I was reading today that some of the Google Executives are setting up a fund (and agency) that they are contributing each $5 million to so they can go into space. While I think this is really cool, I have to wonder what the real value of spending that much money for what is a brief experience. Sure, you get to go to space, but it seems really condescending to the rest of humanity that you would be willing to spend THAT MUCH MONEY for a transitive experience. If they all contributed that much money to certain charities, families could have houses, diseases could have cures, they could have a tax write off and many other things.
What is more fulfilling, going into space for a couple days, or saving many lives?
Perhaps they already have contributed millions of dollars to charities in the past, but the publicity that this generates seems quite negative, in my mind.
The other thing that really irks me about this whole concept is that they are often called 'astronauts' when they are through with their bought spaceflight. Just because you ride a rocket into space doesn't make you an astronaut. It kind of cheapens the title for those who have risked (and given) their lives in the past to further humanity's knowledge and place in the universe.