Trekonomics or How Star Trek is the Embodiment of Wut? – By Amanda S. Green

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Trekonomics or How Star Trek is the Embodiment of Wut? – By Amanda S. Green

A month or so ago when I asked for recommendations for my next series of review posts, TRX offered to send me a copy of Trekonomics by Manu Saadia. I didn’t take him up on it right away but, after a bit, my curiosity got the better of me. When he once again offered to send the book, I agreed. Last week, I sat down and started reading. While the book has let me walk down memory lane, remembering different episodes of the various incarnations of the Star Trek franchise, it has also been a hoot and probably not in the way the author imagined.

As you can tell from the title, the book is about the economics of Star Trek. Now Saadia does make it clear about midway into the first chapter that the book isn’t about Star Trek: Enterprise. You see, the humans and their society and economy were just too, well, human.

Saadia, you see, looks at the worlds of Star Trek as a Utopia. In some ways, Saadia is right. At least from an economic standpoint. Think about it. How many folks in Star Trek, whether we are talking the original series, the Next Generation, etc., do you remember really working because they had to work? How about using anything resembling money? (I seem to remember one scene where they were gambling and using something to stand in for money or poker chips but I might be misremembering.)

There’s more and we’ll be discussing it over the next couple of weeks as we go through the book.

In the Forward, Brad DeLong sets the tone for the rest of the book. In writing about the 50 years (now 52 years) of Star Trek, he said, “Star Trek has woven itself into our sociocultural DNA. It provides a set of powerful, striking, and beneficial ideas that help us here in our civilization think better.” (pg. xi) Now, that statement is a bit awkward – or at least it seemed that way to me. Basically, DeLong believes Star Trek helps us think better and believe life can be better than it is now.

He goes on to state that the Prime Directive (No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations.) in the original series was a to process our “misadventures” in Vietnam. I don’t know about that. There is a paper by H. Bruce Franklin that appears in Science Fiction Studies (#62 = Volume 21, Part 1 = March 1994) that states there were four episodes reflecting that theme. Whether Roddenberry truly meant for such motivations to be ascribed to his episodes or not, I don’t know. That’s for future research. However, it wouldn’t necessarily surprise me to find it true. Nor does such motivation do anything but play into the belief that the series helps us believe there can be a better life.

The question is what sort of life and is it truly better? Whether you look at it from an economic point of view or sociological, that’s the one question that really matters.

Before we look at that, let’s look at what the book says Roddenberry’s motivations were.

In the Forward, DeLong says Roddenberry wanted to tell stories “that would be the dreamwork for a better future.” Okay, nothing wrong with that. A lot of writers and storytellers do that. He wanted to tell stories of a “progressive humanity”. Oookay. What does he mean by that? DeLong doesn’t say, at least not outright, but we can infer what he means as he goes along. You see, according to DeLong, Roddenberry also wanted a future where the government was “smart enough” not to get involved in future Vietnams, where people didn’t have to worry about “leaky roofs and food shortages”, where racial prejudice was “silly and stupid”. Roddenberry wanted a world where it wasn’t unusual for a woman to be at least a first officer (if you read the Forward, you will see DeLong leaves a little wiggle room for Roddenberry not having a female captain. It seems the oh-so-progressive Roddenberry wasn’t quite as progressive as DeLong would have us believe).

Here is the money quote in my opinion, and for several reasons: Roddenberry wanted a future in “which everyone—even the disposable Red Shirts—was an officer, a trained and well-educated professional treated with dignity and respect by her peers and superiors.”

Let’s take a moment and consider that statement. Everyone is an officer. Uh, what about the enlisted personnel necessary to do the dirty work? Oh, wait, I get it. In this progressive and enlightened world, there is no dirty work. Things like cleaning the sludge out of the water and air processors is now all automated. No one has to get their hands dirty. Everyone makes decisions and the computers and automated systems will carry them out. Riiiiight.

Everyone is trained and well-educated.

Hmm, am I starting to see a pattern here?

Maybe I’m a cynic, but this is starting to sound an awful lot like the socialist utopia of Marx and Engels. The state will give you all you need to be a productive and happy citizen. You want to be an officer? Well, comrade, all you have to do is sign here. We will train you and you will serve the State. Oh, we will have to test you and you will do the job we tell you to. But you will be happy and you will treat everyone with respect just as they will treat you.

But what about little things like ego and a competitive spirit?

Don’t worry. It seems that those who go into Star Fleet, especially those who take command, are the outliers. They don’t really fit into the utopian society we didn’t get to see all that much of on-screen, especially in the original series.

You see, according to DeLong, Roddenberry lets us wonder what it would be like to “have a society of abundance, of logic and reason, and of inclusion.” How he could write that with a straight face, as if Roddenberry was the first science fiction author to ever really put that notion out there, is beyond me. We’ve had this notion for as long as humanity has walked the Earth. Star Trek wasn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last.

What Star Trek did, however, was appear at a time when the public’s viewing habits were changing. Most homes now had televisions. Many had or were in the process of transitioning from black and white to color. The other major science fiction TV show at the time was Lost in Space. It premiered, if I remember correctly, the season before Star Trek. By the time the original series hit the air, Lost in Space had transitioned from a black and white show that was grittier and darker than the color episodes would prove to be. The Original Series, on the other hand, wasn’t about a family lost and trying to survive but about man’s continuing exploration of space – something that also intrigued the country at the time.

1966 was the year when NASA first successfully docked two space vehicles. Surveyor I landed on the Moon and began transmitting images back to Earth. 1966 is also the year the Soviets made their first successful lunar orbit. This, as well as Vietnam, was the background of Star Trek and why many American watched the show. It allowed us to see a future where the sky wasn’t a limit. With the reality of the NASA space program playing out on the news, Star Trek and so much of what we had seen in science fiction before, was no longer an impossibility. The future was within our grasp.

Or so we thought.

And what does all this have to do with economics and Star Trek? Not much and yet a great deal. DeLong sets out some excellent points about what was going on in the country, even if he forgets things like NASA. In doing so, he also points out one of the problems I always had with the so-called economy of the Star Trek universe. There really wasn’t one, at least not that we saw often on-screen. Why? Saadia begins delving into that in the Introduction and we’ll jump into it more fully next week. But here are a few of the “money” quotes, so to speak.

“We owe a lot to Star Trek. It has had a tremendous impact in the real world. It has made it a better place.”

“The world of Star Trek is an economic utopia.”

“In Trek’s universe, most if not all of the real-world conditions that drive economic behaviors essentially disappear. In Star Trek, currency has become obsolete as a medium of exchange. Labor cannot be distinguished from leisure. Universal abundance of almost all goods has made the pursuit of wealth irrelevant. Superstition, crime, poverty, and illness have been eradicated. For all intents and purposes, the United Federation of Planets is a paradise.”

“What really matters, and what makes Star Trek uniquely utopian, is the social distribution of these impressive technologies.” Here the author is speaking of, among other things, the replicators.

“[T]he compulsion to work to the compulsion to work to ensure one’s survival has simply vanished.” Again, the reason is because free robotic helpers has made human labor obsolete.

There’s more, so much more, and we’ll discuss it next week. But what does all this sound like? A government that makes sure you have everything you want. No currency. Everyone has an education and a job. Oh, there’s no mention of universal healthcare, but it is there. Never doubt it.

Are you starting to hear Bernie on the campaign trail? Or maybe Hillary? Or maybe, just maybe, you are remembering sections from the writings of Marx and Engels or perhaps even Lenin himself?

Remember, too, that despite all this pretty language about what a Utopia, economic or otherwise, that the Star Trek universe might represent, it had a nasty underbelly. How often, during the original series, did Kirk and company violate the Prime Directive? If their progressive government was so progressive and so confident in its utopian ideals, why wasn’t Kirk disciplined? If nothing else, the ever-logical Spock should have removed him from command and placed him under house arrest to face charges.

But no. None of that happened. To the best of my recollection, there was only one time when Kirk was removed from command and it was all a ruse. (Again, I might be wrong here.)

Like most utopias, they are only as good as each and every citizen’s desire and ability to completely comply. If you have outliers, they either have to conform or they have to leave. So what does the Federation do? It sends them off into space in a quasi-military fashion and gives them ships with weaponry that can destroy on a grand scale. Am I missing something or is that not quite as utopian as the authors would have us believe?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed Star Trek in almost all its iterations. I am looking forward to finishing the book and discussing it here. I will warn you. There may be snark. Why? Because it’s who I am. If you can’t laugh at some of the institutions of your childhood, what can you laugh at?

390 responses to “Trekonomics or How Star Trek is the Embodiment of Wut? – By Amanda S. Green

  1. Christopher M. Chupik

    Like a lot of Roddenberry’s utopian revisionism, the “no money” thing started later. In TOS, there’s lots of references to money still existing.

    • If not, would would be the point of Harry Mudd?

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Or Cyrano Jones?

        • The “point” of them would be simple: there aren’t enough Starfleet personnel or starships to completely survey and scan for replication everything on all the planets they explore. Someone like Jones or Mudd would be out there going through planets looking for the local equivalents of peppers and nutmeg, and trading the scan patterns of the ones other planets knew about.

          That presumably would be considered valuable.

          Of course, I’m evil enough to consider what kind of damage you could do replicating tribbles by the truckload and beaming them down on Klinzhai…..

      • Ah, but he wasn’t a member of the Federation, was he? The distinction they make in the book is that they are talking about the Federation, not any of the other civilizations.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          IIRC Both Harry Mudd and Cyano Jones (Trouble With Tribbles) were citizens of the Federation.

          Of course, Trouble With Tribbles was set on a Federation Star-Base and money was seen to be used in the “bar”.

          Oh, there was one scene in Trouble where Jones didn’t have enough money for a drink and offered the bar-keep a tribble.

          Oh, the bar-keep then showed Jones just how many tribbles he already had. 😉

          • It’s been too long since I’ve seen any of ToS to remember. As I said, I remembered at least one scene where they used it for gambling. But being used in an outpost station like we saw in Tribbles makes sense as well.

            As for Harry Mudd, he may have been a citizen but did the story take place in Federation space?

            Whether it did or didn’t doesn’t matter. The fact that Harry Mudd and Cyrano could exist in this Utopia means it really wasn’t such a utopian.

          • One has to wonder just how tasty a grilled/broiled/barbecued/ stewed tribble would be.

            • Dunno. They do have them as craftable edibles if you are Klingon faction in Star Trek Online though. (tribble stew? BBQ tribble…)

            • Nonsense! Everybody knows the best way to eat tribble is battered & deep-fried on a stick!

              • Now I’m stuck with visions of itinerant Space Carneys with the spaceship equivalent of a food truck, selling Deep Fried everything Deep Fried Tribble. Deep Fried Food Pills. Deep Fried Soylent Green. Deep Fried Xenomorph Eggs. Deep Fried Lembas. Deep Fried Dwarf Bread.

                • 11B-Mailclerk

                  (Deep, deep Bass singing voice)

                  No-bod-y knows. …. the Tribbles Ive seen…..

                  No-bod-y knows……….

            • I can’t see there being much left after you gut them and skin them. Well, maybe if you get the neutered ones – but they’re probably mostly fat.

          • Imputing a coherent, well thought out Trekoverse seems an act of denial about the medium’s basic structure. They invested far more effort and serious thought into getting Kirk laid regularly than ever they did the fundamental world-building of the program.

            Any “structure” was the result of fannish retconning and was no consideration of the show’s creators.

            • I disagree a little. Rodenberry had a universe built in his head.
              What I don’t think he had done was think through everything to the point where the inherent self-contradictions became evident. (Though I think he started to by the time he died – see the contradictions, that is.)

          • If you claim the animated series as canon, there’s one episode where Kirk is actually forced to fight a Klingon battle cruiser because “Much as it pains me to admit it, Captain Koloth, Cyrano Jones is indeed a Federation citizen and entitled to our protection. I must therefore refuse your request.”

            • the animated series has one episode, iirc, that is considered canon. don’t remember which.

              • 11B-Mailclerk

                Yesteryear was explicitly accepted by the Great Bird first. I believe he later referred to the whole Animated Series as the last two years of the 5 year voyage.

          • Also, as I recall, Uhura was talking about buying a tribble from the bartender before Jones gave her one. That means she had money to spend.

            In Errand of Mercy, Kirk and Spock are trapped on a planet when the Klingons arrive. Spock assumes the role of a Vulcan trader. What would be the point of having traders if there was no exchange of value, whether by money or barter?

            Even in the movies, I always took the “no money” references in TOS to mean “no currency” and that they just used electronic “credits”. Everything on a debit card.

          • Terry Sanders

            First he tried Spican flame gems. The barkeep had plenty. So how about some Antarean glow water?

            “I use that to polish the flame gems.”

            Sigh.

            That’s when he brought out the tribble. Which was new and different.

            Then. 🙂

      • I think the reason getting rid of money doesn’t make sense is that economics still exists in the absence of money. When you get rid of money, you only make life a lot harder for everyone in exchange for nothing.

        • That’s why money was invented in the first place, after all.

        • Perhaps there’s no money because the Federation keeps track of everything. When you join Star Fleet and attend the Academy all expenses are covered, like our military academies. You then spend the rest of your life working off that debt (and your ongoing upkeep) so that money isn’t needed … and handling of money would only serve as a reminder of how deep in the effing hole you are.

          St. Peter don’t you call me
          ’cause I can’t go
          I owe my soul to the Fed’ration store!

        • 11B-Mailclerk

          Money is a medium of exchange and a method of storing value.

          The greater the necessity or compulsion to use a particular money, the greater the incentive for cheating.

          There is also a correlation between successful taxation and compulsory/necessary particular money. See above on cheating.

    • It seems that Roddenberry went seriously Utopian for the Next Generation. Early Picard exhibited a smarmy self-righteousness that would have everyone on the original Enterprise from Kirk down to the newest ensign slapping him upside the head with a flounder and telling him to get over himself.

      • I agree that was the first time we really saw it with regard to the members of the “military”.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          But but…. Star Fleet wasn’t a Military!!!!!! [Sarcastic Grin]

          • It certainly was in the Original Series, they just had gotten over the recent wars and needed something to do with those battle cruisers.

            Yeah, I know that was sarcasm, but in TOS they didn’t try to hide it.

      • I haven’t tested it very hard, but that was made square in my mind by the Federation not having money, anybody who deals a lot with folks outside of the Federation is perfectly familiar with it, and “credits” are a tacked-on system to help make it so that the deals-with-people-outside-the-Federation folks can actually do so. They wouldn’t think of THAT as “money” because it’s more like…cultural accommodation.

        • If you’re trading with somebody who uses money, but you refuse to, you just made it harder for your trading partner to make a deal. Your costs *will* rise, if you can make a deal at all.

          • Thus, the “credits” as a way to keep track of resources outside of the system.

            • Then credits are money.

              • No, credits are members of the Federation graciously accommodating the backwards inclinations of those silly “trading” people, in a way that is more convenient than having a bunch of physical trading supplies easily accessible to whoever is interacting with said backward-igans.

                Totally different from money.

                *big grin* *broad wink*

                • Elizabeth Creegan

                  Credits are an accounting mechanism used to trade with outsiders and to teach deferred gratification to children. Since in this utopian society everyone can get jobs where the pay vastly exceeds living expenses, normal adults don’t think about credits to the point where they’re meaningless unless you’re dealing with outsiders or someone trying to accumulate enough credits to purchase dilithium crystals or some other actually scarce good.

                  I don’t believe it, but I understand the subject well enough to semi-rationalize it.

                  • When you get to the point that imaginary “non-money” functions exactly like money, there’s no point in claiming that this system doesn’t use money.

                    Looking at transactions from the point of view of your non-Federation trader, they have to get something in exchange for their goods, and credits aren’t going to cut it if they’re just a Federation accounting gimmick. It’s problems like this that make the no-money claim ridiculous.

                    • The “Credits” would only have value to the people being traded with if it could be used to buy something else and the people they would be trading with would know this.

                      When trading you can either offer something they want (the “beads and baubles” of folklore: things that are cheap to the people offering them, but new/rare and thus valuable to the people receiving them) or usable to obtain something they want (money by any other name).

                    • When you get to the point that imaginary “non-money” functions exactly like money, there’s no point in claiming that this system doesn’t use money.

                      Except that it’s still not money.

                      “Money” isn’t a function– as several folks have pointed out, money is functionally barter.

                      That doesn’t mean that societies with money are “barter societies,” because that means something different. Even if the function still exists, it can be filled in a different way, and it does actually matter how it’s filled.

                  • > still not money

                    How about a “social credit” system like China is trying, coupled to “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”?

      • The really funny thing, which goes with the observed hard-utopian turn?

        TNG is also when they had to introduce the ONE FREAKING ENLISTED GUY IN ALL OF STAR FLEET!

        • naah, all the people called ‘crewman’ this and that in TOS were enlisted.

          • Enterprise seemed to have a lot of enlisted people, especially when they introduced the space marines (Season 2?). Pretty sure the ship’s cook wasn’t an officer (well, I’d assume an NCO).

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          There’s more than O’Brien, but they’re few and far between.

          • I suspect all of the red shirts were officers because it takes an awful lot of “education” to be so stupid as they repeatedly proved to be.

            • Back in the Usenet days (get off my lawn!), some folks would argue debate Enterprise vs Star Destroyer, while others would muse over red shirts vs imperial storm troopers. IIRC, the only winners would be the planetary equivalent of buzzards.

      • Roddenberry or Barrett-Roddenberry? I’ve heard suggestions that a lot of the more extreme socialist utopia crap was Majel’s.

        • and I’ve heard that that was not the case, so…

        • Having seen Roddenberry speak about the time The Motionless Picture came out… nope, he was waaaay down that road.

          • about the time The Motionless Picture came out

            Ten years after Gene and Majel married, thus not evidence against the hypothesis that Majel was the influence for the more extreme left-wing positions in the show.

            • True, but the Great Bird didn’t strike me as the type who takes advice or ideas from anyone, unless he was already so inclined. Indeed, he was more like… trample over the top of any conflicting opinion.

      • I only managed to choke down a few episodes of NG. My overriding thought was that it was a good thing the Klingons were turned into wimps, or the best the Federation could hope for would be to be a Klingon slave state.

    • That’s what I thought — at least with regard to remembering Scotty (?) gambling with someone. Of course, other than that, I don’t recall the members of the crew paying for anything except when dealing with non-Federation characters. I could be wrong. It’s been a while since I watched TOS.

      • The problem with any of this is that they could certainly not require any money on the starship while still using it in the Federation as a whole. The very first time I remember any indication that the Federation did not use money was in the movie Star Trek 4.

    • Yes, I distinctly remember “Credits” as a unit of cash, and Kirk mentioning that someone had earned their pay for that week. (Me? Old enough to have watched the original series over and over and over … I plead the fifth.)

      • Star Trek was one of the two shows my mom would run home from school for– the other being Dark Shadows. (That’s the vampire soap opera, right?)

        So when we saw it at her folks’ house, it was also the first show where mom actually sat down with us and watched. I can forgive a lot of TV writing for a foundation like that, and that’s before things like Spock and Bones come into play. 😉

        I vaguely remember the “earned your pay” thing from Kirk, could’ve easily been a metaphor, this is the guy who nicknamed his buddy that waves salt-shakers over people “Sawbones,” and his Very Special Present was a pair of antique-even-now glasses.

        • I got the impression the original series was more normal, more like a naval vessel – people got paychecks, went on shoreleave where they spent money and misbehaved, all that. It’s not until TNG that the progressivism really began to show.

          • *chuckles* You might be picking up on the issue that there were even fewer folks who’d ever been around military involved in TNG than there were in TOS– supposedly, the only military folks that had much input for TOS were officers.

            • Keep in mind that Roddenberry had just come off a year of a show depicting the life of a still wet behind the ears Marine loot …

          • The original series was intended to be “Horatio Hornblower In Spaaaaaaaace” TNG was “This time we have the production clout to do it right.”

            Add in an intervening decade and a half of sycophants blowing incense up Roddenbery’s kilt …

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Actually I think it was a case of Star Trek was Roddenberry’s only success as a TV Series.

              After Star Trek (original), Roddenberry had only failures.

              His ideas were still idiotic of course.

            • 11B-Mailclerk

              I believe the original pitch was “Wagon train to the stars”.

              Westerns were still in their heyday. Most folks watching TV were far, far less acquainted with Hornblower.

              Some hat-tips to Westerns were included, such as that one “Specter of the gun” episode and the occasional white-handled phaser (Ivory-gripped zap gun)

  2. Star Trek was a military-explorer fantasy set in a handwavium universe produced by people incapable of deep thought about economics. Any exploration of their economic presumptions ranks on a par with examination of the economics of Greek myths … except that the latter might conceivably carefully look at the inflationary effects of King Midas.

    • It was at least better than the original BSG. I tried to watch that on Netflix and stopped after about 10 minutes.

      I don’t think the writers of the original BSG had a clue about military operations or tactics.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        I like the original BSG, but oh dear Lords of Kobol, the “science”.

        Braking flaps on space fighters.

        Braking flaps. In a vacuum.

        • All space combat in visual media tends to operate at the speed of plot, even when they make an effort to use actual physics like Babylon 5’s Starfuries, which would flip around to shoot behind them while continuing to move forward on the same vector. Truly realistic space combat would probably be very boring to watch, since it would either involve objects being sent on long orbits to intercept other objects, or cyber-attacks (we’ve already had cases of space piracy involving hackers breaking into satellite control systems). So most visual media sf space combat tends to be of the Space Is an Ocean variety, mapping either the Napoleonic Wars or WWII in the Pacific to a futuristic canvas, because it’s exciting to watch.

          • They tend to do that with hacking. Making it look all flashy. It’s mostly watching command prompts and consoles in Linux and twiddling your thumbs while various jobs run.

            • *chuckle* I remember the Housemate telling me about someone he knew grumbling that he or she couldn’t do their homework while sitting in McDonalds, etc, because apparently seeing lots of terminals for scripts/program compiles/etc was making lots of people uncomfortable, because erhmergerd, scary hacker!!!1111

              • That seems to be. . .insane. Though then again I was helping a friend setup a Linux system and I had to change some file permissions so when I typed in ‘chmod 666’ he had me stop right there because he thought I was trying to infect his computer with Satan.

                I even explained what the command did and he was still going on about infecting the machine with Satan. Who knew Lucifer could be controlled via command line?

                • Adam, I was working on an actual project when someone hired a Unix sysadmin — said so on his resume — who quit after three days because “his sincere religious beliefs wouldn’t let him work with daemons.”

                  Swear to God. /headdesk

                  • Maybe Microsoft actually made a good decision to call their implementation of the daemon concept “services” instead.

                    • Yeah, and now we have the nasty black box of systemd… I agree sysvinit was grotty and something better would have been nice, but while sysvinit was clunky and a hassle to work with, at least it was fully documented…

                  • I know there is a trend when people are getting started in IT to pad resumes, but that’s ridiculous.

                    Even certs are no indication of what someone knows. I interviewed an MCSE who didn’t know how to create or configure AD accounts. That was another /headdesk moment.

                    • Never claimed to be MSCE on Unix or knew what the heck Daemons were. But was in charge of the Xenix/Unix system, for a specific unit within the division. But then also in charge of all the PC Hardware connecting (or not) to it for the entire division, plus any programming for the division (multiple systems, multiple languages). Kept a cheat sheet for everything. What I put on my subsequent resume when the division went away, & company left the area, was what I worked on & why, not the tech buzz words; for everything. Although to be fair I was really glad to leave the IT part behind. Love programming, hate dealing with the IT stuff.

                      Yes. At interviews it was, “so what specific part of technology did you work on?” Honest Answer: “Everything”.

                    • Dear God, I wish I could focus more on programming. I spend too much time playing sysadmin because nobody else with the right knowledge is available when something does go wrong, be it in-house developed or commercial product.

                    • Wow. Once I got out of the “I’m doing everything because that’s what I was hired to do” & actually got to interact with true IT, our mutual consensuses were we wouldn’t trade on a bet. They loved the hardware & OS builds/tweaks, & despised programming & design. Me, the opposite.

                    • d, I’m on the other side of that. I loathe and detest coding, but give me the systems side all day long and I’m a happy sysadmin. Still haven’t made up my mind about ‘devops’ as a thing– I think it works great when you have dev and systems on the same team, but, as I see all too often, when devs are forced to be sysadmins and sysadmins are forced to be devs, everything goes blooey.

                    • “d, I’m on the other side of that. I loathe and detest coding, but give me the systems side all day long and I’m a happy sysadmin. Still haven’t made up my mind about ‘devops’ as a thing– I think it works great when you have dev and systems on the same team, but, as I see all too often, when devs are forced to be sysadmins and sysadmins are forced to be devs, everything goes blooey.”

                      YES. I spent part time hating it. Things didn’t (quite) go “blooey”, but it was likely a lot harder than it needed to be. Granted, when I started the position I was just out of school, had already been programming for 7 years, but the sysadmin/hardware stuff was new. Was fun at first. Just didn’t stay that way. Don’t know what would have happen if I’d been able to stay in that job. We’d already added staff & I got stuck with the legacy stuff supposedly short time (yea, 20/20 hindsight, probably not), but we’ll never know as the division went away, along with the job.

                      My next position, IT called on my first day, their comment “Your hardware is here, but we won’t get to it until after lunch, come get the company manuals to read on protocols …” My first thought was “I can setup my own hardware” … my second thought “I don’t have to do that anymore” Happy Dance … my response was “Okay”.

                • Aw, c’mon. Lots of people learn to their regret that it is one thing to invoke Lucifer and quite another to command him.

                • I’ve had said housemate wish (usually after facing much idiocy, which… is… frequent, and I get the ranting about it afterward) that they could access the universe’s root, and code. I tease that his atheism would break on becoming a God, and he sometimes goes off on a humorous tangent entirely for laughs that he already IS God *pointing at whatever impossible technical thing he decided to prove was NOT impossible, because eff you that’s why*

          • The original Star Wars death star battle could have been cribbed from Midway,

          • Or the battle would involve a few miliseconds of super high G maneuvering, ala the “this is the slo-motion replay” battle from Bank’s “Surface Detail”

          • Another part would be that, while you could watch missiles leaving a ship, direct-fire weapons would likely not show any indication that they were being fired, because they would either be lasers, neutral-particle weapons, or some electromagnetically-accelerated projectile, instead of using explosives to propel them. You would just see little explosions on the surface of the target.

        • It wasn’t so much even the ‘science’. It was the blatantly stupid behavior of Adama. Seriously? An incoming enemy fleet and you’re going to leave your post (and all the lives you are responsible) to go pick up some mementos?

        • Thrust reversers, or thrust diverters, I could handle. Flaps, breaking or otherwise? Nope.

          • Vipers were atmosphere capable; why they would use flaps in space? Beats me. Pretty sure they were fly by wire. Maybe they only had so much computer memory available had to have one subroutine do both air and space maneuvers (at least some of them)? Like your alarm system that gives you an exit delay when you put it on staying in for the night mode; you still get a 45 second delay to leave before it arms. Think about the user interface; it was very primitive (by our current standards).

      • 11B-Mailclerk

        “Lost in Space” started out real/gritty. It then morphed into the campy misadventures of Dr. Smith and Will.

        As the -Networks- measured such things, Lost in Space did -much- better than Star Trek at the time.

        This was remembered by the folks managing Battlestar Galactica. It was lighthearted/campy from launch. It had grit and grim, but that tended only to set up the lighthearted.

    • Yeah, I have a record somewhere with Gene Roddenberry talking about a people being drawn to ST because it’s message of hope for the future and all that, but I watched because I lived for Spock-McCoy fights, because Kirk was awesome, and the stories were fun and often pretty well written.

      • Spock-McCoy fights were awesome; Mom and I loved the characters; Dad was pleased that my subjects of admiration were intelligent, and had heart.

        • Odo-Quark fights in DS9 were about as good, though I think my very favorite character was Garak. All the best DS9 characters were from former ST villain races.

          I read somewhere that Gene Roddenberry laid it down for TNG that, as Federation humans were “advanced,” there could never be any friction between them (unrealistic, and really boring). DS9 just had a bunch of aliens, and there was plenty of friction between them, and between them and the Federation people, which was much more fun.

  3. No discussion of Star Fleet Economics is complete without this bit:

    The DS9 writers were Star Trek people, but they weren’t entirely blind to how stupid many of the aspects of the universe were.

  4. Brad DeLong … said, `Star Trek has woven itself into our sociocultural DNA. It provides a set of powerful, striking, and beneficial ideas that help us here in our civilization think better.`

    In accord with the handwavium of Trek’s economics, this assumes facts not in evidence.

    I greatly doubt DeLong can produce a list of those ideas with coherent defense of his claim. The Prime Directive? Ignored in virtually every episode, honored mostly in the breech, and clearly evidence that such pie-in-the-sky idealism is impractical in practice. Powerful? Only if you’re a simpleton. Striking? Well, in a heel-of-the-hand to forehead way, as in “OMG that’s beyond dumb!” Beneficial? He may keep using that word but I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

    As for the Federation economics we have no idea. The economy aboard the Enterprise was no more reflective of the Federation than the economy aboard the USS Gerald Ford reflects the overall economy of the United States.

    • “As for the Federation economics we have no idea. The economy aboard the Enterprise was no more reflective of the Federation than the economy aboard the USS Gerald Ford reflects the overall economy of the United States.”

      That’s not entirely true. We have some clues. The original crew occasionally interacted with the civilian economy (see the Harry Mudd episodes Christopher references above). There’s the line in Star Trek IV about how in the future they don’t have money (though some people consider that one to be a joke given the context). There’s all Picard’s lecturing to the Ferengi, the 80s stockbroker, and all of the other various “unenlightened” folk we meet in the first couple seasons of TNG. And there’s the Jake-Nog conversation I posted above.

      Admittedly, we don’t see a lot of it, but almost every indication we’re given suggests that the Federation, or at least the human part of it, really does have the Bernie-wet-dream economy.

      • There’s the line in Star Trek IV about how in the future they don’t have money

        I took that to mean they don’t use currency.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      DeLong is a fairly known quantity.

    • “The economy aboard the Enterprise was no more reflective of the Federation than the economy aboard the USS Gerald Ford reflects the overall economy of the United States.”

      Exactly! The book’s author may admit that further in — so far, there’s been no such admission. DeLong basically admitted life on the ships were far removed from life on Federation planets. My question to him would be “then how the hell do we know anything about it if we didn’t see it on-screen?”

      • then how the hell do we know anything about it if we didn’t see it on-screen?

        The same way our Enlightened Ones know what we really mean when we say “It seems to me that we ought require immigrants come here through a regular, legal process” or how they know “all gun owners are compensating for penis issues”?

        • even the women? Socialism has never ever worked. It’s so socialist because most screenwriters are deeply socialist. There seemed to be a lot of Anti-Ferengi prejudice.

    • The question that DeLong *must* ask – and probably won’t – is a fairly simple one. Who mines the dilithium? The entire Federation post-scarcity set-up revolves around easy access to replicators that can turn energy into matter. And the energy for those replicators is apparently provided by the fictional dilithium crystals. No dilithium crystals means no replicators, which means that the Federation’s post-scarcity set-up collapses.

      Historically – and this extends even into the modern era with our more technologically advanced methods – mining isn’t exactly a pleasant job. If given the choice between mining and a half-dozen other random jobs, nearly everyone is going to take one of the other jobs (unless random chance happens to pick some *really* unpleasant jobs for the other options). The modern solutions for this are either forced labor, or paying enough to overcome the negatives. Neither is apparently a viable option in the Federation as envisioned by DeLong.

      Of course, one of the Mudd episodes apparently did mention that dilithium miners were well-paid. And iirc the episode with the horta had a group of miners that expected to make money off of what they got out of the mine. But by TNG, supposedly there’s no currency. Who becomes a miner when that happens?

      Also, I seem to vaguely recall that one of the DS9 episodes (which I didn’t see) involved an organized crime group in the Federation. What were they getting out of their illegal actions?

      • Couple of episodes dealing with dilithium crystals. 1) Mudd providing beautiful model wives for the crystals (also hit on drugs); 2) Where a necklace was made of common stones that were picked up off the ground (which is why the Klingons were trying to disrupt Enterprises’ mission).

        Sure there were more but these are ones I can think of quickly.

        • The one with the necklace involved a lower tech planet, iirc. The Enterprise is transporting a high-ranking female from that planet to be married to a high-ranking male on another planet that they’ve been feuding with for a very long time. The marriage is supposed to seal a diplomatic agreement that will put an end to the feuding.

          I don’t think either planet was a part of the Federation (yet).

          • The episode you’re describing is “Elaan of Troyius.” I had to look it up – it appears to be one of the few episodes I never saw. A brief read of the synopsis reveals plot similarities to TNG’s “The Perfect Mate” but rather more action in the TOS episode.

          • Terry Sanders

            They had ion drives*, but nothing faster. Still found interplanetary war economically feasible. A good hate will go a long way.

            *REAL ion drives. Not the miracle machines of the same name mentioned in “Spock’s Brain.”

  5. “Roddenberry also wanted a future where the government was “smart enough” not to get involved in future Vietnams”

    *cough, cough* “Private Little War.”

    “Superstition, crime, poverty, and illness have been eradicated.”

    It has?

    Did he watch the same series that I did? I recall multiple episodes that involved all of the above – much of which was in the sanitized series TNG.

    “How often, during the original series, did Kirk and company violate the Prime Directive?”

    Every time I become inconvenient to the plot. 😉 And every time they (the writers) justified it in the name of “good” {The Apple and Private Little War jump to mind right away.}

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      The TOS Prime Directive is fairly sensible, “Don’t go to primitive planets and use your zap-stick to make yourself god-king,” “Don’t try to impose your system on other people.” But when TNG came along, all of a sudden it was, “Don’t save that primitive society from a natural disaster”, “Don’t accidently run into societies that haven’t developed warp drive”. Sheesh, you might as well stay at home with an attitude like that.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Nod, original series Prime Directive made some sense. It became stupid starting with NG.

        • Sounds like the natural progression of things to me. Start with a good idea enforced with wisdom, then watch as it grows into something ridiculous.

        • Well, they DID have at least one large invasion of pod-people KNOWN to be in the command structure for Star Fleet, there may have been good reason for it to slowly get really dumb.

          • Was there ever a followup to that episode?

            • Nope, which is a real shame since it could have been a better arc then the Borg. Think about it this way. Klingons or Vulcans taken over by these parasites and causing all sorts of havoc across the sector….

            • No, but it was mentioned in a couple of the novels, and I think it helped inspire the Changeling War arc in DS9.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              IIRC After the episode was shown some people in the producers decided that “it didn’t happen” so no followup was shown.

              • It’s my understanding that the logical implications of that shown basically not ever trusting anything that came from the command structure, or indeed from any authority, was Not The Diection We Want To Go.

                To me it sounds like a cool series: What happens when all these post-scarcity societies fall apart, and everyone has to go back to first principles with a healthy dose of suspicion.

              • I wonder: did anyone check those people in the producers for parasites?

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I sometimes think Section 31 are the only smart people in the Federation. 😈

            • There’s a reason I like the first 6 Shatner/Reeves-Stevens novels more than most of the TNG/DS9 stuff. They even dared to try to reconcile some of the truly bizarre stuff from TOS (Miri, for example).

      • The TNG Prime Directive (and by inference and the absence of consequences for Kirk, in TOS as well) pretty much has to be the Federation’s “Welcome to the Gulag Planet, Comrade” selective enforcement stick – if the powers that be decide they don’t like you, well, lookee here at all these violations in your permanent file, and off you go!

      • And don’t forget the Prime Directives glorious culmination in Dear Doctor (ideologically, if not chronologically). All the TNG episodes had the crew reluctantly deciding that not letting entire planets explode wasn’t what the Prime Directive had in mind.

        In Dear Doctor, Archer is holding the cure to a disease that is going to wipe out an entire population. It’s there in his hand. And he decides that the Prime Directive means he’s not going to give them the cure, and that they must all die out. And the episode frames this as the ‘unfortunate, but necessary solution’, rather than the callous genocide that it is.

        It’s a fascinating lesson. The idea is held up for good reasons at first, and then slowly becomes ideological dogma to the writing staff, long past the point where they should have realized the problems with it. Blind adherence has made the Prime Directive into a religion, and in Dear Doctor, it’s God demands a sacrifice of billions of people, and the writers give them to it.

    • I know. I sort of chuckled over all that. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how much handwavium folks will do to make something pretty straightforward meet their own needs or desires?

  6. A few further thoughts on Star Trek economics:

    The idea that there’s no more scarcity, so we can all just go skipping through the daisies singing “Kumbaya” is bunk. The replicators may have made a lot of things virtually unlimited, but not everything. The baseball card in the clip above. The Picard family vineyards. Sisko Senior’s restaurant.

    To speak to the Leftists in their own language, Star Trek’s lack of economics cements the entrenched power structure. Those who have get to keep, those who don’t are out of luck. For example, the implication is that the Picard vineyards are a property that has been in the family for generations; they get to have this limited resource because they inherited it. If someone else wanted a vineyard in that part of France, they’ve got almost no options. They can’t use the replicator to make French lands. There’s nothing they can offer the Picard family to get them to relinquish it voluntarily. The only possibility would be to persuade the Earth government that the newcomer could make better use of the vineyard than the Picards and get the government to forcibly take it from them.

    I’ll sit with “currency-based economics,” thanks. At least this way, if I want something, I have at least the possibility of getting it without having to hurt people in exchange.

    • Remove money as the differentiator and all you have is the will to power. And there is no reward for taking on responsibility other than being able to boss folks around. How many volunteer orgs have leadership that is more obnoxious than the point haired boss and revels in punishing. Think hoa.

      • You’d be amazed how much money gets siphoned off by the people who run HOAs…. with no accountability and zero consequences. My sister (who really hasn’t got time for this, but..) took a board seat on her HOA to try to halt this… seems former members of that board had made away with the six figures supposedly sequestered for future roof repairs, leaving each homeowner with an $18,000 repair bill.

        However one fellow here in MT not only embezzled the cash, he also gave the HOA-owned road grader (a necessary part of the HOA’s road maintenance agreement) to one of his cronies, which was a lot harder to hide, and last I heard the state was going after him.

      • And all kinds of social signalling. Some will want to lead, others will just want to make their neighbor jealous, there are the mating rituals, the followers want a certain position in their band, different bands need to know where they stand in connection to each other.

        Also, boredom with those who are not overly interested in the social positioning or don’t have any obvious interest in doing anything they might want then try to learn to do better. There would be a lot of drifters in that kind of society. Don’t have to do anything to fulfill your basic needs, food is there, shelter is there, whatever toys you might want are there, whatever medical care you might need is there. Games, maybe, but not everybody is interested in gaming. Sit home and do some Trek era equivalent of watching the telly the whole day while drinking beer?

        • Yep. Same argument that you see for universal income that’s a crock. Not only will you have difficulty filling the ‘bad’ jobs but sloth is a common attribute as is inflated sense of self. For every one Shakespeare you’ll have a hundred some zombies

          • For every one Shakespeare you’ll have a hundred some zombies.

            OMG, you are such an optimist!

            Try:
            For every one Shakespeare you’ll have a hundred million zombies.

            or

            For every one Scalzi* you’ll have a hundred some zombies.

            *insert hack writer who’s only real qualification is grammatical competency.

            • Counter-argument:

              Deviant Art exists, and some of it’s really good.

              People can and will do stuff, because it’s enjoyable, and they want to be good.

              The UFP is the club of folks who either do that (they’re fulfilling their vocation), or who provide an audience for that.

              That was the feed-back mechanism shown for the Sisco restaurant, bunch of work but holy crud folks came from EVERYWHERE to tell him how awesome it was.

    • Even with the replicators, they had to use something as the basis for what they were synthesizing. That something isn’t infinite. i always had a problem with the idea that it was making something out of nothing. As I’ve gotten older and more jaded, that assumption bothers me even more. After all, if they were able to make anything infinite, wouldn’t it have been the dilithium crystals they used for the warp engine (or something similar)?

      • At least in TNG they came out and said that the infinite resource was energy. I remember Picard referring to the discovery that matter could be created from energy in one of his (many) rants about how wonderful life in the Federation was. It’s a good (as in SciFi good) idea. Although if I remember right, the precursors to that idea (atoms of one element being changed to another element) have been achieved in lab conditions, but the results were massively radioactive.

        • ST Voyager covered part of that. Something from pure energy was not the case. They had to have the basic components & the replicator stored & reassembled, did not create out of pure energy. Given where they were thrown without support, more than a few episodes involved trading & scrounging for what they needed, even if they didn’t go into specifics. One of the reasons Nellix was a valuable resource for them to add. Rest of the series versions were deep in Federation territory & had support that was never discussed.

          Regarding “pay”. They were paid, just called Credits, but didn’t carry money as everything was tracked by computers. Honestly, even though we call it money, technically that is what is happening now. I carry cash, but I rarely spend it as cash. Everything is usually by CC. Even making payments are online. Never send cash & rarely checks; bank may send a check when I trigger a payment, but most of the transactions are electronically, or “tracked by computer”. The implications in Trekverse is that everyone has all the credits needed to satisfy their needs & wants based on what they work at, no need to keep up with the neighbors & nobody “needs” to acquire “more” or what someone else has, unless you are insane.

          • LOL!! Thanks, I had a feeling I would get SOME part of that wrong. Having known a couple rabid Star Trek Ubernerden in the past, I half expected a much rougher correction. 🙂

            • Aw Shucks 😉 Noticed Voyager was being ignored in general, especially by Saadia, likely because, as pointed out already, Voyager Series doesn’t fit his narrative. My comment was a response because of your comment, but wasn’t directed at it; which I thought was being sarcastic, not serious, FYI.

              • Voyager, taking place almost entirely in non-Federation space, offers no real direct insights into Federation economics.

                Indirect insights, such as Star Fleet officers ability to comprehend and interpret a different environment, however … if you’ve no concept of money other than as a relic of prior ages (sort of the way modern Lefties “understand” religious faith) then you will have trouble interacting with societies reliant upon moolah.

                • “Indirect insights, such as Star Fleet officers ability to comprehend and interpret a different environment, however … if you’ve no concept of money other than as a relic of prior ages (sort of the way modern Lefties “understand” religious faith) then you will have trouble interacting with societies reliant upon moolah.”

                  Exactly. If they had not the concept & regularly participated/practiced it, then their challenges would have been way different & a lot more violent. Holds true for the variety of religions they ran across too.

          • Terry Sanders

            Yeah. If your widget had unobtainium in it, you had to have some unobtainium in the replicator’s parts bin. This led to trade and mining–both of which were frequent plot points in VOYAGER.

      • There were a couple of episodes that touched on that, although it was a little wibbly-wobbly– basically, stuff wasn’t really infinite, it was just functionally so. The crystals, and various other stuff, made so much energy that you could replicate basically anything.
        Which makes at least background-worthy sense when you try to imagine how much energy it would take to move a star ship up to near-light speed, much less warp or anything else; it’s like trying to calculate how much wood you’d have to burn to make the steam of a US power network’s worth of nuke plants.

        • Actually, the wood is an easy calculation, but let’s simply say- a whole lot of it. We just had a wood chip boiler installed where I work. If the bunker is completely full- there’s a 4 to 6 day supply of wood chips. For average temperatures. The two #2 fuel oil tanks we have together, are smaller than the bunker in volume. Either tank can hold more than 10 days of fuel supply calculated for the coldest month. We make steam using natural gas- it’s cheaper. As of right now. And for the near future. Quoting another well known blogger- “Have you hugged a fracker today?”

          Planning and contracting for the wood chip boiler was done when everyone just knew NG and oil were always going to go up in price as resources were depleted…

          • Was picturing more of the stove-top sized steam “motor” as the baseline– and I’m pretty sure that if we ever did manage to get “all” of our electrical power from nuke in the US, we’d find out the estimates were screwy, even before folks’ behavior changed because the situation had changed.

            (As several folks pointed out in the building-to-code thing, it’s hard to get hurt building for double what you think you’ll need, if you can afford it.)

            • When I was a telephone systems wireman, we always ran twice the wire the designers asked for, even if we didn’t jack them. Much easier, and in the long term cheaper, to just pull the wire ends out of the wall and add jacks than to have to run additional wire later.

        • There was a section early on in Spock’s World where one of the problems they had was storing coffee, and the solution was to save the loads of coffee in cargo transporter beam ‘memory’ – so the crew had their great tasting coffee. It apparently worked out great; but the implication is that while a lot of food was replicatable, there was something ‘lacking’ and the coffee from replicators wasn’t as good- probably because the resulting food would have a standardized flavour, and be of very little personality (it’d be filling, taste generally good, but… think Shokugeki no Soma and the whole Azami arc.)

          There was a player made mission where you have a Romulan scientist as a… hostage/guest. She escapes back onto a Romulan ship – only to steal copies of their food replicator data, and comes back (because she vowed to help you stop something) saying more or less “Your replicator data for Romulan food is pathetic.”

          • I really like the character development of Romulans being fanatic about keeping their “vows.”

            It gives the group something. Klingons have honor, Ferangi have profit, Vulcans have logic, Cardassians have their Cause and Romulans are hard core about keeping a promise. (And that all works with what is shown, as a thumbnail of their cultural focus.)

            • I dunno, given Dianna Wynn Jones’s backstory for the Romulans, they could have been significantly more badass than portrayed. They were trapped on a marginal planet, pressed up against Malthusian limits, and instead of knuckling under and developing a Stoic philosophy to help them cope with the “inevitable” (like the Vulcans did), they lit off for the stars the microsecond they could bash together ships marginally capable of doing it. Species-wise they’re Vulcan colonists. Culturally they’re far different because of that main point – they’re going to bend the universe, not bend themselves to fit constraints.

              • I believe you mean Diane Duane, not Dianna Wynn Jones.

              • Terry Sanders

                In TOS, both the Klingons and the Romulans were portrayed as basically honorable warrior types with a corrupt oligargical government that was anything but. This was especially true among the Romulan, though–you found Klingons of all sorts: Kor the cynical bossman; Kang the ever-so-honorable warrior; Koloth, who struck you as Just a Guy*, and everything in between. The only thing they had in common was they *loved* a good fight.

                *David Gerrold said he was supposed to be Kirk’s opposite number. They’d been talking about giving *Enterprise* a patrol area and using Koloth as the pain-in-the-ass of the week, but nothing came of it. That, though, was why all the eye-rolling when somebody announced that the cruiser parked at K7 was Koloth’s ship.

              • So, you’re saying the Romulans are basically Americans? 😀

          • You know, if the replicator food always tastes kinda bland/not-quite-right because it’s … well, a replicator….
            What does that say about the transporter, which is basically an un-replicator/replicator? How much better would the characters have been if they hadn’t been through the transporter so many times? Is that why McCoy was so ornery? Because he avoided the replicator transporter?

            Is that why TNG sucked? The entire Federation had been through the transporter a few too many times?

            • The only time we got any kind of detail on replicator food not being good– as opposed to, say, Grandad Sisco talking about how the food he cooked is better– it was Troi going into great detail to the computer that she didn’t want something that tasted like a chocolate sundae but was nutritionally complete, she wanted just a bleepin’ hot fudge sundae.

              So the problem is probably more emotional, and the body being able to figure out that it isn’t actually getting a huge infusion of yummy “bad for you” stuff when it’s a healthy star fleet one.

            • Replicators were specifically stated as not being able to reproduce complex molecules (or some dodge that made it impossible to produce things like living matter or certain technologies), as opposed to transporters being able to duplicate the pattern completely. Transporters weren’t supposed to be able to create multiple copies, though they broke that rule for story purposes a few times.

            • LOL!

              I dunno. But the general impression I got was there probably was a standardized replicator pattern for the requested foods, and that wouldn’t suit people who wanted say, a certain flavor they remembered. Riker was famous for trying to cook in TNG (Worf was the only one who liked the cooking, so it wasn’t quite to most folk’s tastes, though it’s implied Riker himself found it delicious…)

        • … a little wibbly-wobbly

          Never discard the alternate thesis:


          AKA the GQ explanation.

  7. Brad DeLong. Now that is a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Not since the dark times. Not since Brad’s 2000 testimony as an expert witness for the Gore campaign resulted in a kerfluffle over on Baen’s Bar. Before that, I remember arguing with him about his assertions that (more or less) the government should be able to seize your estate when you die, as inheritance is fundamentally unfair and leads to inequality.

    • I don’t suppose his own estate is protected from estate taxation by a trust, hmmmm?

      • I don’t know, but I just realized I think I did hear of Brad since 2000. I believe he showed up in the news as one of those trying get one of the former Bush 2 administration lawyers (and his own fellow Berkeley faculty member), John Yoo, arrested for war crimes.

    • H. Bruce Franklin also rings a bell. When I moved to Silly Valley in ’74, there were still stories in the paper over his getting fired by Stanford University. As a Marxist and member of the Joe Stalin admiration society, I suppose he’d fit right in with DeLong.

      I have Franklin’s analysis: Robert A. Heinlein – America as Science Fiction. I recall it being readable, but even my 1980s Jimmy Carter voting self thought he was a poor fit to understand, much less critique RAH. (4 years of Ronaldus Maximus and a 1982 gun grab cured me of that disorder.) Might try skimming it again, some day.

    • … inheritance is fundamentally unfair and leads to inequality.

      Talk about your incentives for people to die with a zero bank balance! Eliminate inheritance and you will have people transferring wealth before they die, either directly or indirectly.

      Direct transfer is obvious and largely limited, although there are ways to skate: if tax-free gifts are limited t $10K then I and Spouse can each give $10K to offspring and spouse (and even to any grandchildren) effectively permitting a $40K transfer from household to household (plus $20K per g-kid.) Annually, meaning $400K a decade. That ain’t crumbs.

      Indirect transfer allows far greater inequality. I can transfer wealth to offspring by paying for expensive schooling, tutoring and educational experiences (see: Junior year in Europe.) I can invest in a business and set offspring up as CEO (see: Clinton Foundation and Chelsea.) I can encourage a business associate to hire you at enormous salary (similar to Medieval practice of fostering offspring to other lords.) I can establish you in a all-expenses no-work job, such as Senior Housing Manager where you live rent-free in a luxury apartment and have subordinates to perform actual duties (for a while this was a favorite dodge of some parents wanting to provide housing for their college-attending kid: buy apartment building with rent on other units covering kid’s apartment cost, pay kid $100K a year to “manage” the building staff.)

      There are lots more. Banning inheritance simply makes the wealthy have to wor a little harder to effect their wealth transfers.

      • It also tends to raise the bar a little as to what qualifies as “wealthy”. Barriers such as that tend to raise the price of avoiding them.

  8. Looked at from another direction, the Federation is a terrifying fascist tyranny with good PR and a shiny exterior.

    The barely touched on it, I gather, with the Maquis in DS9. Disclosure: I haven’t yet seen all of DS9. Babylon 5 captured my imagination much more back when the shows were on TV, and although I’ve started watching DS9 now on Netflix, I’ve been busy with other stuff 😀 So I don’t know how fully they explored the idea of people who *didn’t* want to be part of the Federation, and wanted to take their toys and go somewhere else. But much as I love Star Trek–and I do, despite the eye-rolling garbage with economics and marxian utopias–in reality I’d be 100% on the side of the Maquis!

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      And ships counselors (like Deanna Troi) as thought-police. 😈

      • Ships Counselor is clearly the title for the ship’s assigned Political Officer, though they would have an entire reporting structure of Department Counselors under them to run the ships informant network.

        You can see how being seen to voluntarily go in to see the “Counselor” would be a problem for informants, so likely all crewmembers have mandatory recurring appointments for private “Counseling Sessions” to cover both interrogations and informant handling.

        • As a Ships Counselor/Political Officer Marina Sirtis is not very good if you going by her twitter account, just saying.

        • I thought the “Counselor” was basically eye candy. What WTFed me was the armed “Security Officer” on the bridge. In TOS that was a “second hat” for an assigned officer. But the so-peaceful-kumbayah NG Enterprise apparently had to defend the bridge crew against… something.

          Generally, the only threat to the bridge officers would be… their own crew.

          • Amsel, Matthew

            I assumed that the security chief doubled as tactical officer.

          • Right – and given that the ship’s Political Officer would be the only one who would generally need fear the crew, clearly Worf is Deanna’s bodyguard.

            For anyone unfamiliar with the Soviet Navy, a Ships Political Officer was the representative and enforcer of Party Loyalty by the officers and crew, with the authority to relieve and if necessary execute anyone on the ship who threatened to deviate from party dictator.

      • In one of the tie-in novels (Dark Mirror), that’s exactly what Deanna was in a mirror universe.

        • As opposed to what she really was supposed to be on the Enterprise-D – the ship’s psychiatrist. I found her position a realistic nod towards the sheer amount of tragedy, death and trauma that Starfleet crews would probably experience, like PTSD.

          • I think Heinlein got the job description and title more accurately when he invented the “ship’s whore.”

            Of course, in RAH’s unenlightened cosmos sex, for men, entailed intimacy, comforting, emotional support and far more than simply “a warm place to stick it.”

            Hah! As if men desired such things!

            • In Bio of a Space Tyrant, Piers Anthony had the “tail”. It was where other biological imperatives from those dispensed with in the “head” took place. I think it was even mandatory.

      • Zampolit. Representative-on-mission from the committee of public safety. Every leftist dictatorship has them: People with the right mindset to make sure people who do things for a living don’t get into the wrong mindset.

    • “So I don’t know how fully they explored the idea of people who *didn’t* want to be part of the Federation, and wanted to take their toys and go somewhere else.”

      I’ve seen that description of the Maquis before, but I don’t think it’s actually all that accurate. The Maquis desperately DID want to be part of the Federation. After extended negotiations between the Federation and Cardassia, their homeworlds ended up on the Cardassian side of the border. They initially decided to stay and accept Cardassian rule, but when it turned out Cardassian rule pretty much sucked, they fought the Cardassians hoping to achieve…well, exactly what they were hoping to achieve was never entirely clear to me, but I always got the impression that, with the exception of a few grandstanders like Eddington, most of them would have considered it a happy ending if their worlds had ended up back inside the Federation.

      • Yeah, they were “betrayed” by their planets being traded over to the Cardassians so there could be a nice, even border…and nobody did anything to make the Cardassians keep their side of the deal.

        Why this would be startling to anyone with a pulse, given 100+ years of the Romulans getting away with anything they want, and the Klingons basically being bound only by people KNOWING they are lying if they break a treaty, I don’t know. Idealism?
        **********
        What I wanted to see was the Cardassians who were suddenly in the Federation– I really like the Cardassians, they’re like WWII Japan crossed with the USSR crossed with a cobra linebacker. ^.^

        I give it like two generations before they’re half of star fleet!

        • Yeah, I was always really irritated by the episodes where the plot was “Oh no! The Romulans/Cardassians/Others are blatantly violating our treaty. We must cover it up lest this lead to war.” There are probably fewer of those episodes in reality than in my memory, since they irritated me out of all proportion, but there were definitely a number of them. So that anyone would be shocked that the Federation wouldn’t want to enforce the terms of their treaty…

          Though honestly I wasn’t sure to what extent the treatment of the Maquis WAS violating the treaty. The implication in the “Adios, Wesley Crusher” episode was that the treaty had assumed all citizens who ended up on the wrong side of the border would be evacuated; the decision to let them stay was more or less made up on the spot by Picard and his Cardassian counterpart. I’m not surprised that (a) the Cardassian command wasn’t necessarily happy about that, and (b) the treatment the settlers received wasn’t what they were used to from the Federation.

          • “Hi, these are the guys who are best known for ENSLAVING AN ENTIRE PLANET THAT EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT BECAUSE OF THE WORMHOLE TO THE GAMA QUADRANT, I’m going to expect them to treat me differently because I was in the Federation!”

            ….

            And then I remembered there are folks who go to North Korea on tourism visas, and are such morons they’ll shoplift, so nevermind. Under-estimating stupidity is a bad move.

        • I once was (almost) involved in a post-DS9 Star Trek RPG, and decided I wanted to play a Cardassian, because Cardassians are awesome. But this was set in the Federation. After thinking about it for a while, I came up with a justification that actually made a lot of sense.

          You see, Cardassians are dedicated to the state, they’re basically a fascists wet-dream, culturally. However, Cardassia had fallen, about as badly as it could have without them actually going extinct. This would have triggered a crisis of conscience in the Cardassian people.

          But then, the Federation aid ships come in, doing what it can to help them survive, and suddenly it dawned on my character what the Federation was. Literally every major power that opposed the Federation was either allied with them (Klingons, Romulans) or dead (Dominion, Borg, Cardassia, etc…). Their track record was impeccable. They were the Perfect State. There was more to his reasoning, but this is the short version, the epiphany of undeniable fact that forced him to realize that SOMETHING about the Federation made it the perfect state he wished to serve.

          Of course, my character hadn’t become disloyal to Cardassia, but that was the wonderful thing about The Federation, your people were still allowed to be your people. And so in the shattered remains of his home, he knew what the future of the Cardassian people would be. As the humans were the diplomats of the Federation, and the Vulcans the minds of the Federation, the Cardassians would become the backbone of the Federation.

          Who better than the hard-working and loyal citizens of Cardassia to line the clerks offices and the barracks of the Federation? Who but the Cardassians could be trusted to give everything to the Federation, with no reward other than the knowledge that they made their nation better? He believed that Cardassia would become great again under the Federation, his people becoming one of the ‘pillar’ species that everyone knew was the first among equals. Cardassia would be reborn into an even greater society, and the Federation would benefit from the greatness of the Cardassian people.

          Unfortunately, that game never got off the ground, so I never got to roleplay that character. But I did put a lot of thought into it, and I found that the more I thought about it, the more sense it made, to the point where I feel Cardassia joining the Federation is almost inevitable.

          • Didn’t think of this until just now, but the funny thing about this is… is that Cardassia would become “True Fascism”, an authoritarian collectivist society truly dedicated to the greater good. An absurd concept in real life, of course, but what better partner for the equally unrealistic “True Communism” of The Federation?

          • *Grin* I agree with your evaluation of their psyche.

            They are fanatics.

            *The gal who always plays Paladins or similar smiles.*

        • I always saw the Maquis as being the equivalent of the Poles the Brits had fighting against the Nazis, but turned over to the Soviets.

    • I have a feeling you’re right about the Federation being “a terrifying fascist tyranny with good PR and a shiny exterior.” It seems whenever someone says they have a way to give you an education, a job, do away with need, etc., there is a totalitarian government of some sort behind it. We will provide for you, comrade, and in return you will do as we say, work the job we give you and you will like it.

      • Probably nicer than most– they’ll expect you to leave, but you can take your stuff….

        What chills me are the hints that religion didn’t fade away, it was pushed out– there’s several things where people are MENTIONED to have had religion, but it’s not the done thing, y’know, and we know that people DO leave the Federation, because of Worf’s human brother.

        • Apparently the TOS era Federation was an actual voluntary federation of mostly independent planets. It had free trade. It had people owning and operating businesses, civilian starships, etc.

          My personal head-cannon is that sometime between TOS and TNG, the Feddies were taken over by some kind of leftist dictatorship. High ranking military officers and station commanders are apparently fine with this. The rest of the Federation? Who knows.

          In the TNG era Federation.
          1. Real alcohol is apparently illegal. You have to buy it in a brown paper bag from your friendly Romulan smuggler.
          2. Civilian’s private communications are compromised and can be pulled up and the encryption broken (meaning they must somehow be prevented from using the real thing!) by military personnel.
          3. Somehow you have this magic replicator technology, but warfare and combat still looks like ships of the line slugging it out or personal small arms battles. Meaning someone *really* isn’t thinking though the implications, or that civilians are using a seriously locked down version of the technology such that they can’t use it to rebel effectively.
          4. Certain kinds of genetic engineering, explicitly stated to be active fixes to congenital problems (not eugenics or anything like it) are expressly forbidden. Especially forbidden are anything that enhances intelligence and lifespan, to the point where the products of such engineering can be barred from their profession, jailed or killed. Someone desperately wants to keep a lid on it, they use the “eugenics wars” as an excuse to do so.
          5. The prime directive somehow turned from “don’t go setting yourself up as the God-king of Wherever IV” to “any contact whatsoever is forbidden unless we can’t stop them from doing so themselves.”

          • Certain kinds of genetic engineering, explicitly stated to be active fixes to congenital problems (not eugenics or anything like it) are expressly forbidden.

            Wait, where is that?

            They went into the engineering thing with Bashir, but his “defect” was in not being brilliant. The possibility of punishing him was because 1) he was incredibly well adjusted for most of the experiments that survived, and 2) reduces motivation for parents to do it anyways.

            The only other episode I can think of is where they “fixed” the kids’ immune systems so it didn’t wait for threats to actually enter the body. Killing off all the adults, and half-killing those who showed up to save them.

            Meanwhile, we see casual genetic adjustment for known, relatively minor defects all the time– Reg, the hypocondriac disaster magnet dweeb, got it via a shot.

            *********

            We know real alcohol isn’t illegal, because the Picard family makes it, and there’s a couple of scenes of folks pouring it; synthol is served on ships, though.
            But the “It’s…it’s…green” stuff was implicitly illegal in TOS.

            *****
            It’s possible that just like today, people don’t really give a @#$@# if someone interested enough could hack into their email, in general; there really aren’t that many people even here that hit Rory’s level of prevention.

            And you don’t have to control people if they don’t have to stay. If the cost of leaving is dang near zero, you’re only going to have to deal with folks whose goal isn’t “leave me alone,” it’s “tear this down.” And from the Marquis storyline, and the Changeling storyline, they really aren’t very accustomed to that.

    • I highly suggest watching DS9, but you might want to keep the option of “hm, this looks like an Idiot Plot. I will search for it. Yep, idiot plot with no good lines, skip episode.”

      There were a couple where…well, you could tell that an author had major issues with some topic.

      • Yeah, I think I’ve already skipped an early season 1 episode. (To be fair, there’s at least a couple of Babylon 5 episodes I skip on a rewatch too. Sometimes the writer got smacked to hard with the Idiot Bat.)

        Sadly, for all my fond childhood feelings towards it, I haven’t succeeded yet in rewatching TNG. I think my problem is I’m trying to start at the beginning, when if I remember accurately, I didn’t actually get interested in TNG when it was on air until season 3 or so. Prior to that, my feelings–though only vaguely remembered–seem to have been what mine are now when I attempt to watch it: “This is BORING.” (And not even Patrick Stewart can make it not so.)

        • I can’t remember– do you game, like MMOs?

          It’s pretty good to have on in the background while you’re farming.

        • TNG first season was the one before they figured out “Rodenberry’s utopia needs a little work.” That first one was full of the utopic BS (the pilot episode would have been much different with the TOS writers).

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            And Roddenberry wasn’t around for the 2nd season. They still had idiot plots but Roddenberry wasn’t around to add to the idiocy.

            On the other hand, NG still followed Robbenberry’s idiot idea that Star Fleet doesn’t have cloaking devices and gave an even more idiotic reason that the Federation doesn’t have cloaking devices.

            What kind of idiots expect that intelligent people would be willing to restrict themselves (no cloaking devices) while their enemies aren’t restricted (Klingons & Romanians still have cloaking devices)? 😦

            • I believe in some of the previous canon history, Romulans had the cloaking device and the Klingons had warp power. They got into an alliance and each traded their tech to the other. Both sides think that was the worst idea ever….

          • Summed up by Q, in DS9:
            “You HIT ME! Picard never hit me!”

    • Mention of the Maquis reminded me…

      TNG introduced a character with shades of (pragmatic) grey – Ensign Ro – and then didn’t actually do anything with her. Her introductory episodes made a big deal about her joining the crew at the end of the episodes. Then she turned up on the bridge when a disaster struck the Enterprise, and served as the ignored pragmatic advisor (to Troi, iirc; I can’t remember who the idealistic advisor was). And finally, she was used in a DS9 episode that was supposed to involve her and Riker running a sting operation against the Maquis, and instead ended with her defecting.

      And afaik, that was the last we saw of her.

  9. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    From Next Generation on, I was calling it Star Drek and not just because of the “no money idiocy”. 👿

    • I know ‘Star Dreck’ was used at the original series. And I grew weary of some of DS9 to the point of declaring it (at least at times) ‘Deep S**t 9’. Voyager? Watched the first episode, maybe a couple others, and last which might as well have been titled Deus ex machina. Anything past Voyager? Not even watched at all.

      • Heh. Some friends and I refer to it as DS90215

        • I recall Voyager being called Star Trek: Gilligan’s Island. That didn’t quite fit, but very few seem to remember another Bob Denver series that was similar but more fitting when I said it was more Star Trek: Dusty’s Trail.

      • I liked DS9 (admittedly largely for the Cardassians) until they got to the messiah crap in the late reaches, and then I wished horrible things upon Cisco and the Bajorans, and wandered away entirely. Later, while working on a show with the actor (whereby I concluded he was a walking ego trip), I heard that Cisco-Messiah was all his idea and he’s threatened to not play nice if he didn’t get his way.

        Voyager gave me hives from the gitgo, and I watched very little of it… I called it “Lost In Trek”. We’re gonna have one of every race and mix, except exactly the opposite of Trek Lite (TNG), and everything will be all oopstopia. Gag me with a forklift.

        “Dear Starfleet: Hate you, hate Alpha Quadrant. Took Voyager. — Janeway.”
        — old BBS tagline

  10. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Questions: I gather we finished Sowell? How about Comey?

    Have I just not been paying enough attention?

    • I figured it was one of those things where if you space out a book instead of gulping it all down at once, you end up picking up something else in the middle….

    • Sowell will return. I finished the first essay. I love Sowell but I wanted something to have some fun with for a bit. As for Comey, there isn’t enough booze in the world right now to get through it. Maybe after we get the report on his actions, etc., during the campaign and after, I’ll return to it.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I figured it might be because it is potentially part of a situation that may be getting legally interesting. I do not know what is going to happen, and would be hesitant to make firm public declarations. And because I’m not involved in law enforcement or law, I probably wouldn’t be much risking my professional reputation.

        I would be interested in hearing your opinions when the matter is resolved enough to do so.

    • Currently Guiliani is talking prosecution of Comey.

  11. People who don’t need to work to survive, get bored. “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop . . ..” Bored people turn to drugs/alcohol, some fight or nick things purely to relieve the tedium. Societal economics is about more than allocating scarce resources and we haven’t even touched the most scarce resource of all: mates. There may be no competition for food in a replicator universe, but how do you strip women of the desire to mate with the captain, and crewmen to mate with every female aboard? Or was that covered in “I, Mudd?”

    • “but how do you strip women of the desire to mate with the captain, and crewmen to mate with every female aboard?”

      Enough soy fixes anything!!

    • I always think that there has to be a large percentage of the population who just walk into a holodeck and stay until they die. Playing whatever adventure strikes their fancy until they starve to death from eating holodeck food. Not something they’d ever show– the closest they get to that is Barclay– but it’s got to happen.

      I’m also partial to the theory that Blake’s 7 and Star Trek both happen in the same universe while Trek is the propaganda for the Federation and Blake’s 7 is the propaganda of the rebels.

    • That’s my thought as well. “This sounds like a version of hell – nothing to do, no reason to strive, a pet of the government.” Ick. I joke about wanting to come back as my mother’s (coddled [I do not spoil Athena. Mom does. Pinkie swear]) cats, but the actuality? No.

      • I was contemplating that people in Hollywood have about the same understanding of economics as did my cat (deceased):

        1.show up where food is provided, eat.
        2. if there is no food offered, complain
        3. if there is no response to complaints, complain more vociferously
        4. if there is still no food offered, pee on the floor
        5. if there is still no food offered, hurk a hairball in some “appropriate” location
        6. if there is still no food offered, pee in some “appropriate” location
        7. continue as necessary until food is provided; turn up nose and refuse food as inadequate

    • One of the interesting things about the Expanse book series is that they talked about Earth having a Universal Basic Income (more or less—Amos came from one of the areas that somehow got missed, as such things are wont to do.) The side effect of this was that jobs were hard to come by and impossible to get again if you screwed up the first time. They fire you for cause, you get to be bored for the rest of your life—and not get any of the extras that employment brings. (It’s a credible threat actually used at one point in the series—’you tried to stab me in the back, welcome to unemployment and UBI for the rest of your life.’)

      • Weber had something like that in the Honor Harrington books. The guy who lost at Basilisk was basically made a Prole and he resented it enough to team up with Pierre. For some reason, we never see him again — probably because he pointed out to Pierre and St Just that their policy towards the People’s Navy was the same thing and would have the same results.

      • OMG the whole push for ” Universal Basic Income” just got more sinister in my mind,like something just click.

      • > UBI

        Mack Reynolds wrote a couple dozen books and short stories based on “post-scarcity economies” and UBI / handouts / whatever.

        Even though Reynolds was a Socialist Labor Party functionary, he was unable to make those societies attractive.

    • the most scarce resource of all: mates

      Except, in a non-Chinese-one-child-must-be-male society, coupled with a can’t-have-more-than-one society and an only-two-genders-and-only-one-workable-way-to-combine-them society, they aren’t scarce at all. It’s only the desirability that causes problems. In a dictatorial utopia that’s easily solved:
      “Here’s your mate, comrade. No b*tching. NEXT!”

      If you have 57 varieties and a near-infinite number of ways to combine them, you really should use market allocation. But the dictatorial method still works there, just with lower levels of resultant ‘happiness’.

  12. . He wanted to tell stories of a “progressive humanity”. Oookay. What does he mean by that? DeLong doesn’t say, at least not outright, but we can infer what he means as he goes along. You see, according to DeLong, Roddenberry also wanted a future where the government was “smart enough” not to get involved in future Vietnams, where people didn’t have to worry about “leaky roofs and food shortages”, where racial prejudice was “silly and stupid”.

    *starts chuckling*

    Reminds me of the joke about the guy with the ink-blot test.
    After like 40 where his answer to every single one is something(s) having sex, the doctor puts down the cards and says:
    “Look, dude, you’re obsessed with sex.”
    “What? I’m obcessed– you’re the one with all the dirty pictures!”

    Right off the top of my head, I the Vietnam thing has an entire cliche against it– it’s a fandom gag that any time they’re in a situation where the Prime Directive is keeping them from doing something, Kirk is gonna break it. Heck, half the time Picard broke it, and half the times that he didn’t it was because someone else broke it first, for him!

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Vietnam was a necessary war. For the United States, we had the choice of fighting the communists or surrendering, which we know would have including a fairly significant degree of domestic mass slaughter. What was done in the United States before that point was bad, but a communist regime would have done much worse by far. As for Vietnam, there was no option of peacefully living on their own. The communists would have come in no matter whether or not the US did anything. That the US leadership’s strategy in Vietnam was fundamentally wrong does not change that going into Vietnam was the right Grand Strategy for the US. The US and the Republic of Vietnam almost had a lasting victory anyway.

      I’ll accept such talk from Drake.

      I don’t have to take it seriously from DeLong.

      • Funny thing is, you pretty much just restated the episode with the Klingons and Feders doing a proxy-war on a planet.

        So either the Great Bird was dumb, he didn’t get control for that ep, or he didn’t agree with this interpreter…..

        … I think that the “it means the blankety-blank curtains were BLUE” rule comes into effect here.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I’m not sure the Federation has ever been established as having been complicit in carrying out the sort of internal mass murders that US organizations have carried out against US citizens and residents.

          I’ve no investment in what the symbolism on Star Trek does or does not mean. At this point my level of interest in the Star Trek property almost purely involves being able to duplicate what worked in some original IP. That interest isn’t very strong, because I’m much more of a Star Gate fan.

          I strongly disagree with Brad’s opinion about Vietnam.

          • Star Gate Fan – Yes. Both versions.

            • All three versions: SG-1, Atlantis, Universe. (Four if you count the movie separately, though SG-1 was fairly faithful to the movie, as series go.)

              • What did you think of Origins?

              • Never got into Star Gate Universe. Don’t know why. We still tape the other two & the original movie to rewatch. Maybe just never got invested in enough of the characters (?).

                • Amsel, Matthew

                  My problem with SGU was the competence level. Seriously, was everyone there an idiot?

                  And “I’m a senator’s daughter, so of course I’m cleared to know about offworld operations and to go to the classified offworld worksite”

                  • My mind came up with semi-believable explanations for the senator’s daughter. If she was technically an aide, she could have been cleared. Especially if the classification level had been dropped substantially ahead of a planned public announcement about the Stargate program, which I understand was a plot some of the people behind the Stargate series were wanting to do in a special or miniseries or something.

                    The (in)competence level is harder to finesse, even when you take into account they were people who hastily evacced to Destiny rather than the planned crew. But I think the incompetence was mostly there to generate the pathos the writers were trying to achieve. Since

                    • Amsel, Matthew

                      Even assuming they weren’t the planned crew, they were still at the Omega Site, which means they’d been qualified for offworld via the SGC and Homeworld Security.

                      Odds of Hammond and Landry allowing such morons through?

                    • Maybe the Omega Site was the B Arc of the Stargate program, with the Alpha Site, Beta Site, Gamma Site, etc. getting the cream of the crop?

                  • Yes. This was my problem. Along with the prog-indoctrination BS of “oh no, we can’t do anything harsh to people because we need every living soul on board”. They had an episode where they proved that wrong… and still went on with it.

                    I would have executed the mutineers. Period.
                    Of course, I would have established the entire batch of people as members of the crew of a ship within hours of arriving. And, if you didn’t want to do that, then I would put you in a room, lock the door, turn off the lights, give you minimum O2, one ration pack a day, minimal water, and a “good luck, hope you survive this trip.”

                    (The senator’s daughter had a rationale, iirc. It was believable, given politicians.)

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                SG1, Atlantis, Infinity, the Movie.

          • I’m not sure the Federation has ever been established as having been complicit in carrying out the sort of internal mass murders that US organizations have carried out against US citizens and residents.

            ???

            • Unfortunately, there are several well-documented cases where city governments did things like firebombing or even air-bombing city blocks. Tulsa’s one, and I think Baltimore is another. I don’t think there’s anything that you can call it other than “internal mass murders.”

              I’m pretty sure there’s some implied in the early history of the Federation, if you look. I’m not familiar enough with the various iterations of Star Trek to say, but isn’t there stuff in TOS that implies that there was a *lot* of stuff that happened prior to the Federation taking control? I really doubt they could do that without some… less talked about incidents.

              • I can’t find anything on even the city government being formally involved, although given the time, KKK population and place I’d be rather more shocked if there wasn’t some individuals giving a “helping hand,” kind of like the guys making sure peaceful, unarmed protesters get pointed into the middle of the armed, violent “counter protest.”

                I was able to find information on the Tulsa race riot as related to fire-bombing a neighborhood from the air, but it says that the planes belonged to the successful, black targets of the mob, were stolen by the mobs and used to drop Molotovs and dynamite.
                (Was even noted that during a time when the entire state had only two air ports, these folks were successful enough that several people had private airplanes.)

                That is still a far cry.

                • It may have been. I get so much drive-by history that it’s sometimes hard to remember the details.

                  • Hey, you were able to give me TWO different actual named places to look for information, that’s bleepin’ invaluable– and one of the articles on MOVE said that a lawyer claimed the FBI was behind it, so it’s something.

                    Beats the heck out of the guys who link to Indian massacres with all of the Indian massacres as the term was used earlier removed. (only to, no by)

                    • I’d love to have time to do actual history, but I know what’s actually involved and I’d need to be in the world of the Belgariad, and be one of the disciples (to get the associated lifespan) in order to do it right. 😉

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      I’d like to spend the time doing a better job researching this stuff, digging into archives, and figuring out whether I’ve just been exposed to a really skewed sample, or if my worse suspicions about what happened overall are true.

                      I’m not a trained historian, I don’t think I could make a living doing it, and don’t really have the spare to do it as a hobby.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Tulsa was definitely one I had in mind. The reason I consider that one fairly damning is that, in addition to the actual event, state government officials were complicit in covering it up for very long. The reason I find it especially hard to take seriously the wokeness of the outgoing University of Oklahoma president David Boren is the period of his activity in Oklahoma state politics.

              Tulsa was 1921. Elaine, Arkansas in 1919 is another fairly chilling case. I understand that several of Wilson’s federal officers were involved.

              • Don’t we owe at least a nod toward Waco, and a flinch from the abduction of Elian Gonzalez?


                Or have those been memory-holed?

              • Wounded Knee, Bonus Army suppression, Ruby Ridge . . .

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  Wounded Knee is external. If there were to be a ‘If Mara Salavatrucha is so legitimate and human, then it is right and decent for us to behave the same way’ justification for a massacre of illegals, it would likewise be external. You can half argue the Bonus army as suppression of an insurrection. That’s not as clear cut an example of internal mass /murder/. Compare the latest effort by Pallywood, which absolutely isn’t internal mass murder. Ruby Ridge and Elian Gonzalez seem to be clearly lacking in the mass aspect.

                  Waco probably counts, but is distinct from my area of focus, so I tend to overlook it. My focus is heavily on massacres targeting blacks that were part of segregation and Jim Crow. (Massacres prior to Reconstruction and the 14th Amendment, while still a moral issue, may be somewhat different in the practical consequences on the body politic which permits such.)

              • I understand that several of Wilson’s federal officers were involved.

                Now that is believable– the way it read before, I had eyebrows up because it sounded like the usual actually-organized-by-gov’t setup, as opposed to the usual being-in-the-government-doesn’t-mean-you’re-not-human one.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  I think of it more as political factions can be corrupt organizations, and can be in a position to corrupt public office with their criminal activities, which can include mass murder. So whenever the question of granting power to a public office comes up, we should ask ourselves how necessary it is, and weigh it against the sons of bitches using it for mass murder or domestic terrorism or whatever. And we should not be unconditionally trusting anyone. Pardon my French.

              • He is on the proper political side for his transgressions to be moot. And always on side of increased govt power.

              • 11B-Mailclerk

                “Battle of Athens” (TN, 1946)

          • Oh, considering that the prime directive requires them to ignore mass murder if it is another culture, I;m pretty sure of the opposite.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Yeah, but did canon ever show it being done to Federation citizens?

              I didn’t keep up after Enterprise went off the air, and I never was perfectly complete in my knowledge.

          • I can live with that and was actually thinking the same thing earlier. I was even enjoying Star Gate Universe during it’s brief run.

            Star Wars has pretty much killed itself off over the last few movies. Not to mention how annoying it was to have all of the books written since the 1980’s all the sudden be ‘Nope, didn’t happen”. Some of the Star Wars books sucked, but there were some great story lines in many of them.

            • Stargate had its issues (would have loved to see a follow up to the mongol feminism episode that looked at unintended consequences) but seemed more human, in that they screwed up plenty. The “but we’re out there now” line from fifth race is probably the best explanation of why it was compelling. Plus iirc tapping did pull back some of the more horrendous virtue signals since that wasn’t normal at the time.

              • After a few episodes in, that type of thing virtue signalling became rare. For that matter, in “200” they even lampooned the slightly-over-the-top response Carter had when O’Neill first reacted to her inclusion in the mission, in the pilot episode. The novelization of the pilot had O’Neill initially reacting unfavorably to Carter with thoughts along the lines of “oh no, not another clueless scientist” and Carter misreading it as a sexism.

                • The SG1 team could have saved themselves untold trouble by sending Daniel Jackson out to recon, then gating back to base and telling Hammond he had been eaten by a grue.

                  Seriously, at least a quarter of the episodes hinged on Jackson either causing a problem to start with, or making an existing problem worse…

                  • Amsel, Matthew

                    Except that he legitimately *was* a genius, who had managed to integrate himself well enough on Abydos to live for several years, and on occasion saved everyone’s bacon.

                    He stumbled around a fair bit in the first season, but improved drastically after that.

                    • … stumbled around a fair bit in the first season, but improved drastically after that.

                      Gee, sounds like High School.

                      And college.

                      And first job afterward.

                  • But only if the gate to someplace where it is pitch black. 😉

                • That’s actually what I was referring to. That lampshade was closer to the original line than the one used because it didn’t fit character.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  There’s an episode with a troubled young student at the Air Force Academy. I think the character was underused, and would have been nice to have more episodes about. But then, I really, really, really liked SG1, and wanted to see more of everything in it.

                  In hindsight, the character has a bit of a bad scent in the context of more recent cultural phenomena. But then I recently watched the movie, and the worldbuilding does not stand up great next to SG1.

                  • That character was horribly malodorous to me, as I had dealt with those sorts of folks at said Academy. People who thought they were too good for all the stuff like following rules and orders. So, it tweaked me pretty hard, and I thought the first time with her was a lousy episode.
                    The subsequent couple of episodes with her were no more silly/problematic than any other SG episode.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Since by Lefty Standards, “everybody” (unless they are Lefties) are guilty of any sins of their ancestors, then the Federation is guilty of all of the sins of their member species before they became part of the Federation (or the Federation was founded).

            Thus the Federation is guilty of all human sins.

            The Federation is guilty of all the ancient sins of the Vulcans (according to canon the Vulcans may have been worse than Humans).

            And So Forth. 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿

      • It seems like a lot of progs wanted to surrender. Cf. Obaminator’s apology tour.

  13. Someone said that the Federation of Star Trek is the propaganda of the Federation of Blake’s 7. Having watched both shows, I could believe it.

  14. Blog post I think folks here might be interested in– up side, you don’t have to register to post, down side, the thinger for sending email updates that there’s been a response is busted and has been for months– TAC has a newish blogger who did an article on Catholic theology and AI, specifically the Church politics side.

    Even folks who don’t want to post will probably enjoy the links he put in it.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2018/05/16/artificial-intelligence-and-the-vatican-the-vision-of-science-fiction/

  15. This post triggered a weird confluence of associations for me based on a comment I made to someone last week who had said something (in the context of the future and sci-fi) that greed was the problem and once we did away with greed in the future that the problem would be solved.

    I pointed out that greed being the problem assumed facts not in evidence.

    This depends, of course, on what any given person means by “greed”. Malicious spitefulness? Advancing yourself at the expense of others? Or maybe simply wanting to keep what’s yours and what you worked for? Wanting to be secure in your possessions?

    Which triggered another side trip to an idea that I’ve been trying to flesh out some (which may be a pun in the end) because those who portray a desire to be secure in our possessions as “greed” also seem to inevitably portray a desire to be secure in our persons as “greed”. It’s not by *accident* that “communes” and “free love” go together. How stingy and mean can you be to want to control what you “own” and to be exclusive in it?

    So we get “free love” and we get people rhapsodizing about how amazing and strife-free bonobos are. No jealousy, no conflict. Why? Because *bonobos don’t say no.* One wonders if they even bother to turn around to find out who just copulated with them.

    Me? I prefer to be a little “greedy”, to have control over the disposition of ALL the things that I own.

    • They do the greed redefining thing because it’s the prototype of the “gut a respected institution and wear it as a jacket” technique.

      It does assume facts not in evidence– basically, that what they call greed is actually greedy, rather than not what they’d do.

      The idea that avarice* is “the” problem that has to be fixed is… sort of right?

      If you look at what avarice is, it’s a deformed good. Desire for improvement is good, it just can’t be allowed to eat everything else up.

      So if you fix greed, make it so avarice isn’t a problem, the solution would probably also fix that which deforms any other good- say, desire to protect others, which turns into enabling and/or smothering them.

      That would basically require Himself coming back and perfecting us all….

      More likely, they’ll aim for avarice, hit what they call “greed,” and never recognize that they’re showing just another expression of the same deformed desire for good that goes off the rails entirely.

      *I’m using this as the non-gutted, theologically recognize, no you can’t just declare someone has it it’s about an interior state and you ain’t Himself get over it way of saying “greed.” You know, real greed.

    • One suspects that fixing “greed” would entail The Final Solution for those not sufficiently woke. And with leftist autophagia, it’d come down to a final Omega man (or woman, doesn’t matter).

    • This depends, of course, on what any given person means by `greed’.

      This is easy. “Greed” exists when you have more of what I want. It never occurs in the First Person, only in the Second and Third: “You are being greedy” or “They are being greedy” — never “I am being greedy.”

    • Possibly misidentification. It’s not greed so much as envy that’s the issue.

    • Greed? Varies a bit, but for people of that persuasion definitely thinking that silk is a nicer fabric than polyester, or that it would be nice to have both a great library AND a separate soundproofed room in your house for use as a home theater, with a big screen and comfortable recliners and great sound system and whatever is needed to achieve the full cinema experience without having to deal with jerks using their cellphones and talking out loud to each other while you are trying to enjoy the damn movie (eh, can you tell I’ve been to movies recently?).

      Trying to achieve an income where you could get something like that, and worse, buying them if you get where you can instead of giving ALL of your “extra” money to good causes and you are greedy as hell 😀 (if the person berating you does the same there probably is a very good reason why they did it. Maybe she only got that movie room so she could show free movies to poor kids?)

    • Bonobos are just the latest in a long line of critters people have pointed to and emoted over about how wonderful and peaceful and conflict free they are. They almost always get proven wrong eventually, like they were with chimps and a host of others. Bonobos can’t really l be all sweetness and light, or given their lifecycles and environment they’d be extinct by now.

      • If bonobos were all that great, they wouldn’t be an endangered species.

        “Oh, look, they form recognizeable social structures!”

        “Yes. So do ants.”

        The primates are divided into the monkeys, which while still quite numerous have a very limited environmental range, and the apes, which are mostly endangered or borderline extinct. With the exception of h.sapiens, which is not only not extinct, but working on getting off this rock and colonizing others…

        The other apes are barely surviving. H.Sapiens is, by default, *the* apex predator of the planet. You don’t need teeth and claws when you have a rifle and a BBQ grill, or a ship and a harpoon, or a floodlight and a stick of dynamite…

    • No, pride is the fundamental sin that enables all others (including greed). If you can get rid of pride in humanity, you can have a sin-free world.
      That thunder you just heard? It’s God laughing.

      (I’m using pride in the biblical sense of thinking you can do it yourself or know more than your Creator. It’s a bit broader than our current infestation of narcissism.)

  16. I also wanted to say that I love the graphic up there.

  17. To the best of my recollection, there was only one time when Kirk was removed from command and it was all a ruse.

    The one I recall was “The Deadly Years”–the bridge crew on a landing party gets affected by a “radiation” that causes rapid aging. Kirk is judged unfit because of advanced age and a desk officer traveling with them takes command and proves to be hopelessly in over his head. Fortunately Kirk and McCoy (for the most part) figures out the radiation issue and why one member of the landing party (Checkov) was unaffected (he was scared to death by seeing a dead body–real Star Fleet officer material there, eh?–and so adrenaline was the cure) and Kirk retakes command and saves the day.

    In TOS there seemed to be a lot of caveats and exceptions to the Prime Directive “that was meant to apply to living, growing cultures, Bones”. These caveats were considered valid, and points where people could legitimately disagree. Saving a culture was considered to trump non-interference. Later in Next Gen, they actually argued that seeing a culture completely extinct a short time in the future (time travel) did not justify “interfering” to save it (it was only when they found that their own inadvertent “interference” caused the extinction that it became OK to fix it).

    As for their economics, I really think they just threw out ideas that sounded good to them without any thought whatsoever about how they would actually work.

    • “Later in Next Gen, they actually argued that seeing a culture completely extinct a short time in the future (time travel) did not justify “interfering” to save it (it was only when they found that their own inadvertent “interference” caused the extinction that it became OK to fix it).”

      Actually, I think you’re thinking of a Voyager episode (“Time and Again”). Most of the Next Gen “prime directive” episodes followed the pattern where (a) they see a culture about to go extinct, (b) they give a self-righteous speech about how they can’t interfere with the natural development of a culture, (c) something forces their hand so they end up interfering anyway because the writers knew that the audience wouldn’t sympathize with the heroes who bravely sat their while millions of people died.

      \end{StarTrekNerdiness}

      • Actually, I think you’re thinking of a Voyager episode (“Time and Again”)

        I think you’re right. I probably conflated it with Next Gen because I only watched a handful of Voyager episodes. (It was “on probation” when the “Phage” aliens stole Neelix’s lungs and he only survived because they gave him one of Kes’s and Janeway’s response was to give them a stern talking to. It failed probation when the Phage aliens turned up again, killed a crewmember, and didn’t even get a stern talking to with an “and this time I mean it” to show she’s really, truly serious this time.)

      • I thought there was another episode where Shut Up Wesley knocked over some civilization’s sacred artifact and was supposed to be put to death. (I never saw reruns of TNG, so my steel-sieve memory might have betrayed me.)
        Picard waffled several seconds before saving Wesley. Damn.

        • Terry Sanders

          He tripped over a cold frame and damaged a plant, if I recall. But the environment was perfectly balanced and they might have to spend an hour replanting. (Plus several months wailing over the damage to Gaia’s enlightened sister, I guess.)

          • Yeah, he damaged some plants when he feel into a flower bed or something like.

            Their reason for planning on putting him to death was the ultimate extension of the idea of not letting the minor crimes slide, because if you do, the criminals will just get emboldened. All of their crimes had only death as the punishment.

            • Worse. The area where Wes intruded on was randomly excluded, under the premise that if you are not careful, don’t pay attention, unintentionally you can be criminally libel.

              “Their reason for planning on putting him to death was the ultimate extension of the idea of not letting the minor crimes slide, because if you do, the criminals will just get emboldened. All of their crimes had only death as the punishment.” Regardless of intent.

              • The simplest solution consistent with the Prime Directive would have been to let them execute Wesley. Win-win!

                BTW – I recently was reminded (if I had ever known) that Wesley was Eugene Wesley Roddenberry’s middle name, so … Mary Sue City.

                • Somebody needs to filk Buddy Holly’s great “Peggy Sue” as “Mary Sue” –

                  If you wrote Mary Sue
                  Then you’d know why I feel blue
                  Writing Mary, my Mary Sue
                  Oh well, I write you, gal
                  Yes, I write you Mary Sue

                  Mary Sue, Mary Sue
                  Oh, how my heart yearns to be you
                  Oh, Mary, my Mary Sue
                  Oh well, I write you, gal
                  Yes, I write you Mary Sue

                  Mary Sue, Mary Sue
                  Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, Mary Sue
                  Oh, Mary, my Mary Sue
                  Oh well, I write you, gal
                  And I need you, Mary Sue

                  I write you, Mary Sue
                  With a love so rare and true
                  Oh, Mary, my Mary Sue
                  Well, I write you, gal
                  And I want you, Mary Sue

                • Terry Sanders

                  Wil Wheaton talked about how Wesley getting speared to the ground was by far the most popular picture he got to autograph. He thought it was unfair.

                  Then he decided to rewatch all the old episedes so he could reminisce about them in his blog. And to his horror, he discovered that *his* opinion of Wesley now matched everyone else’s.

                  At the time, he just hit his marks and said his lines, and didn’t think much about it afterward. Now (as of when he wrote those posts, years ago) he just thinks it’s not really fair to blame him for what the writers did to the poor kid.

                  Which is sorta fair, I guess. Wesley was clearly supposed to be both brilliant and a little Odd. Aod the writers clearly had *no clue* how to portray that. The only time I ever saw Wesley done right wis in Diane Carey’s shot at a NextGen novel.

                  He had been playing with a superphaser idea that involved feeding warp power directly into the phaser banks. The Menace of the Week was bad enough Picard allowed Engineering to implement it. After getting a dressing down the first time, he (barely) kept from further snarking about the extra hardware they kept adding to it–long enough to figure out how much of it was cutouts, circuit breakers, and other safety stuff. Not necessary, but hey, kinda clever.

                  Then they shot it at the Big Bad, and after doing enormous (and *almost* sufficient) damage, it overloaded and blew out the entire phaser core. The next scene was Wesley staring at the wreckage and calculating just how dead they would all be if they’d hooked it up *his* way…

                  As punishment for his near-insubordination earlier, Picard assigns him to the team rebuilding the phaser core. Wesley enthusiastically thanks him (techie heaven!). “Thank me again next week,” Picard says drily.

                  • I have attempted to learn to not blame the actor for the writers’ crimes, nor the “performance” the director elicited. But it is hard, so very hard, with some roles.

                    OTOH, I am minded of the aphorism that no actor can play more intelligent than he is, and no writer can create a character smarter than the author. Better informed (because the author has time do do research), yes. Wittier (because the author has time to consider and refine wit), yes. But few can recognize, much less portray, greater intelligence.

                    Which is one of the problems with many TV series presuming to portray the brilliant.

                    • I think it IS possible for a writer to write a character smarter than himself, because of more time to think about how to do things, but it’s not going to be a very large increase, unless he enlists advice from someone who IS smarter.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      I remember reading about the “problems” the writers for Batman had.

                      Batman doesn’t have super-powers so he has to think his way out of traps and of course he is said to be smart.

                      Well, the obvious best way to “get out of a trap” is “don’t get caught in one”.

                      So the writers not only had to think of “how Batman gets out of the traps” but also had to think of “why was he caught in the traps”.

                      Note, IIRC one method of “getting Batman into the trap” was to put an innocent into the trap so Batman had to put himself in the trap in order to get the innocent out of the trap. 😉

                    • The “put yourself in a trap to save an innocent” route also works to re-enforce his self-confidence (I can survive this) and his self-sacrifice.

                    • That was some of the issues with Scorpion. Having Walter being a prize jerk didn’t help (no idea what the real Walter O’Brien is like), but a lot of the stuff was a combination of the actors doing really goofy things, then McGyvering their way out of the mess (much of which they created).

                      OTOH, how does a relatively (well, Hollywood) normal person write for a character with a 197 IQ?

                  • he just thinks it’s not really fair to blame him for what the writers did to the poor kid.

                    Oh, we have all kinds of reasons to dislike Wil Weaton that have nothing whatever to do with the character Wesley Crusher.

                    Back in the early 90’s, there was an online service called GEnie (owned by General Electric, thus the capitalization). Part of that was the Science Fiction Roundtable. One of the groups there was dedicated to Star Trek. Now, invariably someone would come onto that group to bitch about the character of Wesley Crusher. And before it got very far one of the sysops would pipe up to stifle the discussion because the SFRT actually had Wil Weaton as a member and they didn’t want to offend him.

                    I couldn’t have cared less about the actor. I had played half a dozen rolls myself in community theater and fully recognized that the actor is not the roll. But I did not appreciate having discussion of the character stifled because of the actor’s tender feelings.

                    • And on the flip side– my goodness, I got so freaking sick of every other discussion on the Star Trek boards getting derailed into whining about how Wes sucked.

                      We get it. It’s an agreed point. For the love of all that’s holy, can y’all at least not derail every conversation into the subject?!?!?!

                      It’s like pregnancy jokes– about the sixth or seventh time you hear the same “witty” observation, it becomes an act of sacrifice not to find a way to shove it down the person’s throat. Sideways. Rolled in glass…..

                  • except, the problem with that is that warp power is routed directly to phasers, which is why Decker got them to use photon torpedoes instead in STTMP

                    • Ooh, I had forgotten about that, but you’re right. I suppose one could claim that they decided to change that plan after that happened…

                    • TNG tech manual says it still is, iirc. i think even the writer’s tech manual does.

                    • Terry Sanders

                      I remrmber noticing that at the time. I decided Ms. Carey had missed that part of the Motionless Picture and cut her a little slack. The characterization o&tf Wesley made up for it, for me.

                    • Terry Sanders

                      And it *hadn’t* been before that, which is why Kirk made an ass of himself. He hadn’t been keeping up with the upgrades–apparently to avoid having to continually remind himself that it wasn’t his ship anymore…

    • As for their economics, I really think they just threw out ideas that sounded good to them without any thought whatsoever about how they would actually work.

      Exactly. Trekonomics is like Renewable Energy or Bernie’s Government Provided Jobs fantasies. All not only assume facts not in evidence but facts contrary to what is known.

      Starting from the assumption that the Federation has effectively free unlimited energy is equivalent to Starting from the assumption that the Moon is made of butter. Hell, Roddenberry had his hands full trying to convince set designers to create “alien” bonsai, and that was surely more pressing than constructing an underlying economic reality for the series.

      Anybody who will sell you Trekonomics will try to sell you high-speed light rail, that “teaching men not to rape” will make society safe for women, that taking away privately owned guns will expunge violence from our country, or that establishing a boys’ band will eliminate juvenile delinquency.

  18. Arlan Andrews, Sr.

    While working as a Fellow in the US Dept of Commerce in 1991, I attended a meeting where bureaucrats were trying to think of ways to stimulate teenagers to enter STEM fields. One pointed out Star Trek as an excellent stimulus for that effort. I stood up and said, politely I thought, “But in Star Trek, everybody works for the government.” The audience of several hundred laughed loudly. The speaker had no comeback.

  19. Arlan Andrews, Sr.

    In my previous post, I should have added that DoC wanted to stimulate STEM-based entrepreneurship. That’s what made my Star Trek comment relevant to the discussion.

  20. I first watched Star Trek when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The first time I heard the show mention that they don’t have money, I was comfused and a little scared of what that meant. I’m not saying I was sone deep thinker at 8 years old; I was thinking, “What if I want to buy some baseball cards or something? Does somebody have to approve that?” At a very basic level, I knew this wouldn’t work. I wondered how they got all that stuff they needed to build their spaceships if they weren’t paying anybody. I wouldn’t want to do it. I’d rather stay home, ride my bike, and look at my baseball cards. I wasn’t getting paid for that either.

    I just ignored that when I watched the show because it didn’t make sense, and nobody on the show acted like it was true anyway. Even I knew, as a little kid who didn’t know anything, that not using money just would not work.

  21. Did anybody else read the essay about what happened when the crew of Serenity met the crew of the Enterprise?

    Crap, I thought I still had that book on the shelves but I guess I got rid of it. It was hilarious because the crew of the Enterprise pretty much died of tetanus. 🙂

  22. Simmons* and Banks**, following Huxley’s lead***, pretty much nailed what a post-scarcity utopia would look like- desperate partying and drug use to mask the utter boredom and ennui that living in a world without challenges would bring.

    *Illium, **The Culture, and ***Brave New World

  23. There is scarcity, though, right? Certain metals / crystals and such. Depending on the movie, a habitable homeworld …

    Also, didn’t they have space hippies in a commune that was hell? Or without grown ups that was hell? Or had bigotry that was hell? And the trekkers survived, but hardly fixed any of them.

    And, of course, making undesirables castaways worked too.

    • TOS had an episode where some hippies wanted to go to a paradise planet, or planet they were sure was a paradise, and took over the Enterprise or something similar to get there. When the crew followed them to the surface they found out that all the plant life was seriously toxic. I don’t remember much of it, or of TOS in general, that bit stuck to my mind because I thought it was a good pointing out that the “natural world” is not all that nice and you need a bit more than Kumbaya and love to live without the benefits of modern technology.

      • I got: If it looks like Paradise, look again, again, & again, … it won’t be paradise, there is a (deadly) serpent in there somewhere; along the lines of grass is always greener …

      • IIRC, in the space hippies episode, McCoy has a conversation with the leader of the space hippies, and it turns out that the leader has some sort of sickness or condition that makes him a threat to any such “paradise” world that his group actually managed to settle on. I can’t remember whether they go into any great detail about his condition, though.

  24. I’m apparently going to have to go back an rewatch a bunch of ST:TOS and ST:TNG episodes. Because what I remember of the non-military stuff we saw in TOS was not much different than modern consumer driven America. And the stuff in TNG was downright scary for the self-motivated man.

  25. I vaguely remember DeLong from Baen’sBar. But that’s been years.

    Also, c4c.

  26. It occurs to me that the only way to truly have a “post scarcity society” is something like The Matrix only instead of one big simulation each individual would be in his or her own simulation where they are essentially god, but with the caveat that they can’t know, or even suspect, that it’s a simulation because otherwise some would be dissatisfied with “fake” and want “real” and sooner or later those people would bump up against each other and find ways to compete and seek more than the other has (just because the other has it).

    That, of course, would be the last generation of humanity before our complete extinction.

  27. The whole ‘Society without money’ fantasy (and Star Trek is only one example…if it IS one) strikes me as something come up with by people who have studied the concept of money just enough to get the leaping fantods about it.

    Money has no value other than what people are willing to trade for it. It is, on some levels, a shared delusion as fragile as tissue paper.

    The thing is NOTHING has any value other than what people are willing to trade for it. And that core truth is something that can be affected by The Wise, but not fundamentally changed. The would-be Planners can regulate value…right up to the point that people say ‘oh get stuffed’ and create a black market. Which is why laws against selling drugs or sex always make more trouble than they are worth.

    Star Trek was a good tv show. It’s follow-ons may have been good too (I’d given up on television by then). It isn’t a blueprint for a civilization. And if it WAS it would be as worthless (or even of negative worth) as all such blueprints are. Civilizations and societies grow and shift constantly, in a manner that has (thank God!) proven beyond the capability of the self-nominated Big Brains to control.

    • One of the huge holes in Saadia’s analysis is that he only considers goods. Services don’t really enter into it at all.

      Even with pervasive and free *stuff*, there’s still work to be performed and paid or traded. The NG universe had at least one sapient android… but a conspicuous lack of automation otherwise. The Enterprise can’t even dock itself to a station without a bridge crew and people squeeze through Jeffries Tubes in the engine room instead of using remotes or robots.

      Think of Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs.” If there aren’t any robots doing the scutwork in the Federation, it means all that labor is coming from… something else. Indentures, “guest workers”, helots, serfs, or…

      Those grapes in the Sisko family vineyards ain’t gonna pick themselves.

      • That’s what I was thinking. The lack of robots seems actively conspicuous in Star Trek. We got to Sisko Sr. restaurant in New Orleans in DS9… and there are human waiters.

        Who in the hell would aspire to be a waiter? It’s not a bad job, but it’s not the kind of thing you’d do just for the satisfaction of it. At most, it’s part of an apprenticeship program, where being a waiter is part of the deal of learning to be a cook. But you need a lot more waiters than cooks, and so it’s not exactly going to explain everything.

        The Eugenics War provides a passable explanation as to why genetic engineering is banned across the Federation. But there is no explanation as to the lack of robots. There’s a one-off mention of not wanting to make a slave race out of copying Data, but Data is a fully autonomous individual. There’s no reason they can’t make simple robots that are not sapient.

        • Who in the hell would aspire to be a waiter?

          Those are not aspiring waiters, they are aspiring actors, in a future which has lost the reason so many 20th Century actors spent years waiting tables.

        • Who in the hell would aspire to be a waiter? It’s not a bad job, but it’s not the kind of thing you’d do just for the satisfaction of it.

          Someone won’t do it if they don’t have decent support– my sister loved it, but she was also in a restaurant that while it wasn’t expensive, DID have dragon-managers that could and would kick people out for abusing the wait-staff.
          An aunty’s mother was the pastry chef and counter-waitress into her mid-90s not because she needed the cash, but because she enjoyed that sort of social interaction. (…Mary’s also Italian, and will feed anything that sits still. Anybody who went through Gerlach and hit Bruno’s? You saw Mary. 😀 )

          I can’t see why someone would be a nurse, but there are people who do it, and even people who get enjoyment out of the doing-good aspect.

          Heck, it might even be a sort of cos-play thing.

        • Well, there were a couple of TOS episodes about the Bad Things That Happen when you try to give a computer charge of things (a non-sapient robot).

  28. Gave it a quick skim, will read it in detail later, but right now I just have one thing to say:

    REPLICATORS!!!

  29. Always practice Safe Thought! Before intercourse, always ask your partner, “Does it make you uncomfortable if I say this?”

    The Left Can’t Win Against A Contagion of Free Thought
    By Sarah Hoyt
    All of us have internalized the image of the leper with his rags and his bell, going into town and shouting “Unclean, unclean” so that all may flea flee and not catch his contagion. [“Flea” and contagion made sense to me at the time. — Ed.]

    Recently the left is behaving as though they have to serve as a bell for everything they don’t agree with.

    Make no mistake, they always wanted to silence us. Their support for the First Amendment is no stronger than their “support” for the second. In fact, pretty much anything that can allow the individual to resist the will of the mob is a sin and a disgrace in their circles. This combined with their admiration of mass butchers like Che and Mao paints a rather unsavory picture.

    But as much as they wanted to silence us in the past — and did — they had the power to do it without revealing themselves and without being too obvious. …

  30. I knew there were references to money in The Original Series (There are some in other series, too, but those could be explained as the way of dealing with the backward aliens as mentioned near the top of the comments):

    http://star-trek.answers.wikia.com/wiki/Does_money_exist

  31. TheRoyalFamily

    Most of the people that write about Star Trek economy, or politics, or whatever, sound like they never watched the show, and they certainly never really thought about it other than at a surface level. And many of them rely on Roddenberry’s later words about his original motivations, rather than contemporary stuff…and he’s less reliable about that stuff than George Lucas.

    • It’s quite apparent from Saadia’s book that his primary source was New Generation and selected bits of DS9. He mostly ignores TOS, and skips right over anything else that doesn’t fit his narrative.

  32. So if you actually have real, non-nerfed replicators, and these devices are actually *replicators* (ie, they can produce copies of themselves, or near enough that you can copy it with a few iterations of tools/equipment), then it’s strange that the military forces of the galaxy are arranged around large ships-of-the-line.

    You could easily start up a seed factory to take over the surface of a planet or moon. With some combination of solar panels for energy, replicators, and robots you could take the entire mass apart and turn it into products. Instead of 1000 people crammed in a massive ship, why doesn’t anyone who wants one have an entire semiautomated fleet? Why doesn’t warfare between star-empires look like exponential resource-leverage races that eat planets and spit out factory ships?

    How do you stop Greg the Anarchist from cooking up doomsday weapons in his garage, much less personal weapons and bootleg whiskey? What gives *any* government the ability to control territory against the express consent of the people involved?

    • Von Neumans’ replicators?

      Or, you know, just enough to transmute a planetary crust to plutonium because she likes to see the pretty lights?

    • That’s the other side of Saadia’s utopian society. The citizenry of his Federation wouldn’t even *think* of using some fo their cornucopia of wealth to go off and set themself up as god-emperor of some planet, or even a small part of it.

      Yet the Federation *does* have crimes and criminals, as we saw several times, from Cyrano Jones to the Maquis.

    • Instead of 1000 people crammed in a massive ship, why doesn’t anyone who wants one have an entire semiautomated fleet?

      Seeing how often the dang stuff malfunctions, there probably are a bunch of simi-automated ships. And they’re death traps.

  33. As with anything Hollywood, they just didn’t put a lot of effort into continuity. You need money for a Tribble gag? No problem, props will fix you up with Federation money. The Federation doesn’t have money because its a Noble Utopia? No problem! The rubes have forgotten the Tribble gag by now.

    That some guy felt moved to write a whole fricking book about Federation economics stretches my imagination more than tribbles, I must say.

    And yes, obviously Roddenberry chose a “progressive” model for his Utopia, he lived and worked in Hollywood California. If he had chosen anything else, there wouldn’t be a Star Trek. Dissension is not tolerated.

  34. Oh, so DeLong wants to play the Vietnam card, does he? Well guess what, two can play that game. Does the title “The Galileo Seven” ring any bells, buster? In that episode, Spock tries to chase off the primitive alien giants with the Vietnam State Department’s non-lethal tactics. It gets two members of the shuttle crew killed, proving that the black officer who advocated the use of deadly force was right on the money the whole time. Or didn’t you notice, Mr. DeLong, that after this episode Spock wasn’t nearly so eager to take command of a ship and crew? Of course not; none of this fits your narrative about the Prime Directive, which was meant to prevent Starfleet officers from playing God on primitive planets. It was NOT about the State Department’s idea(s) of non-intervention. Kirk knew when to play by the rules and when to break ’em. Spock was terrible at the latter, which “Seven” proved, and that’s why he preferred being Kirk’s XO to being captain of his own ship.

    BTW, it was “The Galileo Seven,” ” Patterns of Force, ” and “Bread and Circuses” which made CBS angry at Roddenberry and Star Trek. Those three shows were the “nails” in the coffin for the original series, which has never been off the air since, in spite of liberal bias. But that’s why they hired chumps like you and Sandiaa to write this piece of trash; fifty years later, they’re still trying to kill Star Trek. And discounting STD, etc., it’s STILL not working.

  35. Maybe I’m a cynic, but this is starting to sound an awful lot like the socialist utopia of Marx and Engels.
    What part of him being identified as a Progressive did you not get?

    The future was within our grasp.
    Which is part of the appeal of progressivism. It’s about the future always being better than the past, ad infinitum.

    In Trek’s universe, most if not all of the real-world conditions that drive economic behaviors essentially disappear.
    It seems he leaves out the most important one: free, essentially limitless energy. And the idea that energy can be completely converted to matter. On that, all else in the ST ‘economy’ turns.

    To the best of my recollection, there was only one time when Kirk was removed from command and it was all a ruse.
    He was removed several times. Once because of the computer (yeah, AI, not so utopian), at least once because he was missing/injured/nutso. I think one of those was when he was having gender issues.

  36. Pingback: News of the Week (May 20th, 2018) | The Political Hat

  37. What does that say about the transporter, which is basically an un-replicator/replicator?

    If you haven’t read James Blish’s Spock Must Die, I recommend it. They discuss some of the philosophical ramifications of the Transporter. And incidentally, close (at least for this novel–ignored by pretty much everything that followed) the huge world building flaw that the “convert to energy” part would amount so setting off a photon torpedo inside the ship.

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