The virtues of profit

My family called me crazy. I’ve been banned from my home-world but as the Rule of Accusation #75 clearly states home is where the heart is but the stars are made of Latinum.

To be honest I converted to the Religion of Ferenginar out of greed, envious of the wealth that the Ferengi merchants where able to acquire and display among my poor frontier homeland. The beautiful escorts and servants that accompanied them.

After reading the Rules of Acquisition, I knew I would have to convert in order to have an “honest” contract with Ferengi*. Rule of Acquastion #17 a contract is a contract is a contract… but only with a Ferengi.

I expected a baptism, maybe recite the complete rules, take some vows and wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am, I’d be a Ferengi (in name and contract only of course). Actually what surprised me was that the first action was to actually sell off all of my possessions. Govak explained that when a Ferengi grows from adolescence to adulthood they sell all there childhood possessions in order to raise capital for the pursuit of profit. It helps the young mentally transition, putting childlike things behind them and start their new life unburdened by their previous possessions.

For a religion centered around profit and acquisition this didn’t seem right. I wasn’t exactly a child, I had to sell everything, my home, my stocks, all but my last two pairs of clothes. Govak offered to purchase them all but of course I was able to sell them to my friends and former family for a higher price. In the end I was able to gather thirty bars worth of Latinum and purchase my license to trade on the Ferengi Exchange. After registering with the Trade Commission I was as Ferengi as a natural born Ferengi male, at least according to the FTC which means that any other FTC member who broke a contract with me would have their assets seized and be discharged from both the religion and the Grand Exchange.

The night after I acquired my license and citizenship within the Ferengi Alliance, I celebrated and got drunk. Lost a two bars worth of Latinum at the Dabo table, one more at the Tongo game. I knew in my heart I was going to make a fortune being able to trade with Ferengi merchants “honestly”.

That night his holiness Gint, The author of the Rules of Acquisition and the First Grand Nagus, visited me in my dreams. I was out of my mind drunk and just assumed this was my guilt playing at my mind. For having tricked the Ferengi into thinking I believed in there silly profit oriented rules, that governed their lives. I was certain it was my guilt since Gint, said he was their to size up the first of my species to convert to Ferengi. He keep comparing my to the Yridians, a cousin species of the Ferengi, notorious information traders. My ears were too small, my hands too big, my eyes too white, my teeth dull. “If I give you a slip of Latinum would you say something nice or be the least bit helpful?”, He nodded. I pulled the slip from my pocket and placed it in his palm.

“You have the lobes for negotiation, though no one would know that from looking at you.”

“For a bar I’ll answer any question you have.”

“How about a strip of Latinum for proof that this isn’t just a dream?”

“Can’t do this is a dream. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t profit from the encounter. When you’re end comes, I’d like to review your accounts before you meet the Blessed Exchequer.”

“The what… who?”

“Did you learn nothing of the afterlife before you got you were accepted to trade on the exchange?”

“For a slip I’ll answer that.”

“Hahaha…hehe no need.”

“What could you sell me for a bar?” It was a dream, I’d already lost ten percent of my wealth so far. “Could you sell me favor at the Dabo table? A blessing to detect when a Ferengi is lying? Protection from the phaser fire? Do you have any supernatural prowess you would trade me for a bar of Latinum?”

His eyes were wide the entire time I talked and he leaned in from his gilded throne, as I went on about the kind of powers I expected the First Nagus to posess, even in dreams.

“My not since Keldar, the wise and short of reign, has a someone tried to bargain directly with me. Haha, man I do miss the back and forth of two equals coming to a profitable compromise for both. Let me tell you what I can sell you for a measly bar’s worth of Latinum. I’ll whisper your name and visage into the ears of every grown Ferengi in good standing with the FTC. They will know or ask you for your license and treat you as if you had the good looks of yours truly. Tell me is it a deal?”

“I’d prefer a contract.”

“My word is my bond” he held his hand across his heart. Acting quite offended.

“Still Rule 17 clearly states…”

In unison, him in a mocking tone being the one who wrote it and me in restless obstinance

“…a contract is a contract is a contract… but only with a Ferengi. “

After I signed the ethereal contract and Gint stamped his face on it, I woke. Before my first cup of morning brew, I made sure to count my Latinum from the last night. Yes I had lost three bars, and was a couple of slips short. I’ll have to be more careful around Sall’s nimble fingers. When putting my bars back into my personal vault, that’s when I noticed it, one of my bars was light. Not just light but completely drained of Latinum, what should have been heavy was as light as an empty glass.

That’s when I started to dig deep into the theology of Profit. After all not only had I meet with Gint, but I had made a bargain. I didn’t need to act on faith that the Ferengi afterlife was real, I knew someday I would meet with Gint again and then the Blessed Exchequer, before bidding on a new life…

Here’s what I learned about the virtues of profit, to my surprise and yours, you’ll find that the Ferengi are lyings, cheats, and swindlers but you’ll learn why, just as I did, why that’s a good thing.

The Replicator Defense

I want to live in a Star Trek future.

A world free of poverty, hunger, where all the sovereign nations co-exist peacefully.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) would be a step in this direction. But when talking with my fellow trekkies who believe we are living in a world of scarcity they fall quickly onto The Replicator Defense.

“Of course they have no poverty or hunger in Star Trek. They have replicators. They can just make food out of thin air.”

If there is anything that upsets a nerd more it’s the type of statement that invokes the response.

“Ummm… Actually.”

Replicators and even Protein Re-sequencers existed after the abolishion of poverty. In Star Trek canon this is due to the drastic decrease in population after World War 3. With a high level of technology and a massive decrease in population resulted in the creation of a post-scarcity society, with little to no governing authority preventing a drunk, Zefram Cochrane, from re-purposing a nuclear missile into a warp capable spaceship. (for fun)

Replicators just make the system easier… they were not the catalyst for the change in the first place.

People have a hard time accepting that with current farming techniques we can sustainably feed the worlds population (7 billion) three times over before we run into a scarcity of land over the preservation of unique and local ecosystems. We don’t have a resource problem. We have a distribution problem. We have an incentive problem.

There is no automatic incentive for feeding and housing people.

Capitalist hotels serve good food so that they can get repeat customers and earn a profit.

Communist hostels serve people good food because they depend on the social benefit those patrons add to the commune. If John starves he won’t be able to raise the hogs that make my favorite bacon dish.

Feudalist inn’s serve as quarters for the lords militia, a way station for merchants and travelers. The Inn-keeper was born into keeping, maintaining, and services expected of his position or else face punishment from his lord.

Egalitarian societies have never grown large enough to require the creation of a hotel/hostel/inn.

UBI creates a floor of value on every individuals life, regardless of birth, skill, or ability. It quantifies the charitable notion that no one deserves to starve to death for lack of resources as having value in capitalist economy.

No American Citizen Deserves to potentially Starve to Death.

That is why I support the Freedom Dividend as proposed by Andrew Yang.

With love as always,