February 02, 2004
How About Some Cheese Instead?

Space.com is carrying this detailed report on a business you probably don't know exists yet is amazingly profitable... selling lunar real-estate:

Every day hundreds of people fork over about $30 for 1-acre slices of the Moon and Mars. (Prices are going up: For roughly the same amount, prior to 2001, you could get 17,700 acres.) The cost includes shipping and handling of a deed, a map, and the lunar or Martian "Constitution and Bill of Rights," all printed on simulated parchment.

A lot of leftist back-and-forth about whether or not someone can sell chunks of something when there's nobody to actually buy it from in the first place. I particularly liked the blatherings of one Virgiliu Pop, a British legal scholar:

One precedent Pop draws on involves the Masai tribe in Africa, which "has a similar legal claim over all the cows in the world, yet in reality, people all over the world continue to buy and sell cattle without involving the Masai. What I dispute here is the 'it is mine because I say so' approach."
If the Masai were in charge of, say, the same resources as Germany we would take their claims far more seriously, probably devoting a whole section of the UN's world court to debate the matter endlessly while diplomats parked on the sidewalks of Manhattan and sent their daughters to Bloomingdale’s. If they controlled the resources of, say, the United States, we'd all be paying a cow tax.

Ownership of the moon depends a lot on whether or not there's anything on the moon worth owning. If it's all just dust and gravel, I fully expect some sort of high-minded international agreement along the lines of what works in Antarctica. If, on the other hand, a meteor blew the top of a mountain off and revealed, say, a gold deposit the size of Brazil, I fully expect it to be settled the old fashioned way... last one to the top the hill is a Frenchman!

Posted by scott at February 02, 2004 12:00 PM

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