It is almost 7:00 am as I sit here thinking about what I mean to say… It made so much sense before I woke up, and now I try to remember just where I wanted to go..
I will start here.
There was an interesting book I read some years ago. It was called something like “How I learned everything I needed to know about life from watching Star Trek“. I don’t remember a lot of the book, I have read as much as half a book to realize that I had read it before, but I do remember enough to, I think, to get the idea.
I am not too sure about the times of Captains Archer or Kirk, but by the time of Captain Picard the world, in the Sense of the Federation, and Earth in particular, was a Utopia. In one episode of the Next Generation, when the security of Earth was believed to be threatened by aliens who could become anything they wanted, changelings from the Founders for those who watched, the President of the Federation makes the statement “I don’t want to be the known as the one who lost Eden”.
The show indicates, in several episodes, that , at least in the Federation, there is NO NEED for money. In one the episode mentioned above Captain Sisko‘s father, who runs a restaurant in New Orleans, looks out the door and sees that the only people moving around were Star Fleet troops. He is not worried about how much money he is loosing, only about what direction the government is going, and then again they are potential customers, but he gave no indication that he was worried about going broke.
I would seem that Gene Roddenberry envisioned a future where “Service to Others” was the motivational goal that people tried to attain. They did not seem to say “me me me” there.
In one book I read, I think it was by Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, who said that there are three important groups that a company must satisfy: the customer, the employees and then the stockholders. The customers because they are the reason for the business, the employees because they serve the customers, and rude or unhappy employees can be known to drive customers away, and finally the shockhoders because they invest in the business so that the first two can be taken care of. Now this is fine if the person in charge of the business only has to worry about the first two groups but this does not seem to be the way things go NOW.
So where are we now?
Well, the customer wants his products and will go to the place he can get the best price, like stuff “Made in China”, without having to worry about the living conditions of the people who make it, like stuff “Made in China”. The employees want more for the simple reason that they have to be able to pay for what they buy this year, and of course they have a budget they HAVE to live by…. or go broke. The stockholders expect dividends from their investments and if you let them control things they will want you to take from the first two groups so that you can give it to them, as they think they are the reason the store, or factory, is there.
For the average person following a budget is a must. Sure there needs to be some borrowing, as not everyone is rich,and we have not gotten to that Utopia stage yet, so they know that if they don’t follow their budget, and go broke, the best they can hope for is the killing of their credit rating, and maybe bankruptcy, or they get everything they have worked for repossessed. It is not like they have their own Federal Reserve to print up more money whenever they need it. So, since most customers are also workers they would like to have more and a good employer will try to keep them happy.
This might be called a FREE MARKET… and in a sane world this would work out real well. With the business taking care of the Customers and Employees, profit will follow. The problem is that this is NOT a same world.
Lets look at the U.S. government as a business. The stockholders are, basically, broken up into two main FACTIONS, each with it own agenda, who elect the board of directors. The board tries to stay in office by telling their stockholders what they want to hear… and often, such as the recent debate over the debt ceiling, the board factions work to impress the stockholders about how much better their faction is than the other faction. The CEO, who is also trying to stay in power, may try to work with, or around, the board to get things done, or he might work in such a way that his faction can take over the board and follow their policies of power. The harder they work to impress the stockholders the customers and employees are effected.
Lets look at this in the context of what Sam Walton might believe. Take care of the customers, by providing a service, take care of the employees by providing them an enviroment that allows them to concentrate on providing that service, and you take care of the stockholders by giving them returns on their investment….
How does that work in real life? I read a statistic that says %85 of the economy is driven by small businesses. That means that %15 of the economy is driven by the large corporations…. The head of that small company knows that if he does not follow a good business plan he will go out of business. The head of a large corporation know that he can get a large salary out of a company he runs into the ground, and that the board, if they figure out how bad he is, will pay him to leave, while an employee will get fired. Does this sound like a good way to run a railroad? It seems to work for those large companies who know that if they screw up they will be getting taken care of, though they might have to pay it back, while the small guy has his taken away…
This brings me back to the Star Trek world… Do you think it is really a Utopian society, or was the Federation based on the U. S. Government and they just issued an unlimited credit card to everyone. Maybe everything they buy had a little tag on it that says “Made on Romulus”.
Maybe the FREE MARKET is not as FREE as we think… Maybe we should think about how much we pay for THEIR profits.
- Sam Walton started learning business at age 8. (youngbizwhiz.wordpress.com)
- Spock Quilt of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- Star Trek Meets e-Discovery: Episode Four – Spock Learns to Like e-Motions (e-discoveryteam.com)