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This letter is meant to cover the possible future where NASA and it's international equivalent companions have completed a first study of Mars, and have sponsored at least one peopled mission to the planet, and no life form and no fossils of life forms have been found. In such a situation, the possibilities of further search, and future missions might need to be financed by nongovernmental entities.
I suggest that within the structure of International Earth Law an international corporation which I will temporarily name "The Mars Planetary Development Corporation" (Ticker Symbol MPDC) could be created. It does not need to have that name, but for now it can.
The corporation would be granted entitlement to a certain portion of all of the subsurface mineral rights on Mars, for a certain period of time. Let's say 25% of extracted minerals for 100 years. The corporation would also be given title to the entire land surface of Mars forever, or until they sold the land to someone. They would also be given long term patent rights to any life form found on Mars, with the restriction that if such a life form is found to exist, and MPDC has been proven to have exercised poor judgement in assuring it's continued survival, the patent rights will be taken away and assigned to another entity. This will cause Mars Planetary Development Corporation to Search for and Protect Martian Life Forms. This takes care of the Profit/Greed motivation, for exploring and developing Mars.
A process would modify this setup where the Citizens of Earth would all have a participation in the Corporation, which they could continue with or sell. Every Earth Citizen would be given equal shares in the Mars Planetary Development Corporation, which they could retain as private property or sell. Every Earth Citizen could be given equal shares in the Mars Planetary Development Corporation. Perhaps one Share at Birth. Any person could buy more existing shares, but new shares could only be created by the birth of a person. The Following exceptions to that rule could also be applied:
Exception 1: If some large population group demonstrated bad will by trying to render the Mars Planetary Development Corporation and it's activities servile to a particular political entity that wants to inhibit human advancement or some non emancipating religious entity, the international community could counter this process by making a special issue of stock that could be sold on the free market to reduce the domination of that entity. The profits would go to the Mars Planetary development corporation.
Exception 2: If some entity claiming prior rights to the resources of Mars successfully demonstrates the validity of their claims in a court of law that is recognized as having jurisdiction, instead of enforcing their rights, they are to be compensated with a special issue of stock which will be awarded to them, in place of the claims.
I would hope that this formula would have a high probability of satisfying the majority of persons on the planet. It balances 1st world interests against the claims of injustice that would likely be made by the 3rd world, and should not cripple the development of space. It should generate capitol, and all share holders would have the desire to have the land that backs the value of their stock be improved. Eventually the major stock holders would emigrate to Mars, to oversee their assets, and in that fashion, the ownership of Mars would first be by Earthlings and then Martians.
Thomas R. Nelson
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