It’s not “‘Jon and Kate Plus Eight Attorneys.” It’s not, “on ‘Oprah,’ Sarah Palin unveils her road map for world peace.”
That an American probe just discovered water on the moon is not big news, judging by what one hears. Still, you’d think we’d be hearing a lot about it.
I’m not talking about the fact that water on the moon raises any number of questions and possibilities about what’s out beyond Earth’s gravitational pull. I’m talking about the fact that water’s presence on the moon means that we — Americans, vanguards of free enterprise and planned obsolescence —swiftly could be getting down to exploiting the moon for every ounce and drop of its commercial potential except for one thing: Someone 40-plus years ago blew it.
Yep. Just as they did with the Panama Canal, they gave away the moon.
I know what you were saying when you heard the moon has water. You were saying, “Get those snow machines blowing. Ski lodges. Hot tubs. Expedia, book me a suite at Marriott by the Sea of Tranquillity.”
Maybe you were thinking of vast mineral opportunities, with water to feed slurry lines criss-crossing the once-uncrossed moonscape.
At minimum, you were thinking of at least six dozen Starbucks. Admit it.
Not so fast. (Don’t you hate it when someone tells America, “Not so fast”?)
In 1967, Congress signed onto the United Nations Outer Space Treaty. What it said was that no country can own the moon or the planets or wherever we might plant a corporate logo in outer space.
Not only that, but the treaty prohibits us from deploying nuclear weapons on the moon and other celestial launch points. Fudge.
Where is/was America’s outrage? Where is Glenn Beck when we need him? Where was he in 1967? Probably bawling his eyes out over something juvenile as he prepped for a career.
The Outer Space Treaty stands to be a major roadblock to any number of designs on the moon, such as colonization – all right, condo-lization. It would mean that whatever our intrepid entrepreneurs wanted to do, once the sky really is no limit, they would have to clear with Ethiopians and Poles.
That doesn’t mean mankind couldn’t do something ambitious with the moon. It just means that, for instance, KBR and Halliburton couldn’t do it via no-bid contract. This just doesn’t sit right with Americans who’ve abided by the old adage, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the galaxy.”
Imagine the possibilities in running the moon as we’ve run our world in recent years. We could contract out lunar security to the private army hired by Xe – formerly Blackwater Security. It could guard against other nations – China, for instance — landing on lunar soil (our soil) and setting up snow-cone stands at predatory prices.
Write tax laws accordingly, and the moon could be the most attractive off-shore haven in the solar system — corporations fleeing Earth’s surly bounds and setting up home offices roughly the size of a body-piercing kiosk at the mall.
This could be our chance to show the world that we really aren’t completely inept at nation-building. Many of us once were certain that if we reduced Baghdad or Kabul to a moonscape, we could create new nations over there in our own image. Well, so it didn’t work. Well, here’s a more manageable moonscape.
We have the know-how. We have the venture capital. We have big rockets. And the moon has water.
So, that age-old question for those who wish the rest of the planet would go away: How can we get out of that treaty?
John Young writes for Cox Newspapers. Jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.