The power of dreams

By way of making a long Idlepost short, dreams — whether good ones or bad ones — are quite powerless. Work is what gets things done on this planet. Pharaoh didn’t get the Pyramids built on dreams. He employed, or more pointedly enslaved one hundred thousand worker bees, according to Herodotus. It is the same for our modern, democratically-elected “nation builders,” raising monuments to themselves. Someone has to do the work, someone has to pay.

There is no free lunch, and there are no free pyramids.

I was dreaming this morning as I woke of some vast white elephant scheme for which I, apparently, was responsible. Needless to say it was turning belly up, and I was in receipt of criticism for my tendency to ruthless incompetence. There was something in the air about a Moon Shot, easily explained by today’s anniversary.

John F. Kennedy had a dream — plus the power to commandeer huge resources. Martin L. King had a dream — that hasn’t quite worked out yet, so far as I can judge from the American meejah. Someone else had a dream, according to an old snake-oil pamphlet I consulted yesterday. There are multiple dreamers in this morning’s news — all expecting someone else to pay. I predict, when they don’t, each dreamer will get very stroppy.

That’s why taxes were invented — to make the worker bees work, or pay for things they would never support, voluntarily. Some of those things might actually be for their own good, but such endeavours almost always consist of stopping someone else’s dream from happening. In retrospect, they are never appreciated, for no one gives points when something doesn’t happen. Alas, only the fully grown are likely to comprehend this.

Are there any grown-ups, today?

The manned landing on the Moon made a fine entertainment, and a poignant memory. (See here.) What it cost has now washed under the bridge. I would not dream of trying to change the past. At most I might wish to change the future: put some screeching breaks on it, perhaps.

I have no objection to anyone who would send astronauts to distant orbs, so long as his recruits know what they’re doing, and the entrepreneur has the means to pay. My approval might come a bit quicker if they want to launch less sexy, high-tech wee little unmanned probes, “to see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.”

But if you want to spend fifty or five hundred or five thousand times more to put a man down there (and a woman won’t be any cheaper), I’m not standing in your way. Who knows what the return might be on an investment like that? The prospective space pioneer could do a whip-round at ye pub to collect his first billion or two; then see if the banks will accept his collateral.

Our own world will show some modest sign of maturity when the banks decline. Or later, when they foreclose on him.