Too many of us who are enthusiastic about space exploration and colonization expect the federal government to lead the way. We should learn from the founding of British colonies in America.
Governments have an insatiable appetite for the wealth of their subjects. When governments find it impossible to continue raising taxes or borrowing funds, they have invariably turned to printing paper money to finance their growing expenditures.
When asked to imagine the birthplace of our contemporary republican democracy, most educated people point to the democratic traditions of ancient Athens and to the institutions and offices of the Roman Republic. Yet, Athens was destroyed and its democracy destroyed centuries before the birth of Christ, and the Roman Republic succumbed to imperial despotism in 27BC. These shining examples continued to burn as embers of remembrance long after their practical extinction, thanks to a political and intellectual class dedicated to the preservation of ancient documents and knowledge. But while preserving the records, the successor states of both Athens and Rome were neither democratic nor republican in character.