As a liberal, I identify with the instinct of examining humanity's past behavior and fretting over our capacity for brutality. In fact, I once sent a letter to Grand Valley State's newspaper outlining how America was founded in a double original sin, slavery and the systematic killing of Native Americans and destruction of their culture. This letter was sent in response to the persistent writings of another student who decried the moral direction of our culture and longed for a return to America's more gloried past.
But, even for a liberal, there has to be a point where you come in from the cold and choose to recognize that despite these flaws, the mission of America is a liberal one and humanity, at bottom, has qualities worth valuing. Otherwise, there is only nihilism and self-loathing.
Many (in fact, possibly a growing number) seem to value nihilism and self-loathing. Over the past year, I have encountered a strange sentiment, "the world would be better off without us." Until I googled "human extinction," I did not realize there was a movement called "VHEMT" seriously (at least according to their claim) advocating this. There was also Alan Weisman's recent book outlining the aftermath of human extinction.
Unlike the "VHEMT" movement, I am deeply disturbed by this prospect, as is Stephen Hawking. And like Stephen Hawking, I think space colonization is essential for our future survival. The one scenario that disturbs me most is not global warming, or an asteroid, but the concept that as technology has progressed it takes fewer and fewer people to cause massive destruction. Someday, we will reach the point where one person will be able to bring about the end of us all. The only way to avoid this is make sure we are not all here, on one planet vulnerable to the whims of a single idiot. But, we are not moving fast enough to avoid this "single idiot" scenario.
I know that the private space industry is just getting revved up, but I feel like we need further incentive. One thing I think should be considered is the promise of free property on the Moon and Mars and also the guarantee of long-term extra-terrestial tax shelters, possibly on the order of multiple centuries. Due to the risk involved, I believe we must increase the rewards. If you locate your company on the moon, it will not be taxed for 300-years. If you conduct business on the Moon, you will not be taxed. If you own land on the Moon, you will not be taxed.
The promise of property and freedom from taxes, this drove people to America. It has also attracted many with entrepreneurial spirit. Why not carry on the American idea into space? Why not foster that spirit there?