Land Run 2.0

I’m typing this from a point about four miles from the epicenter of the 1.0 version in the spring of 1889, so my interest in an updated version is perhaps keener than most.

Here’s the pitch:

Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released a new study by Adjunct Scholar Rand Simberg: Homesteading the Final Frontier: A Practical Proposal for Securing Property Rights in Space. Simberg argues that the U.S. should recognize transferable off-planet land claims under conditions such as those outlined by the proposed Space Settlement Prize Act, which Simberg renames the Space Homesteading Act.

A legal private property regime for real estate on the Moon, Mars, and asteroids could usher in a new era of space exploration at little or no cost to the U.S. government. As the study explains, space is rich in valuable resources. But without off-planet property rights, investors have little incentive to fund space transportation or development. Simberg proposes that the U.S. begin to recognize off-planet land claims of claimants who

A) establish human settlements on the Moon, Mars, or other bodies in the solar system;

B) provide affordable commercial transportation between the settlement and Earth; and

C) offer land for sale.

These claim rights would transform human perception of space. Currently, the international community treats outer space as an off-limits scientific preserve instead of what it could be: a frontier of possibilities for exploration, resource development, and human settlement.

With regard to that last quoted paragraph, here’s Francis W. Porretto on a slightly nearer faraway place:

Antarctica could be quite valuable real estate, if its riches were properly appreciated and exploited. It conceals deposits of fuels and minerals enough to satiate the human race for a millennium or more. But in its “pristine” state, it’s near to worthless except as an outpost for weather observation… Such a desire is inexplicable upon any basis but utter hatred of Mankind.

It may be simply that the right palms need to be greased. Land Run 1.0 couldn’t take place until residual claims by the Creek and Seminole nations were considered; the Feds ultimately bought them off for about two bucks an acre, a decided gain over the under-four-cent price in the Louisiana Purchase. (I note with some amusement that my own little parcel, according to the taxman, is now allegedly worth over $100,000 an acre.)

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