Trekonomics 4 – And the fiction continues – by Amanda S. Green


Trekonomics  4 – And the fiction continues – by Amanda S. Green

The more I read of Trekonomics, the more I wonder how the author managed to write it with a straight face. Perhaps Saadia didn’t. Perhaps this is yet another situation where an author had tongue firmly planted in cheek and saw only dollar signs at the end of the rainbow. Unfortunately, I have a feeling Saadia really feels the book is a serious study of the economics of the Star Trek franchise and is fully onboard with the socialist underpinnings of it all.

Last week, we talked about the lack of currency in the Trek universe, especially after the whale movie. We started discussing the lack of scarcity – hello, replicators! – and we’re going to continue along that line today.

According to Saadia, there are two types of scarce goods in the Trek universe. The first are strategic goods or, as Saadia defines them, those resources necessary to maintaining the Federation [Note from SAH: she had Ferderation, a minor typo, except I REALLY wanted to keep it because it seems to me what this guy is describing is more a Ferderation than a Federation] “polity and way of life”. Those resources are dilithium crystals, starships and people. The second type of scarce goods are those one-of-a-kind custom-made goods and services. The examples for this sort of thing given by Saadia include the Picard family’s Bordeaux wine, the pleasure planet Risa and Sisco’s New Orleans restaurant.

Now, I could start picking holes in this, but I won’t.

Oh hell, sure I will. Where’s the fun otherwise?

If the Trek universe is one where there is no real scarcity of goods thanks to the replicators, why are dilithium crystals a finite resource? Why aren’t the replicators capable of making them out of this so-called free and ever-abundant energy that can be used to make everything else? Oh, later in the chapter, Saadia does some hand-wavium. You see, the crystals really aren’t all that scarce after all. What limits them are political constraints between the Federation and other governments that might be in control of the areas where those crystals can be found. So, there’s no need for money only for political negotiation – riiiiiight.

But it gets better. When Saadia tries to explain what happens when more than one person wants that last bottle of Picard wine or how it is determined who gets to go to the pleasure planet, his “no currency, no scarcity, no need” arguments fall flat. The handwavium turns more than a bit frantic and all anyone with an ounce of sense in their head can do is snicker. First, he says that “canon” is “rather vague” on the explanation of what happens in those instances. Duh. It’s vague because there is no way the socialist-leaning Trek world can explain it away and not let evil capitalism in.

Then he really begins to stretch to find an answer. He claims the conflict between people wanting that scarce item or reservation or whatever wouldn’t make for exciting TV. Hmmm, how many shows or movies have been based around the chase for something that is one of a kind. Can anyone say, “Maltese Falcon”? Saadia tries to make a joke about “Keeping Up with Lwaxana Troi” or “Real Housewives of Risa”. Sorry, but if ST:TNG wasn’t anything more than a SF soap opera, I’m not sure what it was. Hell, it was basically The Love Boat in space all too often.

But here is the kicker for me. This is Saadia’s explanation and ain’t it a doozy?

One must assume that the scarcity of some unique goods never leads to conflict or competition. The motivation for acquiring them—showing off social status through the ownership of objects—has long been excised from the Federation.

Apparently, the economics of the Trek universe have done away with conspicuous consumption. (Why? With replicators, you can pretty much have anything you want so why does no one want what they don’t need? Oh, I know. I was right in my first post on the subject when I commented that it sounded a whole lot like the Stepford Wives. In this case, its’ the Stepford Federation. Everyone walking in lock step with one another and never wanting to be different or to strive to do more.)

According to Saadia, no one would care what sort of bag you carried or what you wore. No one would bother keeping up with you. If that’s the case, then why do the Picards still have a vineyard? Why is there a pleasure planet when there are holodecks? Why are there restaurants when you can program any meal you want into your replicator?




Riiight. Nope, not buying it. But what do I know? I’m just a mere mortal who still believes we need a healthy dose of competition and need to get us up out of bed each day.

In trekonomics, the absence of money implies that status is not tied to economic wealth and discretionary spending.

Okay, here is where I want to start planting the book against the wall. We have spent too many pages already being told there is no status. Oh, Saadia might not say it in so many words but that’s the import of all that’s been written. Now, we know there might be status but it’s not tied to “economic” wealth and discretionary spending. Wait? I thought there wasn’t personal competition among members of the Federation? If that’s the case, then why is there personal status? Hmm, do we have a contradiction? Surely not.

For Federation citizens, the notion of luxury itself has evolved to encompass the full range of experiences available to humanoids. It is possible to envision that people seek the unique and the memorable in personal relationships and in fleeting moments of satori, rather than in the acquisition of things. Looking for and collecting artful artifacts, ancient or otherwise, seems to be among the few areas where one can exert her erudition and flaunt her good taste.

Wait! What? If someone is “flaunting” their good taste, isn’t that a way of saying they are better than someone else? Or, at the very least, a way of saying, “Hey, look at me!”? How does that fit with this utopian social setup Saadia has been saying the Federation has become? It doesn’t and that is the problem. Or, more accurately, it shows the fallacy with socialism. There will always be someone who wants more, has more, who is more equal among the equals. That person is the one who will be “flaunting” their “good taste” or their collection of whatever. Never mind that the average citizen can’t and won’t have that art collection, etc.

The next section of the book has a title that had me smiling and shaking my head. Consider the title and tell me what you think:

Everyone’s Lot Has Been Terminally Improved

I know what Saadia is trying to say – that life for the citizens of the Federation has been improved to the point that there is no more improvement to be had. But my first thought was that life had become terminal there. Which, in a way, it has, at least if Saadia is right. Think about it for a moment. What would life be like if there was no hope of improvement, of new discovery or of new ways to make things better? But let’s see if Saadia has made up another definition for what the title means.

He starts this section talking about dilithium crystals again. You see, according to Saadia, even though these all-important crystals might be in distant and hard to reach locations, that’s no problem. In the Trek universe, labor, prospecting and extracting tech are close to free. Now, here is where a good editor might have helped Saadia. Is the author talking about tech related to labor and prospecting and extracting the crystals? Or is Saadia saying that the cost of labor, the cost of prospecting and the cost of extracting technology are close to free? Yes, I’m being a bit silly here but so is the so-called economics of the Trek universe.

So what if there are not enough people willing to spend some quality time on a mining asteroid? This is where ethics comes into play. The deeply ingrained civic sense of every Federation member leads enough of them to respond to the call of duty.

Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. If this is the case, then why didn’t we see this happening all those times the Enterprise needed new dilithium crystals? Why am I having a hard time seeing Wesley Crusher volunteering to go do his time in the mines? (Oh, gawd, I would have paid to see that episode, especially if he got trapped, never to be seen again.)

Because of this, because of replicators and because no one in the Federation would dare be rude and fight for that last bottle of wine, there is no scarcity. No scarcity means no money, no profit and no markets. Wut? Tell that to the Ferengi.

Trekonomics, for its part, assumes that the lot of everyone, on average, has been terminally improved. There is nothing left to optimize, economically speaking, when everything is available at zero cost. Selfinterest, conflict, and competition may certainly exist, but the reward for winning in the marketplace cannot be monetary because there is no excess return to expect or gain. The reward is of an intangible but no less real nature: glory.

Ah, more handwavium and moving of goal posts. We’ve been told there is no need to be better than anyone else in the Trek universe, that the outliers are those like Kirk. They are the ones to leave the planets and join the Federation. But the above seems to say there is still a need for personal glory and, since that is a very human need, wouldn’t that lead to more intense competition instead of less? Hmmm. Could that be a chink in the perfection of the Federation?

If the reward for winning in the marketplace consists of merit, prestige, and recognition, then self-interest will drive at least some individuals to excel at their trade and to shoot for the moon in their endeavors. The product of their combined labor will be available to all at no cost.

Except, this assumes the product isn’t one-of-a-kind. Which, if the person making it has any common sense, would make sure it was. Damn, the more I read this book, the more I like the Ferengi and the less I like the general population of the Federation. The above passage brings to mind Atlas Shrugged and how the government tried to steal the labor of the innovators and creators for the “common good”. It also reads like a direct extract from any of the core writings of socialism and communism. Yep, I’m on Team Ferengi.

There’s more about social currency and how those of the Federation could strive for recognition and status but, damn, can we please stop making exceptions to the rules? Either there are no classes and, therefore, no status, or there is. Either outliers – or Odds – are moved into careers like Star Fleet to get them away from the normal so they won’t expose them to wrong think or they aren’t.

Not that such moving goal posts surprises me. It has been at the base of socialism from the beginning. There have always been the more equal among equals. More than that, there’s always been the “out” of saying “but we’ve not had real socialism yet” because of all the different phases Marx and company said we have to go through before humanity has advanced enough to accept it.

Here’s the thing, not only is there no real economics in Trek, what little you might be able to find doesn’t work. At least not unless you look at the Ferengi from TNG on or at characters like Harry Mudd in TOS. It is handwavium and supposedly “feel good” economics. Yeah – no.

The title for the next section has sent me running for the hills. There isn’t enough coffee this morning. But next week, we’ll begin with “The Burden of Private Owndership” or, in Amanda-speak, “the next attempt to indoctrinate you into the world of socialism where you lose all hope.”

*Okay, I’m plotting what the worst book I can inflict on Amanda next is, and I regret to inform you she’s rejected MO’s book out of hand. (Sigh.)  Anyway, meanwhile, she’s a working writer so buy something of hers.  (She’s damn good too.) – SAH*


191 thoughts on “Trekonomics 4 – And the fiction continues – by Amanda S. Green

  1. I just watched an episode of DS9 where Captain Sisko ordered O’Brian to magic up a sciencey thing. O’Brian was told by the quartermaster that one would be available in 3 weeks and Sisko needed it in 2 days. Fortunately Nog was able to trade for it with an elaborate ferengi scheme. I was amazed at how naive O’Brien was portrayed when it came to basic economics. Some miracle worker. #teamferengi

  2. If you needed any proof Sarah is evil, one of the books she suggested I consider reviewing next is Michelle Obama’s upcoming book. (That’s the MO she referenced above). Nope, not gonna read it. I told her I would read the God Emperor Barack’s book before I read MO’s. Nope. Nope. Nope. I will not give in to her on that one.

      1. But inflicting Michelle Obama on someone who’s supposed to be your friend? Couldn’t you just do something simple and sane like blow up a solar system or two?

          1. I did not make you read them. I read them to you. Can I help it if you somehow decided it was a good thing to take a copy of the book that shall not be named home and your husband and sons thought it fun to read it aloud while in the car? Sheesh, you blame me for everything.

                    1. no fair. I can’t remember my own titles, and sometimes hop around screaming “the one about the girl with anger problems” while Dan goes “All your female characters have anger problems.”
                      The one but last of origins OR the last of the PNRs, not sure which was last.

                    2. Well, there hasn’t been a PNR in years and the next to the last Origins was two or more years ago. HINT!!!!!!!

                    3. I know. But reading a friend’s books is a much bigger responsibility than reading bubble gum, and you know what the two years have been.
                      I’m hoping to get to it, if I survive this summer.

    1. Don’t do it Amanda!!! (He says, like Scotty to Spock when he entered the warp core in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan…)

      1. I am not as “ethical” as the citizens of the Federation. I will not fall on my literary sword to read that book, not even for you guys.

  3. Sorry Amanda, but I can’t “Like” this because of the idiocy that you are exposing. 😦

    1. Hell, Paul, I can’t like it for the same reason. I enjoyed most of ST. Some series were better than others and some of the movies royally sucked. But I liked the universe. However, I didn’t take it seriously. I certainly didn’t try to take it as gospel. That is why books like this have me alternating between shaking my head and pointing and laughing. There might be some crying in there as well. Shrug.

      1. I certainly didn’t try to take it as gospel.
        Heck, I RPed it when the very first game came out. And later on with guys who were nuclear physics majors in college. Yeah, we knew there were some serious flaws in this stuff. (BTW, pretty sure the RPG universe assumed money, though it was mostly ignored because on the ship or on away missions.)

        1. Well, FASA put out a supplement called “Trader Captains and Merchant Princes” so I think the RPG assuming money is a safe bet. 🙂

      2. I’ve been getting WAY too into this “Trekonomics” debate here, but I think everyone has to acknowledge it’s absurd on many levels. I don’t think anyone seriously believes that the Enterprise blueprints could show you how to build a working interstellar spaceship. Why on Earth (or any other planet) would you believe that ST could show you how to build a working socialist utopia.

        (I mean, even assuming that you believed that such a thing could exist. I’ve got a lot more faith that we could make the former than the latter).

        1. The wonder is that I’ve never heard of anyone taking those blue prints and building a life-sized model of the Enterprise. That would be one awesome tourist attraction!

  4. Doesn’t matter what bag you carry?

    It would be the ONLY thing that mattered.

    It can be amusing to read about a fictionalized Beau Brummell who’s mere glance of disdain or twitch of an eyebrow could break a person entirely. It’s even more fun when a romance author riffs on this and has all the social climbers aping what a fashion leader did by accident. “And now we’re going to all wear a dandelion in our lapel and carry a broken walking stick wilst wearing our hair sticking out on one side!”

    If a person can have any bag simply by asking a replicator to make it, the choice of that bag becomes the only possible thing that matters. When consumption is available to all equally the only part of it that would let you stand out is how conspicuous you could be about it.

    Tasteful and sensible would hardly be admirable because those things tend to signal frugality and frugality has been destroyed. Why have a single item of clothing that is “classic” enough to be worn more than one time?

    And so on.

    1. Doesn’t matter what bag you carry?

      It would be the ONLY thing that mattered.

      An interesting take on things. For, say, men’s suits (where looking like everyone else is generally if not universally The Idea) replicator-wear would be great. Now consider women’s fashion… oops. Or even, say, t-shirts… some of which are kinda neat because they are not ‘everywhere’ and others might get bypassed precisely because they are: Order online from $OBSCURE_SITE vs. buy at local $BIG_BOX_RETAILER.

      Then there is the personal vehicle… what design (coupe? sedan? SUV? Pickup?) Color? Options? Gasoline? Diesel? Electric? Hybrid? Even with limited selection, there is variation.

      Today’s pitifully limited “replicator” is the “3-D printer”… which for personal use seems to be to make the one-off things that can’t be had for a buck or two at the local store.

      1. Then there is the personal vehicle…
        Orvan, Orvan, Orvan… *smh* You poor, deluded mythical creature, you….
        There is no “personal” vehicle in the ST universe. They are all People’s Vehicles.

        I. Can’t. Even.

          1. Well, that thing Picard drove around in Star Trek:Nemesis while collecting bits of B-4 was, IIRC (it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie).

      2. It’s been long enough ago that I forget where I read it, but somebody had a society with *limited* replicator functions. Many things could be summoned and provided by the replicator, and thus were dirt cheap. Other things (IIRC, the molecular structure of Handwavite and its buddies tended to make for an energetic boom if it were tried.)

        Thus, the economy was based on Handwavite, and the society was free to use capitalism.

        Something about James Blish comes to mind, though if so, it really is a long ago memory. I read Cities in Flight about 50 years ago. It’s also possible that the replicator was one of those in the (my term) Basement of Bad Ideas–inventions whose side effects were worse than the supposed benefit.

        1. I believe you are referring to one of George O. Smith’s Venus Equilateral stories. Pandora’s Millions.

          The gang at the Venus Equilateral communications relay station accidentally invents a matter duplicator and promptly cause economic havoc.

          The technology quickly spread and everyone had their own duplicator capable of producing food, clothing, solid gold toilets, ect.

          One of the first things done was every one duplicated hundred dollar bills until they became instant millionaires possessing devalued money.

          While your material needs might be meet, what if you need a doctor for your appendix and someone to stack all those gold brick you replicated to make your palace. Well, you don’t have anything the doctor or the brick layer wants, so what do you offer them in exchange for their knowledge and labor?

          The services of your knowledge and labor.

          Now you are reduced to a barter economy. But Dr Soandso only need his lawn mowed once a week and Miguel the Bricklayers only has two feet for you to massage at the end of the day.

          There is not a medium of exchange to measure out services among people.

          So eventually they invented a handwaveium metal that promptly went explodey when someone tried to duplicate it. Also, creating the hadwaveium was so energy intensive you could detect its creation half a light year away when someone tried to counterfeit it.

          Eventually society wound up with everyone getting a duplicator with a basic list of subsistence items. If you wanted more then the basics or needed some services you had to provided some useful service in exchange.

          Aside from the minor issue of violating the laws of thermodynamics when you duplicated fully charged batteries when your old batteries got low, the system worked pretty well.

          Unlike the upside down system in Fredric Poul’s the Midas Plague which makes no sense what so ever.

          1. That sounds right. I spent much of my reading time in the SF section of the local library; at first downstairs in the kid’s section, then upstairs. A Venus Equilateral story shows up in a John W Campbell memorial book, Astounding, and it briefly mentions the Handwavium issues.

            Must have read “The Midas Plague” somewhere; the synopsis rings a bell. The Wiki article on it says that Horace Gold tried to persuade several authors into doing a story on the premise; sounds like Pohl was either desperate or ran out of resistance. (I think he was starting out at the time.) Isaac Asimov mentioned a few arguments with Gold over story ideas…

            1. One of the sequels described society a hundred or so years down the road. And it was *weird.*

  5. Apparently Saadia doesn’t remember the episode with the “collector” who stole Data for his collection (played by Saul Rubinek IIRC). Nor any or the Ferengi.

    1. Ah, they are outliers and fall outside of canon. Seriously, there are so many holes in the “economic theory” you could fly the Enterprise through them. Just wait until next week when we discuss the replicators.

      1. I hope that discussion includes the amazing ability of Federation engineering to build machines that are 100% efficient (or so many “sigmas” you have to use exponential notation).

        I shudder every time I think of even the tiniest “leakage” from a cup of Earl Grey, hot…

      2. like, if a replicator can’t replicate a food *perfectly*, then it likely wouldn’t be able to make food of a nutritional value, and frankly stood a chance making something poisonous? had that discussion in 1988.

  6. This discussion does bring up some interesting points about how status symbols change as technology changes. In a post-scarcity environment where the overwhelming majority of the people have the basic necessities of life, most people will still strive to possess things that have a conceptual value beyond it’s function.

    For example, I used to work refinishing hardwood floors in older buildings, and I did a lot of removing vinyl tile in kitchens and wall to wall carpet in other rooms.

    When the homes were originally built (from the turn of the 20th Century through the first world war, mostly) hardwood floors were the standard because they were functional and cheap. Later, from the postwar period through the 1960s, homeowners upgraded to then-modern floor coverings for a number of reasons, not least among them a desire for status. The old floor was perfectly functional, but being able to display a kitchen floored in shiny new tile or a living room with the latest in installed carpeting showed that the owner of the house was forward thinking and prosperous.

    Then in the 1980s, the trend reversed. The old hardwood was a sign of solid craftsmanship and respect for tradition. We went from “Look what we can do now” to “You can’t get workmanship like this anymore.”

    No matter what symbols are used to govern the exchange of goods–money, “credits”, political pull with the Ministry Of Production, whatever–people will use them to obtain things that their neighbors don’t have, just to show them off. In the Glorious Soviet Workers Paradise wearing Western blue jeans was once a sign that one was a person of privilege.

    This is a subtle part of worldbuilding when constructing imaginary societies–what is it that shows a character’s wealth? I can recall a cyberpunk story (sadly, the title and author escapes me) in which a character had genuine leather boots that stood out in a world of synthetics and made people take him seriously.

    1. And up here in ND we’re backwards, always seeming to run counter to what the rest of the country is doing. Shrinking economy? Why ND is booming with oil drilling! Nation in drought? Devils Lake has expanded by nearly an order of magnitude! Showing off your 1940’s hardward floor? We’re covering them up with green shag!

        1. This is the main reason why I want bedrooms with carpeting. There are some with hardwood or tile, but the first thing I think is “That’s cold, in the winter,” and then I also remember how my children liked to roll off the bed and onto the floor.

          Segueway story: I had a custom-built bed in the Philippines; it was built to be tall enough so I could put large plastic chests underneath for clothes storage, having no closets. Vincent, as a 9 month old, would crawl over me in his sleep to roll out of bed. The first time he did this, I jolted out of deep sleep and saw him lying on the chests, which were partly pulled out as step-stools, still sound asleep. (To my relief!)

          Afterward, I padded those chests with thick blankets, and cushioned the (hard, wooden) floor with pillows bought especially for the purpose. And yes, I did find him comfortably snuggled onto said pillows, after rolling off the bed, and rolling off the chests to the floor.

            1. Yep! I sat there, having a thousand horrible scenarios in my head, and the boyo kept sleeping, resembling an innocent cherub. It took everything I had in me to not snatch him up and startle him awake (bad – he’d have never gotten back to sleep!) and force myself to calmly observe that he was safe, unhurt and alive.

      1. No carpet on my floors. Solves 50% of the allergy problems that way. And slippers are cheaper than carpeting.

        1. Yep. That’s why we’re/I’m (I’m the labor) putting down wood. Starting this year should be done next, and I hope my inhaler won’t get much use.

        2. Having kept cats for the better part of three decades, I have a strong aversion to carpeted floors. Rugs are fine – you can take them out to the driveway and wash them as needed – but fixed-in-place-carpet?

          Thank you, no.

          Especially since all the cats I owned showed a strong preference for making messes on the carpet/rug-covered portions of the floor. Right after they’d been cleaned, of course.

  7. A world that has no chance of improvement or advancement from status quo.

    That just reads to me as a suicide generator. I know that feeling is one of the things that drive it for many (nothing will get better). Guh

    1. Twilight Zone had an episode “A Nice Place to Visit” with Sebastian Cabot. A crook is shot and dies. He comes to in a place where all of his dreams, wishes, and desires are fulfilled. But he is shortly dissatisfied with the place since there is no challenge, no “kicks” in this heaven he states. Cabot’s character informs him he is in the other place.

      The Federation does have penal colonies and does perform “rehabilitation” on outliers. Episodes talk of piloted cargo ships but what “kicks” they would provide would seem limited.

      You can join the Federation, live in the Federation’s cushy hell or be sent to a penal or rehabilitation colony. Not too many other choices.

  8. I like the idea that people, feeling it’s their civic duty, will volunteer to work in mines. Does the author know anything about mining? It is back breaking work and miners are constantly filthy, the proposition that people will readily volunteer for this kind of work is nonsense on stilts.

    1. I think the author is assuming it’ll be like an all volunteer military service. I could be wrong though.

      {checks that brackets are closed. Yup, we’re good this time}

    2. It’s prisoner labor for the Klingons.
      And in almost every other fiction, everywhere, it’s prison or slave labor.

      1. That’s just unfair stigmatization of entirely voluntary labor agreed to by commission of certain crimes.

      2. In the first appearance of the Treel (slug-like parasites) in Next Generation, it was clear that the humanoid hosts of the Treel were slaves.

        IE Once a Treel took over a humanoid that humanoid’s mind “turned off” and only the mind of the Treel mattered.

        It was amazing to me how many people didn’t see it that way including those who excused it by saying “but it’s their culture”.

        Mind you, in Deep Space Nine they “revamped” the relationship between the Treels and their hosts.

          1. Nod, although they didn’t see themselves as gods (at least toward the Federation).

    3. You volunteer to work in the mines by committing certain classes of crime. You don’t want the time, you don’t commit the crime.

    4. At least in TOS, at least some minors get paid, at least enough to be cheated by Harry Mudd. Some might have been slaves, as in “The Cloud Minders”. Not sure of the situation In “The Devil in the Dark”, where they ran afoul of the Hortaculture.

      1. Thing is, the more you read into this book, the more you realize that TOS isn’t considered much. In fact, Saadia says this economic canon begins with the whale movie.

        1. That sounds like the SJWs who act as if history began when they were 5 years old. My sympathies; I think my Kindle would have been in mortal danger if I read it as an eBook.

    5. Apparently the Horta people started specializing in being hired for mining (because they pretty much ate rock) though how they were paid is not quite discussed. Naraht, the Horta character Diane Duane created for the novels, was one of the few who didn’t go into mining and went into Starfleet instead. He specialized being able to ‘taste’ circuitry and helped with adjusting them; but he also cheerfully would eat things like burned out data solids and broken circuitboards. When the folks on the Enterprise found out these were edible and delicious for him, they started saving them for his consumption, as opposed to throwing them away. In one of the books he remarks that his mother (the original Horta the crew encountered) would complain about the weight he was gaining…

      1. If I recall, Kirk pulled rank to give him bridge duty. Sciences and Engineering were constantly fighting over him, and the captain thought he should have *some* choice in the matter. Or at least know what he was missing.

        1. Yep, and the scene where Nahrat was calibrating the circuitry in the captain’s seat has Kirk reflecting on how much the Horta had grown (in terms of confidence and being comfortable as a Starfleet officer) that Jim’s teasing about Nahrat ‘trying out the command chair’ didn’t result in flustered embarrassment. I liked that scene a lot, because it showed that Jim Kirk cared about his crew in a personal way, not just ‘they’re under my command.’ Father to his men sort.

      2. how they were paid is not quite discussed.

        Room and board? “Tell you what, you save us these minerals, and we’ll give you a nice cave to sleep in an all the rock you can eat. And, y’know, not kill your entire species for getting in our way.”

        I want to know if the human miners got angry about Horta coming in and stealing their jobs.

        1. The episode implied they were delighted. The hortas were replacing their machinery, and at lower cost, even with whatever they were paying. Productivity went through the roof.

          Maybe they owned the mine. Or something.

  9. Bah, humbug. I’ve pretty much skipped this entire thread because I have a hard time taking discussion of the economy of a fantasy universe seriously.
    When I was a preteen and even well into early adulthood, I was all captivated by Star Trek. Snazzy Uniforms! Space! Explosions! Dramatic Music! High Adventure! and so on. But it was always entertainment. Fiction. Lies. After a few decades and transmogrification into a commercial franchise, the gloss and the paint started to fade.

    Driven as it was by the need to produce new story and plot every week, there was never more than a token attempt made to keep the science, or the politics, or the economics, or the moral philosophy either internally consistent or consistent with external reality. Not even from even week to week, let alone over multiple seasons and series.

    So when I see an author give sententious assurances about of the economic impact of technology that hasn’t been invented (and probably can’t be without first repealing several laws of physics), I am inspired mostly to giggle.

    1. When I was a kid my biggest complaint was that nearly every episode ended with a dramatic last second solution. As if you could only be saved by the hair of your teeth.

            1. Well, I’ve seen some internet stuff that confirms Mary and Sue with machines………

    2. The kicker is that a ridiculous number of people *do* take it seriously, and view it as something that’s inevitable, at least as long as BushTrumpHitler doesn’t send them all to the concentration camps.

      Look at some of the reviews of the book. I failed to find one that said anything less than positive.

        1. Aye, and soon “white supremacist” will not ‘KKK nutter’ but “demonstrably capable of using logic” as language is further abused for Das Narrative.

            1. Zunächst müssen wir an die Oberfläche steigen und schießen die Überlebenden.

              Oh yeah, 🙂

      1. That’s why the gulags. If it’s possible, it must be being stopped by something that could be removed, namely the kulaks.

  10. I keep having trouble with the post-scarcity utopia thing when we’ve got the Romulans, Cardassians, Klingons and Ferengi, all with their own fancy replicators, who all still exchange stuff. Now, admittedly, the Cardies and Romulans are fascists so they probably have their own state-level nonsense built in, but it seems like everyone’s occupying the same technological level as the Feddies while having more normal socioeconomic situations.

    Also, regarding the mining, apparently the Federation handles mining in one episode through the use of Holographic Slave Labor. Perhaps that is how they accomplished their grandiose vision in TNG, technologically designed proles (who are themselves apparently dissatisfied with their position).

    Somehow it fits the image to have a Federation functionary talking about their egalitarian utopian society (where mankind no longer feels grief or sadness), and then turning around to take the stout holowhip to H. Arnold Rimmer for spilling the soup.

      1. Because they didn’t really exist prior, not as entities active outside of the holodeck.

        Once the mobile emitter came along, a few seasons later, when The Doctor made his novel, we get a vision of a mine filled with dozens and dozens of versions of him doing mining labor, and ‘spreading the word.’

        Depending on whether you view The Doctor as a sentient being or a Chinese Box really determines how much you care about them using ‘sapient’ holographic slave labor, but..

        1. Well I been workin’ in a coal mine
          Goin’ down, down
          Workin’ in a coal mine
          Whew! About to slip down.


        2. Yep, and to some extent, the concept of AI and sentience = personhoood question was also dealt with in some of the novels (Moira, for example, from Spock’s World, being something of a spontaneously sentient AI, which seems to not have been what was intended…) Apparently the higher ups are the only ones aware of how extensive her sentience goes, and go to a great length of not letting Starfleet know she exists.

  11. Unless your one-of-a-kind is out of Gold Pressed Latium it can be made by a replicator.
    They forget that there IS currency – dilithium crystals (What Mudd traded the Women For and what Starships required.) and the Gold Pressed Latium.
    Gold Pressed Latium in various weights WAS the currency. They just didn’t want to talk about it because money was evil, disgusting, and taboo. No right thinking people would EVER NEED it. Besides it couldn’t be tracked.

    There is your answer. The Progs had so indoctrinated the Federation that they couldn’t admit that a currency was needed or used. Goodthink over all.

  12. Life that cannot be improved sounds like the Q Continuum, with its giant tome of “The Old” and slender book of “The New.” Endless boredom. Idle hands are the Devil’s playthings.

    Even if you could selectively breed humans to eliminate greed so everyone living in the new order would be content with identical replicator–produced items, could you eliminate desire? There are many men aboard but only one captain. Will there be no sexual competition?

  13. Does Saadia ever mention how Roddenberry had initially intended for the Ferengi as TNG’s primary antagonists, but audiences found them to be so ridiculously comical that Paramount forced the show-writers to bring back the Romulans and (eventually) create the Borg? Seems even the most die-hard Trekkies didn’t buy into the whole “ZOMG Capitalism is THE EEEEEEVILZ!!!” schtick.

    1. Ah yeah, Season 1 of TNG’s ‘yankee trader’ Ferengi.

      The horrible “yankee traders” who come down to a society and sell them things they want at cutt-throat rates, which the ‘savages’ pay for because well, they find the price they’re paying for them to be reasonable. Oh no! Colonialism!

      Honestly, I am continually mystified that the Federation maintains an advantage on personnel and the like when they refuse to do uplifts that the Ferengi, Klingons, Breen, Cardassians, Romulans, and everyone else seem to do.

      Its almost as if no species ever pops up except in Federation Space.

      You’d think the Cardies would have a cosmopolitan society of slaves, uplifts, and the like for example, instead of being so homogeneous. And given that Cardassians had a sort of fascist meritocracy I have trouble acknowledging that they never had their own version of Admiral Thrawn.

      1. One magazine at the time referred to them as “Keystone Capitalists.”

  14. When Amanda started reviewing the book on Techonomics I figured Saadia was pulling the information out of his ass, serious or not. Why? Because, except for ST:DS9, all the other ST “vehicles” were essentially large enclosed limited space like submarines.

    All of the space craft functioned like submarines, even ST:TNG, even then you don’t see what the lower end enlisted personnel (you know the unknown until thrown away characters when needed) get for lodging. It is clear from the others that enlisted get shared bunking situations, might be limited to 4 to 6 in a room, but they had limited quarters & grouped facilities (think gym showers, etc.). This means they are allowed limited allotment of personal items (if any) beyond required crew items. NCO’s & Officers might have had “better” quarters, but they too are limited as to what they could carry.

    ST:TNG makes it look like everyone got their own state room. Hmmm, do cruise ship general ship personnel get individual quarters & unlimited possessions?

    Even ST:DS9 fleet personnel & accompanying families, would have been limited on allowable luggage tonnage (more like #’s/person) because few (okay probably none) fleet personnel would have their own space ship to transport their own goods.

    Granted with the replicator you could just requisition whatever you wanted when you arrived. But the replicator was small & limited. All shows were explicit that there were limits to what the replicator could do; only someone with their heads up their posterior would think it was all ending. Even alcohol, it was clear that replicators could only dispense the fake stuff (i.e. alcohol free beer, wine, scotch, etc.) Even medical, on all the show versions, had a dispensary where needed drugs were stored to be loaded into medical devices; why if replicator was unlimited?

    Which brings us to ST:DS9 which was a posting for what was baby sitting (oops “managing”) a Trade Center (caps meant), Sisko was not an assigned ambassador, there were revolving characters (who died) for that. Granted, that was a role he often got dragooned into when revolving assigned ambassador messed things up, but that was not his job. His job was to oversee & keep a deep space station functioning by over seeing ST assigned personnel. But that would be: B.O.R.R.I.N.G. Throw in the only facility that could protect another galaxy & recently freed planet from tyrannic invaders.

    No way could anyone determine the economics behind ST universe, not even from the human side.

    It would be like trying to determine the economics of the US based on a deployed Destroyer or Air Craft carrier. Any navel ship expected to make port anywhere other than home; which is why I am leaving out submarines, in case of DS9, a US Embassy, where everyone lived & occurred at the embassy, & all the stories focused on emergencies with no outside resources available.

    Sorry, Saadia, has his head up his posterior & pulling ST universe economics out of the smoke he is blowing out of it.

    Thank you Amanda for volunteering to shovel through it for the rest of us. 🙂

  15. According to Saadia, no one would care what sort of bag you carried or what you wore.
    Well, at least this explains the TNG uniforms. Wearing your pajama bottoms to the mall has metastasized.

  16. Amanda, you missed a truly amazing tell.
    “The motivation for acquiring them—showing off social status through the ownership of objects—”
    The only possible motivation is apparently status signaling, no-one could possibly actually enjoy drinking the damn wine, at least according to the author. That makes the author a sad, little, person, like most if not all progressives in my book.

    1. I noticed that too. “Status” is apparently the only motivation he can think of for wanting one-of-a-kind items. No one wants the wine because they think there’s something special about it that can’t be replicated. No one wants a beach house because there’s something about the feel of the sand and the smell of the salt when you wake up in the morning that just isn’t the same in the holodeck. You don’t want an original Van Gogh because of the chance to see the real thing exactly as the artist painted it and be able to touch a piece of history.

      Nope, it’s all status. If you can’t impress people with your stuff, there’s no point in having it. Says more about the author than society if you ask me.

    2. Scott, I didn’t miss it. My brain was starting to leak out of my head by then and the thought that went with that flowed out at the same time.

      1. Please be careful when you are doing this. Use protection. At least listen to Leslie Fish while you are reading. We really don’t want you infected with this stuff, it would be a tragedy.

  17. I’ve said it before: you have to ignore the economics in Star Trek to get any enjoyment out of it. That’s because the economics as described on the show don’t work for humans. They don’t work for animals, either, and probably not plants. And the characters don’t *act* like they live in an economic system described in the show.

    You can avoid twisting your brain into knots trying to explain it by accepting that economics is still real, and money is a useful tool. Look at how far you have to go to explain how it could work : people aren’t people anymore. They’re a fantasy species that conveniently doesn’t have common human desires. And apparently there’s no danger or hardship that would make some resources more scarce than others. Wow, how convenient.

    That’s what it comes down to. The socialist fantasy Trekonomics requires nonhumans and a friendly universe.

    1. Think about how many animals hoard food.

      Squirrels. Mice. Dogs. Birds. Bees. It’s the whole point of bees.

      Even plants do it. Potatoes and Turnips and orchids and bunches of different species that get fat roots or stems in order to make it through winters or dry seasons.

      1. RES? Orvan? Someone? This needs a filk of the old classic, Let’s Do It, done up in economic style.

        1. Very late and.. first pass (So, it likely Needs Works, Badly):

          Birds do it. Bees do it.
          Even properly educated fleas do it…
          Let’s.. stock up!

          It’s great fresh to dine.
          And grand fresh to sup.
          But there come leaner times,
          So it’s best to… stock up!

          In Spain, the best upper sets do it
          Lithuanians and Letts do it
          Any sensible person would do it.
          Venezuelans wish they
          could do it.
          Let’s do it, let’s stock up!

          The Dutch in old Amsterdam do it
          Not to mention the Fins
          Folks in Siam do it – to feed those Siamese twins
          Some Argentines, of little means, do it
          Whilst on a budget, e’en Mr. Bean does it
          Let’s do it. Let’s stock up!

          The famed, fabled ant did it.
          Why, ev’ry successful plant did it!
          Naysayers might call it ‘hoarding’,
          But it’s mere sensible cup-boarding.
          Let’s do it. Let’s stock up!

          ‘Tis no great gal-lantry,
          To be caught with an empty pantry.
          To have more than almost enough,
          To cover for when times are rough,
          Let’s do it. Let’s… stock up!

      2. They don’t hoard food. They store it up for the Season of the Cold White. Hoarding implies a dysfunctional level of storing.

        1. Can you say Prepper? To the non-prepper ,when it hits the fan, the prepper is a hoarder. That is why the prepper requires weapons and lots of ammo.

          1. WTSHTF non-preppers deserve what they get, including high velocity lead suppositories. Just-in-time is a terrible way to manage a household, even on a shoe-string budget. At the very least you can take tips from homesteaders and grow some vegetables in pots in the house all year long. And you don’t even need to use potable water for them either.

  18. The vast majority of ST takes place on ships (or government controlled stations), that’s like trying to figure out the US economy from videos of people on military ships.

    Those are not ‘normal’ economies.

    1. Yep — and there is a quote in the next section of the book I’m dealing with soon that will show just how far up his ass Saadia reaches to come to the conclusions he does.

  19. I seem to recall a pure communist society in ST:TNG that functioned perfectly. I believe they were called, The Borg.

    1. And even then, they had to create the Borg Queen. 😉

  20. Sorry, this book makes this seem appropriate to toss out here:

    Stupid people and Star Trek references will do that.

    Sorry for the craptactular quality, there seems to be no good versions out there.

  21. Wow. I know that we’re getting excerpts here, so I’m trying to be charitable, but I honestly cannot imagine the intervening words that would make any of this stuff make sense. Actually, forget making sense, I can’t imagine the words that would make this stuff internally consistent.

    “showing off social status through the ownership of objects—has long been excised from the Federation… Looking for and collecting artful artifacts, ancient or otherwise, seems to be among the few areas where one can exert her erudition and flaunt her good taste.”

    So you don’t get status from “ownership of objects” but you do from “collecting artful artifacts”? Okay…

    ” The deeply ingrained civic sense of every Federation member leads enough of them to respond to the call of duty [to go mine an astroid]…The reward is of an intangible but no less real nature: glory…If the reward for winning in the marketplace consists of merit, prestige, and recognition, then self-interest will drive at least some individuals to excel at their trade and to shoot for the moon in their endeavors.”

    There’s no problem getting enough miners, because Federation citizens will just go mine out of a sense of duty. Or maybe a desire for glory, because there’s so much glory to be had in mining. And they’ll do an excellent job out of a desire for merit, prestige, and recognition. Because again, there’s a lot of that in mining.

    Again, I know we’re just getting excerpts, but unless there are some seriously impressive arguments in the middle, this isn’t handwaving so much as it is dancing the tarantella.

    1. Everyone who thought this book had anything useful to say for society should be sent to an open pit mine in the ANWR. After all, given this mining assumption, they will be happy for the opportunity.

    2. Zsuzsa, there is no internal consistency. The author goes off on a tangent until there is something in the shows/movies that can’t be ignore and then he moves the goal posts. Rinse and repeat.

  22. Hmph. TOS was pretty good fiction. I think the whole TNG universe was tainted by a desire to NOT be TOS. Kindly note that TNG didn’t get a full-time Chief Engineer until the second season…a position that logically should have been cast from the outset.

    And I think it bled over into the economics. And, to a degree, the characters. The TOS characters are painted in fluorescent poster paints, TNG characters in watercolors. Easily forgotten.

    1. Maybe the Chief Engineer slot had to go to make room for Troi and Yar, the two Political Officers.

      1. With respect to the Yar character, even her actress was dissatisfied with the role; it’s why the character was killed off; sort of semi-ressurected in the sense of Yar being the mother of one of the more interesting antagonists of the series, the half-Romulan Sela.

        You can tell that she really enjoyed being the character Sela, especially in the Star Trek Online game (Sela is my favorite character there!); especially later on. You also find out that the Yar character did not die as Sela herself had thought; there’s a lot of story and development, and the end has a somewhat tragic, but ultimately more fitting end for Yar, and something more satisfying regarding Sela herself.

        1. I thought it was because the writers couldn’t figure out *anything* to do with her. The character herself was fascinating.

          She had Wesley Crusher’s problem, squared. The cowardly idiot writers couldn’t wrap their heads around a genius or a truly brave woman, so they did things that weren’t even decent caricatures.

          1. The obvious role would have been “leader of the Away Team”, except that went to the third spare wheel, the new Assistant Captain, who I’d entirely forgotten about…

              1. Riker’s “humor” often slipped into mockery especially toward other members of the crew.

                I thought his “humor” concerning Worf and his son (in the episode where the boy comes to live permanently on the Enterprise) crossed the line.

                Imagined Scene

                Worf: Permission to speak frankly sir!
                Riker: Always Worf.
                Worf: I had sex only with Alexander’s mother and now I’m dealing with the problems of having him on-board the Enterprise. You’ve had sex with hundreds of women and I’d enjoy seeing you deal with hundreds of your children coming to live on the Enterprise.

                I can’t imagine Riker’s likely response to that.

                1. The writers again, I think. He was supposed to be a Kirk clone, but modern liberal sensitive artists don’t understand male humor. So they wrote him as the kind of grinning jock that made locker rooms hell for them in high school.

                  Like the way they tried to give Dr. Pulaski McCoy’s sarcastic humor, but couldn’t grasp the subtleties. So her lines were studies in nastiness, often bordering on bigotry. Even Diana Muldaur couldn’t salvage anything from them.

                  1. Not just humor, but savage put-down:

                    “It would be most effective if you would cut the carotid artery, just under the left ear.”

                    Which, translated, comes out to “I’m not only not afraid of you, but your attempt at attacking me is so pathetic you need some pointers on how to do it right. You loser.”

                    Lightning assessment of the probable best way of dealing with the situation? Unlikely; the man was from a different time, place, and culture.

                    Watch through the entire TOS; when McCoy drew his line in the sand, he never, *ever* backed down.

                    1. Yup. As I said, they tried to give Diana Muldaur that kind of character, but they couldn’t figure out what made him. So instead, they made Pulaski such a b**** that even Muldaur couldn’t salvage her.

                      Let’s hear it for liberal compassion and understanding.

          2. In the revised version I described earlier, he would’ve been the Battle Hull Captain, doing all the “Kirk on the bridge” scenes while Picard was being all magisterial and Adama*-like in the saucer.

            *FIRST-version BATTLESTAR, that is. i never got through a full episode of the travesty.

          3. Yep. That’s why the actress liked the way they ‘brought back’ the Yar character – she sacrificed herself to save the crew of the Enterprise C (?) and the way that she did so would probably be Not Allowed in this day and age. (She became a Romulan commander’s concubine.) Considering Yar’s background and traumas, this was pretty darned huge. I liked her character, and was pleased with how they handled her later on.

            1. Her best performance–by default.

              Her best performance before that was in the pilot–just walking down the corridor. Everyone in the dorm lounge knew who she was in those first seconds. They had sarcastic nicknames for all the main characters within two episodes, but Yar had hers in the first five seconds on screen. Forever after, she was “the Twitch.”

              Denise Crosby nailed her. She walked like a Doberman–stiff-legged and jerky, ready to flinch or lash out at the slightest provocation. The very picture of a woman who’d grown up on a hell-planet dodging rape gangs. Terrified every minute of her life–and doing her duty anyway.*

              And having come up with the character, they hadn’t the slightest idea what to do with her. I hadn’t been so angry with a bunch of writers since the jerks doing LOST IN SPACE “reformed” Dr. Smith–and turned him into a mewling coward and an idiot.

              *I wonder if that’s what that Romulan S. O. B. saw in her. Someone he could torment endlessly, just by being in the same room with her. While admiring her courage at the same time. Two twisted pleasures for the price of one…

              1. In Sela’s backstory, the Romulan – as far as she could see – treated Yar favorably and it was Sela who raised the alarm when Yar tried to flee (with her) because as far as child-Sela could tell, she was being kidnapped, and Yar was betraying her beloved father.

                Sela never quite forgave Yar for that, because from her POV, Yar broke her father’s heart. In the end (in STO) you find out that the Romulan didn’t have Yar and her crewmates executed, but exiled to a prison planet instead – possibly because he did genuinely fall for Tasha Yar (implied because she had that inner strength of character and courage), couldn’t kill her outright, and exile to a secret science-experiment prison planet was the best he could do while everyone else believed he’d had them all killed (which, given Romulan society, was understandable.) Yar and the rest of the crew never escape and eventually die – of illness and old age, on the planet, and to Sela’s shock, Tasha Yar never stopped loving her daughter or thinking about her, even forgiving her for the betrayal.

                That storyline mission ends with Sela talking to a Starfleet NPC somewhat implied to be Data, asking him to tell her about her mother.

                And yes, Denise Crosby absolutely NAILED the role – and Sela as well. She made both Tasha Yar and Sela completely understandable and relatable characters – Sela especially, flaws and all. Man, I felt bad for Sela during the Iconian War storyline of STO…

                1. I’d pretty much given up on TNG by the time Sela showed up, so I never saw any of the characterization there. Much less any of the supplemental stuff. So I’ll cheerfully take your word for it. Good to hear she finally got a chance to *act.*

      2. I think Roddenberry was trying to not clone TOS. But if you think about it, what functions DO you need on a starship with an exploration mission?

        Captain, obviously. He makes dramatic decisions. He may have a separate Executive Officer to help him make decisions (and play the heavy in disciplinary matters)

        Engineering Department, to keep the ship running and fix stuff.

        Science Department, to do the exploration stuff.

        Navigation Department, to steer the ship.

        Gunnery Department, to work the weapons.

        Options would be Marine Complement, to fight planetside, and the Medical Department…but those can be rolled into the Gunnery and Science Departments, respectively.

        All these need a major character. There’s no way to escape the Chief Engineer being a major supporting character.

  23. Wait, starships are the other non-replicatable thingee? Why?

    Give me a couple years and a warehouse-sized replicator chamber and I’ll bolt one together, with a convenient bin to dump the dilithium into go make it go.

    Give me a really big replicator and I’ll do it at one go.

    With smaller replicators making components for bigger ones, in a couple months I can bootstrap from a desktop unit to churning out a Constitution-class a week, and trading the excess ships off for a really big pile of dilithium to go cruising. By using the ‘free’ energy I don’t even need raw materials – I can just E=mc2 the needed matter into existence.

    As others have said, it maketh no sense.

    1. There’s one other point…intellectual property rights. You can’t replicate what doesn’t exist. And the designs (and software) are worth money.

      1. Of which canon(revised) says there isn’t any, so instead you put your complete set of replicator files for the Constitution-class heavy cruiser out onto the Federation-wide-web for all the prestige and social class increment that will flow your way in return.

        1. I do wonder how Mr. Roddenberry, he of the “let me write lyrics to the Star Trek theme song so I can cut myself in on the royalties” legend, would feel about a universe with no intellectual property rights.

        2. And somebody “improves” the design, the “improved” cruiser blows up in low orbit and kills millions (see “antimatter”). The survivors sue you (they made it clear that lawyers are still an integral part of Federation society).

          Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

          1. Since there’s no money in the Federation, they’d have to file their suit in the Ferengi Commerce Authority, and then they’d have to prove a clear violation of the Rules of Acquisition. Good luck with a “I didn’t inspect the product before I made the deal” claim there.

            ANd besides, I made it open source, and the UFP maker-hacker community in aggregate says the design is good. Those people already do what they do for reputation and prestige, so if the rest of the whackadoodle Trekonomics premises somehow come true, there is no way you can convince me there would not be thriving Maker and Hacker communities all across the Federation.

            1. You think they couldn’t sue you just because there’s no money? As if that would even slow down a committee of Federation SJW’s and their lawyers?

              I don’t even want to think about what a liberal-*by-Federation-standards* judge would do to you.

    2. For a better handle on this entire industrial economics of “post-scarcity” question, see the “Fabbers” in John Ringo’s Troy Rising series – those fabbers need raw material feedstock, and need to do self-maintenance, and have Intellectual Property restrictions, and are emphatically not magic “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” gizmos, but serious industrial equipment that take a sizable investment of capital to acquire and significant investment in the collection of raw materials to sustain in use.

      1. This probably proof of his bad-thinking no-good-nick status somehow.

        (Attempts to channel wokeness.)

        Even in his futures he wants to keep power and wealth exclusive to a few elites. This pretty much proves he wan’t people like me to die.

      2. They’re borrowed from the Schlock Mercenary webcomic, which Troy Rising is sort of a “prequel” for though it drifted into it’s own alternate universe after a couple novels.

        But yeah, fabber recipes appear to be proprietary, so offering to hack the locks around them is one way to get into a carbosilicate amorph’s heart. 😀

  24. I think the proper pronunciation of this book’s title is Dreckonomics; it certainly seems to be filled with [barnyard epithet deleted]. Try reading something more reality based:

    What Would King Solomon Do with Immigrant Children?
    By Sarah Hoyt
    We’re watching multiple meltdowns, mostly at the left about the practice of separating children from their illegal immigrant parents (or the adults with them) at the Southern border of the US.

    I’ll be honest, I don’t know — nor frankly do I care — if our policy tracks with other Western countries. What I do know is that the people falling on the floor, kicking arms and legs up and down, and finally holding their breath and threatening to turn blue — including the UN — are not only wrong but disturbingly wrong. Their idea that children should always stay with those claiming to be their parents endangers children and adults, destroys the future of the children and might very well encourage kidnapping and child trafficking.

    Like most other things the UN throws its weight behind it’s not only wrong, it’s very very bad. As in evil. As in no one sane should support it.

    Before I start in on this, I want to explain I come from a country that throughout most of my childhood functioned in relation to Europe just as Mexico (or more accurately Central America) functions in relation to the US. Portugal was if — not a failed state, a profoundly and endemically poor state — and people who had mostly labor to sell longed to work in labor-poor (at the time) Europe for currencies that translated as enormously more valuable than the (then) Portuguese escudo.

    Europe — who had no experience of Arabs yet — considered Portugal and Portuguese (not totally without cause) un-European and a bad trend and didn’t like importing a lot of unskilled/unlearned laborers. However, they were dying for laborers and for people who would do the unpalatable work, particularly being paid under the table and without onerous labor regulations.

    As far as I saw it play out, the process went like this: Father went out, illegally, sometimes for years, until they found the combination of circumstances/employer that allowed them to apply for a legal visa. This could take ten to fifteen years, with several “returns” when they were caught and deported. As soon as in possession of a legal visa, Father would send for children and wife, as legal immigrants. Sometimes the process might vary if father and mother had a trusted relative who would stay with the kids, while Father and Mother crossed over illegally.

    Since most of the places these people emigrated to were Europe and Germany and parts further North, the illegal crossing was extremely dangerous, as it had to happen twice. People often hired the equivalent of the Mexican coyotes to get them across the border, and getting raped/beaten/robbed or even killed was not unusual. Hence the father and very occasionally the mother risking him/themselves but leaving the children safe at home.

    The people emigrating were often — yes — doing it literally for the children. I joke/say that we were all as poor as Job but didn’t know it. I remember the kids who emigrated with their parents coming back on vacations and looking “posh.” I had no other name for it. The truth is that they came back well nourished. I was of a class above them — or at least my parents were more stubborn. Some of my own family did this cycle — but even then they came back looking… slicker than I ever was as a kid. …

    1. By the way, RES, I’d like to thank you for always putting the “?singlepage=true” code at the end of the PJMedia links you post. “Click to read more of this article” is one of the more annoying misfeatures a website can have. (Autoplaying video is worse, though). There are some legitimate reasons for “Click to see more”, such as search results (where you really only want to see 10 or 20 at a time), but “Click to see more of this one single article” is not a legitimate reason.

      1. It’s not too awful – unless the page auto-refreshes after a while and un-mores the page every time it does. Then it’s “thanks, I’ll read elsewhere.”

      2. You are quite welcome. It is gratifying that the slight effort is appreciated.

        I will (slightly) dispute the assertion that “Autoplaying video is worse” — if only to the trivial extent that it is less the video than its accompanying audio which is detestable.

        1. Entirely agreed. Animated GIFs are generally the same thing as autoplaying video without audio, and they’re awful. It’s just that pages no longer feel free to play audio-only without warning (they used to in the 90’s: you’d load a page and get treated to an unexpected blast of MIDI “background music”), but they still feel free to inflict unwanted audio on you when it’s accompanied by a talking head. Sheesh.

        2. Argh, I meant to say that animated GIFs are NOT awful. Really dropped the wrong word there.

  25. Just had a somewhat disturbing thought about replicators.

    That’s how post -TOS people get their food, right? Okay… I guess animal proteins and such can be replicated. But what about gagh?

    Gagh is a Klingon delicacy that is eaten alive. So, do Klingon ships (and perhaps others) carry a live supply, do they carry eggs in stasis and grow them as desired, or are the replicators actually capable of creating lower order life?

    Same question, though perhaps less disturbing, when it comes to things like living plants.

    1. In one episode of Enterprise, a Klingon kitchen was shown, complete with live targs for butchering.

    2. If the teleporter can (even if its an accident) create duplicates of intelligent beings, then making copies of living beings is possible.

      1. I’ve never actually read it, but there’s a book called “The Metaphysics of Star Trek” that apparently tries to deal with the philosophical ramifications of things like that. I’ve often thought it might be more interesting than “The Physics of Star Trek.”

    3. I suspect that live food on a starship would be something like what happens on ships: Fresh food and drink gets used first, then frozen, finally canned and dehydrated. The meal Riker shares with the Klingons in the episode where he is seconded to a Klingon ship is the first evening, and given that diplomats were involved in arranging the exchange there might even have been some extra fresh food provided. (All of this assumes there is no m̶a̶g̶i̶c̶a̶l̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶s̶e̶r̶v̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ stasis field available.)

  26. Though it’s amusing, Schlock Mercenary had some bit in recent chapters (~1 year ago) where a ship’s AI that’s several centuries old mentions that society has reach “post-scarcity” three times in her life and they keep finding basic commodities they don’t have enough of.

    Which means Schlock isn’t going to get fresh cookies all the time. ;_;

    (Similarly there’s a Babylon-5 episode where a doctor notes that everytime she hears they’ve reached a paperless society she has a few new forms to fill out.)

  27. This thing with Watkins and Wolfe seems to have taken Carlos Slim and the New York Times across an important line.

  28. Speaking of Trekonomics, the Liberals (big fans of tax-and-spend socialism) just lost the election in Ontario yesterday, in the most crushing defeat in Ontario history. PCs, 76 seats. Liberals, 7 seats. They are below Official Party status. The NDPee [spit!] won 40 seats, most in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, places where the population either works for government or government related industry.

    Two weeks ago this race was being reported by the media as “too close to call”.

    Do I expect things to improve around here? No, not really. The vast resources of the bureaucracy are already in motion to protect… the bureaucracy. We might get a little bit better around the edges, but the big stuff won’t budge.

    But it will be fun to watch the Liberals freak out for a while. They’re losing their shit today. ~:D

  29. “Terminally improved”…
    In high school, way back in the last millennium, I read Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg. After the characters have tracked down the homeworld of a race whose most recent known traces date from some 900 million years ago, they are met by a robot who takes them to the last living specimen of this race.
    This race, explains the robot, had reached perfection and withdrawn back to the homeworld to live in that state. This in contrast to humans (and the other aliens on the starship) who would try to improve on perfection.
    The last surviving specimen of the race that had reached perfection was in a bed, sustained by machines, and brain dead.

    I wonder if Silverberg knew just what he had written there.

  30. Damn, the more I read this book, the more I like the Ferengi and the less I like the general population of the Federation.

    I’ve always thought the Ferengi were given the short end of the stick. When they were first introduced, I said “those are orcs” — nasty, brutish, and short — something that it’s OK to kill.

    How about an episode (or series) where the Ferengi are the ones who see things the way they are: most of the Federation lives in the floating city of “The Cloud Minders” and don’t have to care about who mines the dilithium and handles the other unpleasant chores that need doing. They understand the Rules of Acquisition, because they see how the Morlocks (sorry, wrong universe!!) have to be bribed to do their work.
    And all along, it’s the Ferengi who are slowly, subtly working to upend the system and free the servant classes.

  31. Alas, socialism won’t work in the Federation, because the Federation isn’t the Borg Collective.

  32. I don’t remember hearing there was no money in TOS. It doesn’t come up until the fourth movie. The comments pretty much covers everything I can think of to say.

  33. Yeah. I remember how the Federation practically vomited at how mercenary and capitalists they were.
    I was always bemused at how the Federation and the Romulus never fought over dilithium or forgotten planets that were explor edit UT abandoned and so on.
    Riker… yeah a soyboy’s wet dream of what a soyboy took himself as an alpha and everyone agreed to the delusion. He never impressed me and how Deanna could fall for him….

    1. And Riker turning down the Captain’s Chair at least twice.

      Then he gets promoted to Captain of the Enterprise (the two-part Borg episode) and goes back to being “just the XO”. Mind you, that was idiot writers.

      1. That was “Patrick Stewart’s agent is driving a really hard bargain in contract renewal, so we are going to leave the cliffhanger where he can be dropped from eth series if we don’t reach a deal” followed by “Oh look, we reached a deal!” One ‘rescue’ and a magically competent surgical de-implantation (which 7 of 9 could not get a few years later), and there you go – back to status quo ante season break.

        I actually feel the most sorry for the new female XO actress, Elizabeth Dennehy – she was cast as the replacement First Officer in the main Star Trek for Paramount at the time, with presumably years of work followed by movies ahead, and then Patrick Stewart signs his deal and she’s never seen or heard from again.

  34. This is all pretty simple, actually. None of it makes sense when trying to apply it to a universe populated by humans, but Star Trek isn’t about humans. As Picard so patronizingly intones periodically, they’ve evolved. They’re not Homo Sapiens Sapiens at all; they’re Homo Sapiens Marxicus, and that’s just how the new species operates.

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