Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ No Government Incentives?

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Nov 20, 1997

Posted to HotWired 21 Nov 97

What we really need in this discussion list is a way of eliminating duplicate - nay, triplicate - posts.

But I digress. One comment from Paul Boutin's article caught my eye:

And, notably, there aren't any government incentive programs driving Roddenberry's future space nerds. Federation geeks go to Starfleet Academy and sign up for deep-space duty for the most compelling reason of all: because they really want to learn.

Now this is an odd remark. Sure, strictly speaking, nobody got paid to attend Starfleet Academy. But in Star Trek, nobody gets paid for anything (except the Ferengi, and you know what kind of low-life they are).

One of the premises of Star Trek is that all your everyday needs are met. Food is free for the asking from any replicator. Quarters are provided on request. Education may be had at the touch of a button. Health care is efficient, effective, and free.

The Star Trek world is a socialist world. All the social programs so hotly debated today are taken for granted in the Federation. Money - either as a means of survival or a path to opulance - does not motivate anyone (except Ferengi, and you know...). Picard never gets paid - but he doesn't want to, or need to.

In Star trek is the answer to those people who oppose social programs on principle. Such people often argue that social programs destroy people's incentive. That if people are not charged for such things as education and health care, they won't appreciate it.

In the Star Trek world, despite having all their needs met, people do not lack motivation. What we see is probably true for the vast majority of us - that, given the chance, we will choose to excel, to achieve our highest potential (sheesh, that probably motivates half the hackers on the net today!).

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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