Welcome to Jarret Herrmann, a new contributor to PD!

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, campaigning in Florida detailed his plans to, among other things, colonize the moon and declare the celestial body the 51st state after building, and I believe this is the exact quote, “a sweet-awesome moon fort”. He then challenged the other candidates in the Florida debate by boldly declaring “Everything but the podium is lava.”

In all seriousness, this is a needless provocation towards another space race with infinitely higher stakes at a time when the U.S. can absolutely not afford to fund such an outlandish competition. Could we make it to the moon, and have a sustainable colony there by 2020? Absolutely! If we work together with our allies and, I’m not afraid to suggest this as a Socialist, share. Yes, it might seem tempting to point up at the sky and declare “Dibs” but it’s both childish and insane.

Let me spell out why this is dangerous. First of all, it’s the moon. An object about the size of some other planets, or non-planets, in our solar system. What country has the right to declare ownership of an entire celestial body? It seems arrogant to even claim the moon for humanity, yet alone a small segment thereof. More important than the obvious ethical quandary are the material and political consequences: how would this doctrine affect international cooperation on space exploration, for instance, the fact that the Russians are currently letting our astronauts carpool with them?

And can we really expect that Russia, China and the EU will simply agree that we have called it, and therefore they must take their space-balls and go home? Christopher Columbus famously claimed America for Spain, and we’ve all seen how well that went after a century or two of colonial wars. Do we really want to do that again? Granted, there are no natives to enslave and eliminate this time, but you can still have the French and Indian war without the Indians.

Of course, there is a counter argument here, and that counter argument is this: Gundam Wing was a really great anime. We get a moon colony going, start fighting for territory there, then eventually the moon colony rebels against Earth, declares independence, and lasers are getting shot all over the place while a group of androgynousyoungsters pilots massive flying robots in order to… well, the plot is all rather sordid, but the point is, if Newt can claim dibs on the moon, I claim dibs on a giant robot fighting to either liberate or conquer the moon. Good luck, Mr. Gingrich, you’re going to need it.