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Thursday, March 22, 2018

How Money In Star Trek Works

Last week there was a rather lively discussion in the comments section, so I thought that I'd try and work out just how the monetary system in the Federation works. For this I'm going to use the model in Star Trek Online, which involves Energy Credits (EC's). I'm also going to base everything on the idea that those in the Federation that don't want to work, don't have to.

So, as a baseline, we need to have sufficient housing available for everyone. This could look like Kirk's apartment in The Wrath of Kahn and The Search for Spock. It's big, but not overly so, and has fairly simple furnishings. This could be good for a single person or a couple, maybe even a small family. It's part of a skyscraper, so that maximizes the amount of units in a given footprint.

Next, we have the necessities of life, food and clothing. Everyone has a replicator, so getting them is not a problem. However, at the most basic level, you'd have the basics and nothing more. Food like in TOS, which may be completely nutritious, but is easy to replicate and may not look like much. As far as clothing, there's a reason that the majority of civilians in TOS wore jumpsuits. Again, they do the job and are easy to replicate.

You get as much of those as you want, but, frankly, do you want all that much of it? Personally, I'd like to strive for something better, and that's where the energy credits come in. If you get a job, open a business, or just do some form of labor, you get EC's. These would offset the additional complexity of food and clothing, and possibly allow for more advanced living accommodations. Like most things in the Federation, these would probably have a contractual obligation. Say you want to go on a trip, but you'll need some specialized clothing and probably want a better meals. Well, then you can polish the floors at Starfleet Academy for three months and earn your EC's.

That brings up the idea of restaurants, like Sisko's father ran. Well, you pay for meals there with EC's and then the owner would use those to pay for his needs in maintaining the business. He'd need to make repairs to the building, trade for ingredients (because if he replicated the meal, you could do that at home), and pay staff. There would probably also be recipes there (or clothing at various stores) that aren't available on the replicator network, so you'd have to go out to get those things.

What about trade with other cultures, you ask? Well, that's also handled in the same way. The Federation gives EC's for goods and services, and those can be turned in at any Starfleet base or Federation outpost for items that can only be replicated there. It would be fairly annoying for those other cultures, which is why the Ferengi don't like dealing with the Federation. More trouble than it's worth.

Not everyone would enjoy this kind of economy, which is probably why there are so many colonies out on the fringe of Federation space. They're essentially autonomous, which means they can live as they wish. The replicator technology, though, would follow them but they could regulate it as they see fit, so they might have actual money, EC's, or just a barter system.

Starfleet would have a pay system involving EC's, which could be used at the Replimat for non-basic items. They would also be used for booking additional hours on the Holodeck (since everyone on the ship/station would have a certain allotment as part of R&R), buy unusual food & drinks at the bar/lounge, or just save up to buy that retirement home on Earth. If you stay on the ship and just do your duty, you get a small amount, but if you take on more responsibility and go on away missions, you get more.

I should point out that most of this would be done in the background. There would most likely be biological readers, or something tied to a communicator, that would automatically debit or credit your account for your activity. Picture it like Amazon's new convenience stores. You can walk in and out with no problem, and they'll tally everything up for you. So physical money would not be in use, but there would still be an economy, just one pretty much impenetrable for other cultures.

So, what do you think? Does this work with everything we've seen in Trek or am I way off base?

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Money in Star Trek

In Trekkie circles there's a bit of a debate about money in Star Trek. Everyone can accept that the Federation does not have a monetary system by the time of The Next Generation. It's explicitly stated as such by various characters. What not everyone agrees on, however, is whether there was money during The Original Series. I'm firmly on the side that there was, mainly from lines said in the show.

One such example is in The Doomsday Machine where Kirk says, "Scotty, you've just earned your pay for the week" when Scott anticipates the request for phasers. In a culture without money, this makes no sense.

This is not to mention ANYTHING Harry Mudd did. Heck, in his first appearance, he convinced the women he was with that lithium miners would make good husbands because they were rich!

Let me tackle this little bit next. This is a scene from Star Trek 4 that many use to say that Kirk doesn't know how much $100 is, so he can't know what money is. Watch for yourself.

The store owner offers Kirk $100 for the glasses and Kirk's response is, "Is that a lot?" Keep in mind that Kirk is 300 years in the past. Would you know whether 2 shillings and 10 pence was a lot for something if you were in the American Colonies in 1718? I know that I wouldn't.

Finally, in Star Trek Generations, Kirk is found by Picard in the Nexus. They go into the house and Kirk remarks, "It's all right, it's my house. ...At least it used to be, I sold it years ago." If there was no money, Kirk wouldn't have "sold" the house. Given it away? Yup. Traded it? Could be. Sold it? Nope.

So at some point between the launch of the Enterprise B and the Encounter at Farpoint, some event occurred that moved the Federation away from money. I don't know what that could be, or how it came about, but something happened. It would have to have been something pretty drastic, though, since money became so foreign within just a couple of generations that people can't even wrap their head around the concept.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Anime Recommendation: Food Wars

Kira and I have been watching some anime recently, when Michelle has to go to work and Kira has all her homework done. One that we pretty much stumbled upon is Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, and we're really enjoying it. The premise is that Yukihira Soma (the guy on the right) has grown up in his father's diner, but is now ready to attend high school. His father shuts up the diner and sends Soma to a prestigious school,  Tōtsuki Culinary Academy, where Soma finds that he might not know everything.

This has your standard anime goofiness, but it also tackles some serious issues. One of the main things that Kira enjoys is that the characters always describe, one way or another, what's gone into certain dishes and why. The reasoning and history behind the choices of ingredients, as well as the competitive nature of the school, makes for some fascinating viewing. If you like to cook, then I would recommend this series.

I'd love to hear the thoughts of those that have watched it. We're only part way through the second of the three seasons, as of this writing, but it's really holding up.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Here's The Thing...

OK, puns aside, work has been really busy recently, so I haven't had a chance to write up anything. We'll see what happens next week.

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