by his own petard here.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jun 7 2021 18:47 utc | 16

So, Bezos and his bro are going into space. BFD, would be nice if they'd just pay their employees a living wage, and pay their F'ing taxes....

Posted by: vetinLA | Jun 7 2021 19:00 utc | 17

b - i like your last 2 lines!

maybe i'm cynical, but it seems to me bezos and musk symbolize all that is wrong with our world today..

Posted by: james | Jun 7 2021 19:10 utc | 18


China executes 14 billionaires in 8 years, Culture News reports

Americans tolerate the existence of billionaires: I read them and do not see what you are talking about?

The moment you start to arrest and even execute billionaires for crimes related to the economy (white collar crime),
vk @ 4 <=corruption is not a crime related te economy it is a violation of human rights..

"white collar corruption" - is protected by the structure and design of the US constitution.. To be a crime there must be a law, there are few white collar crimes that have been criminalized by law. Until recently the MSM help Americans manage corruption by exposing it.

Corruption is not thought of as a necessary evil, or a price of freedom, by Americans, its thought of as something ordinary deplorable Americans have no means to prosecute. That is why i keep saying humanity needs a government to govern the governors and their feudal lords.
<= Americans have no say in who gets arrested or executed. Execution is invention of those who use the authority given to them under the constitution of the nation state but most of us think it is a violation of human rights. Most Americans believe capital offense should be reserved for those who use corruption of nation state to get where they are.. but unlike China, Americans cannot count of their government to enforce human rights.

Posted by: snake | Jun 7 2021 19:22 utc | 19

"I am fine with subsidizing Bezos' or Musk's flights to space.

But don't make it round-trip tickets."

LOL.

Better yet, make them cadets in America's new Space Force and outfitted in the appropriate Star Wars imperial stormtroopers uniforms.

And then blast them off on a one-way ticket to their outer space destination of choice.


Posted by: ak74 | Jun 7 2021 19:38 utc | 20

Getting rid of Bezos does not structurally change the social contract and his death would not even bring up the subject.

Who gets his new trophy wife if he dies?

Going to space in a system where all the parts are built under the God of Mammon paradigm seems like asking for similar results to those we are seeing from a health care system with the same modus operandi about Covid......no thank you! I would love to go to space but not in a space ship built under the profit meme.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jun 7 2021 19:57 utc | 21

Bezos will not strap himself to an experiment. His Hollywood friends will fake to order.

Posted by: oldhippie | Jun 7 2021 20:36 utc | 22

Better 10 billion spent on moon based than more gain of function research... although at the rate they print $ there will be no shortage for either.

Maybe Jeff can use the $ to make real baked cookies with his face on them ( aka kamala) so we plebs can add him to the collection of family idols

Posted by: Les7 | Jun 7 2021 20:38 utc | 23

USAi political corruption is beyond pathetic. No Medicare for all, grinding student debt, ridiculous infrastructure decline, bloated military waste and now this disgraceful exhibition of bought politicians.

Biden presidency is shaping up as the most corrupted presidency on record.
Idi Amin is looking more like a statesman with every passing day.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jun 7 2021 20:41 utc | 24

@oldhippie | Jun 7 2021 20:36 utc | 22

Bezos will not strap himself to an experiment. His Hollywood friends will fake to order.

Maybe he needs a fresh restart and a convenient accident would enable that.

Posted by: Norwegian | Jun 7 2021 20:41 utc | 25

The desire of moneyed 'leaders' to be seen 'driving' at the forefront of transport technology, probably goes back a long way in history.

Posted by: tucenz | Jun 7 2021 20:47 utc | 26

Norwegian @ 25

Please notice the massively high proportion of celebrities who meet untimely ends. What you suggest happens all the time.

Posted by: oldhippie | Jun 7 2021 20:48 utc | 27

The greatest Supreme Court in the history of the world ruled not long ago that money is speech, therefore, Bezos was not bribing those politicians, his money was merely having a conversation with their bank accounts. It's all good.

Posted by: Gareth | Jun 7 2021 20:52 utc | 28

"Bezos, Musk and other billionaires are errors in our economic-political systems. They should be eliminated."

AMEN

(ps. Lamp-posts or guillotine? A little from column A and a little form column B...)

Posted by: Patroklos | Jun 7 2021 21:02 utc | 29

@ vk #4

Your analysis is right. The imaginary relationship between value and virtue is in operation here, which is of course a theological relationship. Even with the lottery there is an ideology of reward.

My question to you is this: capitalism cannot manage the structural contradictions (the fact that it is not meritocratic and value has nothing to do with morality) indefinitely. At some point the phenomenon of the 'billionaire' will be recognised as pathological in relation to civil society. But I cannot foresee how that will happen. The pessimist in me wonders if these scum won't simply use their wealth as the basis for a new aristocratic fiction.

Posted by: Patroklos | Jun 7 2021 21:15 utc | 30

@16 nope, bill can spawn anytime a rocket out of his fly, just toss the proper fuel.

Posted by: murcen23 | Jun 7 2021 21:17 utc | 31

Bezos, Musk, and other billionaires are emblems of our economic-political systems. FIFY. They and their works are monuments to corporatism and the end of democracy, certainly in the US.

Raising taxes to ease the West's massive income inequalities would only happen in a government not of, by, and for the billionaire/corporate. So we will have to wait until the greed and sadism of neoliberalism/corporatism become so extreme that change comes through extra-governmental forces, or they simply destroy the planet first.

Posted by: NoOneYouKnow | Jun 7 2021 21:26 utc | 32

...and VK pops up like clockwork to spout rubbish about the Chi coms. there's a certain comfort in the predictability of it all, I suppose.

space doesn't care about the "laws of economics" of the idiots of earth. but there will be more mourning for Bezos when he and his crew have no one to hear them scream than for the millions of dead and ruined by the coronavirus. and i'm going to have a hearty laugh. pack that space ship. why aren't Biden, Blinken, the Clintons, Trumps and Bushes going?

Posted by: rjb1.5 | Jun 7 2021 21:35 utc | 33

Where does Bezos’ supposed wealth come from? Does anyone have a memory? Back in 90s he was an online bookstore. At a moment when real bookstores were busy going out of business. He was a billionaire back then. He was a media legend back then. For what?

Fabled and sadly departed Seminary Co-op Books did fulfillment for Amazon on any order for a book that was not stocked in warehouse quantity. I asked once how they could manage all the business Amazon brought them. Answer was simple. Amazon brought them very little business. Amazon did not have any business. Amazon was vapor ware. But favored by the gods. Bezos’ first billion and first ten billion was based on nothing.

Bezos is just a frontman. They give him a big house and a fancy car and a fancy lady and put his picture in the paper. He is a zero. Forget analyzing the business model. In these latter days it is admitted that Bezos is tight with CIA. Only place any of his supposed wealth exists is in Langley.

Posted by: oldhippie | Jun 7 2021 21:41 utc | 34

throw DeSantis in there too. He can gasp his last blaming Qyuba and the commie takeover of his state when they all blow up on the launch pad.

one question Rick: how did the commies take over while you were governor? is it Cooba sending those rising floods into Miami?

Posted by: rjb1.5 | Jun 7 2021 21:42 utc | 35

I’ll add to #34 it was one clerk working in an old basement who handled the Amazon account at Seminary Co-op. For anything that was not what you could pick up at a news stand. And it was the least of his duties.

Posted by: oldhippie | Jun 7 2021 21:53 utc | 36

@ Posted by: Patroklos | Jun 7 2021 21:15 utc | 30

I think Lenin had already contemplated on this in the aftermath of the Revolution. He speculated about the advanced capitalist nations creating "working class aristocracies" thanks to the rise and absorption of trade-unionism (social-democracy). The working classes of the imperialist nations would then prefer to fight for the empire - and, therefore, for capitalism - instead of for a communist revolution, because they want to protect the privileges they already earned during the decades.

If the working classes of the USA and the rest of the First World decide for this, then there can't be another conclusion than the rise of a new form of Fascism in those nations in a not-so-distant future.

I don't believe in the center-left/Keynesian (liberals/liberal leftists) hypothesis that states the capitalist class will not let fascism rise because, alongside it, comes potentially the risk of communist revolution (even if only mathematical). The liberal leftists then state that the system will never break, because, ultimately, the dominant/capitalist class will, even if by an act of self-preservation, do something to address the issue of extreme inequality (they'll rise wages, donate more money, voluntarily pay more tax, distribute beneficia, employ universal basic income, get out of the direct political game a little bit, behave a little better etc. etc. etc.). The most illustrative example of this position is Paul Krugman, who recently published in an op-ed of the NYT that printing money is not a problem for now, because, eventually, American democracy (the system) will work and more taxes on the rich will pass somehow. Put in other words, the center-leftists of the First World still have faith in the system at the end of the day - their dominant classes are not crazy, and they will make everything work eventually, thus triggering a second Golden Age of Capitalism. I repeat that I don't believe this hypothesis at all; in my opinion, the social-democrats are hanging themselves.

Posted by: vk | Jun 7 2021 21:54 utc | 37

@vk 15,
so what? Medici and other oligarchs gave money to Leonardo, Bezos and other oligarchs will be giving money to NASA. What's so controversial here? Gates, Branson, it happens all the time.

Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Jun 7 2021 22:06 utc | 38

@ Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Jun 7 2021 22:06 utc | 38

You're comparing a revolutionary technology that has many potential implications to the future of mankind with a bunch of painters from the Renaissance. Apples and oranges.

I linked a Global Times or People's Daily (they often echo each other) article some weeks ago, stating China's official position on its space sector. It stated with all the words that they were not investing on space exploration for propaganda purposes, but because it is not a valid sector of the economy and of national defense. Yes, this is the Second Space Race, but it is very different from the first one.

--//--

@ Posted by: oldhippie | Jun 7 2021 21:41 utc | 34

Bezos wealth comes from something called monopsony. He devoured and decimated the American petty bourgeoisie, growing his capital in the process.

This process only intensified during the pandemic. The petty bourgeoisie (American designation: small/middle businessowners) is just a disposable pawn in the great game of capitalism. The middle class think they're the main character, but they're just a minor one.

Posted by: vk | Jun 7 2021 22:19 utc | 39

Fifteen days after resigning as CEO.
So Amazon is betting on Bezos becoming space debris.

Posted by: bjd | Jun 7 2021 22:35 utc | 40

Posted by: vk | Jun 7 2021 18:43 utc | 14


"However, in practice, higher taxation is not feasible. First, because the rich control the governments. Second, because, if they didn't, it would simply be better for the proletariat to go full revolutionary mode and take control of everything. Third, the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall implies that higher or lower taxation tends to become a matter of life or death for the capitalist system the more it develops."


//


The most oligarchically "natural", and in my small knowledge historically usual next step for FANG and co would be to become swallowed up by state actors in a grand scheme of expropriation or enforced mergers.

Entanglements and centralization always converge to some sort of nationalization or even "naturalization" of any subjects property if it is big OR useful enough.

That is, if foreign state actors do not buy the pudding first.

And there it is, states always sucks at conserving wealth or propelling it, thus blowing all the generated USD into the wind.

Posted by: AnwserAtVK | Jun 7 2021 22:39 utc | 41

I suggest those wondering how the wealthy get so wealthy read/re-read this Hudson essay from 11 years ago (Tax) "Schemes of the Rich and Greedy". The key as Hudson has said a great many times is the rich buy lawyers, accountants and congresscritters to write and enact legislation that insulates them from paying taxes via making most of their income be classified as Capital Gains, on which the tax rate is very low by design. To make the wealthy pay, the entire tax code needs to be rewritten from definitions as to what constitutes income and what gets taxed to the rates of those taxes.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 7 2021 22:57 utc | 42

@ 36 old hippie

Thanks for in intriguing insight behind the smoke and mirrors

Posted by: les7 | Jun 7 2021 22:58 utc | 43

@30

My view is that it's all an illusion that some "ism" has any say in the historicity or wanderings of the human animal. There's no "ism" for the behavior of penguins.

If your question is narrowed down to what will happen to the "West", then the answer is clear that it will be looted and skimmed like a car left in the wrong city.

The human ape loots with wit, innovates to solve the same set of personal problems of its short life every generation anew.

Same shit, different epoch.

Posted by: AnswerToPatroklos | Jun 7 2021 23:25 utc | 44

@38 Mao Cheng Ji - "Medici"

I was thinking the same thing. A recent Renegade Inc had an interesting show in discussion with Tim Parks, author of "Medici Money", on the show of the same name:

Renegade Inc: Medici money

The point was that of all the moneylenders in history, it was the Medici who first mounted a clear campaign to cleanse the image of usury from its long standing conflict with the Church. Cosimo knew exactly how to do this, with the instincts of a Bill Gates or any other billionaire "philanthropist" - he threw money at the institutions as their patron, until they came to love him, and to forgive how he stole his money.

Under Medici's design, the show reveals, religious iconography changed from austere to plush. Religion, too, came to love money.

And that job had already been done for centuries when this modern crop of idols came into being. When you have as much money as Bezos - and are as empty inside as other commenters have already mentioned - public adulation is all that matters, apart from waging war on and crushing all the other competing oligarchs.

It's a silly world, built on the ugliest of foundations, and intended to wash away all trace of that intrinsic ugliness. And the people behind it see the utility of having the public adulate these empty shells of men.

Posted by: Grieved | Jun 7 2021 23:44 utc | 45

It will be sooner that US truly lands a man on the moon then the divorced Jeffy-boy straps himself onto a completely untested rocket of his and flies into orbit. I cannot believe how many people, even here were smarter people come, fell for it. Have you people ever heard of marketing bull? It ain't gonna happen!

The above was said tongue in cheek; I cannot know if US really landed astronauts on the Moon (I would like to believe that they did), but I have zero doubt that most of the photos of the affair were staged.

Also, recently I enjoyed reading comments of some of you about extraterrestrial civilizations. Many people here are extremely well read. The most important comment, of course, was the reminder of the Theory of Separation - the civilizations are not separated only by huge space distances whilst constrained by speed of light, then also by the short civilization expiry. Naturally, this theory's dubious axiom is that the humans do have a civilization and that all civilizations are alike the human one, which kills & lies more the more it becomes "civilized". Any real extraterrestrial civilization would simply ignore humans. If it had any flying saucers around Earth, it would probably wish to help humanity by eliminating one of its most vicious members and his brother from the gene pool of this suffering planet (if he were to really fly). Then why stop there when there is the whole US to sanitize?

Posted by: Kiza | Jun 8 2021 0:06 utc | 46

With that ridiculous post you opened a cesspool of extreme leftist envy and bullshit that spilled in the comments.

Both of these gentlemen, Musk and Bezos, have built something most of you cannot even comprehend. Yet, you're calling them parasites and want to send them for "one way ride" into space. Sure, because you were too stupid and too lazy to set up a Gulag for them.

Good that the intellectual level of the left is constantly dropping. After decades of practice and millions of human victims of socialist experiments, only idiots can believe Marx and his pseudointellectual offspring. Too bad you're again getting aggressive.

Posted by: emes | Jun 8 2021 0:13 utc | 47

@ Posted by: emes | Jun 8 2021 0:13 utc | 47

Both of these gentlemen, Musk and Bezos, have built something most of you cannot even comprehend.

Hmm... looks like cult of personality to me.

Posted by: vk | Jun 8 2021 0:29 utc | 48

Caitlin had a good piece awhile back about these two bozos

as she is so good about pointing out, many/all these multi-millionaires and billionaires are really just psychopaths and sociopaths who lack any kind of real development in their abilities to empathize with other people - hence their intelligence, cunning, and manipulation skills far outstrips any of their humane qualities, virtues, or simple humanity

they are the epitome of what T.S. Eliot called, The Hollow Men

..racing off into space and ruining at 'maximum warp-drive' the spoiled Earth-planet they want to leave behind them. In a word, eco-cidal capitalism, with 'space exploration' as an 'escape hatch'


https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2021/05/07/space-colonization-is-a-capitalist-perception-management-op/

"....The mainstream press cannot get enough of these two unfathomably wealthy plutocrats and their outspoken ambition to colonize space, with Musk advocating Mars colonization and Bezos preferring to ship us all offworld to live in giant Amazon space tubes. They love it for the same reason they love war and status quo politicians: it fits in beautifully with the capitalist world order.

Space colonization is largely a capitalist perception management op promoted by the likes of Musk and Bezos to strengthen the narrative that it’s okay to continue the world-raping global capitalist principle of infinite growth on a finite world because we can escape the catastrophic ecological consequences of that paradigm by fleeing to space...."

pity on this planet ruled over by this species with people like Bezos, Musk, Gates, Soros, and Biden-Trump-Obama-Clinton et. al. as their 'leaders'

Posted by: michaelj72 | Jun 8 2021 0:50 utc | 49

Kiza@46 -

"It will be sooner that US truly lands a man on the moon ..."

"I cannot know if US really landed astronauts on the Moon (I would like to believe that they did), but I have zero doubt that most of the photos of the affair were staged."

I don't know either, but what I have been told, and what I have seen, would suggest otherwise.

I am not aware of any technological advance that had to be recreated from the beginning like getting to outer space has been. I mean, if we did this a mere 60ish years ago, then all we really have to do is improve upon what was done previously, not recreate the whole concept.

And yet, recent efforts in that direction have been met with repeated failures, rockets blowing shortly after leaving the launch pad for example, or before they even leave the atmosphere as another. I remember reading about six months ago what an achievement it was to send a rocket into near space and have it come back to the planet it one piece. That is the equivalent of building the combustion engine in 1950, at least according to what we have been told.

I am always amazed that when I point out these things, or express skepticism, that I am the idiot.

I agree with you that this is a place where people of above average intelligence gather, which is why I enjoy reading here, but I was not impressed with the UFO thread. So many people spewing forth on what is and what is not possible, as if they were experts on things they cannot possibly know.

One can theorize about 'wetness', and even study it for eons, but until one actually gets wet, one doesn't know shit about the sensation of contact with water.

I wish more people could come to terms with what they think they 'know', and what they have actually experienced. Without actually experiencing something one doesn't know a god damn thing about it, other that what others have told them. And even experience is subjective, so one can't be certain what one had experienced is real, at least not until others have experienced the same thing, and even then there is no 'certainty'.

How does one 'know' that one isn't a character in someone else's video game?

Posted by: David F | Jun 8 2021 1:45 utc | 50

Yo b, you still sucking dick in alabama or has covid put a damper on your activities?

Posted by: Johnny | Jun 8 2021 1:53 utc | 51

Bezos, Musk and other billionaires certainly are NOT 'errors in our economic-political systems'. First the particular system that produced them ain't 'our' economic-political system. We were born into it and never got to 'choose' it.

Second, through competition between capitalists, capital becomes ever more concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, along with the wealth accumulated therefrom. No capitalist competes for the sake of competition -- they all compete to eliminate the competition, to corner and otherwise monopolise the market. Bezos et al. are simply the current products of that process, and there's nothing unusual or 'unnatural' about it.

The sooner the delusion is dispelled that ever-increasing wealth concentration and disparities aren't part and parcel of the capitalist system, or that its beneficiaries are 'errors', the better.

Posted by: Stephen Morrell | Jun 8 2021 2:49 utc | 52

@49 Caitlin nails it! Give a monkey a big brain and he'll think he's the center of the universe. At humanities current stage of evolution we are hardly different than bacteria in a petri dish consuming everything until there is no more before dying off?

If the universe is lucky, we will perish with this planet.

My online handle used to be jmichael72...when I first encountered michaelj72, I though one of my friends was messing with me...

Posted by: Haassaan | Jun 8 2021 2:57 utc | 53

"The desire of moneyed 'leaders' to be seen 'driving' at the forefront of transport technology, probably goes back a long way in history.

Posted by: tucenz | Jun 7 2021 20:47 utc | 26"

Yes, there were a few moneyed leaders who sailed on the most luxurious, unsinkable ship of her day, the Titanic. Didnt quite make it to New York. Here's wishing...

Posted by: Tom | Jun 8 2021 3:03 utc | 54

emes @47

Don't believe the hype about titans of free enterprise leading the way into space, its always been a socialist (or at least state-led) endeavour. It was the USSR that led the way in the 1950s-60s, shaming the US into creating a 'social-democratic' organisation known as NASA that kept the planning and engineering aspects under state control while using the aerospace companies for production.

The era of neoliberalism led to utter stagnation in space exploration, leaving the revolutionary Soviet technologies of the 1980s rusting on the steppe and hollowing out NASA's capabilities. The rise of China finally shook things up a little by the mid 2000s, with massive state resources beginning to be laundered through billionaire owned 'NewSpace' companies.

SpaceX was given its start through the DoD FALCON program (Force Application and Launch from CONtinental U.S.), seeking to develop a hypersonic weapons system to respond to Russian and Chinese advances. FALCON allowed SpaceX to develop the Falcon 1 rocket as a potential booster for the hypersonic warhead, paying for the development of the Merlin engine and the expertise in structures and avionics required for an orbital launch vehicle.

The development of the larger Falcon 9 booster and the Dragon spacecraft was paid for by NASA's COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) program to deliver cargo to the ISS. The Falcon 9 used a cluster of 9 of the Merlin engines paid for by FALCON, while NASA provided its data on supersonic retropropulsion gained through its Mars landers to SpaceX for free, greatly simplifying the development of the Falcon 9's reusable 1st stage.

Still more billions were delivered under NASA's Commercial Crew Program to develop a human rated version of the Dragon paid for under COTS. The award for the HLS will similarly underwrite the development of the Starship heavy lifter and its Raptor engine (using the full-flow staged combustion technology pioneered by the Soviets in the late 1960s). Libertarians like to point out that Musk has put "his own money" into these ventures, but this money has overwhelming come from 'capital markets' that function as capitalism's central planning bureaucracy rather than from revenues derived from selling commodities in 'free markets'.

Without the challenge from China and Russia's state-led programs, the US would probably be still flying the Space Shuttle (assuming they wouldn't have all exploded by this point) and 1960s-era ICBM derviatives.

Posted by: S.P. Korolev | Jun 8 2021 3:44 utc | 55

100 years ago Bezos & Musk would probably have been queuing up to be first to climb Mt Everest. But British Toff, Sir Edmund Hillary, spoilt that dream before they were born. So they found a New Everest.

I'm inclined to object to equating Musk & Bezos. Musk's success is due to innovative ideas which 'clicked' with the public. Bezos' success as a Merciless Monopolist is due to Lawfare > taking advantage of loopholes in the Law. There should be a Law against what Bezos succeeded in doing.
There were anti-monopoly laws in Oz but they've been gradually eroded by rich folks with too much political clout.
"Hello, Mr Murdoch!"

I would argue that Musk has helped people by making useful and exciting toys available to daydreamers (and South Australia's $100 million power grid battery pack which has exceeded SA's expectations, according to SA.gov).
Bezos has only helped himself, as they say.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 8 2021 3:54 utc | 56

Btw, I LOVE the headline, b :-)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 8 2021 3:58 utc | 57

I dunno how many others bothered to read G7 gaslighting about how the leadership of the entire world is gonna show solidarity by passing minimum corporate tax rates on all mega-tech corporations.

This is a crock of course, a fact that was exposed last tuesday once details of the draft tax legislation told us mega tech corporations subject to this new *regime* only qualified if their gross profit on turnover was 10% or more.
M$, Apple & Google are all firmly in that frame, but Amazon whose retail arm is all about high turnover, low margin has a profit to turnover ratio of about 6%, because even the real big earner whose margins are over 20%, gets dragged into line by the huge sales numbers of amazonDOTcom.
IOW, Bezos has bought a large enough chunk of the G7.

I wonder how much a G7 lobbyist charges, it would be a good whack I reckon.
This business of amerika privatising space has a little upside if the billionaire owners are gonna have a pissing contest over being on board for maiden flights.

Someone aptly pointed out that the billionaires may not actual go but just cgi or paste their face onto an astronauts body. Still, in some ways those of us who comprehend that for every billionaire, made hundreds of thousands of ordinary decent humans were robbed may get a superior Schadenfreude from that.
Think about it for a mo, Mr B.Illionaire gets a video of him clambering aboard the SpaceShip (SS) bigussdickus in front of an adoring crowd of paid extras pushed out on all the corporate *news* vectors but a few days into the voyage to Mars or wherever something catastrophic happens and everyone is killed.

What does B.Illionaire do now? Is he going to be the miracle sole survivor rescued by a fantasy lifeboat or is he going to have to come up with some lame excuse for why he wasn't onboard which no one will believe. The only other option is to 'come back' as a non-entity, albeit a really really rich nonentity made slightly poorer by plastic surgery.
All the alternatives provide a decent helping of mirth for those of us who believe such types should be stripped to their last million before getting publically tarred & feathered.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jun 8 2021 6:23 utc | 58

#58 should read:
even the real big earner, cloud computing (Amazon Web Services) whose margins are over 20%, gets dragged into line by the huge sales numbers of amazonDOTcom.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jun 8 2021 6:27 utc | 59

I'd like to think that, if he were alive today, David Bowie would agree that Jeff Bezos is one major tom-cat who can be left spinning in his tin-can in space.

Posted by: Jen | Jun 8 2021 6:55 utc | 60

Grieved | Jun 7 2021 23:44 utc | 45

re Tim Parks

should you ever be curious about what life in Italy for an english speaker is like, I would encourage you to read one of his first works called Italian Neighbors. He nails it.

I had lived here for many years before reading the book so had experienced just about all the things he writes about. One thing just about every tourist screws up is the acceptable time to drink cappuccino (8 - 10:30).

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 8 2021 6:58 utc | 61

Musk started SpaceX because he thinks rocketships are cool, and living in Mars is super rad.

But Bezos is positively OBSESSED with escaping Earth. This is a guy who wants to die in a floating sky city. Do not underestimate his fanatic hatred of "ground pounders."

Posted by: Sam | Jun 8 2021 7:06 utc | 62

thanks b. A welfare program where no billionaire is left behind. Priceless. No need for competition. Every billionaire gets a check. When envelopes change hands the magic happens. Lockheed Martin is a player. They use the big envelopes. They were the primary contractor for the F35. $1,500,000,000,000 for 3,000 fighter jets. Too bad the Air Force doesn't want their plane. I guess it can to be mothballed in the Nevada desert along with all that other abandoned military hardware. No problems. They can squeeze them in right next to those Patriot Missile Systems'.

Posted by: Michael Crockett | Jun 8 2021 7:16 utc | 63

Bezos, Musk and other billionaires are errors in our economic-political systems. They should be eliminated.

1: Stopping billionaires from existing does not equal more wealth for the broader masses.
If Amazon was taken from Bezos and owned by the government (or someone else), it just means the government (or someone else) owns it.
There comes a point where the additional wealth can no longer translate to a more luxurious life style.
Meaning whether one has 100 million or 1 billion, the cost to society to maintain that person is practically the same.

2: The problem with Bezos and Musk isn't their wealth, it's how they got it and the fact that they're both very destructive.
Both are heavily subsidised by the government.

3: Elon Musk is a dumb money magnet. That's really it. I am an engineer and his accomplishments become drastically less impressive once you give more than a cursory look at what he has been doing. Sadly, a chunk of his wealth comes from poor people believing in him and investing their hard earned money in his stocks.
This goes for all of his projects:
I: Tesla is good but wasn't started by him and the stock price is completely out of touch with reality
II: SpaceX is only cheap commercially because the government overpays significantly.
Landing the rockets isn't nearly as revolutionary or commercially viable as people like to think.
Quite a few of the avenues they are taking are utterly pointless.
III: The Boring company is a complete mess that shouldn't exist.
IV: SolarCity (founded by Elon's cousins) was essentially bailed out by him and is also a complete mess that shouldn't exist.
V: Neuralink is a complete mess.

And no Elon didn't contribute anything substantial to paypal.

4: About all those rocket dreams: I could go through the details and rip them apart one by one, but the comment is too long already and no one will read this anyway. If you want me to type something up, let me know.
Suffice to say: They are legit hilariously bad.

Posted by: JS | Jun 8 2021 7:50 utc | 64

Posted by: JS | Jun 8 2021 7:50 utc | 64

I disagree with your point #1, it makes a great deal of difference who controls things. Who "owns" them. And often that controls what you get and don't get too. Pharoah wants big pyramids, you get big pyramids. You can look at them for a long time after, but not much else to do with them. I'd rather have decent well-maintained public infrastructure.

You are right of course that Musk is another "science"-grifter, I'm a software engineer, and all I have to do is listen to him talk. He's an airhead, an actor, a frontman. Trump with an advanced degree. I worked in VC for a bit, and I met lots of those guys. Otherwise I agree with your assessment, and I appreciate it, I would not have spent the time.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jun 8 2021 8:04 utc | 65

@David F | Jun 8 2021 1:45 utc | 50

"I cannot know if US really landed astronauts on the Moon (I would like to believe that they did), but I have zero doubt that most of the photos of the affair were staged."

I don't know either, but what I have been told, and what I have seen, would suggest otherwise.

What is power? Power is the ability to control other people.

How is power accumulated? By confusing and dividing people you want to control.

How do you confuse and divide people? By constantly bombarding them with nonsense, insisting that real things never happened and insisting that truth is false, and falsehoods are true.

There is a psychological operation going on, weakening people by telling them we have 45 genders (or whatever), the US never landed on the Moon, etc. etc.

Read this book please
How Apollo Flew to the Moon

Posted by: Norwegian | Jun 8 2021 8:24 utc | 66

@Grieved 45,
Yes, but putting aside emotional responses ("empty shells of men", "he stole his money"), the idea of benevolent oligarchs is, if controversial, not all that uncommon.

See for example the book 'Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!' (absolutely sincere, far's I can tell) written by famous left-liberal activist Ralph Nader.

Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Jun 8 2021 8:31 utc | 67

Just put them until a couple of ICBMs pointed at the South Pacific.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Jun 8 2021 10:17 utc | 68

*into

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Jun 8 2021 10:18 utc | 69

This past year it has become plain that Amazon is a lever of social control. That is why Amazon exists. That is why Amazon was created. Bezos is a beta male who has never shown a spark of anything. No matter how much free publicity he is given there is not one thing about him that is remotely interesting.

Amazon controls what you read (Washington Post, whatever still exists of book sales), controls what the fashionable eat (Whole Foods), controls the streets (their delivery vehicles double park anywhere), gathers infinite data about all your habits, is poised to put any particular retailer out of business, is poised to either create any retail choice or cancel any retail desire. That is why Amazon exists. That is not a business plan. It is a social control plan. It was not created by one man. It was created by a committee, presumably at Langley. Although in this case Langley just acting as managers and grunt workers for the desires of your owners.

Posted by: oldhippie | Jun 8 2021 12:02 utc | 70

So first they threw Bill Gates under the bus.
Then the Faucist got into some kind of trouble and may be finished soon.
And now they plan to launch Bezos into space, perhaps with a small 'mishap'?

Who's next?

Posted by: Norwegian | Jun 8 2021 12:12 utc | 71

Let's imagine for a moment that I am a ludicrously wealthy and famous person. I am instantly recognized wherever I go in the world. Those who don't idolize me hate me. I will never be able to just sit down in peace for a latte at a coffee shop. I can never be just an anonymous member of a crowd.

How do I retire from the glare of the public klieg lights?

Since my public persona will forever draw unwanted attention, the only way to retire would be for that public persona to die. A staged drug overdose would work and an airplane crash would be even better, but why not go out with a really big bang?

Posted by: William Gruff | Jun 8 2021 12:13 utc | 72

Posted by: JS | Jun 8 2021 7:50 utc | 64

Glad I'm not alone. I've been preaching for years that Elon Musk is nothing but an administrator for a large venture capital fund.

The man has created *nothing* new.

He has invented *nothing* original.

Even the company names he chooses are the very embodiment of the dull and unoriginal.

Space X. The Boring Company. Tesla.

Meh.

He is 20% social media marketing 10% technological regurge and 70% venture capital.

All he has done is throw large amounts of bog standard modern technology and other people's money to refurbish century old inventions.

Have you listened to him speak in public? The man is an inarticulate dimwit.

Not even his manufacturing and development methodologies are anything to learn from.

He is merely a puppet and not even a photogenic one at that ...

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Jun 8 2021 12:36 utc | 73

Got a hunch that 'them aliens' are gonna toss that one back in the fish bowl.

Posted by: Josh | Jun 8 2021 13:16 utc | 74

Gotta wonder if that dude really believes that the peasants are cheering him though.

Posted by: Josh | Jun 8 2021 13:18 utc | 75

Pro Publica:

The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax

Consider Bezos’ 2007, one of the years he paid zero in federal income taxes. Amazon’s stock more than doubled. Bezos’ fortune leapt $3.8 billion, according to Forbes, whose wealth estimates are widely cited. How did a person enjoying that sort of wealth explosion end up paying no income tax?

In that year, Bezos, who filed his taxes jointly with his then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, reported a paltry (for him) $46 million in income, largely from interest and dividend payments on outside investments. He was able to offset every penny he earned with losses from side investments and various deductions, like interest expenses on debts and the vague catchall category of “other expenses.”

In 2011, a year in which his wealth held roughly steady at $18 billion, Bezos filed a tax return reporting he lost money — his income that year was more than offset by investment losses. What’s more, because, according to the tax law, he made so little, he even claimed and received a $4,000 tax credit for his children.

His tax avoidance is even more striking if you examine 2006 to 2018, a period for which ProPublica has complete data. Bezos’ wealth increased by $127 billion, according to Forbes, but he reported a total of $6.5 billion in income. The $1.4 billion he paid in personal federal taxes is a massive number — yet it amounts to a 1.1% true tax rate on the rise in his fortune.

Posted by: b | Jun 8 2021 13:27 utc | 76

@ Posted by: JS | Jun 8 2021 7:50 utc | 64

It makes a difference, because many of the essential infrastructure of the free market over which capitalist property can exist can only be built, maintained and updated at a loss, therefore can only be the enterprise of the State.

So, for example, with PayPal at public hands, more revenue would flow to the State, which would translate in more revenue to public infrastructure such as roads, airports (construction), schools, water, electricity, etc. etc. Those infrastructure take decades and even centuries to return a profit, therefore, historically, can only be built by the State. This also explains why these infrastructure begun to be privatized in the 1980s: they probably were not profitable when they were built, but begun to "return on investment" by around that time (all of the Western modern infrastructure was built around the same time, during the post-war reconstruction).

That's also (partly) why China is able to build some many large-scale infrastructure while the West and the Third World is at pains to rebuild a 10-meter bridge: the Chinese State is socialist, therefore it is allowed to own means of production (socialized means of production). If you own the means of production, not only you control what is produced and how much, you also have extra revenue independent of taxation. The Chinese State, therefore, is much richer and more powerful than its capitalist counterparts.

Posted by: vk | Jun 8 2021 13:43 utc | 77

@ Posted by: b | Jun 8 2021 13:27 utc | 76

But this is legal in the USA. Every respectable multi-millionaire does that (Steve Jobs, if I'm not mistaken, had a USD 1.00 salary).

If one historian, three hundred years from now, wants to study American History during its imperial era, he must not take the American laws at face value: he will have to pay attention to the loopholes intentionally inserted into those laws. The entire architecture of American Law is based on loopholes, in such a way they're more important than what is written in the Law itself. This makes American Law entirely different from Roman Law.

If you know how to read the loopholes in American Law, you have the USA's entire post-war history (at least) in your hands.

Posted by: vk | Jun 8 2021 13:51 utc | 78

Thank you B for spreading the seed that brings the harvest, the flocks and rats too.

These guys, Bezos, Gates, Musk, are no more than male Kardashians. Oh look over here at my big digging machine, my rocket, my giga this, my mega that. Yet to me they are less than the lowest paid warehouse worker or gigafactory employee. Even though they have foundations to spread the wealth they never seem to get around to allowing a union for their workers or improving the positions of their own employees. Empty shiny suits with empty pointy shoes.

In the last open thread, thanks again B, was a 20 minute video on the river table. Not well known people for their money but well admired and followed for quality of life. For the art in life. In praise of those things hand made, well worn, well made.

The quality of the living Liziqi portrays puts to shame those called leaders of the empire and their empty followers.

Posted by: Dodgy Bodger | Jun 8 2021 14:17 utc | 79

b @Jun8 13:27 #76

Bezos' $1.4b tax payments are easily explained:

  1. Stock appreciation is not income.

  2. The USA (aka "federal") tax on long-term capital gains (investments held for longer than a year) is 20%.

  3. Washington State (where Bezos resides and Amazon is headquartered) is one of several states that have no income tax.

Bezos' paid taxes of 21.54% of his actual income.

Bezos can get a free ride to space because he has enormous political power. Most of that power comes from the corporations that Bezos controls.

And it's not just oligarchs. The Military-Industrial-Complex (MIC) and private equity companies like Blackstone and Carlyle also have out-sized political power.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2021 14:34 utc | 80

@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2021 14:34 utc | 80

Even the federal tax legislation over capital gains have a lot of loopholes.

Bezos certainly didn't pay 21.54% of tax over his profits. At the most he paid some 8%.

Posted by: vk | Jun 8 2021 14:54 utc | 81

Thanks b. You have made me wonder if the space race might not have been for the USSR that which broke the camel's back (thinking of Putin's quote that the US is on the same track as they). It took a while to accomplish back then, but perhaps our course in the US is a steeper one now. As far as I know, no Russian oligarchs back then tried on spacesuits, though I could be wrong.

Posted by: juliania | Jun 8 2021 15:04 utc | 82

@vk,
but how is it a loophole? You buy stock and you hold it. Or a gold bar. Or a painting. Or a house. Any asset.

The price of your asset goes up and down, but for as long as you hold it, you have no income: it's the same gold bar or painting, year after year.

How could it be different? Wealth tax would be a way to tax your assets, but not the income tax. 'Income' is a transaction, not ownership.

Although, as I remember, in Switzerland they tax your house, your primary residence, as if you received income by renting it. So, perhaps it's possible.

Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Jun 8 2021 15:12 utc | 83

But don't make it round-trip tickets.

Round-trip is ok, just make it 'carbon free'. Gravity will take care of it.

Posted by: Norwegian | Jun 8 2021 15:49 utc | 84

@ juliania - The United States is going down. It will be a lot worse than the tragedy which occurred in the USSR. Unfortunately, I live here in the USSA. Bezos and our oligarchs, oops, businessmen, could care less about this country and its citizens - let alone the rest of the world. To quote Napoleon Bonaparte, "Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain." That equally applies to these globalist plutocrats who are destroying humanity bit by bit.
I am no fan of Napoleon, but I do like his aphorisms.

Thank you, b, and everyone else here.

Posted by: lex talionis | Jun 8 2021 16:54 utc | 85

vk @Jun8 14:54 #81

Bezos certainly didn't pay 21.54% of tax over his profits.

Once again, stock appreciation isn't considered "income" in USA.

In the same vein, one doesn't pay a tax on the appreciation in value of one's house until it's sold.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2021 16:55 utc | 86

IMO focusing on wealth is not wise as it has been proven to be easily deflected (critics are 'losers'; free markets create jobs; etc.).

It's much more effective to focus on the neoliberal system that allows those with excess wealth to also have excess political power.

IMO Bezos didn't get a space trip because of his wealth but because of his political power. His political power comes from his corporate holdings (he owns many companies) much more than his wealth. Amazon alone has over 1.3 million employees and invests hundreds of millions in new projects every year. No doubt Bezos/Amazon also employs a bunch of lobbyists as well. How many elected officials will fight against that kind of influence?

In addition to the oligarchs, large 'Private Equity' companies also own many companies that employ millions and the managers of these PE firms also enjoy outsized political power.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2021 17:19 utc | 87

I think it would be a positive development if somehow he failed to return. He is also so despised that it would reduce the martyr-hero bit, but I'm sure his many propagandists would attempt to spin his failure into success.

Posted by: exiled off mainstree | Jun 8 2021 17:23 utc | 88

Well, if we can send one billionaire into space, why not all of them?

Posted by: wagelaborer | Jun 8 2021 17:35 utc | 89

@ Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Jun 8 2021 15:12 utc | 83

Evidently, a loophole would not be a loophole if it followed a single formula. They exist in a plethora of forms, and their objective is to hide the inequality between the classes.

Yes, much of American wealth is in tax havens, so even if there weren't any loopholes, the denominator over which the USG would collect its corporate taxes is much smaller than the reality on the field.

--//--

@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2021 16:55 utc | 86

Income is income. Wealth is wealth. Income does not equal wealth: if you sum all the incomes in the USA, it won't get anywhere near it GDP.

Most of wealth in capitalism is not in the form of income. The closest the USG gets from taxing wealth is through the so-called "corporate taxes" (taxes over dividends, profits financial operations etc. etc.). They sum up to 35% in the USA - which is the median of the OECD - but, in practice, no corporation pays 35%; loopholes (put there on purpose, through lobbies) make corporations pay effectively some 8%.

Posted by: vk | Jun 8 2021 17:47 utc | 90

Dodgy Bodger @ 79

Gates is a little different. He is from old family and a family tied to the Rockefellers. But same sort of beta male as Musk or Bezos. Basically a rich kid not useful for anything, given a job as frontman or actor..

Musk possibly also from family but the South Africa origin makes it a bit harder to trace. Bezos’ real name is Jeff Jorgensen and various confusions surround his origins. Probably something is being hidden but yes, more or less Kardashians.

Posted by: oldhippie | Jun 8 2021 18:07 utc | 91

July 20th 1969, Apollo 11 lands on the moon.

Posted by: Jay | Jun 8 2021 18:21 utc | 92

Would anyone be surprised if Bezos and Musk have sharp-eyed lawyers actively investigating private ownership of the Moon and/or Mars? I mean, if tax codes can be jigged, so can laws governing ownership of celestial bodies.

If outright ownership proves problematic, how about naming rights, e.g. The Bezos Moon. A high powered projector could impose a giant “B” on the Moon’s surface to remind us who the Big Dog really is.

And how about them asteroids, dude. Huuge market potential, some even affordable for the hoi polloi.

Forget all those niggling, nattering nabobs of negativism who say problems on Earth should be solved first.

Posted by: piggly | Jun 8 2021 18:36 utc | 93

Back to the topic of space exploration, many of us have speculated on when this would occur:

"Moscow to QUIT International Space Station in 2025 unless Washington lifts restrictive sanctions, says Russian space boss."

As the article notes, the ISS has already begun to fall apart and many of its components will be inoperable by 2025. This article describes the sort of station Russia has drafted legislation to begin constructing, applying what was learned from MIR and the ISS.

IMO, the big deal is the Chinese-Russian Lunar Base partnership which both nations hope will attract other nations as partners. However, the current attempts by the NATO-Bloc to contain both will likely eliminate any participation by its members thus opening up opportunities for developing nations.

IMO, what Bezos will attempt is a form of masturbation and unlikely to spawn anything.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 8 2021 18:45 utc | 94

@vk,
Let's take a simple case, simplified-Bezos, for example.

Suppose he owns a billion shares of Amazon stock, worth today $100 billion. And he owns nothing else.

Suppose next year he owns the same billion shares of Amazon stock, but the stock price doubled, and now it's $200 billion. No dividends.

So, simplified-Bezos' wealth doubled, but he got $0 income, and therefore $0 income tax.
No loopholes, no tax havens. Feature, not a bug.

Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Jun 8 2021 18:49 utc | 95

piggly @93--

Fortunately, neither Bezos or Musk have the expertise to get to the moon. The work being done by Russia and China on nuclear powered space engines are well beyond anything NASA or ESA are doing. Russia's proposing to use such a propulsion unit for its trip to Mars in 2030. You might find this article about the world’s first fission-fusion hybrid reactor of interest.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 8 2021 18:57 utc | 96

karlof1 | Jun 8 2021 18:45 utc | 94

"....the big deal is the Chinese-Russian Lunar Base partnership which both nations hope will attract other nations as partners.*

.....the possibility of helium-3 as a future energy source. Unlike most nuclear fission reactions, the fusion of helium-3 atoms releases large amounts of energy without causing the surrounding material to become radioactive. However, the temperatures required to achieve helium-3 fusion reactions are much higher than in traditional fusion reactions, .....
The abundance of helium-3 is thought to be greater on the Moon than on Earth, having been embedded in the upper layer of regolith by the solar wind over billions of years,
(my emphasis)

Energy is wealth. Helium3 could be what the Russians and Chinese are after. One ship load returned to Earth would enable energy needs for all the planet for many years. The Chinese are already running fusion reactors (experimental) that run hotter than the sun (if only for short periods at the moment).
But there are other advantages. Having an unlimited energy source already on the moon would open up further exploration towards the planets. The US is thinking along similar lines by setting up a small nuclear reactor on the moon for that purpose.

****

laws governing ownership of celestial bodies. piggly | Jun 8 2021 18:36 utc | 93 may not be far from the mark as there is talk of "privatising space"

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Bezos didn't get a space trip because of his wealth but because of his political power From Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2021 17:19 utc | 87.. Political power of oligarchs is what Putin fought against when he arrived. (Yukos etc). The crunch will come when Oligarchs that have not been "tamed" use political power to claim space !

Posted by: Stonebird | Jun 8 2021 19:57 utc | 97

Perhaps these Space Oddities are just another tax dodge gambit for the super rich and 'famous'?

https://apnews.com/article/personal-taxes-business-ab6466a9dcc211907a753ccfb7660959

Posted by: Paul | Jun 8 2021 20:33 utc | 98

Stonebird @97--

I've been watching the Chinese very closely and sharing what I find here. Did you read Ehret's latest? Putin also mentioned energy development projects in Africa at the SPIEF. As we both know, energy is the key to economic development. The initial sources proved detrimental in numerous ways as well as the secondary sources. Harnessing Star Power is now the goal, which is beyond mere atomics/fission. Back in the late 1990s, I was very interested in a potential venture to mine the moon for Helium3 for its proposed use in fusion reactors. Ehret details one of the reasons why that effort never got off the ground--the emasculation of fusion research by the West. Given the mal-direction Western Ideology has taken, I'm pleased to see Eurasians are now leading the way.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 8 2021 20:48 utc | 99

the civilizations are not separated only by huge space distances whilst constrained by speed of light, then also by the short civilization expiry
- Kiza at 46

They is the issue of divergence given all that. It's the idea that all those colonists you sent out will become very alien. They could the enemy to boot.

Do I understand that the idea that species become extinct and only last so many millions of years is being extended to all interstellar civilizations?

While you might expect that to frequently be the case, for any number of reasons, it isn't a universal. It can also mean replaced by a more advanced evolutionary decedent. Homosapiens are an example of that.

The second counter argument is that would not apply to a widely spread advanced civilization. It's a false equivalence and thus a fallacy. You can't compare that cows and tigers or more importantly, us.

I'm on the fence on this one. Both arguments are very compelling. I think you have to prove the later case whereas the former is the assumed case.

Posted by: David G Horsman | Jun 8 2021 21:29 utc | 100

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