The Future of Humanity's Economy
by Saab Lofton
"Money is a terrible thing. Why do people work at jobs in Star Trek? Why does someone become a baker? Because the family is going to starve to death? No. People become bakers because certain people love the smell of things baking."
--Gene Roddenberry, from Yvonne Fern's book, The Last Conversation
"By the time I joined TNG [The Next Generation], Gene [Roddenberry] had decreed that money most emphatically did NOT exist in the Federation, nor did 'credits' and that was that. Personally, I've always felt this was a bunch of hooey, but it was one of the rules and that's that."
--Ronald D. Moore, writer and producer of several Star Trek episodes
... I got your "hooey," right here, you fucking bastard ...
Why am I so upset with Ronald D. Moore? Because Star Trek's fame enables it to reach the masses on a regular basis (something everyone to the left of Dennis Kucinich dreams of) -- and seeing as how capitalism has raped us since Day One, we the people need the relief Star Trek can provide; by depicting a future Earth in which "money went the way of the dinosaur" according to an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, a supposedly lowly TV show instills a little thing called HOPE.
Unfortunately, Roberto Orci, one of the screenwriters behind the 2009 Star Trek movie*, has defied Gene Roddenberry in a major way: In a Q&A with fans, Orci stated that, "there's money, or some kind of credit system in this universe."
Here's what Orci meant by "this universe": In the recent film*, a villain from the far future slightly altered how Captain Kirk and Mister Spock first met, so the storyline's version of the mid 23rd century has been changed somewhat -- mainly to keep anal retentive fanboys from foaming at the mouth ...
... however, trivial details about which ship Kirk served on first mean less than nothing compared to the loss of a source of hope for the poor. Star Trek becomes just another sci fi franchise without its vision of a future devoid of poverty and I will NOT tolerate this. Star Trek can't simply be a means by which Paramount Pictures/Viacom can rake in billions, it must also serve something greater than itself.
For the record, in the movie Star Trek: First Contact, Counselor Troi explains that, "[proof of intelligent, extraterrestrial life] unites Humanity in a way no one ever thought possible when they realize they're not alone in the universe. Poverty, disease, war -- they'll all be gone within the next fifty years." Now, First Contact was made in the year 2063 -- so fifty years after that is 2113, and any fan knows that's BEFORE the events of Orci's movie, which take place 150 years later (AND before the invention of replicators, so it's SOCIAL progress -- NOT some gadget or gizmo -- that saves the impoverished).
Star Trek is usually set about a couple hundred years from now. Well, go back in time a couple hundred years (1810), grab the first white man you see, tell him someone half-black-and-half-white is President of the United States and watch what happens. That 19th century white man will find Obama as unbelievable as this modern world finds Star Trek to be, so an absence of currency in the next century only requires the same combination of imagination and action that it took to get Ol' Big Ears in the White House. Professor Noam Chomsky wrote in his essay Language and Freedom that, "social action must be animated by a vision of a future society," so get to it.
(Obama's an overrated pretty boy, and at best, a corporate centrist, but he's gotta be good for something, and his mixed ethnicity does scare white supremacists, so ...)
Ironically, our past holds a clue insofar as how one can live like a Federation citizen: In The Book of Lists #2 by Irving Wallace and David Wallechinsky, it says that, "[George Washington] refused the $500 monthly salary offered him, accepting payment only for expenses. He came out almost $400,000 ahead of what his total salary would have been for 1775 - 1783."
In other words, George Washington's meals were free so long as Washington was president (this was affordable because there weren't any nuclear missiles to pay for in the 1700s), and as Roddenberry said right before his death, "people become bakers because certain people love the smell of things baking." So on the future Earth he envisioned, people only work their dream jobs (in terms of economic evolution, asking Captain Kirk to flip burgers to pay the bills would be the equivalent of asking today's Africans to pick cotton) and everyone's labor of love provides, via barter, everyone else with whatever they desire. Like America's founding father, the expenses of Federation citizens are covered -- and the following exchange between two Star Trek characters illustrates best how it works ...
Jake Sisko: I'm Human, I don't have any money.
Nog: It's not my fault that your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement.
Jake Sisko: Hey, watch it. There's nothing wrong with our philosophy. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity.
Nog: What does that mean, exactly?
Jake Sisko: It means we don't need money.
... and as I've cited soooo many times, Scandinavian countries have BOTH free expression AND free social services (Cold Warriors be damned for forcing folks at gunpoint to choose between the two) and their poverty rates are rock bottom low, so if you want a glimpse of how characters in Star Trek live, visit Northwestern Europe.
Even I come fairly close to approximating life in the United Federation of Planets: I'm on food stamps and I live in subsidized housing so I can afford to write full time ... And if anybody got a problem with that, tell the corporately-owned mass media to stop censoring me, hire my black ass and pay me enough to buy my own house, 'cause I'd rather die like a samurai than stock shelves at WalMart!
So what's clogging up the plumbing of progress like a hairball? Those goddamn laissez-faire libertarians who're psychotically obsessed with living MTV Cribs lifestyles and don't care if such a lifestyle is paid for in BLOOD. Bottom line? Their greedy asses are threatened by Star Trek and are absolutely petrified its popularity might inspire the masses to demand that the rich be taxed in order for there to be ethical/eco-friendly job creation; since they fantasize about waking up in a MC Hammer mansion one day, taxing the wealthy the last thing any of them want.
If you throw a rock in the air, it'll inevitably land on some libertarian scumbag who's written some snide diatribe about how "Human Nature" (NO such thing, by the way) will supposedly forever prevent the Human race from abolishing poverty as Star Trek has depicted. To wit, I say fuck the libertarians! Their bitchy cynicism will be the death of us all! As the Reverend Jesse Jackson once said ...
"Cynicism is a threat to progress. Hope is the key to change. No cynic has ever led a movement for change. Hope must drive leadership, not cynicism and not fear. Hope and dreams will take you forward. Cynicism and fear will take you backwards."
... I have sacrificed love itself in order to bring Gene Roddenberry's vision to life. In contrast, those who worked closest to the man have betrayed him. Aside from Ronald D. Moore and Roberto Orci, it's often been pointed out that producer Rick Berman possesses a small, desktop bust of Roddenberry's head but regularly blindfolds it. What a statement! That's exactly the sort of coldblooded shit Stalin would do to Marx ...