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Old May 30 2014, 09:16 PM   #40
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Re: What should be the minimal requirements for Federation members?

T'Girl wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
- Minimum and maximum population levels, to ensure relative equality of representation on the Federation Council
While requiring a minimal population would be fine, how would a restriction on populations above a given number make any sense?
Unless we assume that representation on the Federation Council is based on population, it's actually in their interests to have an upper population limit. Let's say it's 2164, and you have two new Federation Members who've just applied: The Commonwealth of Vega (population 400 million), and the United Rigel Worlds and Colonies (population 20 billion). Rigel has 50 times as many people as Vega, but unless it gets more Federation Councillors than Vega, the vote of each individual Vegan is 50 times more valuable than that of each individual Rigelian.

I should specify: I'm operating on the assumption that each Federation Member State gets one Federation Councillor, as per the novels. Given this a priori assumption, it is actually in the best interests of those persons from higher-population Member States for the UFP to have an upper population limit per Member.

Speaking outside of the question of Council representation, however, upper population limits are also better for the smaller-population Member States and for the Federation as a whole. Putting a cap on how large a Member State can get puts a check to make it harder for any particular Member State or small set of Member States to amass so much wealth and power within the Federation that they dominate the union to the detriment of smaller Member States.

An older interstellar civilization seeking membership in the Federation might have a total population in the hundreds of billions, such a civilization could be a valuable asset to the Federation,
Then that civilization should either consent to being broken up into multiple Member States, or it should not be allowed to join and thereby render the Federation its puppet. Period.

- Government must be a constitutional liberal democracy
Must? Nah, there'll be room for planets Vatican, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, etc. Ruling monarchies and corporate worlds.
Nope. Constitutional liberal democracies are the only legitimate form of government, because it is the only form that requires its governments to obtain temporary renewable democratic mandates. Any other form of government is an inherent violation of the natural right of the people to rule themselves.

- Maintenance of a welfare state ensuring minimum wealth for all citizens and residents
While a minimal safety net is a good idea, nobody starves - nobody freezes, mandating minimal wealth is likely going to far.

- Maximum limit to the amount of wealth any citizen or resident may accumulate to prevent the evolution of an oligarchy
This kind of impediment on personal achievement would probably be something to avoid, certainly to be left to each Member.
The problem is that, as Christopher Hayes has shown us, meritocratic social orders are incapable of perpetuating themselves. The meritocrats inevitably begin to find ways to subvert the rules of fair competition in order to benefit themselves and their allies, producing an oligarchical social order in the meritocratic name. "He who says Meritocracy says Oligarchy."

This is perhaps most clearly illustrated today by Thomas Picketty's new research, demonstrating that in a capitalist economy -- and what is capitalism if not an economic form of meritocracy? -- it is inevitable that wealth will accumulate into fewer and fewer hands and poverty will spread to more and more, because the rate of return on capital will in the long run always exceed the growth of the overall economy.

In other words, an enlightened society that values freedom such as the Federation would have to require these kinds of limits, these floors and ceilings on wealth, in order to preserve freedom.

- History of social policies of serious reparations and restitution if such oppressions have existed in the past
Data (Farpoint): "In the year 2036, the new United Nations declared that no Earth citizen could be made to answer for the crimes of his race or forbears."
Reparations are not punishment. They represent, in the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic, "a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal."

It also means understanding that when oppressive social conditions have been created by evil institutions, those conditions do not simply cease to exist because the initial institutions creating those conditions are removed. A society that has, for instance, slavery, but never has reparations, is a society that will remain tainted by discrimination, inequality, and oppression forever after unless reparations are undertaken -- because the conditions favoring one group while robbing from the other will continue to perpetuate themselves even absent slavery. True freedom and equality of opportunity cannot exist without the economic and moral reckoning reparations requires. To argue otherwise is to say, to again paraphrase Coates, that if you stab someone ten times, "the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife."

- Overall a relatively egalitarian social order
Forcing any population to be confined to single position in a mono-societal construct from which they can never lift themselves beyond (or fall below) through their own efforts would be a form of punishment, coercive egalitarianism. Some people simply have more drive and ambition than others, they should be free to spread their wings and soar. There will be billionaires, celebrities, athletes and others who push their way to the front, and to the top.
And in the world of Space Journey created by T'Girl, you can portray the Confederated Alliance of Worlds that way if you so choose. But we're talking about Star Trek's United Federation of Planets, created by the left-leaning Gene Roddenberry -- and his entire notion of what the UFP would be like was based on the triumph of egalitarianism over hierarchy, and on an understanding that real freedom is not possible without egalitarianism.

- Absence of any form of slavery or forced labor
We saw prisoner Tom Paris doing grounds keeping while in a penal institution, being compelled (forced) to perform labor as part of a criminal sentence is reasonable.
Absolutely nothing in "Caretaker, Part I" established or implied that Paris was being compelled to engage in forced labor as part of a criminal sentence.

The exact lines are as follows:

Caretaker, Part I wrote:
JANEWAY: Tom Paris? Kathryn Janeway. I served with your father on the Al-Batani. I wonder if we could go somewhere and talk.
PARIS: About what?
JANEWAY: About a job we'd like you to do for us.
PARIS: I'm already doing a job for the Federation.
JANEWAY: I've been told the Rehab Commission is very pleased with your work. They've given me their approval to discuss this matter with you.
PARIS: Well then, I guess I'm yours.
It's just as likely that Paris is performing voluntary labor in return for a reasonable rate of compensation, perhaps something similar to Scandinavia's superior prison system.

Because I'm sure the Federation and its Members understand that compelling forced labor merely creates an incentive for the state to unjustly imprison people in order to profit off of their unpaid labor.

- Absence of capital punishment
This should be a matter for the individual Member worlds, based upon their own legal system, culture and history.
Nope. Capital punishment is barbarism, pure and simple. It is the assertion that sentient life is the property of the state. No state has any right to kill someone except in the act of defense from an immediate threat, and there is no justification whatsoever for capital punishment.

If the Most Serene Republic of Planet Zog wants to keep capital punishment when it applies for Federation Membership, then it shouldn't be allowed in. Period.
Democratic socialism is the hope of human freedom.
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