Billionaires Slipped Earth’s Snarling Ties, But Couldn’t Escape Its Problems | Friday coffee

(* This column was updated at 2:17 PM on Friday 7/23/21 to remove a reference to Elon Musk as a passenger on Branson’s flight.)

Billionaire Space Cowboys Jeff Bezos and Richard branson have rightly criticized the sub-orbital escapades earlier this month which made headlines, but little real scientific progress aside from trying to normalize the idea of ​​routine spaceflight for others exceptionally wealthy people.

With all the rocket power that propelled them and their titanic egos into the wild blue out there, social media has become ablaze with criticism, convincingly arguing that Bezos and Branson could have used their money to solve a myriad of sprawling problems, from climate change to income inequality, here on Earth.

“Jeff Bezos is going to space tomorrow. Yesterday, on earth, I saw a man looking for food in a trash can,” the critic Charles Preston observed on Twitter.

Warren Gunnels, a leading aid for US Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., stacked on, noting dryly that “the class war is Jeff Bezos, Elon musk and Richard branson get $ 250 billion richer during the pandemic, pay a lower tax rate than a nurse and run into space as the planet burns down and millions of people go without healthcare, accommodation and food. “

Others have noted with irony that should Bezos, the old one Amazon chief, need to relieve himself by soaring in the skies, he could always use the same plastic bottles that his drivers said they use as they try to meet binding delivery schedules.

Bezos, at least, had the presence of mind to observe that his critics were on something, conceding that they were “largely right”, CNBC and other outlets have reported.

“We have to do both,” he said. “We have a lot of problems here and now on Earth and we have to work on it and we also have to look to the future, we have always done that as a species and as a civilization. We have to do both.

At one level, Bezos was fair. There has always been a fundamental tension between humanity’s interstellar ambitions, which tend to be overwhelmingly expensive, and the sense that the money could be better used to improve more earthly concerns.

“I am not opposed to climbing mountains because they are there, or the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but I urge the Asset The administration should consider focusing its scientific efforts on issues closer to us (climate change? Or, say, drinking water in Flint?) Before our plan to colonize the moon turns into a plan for escape it. Ana Marie Cox wrote in 2018 while the former president briefly touched on the idea of ​​lunar colonization before Earth plunged into the worst public health crisis in a century.

There are undoubtedly arguments in favor of the usefulness of spaceflight in advancing the cause of human knowledge. The digital flight controls pioneered by the Apollo program are now an integral part of airliners and can even be found in most cars. according to NASA, which, to be sure, has something to gain by touting the terrestrial advantages of space flight.

Foreign policy writing in 2019, Greg Autry reminded readers of the now legendary image of Earth captured by Apollo 8 astronaut Guillaume Anders in 1968: A large blue marble seeming alone and therefore very vulnerable in the vast void of space. This photo, nicknamed “Earthrise, has since inspired.

Earthrise, photo by NASA astronaut William Anders (Image via NASA).

“Today environmentalists and other critics are more likely to view space programs as militaristic follies that waste billions of dollars best applied to solving problems on Earth.” Autry wrote. “These well-intentioned complaints are misguided, however. Earth’s problems – the most pressing, climate change – can only be solved from space. This is where the tools and data already used to solve these problems have been forged and where the solutions of tomorrow will also be.

Knowledge – and money – deployed in the service of the common good is almost always welcome. And I remain as much of an evangelist for the exploration of interstellar space as anyone else. I agree with the premise that there is a mandate to explore – while also gleaning the knowledge that comes with it.

But in the case of the billionaire space race, there was almost no sense whatsoever, to paraphrase Neil armstrong, a giant leap for humanity.

Rather, it was about inflating the egos of incredibly wealthy men, who despite all the hype, I’ve never been this far in space anyway, with negligible scientific benefit.

Bezos and Branson, slipped the snarling bonds of the earth, like the poet John Gillespie Magee once written. But they returned to a planet equally torn by inequality, war, an ever-raging pandemic and the climate change crisis.

I would suggest that if they were looking, like mage also wrote, at “[touch] the face of God ”, they could have kept themselves – and their billions – on dry land, and dedicated it to his creation on Earth.

Pennsylvania State Capitol. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our things.

In testimony to a State House panel on Thursday, experts and lawyers called for “transparency” and “clarity” in the decennial reworking of the Pennsylvania congressional maps, Cassie Miller reports.

After telling voters to “get over it,” a GOP senator proposed to amend Pennsylvania fireworks law, Marley Parish reports.

A Democratic state lawmaker in the suburbs of Philadelphia faces theft offense charges for allegedly abusing campaign funds and saying she will quit immediately, Parish also reports.

Decades after his death, a Pittsburgh Hall of Famer who performed in the Negro leagues receives a long-awaited memorial, our partners of Pittsburgh City Paper report.

State and local officials paid out $ 1.5 billion in rent assistance in June – more than in the previous five months – to help households behind on rent and utilities, according to US Treasury data released Wednesday. Washington Journalist, Capital Star Laura Olson has the details.

United States Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, was one of some two dozen Republicans who voted with the Democrats pass a bill regulating “chemicals forever” in drinking water, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa and I write.

On our comments page this morning, regular notice Lloyd sheaffer said the Republicans in Harrisburg must abandon their critical crusade of racial theory. And scientists understood the physics of climate change in the 1800s, thanks to a woman named Eunice Foote, a Rice University the expert explains.

In the Estrella-Capitale: Los esfuerzos of the faculty of Pitt para sindicalizarse continúan con las próximas elecciones para unirse a United Steelworkers. Y Philly ve un ‘pequeño pero real aumento’ en los casos de COVID-19[female[feminine, dice el doctor principal de la ciudad.

(Image via

Somewhere else.
Local school board meetings get tense with debates on masks and critical race theory, the Applicant reports.

Governor Tom Wolf clarified its position on voter identification, claiming that he is still against anything that suppresses the vote, the Associated press reports (via TribLive).

the state reported 561 new COVID-19 infectionss Thursday, as its moving average of new cases continued to rise, PennLive reports.

Faculty, staff and students at Allentown schools will have to wear masks if they are not vaccinated, the Morning call reports.

Certain York County Voters say they want local leaders to participate in a GOP-backed mock audit of the 2020 election results, the York Daily Record reports.

Prosecutor in office Sam Sanguedolce is the only applicant for the Luzerne County Republican Party’s choice for district attorney in the November 2 election. Democrats are still looking for a candidate, the Citizens’ voices reports (paywall).

Philadelphia advocates and community leaders donated Mayor Jim Kenney a deadline to do something about gun violence, WHY-FM reports.

the Department of Justice will not investigate how the state handled nursing homes during the pandemic, the Associated press reports (via WITF-FM).

City and State PA take stock of last week’s winners and losers in state policy.

Three states move forward with plans for a public option on health care, reports.

NYMag Intelligence asks readers to consider what would have happened if the 9/11 commission had been supplied with allies of the hijackers.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the day:

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, hosts a sporting clay shooting extravaganza at Seven Springs Hill Station. Admission ranges from $ 250 to $ 5,000.

Governor Tom Wolf does not have a public schedule today.

You say it’s your birthday
Best wishes this morning at Anna orso, of the Philadelphia Investigator, who celebrates today, as well as reader Jack Scanlon, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Best wishes in advance to the reader Jill linta, from Dauphin County, which celebrates Saturday. Congratulations to all.

Heavy rotation
here is one of Jungle to start your weekend. It’s the “Keep Moving”.

Free Friday Football Link
Chelsea, from England Women’s football league will open the title defense season against Arsenal before facing Manchester United in a difficult start, the Guardian reports.

And now you are up to date.

Previous As the moratoriums lift, will America face a wave of foreclosures and deportations?
Next U.S. clean energy industry facing forced labor issues