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Looking back on the history of the US, it’s clear that although typical pioneers led the way into new territories looking for opportunity, it wasn’t until people of independent means moved there that civilization was brought to an area.
It was people with money to invest that backed the first caravans, who bankrolled the laying of the transcontinental railroad, and in many cases were best prepared to take advantage of the best opportunities available at the time. They may not have panned for gold, but they probably backed the company that sold the pans and pickaxes.
What is there these days? There are no more geographical frontiers anywhere in plain sight. The poles? The rainforests? The deserts? The wildernesses of the world are either politically protected or are showing little interest in repeating the growth of the American West. Today we have only financial frontiers, resulting in money being placed in new untested investments: first, hedgefunds; second, real estate; third, securitized debt and other derivatives–all of which may yet prove to be lousy creations of the financial mind.
The rich need somewhere to put their money. They need new frontiers. They need boundaries to push and horizons to expand.
What it comes down to, is that there needs to be a reason for normal people to seek out the colonization of sea and space and that reason needs to be stronger than mere tourism. It needs to be attractive and attainable to the masses and seen as a means to a better life.
I predict that whoever can create the demand for human travel to either of these locations (they don’t even need to be the source of how we’d get there) will dwarf Bill Gates in the amount of money at his disposal.
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