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The Given Order
November 2004

For Your Own Good II: EU Bureaucrats & Other Slimy Little Things

The European dream of “ever closer union” has brought nations together under a common banner of mutual security, economic cooperation, and massive bureaucracy. As we chronicled last month, Brussels’ many committees ensure that nations in the European Union sag in unity under its regulatory regime. While harmony is worth pursuing, must they make other species suffer for their cause?

On October 18th, the British Telegraph reported on the environmentally backwards consequences of EU fishery laws. One regulation specifies that European fishermen must use nets with 80mm holes in the mesh. This law has also banned the use of 110mm nets, which most fishermen prefer, because European Commission fisheries ministers fear they would only be used to catch the overfished North Atlantic cod. Thanks to the finer size, the nets’ unintended catch is far greater than cod or other large fish: smaller sea creatures, including juveniles and unwanted species, are caught, maimed, and thrown back dead. The Telegraph’s anecdotal forays with UK fishermen saw 95 percent of the catch mass discarded as useless, a slaughter that could devastate the populations of smaller species.

Ever wary of trusting local institutions to deal effectively with matters of conservation, the European Commission will take at least a year to review regulatory absurdities like this one. It is unclear, however, how much longer the Atlantic fish stocks can withstand such “help” from the Eurocrats.

A Nail in NASA’s Coffin: The Private Sector Blasts Off

The past few weeks have seen the final frontier open much wider. Just a few days before SpaceShipOne launched into history by winning the Ansari X Prize on October 4th, hotelier millionaire Robert Bigelow announced the creation of America’s Space Prize. This new prize encourages aerospace entrepreneurs to build and launch ships safely into orbit, a feat never before accomplished by independent citizens. The winner will net $50 million and an exclusive contract to service the habitable, orbital facilities Bigelow Aerospace intends to build. Does the fact that The Yale Free Press predicted these sorts of developments last May make us smug? Yes, it does.

In the wake of SpaceShipOne, X Prize founder Peter Diamandis announced the first annual X Prize Cup, to be held in 2005-06 at a New Mexico missile range. This “grand prix of space,” as Diamandis puts it, will showcase various aspects of space flight with an eye towards giving the original runners-up an incentive to keep innovating. Diamandis has stated that he created the Cup specifically to eliminate popular myths about the infeasibility of space travel.

We commend these entrepreneurs for realizing that NASA is never going to get anyone into space efficiently. Beginning in 2025, the YFP will offer free subscriptions to those who colonize the asteroid belt.


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