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Old March 27 2014, 06:03 AM   #151
PhoenixClass
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

And it's seems to be a very physical sport. In an early season of TNG I think they showed Worf, Tasha and others in sports clothes. And there was a mention of someone hurting themselves playing, if memory serves.
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Old March 27 2014, 01:15 PM   #152
Sci
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

BMariner wrote: View Post
A few of you scoffed at my mention of Greece. I concede that this was not the best example I could have offered, but at the moment my mind was on the tertiary consequences of a socialist worldview. True, the money grab was about bailouts and was not directly a consequence of socialism. But I argue that it would not have even been on the table as an option were it not for the socialist worldviews of the various players.
If anything, Greece is an extreme example of the vices of neoliberalism/capitalism. You have a country that's caught between a rock and a hard place -- decades worth of corruption at all levels leads to completely insufficient taxation levels, leading to debts it can't afford. It can't just do the sensible thing and just hold its nose and devalue its currency, because its monetary policy is controlled by the European Central Bank. But if it cannot pay its debts by devaluing its currency, then it's forced to seek loans from its Euro partner states -- whereupon Germany, the regional hegemon, forces it to cut all sorts of public spending, devastating its economy even further in the name of "austerity" and "responsibility" while millions of people suffer. Yet it's unwilling to just cut itself out of the Eurozone, re-adopt the drachma -- meaning that it's forced to govern with a German gun to its head.

Greece is really a prime example of why sovereign states should not give up control of their monetary policy. Its example to me just demonstrates that either the European Union needs to take the plunge and become itself a sovereign democratic state, or to yield back monetary policy to the Eurozone states and abandon the euro.

Yes, I realize the subject is Trek, and I apologize for the diversion. But I think general conversation on these topics is applicable and relevant here, because so much of the Trek universe seems to be built from these foundations.
I agree that it's appropriate to talk about these real-world issues, because it informs how we conceive of the Trekverse.

Here is my problem with socialism. It starts with the rejection of the idea that individuals can be sovereign institutions of cooperation. Socialism sees the individual as merely a mechanical cog in the engine of social evolution.
If anything, I became attracted to socialism because I have a similar complaint about capitalism. In my view, it is inherent to the capitalist system that those who labor are viewed as just another piece of overhead cost to be kept at its lowest, no different from equipment costs or maintenance costs. ("What Tabarrok means is not that there is nothing special about labor, but that there should be nothing special about it. Just as DeBeers can increase the price of diamonds by buying up excess supply, the capitalist class ought to be able to keep the price of labor down by flooding the market with the desperate unemployed.")

Meanwhile, it is inherent to the wage system that in a profitable firm, the value created by those who labor always exceeds to value by which they are compensated -- a redistribution of wealth from the productive workers to the unproductive capitalists, forced upon them by the ability of capital to dictate terms to people who have only their labor to sell. Joseph Schwartz and Jason Schulman put it best:

Towards Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice wrote:
We cannot accept capitalism’s conception of economic relations as "free and private," because contracts are not made among economic equals and because they give rise to social structures which undemocratically confer power upon some over others. Such relationships are undemocratic in that the citizens involved have not freely deliberated upon the structure of those institutions and how social roles should be distributed within them....

... [T]he asymmetry of power in this alleged “free exchange” is that while the capitalist class owns the means of production, the working class only has their labor power to sell. This asymmetry means that while capitalists pay labor a “living wage,” the value of this wage (the value of labor power) is always less than the value of the commodities produced by the workers’ labor—if capital could not make a profit it would not employ labor. Workers’ needs under capitalism are always subordinate to the bottom line.
The capitalist system, in my view, reduces the working class to cogs in a machine. It is because I reject that view, because I think there is and ought to be something special about the value of labor, that I have chosen to reject capitalism and embrace democratic socialism. As Peter Frase says, "The socialist tradition... holds that there is and should be something special about labor, because labor is people, and the freedom and welfare of the people is the proper subject of political economy."

Cogs that must be directed by a large central government.
Nope. That is one form of socialism, but it is not the onl or the inevitable form of socialism. Indeed, the major problem with a centralized, planned national economy is that it obliges faith in what noted capitalist and science fiction author David Brin calls "guided resource allocation" by a small minority of commissars with imperfect knowledge of a complex economy. And yet Brin also notes that this same problem arises when an economy falls under the control of a few thousand corporate CEOs rather than a few thousand commissars.

(Side-note: I disagree with Brin's faith that capitalism, properly regulated, can return American society to a more egalitarian state it enjoyed in the post-World War II, pre-Regan era, but I greatly respect his commitment to a level playing field, fair and transparent markets, and a diamond-shaped society in which very few people are poor or rich and most people are somewhere in the middle class. He's the kind of capitalist opposition I'd want to have in The World According to Sci to keep a democratic socialist majority in check.)

Again, the tendency of elites to think they can control an economy that can itself only be the aggregation of the individual life decisions of hundreds of millions of people -- whether those elites are Soviet commissars or corporate CEOs -- reduces people to the status of cogs in a machine.

That's why I am a member of Democratic Socialists of America rather than, say, the Revolutionary Communist Party USA. DSA recognizes, and I agree with, the necessity of some forms of market competition, while also seeking ways to place the means of production into the hands of those whose labor produces surplus value, rather than into the hands of an unproductive capitalist minority. The goal is worker empowerment rather than the reduction of people to the status of cogs in a machine. The goal is to find some way to make markets distribute wealth to a larger majority of people, instead of redistributing worker-generated wealth to a small minority.

And, to go and link it back to Star Trek, this is why I outlined an idea of socialism that, to me, makes sense and sounds most ideal. I tried to find an idea of an economy which, to me, seems most likely to promote freedom and social justice, and which, to me, seems reconcilable with Gene Roddenberry's anti-capitalist tendencies (even if I think the idea that there would be literally no medium of exchange/no currency to be ludicrous).

I suppose this would be awesome if this overarching government wasn't prone to establish iteslf as a ruler de facto, overcoming and eventually eliminating checks and balances to it.

Or if the leviathan was able to define and enforce "fair" in such a way that truly covers the needs of each and every subject under its rule without deference so special interests. Again, the big questions with socialism are:

A) Who gets to define fair?

B) How exactly is it defined?

C) What recourse does a constituency have in the case of disagreement or disenfranchisement?
The Unpopular Opinion Puffin has some insight to offer:

As sonak pointed out, all of these questions are applicable to capitalism. How could they not be, when the capitalist system is premised upon unequal contracts?

And as I and others have pointed out, there are versions of socialism that are not based upon state ownership of the means of production.

I've never seen these questions answered in a satisfactory way. My frustration with socialism in Star Trek is that these questions go completely unadressed. We never learn how the utopia was gained. It just is. That's lazy.
I agree with you here, actually. Obviously, Star Trek is about the people who live on the frontier away from the centers of this pseudo-utopia (not dystopia), and so the nature of how their society works and was built will never be its main focus. But I do firmly agree with you that Star Trek ought to deal more firmly with exactly how Federation society works and what its costs and benefits are. No system is perfect, and even a very optimistic vision of the future rooted in a leftist tradition will leave room for conflict and drama.

Government is like fire. Fire is essential. It's good, as long as you control it. Lose control of the fire, however, and disaster results.
I would go one step further: Wealth and power are like fire. Government is merely one of the ways in which wealth and power are channeled; government is just one way to control the fire.

Arpy wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
Arpy wrote: View Post
Sci, you shouldn't expect people to respect socialist principles when actual socialists don't respect people's time. Long, self-indulgent replies do little to sway support to one's cause.
I am not responsible for someone else's desire to reduce complex concepts into 30-second soundbites.
You're not preparing the Federal Budget; you're trying to sell it.
Actually, this thread is all about how we think Federation society works. Since this entails talking about how we think the Federation economy works -- that means that I am, indeed, preparing the federal budget, so to speak.

Arpy wrote:
PhoenixClass wrote: View Post
Umm, you know Sci was kinda backing you up, right?
Does it matter if his point doesn't get through to others? Or if adopting his preferred economics would only replace greedy in power with the arrogant?
I am aware of no system that can provide adequate safeguards against the accumulation of wealth and power by those who are arrogant. So far as I am aware, the best we can do is create mechanisms to empower the majority to hold the minority of those with power accountable; to limit the amounts of wealth and power any given person may accumulate; and to make the functionality of their power dependent upon their being competent.

Shawnster wrote: View Post
For a future civilization that doesn't have money, we're spending a lot of time discussing the economics of the Federation.
Because there's a lot of contradiction in Star Trek about whether or not the Federation has money -- and because a society can ultimately be described as the aggregation of the economic decisions its citizens make.

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
I would love to see what Parrises Squares is actually like. All we know is that it involves a ramp, an "ion mallet", and teams of 4 people.
I don't know. Sometimes I think it's more fun not knowing.
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Old March 27 2014, 04:55 PM   #153
sonak
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

Shawnster wrote: View Post
For a future civilization that doesn't have money, we're spending a lot of time discussing the economics of the Federation. Surely there are other things civilians do in the 23rd and 24th centuries.

Anbo Jyutsu was discussed. We also know they play Parrises Squares. Chess and various other table-top games exist, as well as cards and people still play poker. Flotter and Trevis have entertained countless children for generations.

Risa and Wrigley's Pleasure Planet offer diversions and getaways. People gamble at Quarks playing Dabo and Tongo. Racketball, springball and darts are not unknown.

Civilian scientists try to raise subcontinents from the ocean floor, build sentient robots, attempt to manipulate the fabric of time, study stars and other celestial bodies and phenomena. Some work on artificial wormholes and alternatives to FTL warp drive.

Terraforming projects and colonization efforts seem to be a regular activity among the 150 worlds and spreading out of the Federation. People perform service oriented jobs such as running bars or waiting tables. A few try their hand at being merchants, miners, doctors, lawyers and authors.

They open restaurants on Earth and Deep Space stations. Some run for politics and become president of the Federation. They grow grapes for wine or take up acting or play musical instruments. Some pursue competitive dancing.

I think it's ludicrous that the holodeck isn't THE primary form of recreation in the 24th century. It's sort of the Omni-media platform of that era, and you can do pretty much all the same forms of recreation there that you can do on Risa or a "vacation" spot.


1. sports
2. meet famous historical figures/run historical simulations
3. sex
4. fulfill personal fantasies(get to be movie star, president, etc.)
5. sex
6. go on vacations to anywhere the computer has on record
7. did I mention sex?



really, it's a conceit to Trek's positive vision of Human nature that the vast majority of the population isn't spending their time in their own holodeck or waiting in line at public ones.
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Old March 27 2014, 06:09 PM   #154
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

sonak wrote: View Post
I think it's ludicrous that the holodeck isn't THE primary form of recreation in the 24th century.
The people who go into the holodeck (certainly most of them) realize it simply isn't real, it's pretend time.

When you go into ten-forward and have a conversation with your friends, that's real.

did I mention sex?
Unless you bring someone with you, you're all by yourself in there.

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Old March 27 2014, 11:21 PM   #155
trekshark
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
I would love to see what Parrises Squares is actually like. All we know is that it involves a ramp, an "ion mallet", and teams of 4 people.
and apparently is dangerous enough that people often flip out at the idea of young teens playing it
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Old March 28 2014, 12:50 AM   #156
George Steinbrenner
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

^ Understandable, as the ramp is apparently high enough that somebody who falls off it risks serious injury and even death. (That is what happened to the EMH's "daughter" in Real Life.)
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Old March 29 2014, 06:52 PM   #157
sonak
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

T'Girl wrote: View Post
sonak wrote: View Post
I think it's ludicrous that the holodeck isn't THE primary form of recreation in the 24th century.
The people who go into the holodeck (certainly most of them) realize it simply isn't real, it's pretend time.

When you go into ten-forward and have a conversation with your friends, that's real.

did I mention sex?
Unless you bring someone with you, you're all by yourself in there.



I don't think that's the way it's intended to be. The computer uses its programming and knowledge to create the equivalent of highly advanced video game characters, and uses force fields and replicated matter to give things a solid appearance. So I don't think that holo-sex is meant to be intended as just elaborate masturbation.
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Old March 29 2014, 08:37 PM   #158
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

sonak wrote: View Post
I don't think that's the way it's intended to be. The computer uses its programming and knowledge to create the equivalent of highly advanced video game characters, and uses force fields and replicated matter to give things a solid appearance. So I don't think that holo-sex is meant to be intended as just elaborate masturbation.
No, it's just the fanciest sex toy.
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Old March 29 2014, 09:46 PM   #159
sonak
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

bbjeg wrote: View Post
sonak wrote: View Post
I don't think that's the way it's intended to be. The computer uses its programming and knowledge to create the equivalent of highly advanced video game characters, and uses force fields and replicated matter to give things a solid appearance. So I don't think that holo-sex is meant to be intended as just elaborate masturbation.
No, it's just the fanciest sex toy.


maybe that's the better analogy, yes
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Old March 29 2014, 10:11 PM   #160
JirinPanthosa
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

I don't think you can compare a Star Trek 24th century society without money to a contemporary socialist government. The existence of replicators eliminates scarcity of resources, something that can not be said of 21st century economics.

Capitalism certainly has its inequalities, but the idea that socialism eliminates those inequalities is ridiculous. You can take physical currency out of the equation but you can't take economic inequalities out of the system. Just if you have no money, power becomes the only currency. Have you not heard stories from the USSR where the people who had access to luxuries were the people with the most connections? How is that any better than it being based on wealth? At least when it's based on wealth there's the possibility of social mobility for people who don't go along with the leadership.

If replicators are invented to solve scarcity, that would be wonderful. Until then, a free market system is far better than one that puts the government in charge of the economy. Just, there should be education available to even out the playing field so it really is the hardest workers who make out the best.
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Old March 30 2014, 09:08 AM   #161
Sci
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
I don't think you can compare a Star Trek 24th century society without money to a contemporary socialist government. The existence of replicators eliminates scarcity of resources, something that can not be said of 21st century economics.
Well, it doesn't so much eliminate scarcity of resources as it decreases drastically decrease costs of numerous resources across the board. Nonetheless, replicators still need raw matter to work from -- they don't just create something out of nothing, but work by, as it were, "re-distributing" matter into new forms. So not only do they need raw matter, but they also need the information to replicate new patterns -- which itself might end up being subject to intellectual property laws.

Capitalism certainly has its inequalities,
"Certainly has its inequalities?" Tell that to the millions of people in America who go to sleep hungry every day.

You can take physical currency out of the equation but you can't take economic inequalities out of the system. Just if you have no money, power becomes the only currency. Have you not heard stories from the USSR where the people who had access to luxuries were the people with the most connections? How is that any better than it being based on wealth? At least when it's based on wealth there's the possibility of social mobility for people who don't go along with the leadership.

If replicators are invented to solve scarcity, that would be wonderful. Until then, a free market system is far better than one that puts the government in charge of the economy.
Nobody here has advocated for the kind of authoritarian, statist socialism you are describing. It is as disingenuous to portray all forms of socialism as akin to Russia under Stalin as it would be for me to equate all forms of capitalism to Chile under Pinochet.

If you wish to argue against someone, please argue against what they are actually advocating for. Otherwise, the word is "Strawman."

Just, there should be education available to even out the playing field so it really is the hardest workers who make out the best.
This presumes that a nominally meritocratic society (and what is capitalism, if not in part a form of meritocracy?) can actually function in a meritocratic fashion. The problem with this is that reality does not bear the meritocracy out; a system that provides vast rewards for success and harsh punishments for failure only creates incentives for political and economic actors to subvert the rules of fair play. Recent history bears this out in industry after industry, as those who benefit from a meritocratic industry find ways to rig the game to their own and their allies' benefits, thus reinforcing preexisting disparities and class divisions.

There is a reason that the term "meritocracy" originated in a satire that was designed to warn against such systems. As Christopher Hayes puts it in his brilliant Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy: "He who says meritocracy says oligarchy."
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Old March 30 2014, 09:10 PM   #162
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

Sci wrote: View Post
Well, it doesn't so much eliminate scarcity of resources as it decreases drastically decrease costs of numerous resources across the board. Nonetheless, replicators still need raw matter to work from -- they don't just create something out of nothing, but work by, as it were, "re-distributing" matter into new forms. So not only do they need raw matter, but they also need the information to replicate new patterns -- which itself might end up being subject to intellectual property laws.
And let's not forget that there are some people, such as Picard's family, who won't use replicators - Robert Picard wouldn't allow them in the home. I'm guessing that their parents were the same way. So how do the Picards get by?
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Old March 30 2014, 09:38 PM   #163
sonak
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

Sci wrote: View Post
JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
I don't think you can compare a Star Trek 24th century society without money to a contemporary socialist government. The existence of replicators eliminates scarcity of resources, something that can not be said of 21st century economics.
Well, it doesn't so much eliminate scarcity of resources as it decreases drastically decrease costs of numerous resources across the board. Nonetheless, replicators still need raw matter to work from -- they don't just create something out of nothing, but work by, as it were, "re-distributing" matter into new forms. So not only do they need raw matter, but they also need the information to replicate new patterns -- which itself might end up being subject to intellectual property laws.

Capitalism certainly has its inequalities,
"Certainly has its inequalities?" Tell that to the millions of people in America who go to sleep hungry every day.

You can take physical currency out of the equation but you can't take economic inequalities out of the system. Just if you have no money, power becomes the only currency. Have you not heard stories from the USSR where the people who had access to luxuries were the people with the most connections? How is that any better than it being based on wealth? At least when it's based on wealth there's the possibility of social mobility for people who don't go along with the leadership.

If replicators are invented to solve scarcity, that would be wonderful. Until then, a free market system is far better than one that puts the government in charge of the economy.
Nobody here has advocated for the kind of authoritarian, statist socialism you are describing. It is as disingenuous to portray all forms of socialism as akin to Russia under Stalin as it would be for me to equate all forms of capitalism to Chile under Pinochet.

If you wish to argue against someone, please argue against what they are actually advocating for. Otherwise, the word is "Strawman."

Just, there should be education available to even out the playing field so it really is the hardest workers who make out the best.
This presumes that a nominally meritocratic society (and what is capitalism, if not in part a form of meritocracy?) can actually function in a meritocratic fashion. The problem with this is that reality does not bear the meritocracy out; a system that provides vast rewards for success and harsh punishments for failure only creates incentives for political and economic actors to subvert the rules of fair play. Recent history bears this out in industry after industry, as those who benefit from a meritocratic industry find ways to rig the game to their own and their allies' benefits, thus reinforcing preexisting disparities and class divisions.

There is a reason that the term "meritocracy" originated in a satire that was designed to warn against such systems. As Christopher Hayes puts it in his brilliant Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy: "He who says meritocracy says oligarchy."

indeed, the very word "meritocracy" is like "utopia" in that it is an ideal, a form of society that can't possibly exist for a variety of reasons.
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Old March 31 2014, 03:45 AM   #164
DangerLRobinson
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

My thoughts about the futuristic utopia of the federation of planets goes as such that it is as simple as you get out of life what you put in if you build houses and need a car you go to a guy and say I will put a few improvements on your home or apartment for the bargain of fixing or making me a car. Even if a janitor and a house builder were to do a trade for goods the janitor would clean the builders houses in exchange for his own house being built. The thing about the star trek federation life is that no one would have to pay utilities and fuel for a car. Two peoples trades or expertise no matter what they are end up somehow paying each other off with an equal exchange for their labor.
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Old March 31 2014, 05:30 AM   #165
T'Girl
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Re: What is civlian life like in the Federation?

DangerLRobinson wrote: View Post
... if you build houses and need a car you go to a guy and say I will put a few improvements on your home or apartment for the bargain of fixing or making me a car.
Problem develops when the person who has (or makes) the thing you want has no use for what you have to offer.

That not a problem when you have a system that employs money, the house/car builder receives their payment and they uses that to acquire what they want or need.

What you can produce is irrelevant.

The thing about the star trek federation life is that no one would have to pay utilities and fuel for a car.
Fuel (or a power source) for your car might not be included on the list of basic necessities.

So the car sits in the driveway.

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