Originally posted by ngchunter
Actually I feel innovation is only stifled when it's hamstrung by government regulations. Some businesses may be promoting those regulations because
it stifles competition, but the free market in itself is not the problem; in fact it's what some larger corporations with huge lobbies (the largest
corporate lobby is actually GE, believe it or not) are hiding from.
I think we're basically reaching the same conclusion from different sides of the story. My point is precisely that because of the cozy relationship
between corporations and government representatives, competition is suppressed and innovation slowed because the biggest players use their influence
to steer contracts in their direction, regardless of whether they have a superior product to offer (many don't).
We do not live in a free market.
Demand-side economics, where industry succeeds because the working class has disposable income and wants products to buy, thus paving the way for new
ideas and businesses to flourish, IS a free market.
What we have now is largely supply-side, where industry chooses how much workers make and what products will be available to them, and essentially
writes legislation in its own favor through our "elected" representatives, is more like a fascist state.
A truly "free" market is driven by the Demand of the People who seek products and services, not by the Supply corporations are willing to provide.
As far as government regulations go, some things MUST be regulated. Without regulation (and aggressive enforcement thereof) there is no framework
governing what a company can or cannot do. Because the corporation's impetus is always profit rather than the good of the community or the health
and well-being of its customers, the corporation must thus be "reined in" so they know where the "line" is and what the consequences of crossing
it will be. Just as the Constitution (supposedly) dictates the functioning and limitations of the US Government, so to do regulations dictate the
limitations of industry in seeking profit.
Without it there can be no justice for those wronged by corporate powers.
Regulation in and of itself, I would argue, has absolutely zero effect on innovation as a driving force in our economy. In fact, knowing what
society's limitations are offers MORE freedom for innovation within those guidelines, and in a demand-side economy offers more room for new
entrepreneurs to flourish.
No, what stifles innovation is, again, the incestuous relationship between industry and government, with representatives taking "campaign
contributions" (bribes) in exchange for sweetheart deals, procurement of hardware with shoddy safety records (like the Osprey), extension of programs
beyond obsolescence (the Raptor), and the marginalizing of innovators from smaller, less-well-connected companies whose product may be superior but
because they're not part of the "good ol' boy" network they get nowhere. The ability of mega-corporations to write their own regulations,
especially those that are able to use their government influence to eliminate their competition independent of market forces, is an abomination and
the antithesis of the "free market".
And make no mistake--the last
thing big companies want is innovation. Innovation in and of itself is great--but anything truly new developed
today won't be seen in the market for five to ten years, once the marketing team has decided how best to make money from it--thus essentially
rendering it moot. New ideas also usually come from new people, and in the process those new people step on old toes.
Actually spaceshipone is much closer to an X-15 than a space shuttle. The x-15 was another suborbital rocket powered winged vehicle that
require a piggyback to a high altitude before launch and could reach the edge of space. NASA built the X-15 before we even had a single spaceflight
under our belt (though it didn't reach the internationally agreed upon edge of space until 1963). Burt Rutan's accomplishment is incredible, but it
is much more like the earliest days of NASA flight than it is modern orbital spaceflight. The reason the Ares program is taking so long has a lot
more to do with the amount of funding than the tech. That said, I have little doubt that a private organization with the same resources could get it
done better and faster. The sad fact of the matter is that there just isn't enough profit motive to go beyond earth orbit just yet.
True, it's not "real" spaceflight, but the fact he was able to do what NASA seemingly can't (or won't) with a vastly larger budget (opening space
to The People rather than keeping it sacred for a select few elites) is a huge accomplishment. Spaceship Two will have greater capability.
NASA isn't building this stuff on their own, either. They contract out the design and construction work, just as they did in the old days--most of
the real work IS being done by "private" organizations (exactly how "private" a mega-corporation is is debatable). Funding IS a problem, yes, but
how much is really needed and how much of the price tag is over-inflated by the contractors? When political forces driven by corporate greed create
what is, essentially, a monopoly, how do you know you're getting the best price for the work to be done?
If NASA hired Rutan for this project I'll bet we'd see a working spacecraft within two years at a vastly lower cost. But that doesn't line the
pockets of Congressional members, or ensure decades-long contracts for companies so big they effectively cannibalize themselves in search of profit
(look up who owns who in terms of media and how closely the media is connected to everything from military contracts to food production, and
essentially every product that is advertised in the various mainstream media, and you'll see what I mean).
Most innovative perhaps, but without a doubt the most difficult, complicated part were the massive engines. There has never been as powerful a
booster as the Saturn V, from a payload standpoint. The little launch escape rockets alone were more powerful than the redstone rocket that made Alan
Shepard the first american in space. The powerful F-1 engine of the Saturn V took 7 years to perfect. The completed rocket contained 3 million parts.
The apollo guidance computer, although it represented a leap in technology, can be recreated in your own basement by yourself if you have the
Understood. But again, you don't "lose" that knowledge. My point is, all the components we need to make this a reality right now
the shelf, waiting to be used. The new spacecraft is supposed to replace the horribly complicated Space Shuttle (which I think was a good idea at the
time, but hampered by too many people wanting to "leave their mark" on it, thus driving up complexity and cost) with a newer, disposable, reliable
machine that can carry four astronauts within what is essentially the entire Earth/Moon "neighborhood". NASA claims it's a long process and that
they've "lost" the knowledge they need. I contend the knowledge cannot be lost; rather it was ignored for too long in favor of less cost-effective
systems and now the procurement process is being held back by the corporate/government machine.
As it stands, the Orion spacecraft, which is the primary vehicle needed right now
, will not be ready until at least 2013, and we'll have to
rely on the Russians to provide "taxi service" to the ISS. There is no sound engineering reason why it should not be ready to fly before the
Shuttles are retired in 2010.
It's not about getting the right vehicle for the job, it's about putting dollars in the right
pockets--which is about as anti-Capitalist and
anti-"free market" as you can get.
[edit on 7/9/2008 by The Nighthawk]