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Old February 10 2013, 05:51 PM   #17
Greg Cox
Location: Oxford, PA
Re: So is there really no money in Star Trek

Pavonis wrote: View Post
The question of the economics of the future arises regularly. After discussing it regularly for years, I'm struck by how resistant to the claims of "no money" some fans are. Warp drive, transporters and phasers are all readily accepted, despite the violations of known physics, because fans can accept the possibility of future breakthroughs in sciences that might make such things possible.

But no money? Impossible! Why the inability to accept the possibility? Is it because people think they understand economics better than they understand physics, so they can't imagine an economic system that isn't exactly what we use today? Economics without money shouldn't be harder to accept than warp drive.

I read a book by Charles Stross where a new economic system, referred to as Economics 2.0, was used by a new transhuman society. It was completely incomprehensible to the merely human characters of the story. Whatever economic system the Federation uses, I imagine it as something unfamiliar to us and unique to the future of Star Trek, something complex that developed over time as the Federation tied its member societies closer together.

Oh, I doubt that anyone is "resisting" the idea of a moneyless economy on intellectual grounds. It's just that, as others have pointed out, the whole "we've evolved beyond money" thing was always just a half-baked notion that was never really explained or explored on any incarnation of STAR TREK, beyond some glib moralizing about how advanced 24th Century humans are. (And which has little or nothing to do with classic TOS.)

You can count on one hand the number of episodes in which this vaunted moneyless economy actually figured into the plot. How exactly Earth's economy works doesn't really matter when it comes to beaming down to some strange new world or encountering some weird new lifeform.

If somebody wants to make a scifi movie or TV series in which a futuristic moneyless economy is actually crucial to the plot, more power to them. I doubt that most of us would resist the concept, as long as it lent itself to interesting stories and complications.

Last edited by Greg Cox; February 10 2013 at 06:10 PM.
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