3. The Federation Economy and How It Came To Be
The economy of the Federation at the time of the Boone's arrival is a central issue to everything that followed afterward. Misconceptions about the Federation's economy continue to abound. Apologists claim it was merely a unique form of Democratic-Socialism. A handful of right-wing figures still proclaim the Federation to have been Communist. Though both are not entirely incorrect, the truth is quite different from either view.
The Federation spent the 24th Century trying to build the "Enlightened Society"; a multi-racial society in which every member was dedicated to the betterment of sentient life. This was an implicit attack on capitalism and the free market, which was and always has been directed by the force of personal desire for wealth. The Federation government used, and sometimes abused, it's power in an effort to dismantle the private sector and institute a benevolent command economy who's sole purpose would be to provide for each member of Federation society. This central impulse created the system that would eventually tear the Federation apart.
The "Enlightened Society" was first proposed by a Vulcan philosopher-scientist, Sirok, in an academic essay published in 2289 Local. He used Vulcan society as a model. The Vulcans had a command economy, one of the few in the Federation, because of their devotion to Surakism. Surak's teachings opposed the idea of private property and the pursuit of personal power and luxury, as the way to cultural and social enlightenment was selfless service to society and the suppression of personal desires and emotions in favor of strict logical thinking, more properly translated as "reality-truth". Trying to improve one's power and wealth was dismissed as wasteful, an unending course that could only squander one's potential. Sirok proposed that other races, over time, would see the wisdom of Surak's way and recognize that their personal desires and greed were keeping them and their societies stagnant and unable to improve themselves. Various Leftist parties on Earth and other worlds took up the cause and publicized it widely.
The pressing questions about re-distribution was aided by the first forays into replicator technology. In 2295 scientists from Cambridge successfully tested the first replicator by creating a marble bust of Sir Issac Newton from a raw hunk of marble. Two years later, a team from Berkeley University near San Francisco successfully replicated a frankfurter and fed it to the pet Labrador of one of the researchers, with no ill effects to the canine. Though it was soon obvious that replicated food lacked the taste of "real" food, replicators proved a remarkable source of plentiful food. All that was needed was raw foodstuffs; replicators, hooked into transporter-related systems, could handle transportation and cooking needs at once by providing a fresh plate of cooked, ready food at the touch of a button. The power demands were a concern, but the development of ultra-light fusion reactors in 2304 Local provided a solution.
All that remained was politics. In 2302 the 35th Federation Council was elected. Sirok was Vulcan's choice. He drafted the Basic Necessities Act (BNA), which would allow the Federation's government to buy foodstuffs, medicine, and construction material at low, regulated prices to provide food, medical aid, and housing to all citizens. The act failed due to the estimated cost. Sirok and his small cadre of supporters counter-attacked publicly: they pointed out that Starfleet had not yet cut down it's forces to the level agreed to in the Khitomer Accords, costing money that could go to the BNA among other things. It was a selective release of information, as the complete demilitarization of the Federation-Klingon border was not meant to be completed until 2310, but it worked and the public began insisting on abiding by the Accords.
The 2306 elections were positive for Sirok's "New Way". They campaigned strongly enough to win several planetary governments, particularly regional governments with large numbers of urban dwellers, and gained enough seats in the Federation Council to come to the forefront. But they still failed to put through the BNA. Starfleet was proving a focal point for resistance, as many of it's political supporters, usually disparate and opposed to one another, banded together to oppose the BNA as requiring the scrapping of Starfleet. The New Way countered that Starfleet was no longer needed in such strength. There were no more threats to the Federation.
Starfleet found something to latch onto. In 2308 a shockwave was detected in Romulan space. Intelligent assets and Romulan press releases quickly determined the cause; the Romulans had successfully detonated a trilithium bomb. Trilithium, a waste product from the use of dilithium crystals in matter/antimatter reactors, was notoriously unstable and a few scientists had speculated that sufficient quantities of it, properly refined, could cause stars to explode. Starfleet brought the matter before the Council and insisted on maintaining defense spending. Only with their current force level could they protect the Federation from this "barbarous new Romulan weapon", which could "annihilate entire star systems". Reports indicating otherwise were quashed. Starfleet's leading admirals needed the fear the bomb engendered to keep the public from leaning toward Sirok.
Their exaggerations were probably greater than they imagined. Though Romulan sources are scarce even today, it is widely accepted that the trilithium bomb was a bust. The Romulans found that it was impossible, with their current means, to produce sufficient amounts of refined trilithium to cause even the smallest stars to explode. But they found the illusion Starfleet created valuable later on.
The Tomed Incident came later that year. Whether it was a purposeful attempt to embarrass Starfleet or not is still up to debate. Reacting to a slight provocation - an apparent violation of the Neutral Zone by a Federation ship - the Romulans launched a full-scale attack on a Federation starbase at Tomed. The starbase and it's defenders were destroyed, killing tens of thousands of Federation nationals. Starfleet responded viciously and a counter-attack led by Admiral Hikaru Sulu threw the Romulans back over the Neutral Zone. Both sides lost dozens of ships. Warnings were issued as both sides prepared for war.
Sirok grabbed his opportunity. He called on the Federation Council to negotiate with the Romulan government and prevent a war from shattering the peace so recently won. Some of Starfleet's nominal allies abandoned them and supported Sirok's peace movement. It seemed to them, and many in the Federation, that all of Starfleet's promises were hollow; it alone could not prevent conflict by it's strength, and the circulating press story that Starfleet provoked the Romulans into the attack made it seem that Starfleet was even willing to go to war to justify it's power, a war it obviously was ill-prepared to fight if the Romulans had defeated them so easily.
The Romulans knew better. They took more losses at Tomed than the Federation knew and Sulu's counter-attack had cost them dearly. They were not ready for war with the Federation, especially not with the Klingons ready to defend their "allies" for a chance at valuable Romulan territory. Furthermore, there were great security concerns. Too many Romulans, especially in the colonies, were opposed to the government's initiatives. The Romulans accepted Sirok's offer to negotiate, desiring a more permanent treaty that could give them time to upgrade their military and deal with their internal problems.
The two sides agreed to meet at Algeron. The Romulans' terms were strong. Fifty percent of both sides' Neutral Zone military installations would be dismantled (exempting listening posts) and the amount of forces they could deploy near the Neutral Zone reduced, the Romulans by a quarter and the Federation by seventy-five percent. In exchange, they would agree to a promise of non-aggression and compensation to the victims of Tomed. The Federation countered with an additional request to ban trilithium weapons. The Romulans were apparently stunned that the Federation would be concerned about a useless weapon, and failed to immediately address the issue. When the Federation's request became a virtual demand, the Romulans took their opportunity and agreed to a term to ban trilithium weapons so long as the Federation banned use of cloaking devices by Starfleet. The Federation agreed to all the terms.
The Romulan government was stunned. Their opening terms had been strong because they expected the Federation government to demand a more equitable reduction of forces. They had underestimated the pull Sirok was gaining in the Federation Government. Tomed had proven him right, it seemed: keeping Starfleet powerful would only guarantee more conflict and bloodshed, whereas peaceful negotiation and agreement would bring lasting peace. Khitomer had already provided the basis for the theory and it would be another half century before the Federation would begin to learn otherwise. The success of the Second Treaty of Algeron emboldened the Romulan government, and it would spend the next fifty years in diplomatic isolation, purging their government, industries, and education system of "undesirable" influences (driving many "reactionaries" into the colonies) in preparation for dealing, finally, with the Federation and Klingon Empire.
Sirok was now the major force in Federation government. He led the Federation Council in the removal of President Sorxana Metheloi, blaming her for failing to keep Starfleet under control. Sirok and the New Way allied with several leftist and non-Human parties at this point and mustered the strength to place Neo-Socialist leader Hadrian Benton into the Presidency. The Neo-Socialists were primarily strong in Human communities, only just beginning to expand their strength into non-Human Federation races; the alliance between the New Way and the Neo-Socialists would open them up to this extra step, as many of the Alpha Quadrant races far from the Klingon and Romulan borders mistrusted the other Human parties as too warlike.
With this new alliance, the New Way Coalition controlled the Federation government. It passed the BNA, with modifications insisted on by President Benton; the BNA now allowed the Federation government to nationalize companies that went bankrupt or refused to cooperate with the new system. Several groups protested that this was unconstitutional. A third of the Council walked out when the BNA was passed and several Council members resigned and urged their planetary governments to break with the Federation if the BNA was enforced. The Federation's private sector, however, soon proved structurally weak to the New Way. There were very few agricultural and construction companies of sufficient resources to oppose the Government because most were small, usually servicing only one continent or planetary region; many gave in rather than trying to oppose the BNA, and the handful that didn't were attacked on two fronts, the beginning of nationalization proceedings coinciding with a vicious press campaign against the company. The citizenry seemed to support the New Way: boycotts against resisting companies devastated most and brought them to heel within a year.
Starfleet was next. The Tomed Incident had provided the excuse Sirok and Benton needed. Two-thirds of Starfleet Command and a third of the Admiralty were sacked by the President and forced to resign. The purge prompted a wave of resignations from lower officers and NCOs in protest; Admirals Sulu and Chekov, the last prominent members of James Kirk's legendary crew still in Starfleet, were amongst them. It was an attempt to bluff Benton into ending his attempted purge but it failed, a failure that would have severe consequences for Starfleet in the coming years. The protests from the public were stronger than they had been from passage of the BNA, but ultimately the New Way prevailed, their supporters in the press playing down the anti-New Way protests and focusing on the more extreme, militant groups to discredit the others. President Benton created a new regulatory body, the Commission on Starfleet Operations, and filled it with New Way men. They in turn appointed a new Starfleet Command composed of "politically suitable" officers (including Starfleet Command's first two Vulcan admirals, mostly notable in that both had only just reached admiralty ranks and were assigned to minor dead-end bureaucracies due to the politics of the pre-purge Starfleet).
2310 was to be the year that the New Way solidified it's power. But the "Old Way" leaders had one last card to play. The New Way's central premise required that the Khitomer Accords be followed and that was about to be challenged. As the election year began, the Klingon Empire announced it could not meet the deadline for the 70% border demilitarization mark that was supposed to be achieved by this time. The Federation press fed upon itself in the frenzy to deal with the announcement due to the clear desire among New Way supporters to sweep it under the rug. The purged Starfleet elements forced the issue in public. The electorate reacted in a mixed fashion. It still wanted the BNA, the guaranteed homes, food, and medical treatment. But old fears of Klingon aggression popped up and anti-New Way demonstrations rocked the worlds along the Klingon Neutral Zone.
Benton proved more maneuverable than Sirok. Sirok insisted on negotiations, but Benton took a hard stance, which had the effect of destroying some of his support with the New Way. His own party was unwilling to abandon their growing popularity in the core worlds and the worlds far from the Klingon and Romulan frontiers. They threw him out. Sirok became President briefly, but his attempts at negotiation failed.
The Klingon Empire was simply unable, structurally, to disarm as much as Gorkon and Azetbur had intended - it's military-industrial complex had too much power. Azetbur pushed the issue in the Klingon High Council, fearing that the Federation might withdraw from the Khitomer Accords. There was resistance from several noble Klingon houses that now had to choose between their traditional support to the government or their own wealth, tied to the military industries. The military began openly defying her authority as well. Azetbur ignored the warnings of her ministers and continued trying to force through a demilitarization in line with the Khitomer Accords. As the Federation election drew closer, Azetbur's pushing hardened. A week before the election she finally managed a Council meeting that could order an immediate withdrawal from the bases, in effect de-militarizing them before the deadline in lieu of immediate dismantling. As she went into the Council Chamber, Azetbur was suddenly attacked by the bodyguards of one of her ministers and fatally stabbed. She died within minutes.
Azetbur's assassination a mere week before the election terrified the Federation populace. Certainly the same Klingon cabal that had killed her father on the eve of the Khitomer Accords was coming to power (in truth her killing was the result of a deranged ultratraditionalist Klingon who opposed female rule). They wanted to be protected. The New Way received it's first setback. Sirok and the four other Vulcan seats were safe due to the New Way's unwavering support from Vulcan, but outside of those seats, the New Way lost a third of it's number in the Council. Surprisingly, a number were lost to the Neo-Socialists, who proved capable - on an individual basis and despite their leadership's support for continued negotiation - of supporting defensive measures more than the pacifist New Way.
Several "Old Way" parties and candidates formed a Coalition and had a near majority to take over the government. They would have to induct the New Way or the Neo-Socialists. Sirok refused to budge from his pacifist position. The Neo-Socialists again proved their malleability when it came to assuming more power. They agreed to join the coalition so long as the BNA was not repealed. The Old Way had no choice and accepted the Neo-Socialists into their midst. With their support, Hikaru Sulu was elected President of the Federation Council.
Sulu would turn out to be the one last gasp of the pre-New Way Federation. Though the ruling coalition could not repeal the BNA, Sulu limited it's use. He stopped all proceeding nationalization cases and raised the price controls so that private sector was no longer in the red from government purchases. The BNA still required him to give the basic living standards (Basic Living Necessities, aka BLN) to all Federation citizens, a task which proved impossible. Sulu's new Cabinent found that even under Benton, funding was short. Only the core sectors could be provided with the BLN. The Neo-Socialists also proved to be mercenary. They would be unable to muster a vote to remove Sulu on their own, but they could still ally with the remaining members of the New Way and their old allies when it came to pushing their social agendas. They pushed through a Council resolution levying a 10% due from all member worlds, to be paid in either funds or BLN goods. Their projections, later proved overly optimistic, showed that this would allow 80% of the Federation to have the BLN within fifteen years.
The charter colonies refused to accept the resolution. Unrepresented in the Federation Council, the charter colonies were the political result of a desire to not give the Federation's founding races an unfair advantage in legislature (which could lead to newer races refusing to join to avoid being marginalized). However, in exchange for not being in the Council, the charter colonies were allowed to rule themselves under any government they wished (so long as it honored the Federation's Constitution) and were exempt from most taxes and dues that could be levied upon represented worlds. They were even permitted to field their own militaries, if they could afford them, so long as they subordinated them to Starfleet in times of crisis. By this point, the population explosion on Earth that started after the Earth-Romulan Wars had expanded to space, and many of these charter colonies were human, a number of them being from particular human cultures as well (there were also similar colonies of Tellarites, Andorians, Betazoids, and other key races).
The Neo-Socialists, again opposing their own coalition partners (And holding hostage their desires to end Starfleet's decline), forced through another Resolution ordering the President to enforce their initial resolution (at the same time they passed a law ensuring they could order dues from any future charter colonies). Sulu refused, citing the Constitution and the Federation's prior agreements with the colonies.
It was Sirok who broke the impasse. In private meetings with Sulu in June 2311, he told the President that if he didn't get the colonies to give the dues, the New Way would put forward a resolution in the Council that would slash Starfleet to such minimal levels that it would be impossible to protect the charter colonies. With the support of the Neo-Socialists and other pacifist groups, it would certainly pass with just enough votes to overcome Sulu's veto (literally one vote, in fact). This amounted to extortion. The colonies mostly lacked the defenses to protect themselves, especially near the frontier. They would have to build up their own defenses and it could cost far more than the dues the Federation was asking for.
Sulu acqueised and extracted a promise from Sirok that Starfleet would be allowed to pursue the New Fleet program that had been initially proposed under Metheloi (this would lead to the modernization of the Excelsior fleet and the building of the newly-planned Ambassador-class battle cruisers and New Orleans-class frigates, among other things). Sirok agreed, perhaps reluctantly. Sulu, not wanting to deal with a court battle with the colonial leaders, forwarded the agreement to the charter colonies, urging them to accept; he could not prevent Sirok and the New Way from getting what they wanted. All but a few charter colonies agreed. In groups over the next few weeks, they began cooperating with the dues and money and materials came into Federation coffers, allowing the BNA to be implemented in the inner tenth of the Federation's territory by 2314.
Sulu's victory was the modernization and upgrading of Starfleet. He then used this as a bargaining chip with the Klingons. The Klingons had become technologically stagnant at this point. Their economy was still unstable as it tried to deal with the cleanup of Quo'noS while overcoming the entrenched military-industrialists, and they could ill afford a new arms race with the Federation so far in the lead. Thus they would not be able to match Starfleet's new forces and lacked the offensive strength to threaten a successful pre-emptive strike before they came online. The new Klingon government under Chancellor Korlaq gave in and demilitarization was put back on track and would remain so for nearly twenty years.
Sulu also attempted to undo Benton's purge. He invited a number of commanders back, but many were rejected by the Commission of Starfleet Operations, which was still controlled by Benton's men. There were also public protests, as many Federation citizens linked those leaders with Tomed (which was coming to be seen as a disaster, not as a failed Romulan attack). Sulu tried to replace the Starfleet Commissioners but was compelled by legislative pressure to back down.
The 2314 elections led to the New Way regaining a few seats, almost all at the expense of the "Old Way", while the Neo-Socialists remained relatively stable in their numbers. Sirok wanted to remove Sulu and cease the New Fleet, but the Neo-Socialists (now under Michelle Moore) again sided with the other parties. They, perhaps more than Sirok, appreciated the need for a powerful Starfleet to keep the Klingons honest.
The two parties still agreed on the key issues, and were making advancements. As the Klingons met their demilitarization marks, the fears that had led to their setbacks in 2310 subsided. Furthermore, by 2318 the BLN was available on 2 out of every 10 Federation worlds. Both parties surged in public membership and support as they made the claim that they were eliminating poverty "for all time", which seemed to be true to the core worlds that voted for most of the Council (in contrast, by then the charter colonies were beginning to feel the ill effects of 10% of their GDPs going to the Federation central government for the BLN and poverty was increasing). The 39th Council was elected that same year, and the "Old Way" parties lost even more ground; the New Way Coalition and Neo-Socialists, together, gained enough seats to control sixty percent of the Council vote. The Neo-Socialists, who had more seats than the New Way, kept Sulu in power but forced him to remove half his Cabinent, including the Secretaries of Transportation, Finance, and Industry, plus the Chairman of the Security Council.
By 2320, the BNA began showing a dark side. Productivity in the core worlds was falling. Unemployment was rising steadily and the pressure on the BLN was increasing. Economists predicted that within ten years, the twenty inner-most systems of the Federation would be de facto command economies as local businesses closed down from a lack of both business and labor. Surveys indicated many people on Earth and nearby planets (save Vulcan) no longer believed it necessary for them to work for a living. The BLN provided everything they needed to survive. They could work little oddjobs once and a while for cash, but so long as they had homes, food, and medical care they were willing to just enjoy life.
It was about to get worse. In August 2320, the first planet-wide replicator system came online on Mars. Every being living on Mars now had access to public replicators to make whatever they wanted (save weapons, which were not programmed into the system). Earth, Alpha Centauri, and Andor had similar systems online in October, and thirty inner systems were completely online by New Year's. The consumer economy began to collapse. Why would anyone buy a manufactured item when they could easily replicate it for free? Even worse, the public replicator system was considered part of the BLN - the materials and energy needed to power this new, unexpected use of the system came from the BLN. Sulu decided to reform the system and limit it to food. This was not technically a violation of the BNA, so the Council did not stop him. Immediately a wave of public protest erupted; the planets with the replicators wanted the free goods the system offered. They also controlled a disproportionate number of Council seats, and their representatives heeded their protest. A new act, the Replicator Usage Act, was brought forward to the Council to make the use of public replicators for replicating "non-violent items" legal. Sulu vigorously opposed it. He went public; the Federation couldn't afford the RUA being implemented, since it would spike replicator use and require even more raw materials and energy (thus requiring more fusion reactors and even more fuel and staff for those). In 2321 another sixty inner systems gained replicators. Because of the way the Federation Council was set up, these ninety systems controlled a near-majority of the Federation seats at the time. Their neighbors began pursuing them too.
By 2322, eighty percent of the systems with Council seats had planet-wide replicators. Polls and public demonstrations demanded passage of the RUA. The New Way grabbed hold of the issue; Starfleet had to be reduced to provide the funding. The Neo-Socialists vacilitated while Sulu fought back, publicly reminding the Federation's electorate that the money for the BLN came from the charter colonies, who expected defense. Starfleet couldn't be reduced without compromising this.
The New Way won. When the 40th Federation Council convened, seventy-five percent of it's seats were held by the Neo-Socialists and the New Way. Sulu resigned the day after the elections and Sirok was immediately voted to replace him. The New Way and Neo-Socialists split the Cabinent, with the Neo-Socialists taking the key Secretariats of Finance, Industry, and Agriculture, as well as six of the eleven seats in the Federation Security Council. An increase in the levies on the colonies was passed on July 10th 2323, increasing it to 20% by the 2324 fiscal year and 25% by the 2330 fiscal year.
The charter colonies did the only thing left to them: they threatened to secede. Near the Triangle and the Romulan and Klingon frontiers, leaders from three economically powerful charter colony governments in the region - Pacifica, Algrossa, and Nippon - met to debate secession and the formation of a confederated government for self-defense. New Anglia, New Anatolia, the De Soto worlds, and the Hortak Constituency (Andorian) send officials to deliver ultimatums to the Federation government. Several more began openly deliberating secession.
The Neo-Socialists called upon the use of military force to bring the colonies into line. Starfleet could be used to blockade the worlds and force them to accept the will of the Federation government. Sirok wavered while the Neo-Socialists whipped up public support. The colonials were portrayed as greedy capitalists, more intent on their own wealth than on helping to raise all of the peoples of the Federation into prosperity. They had to be stopped, forced to bow to the democratic demands of the Federation's citizenry. Protests and demonstrations broke out against the rebelling colonies. The Colonial Affairs office was purged of suspected sympathizers, writers were fired from news services, and in a few cases confirmed citizens of the charter colonies were outright attacked. It became so bad that when the Federation Supreme Court gave a preliminary ruling in favor of the charter colonies, protestors picketed the Court and one of the Justices was even assaulted while trying to walk his dog.
Sirok was becoming an old man now, well into his 170s. He had worked for over three decades to see his vision of a Federation guided by Surak's teachings realized, and now the neo-Socialists had perverted it with their militarism. He addressed the Council on July 20th and asked them to compromise with the charter colonies. The Neo-Socialists, led by Moore, attacked him viciously. He clearly had no stomach to see his great society come to fruition. The Federation needed a leader who could bring the rebelling colonies to heel and put the Enlightened Society back on track. Half the New Way defected to the Neo-Socialists in the vote of no confidence. Sirok was removed and Moore became President. She immediately began purging the Federation government of Sirok's allies.
Starfleet again became a problem. Sulu had silently appointed officers he trusted into high positions during his Presidency. They refused to attack their own people. Moore sacked Sulu's men and brought back some of Benton's. Starfleet's rank and file nearly revolted now. And some of the public support for force was declining as it became clear that it might result in civil war. After only two months in the Presidency, the Neo-Socialists and New Way removed Moore from office and put in the Council Representative for Tellar, Jovark tha'Twissi.
Jovark played Sirok's old card. He informed the rebelling colonies that he'd have to cut Starfleet if they didn't agree to a dues increase. He also pointedly reminded them, in a public fashion, that they'd probably have to spend just as much of their GDPs to establish their own defenses, which in many cases would be reliant on resources within "loyal" Federation systems. Alone, they'd be easy pickings for the Tholians, Klingons, or newly-discovered Cardassians. The colonies' public reacted as Jovark hoped and their governments, mostly by slim majorities, backed down and accepted the dues. To facilitate the compromise, Jovark pushed through the Council a modification to the dues increase and removed the increase to 25% in 2330. He perhaps felt that the colony's economies might begin to recover as the BLN was extended to them (a miscalculation that the Secretariat of Finance made, as even the 25% number would not have allowed the BLN to be established in the charter colonies, not to mention the RUA). Nevertheless, the crisis passed without tearing the Federation apart.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia
American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.
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