This thread about suspension of disbelief started devolving into a debate about whether money still exists in Star Trek. I thought I would spin it off here into a discussion of:
examples and explanations of how alternative or utopian economies work in fictional universes
examples and explanations of how alternative or utopian economies work in our theoretical future
Although there was some debate about whether or not Star Trek has money, that issue has pretty much been covered here, here, and here. Basically we learn that 1) the writers have been vague and not very consistant, 2) there doesn’t seem to be a conventional monetary system, 3) trade with outside entities probably uses some form of currency, and 4) Federation members are alloted credits for resources such as transporter use.
Besides the Federation, other fictional post-scarcity economies include The Culture series by Ian M Banks about a contemporary space-faring civilization, and the Bitchun Society from Cory Doctorow’s book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom with it’s social currency called “Whuffie”.
Of course, the shape of the society will depend on which elements of scarcity have been eliminated. Some sort of replicator and unlimited power source will eliminate basic physical and material needs. Space is probably going to be the hardest scarcity to eliminate. Even if you can leave the Earth, you will still need a method for dividing up the land for people that want to stay. Holodecks could alleviate some of the strain by creating near infinite virtual terrain. You would still need at least 8x8x8 feet of space per person unless you hooked them up to some kind of matrix device that was purely mental.