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#1 2017-05-17 02:06:53

Tacitus Low
Member
Registered: 2017-05-15
Posts: 4

Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

There are three parts to my “politics on Mars” response. First, what should the government on Mars look like. Second, why that model is the only workable solution. Third, why this entire exercise is important, and how it directly relates to the goal of getting humans to Mars in the first place.

1) What should the government on Mars look like?

I’m in favor of self-government, for any future Mars colony. It might be necessary to use a military-type command structure (the way NASA does) on the first few Mars missions, but after the arrival of maybe 20-50 colonists, self-governance needs to begin ASAP.

Beyond self-governance, we have to keep it simple. Most of the nitty-gritty details would have to be ironed out by the colonists themselves. It isn’t up to us. If we try to get everyone involved in humans-to-Mars mission to agree on the specifics of governance for a future Mars colony, we’ll never get off the ground. To those idealists who envision some type of utopia, I would invite you to think about what you’re asking. This isn’t going to a Right-wing colony, or Left-wing. It isn’t going to be a communist colony or a libertarian colony. There are going to be individual colonists from every corner of the political landscape. They have to be able to form a government and ultimately work together.

What I can say is that any Mars government should be formed along the lines of current republican democracies here on Earth. We have a pretty good idea what works and what doesn’t. Proportional Representation is generally more successful than First-Past-the-Post (if you don’t know what those things are, please Google them yourself please). Separation of church and state is a good idea. Freedom of religion and non-religion is a good idea. Freedom of speech is a good idea. Basically, look at any constitution of any modern, republican democracy on Earth and you’ll find similar provisions. Assuming the people chosen as the first Mars colonists are reasonably sane, we can expect them to figure out how to govern themselves appropriately.

2) Why is self-government in the style of a republican democracy the only workable solution?

The only real options for a future Mars government are as follows….

1) semi-independence; limited self-government on behalf of an Earth-based government.
2) full independence and self-government
3) corporate oversight
4) direct government oversight.

I submit that option 1 and 2 are really
the only possible choices (I tend to favor option 2, because I think getting to Mars will require international cooperation. More on that later) Further, any self-government on Mars ought to be democratic for obvious reasons (I doubt any member of the Mars Society envisions a brutal dictatorship as the type of government they’d like to see on a future Mars colony).

Why is some form of self-government the only viable option? To understand why, we must first examine what the Mars Society stands for. In the course of examining the mission of the Mars Society, I’ll explain the reasons why corporate oversight and direct government oversight would spell disaster for any future Mars colony.

The Mars Society doesn’t exist solely to send humans to Mars by any possible means, on anyold mission. The Mars Society exists because Dr. Robert Zubrin and people like him have a vision of a certain type of humans-to-Mars mission. Dr. Zubrin has repeatedly criticized NASA’s so-called flags-and-footsteps missions (e.g., the moon landings). Simply getting humans to Mars is no guarantee that humans will actually stay on Mars. If it were, humans would be living on Luna (the moon) right now.

The vision of the Mars Society is for humans to go to Mars, stay on Mars, and colonize Mars. We wouldn’t want to simply go to Mars, put up a flag, take some pictures and come home, never to return again. I think Dr. Zubrin has done an amazing job over the years of driving home his objections to a flags-and-footsteps type mission. However, there’s a hypothetical scenario that I think the Mars Society has yet to properly consider.

The scenario: instead of a flags-and-footsteps type mission, let’s imagine that a government agency (NASA, the Russian Space Agency, etc.) or a private corporation (SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, etc.) succeeds in setting up a permanent human outpost on Mars. The question the Mars Society needs to be asking is, “Would a government-run and/or corporate-run outpost on Mars eventually lead to full-scale human colonization of the red planet?”. The answer to this question is unfortunately, “Probably not.”

Why? That’s simple. Look at contemporary and historical examples.

First, look at the International Space Station (ISS). Here we have a space station, in low Earth orbit, which is opeerated jointly by multiple nations. The nations involved operate the ISS via government agencies like NASA, the European Space Agency, the Russian Space Agency, etc.

Right now, the nations in charge of the ISS have the technology to give average humans access to low-Earth orbit. The ISS could’ve been designed with tourists in mind. It could’ve been built larger, with a kind of hotel or something similar. Previous space stations, operated by single nations, could have been designed that way too. There are plenty of private companies who, if given access to space via American and Russian launch facilities, would be more than happy to design tourist attractions in low-Earth orbit, and maybe even permanent housing. But has NASA or any other national space agency done anything like that? No. Absolutely not.

Contrary to all logic, space agencies continue to refuse to allow private individuals access to space (this is contrary to logic since many wealthy individuals have offered substantial sums to budget-strapped space agencies. They could be making money hand over fist). The Russians have occasionally indicated that they’re willing to do that, but they’ve never actually followed through with those plans (just ask former Backstreet Boy Lance Bass. Mr. Bass paid the Russian Space Agency millions of dollars, only to have them take his money and renege on their agreement to send him to the ISS). If this is any indication of how space agencies will behave on Mars, Luna (the moon), etc., then we can rest assured that they’ll completely restrict access to their research stations. A human outpost on Mars operated by NASA would likely be nothing more than a glorified version of the ISS; accessible only to astronauts and scientists. That type of Mars base is NOT in line with the vision of the Mars Society.

Second, let’s look at the example of the US Antarctic Program. What does Antarctica have to do with Mars? The recent National Geographic series "Mars" alludes to the USAP quite frequently. The series used US Antarctic stations like McMurdo as positive example of how a research station on Mars might function. This portrayal is quite accurate. The US government views its operations in Antarctica partially as a test run for future space stations. So it’s entirely possible that NASA might choose to run a Mars base the way the USAP runs Antarctic research stations. Admittedly, that would be a vast improvement over the ISS model. Unfortunately, the Antarctic model isn’t in line with the vision of the Mars Society either.

At first glance, the USAP is indeed a positive example of what a Mars research station might look like. Today, thousands of women and men are able to live and work in Antarctica. You don't have to be a scientist either. The USAP hires everyone from dishwashers, to mechanics, to grabagemen/women, etc. Most of the people who live and work in Antarctica are support staff as opposed to scientists. Virtually any American can apply to work in Antarctica. Personal wealth and degrees in higher education are not requirements for employment. Thus, it would appear that the USAP seems to function pretty well.

However, don't judge a book by its cover. For anyone interested in the truth about the USAP, I highly recommend that you read, "Big Dead Place" by: Nicholas Johnson (obviously, I wouldn’t base my opinions of the USAP solely on one man’s personal account of his experiences. But having done a lot of additional research, I’m convinced that “Big Dead Place” is incredibly accurate) Now, this isn't to say that the USAP is a total failure. Lots of people enjoy their time in Antarctica. But the reality is, the USAP is a bureaucratic nightmare. Essentially, the USAP is run by the NSF (the National Science Foundation). The NSF appoints bureaucrats to go down to Antarctica and run the place on behalf of Washington D.C. The people down there report to their bosses who are stateside. Further, the NSF subcontracts a lot of the day to day operations of the Antarctic research stations to giant defense industry corporations (previously Raytheon. Currently Lockheed-Martin).

Most of the people who go down to Antarctica to work are on 5 month contracts. They live in dorm-style housing, they work for a private corporation, and they have absolutely no say-so in the day to day operations of McMurdo, Palmer, Pole, etc. My understanding is that other countries run their respective stations in a similar manner.

If the Antarctic model was applied to a Mars research station, it would stagnate. In the fifty plus years that the USAP has been operating, the US to move past the McMurdo-style model of governance. While some science certainly takes place in Antarctica, the USAP has realized the fate of oh so many government bureaucracies: its primary mission is to justify its own existence. The people in charge of the NSF want to keep their jobs. The corporations want to keep their contracts. Thus, the USAP does just enough science to make itself appear useful to congress. There's absolutely no incentive for USAP to create any kind of actual settlement in Antarctica. If American colonists were sent to Antarctica to found a permanent settlement and govern themselves, where would that leave the NSF and corporations like Lockheed-Martin? My point being, if we want to create a true human colony on Mars, the US Antarctic Program is a pretty bad example of how to run things on Mars.

By examining the ISS and USAP models, one can clearly see how both corporate and direct government oversight of a Mars research station would fail. The very best the US government has done so far is the Antarctic model. There’s no reason to believe that they’d operate a Mars base any better. Direct government oversight is bound to fail.

As for corporate examples, the Antarctic model also serves. There are numerous accounts of abuses perpetrated by the corporations, contracted to run the USAP research stations. Additionally, look at the example of virtually every company town ever run by a major corporation. In every cases, they were Hellholes. Do some research on company coal towns in West Virginia and you’ll see why. Better yet, read about the misery experienced by the residents of Pullman Illinois. Conditions became so deplorable that the Illinois Supreme Court declared company towns to be illegal in Illinois (thus, they forced George Pullman to sell the state his town). Corporations operate solely to make a profit. That’s their singular goal. Unless we want a Mars base to turn into some type of corporate gulag, where workers mine minerals all day in brutal conditions, I think we can safely discount the idea of corporate oversight.

Conclusion: self-government is the way to go for any future Mars colony.

3) Why this entire exercise is important, and how it directly relates to the goal of getting humans to Mars in the first place.

Perhaps this section will go a bit beyond the topic of this forum, but I think that’s necessary. What type of government a future Mars colony has is intimately connected to getting humans to Mars in the first place, and realizing the vision of the Mars Society.

It's not lack of technology that's keeping us from getting to Mars. It's the lack of political will to cough up the necessary funds to make it happen. Given proper funding, we could overcome the technological hurdles in a relatively short period of time.

The $30 billion dollar question is, "How the heck do we get $30 billion dollars to go Mars?" ($30 billion is the low end estimate for the cost of Mars Direct) That question remains unanswered. To date, Dr. Zubrin has focused a lot on lobbying the US government to revitalize NASA, and get it to focus its attention on a humans-to-Mars mission. Now while I have infinite respect for Dr. Robert Zubrin, I personally believe he puts too much faith in NASA. The strategy isn't really working. NASA is even worse off today than it was twenty years ago. And even if we space advocates succeed in convincing one US president and one US congress to fund a humans-to-Mars mission, there's always the risk that the next administration (and the next congress) will simply scrap those plans. That's exactly what happened with the Orion Program.

I'm not convinced that things are going to change. There's that old adage that states, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." I think that's what we're doing by betting on NASA.

Granted, NASA may very well send humans to Mars someday, but not in any of our lifetimes. Further, if they do send humans to Mars, the type of research station they set up there will do almost nothing to realize the vision of the Mars society. A NASA Mars base would be no more than a tiny little half-baked research station, not accessible to anyone except astronauts and scientists. And, even if NASA decided to go a step further, and build a Mars base along the lines of a US Antarctic research station, that still wouldn’t come anywhere close to realizing the dream and vision of the Mars Society.

Just as corporate greed, bureaucratic red tape, and a miasmic web of UN treaties and national laws keeps humans from building permanent colonies in Antarctica, the same forces will coalesce to do the same thing on Mars. I don’t know about anyone else here, but I want to see Mars become a beacon of freedom, liberty, hope, and human progress. I want to see a real human colony flourishing on the red planet.

But this begs the question, “If not NASA, who’s going to send humans to Mars? Who’s going to start a colony there?” I think the answer is via international cooperation. I envision a organization like the Mars Society leading the charge. How? Some type of organization like the Mars Society could establish an umbrella organization to oversee a humans-to-Mars mission. Such an organization would be similar to the fictional International Mars Science Foundation (IMSF) from the “Mars” TV series, by National Geographic. This would be an organization where any government, private corporation, private organization, or individual could donate funds towards a humans-to-Mars mission.

The appeal of such an organization would be…

1) No single entity would have to foot the bill for the humans-to-Mars mission alone.
2) As the Mars colony (or multiple colonies) would be self-governing, there wouldn’t be any jurisdiction issues.
3) If this umbrella organization was set up right legally, it would be a safe place for everyone wishing to donate money towards the Mars mission to do so (i.e., the money couldn’t be abused. It could only be used for the humans-to-Mars mission).
4) Whether a nation donates billions of dollars or an impoverished individual donates a single dollar, everyone would be able to contribute. Every donor would be able to say they helped humans colonize Mars. Unlike the Apollo missions, this would be a human achievement, not a national or individual one.

The concept of an IMSF-type organization obviously seems a bit outlandish. As some of might recall, an organization called Mars One has been trying to fill this role for several years now. Unfortunately, Mars One has turned into a joke. Many people believe it’s a scam (Personally, I’m not sure whether it’s an outright scam or not. If it’s a scam, it isn’t a particularly good one. I think it’s more likely that the guy who founded Mars One, Bas Lansdorp, is borderline insane and semi-delusional). But that’s because Mars One consists solely of a half-baked website with a half-baked scheme for a humans-to-Mars mission. There’s no real science behind it, no specifications, no organization, etc.

Things would quite different if the Mars Society decided to spearhead a similar campaign. Unlike Mars One, the Mars Society has a detailed, workable, specific, science-based plan for getting humans to Mars (i.e., Mars Direct). The only thing the Mars Society lacks is the money to put Mars Direct into action. That’s where creating an IMSF-type umbrella organization would come in.

Although Mars One is a flop, there are valuable lessons to be learned from its example. Amazingly, as half-baked and silly as Mars One is, it’s generated an enormous amount of publicity. If you read the news stories, a good number of professional scientists and astronauts became cautiously optimistic about Mars One. Many applied to Mars One’s astronaut training program.

My point being, if a crackpot organization like Mars One can drum up the kind of publicity that it ultimately did, imagine what a serious organization like the Mars Society could do in its place? Mars One failed because…..

1) It didn’t have a serious, specific, science-based outline for a humans-to-Mars mission.
2) It put the horse before the cart. For example, it’s gimmicky astronaut training program. It’s nonsense idea about funding a humans-to-Mars mission via a reality TV show. You can’t train astronauts with online questionnaires. You can’t recruit astronauts until you have all of the necessary components in place for humans-to-Mars mission. You also can’t expect people to just hand money over to a sketchy, potentially disreputable organization; much less billions of dollars.
3) It made no effort to work with governments. Further, it's private donation scheme was about as professional as a gofundme account (i.e., it wasn't professional at all).

Unlike Mars One, the Mars Society has a blueprint for a workable humans-to-Mars mission. The problem the Mars Society has is that despite its plan, it hasn’t generated anywhere near the kind of publicity that Mars One has recently. Why? The Mars Society has relied almost exclusively on the strategy of lobbying the US government and NASA to adopt the Mars Direct blueprint, fund it, and make it happen. The Mars Society has also relied on NASA to sort of fill in the gaps, so to speak. Mars Direct is a mission plan for sending astronauts to Mars, then returning them safely to Earth. What Mars Direct doesn’t do is lay out a concrete blueprint for setting up a permanent Mars colony (although to be fair, Dr. Zubrin does go into detail about building permanent settlenents in "The Case For Mars". However, to my knowledge, all of the math and science-type blueprints that exist for Mars Direct are about the mission specifically. They don't include setting up a permanent colony immediately. If I'm wrong about this point, please feel free to correct me.) I think the Mars Direct blueprint needs to be expanded to include a plan to immediately set up a permanent human colony on Mars.

Why expand the Mars Direct blueprint? Simple: Mars Direct needs to appeal to the international community. It needs to appeal to everyone, not just NASA. To do that, it needs to be complete. It has to contain all of the necessary plans for setting up a permanent colony. At that point, nobody has room to criticize the plan for lack of feasibility. Whenever I mention colonizing Mars to someone outside of the space advocacy community, they always question the feasibility. If Mars Direct were more complete from A-Z, the doubts of the average lay person could be ameliorated. All anyone who wishes to set up a permanent human colony on Mars has to do is follow the step by step instructions. Unlike the half-baked Mars One plan, everyone donating the money to fund Mars Direct could be confident that the plan would work, and that it was scientifically sound.

Once the feasibility of the expanded Mars Direct is beyond dispute, then we have to give the average human being a reason to support such a bold mission. We need better PR. When the average human hears about colonizing Mars, he or she thinks….

1) “Wow, that sounds like science fiction. Is that even possible?”

With a more complete version of Mars Direct, we can answer question one by stating, “Believe it, colonizing Mars is NOT science fiction. It’s absolutely possible. If you’d like to read the specifications and the science behind those specs, go to (insert web address here) and read them for yourself. It’s laid out as neatly as a cookie recipe.”

The second question to cross the mind of the average human is….

2)  “Ok, so assuming it’s possible to colonize Mars, why should we do that? How does that benefit humanity?”

Everyone asks that question. For space advocates like us, space exploration and colonization is a no-brainer. The simple answer, “It advances scientific knowledge and it ensures humanity’s survival.” is enough for a space-lover like me. But for many people, that answer isn’t enough. Even Bill Gates said in a 2013 interview….

“Everybody's got their own priorities. In terms of improving the state of humanity, I don't see the direct connection. I guess it's fun, because you shoot rockets up in the air. But it's not an area that I'll be putting money into.”

The frustrating part of that answer is, Bill Gates has enough money to personally fund a Mars Direct mission himself. We need to convince people like that. And if we can’t convince someone like Bill Gates to spare even a single dollar
for a humans-to-Mars mission, when he clearly has money to give, how can we convince the average human, who lives on less than a dollar a day to support us?

I think the answer is to make this about every nation, and every human being. We want people to make the connection to themselves on a personal level. Why do people care about taking care of the Earth? Why are people willing to risk their lives to fight for their country (and many, sadly, make the ultimate sacrafice)? Why do people choose to have children? Why do people do charity work? In most cases, it’s because they care about humanity, and they care about the future of our species. Obviously, not every human thinks that abstractly about life. But when you start to dig deeper into the reasons behind human actions, that’s what it comes down to.

The point being, colonizing Mars is about ensuring the survival of our species. It’s about making sure that we don’t get wiped out by some type of monumental catastrophe. It’s about ensuring that our children, grandchildren, etc. have a future. Think of it as a type of life insurance for the human race. Life insurance makes sense to billions of people all over the Earth, right? So why doesn’t colonizing Mars make sense to these people? It doesn’t make sense to them because they’ve never thought of it that way before. If we can make this point to the average human, we can sell him or her on colonizing Mars.

One way we convince average people to support colonizing Mars is by making it an international mission. If every nation that donates was guaranteed the ability to eventually send two of their citizens to the Mars colony (one male, one female), that would become a major incentive. Whose citizens had the right to go to the Mars colony first could be determined by how much money each nation gave (obviously, wealthy nations would have an advantage here. To remedy that, we might stipulate that if a poor nation gave more percentage wise, based on what they could afford to give, than wealthier nations, they would receive a spot closer to the front of the line).

Further, every nation that donated money to the Mars mission would have its flag flown on Mars (the flags could be left on Mars attached to flagpoles, left on display somewhere in the Mars colony, or they could even be sent back to Earth eventually if the nation wanted it that way). The names of every nation would be inscribed in monuments both on Earth and Mars. Every organization, corporation, and even individual person who donated even the smallest amount to the Mars mission would also have their names inscribed on monuments.

Other incentives could be given. For example, any corporation that donated significantly to the Mars mission would be guaranteed a lucrative future contract. For example, if a paper company donated a significant amount of money upfront, they would be guaranteed a future contract for all of the Mars colony’s paper needs. That’s just one example.

In Conclusion:

A) I think that any future Mars colony should be a self-governing, democratic republic. Its constitution should embody the very best of democratic traditions here on Earth.

B) The only way to ensure that the vision of the Mars Society comes to be realized is through an international Mars mission. Otherwise, government bureaucracy and corporate mismanagement would prevent a true Mars colony from being established.

C) If it were up to me, I’d revise Mars Direct. It’s a brilliant plan, but its plan is for a mission where astronauts go to Mars, then return to Earth. The problem with this is that it gives whoever sponsors the Mars Direct mission the ability to back out of any future missions. Political support is a fickle thing. Once we have the funds and equipment to send humans to Mars, we want to do so quickly before political support has a chance to wane. Basically, we want to get our foot in the door so it can’t be closed. How do we do that? We do that by immediately setting up the beginnings of a permanent Mars colony on the first mission. Obviously, we want to give the first colonists the ability to return to Earth again if they want to, but not before more colonists arrive to take their place. We want our Mars colony to be occupied and growing 100% of the time. In fact, we might even want to start two separate Mars colonies simultaneously, so that if one fails, we still have our foot in the door, and the people sponsoring the Mars colonies on Earth are unable to pull the plug.

D) I think the only way we’re going to see the Mars Society vision realized is by spearheading an international umbrella organization (similar to the fictional IMSF). We also have to do A LOT of PR work to drum up support. We want the average human to see the logic in setting up a human colony on Mars. We want to refute the, “Let’s solve our problems here on Earth before we go colonize space” crowd. We want to get every nation contributing at least something to the cause (once one or two nations donates money to the umbrella organization, others will feel pressured into contributing. If the US contributes, so will the EU, Russia, China, India, etc. And if one if those nations contributes before the US, the US will feel pressured into donating). Every nation, and every human, should feel that this is “their” mission.

Also, the importance of contributions by individual donors and private corporations can’t be overstated. There are over 500 billionaires on Earth. If even 30-40 of them donated $1 billion to the cause, we’d have our funding. Corporations also have enormous resources. Just as corporations love to sponsor sporting events, the Olympics, etc. in order to get better PR, they would do the same for an international Mars mission. Further, even people who are poor, from third-world countries can and should donate anything they can spare. It would behoove this international umbrella organization to recognize the proportional contributions of private donors. Thus, if someone who only makes $1 per-day donated $1, that contribution would be recognized as greater than that of a wealthier person who gave less proportionally. Therefore, EVERY donor would feel empowered. Establishing a human colony on Mars would be an achievement every single human could take pride in.

The End

****Sorry this is so long. I really did try to trim it down. But sometimes it takes this many words to say what needed to be said. I think this was one of those situations. Thanks for reading. Please reply and share your thoughts****

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#2 2017-05-17 03:14:52

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,055

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

Some interesting observations. I agree with many of the points you raise.

Here are my own comments:

1. It is vital to develop industrial and agricultural self-sufficiency as soon as possible if you want a self-governing democracy on Mars. Every year of material reliance of Earth means that interference of Earth agencies in Mars governance will increase.

2. There isn't going to be an international mission to Mars in my view. The global political outlook has deteriorated in the last couple of decades.  Co-operation between USA, the EU, Russia, Japan, India and China would be v. difficult to deliver now. Even NASA and ESA fail to co-operate closely.

3. The most likely outlook is that Space X will mount the Mars Mission with the backing of the US government and NASA. Issues of governance will be avoided, though it seems clear Musk is envisioning a democratic self-governing community on Mars.

4. The big trading companies of the past e.g. the East India Company and the Hudson Bay Company offer a different model of governance with companies having a quasi governance role. Initially we are going to be in that sort of area with appointed governors (or whatever polite term Space X chooses to use, perhaps Mission Principal would sound less colonial).

5. I think the leading US university is a good model for Mars governance. Settlers (whether permanent or temporary) will all be highly educated by world standards.  Even though they may nominally be in the USA, in a leading American University the student body is drawn from all around the world. A minority may actually be US born citizens. Although not a state, the University effectively has many state-like functions on campus: security, provision of lighting and heating, roads, welfare and health services etc, provision of waste management and health and safety services, its laws or ordinances,  and (more often than not) elections and self-governance. 

6. If you want Mars to succeed then I think you need to ensure (a) rigorous selection of settlers and (b) exile for miscreants. I think Musk and the Mars Society are underestimating the huge pressure there will be from religious nutjobs on Earth to get their religions established on Mars. They will be desperate to do that and to get their symbolic buildings dominating the skyline on Mars. We need to think about how we deal with the issue of religion.

7.  The issue of how the economy will be developed is key to how Mars will function as a democracy.

8.  It's arguable as to whether PR is better than first past the post. Canada, the UK and USA have all had first past the post and have been among the most stable countries on the planet. That said, I personally prefer a mixed system with elements of both but with a strong referendum element on the Swiss model.  Pure PR would unlikely to be successful on Mars. Imagine a situation where you might have 5 major settlements but the main base or city has a population twice that of the other 4 - that's a very likely scenario and it would mean the other 4 settlements were completely dominated by the main settlement if you had pure PR. That also leads on to the issue of democracy in a planetary context.  You seem to assume that the whole of Mars has to have one system of governance. But should that be the case?  Perhaps it would be enough to argue that each settlement should obey a certain set of rules e.g. free trade in goods and services, free movement of people, and no armies or specific territorial claims. Perhaps we should have a system where any Aresian should have the right to apply for citizenship of any settlement. Again, I think the Swiss model would have a lot to teach here.

9.  Will the Mars economy function as an outpost of the Earth economy?  I favour the reverse - early self-reliance and creation of Mars-specific economic organisations with a strong co-operative element.  It's a matter of balance I think - allowing for entrepreneurship but not a "winner takes all" attitude where you end up with one person being worth tens of billions of dollars.

10.  So there are big issues ahead, which will only come to prominence once Space X gets further along the line with their mission:

- Internal Mars governance, indeed as you have highlighted.
- External Mars governance. Once it becomes clear Space X, a US based company is so far advanced, the UN and countries like Russia, China and India will demand some input to how Mars is going to develop.
- Settler selection.  Do you run with Musk's vision which seems to be that if you have the money to buy a ticket that's all you need? That seems highly naive to me.
- Religion.  How are we going to deal with religion on Mars. All religions are subject to some element of control or placed in some sort of special  legal framework on Earth.  That will be no different on Mars. But, be warned, just about all the major religions and sects will be eager to establish a presence on Mars at a very early stage . In some cases religiously inclined billionaires will be prepared to stump up the fee for thousands of their co-religionists to move to Mars.  I don't think Mars enthusiasts realise quite what a threat this will be to Mars development.

Last edited by louis (2017-05-17 05:14:42)


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#3 2017-05-17 04:47:23

Tacitus Low
Member
Registered: 2017-05-15
Posts: 4

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

Louis,

I appreciate your response. I'd like to respond properly if and when I get a chance to do so. I'd like to make one major point right now though.

I agree completely that international cooperation is practically nonexistent. If someone had suggested that the UN should run the mission, I'd agree with your assessment entirely. I doubt the UN could even decide what color they'd like to use to paint the walls in the UN building, much less anything important. I also find it unlikely that, for example, the US and Russia could sit down together and figure out how to fund a joint humans-to-Mars mission.

However, I'm not proposing anything like that. I'm proposing a neutral, non-profit organization adopts the Mars Direct plan for a humans-to-Mars mission (with some revisions as I mentioned above). From there, it seeks to obtain the necessary funds via government contributions, private corporate donations, donations from wealthy individuals, qnd general crowd-funding. Anyone could donate to it in the form of money and/or expertise.

Obviously, this would be difficult. It would take a great deal of political wrangling to make it happen. But I'm convinced that it could be done if such an effort was organized properly. You'd only need a few big government and corporate donations before you had a domino effect.

I think SpaceX is doing great work, but I seriously doubt Musk's ability to go to Mars all by himself (now if Bill Gates and Warren Buffet teamed up, two people literally could fund a humans-to-Mars mission. But Musk isn't nearly as filthy rich as they are). As for the US government funding SpaceX, I find that hard to believe. They'll definitely fund SpaceX to launch sattelites, and maybe humans into low-Earth-orbit (to the ISS or wherever), but funding SpaceX to go to Mars would be a proposition that the American government is unlikely to support.

The US is (sadly) a broken, corrupt, semi-democratic nation. Purdue University even concluded several years ago that technically, the US is an oligarchy, not a true democracy (I'm an American and that's the honest truth). In the US, lobbying is the name of the game. If you want something done, you buy the votes. The space lobby is tiny and insignificant. I suppose one strategy is to try to make the space lobby more formidable. But that's something the Mars Society has been trying to do for over twenty years to no effect. I think, honestly, the average person just doesn't care enough about space to donate time and money to space lobbying efforts. Most people think I'm crazy when I start talking about space. No doubt the American public would get behind a humans-to-Mars mission if NASA had a rocket ready to blast off on the launchpad, but they don't have the patience for the required lobbying efforts. The major successful lobbying efforts in the US are: the retirement fund lobby (AARP), the gun lobby (the NRA), and the pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC). Those are the top three. Unless the space lobby develops the kind of organization and funding to compete with those giants, it isn't going anywhere. I doubt that will happen.

What could happen is that the US government might decide that contributing a few billion dollars towards a humans-to-Mars mission is worth it. If Mars Direct only costs $30 billion, and the US, UK, EU, China, Russia, and India all contributed $5 billion, you have your Mars mission right there. In reality, with private donations from wealthy individuals, corporate donations, and crowd-funding, the amount each country would need to donate would be far less. On top of all of that, there are 192 nations on Earth. That's way less than $1 billion per nation.

At first glance, international cooperation seems like a long shot. But given the right organization, I think the effort could potentially succeed. It would be unfortunate if such an effort was never attempted in the first place. If we try and fail, at least we tried. In that case, if I were running the umbrella organization, I'd take the funds that we managed to raise and give them to SpaceX and cut my losses. But failure is only guaranteed if we never try in the first place.

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#4 2017-05-17 05:31:12

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,055

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

Space X is a multi-billion dollar business.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/1/13/1426 … -financial

The path has not been entirely smooth, but given their technical advances, it's difficult to see how they won't be able to undercut the opposition.

If you have a good expectation of continuing revenues and even more growth in revenues you can borrow. They could probably borrow $2 billion on profit of $100 million per annum.  If they can grow their business as projected, I see no reason why they could not raise the money they need, through a combination of re-invested profits, multi-use of technology (the development costs of their big rockets can be assigned to their satellite or lunar tourism businesses as much as the Mars Mission), loans, and massive commercial sponsorship and sale of TV rights. Add that to Government approved free or low cost use of NASA facilities like coms and the whole package becomes v. affordable.

For a $15 billion project, they might over ten years raise $5 billion through loans, $4 billion through commercial sponsorship and sale of TV rights, $3.5 billion through re-invested profits (ie profits from the wider Space X business) and $2.5 billion through NASA support.

A non-profit Mars Consortium would have been nice, but I think we are past that point and it looks like Space X has, or will,  win the prize.

I think the $30 billion price tag on a first Mars Mission is way too much. Yes, it would cost NASA that much. But it won't cost Space X that much.


Tacitus Low wrote:

Louis,

I appreciate your response. I'd like to respond properly if and when I get a chance to do so. I'd like to make one major point right now though.

I agree completely that international cooperation is practically nonexistent. If someone had suggested that the UN should run the mission, I'd agree with your assessment entirely. I doubt the UN could even decide what color they'd like to use to paint the walls in the UN building, much less anything important. I also find it unlikely that, for example, the US and Russia could sit down together and figure out how to fund a joint humans-to-Mars mission.

However, I'm not proposing anything like that. I'm proposing a neutral, non-profit organization adopts the Mars Direct plan for a humans-to-Mars mission (with some revisions as I mentioned above). From there, it seeks to obtain the necessary funds via government contributions, private corporate donations, donations from wealthy individuals, qnd general crowd-funding. Anyone could donate to it in the form of money and/or expertise.

Obviously, this would be difficult. It would take a great deal of political wrangling to make it happen. But I'm convinced that it could be done if such an effort was organized properly. You'd only need a few big government and corporate donations before you had a domino effect.

I think SpaceX is doing great work, but I seriously doubt Musk's ability to go to Mars all by himself (now if Bill Gates and Warren Buffet teamed up, two people literally could fund a humans-to-Mars mission. But Musk isn't nearly as filthy rich as they are). As for the US government funding SpaceX, I find that hard to believe. They'll definitely fund SpaceX to launch sattelites, and maybe humans into low-Earth-orbit (to the ISS or wherever), but funding SpaceX to go to Mars would be a proposition that the American government is unlikely to support.

The US is (sadly) a broken, corrupt, semi-democratic nation. Purdue University even concluded several years ago that technically, the US is an oligarchy, not a true democracy (I'm an American and that's the honest truth). In the US, lobbying is the name of the game. If you want something done, you buy the votes. The space lobby is tiny and insignificant. I suppose one strategy is to try to make the space lobby more formidable. But that's something the Mars Society has been trying to do for over twenty years to no effect. I think, honestly, the average person just doesn't care enough about space to donate time and money to space lobbying efforts. Most people think I'm crazy when I start talking about space. No doubt the American public would get behind a humans-to-Mars mission if NASA had a rocket ready to blast off on the launchpad, but they don't have the patience for the required lobbying efforts. The major successful lobbying efforts in the US are: the retirement fund lobby (AARP), the gun lobby (the NRA), and the pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC). Those are the top three. Unless the space lobby develops the kind of organization and funding to compete with those giants, it isn't going anywhere. I doubt that will happen.

What could happen is that the US government might decide that contributing a few billion dollars towards a humans-to-Mars mission is worth it. If Mars Direct only costs $30 billion, and the US, UK, EU, China, Russia, and India all contributed $5 billion, you have your Mars mission right there. In reality, with private donations from wealthy individuals, corporate donations, and crowd-funding, the amount each country would need to donate would be far less. On top of all of that, there are 192 nations on Earth. That's way less than $1 billion per nation.

At first glance, international cooperation seems like a long shot. But given the right organization, I think the effort could potentially succeed. It would be unfortunate if such an effort was never attempted in the first place. If we try and fail, at least we tried. In that case, if I were running the umbrella organization, I'd take the funds that we managed to raise and give them to SpaceX and cut my losses. But failure is only guaranteed if we never try in the first place.

Last edited by louis (2017-05-17 05:32:27)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#5 2017-05-17 08:08:29

Tacitus Low
Member
Registered: 2017-05-15
Posts: 4

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

That link to the Verge doesn't paint the most optimistic picture of SpaceX's finances. I think they're a heck of a lot farther away from Mars than they let on.

Musk is smart, energetic, and he's a visionary. I agree with Dr. Zubrin's statement that, "Elon is a hero". But I repeat my reservations about SpaceX. $1.8 billion in profit is a heck of a long way from $30 billion. And even if you assume a humans-to-Mars mission would only cost $15 billion, that's still a long way off. Will SpaceX or a similar type of company eventually send humans to Mars? Yes, absolutely. But it may very well take 50-100 years for that to happen. I don't want to wait that long.

Further, I'm not sure why you think $30 billion is a high estimated cost. That's the low end of what Robert Zubrin estimated the cost of Mars Direct would be. Mars Direct is about as bare bones as you can get. You're right that a private company can usually do something for less than a government agency. But Mars Direct is already an incredibly frugal Mars mission. NASA's calculations for their Mars mission was in the hundreds of billions. Mars Direct is already cutting significant costs. I think it would be more conservative to estimate a humans-to-Mars mission costing $40-$60 billion. That would cover all of the additional expenses of turning Mars Direct into a full-scale colonization mission.

Again, I think we should try. Sitting around and waiting for Elon Musk to get the funding to send humans to Mars mostly on his own dime is tantamount to doing nothing. If trying to organize an international effort to send humans to Mars redulted in even one or two countries donating money, that would be worth it. At the very least it would help put SpaceX closer to its goal.

Look, I'm a nobody. I realize that. I'm not delusional like Bas Lansdorp is. I don't pretend to have the ability to start calling world leaders, major corporations, and Forbes billionaires and get them to donate billions money to my private Mars charity. But I also realize that a lot of things don't happen in this world simply because nobody even makes the effort. Who's to say that people wouldn't donate under certain conditions?

My plan is as follows....

1) Try to get the Mars Society to spearhead this umbrella group.

2) Assuming that works, the Mars Society would create this umbrella group. The key would be the legal work. I seriously doubt that NASA, Russia, China, SpaceX, etc. would feel comfortable handing billions of dollars to a third party that might potentially steal the money. This is NOT to say that I think the Mars Society is untrustworthy. On the contrary, I think it's an extremely honest organization. But trusting an organization with billions of dollars is asking for a lot of trust on the part of the donors. I think it would take some sort of special legal guarantees before any big donors would trust this umbrella group. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm going to do my best to map out the legal steps. I think the trick would be to put the donations in a place where, if they were hypothetically abused by the umbrella group, the donors could successfully file lawsuits and seek damages.

3) If steps 1 and 2 are successfully completed, then the next step is to put the full weight of the Mars Society behind the umbrella group. That would mean creating a public image for the umbrella group (let's call the umbrella group the International Mars Consortium (IMC) for now since you used the word consortium to describe it). Then, expand Mars Direct so it becomes a full-scale colonization mission from day one. Any blueprints (or whatever rocket scientists, physicists, engineers, etc. call their plans. I'm unfortunately a lay person when it comes to those matters.) that need to be created would be ironed out. With the revised Mars Direct plan available for anyone to look at, and all the professionals who are part of the Mars Society there to respond to any questions about the plans that donors might have, the real work could begin.

4) The first place the IMC should go ought to be the UN. Although I don't think much of the UN in general, it does function as a meeting place for every country on Earth. If you want to send a message to every nation, that's a good place to start. The IMC should give a rousing speech about why colonizing Mars is so critically important, reiterate the fact that it's technically feasible via Mars Direct, and that every nation should donate whatever it can in tetms of money and resources to the IMC. Also, if the IMC was given some type of official recognition by the UN, that would add to its legitimacy.

5) After approaching the nations UN, the IMC should then embark on public awareness campaign. Specifically, let everyone the world over know that the IMC exists and why it's important. Start crowd-funding.

6) Meet with political leaders around the world, the leaders of major corporations, the leaders of any NGOs or charities that might be willing to donate, and wealthy individuals who might be willing to donate (I'd start with the Forbes billionaires list).

****7) Assuming the Mars Society isn't interested in creating the IMC, that would leave me and whoever else is willing to work with me to do it ourselves. That would mean a lot of extra work, but if that's what it takes then that's the way it has to be.

Jeff Bezos started Amazon in his garage. Likewise, Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft more or less in their garage. The United States of America started as a gathering of a few dozen pissed off colonials in Philadelphia. All of those things succeeded. I think, given enough will power and hard work, I can start an IMC-type organization and make it work.

Remember what I said about a lot of things not happening in this world because nobody ever tries? I've ended up talking to some relatively famous people just I contacted them out of nowhere. I have a friend who ended up having a heart-to-heart conversation with the CEO of a major company just because he picked up the phone and contacted him. Has anyone ever tried contacting world leaders and asked them if they'd be willing to donate money to a Mars mission? Has anyone ever done that with the CEOs of major corporations? Has anyone ever done that with billionaires? It's quite possible that nobodies ever done it quite like that.

Hey, if I end up spending ten years of my life trying to start an IMC-type organization only to fail, then I'll look like a fool to be sure. But I'm willing to try. I really believe that colonizing Mars is THAT important. Assuming humanity doesn't wipe itself out before it gets a chance to expand beyond the Earth, future generations are going to look back with favor upon those who helped make that jump into space. They'll also look back with disdain upon all of the people who said it couldn't be done, and especially those who worked activiely against it. I want to be one of those humans who does my part. I think this is the way to do it.

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#6 2017-05-17 11:37:56

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,055

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

Well, I've been through the figures myself, basing my figures on a mission involving six people and I think it was something like 370 tonnes to LEO orbit and about 70 tonnes to the Mars surface, with pre-landing of supplies. I've tried to think of all costs, and based my costs on actual costs where applicable. I have assumed that we are looking for exotic solutions to the problems of landing and assume Space X's retro rocket approach is the way forward.

How does your $40-60 billion estimate break down?  Do you have any guide?  I am pretty astonished by that.

Tacitus Low wrote:

That link to the Verge doesn't paint the most optimistic picture of SpaceX's finances. I think they're a heck of a lot farther away from Mars than they let on.

Musk is smart, energetic, and he's a visionary. I agree with Dr. Zubrin's statement that, "Elon is a hero". But I repeat my reservations about SpaceX. $1.8 billion in profit is a heck of a long way from $30 billion. And even if you assume a humans-to-Mars mission would only cost $15 billion, that's still a long way off. Will SpaceX or a similar type of company eventually send humans to Mars? Yes, absolutely. But it may very well take 50-100 years for that to happen. I don't want to wait that long.

Further, I'm not sure why you think $30 billion is a high estimated cost. That's the low end of what Robert Zubrin estimated the cost of Mars Direct would be. Mars Direct is about as bare bones as you can get. You're right that a private company can usually do something for less than a government agency. But Mars Direct is already an incredibly frugal Mars mission. NASA's calculations for their Mars mission was in the hundreds of billions. Mars Direct is already cutting significant costs. I think it would be more conservative to estimate a humans-to-Mars mission costing $40-$60 billion. That would cover all of the additional expenses of turning Mars Direct into a full-scale colonization mission.

Again, I think we should try. Sitting around and waiting for Elon Musk to get the funding to send humans to Mars mostly on his own dime is tantamount to doing nothing. If trying to organize an international effort to send humans to Mars redulted in even one or two countries donating money, that would be worth it. At the very least it would help put SpaceX closer to its goal.

Look, I'm a nobody. I realize that. I'm not delusional like Bas Lansdorp is. I don't pretend to have the ability to start calling world leaders, major corporations, and Forbes billionaires and get them to donate billions money to my private Mars charity. But I also realize that a lot of things don't happen in this world simply because nobody even makes the effort. Who's to say that people wouldn't donate under certain conditions?

My plan is as follows....

1) Try to get the Mars Society to spearhead this umbrella group.

2) Assuming that works, the Mars Society would create this umbrella group. The key would be the legal work. I seriously doubt that NASA, Russia, China, SpaceX, etc. would feel comfortable handing billions of dollars to a third party that might potentially steal the money. This is NOT to say that I think the Mars Society is untrustworthy. On the contrary, I think it's an extremely honest organization. But trusting an organization with billions of dollars is asking for a lot of trust on the part of the donors. I think it would take some sort of special legal guarantees before any big donors would trust this umbrella group. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm going to do my best to map out the legal steps. I think the trick would be to put the donations in a place where, if they were hypothetically abused by the umbrella group, the donors could successfully file lawsuits and seek damages.

3) If steps 1 and 2 are successfully completed, then the next step is to put the full weight of the Mars Society behind the umbrella group. That would mean creating a public image for the umbrella group (let's call the umbrella group the International Mars Consortium (IMC) for now since you used the word consortium to describe it). Then, expand Mars Direct so it becomes a full-scale colonization mission from day one. Any blueprints (or whatever rocket scientists, physicists, engineers, etc. call their plans. I'm unfortunately a lay person when it comes to those matters.) that need to be created would be ironed out. With the revised Mars Direct plan available for anyone to look at, and all the professionals who are part of the Mars Society there to respond to any questions about the plans that donors might have, the real work could begin.

4) The first place the IMC should go ought to be the UN. Although I don't think much of the UN in general, it does function as a meeting place for every country on Earth. If you want to send a message to every nation, that's a good place to start. The IMC should give a rousing speech about why colonizing Mars is so critically important, reiterate the fact that it's technically feasible via Mars Direct, and that every nation should donate whatever it can in tetms of money and resources to the IMC. Also, if the IMC was given some type of official recognition by the UN, that would add to its legitimacy.

5) After approaching the nations UN, the IMC should then embark on public awareness campaign. Specifically, let everyone the world over know that the IMC exists and why it's important. Start crowd-funding.

6) Meet with political leaders around the world, the leaders of major corporations, the leaders of any NGOs or charities that might be willing to donate, and wealthy individuals who might be willing to donate (I'd start with the Forbes billionaires list).

****7) Assuming the Mars Society isn't interested in creating the IMC, that would leave me and whoever else is willing to work with me to do it ourselves. That would mean a lot of extra work, but if that's what it takes then that's the way it has to be.

Jeff Bezos started Amazon in his garage. Likewise, Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft more or less in their garage. The United States of America started as a gathering of a few dozen pissed off colonials in Philadelphia. All of those things succeeded. I think, given enough will power and hard work, I can start an IMC-type organization and make it work.

Remember what I said about a lot of things not happening in this world because nobody ever tries? I've ended up talking to some relatively famous people just I contacted them out of nowhere. I have a friend who ended up having a heart-to-heart conversation with the CEO of a major company just because he picked up the phone and contacted him. Has anyone ever tried contacting world leaders and asked them if they'd be willing to donate money to a Mars mission? Has anyone ever done that with the CEOs of major corporations? Has anyone ever done that with billionaires? It's quite possible that nobodies ever done it quite like that.

Hey, if I end up spending ten years of my life trying to start an IMC-type organization only to fail, then I'll look like a fool to be sure. But I'm willing to try. I really believe that colonizing Mars is THAT important. Assuming humanity doesn't wipe itself out before it gets a chance to expand beyond the Earth, future generations are going to look back with favor upon those who helped make that jump into space. They'll also look back with disdain upon all of the people who said it couldn't be done, and especially those who worked activiely against it. I want to be one of those humans who does my part. I think this is the way to do it.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#7 2017-05-17 11:40:29

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,055

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

Here's a link to my costings:

http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=7691

It was actually based on 445 tonnes to LEO.

Last edited by louis (2017-05-17 18:19:33)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#8 2017-05-17 18:08:51

IanM
Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2015-12-14
Posts: 119

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

Some thoughts about this thread and government.

With First Past the Post, I think many people, especially those comparing it to Proportional Representation (not necessarily anyone in this thread), tend to confuse it with the concept of having single-member constituencies in general. This is what is done in the US, UK, and Canada, with each single-member constituency electing its representative via First Past the Post (which refers to the simple-plurality voting system). While I agree First Past the Post is flawed as a voting system, I do not think we should be like the Dutch and put every Martian in a single blender superdistrict for the purposes of Proportional Representation. I think we should keep single-member constituencies (however they would be divided) and elected each representative via another method. This is what is done in Australia with its House of Representatives using Instant-Runoff voting, although I myself am a fan of Condorcet methods. But I digress, and the details of the electoral system would be best left to the colony/colonies.

Regarding administrators of the planet, whether appointed or elected, I think the term "President of Mars" is perfect. It sounds like an actual head of state/government, doesn't sound too colonial or small in scope compared to the planet. And it can fit regardless of what broad constitution is being adopted, whether it be a presidential, semi-presidential, or parliamentary republic. It's short, simple, and to the point.

Regarding Louis's big issues post-settlement, particularly about settler selection and religion, I do for the most part run with Musk's vision of, so to speak, Mars for the Common Man. I can see why one would have doubts about it, but on the other hand I also think that in the early days of settlement costs would be prohibitive enough to weed out the less devoted and/or undesirables (RobertDyck has speculated in the past about homesteaders spending their life savings to get a ticket and homesteading tools) and that by the time transit to Mars would be cheap/easy enough for the undesirables to come in the society as a whole would be big enough to accommodate them, however begrudgingly. I also have some worries that a screening process could turn discriminatory and it does seem a bit authoritarian in principle. That being said, I do realize that border controls, especially if Mars is self-governing, are a characteristic of all sovereign entities, so it doesn't seem too terribly out of place. I could see some restrictions on, for example, convicted felons from being granted citizenship/residency. With respect to religion I'm having trouble grasping how the influx of any given religion would be problematic given due application of separation of church and state. If anything, the rapid influx of, for lack of a better word, cultists to Mars might in fact aid and expand development, much like the Mormons with Utah. Nonetheless, I do recognize the threat of Mars devolving into a Theocracy, although as said before if precaution is taken this can be sidestepped.


The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. -Paraphrased from Tsiolkovsky

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#9 2017-05-17 18:39:42

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,055

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

The term "President of Mars" will only have real meaning if Mars is largely self-sustaining and generating a revenue surplus. That should be the goal - to reach that state as quickly as is reasonably possible.

I am not sure you understand the point about religion in particular.

My concern is that without a screening procedure, with tickets essentially available to all, then certain religions and sects will see it as an imperative to establish themselves on Mars at an early stage in a concerted effort to dominate the planet or at least make their mark.  If there are 10,000 tickets available at $500,000 each, there is no  reason why a religious philanthropist might not seek to buy up the whole lot at $5 billion and distribute them to his co-religionists.

I hasten to add I am not an atheist...more a dualist and a deist really (as were many of the founding fathers of the USA). 

I personally don't think separation of religion and state is enough.  What does that mean in a Mars context?  If you had a religious community of 5,000  on Mars around one base, in what sense would it be separated from the "state", another non-religious community of 5,000.  It would simply be a different state with its own laws.

I would have the same concerns if I thought political movements would seek to dominate Mars but I think that is far less likely.

In my view, persons who have strong religious beliefs and wish to publicly identify with their religious communities should be screened out of migrating to Mars and further that there should be laws preventing the creation of sole use religious buildings, or public use of religious symbols.  Religious buildings used for congregational purposes should be shared with all other religions represented in the locality.

This is undoubtedly a limitation on people's freedom but so is being subjected to the domineering influence of a religion.

The migration screening process should be used to ensure people who migrate to Mars have good ethics, a philosopical approach to truth and knowledge, an open mind, and a tolerant disposition.

IanM wrote:

Regarding administrators of the planet, whether appointed or elected, I think the term "President of Mars" is perfect. It sounds like an actual head of state/government, doesn't sound too colonial or small in scope compared to the planet. And it can fit regardless of what broad constitution is being adopted, whether it be a presidential, semi-presidential, or parliamentary republic. It's short, simple, and to the point.

Regarding Louis's big issues post-settlement, particularly about settler selection and religion, I do for the most part run with Musk's vision of, so to speak, Mars for the Common Man. I can see why one would have doubts about it, but on the other hand I also think that in the early days of settlement costs would be prohibitive enough to weed out the less devoted and/or undesirables (RobertDyck has speculated in the past about homesteaders spending their life savings to get a ticket and homesteading tools) and that by the time transit to Mars would be cheap/easy enough for the undesirables to come in the society as a whole would be big enough to accommodate them, however begrudgingly. I also have some worries that a screening process could turn discriminatory and it does seem a bit authoritarian in principle. That being said, I do realize that border controls, especially if Mars is self-governing, are a characteristic of all sovereign entities, so it doesn't seem too terribly out of place. I could see some restrictions on, for example, convicted felons from being granted citizenship/residency. With respect to religion I'm having trouble grasping how the influx of any given religion would be problematic given due application of separation of church and state. If anything, the rapid influx of, for lack of a better word, cultists to Mars might in fact aid and expand development, much like the Mormons with Utah. Nonetheless, I do recognize the threat of Mars devolving into a Theocracy, although as said before if precaution is taken this can be sidestepped.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#10 2017-05-17 18:57:53

IanM
Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2015-12-14
Posts: 119

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

louis wrote:

The term "President of Mars" will only have real meaning if Mars is largely self-sustaining and generating a revenue surplus. That should be the goal - to reach that state as quickly as is reasonably possible.

Agreed on all counts, with the title, the surplus, and the self-sufficiency.

I respectfully disagree with your proposals concerning the banning of religious symbols and buildings and feel they are a bit extreme. I feel that, especially if we have a screening process, that Martians will tend to be more irreligious than Terrans, and while there might be some religious pockets, I doubt they would have any more influence on Mars than they do in most of the Western World. With respect to a screening process, I can see how cultish tendencies could be screened out, although I would think maybe national influences would be stronger (for example, maybe a group of Americans/Russians would try to claim the planet for the United States/Russia).

With respect to self-sufficiency and self-governance, I believe on one of my agricultural threads I calculated how much it would take for wheat to be brought down to reasonable prices with simple agricultural surplus and without any need for importing it. I doubt a complete autarky is any more possible on Mars than it would be on Earth, but some food surplus is good, and depending on the marketing could form part of an export economy.


The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. -Paraphrased from Tsiolkovsky

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#11 2017-05-17 19:10:30

Dave_Duca
Member
From: Oconto, WI usa
Registered: 2017-03-15
Posts: 65

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

Please pardon my Occam's Razor.

To have a governing body devoid of anything related to Kim Stanley Robinson
who replicates the human genome  by substituting oppression for unconditional trust.

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#12 2017-05-18 05:18:12

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,055

Re: Martian Self-Government: Realizing Our Dream

Most of humanity lived in almost complete autarky for most of humanity's existence on Earth. It is only in the last 10,000 years or so that we have moved away from autarky.  So, it is completely possible. It's just a question of how desirable it is.  On Mars I think it's very desirable for a number of reasons. It's also completely feasible. The development of 3D printing, telecoms, computer software,  CNC machines, robotics (including self-drive vehicles), recycling and waste utilisation, PV energy and a host of other technologies, means that a hi-tech autarky is well within the reach of  a future Mars community (although whether pragmatically we would try and close the gap of that last 5% of imported goods, is an open question).

A food surplus on Mars would be easily established in my view, since food production depends essentially on energy and that is the one thing that can easily be imported at an early stage, and thereafter produced indigenously.  Whether food exports will be a big part of the Mars revenue stream remains to be seen. If it costs $10,000 per kg to get food back to Earth, that's a major limiting factor. If the Mars community can build their own rockets to LMO and hitch a ride on the ITS back to Earth for its food exports at a marginal cost, it may become possible. But even $500 per kg is a huge price tag for food.


IanM wrote:
louis wrote:

The term "President of Mars" will only have real meaning if Mars is largely self-sustaining and generating a revenue surplus. That should be the goal - to reach that state as quickly as is reasonably possible.

Agreed on all counts, with the title, the surplus, and the self-sufficiency.

I respectfully disagree with your proposals concerning the banning of religious symbols and buildings and feel they are a bit extreme. I feel that, especially if we have a screening process, that Martians will tend to be more irreligious than Terrans, and while there might be some religious pockets, I doubt they would have any more influence on Mars than they do in most of the Western World. With respect to a screening process, I can see how cultish tendencies could be screened out, although I would think maybe national influences would be stronger (for example, maybe a group of Americans/Russians would try to claim the planet for the United States/Russia).

With respect to self-sufficiency and self-governance, I believe on one of my agricultural threads I calculated how much it would take for wheat to be brought down to reasonable prices with simple agricultural surplus and without any need for importing it. I doubt a complete autarky is any more possible on Mars than it would be on Earth, but some food surplus is good, and depending on the marketing could form part of an export economy.


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