For those of you who missed the articles and blogs on Anousheh Ansari, she is the first woman space tourist to go to ISS (International Space Station). She does not like being called a space tourist because she thinks a tourist is somebody who does not need any special training or preparation before s/he goes gallivanting. Anousheh had to go through months of intensive training before she could go to space.
She has invested more than time and effort in training for this adventure. She shelled out in excess of 20 million USD to get to ISS. This has inflamed some people who consider this huge amount of money wasted for personal thrills instead of donating to a charity.
I quote a comment on her blog :
I can’t imagine having $20 million dollars and doing something as selfish as putting myself on a spacecraft and going to space. The money you spent will not benefit anyone but you; you could’ve done so much more that is meaningful to so many more people. How can you look at yourself in the mirror every night when you have lived such a frivolous life? How could you have been so fortunate to have the money that you do and use it so that you are one up on your society friends at your latest cocktail party? Very sad that money does not equal conscience or responsibility.
First of all…it’s HER money.
She earned every penny by being a smart business entrepreneur and she has every right to spend it to appease herself. I cannot consider Anousheh to be a frivolous spender because she spent it on a space program. It is not like she spent her money building a house made of chocolate (granted that would’ve been awesome too). How can space exploration be frivolous? Going to space was something she had always dreamed of and worked very hard to fulfill her dream.
Having said that, it is true that people (like Bill Gates) who have ridiculous amounts of money can make tremendous difference in the lives of millions of unfortunate people. This brings me back to the questions I started with. Should rich people be held accountable to how they choose to spend their money? How do you determine which causes should be invested in and which shouldn’t? Should we not invest in space exploration until there is no poverty, hunger or disease on earth?