The Problem of Money in Star Trek Economy

Warp coils and photon torpedoes aside, have you ever thought of the weird fact that there's no money in Star Trek? Or how people get stuff done in real life when they can just ... erhm, enjoy what the holodeck can offer?

Our very own John who blog at The Zeray Gazette has, and he's given it some serious thoughts:

... my usual interpretation of the economics of Star Trek: they were unrealistic, as they eliminated the first law of economics -- scarcity. Thanks to the replicator, there is virtually no need to manufacture anything. Although there were a few objects, such as latinum or yamok sauce, that could not be replicated, there was essentially nothing that your replicator could not provide for you -- including more replicators.


Come to think of it - how would a money-less economics of the future a la Star Trek work? Who'll do the scut work?

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What you all have to think about is, if there is no money, disease, poverty and famine would be wiped out in a matter of months.

A cure for cancer or aids is always based on donations and government contributions, basic medicine for 3rd world countries and normal folk a like is always based on how much it cost to manufacture, to sell and to buy.
Space exploration and technological advancement is always constrained by money, if the need for money to do this no longer existed, humans would be able to accomplish things a lot more than we can now.

Again religon does not exist in Star Trek, it is usually money, greed and religon that causes the most grief and wars in today's society, if there is to be a society where the human race builds a future to better itself and man kind, then bring it on, but unfortunately an awful destructive thing would have to happen to society first before we can evolve and progress on from the greedy self obsrobed society we've become.
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Beside all the talk about labor, time, energy and so on. I think where forgetting if you had a Replicator you could make money that would me impossible to tell it was counterfeit money. That would surely screw up the economic system. Not to mention the replicator inself. Besides people do things all the time for thing other then money. Have you ever heard of open source software & not-for-profit organization. Sure they get money from donation. But there not soly doing it for the money. Beside there was a time when human lived without money. We usto organize to survive. Not by cutting off eachothers head. Otherwise we would have died out thousands of years ago.
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The whole ST concept of economics is a load of crap. Like earlier posts stated, there will always be limited resources and disparities in talent and ability. Land cannot be replicated. Even if you can leave the planet, so what? Land on other planets can't be replicated either. And the cheapest land would be on far away planets with few people and little to no resources available, much like the western US in the 19th century, when the gub'ment gave away land if you promised to maintain it. Then there’s energy. It may be cheap and abundant, but it will not be FREE. Energy must be produced; it will require machines, labor, time, and transport. These factors mean that energy will have a value. If you want an example of a modern-day form of energy that’s relatively cheap and abundant, yet we still complain about its cost, look at oil. Milk is more expensive than oil. Hand lotion is far more expensive than oil. Peanut butter might be 5-10 times its cost. Yet we still go nuts at the price of oil. You don’t think people would act the same way regarding antimatter in the 24th century? I gurantee you there would be a zillion PADD articles on the predatory nature and inherent danger of the “Big Antimatter” companies.

Then there will always be disparities in talent. You can see this in every episode by the mere fact of the ships hierarchy. Why is Jean-Luc a Captain and some random dude just a lieutenant? Because Picard is better than that other dude. He's smarter, more ambitious, a better ass-kisser, maybe simply more lucky. Whatever, the point is there will always be people who have less talent and luck than others. Hence you will have poverty. Maybe it won't be the abject poverty we see in some places of our time, but there will always be people who have less. For example: look at a poor person in America, compared to sub-Saharan Africa. A poor American likely lives in a small apartment, with few frills, bad heat and no AC, but there is little chance of dying from exposure. They can always go to an emergency room if they are ill, although quality of care is suspect. They will also have access to abundant amounts of cheap food, albeit very bad for you. An impoverished sub-Saharan African, meanwhile, likely has no shelter, little to no access to ANY kind of medical care, and is in a constant state of malnutrition. Being poor in America is a helluva lot better than being poor in sub-Saharan Africa, but poverty still exists in America. 24th century poverty might seem pretty sweet to us, but poverty will still exist.
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"Replicators use energy and energy isn’t free."

Unless they came up with a low cost energy source. Like Solar Energy, Cold Fusion or Antimatter . Besides its a sci-fi show.
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everthing is provied by the state its socialism in exchange for room bored goods and sevices people work.everyone gets there own lil piece of heaven and the all agree to n ot live outside theyre means cause its bad for all. as for the grub work it needs to be done so we do it. nobady pays you to clean ur house or ur bathroom or recycle or take out the trash but u do because u must. so we all do r part and the galaxy is a nice place to then lets say some guy wants to be a writer like Jake sisco hes not contributing like a street sweeper or an engineer like chief obrien.but he does his thing he does what he wants what he loves. and hopefully some other good individual will pick ujp the slack. some people r good at engineering and cleaning and cant be artists or physicists i for one would probably flunk out of star fleet but i could be a lzy artist like jake. and in that sense im not contributing but maybe that also means i cant move up in my social caste. its like the difference between owning land like picards family chateau to a tiny lil apartment in the city. as a hard intrepid worker u can have a house w awhite picket fence and a half acre. but an artis or a writer can never ;ive above his basic needs he gets a small apartment room and bored and thats all and he can be hapy and productive that way. or he can strive for more by working harder and he can someday own a chateu in france.
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