As I was writing about the end of the current space shuttle program, some thoughtful commenters were aware that political and financial times may impede any progress in the manned space program and private enterprise may be the next phase in space travel advancement. These thoughts reminded me of the movie Star Trek: First Contact (1996), in which the crew of the Enterprise travels back through time at the point when humans are about to make first contact. As described in the film, Earth had suffered through world war three which managed to wipe out a majority of the Earth´s population and world governments. This was in the year of 2063, according to the movie, the humans were living in encampment-like buildings, it all looked very humble, yet they had superior technological skills and Zefram Cochrane was the character who had the skills and ability to make the first warp spacecraft. He said his reasons were for money, not some noble cause to better humaity. From that point on, first contact is made and thus we have the beginning of the Federation.
The point in the summary of the movie is that society had to reach a point were people were on their own without the direction of government and doing things in a private and capitalistic manner that ends up being good for humans. The few people who remained had to cooperate, think for themselves, and find a way to survive and go on with life without depending on daddy government. When true capitalism is applied, you rise and fall on your own merit, there is no bail-out. I wish we could get to that point without going through all the pain and destruction, but if you listen to some economists, you will see that the world is headed for very tough times despite what the media may say. Yes we must have hope for a better future, but we must also be realists as well.