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Old August 12 2014, 06:38 PM   #1
Gretnablue
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How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react?

I've been working on an idea for a series of Star Trek (I'll either make into a fan-fiction or scripts in case I ever get a chance to work on a Star Trek series) set in the 26th/27th century where the Federation has going through there version of the Weimar Republic.

The Federation has went through a long conflict with the Klingons who have conquered the remains of the Romulan Empire, they have millions of Romulan refugees and an event has lead to an economic collapse leading many races leaving the Federation. The Federation seeks aid from the other powers but none help: The Ferengi not willing to have the burden, the Cardassians are now part of the Federation, the Tholians refuse due to there xenophobia (throwing the Star Fleet's Prime Directive right back at them) and there allies in Delta quadrant are to far away. In the end, The Federation makes an alliance with the Dominion who now act as the Federations Economic supplier and co work with Starfleet.

Now there is a lot more to it then that but that is all the relevant info for this (that and I don't want to say everything). As the title suggests, how would the federation economy collapse given that the Federation is based on an abstract concept which doesn't seem to be the best economy to begin with and could a single event cause it to collapse? Secondly, how would the Federation react to such a event, from the the government to Starfleet to the ordinary citizens? Lastly, would any races be willing/unwilling to help with such a economic collapse like I described it?
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Old August 13 2014, 01:40 AM   #2
Tarek71
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

I would just go ahead with the fan fic. I don't see anything like this ever being made into a show.

As to your question, I would say that I don't think their economy can really collapse. They have replicators, which are far more advanced versions of 3D printers. They cant make something out of nothing. But as long as you have raw materials to feed into them, you can make clothes, food, tools and shelters indefinitely. So I cant see a collapse as you describe happening.

There doesn't seem like there would ever be a shortage of matter to feed into the machines.
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Old August 13 2014, 03:32 AM   #3
Count
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

Federation economy is nothing like anything even remotely similar to today.

As stated, they can manufacture anything they need through replicators or directly mining it. they have unlimited energy provided from stars in the form of Deuterium that they can use to make anything else they want. the only way for federation infrastructure to collapse (ie: back as it nearly did in TOS) is to remove a key element they need in all their manufacturing.

so say, if there was a rare element that was core to some of their most basic tech, say, the material that makes up isolinear chips, or an alloy that's used to make reactor casings/dilithium chambers, and they lost the ability to source that, then you could have an economic collapse as manufacturing and energy production begins to grind to a halt.

However, considering the size of the federation, there is nothing nation-wide that could trigger a collapse on that scale that could not be accounted for well in advance and resolved.

the only real way to introduce a collapse like that would be in a post-war environment, when infrastructure is destroyed and can't be replaced.
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Old August 14 2014, 01:06 AM   #4
USS Triumphant
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

Perhaps some sort of mega-weapon that creates interference over a large area of space (all of the Federation and then some) that makes transtator-based technologies (phasers, communicators, transporters, and replicators) work terribly unreliably, if at all?

The really interesting thing about this idea is that if the weapon was set off in the heart of the Federation, it might have the effect of causing an inversion of influence: core worlds like Earth and Vulcan would suddenly find themselves dependent on worlds at the fringe where the interference isn't as strong.
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Old August 14 2014, 02:32 AM   #5
TerraNovan
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

A collapse of subspace would pretty much do it.. Happened in a voyageur episode.
It even warned that this type of thing could occur in the alpha quadrant.
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Old August 14 2014, 06:20 PM   #6
Elvira
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

Tarek71 wrote: View Post
They have replicators
Which might be what triggers the collapse, an economy is the production, distribution, trade, and consumption of goods. The replicator isn't ubiquitous on Earth, and we don't even know for sure that other members of the federation have it at all.

If within the federation it does become a universal standard, and they can fix the way the food that comes out of it tastes, the economy probably would collapse.

Trade would drop to a fraction of pre-universal replicator time. Non-replicator production the same. Stores would almost cease to exist, most would have to close, factories too, with the obvious effect on employment.

Specialty businesses would continue. But most of the "everyday" stuff would be gone.

Count wrote: View Post
they have unlimited energy
I seriously doubt that.

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Old August 14 2014, 07:05 PM   #7
Tim Walker
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

USS Triumphant wrote: View Post
Perhaps some sort of mega-weapon that creates interference over a large area of space (all of the Federation and then some) that makes transtator-based technologies (phasers, communicators, transporters, and replicators) work terribly unreliably, if at all?

The really interesting thing about this idea is that if the weapon was set off in the heart of the Federation, it might have the effect of causing an inversion of influence: core worlds like Earth and Vulcan would suddenly find themselves dependent on worlds at the fringe where the interference isn't as strong.
It sound like the Federation would be knocked down to an earlier, less sophisticated tech level. That would be an upheaval, though I expect that people would scramble to adjust, perhaps staving off complete collapse.
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Old August 14 2014, 09:48 PM   #8
USS Triumphant
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

Tim Walker wrote: View Post
USS Triumphant wrote: View Post
Perhaps some sort of mega-weapon that creates interference over a large area of space (all of the Federation and then some) that makes transtator-based technologies (phasers, communicators, transporters, and replicators) work terribly unreliably, if at all?

The really interesting thing about this idea is that if the weapon was set off in the heart of the Federation, it might have the effect of causing an inversion of influence: core worlds like Earth and Vulcan would suddenly find themselves dependent on worlds at the fringe where the interference isn't as strong.
It sound like the Federation would be knocked down to an earlier, less sophisticated tech level. That would be an upheaval, though I expect that people would scramble to adjust, perhaps staving off complete collapse.
Exactly. Complete collapse didn't sound like what Gretnablue had in mind, as the OP describes the Federation continuing to be at least cohesive and powerful enough to negotiate with other interstellar powers - rather than getting picked apart and conquered by them.
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Old August 14 2014, 10:21 PM   #9
Tim Walker
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

I'm thinking that the devastation inflicted by the Borg/Dominion would have similar effects. A vast number of people killed, planets rendered desolate, much infrastructure gone. The industrial base shrunk to those solar systems spared. Many, many refugees.

The economy wouldn't collapse like the Great Depression, it would be destroyed by war.

Or, in an optimistic scenario, the economy is meerly crippled by the enormous damage. The Federation, instead of disintegrating, barely survives as a political entity.

Resources would be stretched very thin. Technology might tend to stagnate, as there would be little left over for R&D; and the bleeding edge tech that already existed would be constrained in its deployment by said economy. As for imported ultra tech, it would likewise be constrained by these problems, even if you could reproduce it.

(Which might greatly restrict deployment of transhumanist tech; otherwise, society might turn very strange.)

Last edited by Tim Walker; August 14 2014 at 10:42 PM.
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Old August 14 2014, 10:44 PM   #10
TerraNovan
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

Collapse does not need to mean extinction.

Its strongly implied in canon that the federation citizens are not resilient when times get tough, they've never needed too.
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Old August 14 2014, 10:48 PM   #11
USS Triumphant
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

Given replicator technology, I could rebuild the necessary infrastructure very quickly. By myself. That's why I suggested something to cripple the technology itself - as long as that technology is intact as shown in TNG, the Federation is a post-scarcity civilization. A lack of resources or even personnel aren't really a concern, provided you've got a replicator and a power source (a star for solar, if nothing else). People would be sad about the loss of people they cared about, and possibly about the loss of objects they had a sentimental attachment to - but they would be sad in their new, very modern homes, and provided at least small comfort by the replicated copies of the objects they lost.
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Old August 14 2014, 10:57 PM   #12
Tim Walker
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

There is a fair amount of low tech around. Consider houses made of wood-a tree is sawn into planks, and then a carpenter hammers them together. The ancient Romans used concrete. Back yard vegetable gardens are often tended with very basic tools.

Last edited by Tim Walker; August 14 2014 at 11:11 PM.
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Old August 14 2014, 11:07 PM   #13
Tim Walker
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

USS Triumphant wrote: View Post
Given replicator technology, I could rebuild the necessary infrastructure very quickly. By myself. That's why I suggested something to cripple the technology itself - as long as that technology is intact as shown in TNG, the Federation is a post-scarcity civilization. A lack of resources or even personnel aren't really a concern, provided you've got a replicator and a power source (a star for solar, if nothing else). People would be sad about the loss of people they cared about, and possibly about the loss of objects they had a sentimental attachment to - but they would be sad in their new, very modern homes, and provided at least small comfort by the replicated copies of the objects they lost.
There have been scenarios in which an extraterrestrial power finds a way to cripple our oil based economy. Maybe with genetically engineered life forms?

If somebody finds a way to do that to the Federation's latest tech...how far would technology regress? Back to the early 24th century? The 23rd or 22nd or 21st centuries? The Stone Age?

And would neighboring interstellar powers likewise be affected?

Last edited by Tim Walker; August 15 2014 at 06:18 AM.
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Old August 14 2014, 11:19 PM   #14
USS Triumphant
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

See, that's what I'm saying about the replicators, though. Use small replicators to build giant cargo replicators on the Dyson Sphere, hook them up to all of the power the sphere is receiving from the star inside, and now you can replicate whole ships, and then tap the power directly to charge 'em up. There might be a few unreplicables involved (dilithium), but you just add them after construction - or switch to a different tech to overcome a shortage. (Romulan drives don't need dilithium, and Federation science knows how they work.)

If exploration isn't on the agenda, it would be because of crew shortages - not because of a lack of ships. And even crew shortages could possibly be overcome with holocrew.

Which, again, is why I say that to cripple the Federation, you would HAVE to do something about the replicators.

Oh, and to answer your question: Trip Tucker mentioned watching that automated repair station change out a transtator assembly in 15 minutes, and that the job would have taken weeks for his crew. So, it would probably drop things back to the 2140s at latest, with the exception of some newer techs that don't rely on transtators that might could still be applied to improve the reduced capabilities somewhat.
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Old August 15 2014, 01:32 AM   #15
Tim Walker
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Re: How could the Federation economy collapse and how would they react

TV Tropes has an article about using old technology, Break Out The Museum Piece.
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