After the end of Apartheid in 1994, nobody would have guessed that South Africa would be making many of the same mistakes as the Apartheid regime only two decades later, from censoring speech to violating agricultural property rights.
In our process of transformation, we were supposed to move away from the Apartheid mentality. Instead, we have doubled down on many of the same policies: the so-called Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill of 2016 is perhaps the gravest threat to freedom of expression which South Africans have ever faced; at least since the Suppression of Communism Act was repealed.
John Dale Grover is a Young Voices Advocate and graduate student at George Mason University’s Conflict Analysis and Resolution Program. Today he joins the podcast to share the latest on news of free market practices in North Korea. ICYMI this is highly unusual for North Korea but John says that necessity is pushing the dictatorial government toward making concessions to free market activity happening in the shadows.
Today’s Young Voices Podcast features Managing Editor Stacy Ndlovu and Conner Dwinell on the state of property rights in the United States compared to other nations as judged by the International Property Rights Index.
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.
The August 2016 decision of the Federal Court to award $3.3 million under the Native Title Act to traditional owners who were dispossessed of their land has once again made indigenous affairs a hot topic.
But land justice is a deeper concept than offering indigenous people piecemeal monetary compensation. We need a permanent solution that immediately improves outcomes for indigenous Australians across a variety of indicators such as life expectancy, employment, and incarceration rates. Aboriginal people have a life expectancy about 10 years less than non-indigenous Australians, are more likelyto be unemployed and are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned.
The current native title system tends to approach the problem by prescribing “traditional owners” who are often senior elders within a group of Aboriginals. Moreover, native title can only exist to the extent that there is no superior title to the land (for example, by mining companies or farmers). In practice, its scope is limited.
The effect of the present system has been to hamper the entrepreneurial talent of indigenous people living in remote communities. By now, we could have seen many Aboriginal millionaires who could have helped their communities in a far more effective manner than inefficient government programs ever could.
Instead, remote communities today are bastions of poverty.