Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by Pubert, May 2, 2020.
In future socialist utopia, everyone gets a goldfish.
Even if that were true, does he also give out complimentary drinks in his bar? On an ongoing, regular basis?
Well it certainly has a bar, but I'm not sure it takes up all that much of the primary hull. Heck, it doesn't even take up that much of the deck it's on!
I'm not sure what you are trying to argue here? It's pretty well established that by the 24th Century, humanity has moved beyond material possessions and the need for money. Worf's weapon, Riker's trombone, Picard's saddle - these are all utilitarian devices. Star Trek doesn’t do away with the need for things. Things are necessary for survival and for their mission, but there is an abundance of material goods thanks to technology, so no one is competing for wealth. Wealth is no longer the “challenge”. Instead it’s learning, discovery, and humanitarianism.
“a lot has changed in the past three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We’ve grown out of our infancy.”
“The Neutral Zone”
Lack of money is not established just in the one episode that I took the quote from, but across the various series.
"Don't tell me they don't use money in the 23rd century," says Gillian and Kirk earnestly replied, "Well, we don't."
"The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn't exist in the 24th century... The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity." (Star Trek: First Contact)
Now, it can be argued that in Star Trek Picard, money is once again a source of division.
"In the series’ third episode, “The End Is the Beginning,” Raffi says, “I saw you sitting back in your very fine chateau – those big oak beams, heirloom furniture. I’d show you around my estate, but it’s more of a hovel, so that would just be humiliating.” Indeed, the show’s visuals support Raffi’s characterization: she appears to live in a futuristic trailer while Picard has a functioning vineyard."
This above quote is taken verbatim from this article:
In future socialist utopia, goldfish gets you!
Stuff is stuff, and it's well-established that real stuff is valued over replicated stuff...like Picard's saddle. Never mind something like the Kurlan naiskos, which is valuable because it's the real thing...replicating it would be pointless.
That Picard's family had a vineyard was established in TNG. Picard just showed that not everyone is so lucky to have an inheritance like that.
In Picard, we see individual people who live on the periphery of Federation society. That doesn't mean that humanity in general hasn't moved beyond the need for financial and material gain. Every single time we saw money used was when the characters did something outside the system. Rios was charging his passengers because he was flying off the books (a service that has a definite market for it, if you remember McCoy trying to book a flight to Genesis secretly in TSFS), but I'm pretty sure that if Picard just took ordinary mass transit or a completely law-abiding pilot, he wouldn't have needed to pay anything.
Also, Raffi probably could've received a perfectly normal apartment or house if she applied for it, and the Federation could probably even offer her a plot on a new colony; like it was pointed out before, Dahj was a university grad in her early twenties and had a pretty nice apartment all for herself without any indication that she had to pay rent. Raffi lived the way she did because she intentionally went off the grid, and resented Picard for his splendid isolation.
Why would the examples of Raffi and Rios be indicative of the Federation being a stratified capitalist economy when their entire point is that they are living on the periphery and outside the system?
Well, not necessarily. DS9's "Little Green Men" estbalished that Quark had to sell his now-defunct shuttle, the Quark's Treasure, in order to afford the cost of tickets on a transport from Earth back to Deep Space 9. We also know that:
Miners on Janus IV felt that there was an opportunity to become very wealthy with the assistance of the Horta (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark")
Starfleet officers purchased goods and services on Deep Space Station K-7 using Federation credits (TOS: "The Trouble With Tribbles")
As of 2267, Starfleet had invested 122,200-some-odd something into Spock. Presumably he was referring to at least 122,200 Federation credits. (TOS: "The Apple")
Scotty bought a boat in 2293 (TUC)
Kirk sold the house he lived in with Antonia before returning to Starfleet (GEN)
As noted by others, Crusher purchased items of clothing at a market on Farpoint Station and charged it to her account on the Enterprise-D (TNG: "Encounter At Farpoint")
Starfleet officers often purchased food and drink at Quark's Bar on Deep Space 9 (every episode)
A Vulcan merchant jacked up the price of an item he was selling at a market when he saw that Tuvok and Janeway were Starfleet officers (VOY: "The Gift")
We also know that Joseph Sisko has a restaurant in New Orleans where humanoids were employed as servers. I have never met anyone willing to work as a restaurant server for free, and I strongly suspect the number of people willing to volunteer for such work is insufficient to keep a restaurant functioning.
These things all seem to contradict the idea that there's no money in the 24th Century. My attempt to reconcile these seemingly contradictory nuggets of information would be to speculate that, in addition to the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production in favor of communal ownership (so, yes, I would speculate that Joseph doesn't actually "own" his restaurant but rather is a first-among-equals in a worker-owned co-op; same with the Picard family vineyard), there is an extensive welfare state in each Federation Member State that provides modest but comfortable and safe living conditions for every Federation citizen as a baseline. (I would hypothesize that Dahj's apartment in Boston is a good example of the kind of living conditions you get free of charge in the Federation -- very nice, very comfortable, though the replicator doesn't have everything you could possibly want programmed into it.) I would speculate from there that Federation citizens who want more than that baseline can participate in commerce to obtain pleasant but unnecessary luxuries from the market.
* * *
Re: Allegations that PIC ruins the utopianism of TNG-era Trek. I stand by what I wrote in the "Let's talk about the destruction of Trek utopia..." thread:
Guinan served the real stuff there too. You just had to specify you wanted it. In any case, booze is booze. You still got buzzed, or what would be the point?
And yes 10 Forwarded isn't a large fraction of the ship, but it's not a small bolt-hole place with just enough room to hand out cup of synthehol. It's large, by the standards of other rooms seen on board. There's been evidence in very era of trek that there's a lot of drinking going on.
Other than one interchange from TVH, there's really very little evidence that the 23rd century Federation was post-money, and lots and lots of one-off lines which suggest money still exists. Things flip entirely starting with Berman Trek however, where there are several long, canonical statements that money doesn't exist in the Federation (or at least, isn't used among humans) while there's really just a handful of lines from the first 1-2 seasons of TNG which suggest otherwise.
My headcanon is once replicator technology was perfected, (which I believe wasn't until some time between TOS and TNG - though DIS made it a little murkier) basically any thing you wanted was free. Federation culture became post-scarcity, and wealthy enough that a "credit" system could be put into place which provided a basic income that people used to make purchases from non-Federation vendors.
I wouldn't say there are "several." I can think of four: Jean-Luc's lines to Ralph in "The Neutral Zone;" Jean-Luc's lines to Lilly in First Contact; Jake's lines to Nog in "In the Cards;" and Tom's lines about Fort Knox in "Dark Frontier, Part I."
I think there are more nuggets than that. Per Ex Astris Scientia's article on the topic:
Four Starfleet starships rally at a planet called Dytallix B, which is said to be owned by the Dytallix Mining Corporation. Dytallix is apparently in Federation space. (TNG: "Conspiracy")
The Federation bids a sum of 1,500,000 Federation credits for the Barzan Wormhole. (TNG: "The Price", offer depicted in STTNG: The Continuing Mission)
It becomes obvious that Dr. Apgar's reason for developing the Krieger wave generator was to sell it to the highest bidder. (TNG: "A Matter of Perspective")
Federation officers have to and are able to pay for drinks and for holosuite usage in Quark's bar. (DS9)
Although Kasidy Yates operates her freighter Xhosa under the authority of the Petarians, it is a (supposedly) human-built ship owned by a human. (DS9: "Family Business")
Quark sells his damaged shuttle to a scrapyard, obviously in the Sol system. (DS9: "Little Green Men")
Joseph Sisko maintains a restaurant in New Orleans, which is open every evening. Would he be at other people's service just for fun? (DS9: "Homefront", "Image in the Sand")
The Bank of Bolias is the primary financial institute on the planet Bolias (also known as Bolarus?), homeworld to the Bolians and very likely a member of the Federation. (DS9: "Who Mourns for Mourn", "Honor Among Thieves")
Yanas Tigan owns a mining company on New Sydney. Although the planet may not be under Federation jurisdiction, Trill is clearly supposed to be a Federation member. (DS9: "Prodigal Daughter")
Tuvok, together with Janeway, buys a meditation lamp from a Vulcan master who doubles the price when he notices their Starfleet insignia. (VOY: "The Gift")
Earth's cities in the late 24th century are full of advertising for brands, as neon signs on buildings as well as on smaller billboards in the streets. (PIC: "Remembrance")
In addition to the above (all taken verbatim from EAS), I would cite the VOY episode "Author, Author," in which Broht & Forrester, a holo-novel publisher, insists on violating the Doctor's intellectual property rights by publishing his holo-novel Photons Be Free without his permission. Broht & Forrester's actions make absolutely no sense unless they're under some sort of economic pressure to publish the holo-novel in order to earn income.
I would add to that things that can be acquired on a Federation world but which still exist in a certain level of scarcity. You may, for instance, want a beachfront house, but there are only so many beaches where you can build a house and only so many houses that can be built on such beaches (unless you move out to a colony world, which you may not want to do). You may want to eat a meal prepared by a renowned chef, but that chef can only serve so many meals in a day and can only work so many days, etc.
I think hypothesizing that the necessary implements for living a life that's comfortable, healthy, and safe all exist in such a level of abundance that they can be provided free of charge, but that there are still markets for goods and services (often unnecessary luxuries) that exist in a level of scarcity for those who wish to obtain them, is a good rationalization for the seeming contradictions of ST canon on this topic.
That’s why you can “shake it off”. All the pleasure and none of the pain.
There was a second reference in VOY. In the episode "Random Thoughts" Janeway states she's "not used to handling currency" when making a purchase on the Mari homeworld.
A lot of these are easily explainable. Maybe the Bolians are capitalist even though the Federation at large is not for example. And it's pretty clear that when people interact outside the Federation they need to have access to some sort of money. I mean, do you expect that Quark would let the Federation officers there drink free of charge, just because that's what a Federation bar does?
Possibly. I would note however there's very little evidence (the single reference to Dytallix Mining aside) that anyone works for corporations at all. When we meet people who aren't employed by Starfleet, they're usually either working for various institutes, independently employed, or not doing much of anything. Therefore if there is a residual capitalism it probably doesn't look much like anything we have experience with. Maybe money exists, but profit does not, with anything above operating costs going back into Federation coffers?
Sorry, I meant this mainly in the context of Picard, but you're right about the examples you've listed about the Federation's money economy, including the adverts in Boston that do muddle my point. Most of what I could say are mere nitpicks. As for Quark having to pay for his transport I wonder if it's really because public transport isn't free in the Federation or because it's subsidized by the state's welfare system that he as a non-citizen doesn't necessarily have access to. I'd imagine that replicators are free to use for even non-citizens because whatever matter they use is so abundant (my headcanon is that they use deuterium because it's the most compact isotope that has all three subatomic particles, but they might even be developed enough to be able to resequence normal molecular hydrogen), but what about services like healthcare, habitation or transport?
Naturally, it makes sense that the only things that can be truly marketed in the Federation are mostly things that cannot be replicated, like intellectual property or plots of land. As for the latter, I wonder if there exists some government scheme offering real estate on newly established colonies free of charge to promote immigration.
Here's the thing and were I get hung up on this argument-we are assuming that Raffi is being perfectly honest in terms of her description. She is clearly resentful of Picard, as well as choosing to be off grid, as noted below.
Exactly. Why are we taking Raffi and Rios as being the prime examples of Federation economy when the whole point is the fact that they are on the fringes.
For me this is the sticking point and where, regardless of personal feelings, DSC and PIC have contributed to the expansion of Star Trek as a world. There is this trend of assuming that what we see in Star Trek is indicative of cultures as a whole. The Starship Enterprise in TOS? All starships must look like that. Klingon culture? All about honor, with one starship design, and no variation.
Regardless of what one feels about these newer shows they have done more to expand upon the variety cultures in Trek and that should be celebrated, not reviled.
I suppose I would agree but i would put it as the least off-putting thing about the show in the list of off-putting things.
Good catch! Though I don't think that's strong evidence against the existence of currency per se. It's strong evidence against the existence of physical currency. Even today, some people are more used to handling credit cards and debit cards than they are cash.
How could that possibly work? Economic systems do not function like that within a sovereign state. It would be as though Massachusetts were socialist and Utah were capitalist; a federal union cannot function if there isn't a uniform set of economic laws across its jurisdiction.
Of course not. But why would the Federation Starfleet make special provision to pay officers aboard a Federation Starbase so that they can use luxury facilities like Quark's, when they clearly have replicators in their quarters and when Starfleet or a Federation agency could obviously set up a restaurant/bar service on the station free of charge? The only way it makes sense is if the Starfleet crew were already getting paid.
I mean, depends on what you mean by "corporation." Personally I detest the modern legal structure of a corporation. But that doesn't mean firms don't exist engaged in commerce, such as Broht & Forrester or the Tigan mining company. We know that Richard Bashir was employed by a number of firms, including an interplanetary transportation company.
Well, I would suggest that we need to be specific about our terminology here.
Capitalism is not the same thing as commerce or use of currency. Rather, capitalism is a particular economic system characterized by private ownership of the means of production -- and, I would argue, by a stratified, hierarchical class system in which wealth is redistributed upwards from the working class (who create wealth through their labor) to a mostly unproductive ownership class (the capitalist class) who are able to coerce the working class into agreeing to their subordination through the working class's lack of economic leverage.
You can have commerce, and currency, without capitalism. Market socialism, for instance, is a variety of socialism in which workers at a firm collectively own the means of production in the form of a worker-owned co-operative, and democratically manage the function of the co-op for their collective benefit; the surplus value their labor creates (aka, profits) are equitably distributed amongst all of the worker-owners.
Personally, I think that requiring all profits to go back to the state would be a form of theft; workers create wealth, and they should receive the wealth their labor creates. Capitalism is obviously evil and oppressive, but I personally would suggest that the Federation has a system of market socialism, and that this system is how people may afford luxuries if they want more than what the welfare state provides.
Maybe, though I don't like the idea of that kind of discrimination. Alternately, maybe there is free interstellar transportation, but it wouldn't have arrived on DS9 soon enough for Quark, Rom, and Odo's needs. Either way, it's clear that there is some form of commercial transportation provided along a route that runs from Earth to DS9 in the 2370s.
I would certainly hope that in the enlightened 24th Century, people are able to obtain all three for free!
That would explain what induces people to want to leave Paradise to go live on an undeveloped rock...
We never really get a clear view of how the Federation works, but there are various factors (like the ability of member worlds to unilaterally secede, and the Vulcans maintaining their own fleet) which suggest it's a looser setup than the U.S. Possibly it's more akin to the European Union. I've always liked the idea that Starfleet is just one of several different Federation organizations that does exploration, science, and defense - partially because it helps to explain why it's so human-dominated without turning the Federation into a "humans are first among equals" club.
Deep Space Nine was not a Federation Starbase though. It was Bajoran territory, although SIsko served as the overall commander of the station. Many episodes made it clear though the majority of residents were Bajoran or otherwise non-Starfleet. Given there were many non-Federation merchants on the station, there would be numerous reasons that a Starfleet officer would have to be given petty cash.
Point taken. Though again, I don't think the existence of corporations on non-Federation worlds or in interplanetary space really says much about how the Federation itself does business.
I don't really see any evidence of worker-owned cooperative enterprises existing in Trek canon. I think it's safer to just presume as a (largely) post scarcity economy, the residual market remaining in the core Federation worlds (or at least Earth) is so attenuated from day-to-day life it's entirely unremarked upon.
Ah, but there are some complications to that...
I know the idea that Federation Members can unilaterally secede is pretty common in Trek fandom, but I honestly can't remember any canonical line of dialogue establishing it. I don't disagree with the concept, but I don't think it's actually canon. (Please correct me if I'm forgetting something!)
Maintaining your own fleet isn't necessarily an indication that it's not still a federal union with sovereignty over its members. State defense forces are still a thing in the United States, for instance; there's the Ohio Naval Militia, the California State Guard, the Maryland Defense Force, etc.
The preponderance of evidence suggests the Federation is a sovereign state; it possesses all the traits thereof: its own military force in the Federation Starfleet; a law enforcement arm in Federation Security (TSFS); a set of territory over which it possesses sovereignty, which it defends against foreign encroachment, and which it may trade to other polities ("The Best of Both Worlds, Part I;" "Journey's End"); a legislature capable of making binding law throughout its territory ("Force of Nature"); an executive who conducts foreign policy without consulting with the constituent polities (TUC), who has the authority to declare a State of Emergency and put military forces on the streets ("Homefront"), and who has the authority to pardon criminals ("Will You Take My Hand?"); a Supreme Court possessing the power of judicial review ("Dr. Bashir, I Presume?"); an extensive system of courts, including grand juries with indictment power ("The Ascent"); an extensive bureaucracy (every goddamn Federation Department of This-and-that throughout the franchise); etc.
Even if the Federation is more like the European Union than a sovereign federal union -- which I strongly disagree with -- the European Union was explicitly founded upon the idea of its Member States possessing a single economic system and the E.U. is empowered to enforce a uniform set of economic laws across all of its Member States, including specifically laws governing the Common Market, the free movement of capital, the free movement of people, and regulations specifying minimal standards for all goods sold through the Common Market. It is an explicitly capitalist institution, formed to promote and protect the capitalist system throughout Europe. The European Union could not function if any of its member genuinely abandoned capitalism in favor of another economic system; the closest it can allow is a social-democratic variation of capitalism such as exists in the Nordic countries.
I just assume we're not seeing a representative sample and that most of those seeming-Humans we see in the background are just Human-like aliens.
Numerous episodes made it clear that the station was Bajoran territory administered as a Federation starbase. The same way, for instance, Ramstein Air Base is a United States Air Force Base operated on sovereign German territory.
But why would Starfleet make special provision for that when it could just install the desired services and operate them free of charge? It's not like it's that hard to set aside part of the Promenade, declare it a Federation bar, and have the replicators hand out food and drink for free. It makes more sense to assume they were already being paid than to assume that Starfleet made a special provision for them.
I think that depends on how many Federation citizens are employed through them.
To be clear, that bit is absolutely speculation on my part, to reconcile seemingly contradictory evidence from the canon and the general anti-capitalist spirit of Roddenberry's writing.
Except humanity hasn't really grown out of its infancy in the 24th century it just thinks it has. We see tons of examples to support this across all of the series. It's the whole reason Q is testing 24th century humanity.
Picard passed Q's tests... Humanity had evolved.
Separate names with a comma.