A very good friend of mine recently suggested that we as a society are currently suffering from a crisis of responsibility, and ever since then I have been finding it a remarkably insightful lens through which to analyze current events, perspectives, and opinions that I observe being promulgated.
To me, the problem with this essay is not in the content. Where I think the problem lies in this particular piece, and many similar pieces, is what is not included.
Not my thoughts, for once - I subject you to more than enough of those in the Tuesday blog posts. No, this Saturday I wanted to share with you an article Brandon Sanderson wrote in response to his recent, and unprecedented, Kickstarter campaign.
Why should a private company make a business out of space debris removal? Alternatively, can space debris removal be made into a viable business model? This is one of those complicated questions that I recently saw reduced to a gross oversimplification in a news article. There were a lot of issues with the article, and I don’t want to dwell on it, but I think the biggest problem was its underlying, unstated assumption that the only viable business case for space debris removal as a commercial service was if the government was the customer, or regulated private space industry into becoming customers. The underlying argument of the article, therefore, is that there is no viable business model based on space debris removal.
There is a concept that gets thrown around in economics classes called opportunity cost. In that context, opportunity cost is simply the fact of life that if you invest in one thing, you are necessarily no longer able to use those resources to invest in another. If you put ten thousand dollars into buying a car, that’s ten thousand dollars that you can’t use for the down payment on a house. If you invest 30% of your salary each month in your retirement accounts, that’s 30% that you can’t use now to go on vacation. A fairly simple concept, really, and it rarely is discussed outside of economics classrooms.
These arguments look at the published statistics, showing that the virus is apparently under control in Eastern nations, and isn't in Western nations, and suggest that perhaps the supposedly example-setting Western democracies need to take a lesson from these Eastern countries. I have even seen some essays suggesting that the progress of the pandemic in the East and the West demonstrates that the time for Western-style democracy has passed. What is left unspoken in all of these arguments is that these discussions are assuming the primacy of utilitarian morality.
As I was writing several of the scenes in the later episodes of Blood Magic's first season, I was struggling to describe what, exactly, Prime Wezzix and Borivat do all day. Specifically, I had a discussion in episode eight about Merolate's budget. As I was writing it, I was trying to make it realistic, but I found myself wondering what a budget for a nation-state at a level roughly comparable to Italy in the thirteenth or fourteenth century might reasonably include.