Before we begin, let’s make one thing clear: superhero movies and space operas are not science fiction — they are science fantasy at best, and I’m not very sure about the “science” part in most cases.
True science fiction is not always entertaining — but it is always a hyperbolic representation of the current state of the world.
Star Trek is not very scientific when it comes to its technology, but it does a great job at the “hyperbole” part, so it deserves the “science fiction” designation. And it comes with a variety of species clearly inspired by traits that we love or — in some cases — despise about ourselves. Just think of it: the Vulkan represent reason and logic, the Klingons are our belligerent nature, the Romulans are the paranoid ones that see conspiracies and machinations everywhere.
But one of the most interesting species in the Star Trek universe is the Ferengi — the ones that represent our greed. Even though they were initially created for little more than comic relief, they received a lot of depth later on; fans of the series had the chance to explore the workings of their misogynistic and extremely profit-oriented society, their religion … and the rule book of their existence, The Rules of Acquisition.
The Rules of Acquisition is a lot like The Art of War by Sun Tzu if his goal was to make a pile of money. Some of the 173 rules in the book — written and published in 1995 by acclaimed Star Trek screenwriter and producer Ira Steven Behr — only make sense in the context of the series; but others are surprisingly accurate and applicable to the world around us. So much, in fact, that sometimes it feels that we no longer live on Earth but on Ferenginar, where the stars are made of gold-pressed latinum.
#1 – Once you have their money … never give it back.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s one of the rules that many companies adhere to. If you have ever tried to cancel a service, you know what I mean. It is one of the more annoying and relatable “rules” Star Trek writers have ever put on paper.
#3 – Never spend more for an acquisition than you have to.
This one applies especially to public procurement but it’s not exclusive to it — everyone from private persons to small businesses is cutting corners to save as much money as possible. Sometimes, even fairness is sacrificed on the altar of frugality.
#13 – Anything worth doing is worth doing for money
“If you’re good at something, never do it for free,” the Joker said in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 masterpiece The Dark Knight. And here’s an old Romanian saying that expresses the same idea even better: “A brother is a brother but the cheese costs money.”
#34 – War is good for business
War usually means chaos and destruction – but from it, a new order emerges. And those in the right position can make a big pile of money. “War” in this case is interchangeable with “crisis.” Just take a look at the soaring of Google’s shares amid the ongoing pandemic.
#35 – Peace is good for business
… because after the war, everything has to be rebuilt, right?
#48 – The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife
Or, as George Carlin said in his immortal “Advertising Lullaby” skit: “It’s our way of saying thank you.” And finally …
#89 – Better to lose some profit and live than lose all profit and die
Because there are things in life that money can’t buy. Some things are simply not worth it — whichever these are, depends on the individual.
For those of you who want to read more — and perhaps even have a laugh — here is the complete collection.
Photo Credit: public domain