RALPH: It's about power.
PICARD: Power to do what?
RALPH: To control your life, your destiny.
PICARD: That kind of control is an illusion.
Offenhouse is a pathetic little creature for whom money is mainly a means for power.
Right in front of you and you missed it. For Offenhouse money is a means of controlling his own life and destiny.
RALPH: That may be all right for you, but I am not willing to allow my fate to be decided by others.
Far from being pathetic, Offenhouse philosophy is to be respected and emulated. He's a man who is unwilling to be simply carried along by will of others, or events that he has the ability to control. This is the reason that he found a way to place himself in a position to provide Picard with essential information.
RALPH: They haven't got a clue. They're hoping you know, but they're too arrogant to ask.
PICARD: ... it's a correct assessment.
Without Offenhouse's presence on the bridge, the confrontation with the Romulan ship easily could have resulted in a battle, or a war.
Indeed, a more enlightened humanity, which strives to better itself, is not even remotely a bad idea.
The question is, is what Roddenberry considered to be enlightened in fact "better." Or is it a advancement in the wrong direction?
One example would be a society that fully expects a child to be indifferent to the death of their parent.
Personally, I would say that this is a society that is "progressing" in a wrong direction. Just because you label a society as progressive, doesn't mean that it's progress is in a positive or beneficial direction.
That sounds like humans are living in a virtual Eden getting all their needs provided for free.
That sound more like Humans are being treated like children, being provided for. The opposite of grown out their infancy, they would be returning to it.
... that SAVAGE CURTAIN moment when Abraham Lincoln refers to Uhura as a charming Negress ...
Uhura might not have been offened because Negress was not used as a pejorative in her culture.
In Brazil "the N-word" is used fairly commonly and is neutral, because it isn't used as a pejorative, it's simply used the way an American would use the word black.
You want to see Uhura react to words, watch her face when Mister Adventure suggest she getting old and is in the downward segment of her career.
The characters grew up in a post-scarcity environment
But this is a assumption on your (and others) part, not directly supported by anything on the show. Who actual grew up with a replicator in their home ... Keiko. And there no indication that replicator use is cost-free, so what post-scarcity environment?
... what happen when the society changes yet again?
... even if you're right, and a chunk of society decides "screw volunteerism, I'm going to lay on the couch and eat flamin' hot cheetos and drink root beer," SO WHAT? It's a society of abundant resources.
Not what I meant by a societial change. If a significant portion of your society, the portion that has previously volunteered their efforts says "Okay, the whole volunteering thing was cool for a while, but if you want my efforts (skills, training, education, experience) then I want financial compensation." Off world money is fine, if that's all you got to offer. Because I can take my abilities elsewhere.
I'm one of the best doctors (engineers, educators, thinkers, etc.) on this planet and it is a joke that I have the same lifestyle as someone who dropped out of school when they were sixteen to sit on a beach, surf and screw.
What are you going to do? Grab some "self-improvement artist" off the street to work the antimatter reactor that powers the entire west coast? There's a good idea.
Maybe this gal wants to move her family into a penthouse on top of one of those tall towers in San Fransisco (not everyone gets those), and a nice sailing yacht for the social season (Scotty had to buy his), and a private Vulcan tutor for her children (and out of that government school).
She and those like her are busting their asses, while others sit on theirs. Why shouldn't they be recognized for their efforts? But wait you say, she has been indoctrinated[ since childhood to think a certain way, problem there is Human beings don't alway respond to being told how they should think. The volunteer your abilities for no compensation thing only work as long as the people in your society who are doing the actual work
go along with it. If they can shop their skills elsewhere in the Federation, another Member world, then you have to think about how difficult it will be to replace them, and how long it will take.
We have large people now who "live on the dole" in some way or another and it hasn't brought the market economy crashing down.
Haven't been watching the news out of Greece for a while, have you?