Did any Star Trek books address how the cashless Earth economy worked?

IIRC there was one STTNG show where a rich human from the past wakes up and is told “we don’t use money anymore”. Did any Star Trek shows or books address exactly how the cashless Earth economy worked?

Pure Ideal Communism. Everyone is perfect, without malice and motive and does exactly what they’re best at for the benefit of the Earth as a whole. This and a large supply of magical faerie dust, er, Replicators supplies every Human with everything they could ever want. Because Humans are now so perfectly evolved, no one wants more than this.

No really, that’s the bullshit spiel of the Star Trek Universe, from everything I’ve ever seen or read.

In other words, it can only exist in a fantasy/scifi universe, because in the real universe, that will never happen.

Well they did have Harry Mudd (I’m asuming he’s human) who had a strong profit motive.

Well, of course, when you consider that replicators make starvation and the like next to impossible, you understand the bottom part of the equation. The top part? I think the general consensus by skeptics and later writers of the franchise alike was that it was self-aggrandizing bunk on the part of cap’n Picard or Gino Roddenberry (correct me if I’m wrong on that fact).

In TNG alone, we see that many humans are, in fact, motivated by avarice and greed. Captain Picard falls in love with Vash, the career criminal. The pilot of the series showed Dr. Crusher charging the cost of fabrics “to her account,” whatever that means. And FFS, somebody had to pay to build a starship! At best we can interpret the United Federation of Planets as being some sort of quasi-socialist entity. But then who are the people cutting hair, and working as bartenders on Starships? Why bother if you can get sustenance and a bed wherever you go?

Then, as the franchise moved on and got more nuanced, we saw other little tears in the Federation utopia doctrine. The fight with the Maquis really pushed forward the notion that while Earth was a lovely place to be, it was not necessarily so for the entire federation. And on Voyager, the Doctor wrote a holo-novel, which he sent to a publisher, and later fought over with a lawyer, as to who “owned” his intellectual property. While this could be argued as a protection of individual rights vs. intellectual property, to me it still seems to run contrary to the notion of a world without luxury or want.

There’s also the scene in Star Trek IV where Kirk is having dinner with the marine biologist and she says something like, “Well I bet you don’t have money in the 23rd century either.” And Kirk says, “Well, we don’t.”

I don’t know. I’ve known some people who would be content doing bartending or some other menial-seeming job the rest of their lives if they could make a decent living at it.

Well, someone or something had to do the work to build the starship. A self-replicating robot that dematerialises asteroids for energy and feedstock and is also capable of replicating starships would be sufficient.

But my point is that if they’ve completely eliminated all poverty and need, why does anyone work? Admittedly, flying around on a spaceship humping all sorts of astro-whores is a tempting proposition. But are people *required *to work? It doesn’t seem so, in which case, if you’ve got no ambition, why not take your replicated bed and bread, and devote yourself to getting your tan on, or running as many pints of synthol through your liver as you can stomach :p?

I am sure some people would do just that. Perhaps many. But in a wealthy society, you can do what you like. I see you are like many … you have never given any serious thought to the problem of what would you do with your life if all your material needs are cared for, whether you work or not. I bet most people would find better way than you suggest to fill their time. I bet the world would be a better place for it.

I think we would have to assume that like 99% of the population of the Federation just lays about having orgies and getting fat. All the people you see in the shows are the rare person who thinks that going out and getting into danger is a fun thing to do.

Regarding the barber, there are people who do enjoy doing that. They make someone look better and thus make them happier. It’s not wholly without its merits. Further, consider someone who never had the aptitude for Starfleet but still dreamed of flying around in a spaceship. And then you see that the Enterprise needs a barber. You can do that! And you get to talk to all kinds of innnnnteresting people with innnnnteresting lives!

Regarding a post-scarcity society, check this out. Give everyone a replicator and a holodeck. The people who don’t care about anything but self-gratification are never seen again. This means that the only people who are out in the world and influencing it are self-driven and interested in more than personal wealth and pleasure.

Edit: I swear Sage Rat’s post wasn’t there when I started typing.

No. The concept was just given a nod as background flavor and never seriously explored, except where it was convenient to the plot.

Obligatory links: memory alpha (TV/movie canon) economy and money and memory beta money (expanded universe).

We did see occasional mentions of ‘credits’ (the idea of which was expanded upon in one of the RPGs). i think we have to recognize three different groups:

  1. Starfleet! Has it’s own rules. It’s sort of like being in the military some of the time, but most of the time it’s like being in NASA or other public sector job.

  2. UFP (and maybe Earth itself). Citizens probably have all their basic physical needs (food, housing, medical) met. The only real scarcities are land and perhaps excessive personal property and agency. Picard’s family seems to still own their vineyard, so it would seem that the government hasn’t arbitrarily taken over all land rights. Ezri’s Mom has a business which causes her relatively great stress. There’s some conflict with criminal elements, but not being able to make her profit goals also seems to be a source of stress. Not sure what to make of that, other than, Trill is a relatively new member of the UFP, or else, her business is not on Trill proper. There must be some kind of transition period for new members of the UFP adjusting to the new economic situation. Or perhaps she’s in some other jurisdiction altogether.

  3. Non UFC - there must be some way to facilitate trade. DS9 created the convenient gold pressed latinum standard. Beverly used UFP credits.

But these are all just guesses. Really, the writers realized that this would be a difficult question that was best avoided except in situations of plot convenience. It’s also probably something that expanded universe writers are instructed to avoid looking at too closely.

Of course we can make our own fanwanks. There’s the easy Cory Doctorow “Woofie” idea - social currency. people are motivated by social currency - popularity and esteem. Combined with credits - the things which are not provided for free through technology, if you produce them, or human labor, which is also not easily replicated in certain cases, you get credits. So perhaps it’s a combined capitalist (anything tech can’t reproduce) system lets you get as much “stuff” as you want that you can buy with credits which can’t be easily reproduced - along with stuff you can get with for free (replicators, health care, basic housing) - along with things you can only get with social currency (higher position due to specific talent, higher status invitations due to reputation).

Blah blah blah plot convenience. But, otherwise, yeah, Vash is not entirely within the UFP system. She could settle for what the UFP danes to give her based on their criteria, but perhaps she is a free spirit and wants to hoard enough rare interplanetary antiquities to chart her own course from the wealth she gains from black market sales.

On the contrary, in the future when most physical needs are met, it’s the intellectual and creative properties which will be most sought after.

Agreed! Assuming you never had to worry about basic living need, food, and medical, what would you do with your time? Suddenly thrust into that situation, you might act like a trust fund kid and just booze it up, sure. But if you came from multiple generations used to the situation, you’d no longer have the instinct to “spend it while you got it” but instead would have both the positive example of your parents and also the built up social pressure to do something useful.

Let’s assume you live forever, and yourself a hundred years from now is comparable to your theoretical great grandchildren. Eventually you would feel secure, and get bored and also feel some social pressure. You’d want to do more than just bar hop and get laid. You’d follow your passion, without the concern of salary. So what would be your hobby in our economy would become your vocation in the UFP economy.

It’s not even all that theoretical. Think of Burning Man. After people buy their tickets and spend whatever real money on physical concerns pre-event, they then attend the event, during which it’s encouraged that no real dollars be exchanged, but that there be “only participants, no spectators.” Most people feel a social pressure to contribute in some way. People end up volunteering whatever talent they feel they have, and enjoying whatever talent other people feel they have.

I just realized that once the Ferengi gained their ultra-capitalist “hat,” the Federation had to have SOMETHING in the economical sense, or else the two races would never interact. Why would the Ferengi give half a crap about them if they didn’t?


“These humons will let us rent out space on DS9…for FREE! Suckers!”

The Federation doesn’t have money. That means they don’t have little pieces of paper (or plastic for that matter) which symbolize value. Even in this day and age the idea of bills and coins is becoming quaint.

They do have a credit system. How it works has never been explained. Oddly enough, a background display in TNG shows that they also still have health insurance in the 24th century too (“Don’t let a Ferengi swindle you! Save up to 15% with FedMed! Apply by stardate 46693.2 and we’ll throw in a bonus neutered Tribble!”).

I kind of always viewed Starfleet as the UFP version of the SCA. “Yeah, those are a bunch of people who pooled their credits together to go fly around on spaceships and dress in costumes.”

Replicator usage was often rationed on Voyager because of low energy reserves. They even resorted to using Neelix as a cook.

TNG had a barber. He was a comical character that talked a lot. I saw a rerun the other night with Picard getting his hair cut.

I have issues believing money and property will ever be eliminated. The desire to accumulate wealth and property is too strong. A lot of Mankind’s achievements were driven by a desire to make money.

I can envision a future where basic needs like food, shelter, medical care are met for everybody. Anyone could pursue advanced education and training for free. But, some people will desire more. A bigger house, more frills. They will work and earn money to get it. That’s part of being human. A desire to better ourselves is built-in.

IIRC, I think I read here that one of the novels (which are considered non-canon in comparison to the series/movies proper), set in the TOS era, has a scene on Earth showing citizens lining up for their replicator food rations. I don’t remember any of the other details (like if they HAD to get their food that way, or if it was just an option, or if there wasn’t enough for everyone, or if the other replicators were being fixed and that’s why there was a line today, or what).

The spirit of the shows, I have to say, seemed to be that the cashless, utopian Earth society worked because of genuine social and cultural progress, proof of the genuine good potential of the human race, and possibly a natural consequence of a species’ evolution into a star-faring civilization. I personally like to think that, while this is true, it’s also partially the result of decades of social engineering, propaganda, and behind-the-scenes manipulation by the Feds. They just actually made it work this time. :smiley: Possibly also supported by those times we’ve seen characters espousing how great humanity or the Federation have become…right when they start freaking out badly because they’ve had to do something that was against everything they’ve ever been taught was right. (Mostly on Deep Space Nine, come to think of it)

Picard getting his hair cut?

Until the day he custs the hair of the race in which the BLUE hairs are actually sensor organisms, and he gets shot in the face with a disruptor. :stuck_out_tongue:

If they don’t use money, what exactly are they betting in Riker’s poker school?