Monday, January 01, 2007

The Super Wealthy

A brief post on the Hobbyspace website gave a link to a PopSci article about an underwater hotel. I great idea, but if you are willing to explore a bit deeper (excuse the pun:) there is some very interesting background to this which gives some idea of the extraordinary amount of wealth that is sloshing about largely out of sight of the ordinary person.

I took the trouble to look up the website for the company which is planning on building the hotel. U.S. Submarines. Now take a look at their FAQ for luxury subs. It's worth reading!

Consider this quote "With 2300 megayachts operational around the world, some costing in excess of $150 million, the stakes in the game of one upmanship are rising. Some yacht owners like the idea of having a larger and more unique toy." By comparison, the Seattle 1000, a 500 ton displacement luxury submarine with all the trimmings is only about $19.7 million, a mere trifle.

The reader may possibly now be saying, well, so what, we already know there are a lot of rich people around. But look at it this way: Just think how much cash is being spent on luxury items by the wealthy compared with the amount they spend on space tourism and building space vehicles. Clearly, collectively and with very few exceptions, the rich are not interested in space. This is in spite of the fact that it is the super wealthy who have the most to gain. Want one-upmanship? Well, a fully furnished Bigelow space station is about as one-up as you could possibly get. Just imagine the look on your stuck up, so pleased with their $150 million yacht, billionaire neighbours when you blast them into orbit for a week of leisure on board a ship with full length window views of the entire Earth! Want to intimidate your acquaintances with the scale of your corporate empire? - well maybe the Earth isn't big enough for you? Time to start setting up business off Earth. Avoid all those taxation and regulatory hassles.

The super wealthy are passing up on these opportunities with scarcely more than a glance, and we need to know why. Perhaps its the credibility or 'giggle' factor, but there could well be other issues as well. I suspect Robert Bigelow knows more than we do.


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