Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A couple "temporal autarky" related points

First, stickman has a great post on whether pregnant women should be banned from smoking, using some of the same points that I did in the series of recent "temporal autarky" posts. This problem pervades parent/child issues. A child depends on parents for many things, but can't transact with that parent to make responsible investments at the time they need to be made. Stickman specifically raises the example of a child in the womb, which is certainly an example of a situation where a child and a parent can't come to a voluntary agreement about the treatment of the child.

I respond with trepidation on banning pregnant women from smoking, but I do think there's a viable argument for it, and I do think in particularly bad cases (such as the one stickman mentions) child services would have a viable case for child abuse charges. Having the government provide a service to address these issues (i.e. - offering public school or offering prenatal and maternal health services) is much easier to jump on board with than having the government intervene to change a person's behavior.


In this video, Jeff Greason provides a great discussion of settlement strategies for NASA. Jeff is in the private space sector, but (like me and unlike some commenters here) he doesn't see himself as in competition with, threatened by, or crowded out by NASA and public space exploration. He does a great job at explaining the public choice problems surrounding space exploration. This usually isn't a problem for people to see, because the public choice problems are so prominent. Finally - he differentiates himself from guys like Dr. Zubrin by offering a vision of interplanetary settlement that doesn't rely on one single massive "Mars Direct"-esque undertaking.


I've started to draft my response to DARPA's Request for Information on the financing of a 100 Year Starship. It's due Friday, and it won't be very long (they want no more than five pages). I'll post it afterwards. Essentially I'm summarizing the idea of temporal autarky and its implications for financing investments in the far-future, and I'm suggesting that DARPA reconsider its exclusion of government funding. I'm really benefiting from having a blog on this one - I've pulled sixteen pages of blog text and comments on the subject from posts here going back months. It's a good resource to have to keep a record of thoughts I'm interested in revisiting later. And your comments and critiques are helping me anticipate concerns that DARPA may have.


  1. You do realize that children go to public schools in large part as a result of a government monopoly on post-pre-school education, right? The state doesn't just provide the service; it crowds out almost all competitors, demands tax money to do so, and demands that people of a certain age attend such schools. Imagine if the "liberty of contract" case _Pierce vs. Society of Sisters_ had been decided the way that liberals/progressives wanted it decided - that parents have no educational choice whatsoever.

  2. You should see how the conversation in the comments section has degenerated since then...

    Or, perhaps it has improved. I'm probably not qualified to offer an impartial take.


All anonymous comments will be deleted. Consistent pseudonyms are fine.