Industrial park side of the moon: Bid to privatise lunar real estate

‘To the moon’ may be a cryptocurrency catchcry, but the phrase could find itself more at home among conventional businesses under a radical proposal to privatise lunar property.

‘To the moon’ may be a cryptocurrency catchcry, but the phrase could find itself more at home among conventional businesses under a radical proposal to privatise lunar property.

This very literal interpretation of the crypto crowd’s metaphor for massive capital gains was put forward by infamous British free-market think-tank Adam Smith Institute (ASI).

In a recent paper entitled Space Invaders: Property Rights on the Moon, ASI argued the surface of our most famous orbiting orb should be divvied up among the governments of Earth, to be leased out to businesses and billionaires for mining, tourism and other commercial pursuits.

“Sixty years since cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit our planet, and US president John F. Kennedy spoke of the need to institute the rule of law to ‘man’s new domain’, property rights in space remain up for debate,” paper author Rebecca Lowe wrote.

“But recent developments suggest this can’t and won’t remain a debate for long.

“A clear, morally justified and efficient system for assigning and governing property rights in space – in land, in other resources, in the vacuum itself and in anything else that might be found – would present vast benefits.”

These benefits would not be exclusive to the lucky few who manage to snag a plot of moon land, Ms Lowe argued, but would rather benefit all of mankind by enabling governments to charge ‘rent’ that could help get more people into space, and maybe help people on Earth, too.

Many readers took to social media to decry the proposal as lunacy, however, with many pointing out it would be simpler for governments to just tax the billionaires that ASI proposed the moon be leased to.

Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt even weighed in on the proposal.

“Instead of taxing the billionaires to end poverty, conservatives will literally suggest privatising the moon instead. Wild,” the politician tweeted to his more than 210,000 followers.

But the ASI’s head of research, Daniel Pryor, maintained such an approach would do more good than sticking by the “outdated” rules first formulated in the 1960s that govern our current approach.

“Property rights play a key role in boosting living standards, innovation and human dignity here on Earth,” he said.

“The same would be true if we applied this logic to space, which presents a unique opportunity to start afresh when designing effective rules of ownership.” 


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