All posts by Fred Roeder

Does Star Trek Boldly Go Beyond Scarcity?

As a long-time Trekkie (with several conventions and selfies with William Shatner) and an economist, I was more than delighted when a good friend of mine gave me the recently published book Trekonomics: The Economics Behind Star Trek by Manu Saadia.

Saadia’s highly exciting book attempts to explain the economy of Star Trek and describes the Federation of United Planets (which includes Earth) as a post-scarcity society that no longer uses money because everyone maximizes their utility by just doing what they want to do. The main driving force behind people’s behavior is vanity, not profit. He calls this economic system “Trekonomics.”

Economics Is an Intergalactic Concept

While describing a post-scarcity society, Saadia admits that there are some resources that are scarce. He mainly focuses on dilithium crystals that are the source of energy in the Star Trek universe:

“Logic would dictate that near-absolute abundance has driven prices to zero on all but few strategic goods. These strategic goods are of limited use for most people anyway. I do not need a big chunk of dilithium crystals in the course of my everyday life. Matter-antimatter power plants require it, whether on board starships or on the ground, but not me. I am not in the market for it, society as a whole is.”

While Saadia praises the replicator (Star Trek’s version of the universal 3D printer) as the driving force behind post-scarcity, he omits the fact that replicators (and holodecks, and warp drives needed in delivery shuttles bringing the latest vintage of Chateau Picard to your cottage on Mars) require energy in order to create food out of nothing.

Continue reading at FEE.

RBA regulations could eat your frequent flyer points

Frequent flyer mileage programs could soon be a thing of the past, if the Reserve Bank of Australia implements new credit card regulations.

The RBA plans to reduce the amount credit card companies are allowed to charge vendors. This may sound like a consumer-friendly proposal, but it will hurt frequent flyers and small business owners, whilst benefiting big retails businesses like Coles and Woolworths.

As a part of a large overhaul of credit card regulations, the RBA plans to limit so-called interchange fees—fees credit card companies charge vendors to process their customers’ payments. This shift in policy follows a European trend  designed to tackle credit card companies’ revenue models, and allow retail chains larger margins.

The fine print of financial regulation is rarely a hot topic for consumers. This allows deals to be made behind closed doors.  But in this case, consumers must take notice. When similar regulations were enacted in Europe, they cost credit card users up to 10 per cent in real income.

Read the rest on Online Opinion here.

How German Patent Law Cripples Innovation and Curbs Consumer Choice

Patent protection laws aim to incentivize innovation and to allow the inventor and investor to benefit financially from their invention.

Furthermore copycats that free ride someone else’s invention shall be legally prevented from doing this for a set amount of time.

But patent laws in many countries, Germany among these, have helped incentivize an entirely new industry that actually causes the opposite of what patent laws intended to do.

German patent law, and especially how German courts interpret it, disincentives innovation and most start-ups claim that it makes innovation harder.

Germany is the only country that applies so-called Orange Book Laws. Orange Book Laws bundle an entire set of patents into technology standard (e.g. the mobile phone data standard 3G) and obliges every company that uses such a standard in one of their products to compensate any holder of patents listed in that standard.

The problem lies in the nature of these bundles; even if the product does not use certain patents that are defined in that bundle, it still has to compensate owners of these patents.

Technology firms have to proactive proof in court that they explicitly don’t use these patents in order to get away without paying for license fees and potential fines. Prior to winning such an argument the company usually has to go through an injunction put on them by the patent holder.

In order to understand why some companies are actually focusing their business on merely holding patents and suing companies that use industry standards (bundles) it is important to understand what these ‘patent trolls’ are up to.

Read the rest at CapX…

Advocate Fred Published in INSM-Blog on Making the German Economy More Competitive

Advocate Fred was published in INSM-Blog about reforming social security, adapting
English as an official language in Germany, introducing e-Governance,
and loosening intellectual property laws in order to make the Germany economy more competitive.

The entire piece can be read in German here.

If you’d like to speak with or book Fred, or any other Advocate, please contact Young Voices.