Rand has a heads up on hearings.
The government wants to take over private companies and ruin what makes them great (because only the government knows how to do things right, right?) We need to break free and offer the future an alternative.
It's not about the technology and the cost (while too high) are not prohibitive.
What is lacking is vision. Space has unlimited assets that people want that have nothing to do with sending material back to earth. Earth has something space needs to be viable... lots of people willing to go. Space has real estate. What those people need to go is funding. It's already economically viable with a great ROI (800%?) for any banks that agree to a settlement charter.
A mars settlement charter might say that every individual is allowed a reasonable claim by possession (one sq. km. is enough to make this economically viable.) The banks in the charter will finance anyone willing to accept the terms of the charter (and become instant millionaires with the stroke of a pen.)
Suppose it costs [you pick any amount] to get a colonist to the surface of mars with sufficient supplies. A bank loans them that money for which the colonist agrees to develop and sell plots to future colonists. The bank expects to get 800% ROI or more to be competitively decided (by a number of banks offering different terms.) Zubrin has describe a 50m round hobby farm that could feed three. Let's assume that includes a habitat and so is the minimum plot size for sale. A one sq. km. claim would include 400 quarter hectare plots not all of which need be resold. Which means, to break even a colonist would need to sell a developed quarter hectare plot for just 0.25% over [the amount you picked divided by 400.]
New colonists should have a home waiting for them before they even leave earth orbit. It makes sense for them to buy it rather than trying to develop it when they get there. The cost to develop it is the same whether they do it themselves or a colonist already on mars does it. The difference is they can focus on other things when they land and will be able to take a different mix of supplies because essentials will come with the plot. They pay a few percent more for their travel package (totally financed by a settlement charter bank) to save months of time getting a start on arrival.
Suppose a colonist chooses to provide 160 plots for resale. Here is one potential scenario.