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Old August 17 2009, 07:51 AM   #9
Lieutenant Commander
PhasersOnStun's Avatar
Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Star Trek: Governance

Thanks for the fantastic discussion points Verteron and Neozeks! This is exactly the sort of information exchange I was hoping for. I really appreciate it! Based on your discussion, I have a few other questions:

Verteron wrote:
People in general do things because they want to: a chef opens a restaurant and cooks for people because that's what he enjoys, not because he's looking to make money, I doubt the patrons pay him for the food, instead he earns kudos via good reviews and happy customers, and that's his 'success' as a restaurateur. A Doctor doesn't practice medicine for a monthly salary, but because he wants to heal people. He signs on at a hopsital down the road because that's his life calling, not for the 200k/year salary. Likewise other professions, including Starfleet, who seem to be people mostly interested in exploration or 'frontier' science and medicine.
This all seems reasonable to assume for an advanced, peaceful society, especially given Roddenberry's own ideals. But it does beg another question. What about those who truly want to do something—to be a doctor, for example—but don't have the innate ability? Or you want to be a teacher, but lack the patience and intuition necessary even if you can learn the material and how to impart it?

It seems to me that the society above, in order to function at maximum efficiency, would need to be a meritocracy; in other words, you can follow your bliss or dream job, but for certain jobs, you'll need to prove your aptitude.

This is backed up in the latest Star Trek movie when Pike mentions that the delinquent young Kirk's aptitude scores are "off the charts." Those scores don't compel him to join Starfleet, but they imply that should he want to, he merits entrance. Now, I'm assuming that Pike was not referring to Kirk taking a specific Starfleet entrance aptitude exam, but rather a general aptitude test.

Of course, the thing about a meritocracy is that it will engender a certain amount of discontent. If someone wants to be a doctor or a teacher or a Starfleet officer but doesn't score high enough, they can get bitter.

neozeks wrote:
I'd imagine that while everyone still freely gets enough credits ... for comfortable living ... you still have to earn, by working or saving, additional credits for more luxury stuff like a really beautiful house on a very good location, buying a more-energy-demanding or handmade object (didn't Scotty buy a boat?), a trip to the other side of the Federation and such.
From the original series episode "Devil in the Dark," Kirk also uses the lure of getting "rich" to convince the miners to work out a pact with the Horta. This seems to imply that some people (the miners) even in this society are taking "dirty jobs" (such as mining) not so much because they feel it's a calling, but for the financial rewards.

If there are to be some people with more money/credits/etc. than others, then their must be some economic disparity, even in a generally classless society.

Verteron wrote:
The other interesting point to make about this option is that it doesn't require other planetary governments to be democratic. Since presumably they can send whoever they want to the Federation Council as their representatives, an indirect system would mean that on a non-democratic planet...could send representatives ... without having democracy 'forced' upon them. It seems more in line with the Federation's policies on inclusion.
neozeks wrote:
That is certainly true. Though I would think the Federation asks for at least some measure of democracy, seeing how they value equality and individuality. Have we seen a non-democratic member of the Federation?
Again, I'm not knowledgeable beyond a certain point, but I'd assumed that Vulcan was free, but not democratic. The fact that they are "logical" implies to me that they, perhaps more than a more "emotional" society, would be more willing to give up governance to the Oligarchy or Elders or Priests or whomever is most qualified, and not contest it. In other words, I don't think anyone could argue that Vulcan is a repressive society, but I also image that there is no voting, campaigning, representation, etc. I may very well be wrong, however.
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