Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Responsibility and Freedom: A Defense of Safe Spaces

“Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions and will receive praise or blame for them.” F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, Responsibility and Freedom

What does it mean for speech to be free? I’m less interested in the legal specifications surrounding this question and more eager to discuss what this means for us in our daily interactions. As an anarchist, I don’t see a legitimate role for governments to play in limiting or privileging certain types of speech. However, that does not mean that individuals cannot or should not be held responsible for the things they say by others in their chosen communities. Since we’ve removed as an option the use of force to suppress speech, what avenues might remain available for praxis?

If speech is to exist in a kind of “marketplace of ideas,” then “praise” or “blame” can act as a profit and loss system for “good” and “bad” speech. It remains the domain of individuals to decide for themselves what constitutes good and bad, as well as how to react to different ideas. Some people are comfortable combating ideas with their own speech with the hope of, at least, persuading or emboldening others to do the same. For others (usually those who have experienced trauma related to particular ideas such as misogyny, rape culture, homo- and transphobia, etc.) the response is often to retreat from spaces where these ideas are shared uncritically and build alternative spaces with others who feel similarly. Some would call these “safe spaces,” but bell hooks has another idea; removed from fear of re-traumatization and retaliation, people create spaces in which they are “safe to struggle.” It is a gross mischaracterization of safe spaces to say that there aren’t any levels of disagreement among those involved. Rather, open and respectful disagreement is possible because there is a foundation of mutual trust established through the intentions set for the space.

Continue reading at the Center for a Stateless Society.

U.S. Unnecessarily Continues to Trail in Property Rights Protections

In the Property Right Alliance’s newly-updated International Property Rights Index (IPRI), the United States ranked 15th out of the 128 countries studied. Yet many would presume the United States to be much higher on the list. It seems somewhat intuitive that the United States would be ranked above countries such as New Zealand, Japan and Australia, and possibly above the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, but the study shows this is not the case.

While strong in intellectual property protections, the United States has more work to do in terms of protecting physical property rights and fostering legal and political environments that do not allow for unnecessary seizures. The United States might be tied for first with Japan in its protection of intellectual property rights with a score of 8.63 (out of 10), but the empirical evidence shows that the U.S. protects physical property and its legal and political environments to a lesser extent. Reforming eminent domain abuse and civil asset forfeiture could aid the United States in better protecting citizens’ property rights.

Continue reading at The Daily Caller.