"The economics of the future are somewhat different..."

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Stevil2001, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That because we're not a welfare state, we have isolated separate welfare programs, we don't have what you might call a integrated system.

    True it's not, but you need to take into account that there is a significant percentage of the American population that doesn't want the country to one day become a "social democracy society." Obviously we already have some aspect of one, but more than we already have, it just might not happen.

    Things like that not how other Western nations do things has absolutely no impact here.

    Federation wide? I would say no, it would vary from Member to Member. Some would be literally cradle to grave, other would have next to none.

    That's an interesting idea, seating by invitation only, Sisko decides, and celebrities come running.

    :)
     
  2. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Capt. Picard: This is the 24th century. Material needs no longer exist.
    Ralph Offenhouse: Then what's the challenge?
    Capt. Picard: The challenge, Mr. Offenhouse, is to improve yourself. To enrich yourself. Enjoy it.


    Oh, if only we could devote all of our time and effort to self-improvement, instead of wasting it performing tasks that we hate, surrounded by people that annoy us, struggling to stay one step ahead of the next mortgage payment, or out of the homeless shelter.

    Put another way, I'd gladly work for free, as long as it was because I wanted to, and not because I had to. Something about spending 50 years with a gun to my head, helping make other people rich, and maybe being able to die at the end of it all with $5 in my checking account if I'm lucky really pisses me off. Every single day.
     
  3. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We've learned from various episodes that the Federation has certain basic standards and expectations for membership, such as no caste systems and a certain level of civil freedoms. I would hope that the Federation would have a basic standard of social welfare that would apply to all member planets.
     
  4. grendelsbayne

    grendelsbayne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    On the other hand, didn't we see any number of relatively primitive outposts/colonies which physically probably simply could not provide the same standard of living as a cushy established world like Earth?
     
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I posted in a another thread recently, if the Bajorians were a powerful and wealth interstellar state, with a strong fleet and hundreds of prosperous colonies, and they wanted the join the Federation. Oh, and they had castes.

    And more than wanted, the Federation needed the
    Bajorian to join.

    Would anyone have even mentioned the thing about the castes?

    If powerful Vulcan still had the central command government when the Federation was formed, would the other founders have said no you can't join our community?

    Which is a foolish piece of philosophical fluff, of course material needs still exist.

    I truly believe that a lot of what Picard was saying in that episode reflected his own personal philosophy of life, and not an overall blueprint of Humanity the 24th century.
     
  6. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In a Welfare State, the problem is, you eventually run out of other people's money.
     
  7. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    DS9 establishes pretty clearly that Earth is a paradise - not the entire Federation, the colonies doubtless have a harder time, but the colonists are likely chosen competitively, why would you take the lazy or stupid to build a new world?

    The reality of our current economies is that we need everyone to work, or think we do, so we pretty much have to make welfare stingy enough that for the majority there is no choice.

    In Trek's high tech future you don't, and basic needs like food and housing will be incredibly cheap due to technology. So why be stingy, get fat you workshy chaps, I'll be off in my starship so nuts to you, it makes no difference to me.

    The Federation doesn't need to be socialist, you can actually mix social democracy and individual achievement, it isn't impossible.
     
  8. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Earth as a paradise, i guess it would be a matter of how you define paradise, a total welfare state wouldn't be my idea of a paradise.

    So when Earth is describe as such, to me the fan, that means it isn't a welfare state.

    YMMV,

    :)
     
  9. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I remember this from a character from a DS9 episode;

    She had to have gotten that notion from somewhere. This sounds strongly like a welfare state description, but with non of the negative connotations like from today.

    With the 'work to better ourselves and humanity' idea combined with no needs or wants statements, poverty being eliminated, and the humans don't possess money--

    Trek is strongly suggesting that replicators and other tech are providing all basic needs and even luxury needs.

    As if there is a replicator in every home and the energy is easily provided to them.

    As a result, with the Federation's philosophy, something like universal healthcare has to be a given in 24th century Earth.

    Parts are easily replicated, and the doctors do it to better themselves and humanity.

    So, almost everything is free?
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  10. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That was a silly slogan when Maggie Thatcher used it to refer to the "problem" with socialism and it's still silly. What does it even mean? Assuming that you have a growing economy and a reasonable tax rate, why would you "run out" of "other people's" money?(putting aside the ridiculous distinction between wealth that is socially produced anyway)
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hardly silly, if part of your welfare comes from business taxes, well businesses have shown over the last few decade that they can be very mobile in the face of excessive costs, they simply relocate. Taxes on individuals can also rise to the point they stop creating new businesses, and the new jobs that come with them

    What would be a reasonable average marginal tax rate, above 50%, or below 25%?,

    And if you don't have a growing economy this year, surely the taxes should drop from where they were during the growing economic time periods?

    *****

    On Earth the paradise, the majority of the people wouldn't need government assistance programs, the healthy economy in paradise would see near universal employment. A social safety net would exist, but be rarely use.

    Average wages and typical medical costs would allow people to pay the majority of their medical charges out of their back pocket, insurance (for the most part private) would step in only for the rare unusually expensive treatment or procedure.

    Sensible regulations (few in number) would encourage new businesses and job creation, regulations certainly would not make starting a business a paperwork nightmare.

    Paradise.

    :)
     
  12. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    But if it complex medical treatment is as a rare as you say it is, why not go with Universal Health Care.

    If we take today for example, how much does the average American spend on Medical Insurace, and does that provide 100% cover of costs?

    and how does that cost compared to tax funded Health Care systems?
     
  13. PhoenixClass

    PhoenixClass Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm not sure what point you are making with the Bajoran hypothetical. Would the Federation have bent the it's enlighten rules for political gain? I certainly hope they wouldn't. But it's a hypothetical question so it's really its own discussion.

    I think you are reading Picard's line too literally. It's obvious that, as you say, needs still exist - humans still have to eat. What he's really saying is that it's no longer a problem to fulfill those needs. That was clear from the context of the line: Offenhouse (here we go again) was complaining about his money. Which is really him worrying about how he was going to provide for himself. To which Picard replies, don't worry about it, fulfilling material needs is no longer a challenge.

    It is a general description of humanity. I don't think the existence of replicators and various statements about earth and human philosophy elsewhere in the show support such a limited interpretation of that line.

    "Earth as a paradise, i guess it would be a matter of how you define paradise, a total welfare state wouldn't be my idea of a paradise.

    So when Earth is describe as such, to me the fan, that means it isn't a welfare state."

    I think you make an important point here. Star Trek, of course, exists in our minds. And this is probably why the writers chose not to specifically define the economy of Earth or the Federation. They show us glimpses, they limit the possibilities of what the economy could be, they show us the end results, but they still leave enough room for each viewers imagination.

    (sorry, still figuring out how to quote from different posts)
     
  14. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But what is so wrong with it? In a state of extreme plenty, if people don't want to work why should they?

    You seem to be assuming that the future needs everyone to be productive? Our current economic situation requires high productivity to be competitive but this in itself leads to staggering levels of waste. We have already advanced beyond the point when everyone needs to work for us to survive.

    So, when your shit jobs are done by robots, holograms and machines, computers manage anything else even remotely menial, and technology allows vast production at tiny cost and effort, what exactly are all these people going to do?

    It is not like anyone has ever said the Trek "utopia" is achievable in our current economic reality, but why would anyone HAVE to work when they don't really need to? Better by far for the remaining professions (i.e. Starfleet) to be occupied by people who want to do them.

    There is on-screen evidence that some jobs that could be perceived as menial still exist, but logically our economy could go the way I describe above in the very near future.
     
  15. jmampilly

    jmampilly Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree with the idea that people don't necessarily have to work, and that there is a social safety net on all Federation worlds which prevent such levels of poverty which could be considered "unacceptable" in a "Utopian" society. However, the idea that a significant portion of the population chooses not to benefit the ecoinomy in same way is implausible. Especially in the face of such problems as war and natural disaster, surely people would feel the urge to work in order to benefit the economy, and the Federation as a whole. For example, during the Dominion War, it's difficult to believe that a significant number of individuals in the Federation chose to do nothing as the Alpha Quadrant's greatest threat loomed over them.
     
  16. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    What would be needed for the Federation to be considered a paradise, indeed for it to be attractive enough that planetary governments would want to join it, and submit to its entry standards? I am short on time, but there are many things that could be discussed. I will mention one.

    Food: cheap (or free) healthy, environmentally sustainable food. Lots and lots of that food. Most depictions of food production in Star Trek either show people in small artisinal gardens or large scale factory style farming. Other examples include replicators, which require raw materials that would require specialized production and packaging. In any case, there would have to be an organized distribution network of foodstuffs that would allow a fertile area to be used to its maximum potential, and the foodstuffs produced there to be distributed. That would require some kind of central exchange or government exchange. It would also require a centralized method of compensating the workers who produce the food or at the very least providing for the cost of the raw materials needed to produce and package the food.

    There is no logical explanation for a lack of SIGNIFICANT government involvement in food production and distribution in the Federation.
     
  17. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Why? Seriously the only reason people work now is because they have to, as maximum economic production is the only way our economy knows how to grow, but it is incredibly wasteful, and is using natural resources at a staggering rate. It is also badly managed, the western world is fat and other parts starve. While the current economic system has led to unprecedented success, it is also not sustainable.

    The world does not need 7 billion workers now, in the trekverse it sure as hell doesnt need 9 billion. What would they all do?

    A lot of them would probably better themselves. They might want to join starfleet and achieve great things, but, as Picard says, the economics of the future are different.

    What I find interesting about these threads is people debate their interpretation based on their own beliefs, be they conservative economic ideas or more socialist ones. We forget all current economic systems are based on allocation of very scarce resources, and the bar for these in the trekverse is so high that I suspect the basics and little luxuries are very easily obtained, changing the game entirely.
     
  18. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    Just because a society allows for its citizens to not work does not mean that they don't. The Picard quote is usually taken to mean that the individual has the option to do whatever will satisfy their personal sense of fulfillment. This can mean that a given society, the Federation here, has a disproportionately large percentage of artists per capita, as a large number of people find emotional fulfillment in some method of creation, be it painting, sculpture, or even music. Those with enough talent are rewarded for their contributions on a scale commensurate with their talent. But it applies to any profession or craft that society has to offer.

    Me, I like to draw. I'd love to do it for a living. But I'd love even more the opportunity to draw without having to do something else to pay for my food, shelter, clothing and art supplies. That is the nature of such a social democracy/utopian society.

    As stated above, people that have a love for producing these foodstuffs will be in the front lines of production of them, as they will be the ones most desirous to grow/cook food as a profession. Take Sisko's dad. He makes sure every potato is peeled by hand. I'll bet you real money he doesn't grow the potatoes, but rather gets them out of the replicator. All he really needs is a database with enough different individual potato patterns that the quirky, slight difference we see today in any restaurant's potatoes from day to day is preserved. Once the government has recorded all those patterns, their job is done.
     
  19. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually empirical studies done in the US have indicated that there is little to no relationship between tax rates and economic productivity. The 1945-73 post-war boom in the US occurred during a time of much higher taxation, so yes the argument is fundamentally silly. Also, as you spend more on things like health care and education for your citizens, you often get...

    ta da! more productive citizens!


    Um, I'm sure that the Federation's economic advisors are aware of this as well, or something related to Star Trek.
     
  20. Vandervecken

    Vandervecken Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If Ferenginar would allow a small human population, I'd rather live there, frankly. All this nicey-nicey, here-have-anything-you-want-stuff makes me nauseous. And my wives would have to stay naked.

    ------------

    That raises a question: Are the other intragalactic empires we know, who have pretty much the same technological capabilities as the Feds, structured also as seemingly inexorably logical socialist states? I have a hard time believing the Klingons have universal health care, even if they're capable of it. The Romulans--mebbe.

    All these empires have one other very important resource no nation on earth has any longer, and one worth far more than any technological magic hat: limitless frontiers.