As far as spaceflight being dangerous, so is flight of any kind in general. So I take it that you never fly commercial airliners and believe they should be shut down as well due to safety issues? And it wasn't risky in the 1920's just when commercial aviation was starting out?
You misunderstand me. I'm not saying that people in general are unwilling to risk or their lives or that progress is possible without risking life. I'm saying that there's currently no sustainable business model around manned space flight for commercial use. Sending people into space does not solve a business problem. There are a few very rich and brave individuals willing to go into space for personal reasons. Not a sufficient market right now. You won't find many VCs willing to invest in such a company. They will certainly not turn a profit any time soon. But it is something that government space agencies invest in. I'm not saying we shouldn't let the private industry take over more of the design and manufacturing of spacecraft. Or that NASA is doing a terrific job. But removing NASA as a customer will make things a lot worse.
When aviation was starting out, we had a few entrepreneurs that were able to take the risks and build an industry themselves. They didn't need much funding and this liberated them. Space travel seems to be a lot more expensive for individuals to embark upon without large amounts of external funding. That's the fundamental difference in my mind. But perhaps, as you say, it really isn't all that expensive if you approach it correctly.
As far as a "zero tolerance" of fatalities, I certainly don't see that from NASA...
I meant private industry in this case. A high risk of death is something that makes manned spaceflight unprofitable for the private industry right now. It's hard to get repeat business when your customer dies! The private industry has to deal with the lawsuits resulting from fatalities. That's much less of an issue for NASA.
Also, NASA isn't the "only customer"...
But you're not a customer unless you can afford to pay. There are plenty of window shoppers, but the cost isn't going to go down if you lose your existing customers.
I just think we're better off with NASA bumbling towards something than not having them trying at all. They consume a relatively small part of the federal budget and tend to deliver a better return on investment than most other things the government spends on.