Trekonomics 3 – Where’s the money? – by Amanda S. Green


Trekonomics 3 – Where’s the money? – by Amanda S. Green

In the first real chapter of Trekonomics, Manu Saadia discusses the absence of money in Star Trek. Of course, as we discussed in an earlier post, that’s not quite true. We saw currency, or its equivalent, in the original Star Trek when Scotty and others gambled. We saw it on various posts – anyone remember The Trouble with Tribbles? But let’s wait and see where Saadia goes with this.

The author starts by discussing the movie, Star Trek: The Voyage Home. In fact, Saadia spends some several pages discussing the plot of the movie, calling it a “modern-day Gulliver’s Travels”. In some ways, Saadia is correct. However, the characterization of Dr. Gillian Taylor, the marine biologist Spock and Kirk help during the course of the movie, as a “lovable loser” brought me up short. So did the way Saadia described Kirk and Spock as “losers, broken by life, just like her.”

Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that particular Trek movie. It is not one of my favorites. But I don’t recall Kirk or Spock coming across as losers. Sure, Spock looked like an aging hippie but not a loser. Nor do I remember Taylor being a loser, just someone totally dedicated to doing her job and knowing she was fighting an uphill battle.

Worse, at least from an editorial standpoint, the author waits three pages before getting to the supposed topic of the chapter. Three pages of discussing the plot of a movie that could have been condensed into a couple of paragraphs. When Saadia does get to the point, the lede is buried behind the fact that Kirk yet again breaks the Prime Directive in the movie. In this case, while out to dinner with Dr. Taylor, he tells he tells her that he is from the future and he has to take the whales with him in order to save the world.

Oops. What happened to never interfering?

Then, and only then, do we get to the point where the restaurant bill has to be paid and  Kirk doesn’t know what to do. Taylor, reflecting the experience of every other woman who has been stuck with the check, said, “Don’t tell me, they don’t use money in the twenty-third century?”

Finally, now we get to the point. . . or do we?

According to Saadia, this particular movie marks a change in the Star Trek universe. Coming at the end of the Reagan era, this is when Star Trek becomes “truly utopian”. This is when “[i]n the future, free-market capitalism and its hallmark, money, have been discarded and consigned to the history books as bizarre and somewhat retrograde customs.”

As discussed earlier, this is a change from earlier canon. Saadia points out that in ST:TOS, the crew of the Enterprise drew a wages in Federation credits. They were able spend these credits in bars across the galaxy and even use them to buy Tribbles. Saadia tries hard to show that this was explained away in Deep Space Nine when Jake Sisco comments that he “sold” his first book and Quark asked how much he sold it for. Jake’s response?

“It’s just a figure of speech.”

That, according to Saadia, turns all previous mention of credits, etc., into a “figure of speech”. I don’t know about you but, to me, that seems like a lot of handwavium to try to make the narrative fit your needs. That simple exchange falls far short of explaining away the change in canon. In fact, it shows the problem when you don’t check for consistency and when your message changes during the course of a franchise.

Then, as quickly as Saadia waves a hand and dismisses the use of credits in earlier Trek titles, we’re back to it. We’re treated (okay, I’m being facetious here) to a description of all the other places we’ve seen the term used in SF and what a generic term is it. Then we get a quick explanation on where the word “dollar” came from. Saadia concludes all this with the following:

The widespread use of the term credit in classic science fiction acts as a useful reminder of Star Trek’s extraordinary boldness, especially given its unique status in popular culture. Money in science fiction is truly everywhere, just like in the real world. Its existence is seldom questioned or put in play as it is by Star Trek after ST IV: The Voyage Home.

Say what?

Not skipping a beat, Saadia takes us to the opening season of ST:TNG, specifically the last episode of the season. Captain Picard and crew have come across a ship containing people who were put into cryo in the hope that one day medical science would have advanced to the point where it could cure the diseases they suffered from. One of them, who Saadia describes as a riff on Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone’s movie, Wall Street, is the epitome of greed. He wants to talk to his lawyers and his brokers. After all, his rather sizable portfolio must be enormous by now. Picard – and can’t you see his nose so far up in the air it is pushing against the bulkhead? – responds, “People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We’ve eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We’ve grown out of our infancy.”

Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. If they’d grown out of their infancy, would we have been saddled with Wesley Crusher? Wouldn’t a mature society have smothered him in his crib and saved us all from his whinging and whining? Oops, sorry, wrong form of maturity (VBEG) Seriously, if the Federation had matured to that point, it wouldn’t have outliers they would basically put onto starships and send them far away from “civilized” society. The Prime Directive wouldn’t be violated in just about every episode. There wouldn’t have been a Kobyashi Maru maneuver to be used by Kirk to basically cheat while still in the Academy nor would Wesley have faced possible ouster from the Academy when he and other cadets acted in such a way another cadet was injured (killed?).

When the Gekko-esque character reasonably asks what the challenge is to living in the Trek universe, Picard responds, “The challenge, Mr. Offenhouse, is to improve yourself. To enrich yourself. Enjoy it.”


Welcome to the Stepford Lives.

In ST: First Contact, Picard continues this theme – am I the only one who sometimes wants to smack Picard? – saying the acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of their lives. What is, you ask. Well, according to the oh-so-smug Picard it is working “to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.” Oh how generous of him. But who chooses what is for the best?

These lines are, according to Saadia, the “most direct and cogent articulations of trekonomics I can think of.”

“Money’s defining advantage is to free us from the inefficiency of bartering.” Now, I can think of a number of ways this statement could be considered false. But let’s see where Saadia goes with it. After all, it’s still early and I haven’t had enough coffee yet to get into a deep economic discussion – and boy am I feeling the need to run find something, anything about economics written by Thomas Sowell right now.

To explain why bartering is inefficient, Saadia uses the example of trying to barter apples for dilithium crystals. You see, that dilithium crystal merchant doesn’t have need for all your apples. Besides, you can’t harvest and deliver them all anyway. So you, poor apple merchant, are shit out of luck. But, guess what? If you sell your apples for money, especially if you sell futures of them, you don’t have to worry about that mean old dilithium crystal merchant. Huzzah!

How many problems with that compare and contrast can you see? I’m no economist – hell, my college econ professors did their best to make the subject so boring and incomprehensible, I ran from it until I discovered Sowell. If I can see issues with it, think what someone who really understands the discipline could see? That is especially true when Saadia comes out with statements like this, “In a way, money is the only proven method to transmute apples into dilithium and lead into gold, and back.”

And again, how in the hell does this relate to a currency-free society like Trek after the whales?

“The Star Trek canon makes it clear that scarcity is no longer an issue in the twenty-fourth century. The Federation does not need money. It is an a-numismatic society (to coin a neologism), because everything is so plentiful that nobody has to pay for anything.” I really hate this handwavium and the accompanying change in human characteristics it brings with it. This land of plenty idea takes away the very human trait of wanting to be the best at something, anything. It takes away the competitive spirit. Frankly, it makes me think about a cross between the Stepford Wives and the Eloi. I don’t know about you, but I need a reason to get out of bed every day. I don’t want everything just handed to me. I want to be able to set goals and accomplish them – and be rewarded for them.

But I’m just a neo-barb of my time, certainly not uplifted enough for the Trek universe.

We’ll discuss this more next week, but here are a few parting comments. Saadia, like so many who write about the Trek universe, takes a lot into account that isn’t actually there. They peer behind a curtain and make assumptions, reasonable or not. For example, anyone who has ever watched the latter ST franchise titles, know the Ferengi love their capitalism. But we don’t really know much, if anything, about how the Romulans or Klingons feel about money, if they use it or even how.

If you look closely at the Federation, especially the Federation of the latter titles, when it comes to economics we know one thing: it looks an awful like socialism at work and play. Everyone is equal and all is provided for you – unless you are an outlier or high enough up in the chain of whatever that it doesn’t matter. The outliers get to fly around in their armed “cruise ships”, as Saadia describes the Enterprise of TNG, making sure everyone else is as uplifted as you are. The so-called Prime Directive can be violated as long as you are doing it for the right reasons. Oooh, and we’ll forgive you if you let those nasty human traits like jealousy and competitiveness come through as long as you say you’re sorry and promise never, ever to do it again – unless, of course, your name is Kirk and then you can do whatever you want. You’ll get your HEA eventually.

There might come a day when we have evolved enough to put aside a lot of our petty differences. However, there will always be some form of currency – whether it is in the form of battering services or something else. It might be a black market economy (take a look at the black market economy of the Soviet bloc). But people being people, we will always want something and do what we can to get it. Because of that, there will always be someone out there willing to get us what we want – for a price.

More on this next week. Now I’m going to go find Sowell and read some good economic theory, theory that doesn’t rely on handwavium and the reduction of humanity into members of the Stepford-verse.



212 thoughts on “Trekonomics 3 – Where’s the money? – by Amanda S. Green

  1. (Picard:) the acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of their lives

    I will note that anyone choosing a military career in our present barbarous period with the expectation that it will result in the acquisition and accumulation of wealth will most likely be sorely disappointed. This also holds true for many, many other present-day career choices.

    Or to put it another way: Not everyone works in Hollywood or Wall Street.

    1. This is very true. Although there are things you can’t buy with a dollar bill.

    2. Depending on where you start off, and how you use the system, you can come out of hte military *quite* well off relative to the average worker.

      You can use the military to get a degree, bump from E to O ranks, live parsimoniously and invest your income wisely, don’t marry until you’re in your late 20s/early 30s (or until you get out). Retire at 55 with a full retirement package, a degree, a transferable job skill and a decent stock portfolio.

      1. This also is true. Although the more likely scenario is retiring in your mid-40s, collect a military pension…and turn contractor for really significant money.

        1. Basically what my dad did. “Significant money”, of course, being more like a decent salary for a family, but the pension he left is a good retirement for my mom.

      2. Absolutely. My son managed to pay off his student loan in a couple of years thanks to being in the military and being able to live frugally. When they brought him back to the States, he bought a house — yes, he is paying his mortgage like so many others — and a new car and he is still living within his means. How? Because he had a senior officer in Germany, as well as one of his ROTC instructors in college, sit him down and teach him how to best manage his finances as well as how to take advantage of the perks the military gives him.

        1. All true, and I know people who turned their military flight experience into very lucrative international-747-Captain-level careers, back a few years when that was very, very lucrative.

          But I also know people who flew fighters back in the day or carried a clipboard in the gator Navy and ended up in semiconductor marketing working in the next cube over from me, any wealth they ended up building incidental to their military careers.

          The only people I personally met who had fulfilled their goals of “accumulating personal wealth” either rolled the dice and won doing startups (note the plural), or went into investment banking and worked the startup-equivalent crazy hours there, sacrificing all else (yep, all of those ended up divorced).

          Bottom line, individuals absolutely gain a lot from time in the military, but the accumulation of wealth is not a direct practical goal. Choosing what to do in life targeting non-monetary gains is a thing now, applicable specifically for many of those who choose to serve in the current-day military, and there’s no reason to believe it would not be obviously so in the 24th century.

          All of which means Picard was being a sanctimonious ass. But that is no surprise. They should have inserted a cut of the rest of the Enterprise-D bridge crew rolling their eyes as he harangued the poor revived 20th-century corpsicle.

          1. Aw, gee – now I’m thinking of Picard with pointy-hair, like Dilbert’s boss. I guess that would make Dilbert the Enterprise’s Riker equivalent and … oy vey! I can see the Wesley Crusher stories!

  2. Head canon: the Federation pulled this “we have evolved beyond money” stuff to get out of the heavy national debt they acquired in its early years.

    “Says here your UFP owes us 900 trillion credits.”

    “Well, we’re beyond that ‘money’ stuff now. Sorry!”

    “The frak???”

      1. Yeah. It looked like they could have used a lot more than a dozen Enterprise-class warships.

        Considering the Federation had fought wars with two sizeable star empires already, and was in a cold war with one and a stand-off with the other, the Federation seemed more than a little underweight, militarily.

        1. If you go by some of the books (and I vaguely remember this being in one of the episodes of the origional) the Federation had other TYPES of starships. There were just 12 that were dedicated to exploration. The Enterprise class was designed for a different function than a standard warship. They may have been the 12 COOLEST ships in starfleet, but they weren’t the only ones. I suspect we didn’t see the other classes for the same reason the Romulans were in so few episodes: They didn’t have the money for the mockups.

          1. That was my understanding, too. OTOH, a pure warship doesn’t have nearly as much storytelling potential. Command a battlewagon, and you get to sail in formation with the rest of the Grand Fleet. It’s a responsible job, but deadly dull unless there’s a fleet action.

            1. And it makes sense why there’d be so few of them. Exploration ships are high risk endeavors. No matter how exploration happy the culture is, they can only afford so much of the ‘go and find!’ while they deal with first one then TWO hostile empires on their borders.

              1. Exploration ships are high risk endeavors. Exactly. And that was one of my complaints with the franchise, especially after ST:TOS and most especially with TNG. You really didn’t see that “high risk”. Oh, I know, Voyager was supposed to show it. I guess what I’m saying is I agree with Saadia in one thing: TNG’s Enterprise really was nothing but a cruise ship in outer space. Oh crap, now I have the theme from the Love Boat in my head. Help!

                1. Do that theme with the “oooh aaaah” voices from the TOS original theme.
                  You can thank me later, after the LSD wears off.

          2. Going by canonical Star Trek for anything like reasons nable military structure is a mistake. Star Fleet Battles did ok, but canonical Star Strek was based on rules written by people with no grasp of military history whatsover.

            Example; Canonically, a huge Starship built by the Federation solely for war, is a ‘Destroyer’. Such ‘Destroyers’ are larger than all Cruiser class ships.

            Yeah right.

            Ok, I grant that ‘destroyer’ is a much cooler name than ‘cruiser’. It sound more dangerous. There was doubtless a time in my youth when if I were asked which was the bigger, nastier ship, a,cruiser or a destroyer, I would have named the letter.

            Maybe when I was five.

            “But this is the future, why would they be using that nomenclature?”

            If they called the two classes two totally different words, there would be no problem. They didn’t. They used two words, associated since (at least)the late 19th century with naval vessels, and used them WRONG.

            It’s like Marvel comics having Steve Rogers wake up (in the Marvel Ultimates line) and freak out at Colonel Fury because ‘there aren’t any Black Colonels in the (WWII) army’. Any amount of even CASUAL research would have shown otherwise.

            (The first Black General was promoted in 1940. The first Black Colonel was promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1916, and promoted to full Colonel in 1918.)

            They don’t know much history, and barely know any military history at all.

            1. My point wasn’t stupid naming conventions, just that Starfleet wasn’t limited to JUST the exploration ships. Most idiots can get to “more warships, fewer exploration ships with bad guys on the border.”

              1. And my point about the Destroyers is that the people who wrote the ‘bible’ from which Star Strek cannon is supposed to grow knew bupkis about military matters, so (more ships or not) the odds that Star Fleet makes any sense are small.

                  1. Yep! Captained by a security captain too! In Star Trek Online, those ships are typically fast, hit hard, but hoo boy, not much on shields and debuffs. “You’re security, expect to blow up at least once per mission.” Science ships are great for healing and debuffs; Engineering ships are more tanky and repair fast.

                    I’m grumbly about my ‘net, since I haven’t been able to log in in forever, and they’ve introduced the Dominion as a playable faction.

              2. And that makes the TNG Enterprise even odder. I can see a few families on an exploration/expedition ship, but the setup was odd. Come to think of it, it’s like of like a cross between the USS Arizona and HMS Titanic. (And yes, I picked those names deliberately. It’s been a funky day.)

            2. The first black colonel being Charles Young, whose house northeast of Xenia, OH is now a National Monument, though it is currently only open for special or scheduled events. Alas his military career fell afoul of the racism of the Wilson regime. He also happens to have been the first black to be superintendent of a national park – an acting appointment when he was in command of the detachment of cavalry assigned to Sequoia and Kings Canyon during the first decade of the 20th century.

            3. As I have (more or less) said with every entry in this series of reviews, presuming Star Trek mythology is coherent and viable is equivalent to dividing by zero. You can d it but the results are nonsensical.

              Basing a (non-satirical) book on this is simply exploiting the feckless.

            4. I always had the same wince watching STAR WARS. Depending on how you parse the phrase, a Star Destroyer should either be smaller…or MUCH bigger.

            5. And “Destroyer” was a shortened name – they were originally “Torpedo Boat Destroyers”, created as an agile countermeasure to the then-new superweapon of motor-torpedo boats, which aimed to sink your very-pricey dreadnought with a swarm of cheap wooden boats that launched self-propelled torpedos into the exhaust port just below the main port not-very-armored underwater side of your expensive capital ship.

              1. And developed by the same naval genus who gave us Battle Cruisers and Dreadnoughts- Jackie Fisher.

          3. My take was always, “Starships are explorers. You’ve got dreadnoughts over here, and battle cruisers over there, and police ships everywhere; but *this* is a *starship.*”

  3. I don’t know about you, but I need a reason to get out of bed every day. I don’t want everything just handed to me.

    This was (part of) the genius of WALL-E: the portrayal of what happens to human beings when they have everything they want handed to them with no effort required.

    1. Yep. Now I want to go back and re-watch the movie. I haven’t seen it for a while. Guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

    1. You have no idea. The editor in me wants to take out the proverbial red pencil and start rearranging the paragraphs in each chapter. One of the biggest issues with this series of posts is keeping track of what the supposed thesis of each chapter is. Why? Because he states Saadia states it and then spends pages talking about something with little to no relation to the thesis before getting back to if for a few paragraphs or a page. Then the wandering begins again. If it wasn’t so snark worthy, I would have given up long ago.

      1. I want to grab the red pencil myself when reading some novels. I make notes in my Nook all the time about how things are worded. That is not>/b> something I would do in a real book though. For some reason I have an aversion to writing in novels, unless things get really bad.

  4. “Where’s the money?” — no, it is “Show me the money! Show me the money! Show me the money!”

    None of this argle-bargle, “No money, honey” sleight-of-hand. “Show me the money! Show me the money! Show me the money!”

    1. Apropos only of Tom:

      The much delayed sequel to Top Gun has finally started production, and somehow Maverick has made it all the way to O-6, still on flight status, flying Super Hornets:

      1. This is me gritting my teeth…mostly because I’m in the unmanned aviation business. With the heavy iron. Got in on the ground floor in the mid-90s.

  5. Okay, first I have to deal with this whole “Star Trek IV is populated by lovable losers” crap, because despite the heavy-handed preaching, STIV is one of my favorites.

    Amanda’s already dealt with Gillian Taylor, but Kirk and Spock? Really?

    At the beginning of the movie, Kirk is dealing with the aftermath of his mutiny in STIII. He and the rest of the crew have decided to go back to Earth and accept the consequences. That hardly seems like what a “loser” would do. Those are the actions of a very specific type of mature hero: I did what I had to do, but I understand that there will be consequences for that.

    Spock, of course, is still recovering from his recent case of being dead. That makes him a little weirder than usual, but again, hardly a loser.

    During the movie proper, Kirk and Spock do occasionally serve as the butt of jokes, but it’s “fish-out-of-water” type jokes. They aren’t losers, just out their comfort zone. And they often do awesome things, like Spock dealing with the boombox-wielding punk with the Vulcan nerve pinch. By the end of the movie, they’ve saved Earth, and not via the “oops we bungled into the solution” of, say, Anakin Skywalker in Phantom Menace, but by formulating a plan and executing it despite unexpected obstacles.

    And speaking of jokes, getting back to the whole point of this digression, there’s a good argument that the “We don’t use money in the future” line was one: Kirk can’t pay, he’s embarrassed about making the lady pick up the check, he seizes that excuse. It’s a pretty thin reed to hang the theory of an entirely changed economic paradigm on.

    1. “We don’t use money in the future. It all gets charged to our individual accounts and automatically paid. We never actually see any money. In fact, the last dollar the U.S. printed was in 2037 when they switched over to a money-free economy. Just have them bill my account.”

      Kirk and crew return to the future, and save the day. However…

      James T. Kirk discovers that he is now in debt to the tune of $139,692,662.60 (or 576 trillion credits due to inflation) due to interest on the unpaid bill.

    2. I remember thinking, “they have no schools or history books in the Federation, and Kirk has never been anywhere where he needs money? Like those space station bars? What about when he was in the 1920s(?) with Edith Keeler?

      It was sort of like Scotty talking to a computer mouse. Really? I would have thought he would not only know what a mouse was for, he’d be able to make a fair go of fixing a Babbage engine.

      1. Or Sulu, flying a helicopter (about as nasty a thing to fly as there’s ever been, from what I’ve heard–like oancing on a rubber ball). Cool, calm, confident–until he casually flips a switch and is severly startled when the windshield wipers kick in.

        The whole show was one long series of cheap shots. “Vhere are the nuclear wessels” was TYPICAL.

        1. As I understand it, “Vhere are the nuclear wessels” was Koenig’s improv with a real unsuspecting SFPD motorcycle patrolman, with the camera not visible across the street.

          The other stuff was in the script.

        1. Kirk sold a pair of antique reading glasses that McCoy had given him in order to get enough cash for the crew to get around. Despite the “no money in the future” line, Kirk clearly understood the concept.

      2. I remember thinking, “they have no schools or history books in the Federation, and Kirk has never been anywhere where he needs money? Like those space station bars? What about when he was in the 1920s(?) with Edith Keeler?

        Exactly! It is clear by the movie that the powers that be in the franchise were going to push their agenda over not only canon but common sense. History would tell them what money was. They should have had a brief before landing about what they would encounter. Unless, of course, the entire ship’s crew had suffered amnesia at the same time and forgot how to access the databanks and forgot their earlier missions. Or, as I said, they had writers who thought message was more important than consistency.

        1. forgot how to access the databanks
          It is a Klingon ship. Not sure how up-to-date its 20th-century-Earth information would be.

          And, the crew had never been to late-20th-century Earth. Just to the 20s, then to the early 60s. Things have gotten much weirder than Garr in a mini-skirt and an alien cat by that point. (And yet weirder still, since.)

          1. True, but that still doesn’t account for the other lapses in the movie when it comes to what had been canon before then.

          2. Do we ever find out what happened to Gary Seven and “his” cat, who sent them and what was their interest in the Earth? It seems to me that TNG and others of its era never revisited that.

            1. IIRC the Gary Seven episode was a “pilot” for a Roddenberry “modern day” television series that never went through.

              So it’s not surprising IMO that it was ignored later on.

              Mind you, there was a series of novels about Khan that involved Gary Seven’s actions.

              1. Ignored? Or suppressed? Had some unidentified species stepped in to direct human evolution to ensure feckless dotards like Picard were in command, erasing all records of their interference?

            2. That episode was what is today called a ‘backdoor pilot’ for a TV series that would have been called Assignment:Earth.

              1. I know what they claimed it was, but we are still left with Gary Seven and isis runniing around Earth 1968 tampering with human development — and Kirk & Spock know about him!

                Doesn’t it seem odd they would have had no follow-up in such a gross violation of the Prime Whatev?

                  1. Actually, leaving out the “failed pilot idea”, it was implied that knowing Gary Seven was “meddling” on Earth solved some historical puzzles.

                    IE Gary Seven’s activities were “already part” of Earth’s history and to “interfere” with his actions would change their history.

          3. “Things have gotten much weirder than Garr in a mini-skirt and an alien cat by that point. (And yet weirder still, since.)”

            And they’re in freaking San Francisco — which is on the bleeding edge of weird…..

    3. > Spock, of course, is still recovering from his recent case of being dead.

      Does that make him Jesus reincarnated?

  6. “put into cryo in the hope that one day medical science would have advanced to the point where it could cure … After all, his rather sizable portfolio must be enormous by now.”

    The result in “Rammer” (Larry Niven) seems more realistic to me: Oh, in 2117 the world court ruled that a person in cryo can’t expect to own anything. All those fortunes and trusts were confiscated.

    1. Yeah, I’m on the lookout for that to happen to IRAs and 401ks for those of us still alive if things get bad enough.

      “Hey, those boomers already had a full life, while they ran up all this government debt. Now they’re just selfishly hogging all the money. Us younger generations need that money to fix what the boomers broke – it’s only fair. Plus I want to be able to evict my parents from upstairs so I can move up out this basement, and those lawyers are not going to pay for themselves…”

        1. Oh, it would be implemented as a “tax” on those assets, all above board, passed by Congress and signed by POTUS. And the government can decline to be sued.

          And as our chief justice said, there’s nothing legally to be done in the courts about legally passed taxes.

          Once enough of the boomers die off the voter balance will tip, and those IRAs and 401ks for oldsters will be tapped right after they slash social security.

            1. And that is the blind spot on all these schemes – they assume a landscape of compliant sheep, when in fact they have been training up lots of sheepdogs with lots of skills during the various overseas contingency operations, some of whom actually care about their parents starving in the street.

              Stalin could not have pulled off the Holodomor in the US – too many trained users of too many firearms (and common household chemicals) here.

              1. I hadn’t, but if the retirement fund are confiscated and things get stressed… what is a walker made of? Pipe. Why NOT take out one of the rats that made things that way with you? Though I really suspect something less direct and more insidious, though what it might be I’ve no idea. The future cannot always predicted by the past.

                1. Now, I *can* see a grumbly old fart putting land mines in his yard.
                  /in crazy mumbly voice/ “When I said stay off my lawn, whippersnappers, I *meant* STAY OFF MY LAWN!”

                    1. “Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure, and is bound to get you talked about.” — Lazarus Long

                      Probably covers HE application too.

                2. Everyone keeps forgetting our kids & grand, & great grand kids. Even the more liberal bent are going to be screaming “That is our money!”

                  Most of us don’t have the resources to go “Hey. Kids have been setup fine, they don’t need my money as an inheritance. Think I’ll leave my multi-billions to various charities & trusts for good of (whatever).”

                  If you don’t have any decedents then the government will get it anyway, they just have to wait. Or if you become a ward of the state, they take any inheritance you get, on the pretext of taking care of you; seen it happen.

                  As it is. If you look at Roth/IRA/401(k) rules, there is one inheritance* route, that has to draw on life expectancy. When that person passes, whomever inherits then, must liquidate the account(s) & claim as income at whatever the income taxable rate is for inheritors (or not inheritable forever, must liquidate eventually); even Roths, as at this level THEY didn’t pay the taxes (may be wrong here, but if not, any bets on whether they’ll think this eventually? Besides those inheriting Roths must liquidate within 5 years.). Spousal getting does not need to be consider inheritance, currently, depending on who is what age. Putting it into a trust? Immediately is liquidated & trust pays the taxes on full amount. Not a tax lawyer, not financial expert, but can you tell we’ve been investigating this a LOT. YMMV

              2. [flashes back to one of the Obamanator’s trips to Noo Yawk, where the Secret Service ripped out bicycle racks all along the various planned routes because someone might have secretly switched them for racks filled with Folger’s Crys… er, explosives.

                Last I heard, the Secret Service was simply ignoring various lawsuits from people who wanted their bicycle racks returned…]

      1. > Yeah, I’m on the lookout for that to happen to IRAs and
        > 401ks for those of us still alive if things get bad enough.

        If that happens I may have something to live *for*, but I’ll have nothing to live *with*.

        That doesn’t strike me as being a smart thing for the sorts of legislators who want to collect THEIR retirement to do.

  7. Oh, and no you aren’t the only one who wanted to smack Picard. First-season Picard, particularly in that episode with the stockbroker, was bad, but yeah, he did always seem stuck as the mouthpiece whenever the writers wanted to get self-righteous.

    And as for the whole, “working to better ourselves and the rest of humanity,” I think I’ll just let Cadet Nog speak for me:

    Nog: What does that mean exactly?

    Jake: It means…it means we don’t need money.

    Nog: Well, if you don’t need money, you certainly don’t need any of mine.

    1. “whenever the writers wanted to get self-righteous.”
      In the same episode, the doctor says that death is now considered a natural part of life and nothing to be feared.
      If I’d been writing the script, I’d have had the patient ask, “In that case, why are we here?”

      1. Is that the same episode where Riker (I think) smugly tells somebody “we no longer enslaye animals fo food.”?

  8. “we no longer pursue money” is a sure sign that you’re rich beyond what you could conceivably spend.

    1. Much like one Chelsea Clinton, who assures us from her multimillion dollar penthouse apartment that she just doesn’t care about money.

      1. I’m sure that it’s true.

        I’m also sure that she’d care for the lack of money in a profound way.

        1. Chelsea is prime candidate for living 3 months at the “doesn’t quite qualify” for assistance paycheck level. Plus she must actually do a job that pays that amount.

          Any bets she gives up before the 3 months is done?

          It takes skills to know who you can put off paying for another month & not have the extra fees & interest wrack up beyond the original charge. Been there, done that, don’t ever want to go back.

    1. Paying for things in the Federation is only via deep fried food: Not that’s a system I can believe in!

    2. I was thinking billy clubs and breaching tools myself. I think they make for very effective forms of payment on some subjects.

  9. I haven’t had enough coffee yet to get into a deep economic discussion

    Don’t fret it; nothing in Saadia’s treatise has a ting to do with economics. Lots to do with projection, stupidity, ignorance and willful blindness, but naught to do with economics.

    In conclusion, I offer today’s Dilbert. Click through if image fails to appear:
    Stupid WP.

    1. *chuckle* That Dilbert reminds me of my favorite rule on the evil overlord list:

      “I will only hire bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for ‘the thrill of the hunt’ tend to do dumb things like give the hero a sporting chance.”

      I suspect a similar principle applies to making your engineers “true believers who want to make the world a better place.”

      1. No Bucks, No Buck Rogers. Applies to other forms of engineering as well as Flight Test.

    1. In the movie “Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning”, the new StarFleet was built by the Russians after being conquered by time-travelera and Finns using Romulan technology…

  10. So, tell me Mr. Roddenberry what is it exactly that moves your typical Federation youth to move out of his parents’ basement?

    Or clean up his room?

    1. His parents disintegrating the stuff not in their proper places?

      And there would always be some who figure that doing it for real would be more interesting that doing it in the holoroom.

      But yep, I would imagine that world is full of apartment houses which have several floor dedicated solely for the holoplaying, in an effort to at least get the residents to exercise some, while most just stay in their rooms and stick to some kind of brain interfaces for their entertainment, and there is big worry about getting enough activated members in the new generations that the whole thing will not collapse because the Romulans or the Borg or whatever breach the borders and take over. Not to mention just getting enough of the next generation as not that many bother to have kids – provided any kind of artificial wombs for lab started kids who are then raised in creches solutions are not legal.

      Okay, maybe there is mandatory schooling in the holorooms, and enough of the kids can be programmed through that to spend at least a part of their lives doing something outside.

      1. Or they have to before moving to full on support by anybody, government or family, is allowed, and that whatever service gives them the credit to just sit inside and game… okay, no way they can do without some sort exchange system, although totally consisting of bits in a computer system is pretty likely.

        They can get food and shelter but NO entertainment unless they work for it? No hologaming, no computer interface gaming, not even long distance chatting with friends? Most normal people need to have something. Might work.

        I could imagine a lot of people doing stuff in parks and visiting neighbors to chat etc in that system.

  11. “Beyond Scarcity”
    Um… right.
    If we had replicators that were capable of producing unlimited quantities of everything we could imagine wanting, there would inevitably arise other resources that would continue to be scarce. (Even in the absence of Latinum, for example, which seems to be defined as a valuable substance that can’t be replicated.)

    In Star Trek Voyager (aka “Lost In Space, The Next Generation), the Voyager frequently runs afoul of the fact that replicating stuff demands energy. When they go to harvest antimatter from a nebula, Janeway offers the undying motivational speech, “There’s coffee in that nebula.” So we have good evidence that the Star Trek universe might well be an energy economy. Maybe instead of “credits”, people exchange “megaJoules”.

    Invent an unlimited energy source, then. In “The Expanse”, the Rocinante has replicators. They run into the problem of having machinery that can produce anything they want, but can’t produce everything they want. There is not sufficient energy or time to do so. (How long would it take to manufacture a Model T car using current-generation 3-D printers?)

    Invent the Krell Machine. There will be things that can’t be created by the machine. The respect of others of our kind is going to be very hard to fabricate. We also won’t be able to fabricate anything we haven’t imagined yet (the “unknown unknowns” of goods and services).

    Economists point out that we need not fear automation or AI leaving everyone unemployed. If there are no jobs to be had, it will mean all human needs and wants are being met. If there are any unmet needs or wants, there will be jobs for people who want to meet them.

    In addition to psychological needs, the existence of Starfleet, the threat of war, of hostile action by any alien races, of invasion, of territorial disputes, or of anything that might require the Enterprise to power up its phaser banks, reveals the existence of a want or need that can’t be met by throwing replicators at the hostile groups. Whatever these groups want, it’s scarce enough they feel obliged to fight for it.

    Post scarcity, my foot.

    1. Not so sure it takes energy to physically “make” food, by the replicators. But it takes energy to extract stored food, including stored coffee. Just like it takes energy for my Keurig to make hot coffee from the coffee pods & water “inputted” into the system. Plus, unlike my Keurig pods, which I could dismantle to use the coffee grounds & water to create coffee using old fashioned peculator over a campfire, the food/coffee stored in the replicator is unavailable except through the replicator.

      Translation: it is not in storage somewhere where the replicator is essentially using transporter to select ingredients from storage, use a programmed/known recipe, correctly combine selected ingredients, & produce it at the correct temperature; or Voyager Crew would have been able to raid the storage location for food supplies instead of build gardens, etc. from scratch on the ship.

      At least that is how I always imagined the replicator on all ST shows. Sisko restaurant was noted for food prep where the replicator produced Raw ingredients, which then were prepped the old fashioned way, thus although they had unlimited supplies, they had only so much throughput, like most restaurants today (less unlimited ingredients).

      My 2 cents. YMMV

        1. What I figured. Not stored digitally, but not easy to get to, or they skipped that part in Voyager, that they raided those raw ingredients to use, while they setup their alternative, not replicator dependent food sources.

          1. ok, to clarify: they don’t store coffee, they store carbon and water and nitrogen and etc… the replicators know the pattern. they are defined as being able to transmute elements as well, at a higher energy cost. (of course, that doesn’t really make sense since transporter beams pull the atoms apart and reassemble them at the destination…)

      1. It all depends on how far down from the finished product you care to go.
        The food dispenser could pull items from storage, where tribbles can work their way in along the way, or it can print the item from stores of component elements. One takes less energy, the other is a lot more flexible.

        1. Since the shows don’t go into it. We don’t know. Never read the technical manual, do not know if its covered there. Not getting that impression, sounds like manual covers types of ships, layout, defense/shielding, & offensive weapons, not how the replicators work.

          TOS implies that there was actual food stored somewhere because there was fear the Tribbles would get into the system & wipe them out of food, like it did on the station.

          Voyager implies that food stores were there but unavailable for direct access by the ship because they couldn’t use those store unless they had power (maybe because of the Tribbles?). But no indication if stored by elemental components or actual items in suspended isolation. Just that the replicator retrieved & prepped the food/drink.

    2. > Economists point out that we need not fear automation or AI
      > leaving everyone unemployed.

      Economists are often a special kind of idiot.

      > If there are no jobs to be had, it will mean all human needs and
      > wants are being met.

      Except the need to work. We (most of us anyway) NEED something to drive us off the mattress in the early afternoon, otherwise we NEVER get out of bed.

      1. Well, even if the Krell Machine is fabricating everything you need except for that, so you don’t need an income, there’s nothing stopping you from working as hard as you want, on anything you want, as long as it’s not impacting anyone else.

        It’s the same sort of offer I make to people who think taxes are too low. There’s nothing stopping you from paying more until you reach your fair share, whatever that may be.

  12. So then, how does SISKO’S CREOLE KITCHEN in New Orleans _work_? Joseph Sisko can only serve a finite number of customers. How do they work out who gets to eat there and who has to go their replicator at home?

    1. First come, first served, Comrade. Unless the comrade is a close, personal friend of the house, in which case he moves to the head of the line.

      1. Sure, owner’s family and friends might get preferential treatment, but watch what happens when the Federation local representative’s dissolute younger son gets in line.

  13. “Improve yourself and humanity”

    That’s why the humans in Wall-E spent their time being physically fit, playing sports, reading novels, writing epics, painting masterpieces, building incredible space empires, and fixing the Earth.

    1. But Wall-E was a vastly oversimplified cartoon. Even every human on the ship started that way (as in the film), variation would produce at a few that did give a hang and would get off their butt and move and such. (If they’re all THAT lazy, and unfit, how did they manage to reproduce at all?) And that’s not including the insanity of mining fresh every time and tossing ALL the trash… the mining ‘bots would/should see ‘trash’ as ‘high grade ore’ at least part of the time.

      Hrm… the whole thing was the end result of True Full Total Communism? (See the joke Reagan [re]told about that.)

  14. Meh. It’s is simplistic but her basic premise that the function of money is to free us from the inefficiency of bartering is a fact. Her example would be embarrassing coming from a 6th grader, let alone someone who writes for a living. It is possible that if we had the handwavium tech to create anything from particles that Trek does than basic needs would be met. BUT #1 there is no NEED for someone to own an original Van Gogh. Perfect copies can be created of which art experts can’t tell the difference without lab tests. So why do people pay hundreds of millions for originals? Because they want something other people don’t have. The same with natural or lab created gem stones. It’s not about basic needs or even the appreciation of beauty. It’s about feeling special because you have something that is special, extraordinary, something others don’t have and can’t get. That is a fundamental part of human nature that will not change as long as we are recognizably human. #2 when people don’t have to work for their basic needs many won’t. The Trek universe’s dirty secret is likely they allow the indolent to devolve and debase themselevs to the point where they are like those rats they hooked up to a button that triggered the pleasure center in the brains. The rats did nothing but sit next to the button pushing it until they starved to death. The Federation has warehouses full of life’s underachievers hooked up to pleasure buttons killing themsleves and not reproducing. Like the Matrix but the point isn’t to use them, just to keep them as cheaply as possible until they die without offspring.

  15. “If you look closely at the Federation, especially the Federation of the latter titles, when it comes to economics we know one thing: it looks an awful like socialism at work and play.”

    And that’s precisely why I do NOT like ST:TNG.

    “The outliers get to fly around in their armed “cruise ships”, as Saadia describes the Enterprise of TNG…”

    That was another problem with the series; military ships are no place to raise little children or have families, but TNG had them all over the place. The Enterprise of TOS was was a lean, mean starship, the equivalent of a modern aircraft carrier. Those aren’t “cruise ships,” they’re sea wolves with sharp teeth, and TOS reflected that fact. TNG’s reduction of such majestic starcraft to pleasure ships was absolutely insulting to TOS’ fans.

    As for smacking – Smacking! – Picard, I don’t want to do that. I want to go full-on Hulk-smashes-Loki-into-the-floor on him, and have wanted that for years. You don’t have to like Kirk to see how much better he was than Picard – as a captain AND as a man. TOS was Horatio Hornblower in space; TNG was a “cruise ship” run by committee.

    1. That was a running joke for ages.

      “Captain, the aliens are attacking!”

      “Quick, let’s have a meeting!”

      1. When TNG first came out, somebody ran an article in THE DRAGON that purported to be a supplement to FASA’s STAR TREK RPG, allowing you to run TNG. It included rules on holding bridge seminars–with die rolls to determine how many Celestial Seasonings boxtops were to be quoted before a conclusion could be reached.

        (That was one of the *milder* bits of sarcasm, by the way…)

        1. Were players actually required to quote said boxtops, or could they just take it as given that the requisite number of boxtops were quoted?

          1. GM’s discretion. I think. But I suspect you would be encouraged to read them for real. So the players would be properly enlightened.

      2. XD Reminds me of this joke:

        Worf: “Nuke ’em, nuke ’em, high ‘n’ low – Nuke ’em, nuke ’em, ’til they glow!”

        Picard &Co.: “Mr. Worf, please! Such behavior does not be fit Starfleet officers; we’ve outgrown our need to fight.”

        Worf: “Yeah, but THEY haven’t…”

        Picard & Co.: “Then we shall help them to outgrow their need to fight by our superior dialectic skills. Please deactivate the phaser banks and remove your hand from your phaser.”

        Worf: *slaps buttons and growls out weak curses in Klingon and English*

  16. I just finished Sowell’s Trickle Down book/essay If i felt i could spare the writing i’d review it.

  17. I’m sure Picard’s brother grew wine grapes in the family vineyard just to give them away, and he was just given fertilizer and fresh water, etc etc…

    yeahh.. no

    1. Amanda hasn’t gotten to the replicator chapters yet, but that’s another of the problems Saadia doesn’t address. Who needs a vineyard? All you need is one perfect grape, and you can replicate it endlessly, right? Or whole bottles of wine, for that matter.

      There’s also the unasked question of, “what limits the replicators?” Else you’re looking at the Replicator plague in SG-1, or the universe filled with Mantrid arms in Lexx.

      Yeah, the replicators probably just started as a throwaway idea nobody thought through, but like the Prime Directive and “post-money economy,” the showrunners chose to write it into canon instead of kicking kitty litter over it and pretending it didn’t happen.

      1. That was a hole that even a child could see. Not me, I wasn’t a child for TNG – but I remember the confusion I had with TOS episodes where they had to find dilithium crystals, the pesky fragile things had delaminated again, or something. (Although I did manage to ignore the entire subject for the episode where they brought back Mudd – with a trio of super-sexy women in train. Yep, that age…)

      2. This raises a question I’ve always had with Star Trek and its supposed post-scarcity wonderment. So, who actually owns the property and the energy? There are presumably laws preventing me from doing certain things, lock outs, and the like, but what’s to define if I’m asking for a cup of highly reactive explosive because I’m Bob Who-Finds-Enrichment-In-Digging-Septic-Systems or a lunatic who wants to blow something up?

        Who makes that decision? Who oodles out prestige over what you can and can’t replicate? Where does the cachet for it come from?

        Presumably the Federation council can invoke ethical laws to prevent me from going full bio-vizier to save/prolong my life, but if that’s the case then there’s an artificially imposed scarcity and there’d likely be a secondary (read black) market to provide for the things you want that you aren’t ‘allowed.’

        Also, are skilled individuals somehow /compelled/ to provide their resources? Is that why Data’s creator absconded? So he wouldn’t be compelled to make positronic androids for his keepers? What if I didn’t want to share my research or my insight and kept it for myself as a marketable skill?

        Also, the Romulans and Cardies have an economy (a fascist one) and the Klingons have a remarkably…fully operational economy (with trade ships and everything). So do the Ferengi (who apparently trade in commodities for pete’s sake). All of this despite every last man jack of them having replicators themselves.

        So if replicators eliminated money, why do all of these societies still use it?

        So many questions in that stupid little ‘we’ve evolved beyond money’ line.

        1. I’m Bob Who-Finds-Enrichment-In-Digging-Septic-Systems
          Because, unless – besides eliminating scarcity – they’ve eliminated human stupidity, a replicator means stories like this one don’t require friends who have some dynamite in the trunk:

      3. naah, replicators are outlined in the writer’s technical manual. The TNG technical manual you could buy at the store was largely a longer version of that with more diagrams.

      4. I’ve read that chapter, TRX, and am still trying to wrap my mind around all the holes in it. Let’s just say, I’m going to have lots of fun writing about it. VBEG

        1. In my clumsy way, I was trying to point out you hadn’t yet posted your fisk of that part, not that you hadn’t read it.

          > lots of fun


      1. Well, the brother actually kept a French accent, while Picard’s accent, for no apparent reason*, was all Brit. Sour grapes would be the least of the reactions.

        * Aside from the rule that in the future, the only accents allowed are American and upper class British – or in Firefly/Serenity, Chinese. No Polish or Aussie or Vietnamese or Japanese or Kenyan accents allowed.

            1. Excellent point. Eastern Connecticut’s a much better place than to visit for “nuclear wessels” these days than Alameda. There’s the museum ship Nautilus, the submarine base, and Electric Boat – the last of which is quite visible to those riding the New London-Block Island Ferry.

        1. Don’t get me started. Patrick Stewart is a fine actor, but Picard NEEDED a French accent. And preferably should have spoken to the computer in French.

          “Ordinateur, je voudrais un cafe au lait, si vous plait.”

          1. I once proposed an episode of a series in which the character visits an SF series set (actually MUCH more complicated, but no room to explain here). The Captain’s character was described as follows:

            Speaks with an erudite French accent (think Louis Jourdan). Quotes Moliere and Proust while drinking cafe au lait.

            Of course he’s British. Why do you ask?

    2. The water falls from the sky and the fertilizer is given. People are always giving people s***, after all. But the grapes/wine… hrm, Little Red Hen survives as story for a reason.

  18. We really don’t desire money; we desire what money buys.

    Money buys status. The more money, the more status.

    If money for its own sake was enough, any millionaire would have stopped playing the game long before they became billionaires.

    Warren Buffett would have stopped going to work a long time ago. But he keeps working because he wants to stay on top so everyone can kiss his ***.

    Thinking that once we have so much of everything money would be valueless represents a dangerous misreading of the human condition. Spock would give it the two-eyebrow lift.

    1. C. S. Lewis said he’d lived in a society that didn’t use money to determine status–English public school. And it was a horror.

      1. Of course, Lewis pointed out, IIRC, that there were other issues with English public schools.
        But yeah, the idea that money is the problem? Really, really dumb.

    2. Most people, when they think of the rich, think of people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Really, they should think about “The Ladies Who Lunch” — the typical wealthy woman.

      These women are nicknamed “The Ladies Who Lunch” because an amazing amount of their time and energy is consumed with who they lunch with, and where, and what they wear doing so, etc. They don’t work, after all, and their fathers or husbands provide the money, so they spend all their time playing status games.

      Occasionally the New York Times mentions the troubles they have. For example, one article was about how these women discovered that, now and then, it might be easier for one of them to actually go to a grocery store and buy something than to wait for her assistant to fetch it. (What an amazing discovery!) But this presents difficulties — who can you speak to or acknowledge at the store? Apparently they decided that one had to speak to the checkout clerk, but acknowledging the existence of the other shoppers in line was NOT TO BE DONE. And there was the mention of the horrible trials that one woman experienced when one of her maids got sick, so that there was nobody to remove the sheets from her bed and put them in the dry-cleaning pickup bin. Can you imagine what she had to endure? Luckily a dry-cleaners was able to provide this service for just a few hundred dollars, and this woman’s life was rescued.

      People like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates actually did something for their money. The Ladies Who Lunch are a much better representation of what people do when they have almost-endless wealth and do not have any expectations of having to earn it.

      1. You mean “Ms $1000-chump-peanuts-change”? Granted, supposedly she “works” for a living. Maybe/Kinda YMMV

        Not poor here, but $1000/year or quarter or month, more, ain’t chump change or peanuts.

        1. Really! That won’t even buy a decent pair of shoes, much less make a difference to someone’s overall financial status. [sniff]

          1. Hey! $1000/year would cover my clothing & shoe budget for the next 5 or 6 years. Let alone $1000/month. Now book budget … okay, I’m an addict., the $1000 might cover the year … Hmmm book or new pants? I can patch that hole 🙂 & need to loose weight anyway … 🙂

  19. It’s replicators; replicators all the way stacked like turtles. They are “post-scarcity” because they have replicators. (BTW, as I recall, the deck plans for the Constitution class starships—NCC 1700, showed storage for basic material stocks, so originally replicators didn’t something from nothing, *if* the deck plans are correct, but maybe that part of the “transmission” got garbled.)

    So, how do you power the replicators (assuming they work, eventually, as direct matter to energy converters)? Anti-matter. (di-lithium is necessary for the control of the matter-antimatter reaction, I think.) So, where do you get you antimatter from? I’ll wait.

    Actually, interpreting Kirk’s line that they don’t use money as meaning they don’t use cash, makes a lot of sense.

    1. Better would have been if Kirk had said “I don’t have any US cash”. 😀

    2. “:Actually, interpreting Kirk’s line that they don’t use money as meaning they don’t use cash, makes a lot of sense.”

      It does, doesn’t it…

      So this got me thinking more about the economics of my nonhumans… for everyday in civilized regions, they use ‘credits’ (both plastic chits that are used akin to hard money, and electronic bank records… which can be frozen by the gov’t, to the dismay of my MC), and there seems to also be a lot of barter as informal favor-trading. But if they’ve ever had hard currency (as in gold-based), I haven’t seen it.

      1. Given the cashless economy some nations are already trying to force into being in the here and now, that interpretation of Kirk’s statement really does make a lot of sense.

      2. That’s how I’ve always interpreted it. Putting it that way as well, Spock’s puzzlement over ‘exact change’ makes even more sense. If you’re using a credit chit or card, or whatever to pay for things in the future (not that farfetched; there’s pushes to go cashless here in Australia) then the use of physical money no longer being used, over electronic funds in the Federation renders the need for ‘exact change’ moot.

        They’d be seen as historical collectible items at best.

    3. In, I think, the Jack the Ripper episode, Kirk had to pay a restaurant bill on the resort planet. They had a long discussion about how you pay for anything (paper? coins? plastic tokens? exotic hand gestures?), and finally concluded they didn’t want to go there. So the waitress brought out a check-like thing of some sort, and he signed for it.

    4. “Actually, interpreting Kirk’s line that they don’t use money as meaning they don’t use cash, makes a lot of sense.”

      ^^ This !!! ^^^ or the wrong kind of cash. But more inclined to translate as “don’t use case & they won’t take my type of credit.”

      Pretty sure mentioned it in comment on last Thursday’s post.

      I had to use my CC because I didn’t have small enough change to pay for soda at a lunch. Would have had to wait for change. CC got swiped at the table, signature & done. I dislike small CC charges, but a $18 tip seem excessive, given they were getting an auto 18% tip on the entire lunch bill; $250(ish).

      1. Very possibly Kirk is right about not using money … for certain values of “right.”

        As noted, we are already moving toward a cash-free society, what with credit cards, debit cards, store cards (e.g., Starbucks’ debit cards) and various apps. In almost every instance of these the transactions are (apparently) cashless. Anybody given to superficial thinking (which might well include starship officers with minds focused on “the Big Picture”) could easily imagine there is no money involved.

        That does not mean no money is involved, it merely means the people making the transactions are unaware of the money moving.

        When Daughtorial Unit was quite young, perhaps five, she asked us to buy her something at a book store. We regrettably advised her we didn’t have the money for such a purchase, eliciting the suggestion “Write a check?”

        There followed a discussion of the underlying rules governing checking accounts but we were forced to acknowledge that, from her knowledge base, it was a reasonable suggestion.

        1. “When Daughtorial Unit was quite young, perhaps five, she asked us to buy her something at a book store. We regrettably advised her we didn’t have the money for such a purchase, eliciting the suggestion “Write a check?”

          There followed a discussion of the underlying rules governing checking accounts but we were forced to acknowledge that, from her knowledge base, it was a reasonable suggestion.”

          Yes. Remember that discussion with our son. Only he suggested we “charge it”. Pretty sure cashier all but died trying to keep from laughing (we did, then hubby decided he forgot to look at something & disappeared for a minute or two, leaving me to deal). Yes. From kid’s point of view & knowledge, it was a reasonable suggestion.

          Thus started the change jar. Our child was well versed with rules of finance & budgeting long before he completed his Finance Merit badge, which was 2 or 3 years before education machine got to it. Amazing how reluctant he is willing to spend his money … takes after his parents.

  20. I still maintain that if you want to understand the implications of a post-scarcity society, go read Doc Smith’s “Skylark DuQuesne”. He did more with about six paragraphs than the Star Trek franchise did in 21 seasons spread across three series.

    The interesting part are the cultural implications. Do you go with gold gingerbread on everything…the seven quarts of diamonds for a woman’s full-formal outfit? Or is that too gaudy? Certainly it’s no longer a display of wealth. It’s easier to replicate a flawless diamond than a common rock (it’s simpler).

    Having said that, you can bet that a real society with such capabilities would have some measure of wealth. Or status/rank. You can’t replicate land. Who gets the splendid apartment with the oceanfront view? And who lives in a plainer (though adequate) house…although the Transporter might make this question moot.

    Part of the fun of SF is posing those questions and probing the answers.

    1. I kind of liked J. C. Wright’s Eschaton series for this. You have entities who can literally remake galaxies and change the layout of atoms and turn one material into another, and create an uplift species in what’s essentially a galactic afternoon, and every one of these grandiose celestial entities is like a starving man on an island counting how many coconuts they have left before they starve because the amount of energy and matter is a limited thing.

      And they still expect some sort of recompense for their energy or time expenditures.

    2. Or, as I mentioned in the last post like this, George O. Smith’s VENUS EQUILATERAL.

  21. They don’t accumulate things… and yet, I bet your average citizen can’t just request the fabricators to make HIM a star ship…No society is that rich. It will boil down to your Social Rating – similar to what the Chinese are doing now. If you don’t suck up to the system and totally support it – no plane or train ride for you. They’re trying to make your credit rating do the same thing here. So in the future old Kirk gets to fly spaceships because he kissed all the right butts.

    1. One of the novels had a university putting together an archeological expedition Way Out There. To make the trip in a reasonable time, they needed a small, but very fast, very long-ranged ship. The writer mentioned how much time they spent jumping through hoops to get one, since the civilization had advanced beyond just buying or chartering one.

    2. So in the future old Kirk gets to fly spaceships because he kissed all the right butts daughters.
      Kirk is definitely not the butt-kissing sort. Well, not *that* sort of butt-kissing.

  22. “Post-scarcity” is one of those concepts that depend on treating “a lot” as “infinite” and “a little” as “none”. These systems always blow up when you move away from whatever was proposed as “typical values”.

    Money provides for trade features vaguely analogous to what the wheel provides for conveyance, which turns “trade” into a communication and coordination system that scales up from a tribal level to cover large distances and populations, and reaches a self-organizing complexity beyond anything a single human mind could manage.

    I’ve been wondering where money falls on a list of human inventions, in terms of overall impact. I think it beats the wheel, and comes in just under fire.

    Retconning the ST universe to drop money and replace it with social interactions like social displays, persuasion, affiliation, political ranking and authority, has a neoprimative cast to it.

    1. “My species has evolved past the need for domesticated livestock. All meat in our diet is cannibalism.”

  23. Man, this post is right in my wheelhouse — economics and television! I’ve dropped comments here before about the economics of Star Trek, about how you have to pretend they don’t talk about it, because (1) they’re unworkable, and (2) on the show, they sure don’t *act* like money isn’t used. Sorry to repeat them, but the comments are just screaming to get out of me, so here we go.

    The main thing the Woke Trek crowd doesn’t understand is that economics exists even if money doesn’t. People will still do the same economic things they did before money disappeared, except that now it’s a lot harder and everything takes longer. The idea that people won’t use something to measure economic value is ridiculous. The Woke Trekkers childishly assume that human nature will change into what they want it to be because they really, really want it to happen. I think that’s why they never explain why money went away. You get just-so stories like, “We’ve eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We’ve grown out of our infancy.” And that’s all the explanation you’ll ever get out of the show. (Btw, you think you’ve eliminated the need for possessions? Try flying through space without your ship, moron.)

    Now about the main purpose of money. It’s true that money “allows” you to avoid directly bartering goods. I put that in quotes because although in almost every instance, bartering is inefficient, if 2 parties have exactly what the other needs, then bartering is the most efficient transaction you can make and would be the preferred method of exchange. But that’s not the main thing money does. The main thing money does is allow individuals to get the most value out of their resources, the most valuable among them, time.

    Money allows people to store the economic value of their talent, workmanship, and dedication, maybe for an hour, maybe for centuries. You can trade it. You can lend it. You can give it away to people.In some cases, you can use it as a way to assure others that you’re reliable. You can save it for a time when you won’t have as many resources as you do now. And for the Woke Trekkers, you can tax it. Try getting Starfleet Academy built if all you have is one barrel full of apples and another barrel full of dilithium crystals.

    Star Trek has always been bad at economics. Trying to make sense out of their take is torture for everybody.

    1. “you think you’ve eliminated the need for possessions? Try flying through space without your ship, moron.”

      LOL 🙂

    2. One foolishness is the assumption that humans only do bad things because of necessity. Thus, if you eliminate poverty, racism, and so on, then people become angelic.
      Which is simply untrue. There’s a number of criminals who are in it for the thrill of doing wrong, or the status inherent in being a “bad boy”, or the challenge in getting around the system.

      1. Yep. Far more likely that they got pissed at somebody and are acting out that. Or they just like to bully others because it makes them feel good. And people will always get pissed at each other, or circumstances in general, maybe just that they themselves aren’t what they’d prefer to be, as smart or as charming or as handsome (btw, that is one interesting question about ST universe – something like plastic surgery, advanced version, is presumably possible, as well as fixing (or “fixing”) brains… was there any mentions at any point in the series, or that extended universe, about those, were they in use, and in how wide a use?) as they’d like. And take it out some way.

        And even if it does come possible to fix at least some of that by therapy and going straight for the brains with meds and whatever (since at least full on psychopaths do seem to have somewhat different brain structure so presumably that might become fixable in the ST type future), well, ethics?

        1. Okay, in fact that the Trek universes don’t seem to have that kind of practices, mandatory brain altering or whatever to turn out guaranteed to be non-criminal people, seems to indicate that the society may not be all out dictatorial even if some other things seem to point that way.

    3. (Btw, you think you’ve eliminated the need for possessions? Try flying through space without your ship, moron.)
      I’d put this differently. The idea of “no possessions” is goodspeak for “we’ve eliminated the need to feel like you *own* something.” It’s silly, but different than an idea that you’ve somehow eliminated things.
      (Btw, you think you’ve eliminated the need for possessions? Try taking the Enterprise on a joyride without permission, moron.)
      would be better, imo.

    4. “Your ship?!” This ship belongs to the people of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics United Federation of Planets, comrade.

  24. Actually, don’t buy anything the Left is pushing.

    Stop Buying the Left’s Pseudo-Freudian Analysis
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Not that they were so surprised that a comedienne known for shock value said something shocking, not that they canceled her contract so fast it left contrails in ABC offices; not that the usual suspects lost their minds, no.

    What struck me is that the left is still playing psychoanalysis games and people on the right are not just letting them get away with it, but being so impressed with the “profound” thinking that they get in the conga line to dance to the tune of “she is racist, yes indeed.”

    Is Roseanne racist? Boiled if I know. I had to look up her last name before writing about her on my blog on yesterday. I don’t think I have ever watched anything with her on it. I not only don’t follow celebrities, I’m the anti-celebrity watcher in that I can never remember what actors look like. I remember the role they play, but not the actor. To me, they really are vague shadows who come to life for the role. As for Hollywood going ons since I’m not interested in the people, I’m not interested in what they do in private life. You’re much more likely to get my full attention if you mention writers or even politicians.

    I knew that someone – and I thought her name was Roseanne — had come out in support of Trump. And since this blew up friends of mine informed me that she has a history of running at the mouth about race or whatever. So, maybe she is a racist.

    But you know what isn’t racist? Her tweet. …

  25. …Kirk yet again breaks the Prime Directive…

    DUH!  That is what Kirk does.

  26. “Money’s defining advantage is to free us from the inefficiency of bartering.”
    I’d like to hear how this is false. Because it seems to be exactly right. Money is how you store value. So you can take a share of value from those apples (because you don’t need a whole dump truck’s load) and from that timber (you really don’t need a whole tree’s worth) and from that oil well (you need a lot less than 55 gallons at the moment), and mix and match at will.
    The prime problem with barter is limited desire for interaction (I’m assuming non-dirt-poor levels). After all, I have enough chickens (or flame gems) to last me a bit. I want some apples, but the apple guy doesn’t need any more nails. Money lets us all barter without being limited to one or two exchangeable goods at a time.

    1. Well, yes.
      And also you only get apples for several weeks in the fall of each year. The same goes for most harvests. Wheat or hard corn keeps better than apples or strawberries so I suppose someone could use wheat to exchange for other things all year round if you put it in bags of convenient sizes.

  27. The Captain of the Ronald Reagan doesn’t have to pull out his wallet when he has dinner. The Enterprise is a military ship and food is included, as is room and board. A replicator is more advanced than a waiter in a wardroom but it’s basically the same thing. I bet away teams get big wads of local currency (except the guy in the Red Shirt, he won’t need it).

    1. Actually, being an officer, he *does* have to pull out his wallet. Wardrooms (including the captain’s wardroom, and the chief’s mess) are supplemented by officers’ dues. As opposed to the mess, where you get what the ship’s budget can buy.

      1. interestingly, Kirk and a number of other senior officers are often portrayed as eating in the common mess hall fairly often; the formal officer’s dining room is … well, formal occasions. It fits in pretty well with Kirk being ‘an Iowa farmboy’ – ergo, does not consider himself much different from his men.

        1. Then there’s all the time spent in Whoopi Guinan’s lounge in ST:TNG … is all of that gratis?

          1. Maybe? I kind of gathered that the Ten-Forward lounge fulfilled a purpose that was geared towards the crew’s mental and emotional health; maybe there is something of a ration? Given the size of the crew, that might be likely. I have vague memories of Riker saying “Put it on my tab,” or Guinan herself saying something like that “Should I put that on your tab?” (My memory on that is hazy however…)

  28. BTW, that pic of Spock looks like he’s either fallen asleep (sorry, he’s “meditating”) at his post, or he’s having a particularly difficult movement.

  29. Serendipitously, I came across this article about post-scarcity economy. Mostly, when everything is free and you don’t have to work, what do you DO?

    “But I know humans. And humans suck. And it is here where humanity will take this wonderful utopian dream and turn it into a dystopian nightmare. And to understand how this will happen, one needs to understand wealth and value…”

    1. …it was linked off Peter Grant’s blog, which, unfortunately, I can’t post to…

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