Category Archives: Law

The Return Of The Frontier

Thoughts from Wretchard on the recent commercial space bill:

The Dawn of the Space Mining Age probably signals the Twilight of Socialism as much as it does the end of all material poverty. It marks the end of a way of life. We live in a special time; a brief epoch when the human universe has become as small as it will ever be, a moment when no man living is more than a few moments away by text messaging from any other and no home is beyond 48 hours of subsonic jet travel.

If man takes to the Cosmos, then distances will become real again; and goodbyes will be for the first time in a hundred years once more forever.

The price of knowledge and plenty is to leave the Hive. Someday we may regard our stuffy politically correct Earth with more tolerance than is presently the custom. The future does not belong to those poor souls on American campuses who become hysterical at the slightest perceived micro-aggression, but to those with the boldness to take risks. In that context humanity may someday miss such coddled children in nostalgia for a lost Eden, which no sooner found at the start of the 21st century, just as soon slipped away.

A lot of people seem to be misunderstanding this, though:

The 2015 Space Act does more than recognize property rights; it breaks down bureaucracy by exempting the space industry from much regulation until 2023. As with the historical Western frontier when the law remained “back East,” there will be few sheriffs in the far reaches of the void. There, as nowhere else on 21st-century Earth, safety is your own lookout.

As his own blockquote from Eric Stallmer indicates, the only thing that won’t be regulated (that is, continue to not be regulated, as it never has been in the past) will be the safety of spaceflight participants. Everyone will still need to get launch licenses from the FAA, and continue to satisfy it that the public is not at risk, and that the launch isn’t contrary to the national interest.

As for treaty compliance, I actually had a beer with Ram and Steven Freeland (from Australia, a signatory to the Moon Treaty) on this topic a few years ago in Lincoln, and we politely agreed to disagree on the issue. The bill is not in conflict with the OST, though it clearly is with the Moon Treaty. But the latter, contra this foolish piece, is not “customary international law.” The US has no obligation to it, never having ratified it.

[Late-morning update]

Related thoughts from a well-known professor of space law, over at USA Today.


How the fascists are setting it up as the scapegoat for the next terror attack.

No, there is no “loophole” that allows “terrorists” to buy “assault weapons.”

As (naturalized) American Charles C. Cooke writes:

You will note, I hope, that Reid, Schumer, Jentleson, and co. are not proposing to place restrictions on those who have been “accused,” “charged,” or “convicted,” but upon those who are “suspected.” They are not referring to those who are working their way through the judicial system, but to those who remain outside of it. They are not seeking to limit the rights of those who are out on bail or awaiting trial, but those who have not so much as been handcuffed. Loudly and proudly, they are arguing in favor of removing fundamental rights from anyone whose name has been written down on a list. Because they hope to confuse the public, their talk is peppered with references to “Paris-style” “assault” rifles and “automatic” weapons. But this is a red herring: Their proposal applies equally to guns of all types, not just those that give Shannon Watts and Diane Feinstein the willies.

In times past, officials advocating the simultaneous undermining of a range of constitutional rights would have been tarred, feathered, and dumped into the sea, along with their staff, their press agents, and anyone else who saw fit to acquiesce in the scheme. A little of that spirit might be welcome here.

However the press might cast it, there are not in fact “two sides” to this issue. It is not a “tricky question.” It is not a “thorny one” or a “gray area” or a “difficult choice.” It is tyranny. Somewhere, deep down, its advocates must know this. Presumably, Chuck Schumer would not submit that those on a terror watch list should be deprived of their right to speak? Presumably, Harry Reid would not contend that they must be kept away from their mosques? Presumably, Diane Feinstein would not argue that they should be subjected to warrantless searches and seizures? Such proposals would properly be considered disgraceful — perhaps, even, as an overture to American fascism. Alas, there is something about guns that causes otherwise reasonable people to lose their minds.

And lose their minds the bill’s champions have. As of today, there are almost one million names on the terror watch list — that’s names, not identities — of which around 280,000 are linked to nothing much at all. This should not surprise, for one does not in fact have to do a great deal in order to find one’s way onto the list. Perhaps you know someone who is already on it? That’s suspicious, right? On you go! Perhaps you have annoyed someone powerful? Oops! On you go! Perhaps you once said something intemperate in public? Better to be safe. On you go! Perhaps you are a Muslim? On. You. Go.

The nation would be much improved with a return to tar, feathers and the stocks.


is dead:

The fact is that Obamacare has fallen apart without Republicans’ dismantling it. Almost all of its basic promises have failed, it is an economic shambles, and it is a political mess: Unsurprisingly, people still don’t like it. Less than a third of Americans support the individual mandate, three-fourths oppose Obamacare’s tax on high-end health-care programs, and more voters oppose the law categorically than support it. A quarter of voters say the law has hurt them personally. The question isn’t why Republicans haven’t gotten around to repealing and replacing it — the answer to that question resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a while, still — the question is when Democrats will get around to admitting that, purity of their hearts notwithstanding, they and they alone — not one Republican voted for Obamacare — have created a mess that has introduced nothing to American health care except chaos.

[Update a few minutes later]

Surprise! Rates going up three times as much as reported.