Re: Public vs. Private Arctic Exploration

Date: Sat Jun 10 2000 - 07:29:38 MDT

In a message dated 6/9/00 1:41:52 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

> > I would think that a non-commercial, altruistic expedition mounted by the
> > private sector would have many of the same problems as one financed by
> > the government. Since they don't have a commercial stake in the outcome
> > but are just backing the project for PR or perhaps pure science reasons,
> > they wouldn't necessarily be any more careful than the government.
> >
> > Maybe I am wrong and the private expeditions in question did have
> > more of a commercial element?
> I don't think so. I beleive that the reason is that the explorers had to
> raise
> funds for their expeditions, and only those whos reputations were
> most competent got funded, while publicly funded expeditions leaders most
> likely
> were staffed more by individuals who obtained their positions through
> political
> connections. A partisan leader of a government might decide that he needed
> some
> good PR and put together funding for an expedition, but when it came to
> choosing
> leaders, his partisan thinking would automatically eliminate anyone he
> thought
> were not of his political party.

Here's a contrary example: The Lewis and Clark expedition. It was publicly
funded during a period of EXTREME partisan politics and, at least in
Merriwether Lewis' case, the choice of the expedition leader was "political"
in the sense that the president (Jefferson) chose Lewis based on his personal
acquaintance with him (he was Jefferson's personal secretary). Although the
conditions of the project weren't nearly as harsh in an absolute sense as an
arctic expedition, the scale and mission of the trip were in some senses
greater. The goals of the mission were far exceeded and at a cost of only
one life.

Of course, the Lewis and Clark expedition was certainly the only one where
the president of the United States personally trained the expedition leader
in a number of scientific disciplines (astronomy, navigation, botany,
ethnography) in the White House library and in the Rose Garden, chose the
other scientific advisors for the project from among his own personal friends
who were the leading scientists of the day and personally designed and
selected much of the mission's equipment!

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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