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Ten ForwardMoney, socialism, and the future. (Reply | Watch)

Many, many times, Star Trek mentions the lack of money in the United Federation of Planets. And many, many times we see people buying things. Often, this is explained away with "dealing with border cultures". I was watching VOY episode: "The Gift" the other day. Kathryn Janeway tells Kes that a Vulcan master doubled his price for a lamp when he saw that Tuvok was in Starfleet. Are the Vulcan people some formerly unkown group of money hoarders? I really wish they'd just drop the whole "We don't get paid" bit. – AT2Howell 14:47, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

  • Related to this, I've noticed that in TOS, it SEEMS like there's a little more of a financial underpinning to the UFP, though I may be wrong in suspecting this. It sure seems like it in a lot of the novels, anyway--not sure about canon support. The credits seem to act like some form of electronic funds transfer, rather than as an empty shell the way they do in the later series. Heck, what does a "credit" even DO in a moneyless economy? And HOW do they deal with border economies if they have nothing to offer? Is it simply barter like we saw in DS9 "In the Cards"? Sheesh. Give me bars of latinum or darseks or leks any day over that. Nerys Ghemor 02:37, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
I read somewhere that Gene Roddenberry adopted the "we work for free" principle on the Next Generation. He wouldn't let Ronald Moore change it to a more believable system. – AT2Howell 02:45, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
<speculation>Am I the only one who thinks something violent must have occurred to bring this about? To me, the absence of religion on Earth (which I derive from some very arrogant statements about religion that Picard made when dealing with the Mintakan situation) combined with the transformation of the economy makes me think that it is Marxist principles Roddenberry had in mind. The trick is that in current history, no attempted transition to a Marxist system has occurred without bloodshed, both at the overthrow and in the maintenance of said system. It doesn't seem like it would be World War III that was this conflict, given that afterwards Zefram Cochrane has no shame about saying he is motivated by "dollar signs". I just have this nagging feeling that something sinister is under that utopian exterior and I think we are due sometime to find out what it is. Could Section 31 have something to do with it? Maybe, like the Eugenics Wars, this particular battle was not fought in the public view, unlike most such takeovers... </speculation> Nerys Ghemor 15:48, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Roddenberry was definately "out there" in the 60's. I offer his dual relationship with Majel Barrett and Nichelle Nichols as proof of this point. He may very well have been feeling the commie vibe. I always thought the "anti-religion" thing was more of a "keep it to yourself" way of life. No one ever tries to convert anyone. Even the more religious fellows are perfectly content to allow someone else to believe in whatever (or nothing). Almost as if humanity finally realized that the other guy's belief system doesn't effect you. David Gerrold had more to do with the forming of the Next Generation than Roddenberry, so some of this "money free" life may be from him, I don't know. – AT2Howell 21:29, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Another topic all together, good work on the Zurin Dakal page. I'm forever explaining that the short articles I start are there to collect basic data until someone is willing to expand them out. Your work there was case-in-point for me. Feel free to expand out any of the many, many, many stubs I create. – AT2Howell 21:39, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Thanks...I appreciate your taking the time to look! Now, back onto the subject, understand that I am not bringing up the Communist/Marxist issue to be a jerk--it's mainly just an observation on the way things seem to work in the Federation. As for the anti-religion thing, I am recalling Picard's statement after dealing with the Mintakans that humans had evolved past such things as believing in gods. (I paraphrase.) Which while I think Picard could be pretty cool, that was one of the times he really irritated me. (Along with the time he had the nerve to tell Gul Macet in so many words that because he was Cardassian, he couldn't possibly know jack squat about loyalty.) Nerys Ghemor 23:18, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

In a society where replicators are common household items (RE:the discussion between Picard's brother and wife in Family), the need to accumulate wealth would not be a huge priority. That said, there has been evidence of some sort of financial system in every incarnation of Trek, so my feeling is that while hard currency that you keep in your wallet no longer exists and payment for basic necessities aren't a concern for the average person, money does still exist, just not in a form that we recognize today.

We have seen humans who are greedy and only out for the cash (Vash), humans who can't hold down a job (Richard Bashir) and even Vulcans who see the logic in accumulating a little extra cash (the aforementioned The Gift).

Look at it this way: a human on Earth can live his or her entire life on Earth without needing money because replicators provide for food, clothing and other basic needs. However, if you want to purchase a luxury item (Scotty's "I just bought a boat" in ST6), or make clothes out of non-replicated material (Crusher's purchase of a bolt of cloth in Encounter at Farpoint where she tells the vendor to charge it to her account), have a drink at Quark's or take that dream vacation to Risa, then you need some form of currency/credit.

Nothing Communist or Socialist about it.--Turtletrekker 00:38, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

That was an amazing! You have actually bridged Gene Roddenberry's socialist ideal with the reoccurring need for economic gains to further a story line! Very well done. When the facts do not fit belief, we must bend the facts. I believe you have just explained Star Trek economics in a way that even Lily Sloane would understand. – AT2Howell 15:33, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
I think it is quite interesting as well. From a purely academic/philosophical perspective, though, I do still see the connections to socialism/communism. Not in a way it has ever manifested itself in our world, but consider that the ideal of those systems is for the proleteriat (that is, the common working class) to own/control the means of production instead of these being the domain of the bourgeoisie. To put replicators in the hands of the everyday citizen is certainly a step along that path. Nerys Ghemor 14:19, 20 July 2008 (UTC)