Money in Star Trek.

Discussion in 'Star Trek General Discussions' started by Dave, Jun 20, 2001.

  1.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    Many people have observed the inconsistencies in the attitudes of Star Trek characters towards money, and it is something not discussed yet here. (Really, can there be something else!)

    In episodes of both the original and the more recent series, the characters often describe the Federation as a perfect society, where there is no money and nobody wants for material things. It seems unlikely, but given replicators and unlimited cheap energy from Antimatter reactions, then this could be so.

    But at many other times, capitalism seems alive and well in the Star Trek universe. There are con-men like Harry Mudd. The Enterprise crewmembers sometimes spend `credits' and play Poker for reward. The inhabitants of Deep Space Nine gamble in a casino, winning and losing bars of precious latinum. Thieves steal things with great regularity, epecially if they are Ferengi.

    ****************

    In the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Captain Kirk says that they don't use money in the future, and sticks his dinner date for the cost of the Pizza.

    In the movie 'First Contact', after the 21st century Earth woman asks Capt. Picard how much it cost to build the Enterprise, he says "Money doesn't exist in the Twenty-Fourth Century."
    Then he tells her that economics, as she understands it, is obsolete in his time. He says "The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force; we work to better humanity." He may mean Federation citizens but he seems to include everyone.

    In 'The Neutral Zone' TNG, Picard meets a three hundred year old businessman, Ralph Offenhouse, who is revived from suspended animation. Offenhouse, naturally, wants to get in touch with his agents to find out what has happened to his investments. Picard loftily informs him that such things don't exist anymore. Indeed, poverty and want have been abolished, but how this was accomplished is never explained. All we know is, that however it is that people still make a living, it isn't through capitalism as we know it. Stocks, corporations, banking, bonds, letters of credit--all these things seem to have disappeared.

    Yet in 'The Doomsday Machine' TOS, Capt. Kirk rewards Scotty for a job well done by exclaiming "Scotty, you've just earned your pay for the week!" In Deep Space Nine, people pay for drinks at Quark's bar..

    In Star Trek III, McCoy, trying to hitch a ride to the Genesis Planet, tells the alien pilot he has the 'Money' to pay whatever fee he wants.

    ***************

    The standard monetary unit of the Federation, in all series so far made, has been the 'Credit', although on DS9 'Gold-pressed Latinum seems to be favored.

    The Ferengi are obssessed by Latinum, these are just a few of the relevant 'Rules of Aquisition'.

    #1 Once you have their money, never give it back.
    #2 Never pay more for an aquisition than you have to.
    #9 Opportunity + Instinct = Profit.
    #10 Greed is eternal.
    #13 Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.
    #18 A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.
    #21 Never place freindship above profit.
    #22 A wise man can hear profit in the wind.
    #40 She can touch your lobes, but never your Latinum.
    #41 Profit is it's own reward.
    #75 Home is where the heart is... but the stars are made of Latinum.
    #89 Ask not what your profits can do for you, but what you can do for your profits.
    #102 Nature decays, but latinum lasts forever.
    #106 There is no honour in poverty.
    #109 Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.
    #123 Even a blind man can recognize the glow of Latinum.
    #144 There's nothing wrong with charity... as long it ends up in your pocket.
    #202 The justification for profit is profit.
    #229 Latinum lasts longer than lust.

    Anyone who is shown to still have a lowly interest in buying and selling, like the Ferengi, are not only essentially thieves, but ultimately only accept payment in precious commodities. In the Star Trek future, galactic trade is carried on in little better than a Phoenician style of barter, despite the possibilities of pan-galactic banking and super-light speed money transfers made possible by "sub-space".
  2.  
    markpud

    markpud Retired super-mod-erator!

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    dave,

    i think that on earth in particular there is no money/desire for wealth, that much has been established... Sisko's dad runs the business for the pleasure of cooking, not to earn a living, we assume...

    Poker, i assume they play for the sport value, and the chips dont translate into any currency..

    as for DS9, i assume starfleet provides some finances for the officers there, as they will all be skint. the replimat is free???

    Many other cultures are still obsessed with money, eg Ferengi, but Humans/starfleet are not..

    thats the best i can come up with :D
  3.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    Don't help them out. It's an inconsistency and you know it. ;)

    How can you have an idealistic world where everyone has everything they want, and no one is in need.

    I've only done a little economics, maybe we should ask Padders about it?

    But, if as I say you have unlimited replicators, and unlimited cheap energy then why hasn't the wonderful and enlightened Federation given this to everyone in the Galaxy. :p

    Yeah! Yeah! The Prime Directive. I give in:(

    Why are there so many freighter Captains then, what do they need to carry that you can't replicate?

    There is a big problem with the Star Trek universe here!
  4.  
    Neo

    Neo Red Pixie Boot Wearer

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    I have often thought of the money thing.... Ok the federation does not use money... but they always come across a species that is outside the federation... errr,mmmmm money comes in use ??? doesn't it
  5.  
    little star

    little star expert member

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    hi everyone!

    No way around it, money has definitely been a source of many inconsistencies in the ST series and movies.

    I mentioned once somewhere in one of these threads that I don't know how the Ferengi acquisition-driven culture continues with technology like replication. Okay, so some alien species do not have access to replicator technology, but the Ferengi do! Why bother buying, selling, trading, shipping, hauling, stealing, etc? Just for the thrill of it? I know there are some things that cannot be replicated----obviously gold-pressed latinum is one of them!

    There's been "The Physics of Star Trek" and "The Metaphysics of Star Trek", maybe there should be a book on "The Economics of Star Trek". LOL

    I guess the moneyless society, with no poverty or class distinctions, was part of Gene Roddenberry's vision of the ideal future. But the concept of money is so much a part of our own society that it's probably nearly impossible for the writers to not have it creep in, inconsistencies and all.



    little star :star:
  6.  
    Mellian

    Mellian Sothoii war maid

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    I think the Ferengi just love the thrill of the aquisition. That trying to get more Latinum.

    Money has been in my opinion the biggest inconsistency in the ST universe.
  7.  
    Neo

    Neo Red Pixie Boot Wearer

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    Well we all agree,,,, wish there was somewhere we could go and ask and get answers back from the big wigs at Paramount.
  8.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    The whole point of card games is the aquisition of chips or money -- in other words -- wealth. Poker just doesn't work otherwise. The same is true for the Dhabo tables at Quarks.

    While on this subject; no one would actually play in that Poker game on the Enterprise -- at least not Riker anyhow. Consider the people that he plays with:

    Deanna Troi- an empath who can tell if you are lying.
    Geordi La Forge- his visor can tell if your skin changes colour, and you are bluffing.
    Data- who has a brain which remembers everything, so can count cards, and calculate all odds instantly.
    Thomas Riker- his double who thinks exactly like him.

    And they wonder why Picard won't play with them??

    more on money and wealth in ST

    If the Federation has abolished poverty, illness and want within it's borders, wouldn't this lead to an intolerable economic migration of poor, sick and 'wanting' aliens to come and live there. Would it not be better just to give them the technology they need now for free, and stuff the prime Directive.

    Also, if money and the aquisition of wealth has been abolished, how come Picards family still own land, and a vinyard in France?
  9.  
    markpud

    markpud Retired super-mod-erator!

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    they do play for money at quarks, i never disputed that. I figure the federation gives officers any latinum they require to play with...

    I think they mentioned the Geordi thing, he said he could see thru the cards if he wanted to, but he refrains :D

    think "Friendship One" - they know from experience not to just give out tech... if an alien wants to live on earth i guess they have to come from a federation world, and to join the federation they have to have certain attributes... And since no-one on earth gets paid, producing the extra food wont cost anything...
    cos they like making wine??


    Okay, maybe i'm just an idealist :D
  10.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    My point was that you would have thousands of spaceships heading our way just to settle on a Federation planet. We don't see any blockades at the Federation borders, no immigration control officers.

    But, you may have a point, in that I think (could be wrong) that the invention of Warp drive may be a condition of Federation membership, and I think that the technological level that allows Warp drive also assumes replicators and transporters etc.
  11.  
    markpud

    markpud Retired super-mod-erator!

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    yup, so those who are advanced to that level can chose to take on federation values and abandon money, profit etc and join the federation, or if they're not inclined to do so, then they proabably dont want to join the federation anyway, like the ferengi...
  12.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    Yup, and the Ferengi were established in 'Little Green Men' DS9 as the only intergalactic species which hadn't invented Warp technology -- they bought it from someone -- so maybe that is why they have not developed their culture so much?

    Actually, it would have been interesting if Star Trek had developed and investigated some alien cultures and political systems more. The Ferengi are a good example, but they were portayed as dodgy salesmen and 'Only fools and horses' market-stall merchants instead. Star Trek is criticized, because the Federation's attitude towards all the alien societies that we meet is either intolerance or condescension. The aliens, or more primitive humans, either believe in the good old 'American' values already, or else we find that they would be much better off if they did. Except for a few cases where the aliens are more powerful and more enlightened than the Federation itself. Even Quark practically becomes just another greedy Hu-man in the end.
  13.  
    Neo

    Neo Red Pixie Boot Wearer

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    very interesting
  14.  
    markpud

    markpud Retired super-mod-erator!

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    Those federation values, its insidious the way you start out hating them, but spend enough time around them and they get to you, you end up liking them... just like root beer ;)
  15.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    You'll have to read my new drabble 'Federation'. I wrote it before I saw this post, but there must have been some telepathy going on.
  16.  
    Neo

    Neo Red Pixie Boot Wearer

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    So were is this thread
  17.  
    markpud

    markpud Retired super-mod-erator!

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    my post was a kinda quote from Quark... will look out for your drabble :smile:
  18.  
    Neo

    Neo Red Pixie Boot Wearer

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    Drabble ..... me Drabble.... LOL
  19.  
    Maria8475

    Maria8475 It goes on.....

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    if you haven't found it yet, it's in the fan fic section.
  20.  
    Neo

    Neo Red Pixie Boot Wearer

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    Why thank you .........
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