We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Fundraiser for a public space telescope

Planetary Resources is raising some of the money for a small space telescope via a Kickstarter and are close to their minimum goal of $1M. That such sums of money can be raised for worthy projects and in such short timescales strikes me as interesting in another way: might we be in the early days of a new way to deal with ‘the commons’? Could technology be delivering us a way to replace much of coercive government funding with true voluntarism?

And by the way, support these guys. I know several of them, and it is a way to push New Space forward in the public perception.

11 comments to Fundraiser for a public space telescope

  • Paul Marks

    Dale surely the great intellect that is “Matt Damon” has shown you that your selfish desire not to be a slave is hopeless?

    Even if you escape into outer space you will be hunted down – the masses will have their free health care! You exist only for the purpose of serving the revolutionary masses – and running away just proves your reactionary guilt! Social Justice for ever! And all over the universe! There will be no escape……


    Of course this is a good cause, and to those who say that such things “have to be” financed by threats of violence (the state) I would point at the existance of the RNLI (the British lifeboat service – voluntarily financed).

    What is needed is a leap of thought.

    Even Ludwig Von Mises assumed that some government funding for opera houses was needed – because he came from area where there had been such a thing for centuries.

    When Mises came to the United States Henry Hazlitt showed him a land where culture (at that time) was funded voluntarily – and Mises had enough of a flexible mind (even in old age)to see it.

    The same is true for science – people value this part of culture.

    By the way…..

    I will be in Ulster next week.

    From the instructions on clothing that my friends are giving me I might as well be going into outer space.

    Has the weather really been that bad?

  • Mr Ed

    Purely private donations have done such things in Britain as to return a Vulcan bomber to the skies at considerable cost. It may well run to 2015, and it makes for a wonderful spectacle, in both sight and sound.

    Other private donations keep a Vampire flying.

    The Royal Institution is a privately-funded science charity. It had a (credit-bubble induced?) wobble with its finances due to an over-enthusiatic refurbishment, and had an overdraft in the region of £22,000,000 but decreasing but got a cafe in exchange.

    There is no problem with funding ‘the Commons’ if people are not taxed and inflated into poverty, many people have enthusiasms that they devote not just money but time to as well, such as keeping heritage alive.

  • Dale Amon (Belfast, Northern Ireland/Laramie, Wy)

    Paul: I don’t know about the weather… I am in the Mojave Desert where it is as usual, hot, dry and sunny.

    Mr Ed: I am well aware of the Vulcan to the Sky project and of the yeoman efforts it took to raise the money using the old fashioned techniques and the massive work they put into getting a heritage grant. What is different here is that we have a realistic way of raising relatively large sums in a very short time. Think about it: almost $1M raised from the cadre of space and astronomy addicts in less three weeks. That makes a very clear statement to me.

  • Funny you should mention the possibility of crowdfunded governments, Dale. I recently published a collection of political short stories, the last of which addresses precisely that possibility (and also gets a few swipes in at Warren Buffett!).

    I hope you don’t mind me linking to the book, but it seems germane to the topic:


  • Paul Marks

    “Dale of the desert” – it has a ring to it.

  • Dale Amon (Belfast, Northern Ireland/Laramie, Wy)

    I added the book to my wishlist on Amazon. Will pick it up the next time I do a mass order of books, which will be some while after I finish up the stack on my dresser from the last such order.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Looks good, Mr. Mastiff. –Is one of them a mastiff? If so, I am very jealous.

    Just War Theory? Augustinian/Catholic Just War Theory, or U.S. Military Just War Theory? Are you writing a history, or a compare-contrast, or working on developing J.W.T. further, or analyzing it (or them), or giving a critique, or what? I’d be interested to know.

    I certainly enjoyed the first six pages of “Turf War.” I look forward to reading the entire book. :>)

  • RogerC

    @Dale Amon (Belfast, Northern Ireland/Laramie, Wy)

    $1M raised … in less three weeks. That makes a very clear statement to me.

    To me too, and not just about space telescopes (although frankly, that’s awesome).

    When running thought experiments regarding a truly stateless modern society, the one stumbling block I’ve never been able to get past is how to fund the roads. Living in the south east of England, which I’m told has one of the most congested road systems in the world, tolls have never seemed like a good solution to me because of the sheer inconvenience, and anything which automatically tracks your vehicle and charges you based on where you go raises my hackles for reasons revolving around privacy, snooping and the potential for the information to be misused.

    However, I’d never considered the possibility that you might just crowdsource it. To use the old fashioned term, fund it through public subscription.

    As Brian Micklethwait said recently, seeing something actually done in practice changes what is imaginable. Seeing $1m raised in under three weeks brings home to me the sheer power of crowdsourcing, when it’s for something that people want. Roads are not as sexy as space telescopes, I’ll grant you, but surely the potential is there.

  • Tedd

    There is no problem with funding ‘the Commons’ if people are not taxed and inflated into poverty, many people have enthusiasms that they devote not just money but time to as well, such as keeping heritage alive.

    A related point is that the mind-set that such things as the arts need to be financed through taxation developed at a time when the world was much less wealthy than it is today. As the world gets richer, tax-financed commons become, if anything, less justifiable. (Perhaps that’s one reason certain people keep pushing the false meme that the world isn’t getting richer.)

    Also, while I love it that my city has a good symphony orchestra, the tax money that goes into it is highly anti-progressive (to use the progressive’s terminology). It subsidizes the ticket price for the whole audience, which is demographically well and truly in the upper part of the distribution curve, at the expense of everyone. You don’t have to support “progressive” tax policy to see that “anti-progressive” spending is not very fair.

  • Goodness, I was hardly expecting the warm reception! Thank you, Dale and Julie. While I have two dogs, neither of them is a mastiff, alas. The name of my blog was a play on words only, though I do like the way mastiffs look.

    My work on just-war theory is trying to extend current theory. At the moment, especially with the present understanding of Right Authority, the claim is that only sovereign states may make war. Being a good little anarcho-capitalist, I’m arguing for a reformulated theory of Right Authority that can accommodate any type of organization, from states, to insurgent groups, to corporations, to individuals. Particularly since most wars these days are not inter-state but involve non-state actors like insurgents and terrorists, there needs to be a coherent standard of judgment to apply to them also. Otherwise, the state will simply call all of its enemies terrorists and call it a day.

  • Dale Amon

    Just though I should note. They went over $1M today and they have about a little less than two weeks to go.