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Star Trek Economics? Direct Logistics

edited October 2015 in Azimuth Forum

Long ago I started thinking about how an actual "Star Trek" economy would work. As you may know from the TV franchise of Star Trek, the "United Federation of Planets" future doesn't use money. Quoting a "Deep Space Nine" episode, the Ferengi Nog says:

"It's not my fault that your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement."

It never really gets any better than that at explaining how it would actually work; Star Trek canon simply avoids the details, always hand-waving whenever it comes up. Well, if you read this https://medium.com/@borgauf/star-trek-economy-direct-logistics-77d44746b4a9 you may begin to get an idea. It's not a scholarly paper, rather, done in the usual chatty Medium style, but you'll still get the main points.

Basically, we have what it takes to go "currency-free" now. My problem, of course, is to get anyone to take this seriously. If there is any aspect of life more prejudicially ingrained in people's minds, it's economics. But with our highly-networked present-day world, we have all it takes to leave off currency-based accounting and simply use the basic logistics data of direct supply and demand, that is, the actual to-and-fro of stuff. Give it a read and let me know if I've come to the right place. I hope so.

Comments

  • 1.

    I sort of enjoyed your linked borgauf piece. Russian cybernetics is something I was interested in in the 1970s and carbon equivalent accounting is something I've been trying to get a grip on for my home city (Birmingham, UK). You might get something from Robert Reich (ex-Clinton admin labo(u)r secretary)'s view on Keynes's prediction of the end of work in 2028 in the journal of european social democrats:

    http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/09/labor-day-2028/

    Comment Source:I sort of enjoyed your linked borgauf piece. Russian cybernetics is something I was interested in in the 1970s and carbon equivalent accounting is something I've been trying to get a grip on for my home city (Birmingham, UK). You might get something from Robert Reich (ex-Clinton admin labo(u)r secretary)'s view on Keynes's prediction of the end of work in 2028 in the journal of european social democrats: http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/09/labor-day-2028/
  • 2.

    So, thanks, Jim, for sort of enjoying my piece. Yes, I also ran into people who actually worked at a "Cybernetics Institute" in Kiev during that year in Berlin: More of what I'm talking about, only, again, it sounded like they never had enough networked computer to make a go of it.

    As I alluded to in my piece, "soft accounting" in some form will seep into the mix eventually. And yes, at some point we will have a "guaranteed" basic income of some stripe -- based on soft accounting. By soft accounting I mean money derived "extra profit" (invented out of thin air?). This would then be available to "complete the Keynesian loop," so to speak. It's very simple: A modern society needs unbelievable amounts of money to function properly, easily more money than any sort of classical business profit-generation could produce. But then this is only more proof of why money as the sole economic information device no longer works.

    But if we still can't step out of the money mentality, yes, Keynesianisms are the only way forward. According to my calculations, a guaranteed base income would run in the trillions -- give or take a few billion depending on which 1st-world nation we're talking about. I don't think Reich's Keynesianism would work, though. In the U.S. we already have a "Earned Income Credit" thingy with our income tax, i.e., if you're income is at poverty level, you get an income tax "refund" (read free money); up to $7,000 for a poor family of four -- which, of course, could be expanded. Another idea (similar to Reich's) would be to take (most) payroll away from the private sector -- have the government pay a basic salary -- and anything above and beyond compensation-wise, the employer would cover. That means a business could possibly have free labor, no payroll, if it could get away with zero incentives.

    Worries about inflation might be paranoiac. Does the presumably mindless "Invisible Hand" really care where the consumers got their spending cash? But deflation . . . et cetera, et cetera. (Laughing) I don't really want to work with money anymore! That's my whole point! The "embodied energy" index would be a far better supply-and-demand information device, wouldn't it? Reduce EE and you're rewarded with more logistical (I almost said economic) power.

    Comment Source:So, thanks, Jim, for sort of enjoying my piece. Yes, I also ran into people who actually worked at a "Cybernetics Institute" in Kiev during that year in Berlin: More of what I'm talking about, only, again, it sounded like they never had enough networked computer to make a go of it. As I alluded to in my piece, "soft accounting" in some form will seep into the mix eventually. And yes, at some point we will have a "guaranteed" basic income of some stripe -- based on soft accounting. By soft accounting I mean money derived "extra profit" (invented out of thin air?). This would then be available to "complete the Keynesian loop," so to speak. It's very simple: A modern society needs unbelievable amounts of money to function properly, easily more money than any sort of classical business profit-generation could produce. But then this is only more proof of why money as the sole economic information device no longer works. But if we still can't step out of the money mentality, yes, Keynesianisms are the only way forward. According to my calculations, a guaranteed base income would run in the trillions -- give or take a few billion depending on which 1st-world nation we're talking about. I don't think Reich's Keynesianism would work, though. In the U.S. we already have a "Earned Income Credit" thingy with our income tax, i.e., if you're income is at poverty level, you get an income tax "refund" (read free money); up to $7,000 for a poor family of four -- which, of course, could be expanded. Another idea (similar to Reich's) would be to take (most) payroll away from the private sector -- have the government pay a basic salary -- and anything above and beyond compensation-wise, the employer would cover. That means a business could possibly have free labor, no payroll, if it could get away with zero incentives. Worries about inflation might be paranoiac. Does the presumably mindless "Invisible Hand" really care where the consumers got their spending cash? But deflation . . . et cetera, et cetera. (Laughing) I don't really want to work with money anymore! That's my whole point! The "embodied energy" index would be a far better supply-and-demand information device, wouldn't it? Reduce EE and you're rewarded with more logistical (I almost said economic) power.
  • 3.
    edited October 2015

    Re Medium article, interesting and trippy. I too was in that vicinity, and went through "Checkpoint Charlie" in 1963, well before the wall was falling (there was a periphery of 100 yards of shattered buildings and plenty of tense guards with submachine guns), and yes, I had a copy of Kerouac's "On the Road" in my backpack.

    Yesterday on C-SPAN I saw USA presidential candidate Marco Rubio talking about the great virtues of the "On Demand" economy, as he cited the time his refrigerator broke during a heat wave and he could not quickly get a repair technician scheduled to fix it. He wants to see a giant online supply and demand matrix for a vast army of specialized independent contractors who can quickly bid on projects like his refrigerator.

    And I am certainly interested in "global matrix" concepts -- and earlier this year built a project called "The Global Matrix", which morphed into a web-based collaborative outline process. Right now, this thing is a vastly ambitious study in interdisciplinary/cross-sector integration, and still fairly fuzzy, but it's inching along and it helps the little pooh-brain deal with the vast dimensionality of global holism. It's a multi-project framework, and here's one sector that seems to be emerging as central:

    http://networknation.net/global/matrix.cfm?gc=306282245c52475e9733f52c8faf5de1

    Comment Source:Re Medium article, interesting and trippy. I too was in that vicinity, and went through "Checkpoint Charlie" in 1963, well before the wall was falling (there was a periphery of 100 yards of shattered buildings and plenty of tense guards with submachine guns), and yes, I had a copy of Kerouac's "On the Road" in my backpack. Yesterday on C-SPAN I saw USA presidential candidate Marco Rubio talking about the great virtues of the "On Demand" economy, as he cited the time his refrigerator broke during a heat wave and he could not quickly get a repair technician scheduled to fix it. He wants to see a giant online supply and demand matrix for a vast army of specialized independent contractors who can quickly bid on projects like his refrigerator. And I am certainly interested in "global matrix" concepts -- and earlier this year built a project called "The Global Matrix", which morphed into a web-based collaborative outline process. Right now, this thing is a vastly ambitious study in interdisciplinary/cross-sector integration, and still fairly fuzzy, but it's inching along and it helps the little pooh-brain deal with the vast dimensionality of global holism. It's a multi-project framework, and here's one sector that seems to be emerging as central: http://networknation.net/global/matrix.cfm?gc=306282245c52475e9733f52c8faf5de1
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