For Sale: Moon

Posted: February 8, 2011 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff, postaday2011, postaweek2011, Weird
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“Do you want the moon? Just say the word, and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.” Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life

Your view in the morning

For the bargain basement price of $20 an acre, this can be the view from your property every morning!

On the birthday of Jules Verne, author and scientific visionary, I’m going to write about something absurd and ridiculous that I heard about on TV. Did you know that you can own lunar property? According to the Lunar Embassy, Lunar Registry, and other web sites, you can, for the mere price of $20 an acre. The web sites claim to have sold these deeds to thousands, nay, tens of thousands of customers around the world. I have to admit that I’m not surprised there are this many suckers walking around, but I do find it hard to believe there are that many suckers walking around with money to burn who would also want to blow it on lunar property deeds. I can see spending it on playing fantasy football or Powerball lottery tickets, though you probably stand a better chance of being given a free ride to the moon than winning a Powerball.

The idea isn’t new, and it was probably fun to play with for property lawyers. In the June 2008 issue of Popular Mechanics, Glenn Harlan Reynolds wrote that the first article on the subject was written by a Princeton legal scholar in 1951. Fears of World War III led to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which banned claiming the moon for any nation. Nation, mind you, not person. This led to the Moon Treaty of 1979 – don’t diplomats have anything better to do, like, oh, I don’t know, solve the Iran hostage crisis??? – which barred private property rights on the moon, and stated that development and exploitation of moon resources must take place under the supervision of an international authority. Needless to say, the United States didn’t ratify that one.

I don’t know what offends me more: that people are making legitimate money on selling deeds to lunar property and I’m not one of them, or that legitimate diplomats were living in New York in 1979, in nice apartments, spending taxpayer dollars of their respective countries, writing treaties about individual property rights on the moon when 1) individuals weren’t moving to the moon, 2) individuals weren’t likely to move to the moon anytime soon, and 3) even if they did move to the moon, there was plenty of room and plenty of time to figure things out later. That’s like people paying me to patent their design for a hyperspace-capable starfighter.

Hmm. Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. If I hung up a shingle to register people’s designs for starfighters with the US copyright office…

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