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Video of the Day: Is The Star Trek Universe Secretly Horrifying? May 14, 2012

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Humor,Viral Video/Mashup/Images , trackback

When you really think about it, what are the implications of the society envisioned in Star Trek’s future? Where is the motivation when you have replicators? Why do they always talk about the 20th century? Why are all the admirals jerks? These are some of the questions asked in a new skit video from Cracked.com. Check it out below.

 

Video: Is the Star Trek Universe Secretly Horrifying?

A Trekkie defends Star Trek’s future society in the latest episode of “Cracked After Dark.”


Why The Star Trek Universe is Secretly Horrifying — powered by Cracked.com

 

By the way, Cracked doesn’t just over think Trek, watch "Why the Ending of ‘Star Wars’ is Secretly Kind of Dumb."


Why the Ending of ‘Star Wars’ is Secretly Kind of Dumb — powered by Cracked.com

 

Comments

1. Allenburch - May 14, 2012

CONSPIRACY!

2. Jeffrey S. Nelson - May 14, 2012

After 46-years of Star Trek, I still don’t understand how economics works in that universe. They don’t have money, right? But, there are Federation credits…so, someone please ‘splain it to me… sunk costs are irrelevant. I still remember that from the economics class I took in college.

3. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - May 14, 2012

Lol. Almost as good as Bob Orci. Lol.

4. SherlockFangirl - May 14, 2012

Is this another “American’s Only” thing, because the videos aren’t playing for me, either here or on Cracked…

5. Derf - May 14, 2012

#4 If…it’s….any….consol…ation … they … buffer … really … slow … here … in … the … states … over … scree … ming … band … widths … appar … ently … they … are … running … on …. ser … vers … in … some … ones … basement … with …. a … 9600 … baud … modem … and … net … zero … account.

:|

6. Taruna - May 14, 2012

Might just be your own player Sherlock;;
Sitting here in Japan and they play fine for me~
/andaha yeaaaah, I try not to think too hard about ST’s normal society there. Ill just believe it all works out somehow

7. jello cutter - May 14, 2012

These people are quite pointless.

8. jello cutter - May 14, 2012

The video clips not the people commenting in this forum. I thing you all make good points. There is no Khaaaan its about Archaeoligy.

9. Thomas - May 14, 2012

2. Jeffrey S. Nelson – May 14, 2012

“After 46-years of Star Trek, I still don’t understand how economics works in that universe.”

Here’s the thing about the Star Trek universe; for all the 700-odd hours of filmed Trek that exists, they generally focus on fairly small corners of that world. Voyager does this even more so. We really don’t know a lot about life in the Federation; what we really learn about is life in Starfleet. That has been the primary picture of what life is like in the 23rd and 24th centuries. This is what has created the idea that Trek takes place in a quasi-democratic state that is dominated (if not outright controlled) by the military.

10. Captain Curt - May 14, 2012

Oh so close, but if only they did a BIT more research! Numerous episodes have showed “modern” art, but the key to the future vision of Star Trek is that human beings no longer have to fight to survive because all of their “needs” are satisfied, but you can never satisfy their WANTS because those are continuously evolving. Picard sums it up perfectly in ST: FC

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.

Lily Sloane: No money? You mean, you don’t get paid?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: We work to better ourselves.

11. Captain Curt - May 14, 2012

@9. Starfleet is certainly a main character in the show, but there are so many examples of life outside it’s walls, from Picard’s vineyard, to the older Jake Sisko (who writes = art), to the actual Federation’s democratic make-up in movies like ST VI: TUC

Even other Federation planets and their daily “lives” have been explored in countless episodes, some with rich depth and some just as fleeting visits. Risa, Dr. Crusher’s grandmother’s world, etc. etc. etc.

12. J.A.G.T. - May 14, 2012

Uh well… I guess you could look at it, that way… but then it wouldn’t be Star Trek anymore, would it ;)

13. Phil - May 14, 2012

@2. It doesn’t, and it’s best not to think about such things.

14. Thomas - May 14, 2012

11. Captain Curt

We do see a lot of civilian life in Star Trek, but it is dominated by what we see of military life. Like I said, Starfleet has been the primary picture of that world, but it’s certainly not a complete picture. I think what makes people uncomfortable about Star Trek life is the seemingly pervasive military presence of Starfleet (it is the most commonly depicted form of authority in Star Trek).

15. CK - May 14, 2012

Well…I’d like those 8 minutes of my life back, please.

One could just as easily argue that devoting one’s free time to watching, discussing and even obsessing over other people playing sports in an endless cycle is cult-like. People do it because they enjoy it.

Same goes for Star Trek. We watch it because we enjoy it. I don’t need someone else telling me that I don’t. People who spend their own time feeling entitled enough to tell me what I should and should not like need to get a really hobby.

16. Phil - May 14, 2012

Yep, everyone joins Starfleet because no one has a job.

17. Jeffrey S. Nelson - May 14, 2012

9. Thomas –

I always felt that Gene Roddenberry and writers never had an answer to explain how economics work in the future. So, they just dodged a bullet by ignoring it. I’m surprised that even in Trek fiction there’s not a lot of explanation as to what life in the Federation is like.

18. Hat Rick - May 14, 2012

Why Crack’d is kind of dumb: It’s not America’s only humor site/mag. All claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

;-)

19. Anthony Pascale - May 14, 2012

RE: Line in ST FC
I never thought that made sense, and neither did the writer.

from my interview with Ron Moore back in 2008
http://trekmovie.com/2008/06/12/exclusive-interview-ron-moore-on-breaking-out-of-the-box/

TrekMovie.com: In the DS9 episode “In the Cards” you kind of made a play on [Roddenberry's utopian vision]. There is an exchange between Nog and Jake, where Nog says to Jake “it’s not my fault you don’t have any money” and Jake says “we are here to better ourselves” and Nog says “what the hell does that mean?” Jake was saying the line from a movie you wrote, First Contact, “we strive to better ourselves” So were you making fun of yourself?

Ron Moore: Oh yah [laughs] None of us knew what that meant. I think Nog’s next line is “what does that mean exactly” and Jake kind of fumbles and says “it means something good” or whatever. It is a strange platitude that we used on the show, the need for money was gone and everything was about bettering yourself. It was no longer about any kind of material gain or personal gain, everyone was just trying to be a better person So none of us could understand what that mean or how that society functioned. It all seemed very vague. None of the writers took it seriously. We all kind of laughed about it and joked about it. We all had to pay homage to it because that was something that was built into the structure of the show. At every opportunity we tried to sneak in ways. How do you play poker if you don’t have currency? Again The Original Series had credits and currency and we never understood why they could do all these great things and we couldn’t. It was very odd.

20. AJ - May 14, 2012

I read once that Roddenberry thought that, perhaps, life on Earth was still based on supply and demand, and the population itself was quite insular.

Just like in the “Bakula Crap” episodes where bigotry is clearly still an issue (in San Francisco, no less), the idea was that the Federation and its fleet were clearly separate from Earth’s own society and self-government, and recruited those who felt otherwise for its exploratory missions.

Can’t recall when or where I read it, because we need a good new “Making of Star Trek” to pull it all together, but I know I did, and it almost makes sense looking at how all Treks essentially had the Feds dealing with world governments/officials and not individual nation-states, and vice-versa. The military, on Earth in ‘Star Trek’ are more enlightened due to experience than the general population at large.

21. Aaron - May 14, 2012

@ #4

Don’t worry the audio is out of sync and is painful to watch. It looks like an English dub of a Chinese movie.

22. SherlockFangirl - May 14, 2012

Thanks peeps. :D

23. Phil - May 14, 2012

I think we have had this conversation before. Yeah, “working to better ourselves” sounds great, but I’m guessing that there are still plenty of dirty jobs that need to be done in the 23rd century. If you think about it if “working to better ourselves” was the singular goal, rank would be meaningless, as the guys cleaning the captain’s toilet would have just as much right to better himself as the captain.

There are references to currency throughout Trek. It’s time to bury the “no money” fantasy once and for all….

24. Andy - May 14, 2012

If memory serves, when Scotty gets out of the transporter loop in TNG, doesn’t he make a comment about back wages? Was he sorely dissappointed when he found out he wasn’t getting any?

25. Charla - May 14, 2012

There is a group that feels that in the upcoming years we as a human race could eliminate the need for money. That every person could have plenty to eat, have a roof over his/her head and healthcare. It is called the “Venus Project”. Google them sometime, it’s an interesting read, with an optimistic, utopian viewpoint.

From the website: “The term and meaning of a Resource Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a holisticsocio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.”

http://www.thevenusproject.com/en/the-venus-project/resource-based-economy

Of course there are many skeptics, including myself who believe that there aren’t enough resources currently to sustain the entire human population at this time. (I could be wrong though-who knows who has what really!) There are other reasons as well but won’t go into them now.

I don’t subscribe to the argument of the lack of resources solely, but feel that there will always be some people who feel the need to have more than others despite having everything necessary to survive comfortably. I think for that reason alone it wouldn’t work.

26. Colin - May 14, 2012

The major issue with any economic model is human nature. I could go into detail why this is so, but I think anyone needs to do is watch or read the news. For myself, I think it it logical to invest in social programs as part of a larger national security program. However, there are politicians in our country who are actively working to cut social programs, and these cuts will lead eventually to instability in our nation. This instability threatens our national security.

27. Gary Neumann - May 14, 2012

BS. Period

28. Kevin Marshall - May 14, 2012

It’s weird. I like most of Cracked’s lists, but their videos….I haven’t liked one yet. Especially in this case where the supposed trekkie does a terrible job of defending Trek, and they conveniently (and explicitly) leave out DS9, VOY, and ENT – which address some of their questions…but then it wouldn’t be funny, would it? Because, like, trekkies are total nerds, right? And they’re totally not cool.

*facepalm*

29. Jack - May 14, 2012

I remember a Brandon Braga interview where he was asked what exactly the point of life was in the 24th century — what does “we dedicate ourselves to self-improvement” actually mean — and he was like, I dunno, I guess everybody’s busy taking courses at the Learning Annex.

It sounds an awful lot like retirement.

30. CrazyHorse - May 15, 2012

Correction: the show is called “After Hours” not “After Dark”

31. DiscoSpock - May 15, 2012

It’s sad to see how Trekkies have changed. We used to be able to understand Roddenberry’s future just fine: Humans will reach a point where we are living for the betterment of self and society, not necessarily for material gains. We will get passed racism and sexism, and we’ll be BETTER HUMANS than we are now.

And then to see Ron Moore write, “…none of us could understand what that mean or how that society functioned. It all seemed very vague. None of the writers took it seriously. We all kind of laughed about it and joked about it.”

Maybe this is the problem: Too many people making Trek who aren’t hippies, don’t understand hippies, and even actually detest hippies. Sorry, folks, but much of Roddenberry’s view of the future–you know, this thing he called “Star Trek”–was built upon those hippie ideals.

If you can’t understand what “we work to better ourselves” means, then why the heck are you watching Star Trek?! It’s ALL ABOUT bettering ourselves and our world, rising to become a better form of human…

(sigh) What’s the point? Either you understand hoping for a future in which humans have grown beyond what we are now, or you don’t.

Go listen to “Aquarius” from the musical Hair: It has a better understanding of Roddenberry’s vision of the future than Ron Moore…or, apparently, most of you.

32. DiscoSpock - May 15, 2012

#31 should read “We will get past…” (Just trying to head off the grammar cops!)

33. Hat Rick - May 15, 2012

Look — why is this utopianism such a weird concept? A society without money is possible if science and technology are so advanced that all needs — not just basic ones — are met at almost no cost. Correction: At essentially no cost.

I think we’ve lost the utopian feeling because we’ve become caught up in the present.

The future contains technological advances so amazing that electricity becomes too cheap to meter; replicators can make whatever it is that is required; maintenance machines maintain other machines; money is unnecessary and is replaced by a quota whose threshold is so high that it is essentially unlimited.

Think of your phone’s data plan if you have “unlimited” data. True, it’s not really unlimited, but it is essentially unlimited, for various reasons. Most people don’t reach the data usage level where they throttle it back. If they do, the companies do throttle it back.

Ten years ago, unlimited data for anything would have been unthinkable. Three hundred years from now, fusion and other forms of power provide the unlimited power needed to generate any and all goods — including luxury goods.

In an ideal world, economics would reflect the great abundance of goods and services (with services mostly provided by robotics) by reducing all costs down to essentially zero. With the occasional exception for outliers, and for personally customized services such as creative endeavors, research, and development. I haven’t seen the Crack’d video, because I don’t have time to waste, but I’ve seen some of its arguments before, and economically speaking, they work if you’re stuck in the 20th or 21st Centuries — only.

Arthur C. Clarke said that any technology that was sufficiently advanced would be essentially undistinguishable from magi. That goes for economics, as well.

Also, it bears repeating: Crack’d is barely a humor site at all, let alone America’s one and only. (Insert mandatory ;-) here. )

:-/

34. Hat Rick - May 15, 2012

^^ The gift of the Magi being totally irrelevant, the correct word is “magic.” As corrected.

35. DiscoSpock - May 15, 2012

#33 — Well said, Hat Rick!

36. VulcanFilmCritic - May 15, 2012

Thank you, thank you, thank you for mentioning that the 23rd Century might not be the Utopia that most fans think it is.

On TOS, did you ever notice that the civilians are all TOTALLY unhappy? How many mining officials, diplomats and scientists have we met with pinched faces and pathetic lives? It seems that everyone on the Enterprise (with the exception of Nurse Chapel) is running AWAY from something when they enter the Academy, rather than face whatever life has to offer on the outside. Chapel, of course, is looking for her lost fiancee, Roger Corby, so she gives up a life as a scientist to enter nursing school, so that she can get into Starfleet. What?

Starfleet, an occupation with a mortality rate of about 20%, is something people would want??? When the only place in society where people are reasonably happy is Starfleet, something is wrong. It seems that the only people we meet who ever laugh or have smiles on their faces are the criminals and con men. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of creativity or spontaneity. So many rules and regulations in life tend to hog-tie the populace. One longs for some kind of anarchist type to shake things up once in a while. Is Rigley’s Pleasure Planet the kind of fun most people would want?

Money does still matter in the 23rd Century, and there is income inequality, as it is possible to become wealthy if you strike it rich with a mining operation. But jeeeeez, who wants to live like Ben Childres and his crew?

And so who devised this mess? I’m going to postulate that Vulcan had a lot to do with it. They are the tail that wags this dog. This relatively undistinguished, blighted planet holds the mining rights of much of the Federation, and there is no doubt that Sarek is the big cheese in any meeting of diplomats. Kirk literally bows and scrapes when he meets T’Pau. So why is that? Why are we Earthers on one knee to these only marginally more technologically more advanced snobs?

Well, maybe they “saved” us from the Romulans. Maybe we became their strong-arm in defending the Federation from further attacks. Who better to engage in border wars and exploration than the emotional, illogical, and short-lived humans? Vulcans are too refined to engage in such violence, aren’t they? Sort of explains why Spock’s old man would blow a gasket when his son wants to join Starfleet, doesn’t it? Not only is such activity beneath this pampered diplomat’s son, but one false move on his part and you’ve got a diplomatic crisis. No wonder he doesn’t reveal his family name.

Ahhh, the 23rd Century, what a nightmare.

37. Calastir - May 15, 2012

#31 I totally agree.

#33 Well explained.

My idea is that credits only matter in dealings with other civs, like Ferengi. And not among Federation citizens. Even though I always wondered about what Sisko’s father got out of running that restaurant. Was he waiting on people just for fun?

38. pi_neutrino - May 15, 2012

#36 All good points, but I’d argue that it’s pretty hard to make a good story, with conflict and narrative and eventual resolution, if everyone’s happy as clams. The Enterprise runs into twisted, backstory-rich, fascinating people through The Power Of Plot, the same thing that determines the exact value of maximum warp.

39. Hat Rick - May 15, 2012

Thanks, 35 and 37! :-)

40. Orb of Wisdom - May 15, 2012

@31= By the way,about the Aquarius song: We are now IN that Era,at least astrologically/astronomically speaking, anyway. On May 5, the astronomical alignment the song mentioned happened. Look it up.

41. Orb of Wisdom - May 15, 2012

#36, no offense, but your argument sounds much like something someone from the Terran Empire in the Mirror Universe might say.

42. kjseek - May 15, 2012

first of all, i tuned out right after the supposed “trek fan” kept saying “teleporters” not tranporter

second of all, i agree with #15 CK, i wish i could have gotten those minutes of my life back.

43. kjseek - May 15, 2012

oops *transpoter

44. kjseek - May 15, 2012

oops again *transporter

45. CmdrR - May 15, 2012

For what it’s worth, I kind of take Rodenberry’s utopian outlook in the same way I take Spock’s having no emotions. We (the audience/fans/dreamers) know deep down it’s a crock. Spock’s veneer breaks many times, and so does the Federation’s. But, it’s the trying to improve that truly matters.
Heck, just getting a starship built (with credits or through corruption and bribery) is quite an accomplishment.
Human nature change for the better? Ask me in 250 years.

46. CmdrR - May 15, 2012

BTW – “North Korea? Apple Stores?” — Love it!

47. gatetrek - May 15, 2012

And then DS9 came along and destroyed the image of a perfect federation!

48. Dom - May 15, 2012

2. Jeffrey S. Nelson

In the first season of Star Trek, Kirk mentions Starfleet (either in City on the Edge of Forever or Errand of Mercy) has spent a lot of money on his and Spock’s training. The no money in the Federation nonsense stems from a joke in STIV:TVH and Roddenberry’s hippy-dippy Californian revisionism for ST:TNG. Frankly the Federation of TNG is damn sinister and corrupt, forcing its citizens to be state employees and refusing to pay them.

49. Vultan - May 15, 2012

Trek’s future utopia is a wonderful fantasy.
But sadly, that’s all it is. A fantasy.

And let’s remember the word “utopia” comes from a Greek word that means “no place.” No wonder.

50. VZX - May 15, 2012

47: Exactly! I wonder why they never reference DS9 in the above video. Is that because DS9 made much more sense than TNG?

51. Jack - May 15, 2012

31. Roddenberry wasn’t a hippie.

The question is HOW (this future economy/society) would this all work? Just saying let peace and love rule , well it doesn’t actually solve anything.

Is everyone’s financial equality guaranteed by law? It’s like saying the free market will magically lead to equality and fair compensation based on work — it doesn’t take greed into the equation.

52. SoonerDave - May 15, 2012

Trek’s history WRT money isn’t consistent.

On the one hand, we have episodes and movie references stating that “money doesn’t exist,” yet we clearly remember Cyrano Jones “selling” Tribbles to the bartender for “one credit apiece,” and that was clearly a reference to some type of vague, nondescript currency.

Trek/Roddenberry’s vision of utopia is only painted in very abstract, skeletal ways. No way it could possibly work in practice. It supposes the possibility that everyone can do only as they wish, and all needs are fulfilled, and we have no conflict, and the only way that works is if everyone is a nearly indistinguishable zombie-like clone of everyone else where any departure from the norm would necessarily have to be punished. That bland, universal kind of uniformity flies directly in the face of the whole IDIC concept…

But, then again, it IS just a TV show and movie series :) LOL

53. Red Dead Ryan - May 15, 2012

I take it that Picard said “we work to better ourselves” more as a quick diversion from the real answer because he didn’t have the time to go into details with Lily. At that point he was thinking more about the Borg, and how he was going to destroy them.

I figure there is some sort of payment system in the TNG era. Its just that money has become less important as it is now. They probably have a system that deters greed. Meaning that while greed still happens, it doesn’t necessarily result in someone having more power or control over others. People in the TNG era would probably still need credits to pay for services, or products to cover the cost of labor and materials. There probably aren’t shareholders to worry about, and politics is clearly a lot different, where there aren’t corporations.

54. Vultan - May 15, 2012

Seeing as how much of Star Trek depicts a society supported greatly by wondrous technology that doesn’t yet exist, we can surmise that it also operates on an economic system that doesn’t yet exist.

So if you want that utopian economy, start working on that magical energy-to-matter device that will revolutionize transportation, shipping and dining.

Simple enough, eh?

55. CrazyHorse - May 15, 2012

I always thought credits were for out-of-Federation purchases myself. But perhaps it would make sense for the purchase limited resources such as land.

Sisko Sr. is a mystery though. Why wouldn’t he just replicate his best batch of gumbo and be done with it?

56. Captainmccoll - May 15, 2012

@55
Because he obviously loves cooking. It is the same reason I make a lasagne with all the ingredients instead of putting a frozen ready made one in the microwave

57. SoonerDave - May 15, 2012

It is very interesting to think about just how drastically our world economy would change if, in fact, there were a device like a replicator – one that could convert arbitrary amounts of mass to any other form at the molecular level….you drastically reduce the scope of the agricultural industries, to start with.

All this is discounting, of course, physics as we know it that would likely constrain such a process (drastically), and extending it to something like a transporter, you basically eliminate what we think of as the transportation industry (everyone beaming everywhere)…

Kinda cool.

58. DiscoSpock - May 15, 2012

51. Jack – May 15, 2012
31. Roddenberry wasn’t a hippie.
The question is HOW (this future economy/society) would this all work? Just saying let peace and love rule , well it doesn’t actually solve anything.
—–
I didn’t say Roddenberry was a hippie. I said he built his Star Trek future on a lot of hippie ideals. (Geesh, don’t any of you read carefully?!)

And yes, that’s the question–how to make such a future work. Duh! That’s the whole point–or it used to be. We saw Star Trek as an idealized future in which humans rose above our current weaknesses (and, assuredly, encountered new ones). Star Trek was created in a time (the Sixties) when war, political corruption, pollution, social strife, civil rights battles, and everything seemed to conspire against humanity even having a future. In Trek, we were shown the goal.

Figuring out how to achieve that is what, um, the future is about. That’s the whole reason Roddenberry set Trek a few hundred years in the future: The point was that it would take that long to figure out how to fix a lot of things and how to reach that “we work to better ourselves” future.

In #54, Vultan says it well: If you can accept all the technological advances Star Trek posits in the next few centuries, why can’t you imagine humans coming up with new economic systems by then?

This lack of imagination and severe dearth of optimism is quite depressing, especially coming from Trekkies.

P.S. Maybe in the future, “money” isn’t used because of what we’ve done to the concept of money in the 20th and 21st centuries. Just like the word “gay” is now more commonly used to mean “homosexual” than “happy,” perhaps the 23rd-century meaning for the word “money” is “worthless pieces of digital currency manipulated by brokers and money-market managers to the point of being meaningless as currency.”

So, they don’t have money; they have credits. See? Trekkies are good at making up explanation for stuff that happens in Trek, and guess what kids? Sometimes this leads to ACTUAL, REAL WORLD changes that help us move incrementally toward that future.

When Trek came out, the cellphone was a fantasy. Now they are ubiquitous. If you don’t think things can change by the 23rd century…well, crawl out from under your rock!

59. DiscoSpock - May 15, 2012

P.S. to #58 – None of that was commentary about homosexuality or politics. I was just talking about how words fall out of use or change use over time.

60. Jack - May 15, 2012

I didn’t say things can’t change in real life — TOS did it well, humanity hadn’t magically changed but society had… but by TNG, there was lots of “humanity has evolved beyong conflict and contractions… we’re above all the petty problems [of when our show is being made]” talk, and, well, that’s pretty darned easy to say. How about looking at story ideas that actually reflect that? Or look at solving problems. That’s the lack of imagination.

The optimism is great, don’t get me wrong.

61. TrekkerChick - May 15, 2012

@ 55

Or pergium, gold, etc.

“Once Mother Horta tells her kids what to look for, you people are going to be embarassingly rich” [paraphrasing]

62. TrekkerChick - May 15, 2012

Should be @52

63. Hat Rick - May 15, 2012

Water costs very little in the developed world. Four hundred years ago, reliably clean water with which to bathe was simply not available to the masses; for consumption, they had to make do with well water. Tap water was not available except to the well-to-do.

Today, each month we water our lawns with as much clean water as the average peasant in the 1700’s used in his entire lifetime (excluding grey water for agricultural usage).

Before the advent of municipal water systems, the volume of clean water usage we take for granted was not available except to a very limited number of people.

The usage of electricity is also instructive. Even today, electrification of developing countries lags that of the First World such that the average American or Western European, for exampe, uses dozens, scores, or even hundreds of times more of it than the average citizen of the Thrid World. Measured by comparison to the cost of electricity to the average Third Worlder, Americans and Western Europeans would seem to be millionaires in their usage, or, alternatively, would seem to have electricity that was virtually free of charge (though of course, it isn’t).

The point is that development does reduce the cost of necessities — drastically.

Food costs are another point of interest. The proportion of food costs as a part of the average household budget in the developed world has consistently declined in the last hundred years. Combined with other factors (including increases in average income), food has become so unbelievably cheap that most Americans and Western Europeans can spend their money on luxury items such as personal electronics or vacation homes.

Thus, believing that the economics of the Star Trek universe are bizarre beyond comprehension is itself incredible. Look around and see what progress we’ve already made.

We should already be well on our way.

64. DiscoSpock - May 15, 2012

#60 “How about looking at story ideas that actually reflect that? Or look at solving problems. That’s the lack of imagination.”

That’s what TOS and a fair bit of TNG and DS9 did! What do you think was the point of stories where Kirk and Spock had to face their weakest, darkest tendencies and rise above them? Or the many Trek stories about racism or hatred of the “other” where we see Trek characters dealing with those primitive urges and making the conscious choice to rise above them?

If you’re not seeing stories that reflect that stuff, you’re not watching Star Trek.

And for a Trek fan to say, “The optimism is great, don’t get me wrong,” is like a Twilight fan saying, “The cheesy vampire romance is great, don’t me wrong.” The optimism isn’t “great.” It’s the whole point.

65. Jack - May 15, 2012

Nothing is black and white — I’m not talking about all Trek. I’m talking about parts of TNG. I’m saying the point is not completely invalid. There’s optimism, which is great, period. And, yes, it’s the point. But there’s optimism and then there’s magic and lazy writing.

66. Shilliam Watner - May 15, 2012

Trek has never portrayed life on Earth well at all. As far is Star Trek is concerned, there are very few civilians. We only know how the military operates in the future, and not society. Based on all the conflicting concepts of its economy, I’d say the writers don’t really know that themselves. They’ve never had to.

The videos are pretty funny, and the Star Wars one really shows how some people treat their show/movie universe as a religion, and how impossible it is to argue logically with them.

67. Jack - May 15, 2012

The idea that science and the pursuit of knowledge will solve all our problems is, well, a good one. But, well, the real-life applications of science and the pursuit of knowledge has also led to most of the problems Trek had to address (and, again, the motive was greed, power, you name it).

They weren’t using replicators and transporters, but the idea that technology would solve everything was a popular one long before hippies. And we got frankenfood and miracle additives and urban sprawl, arguably.

The idea of a future where there are no financial or social impediments to acquiring knowledge and achieving greatness is a worthy one.

TOS was wise not to get too specific and (generally, there were exceptions) show by example, rather than tell…

By TNG, the message was basically, we’ve screwed everything up (decades after the optimism of the 60s) and we’re primitive, selfish bastards compared to what we could be, and someday we’ll have solved all of these problems and look down on the 20th century,

68. Orb of Wisdom - May 15, 2012

One thing about the Trek future that frightens me and supports the article: Voyager episode ‘Dark Frontier’ in a rant Tom Paris was saying about Ferengi having tried to break into Fort Knox, he mentioned the ‘New World Economy’, and then the World Government concept of Earth in Trek, and such, what if Trek is portraying the New World Order conspiracy stuff’s supposed end result? Let me add that I do not subscribe to that NWO stuff but there are marked similarities.

69. Dom - May 15, 2012

67. Jack: ‘By TNG, the message was basically, we’ve screwed everything up (decades after the optimism of the 60s) and we’re primitive, selfish bastards compared to what we could be, and someday we’ll have solved all of these problems and look down on the 20th century,’

Which is why I loathe TNG. For all it’s horrors, the 20th Century was a thrilling time of unimaginable advancement, both socially and technologically. So far, the 21st Century stands as a dark age, showing the disasters caused by trying to create TNG-esque Utopias… hello EU(SSR!)

70. Jack - May 15, 2012

It’s fascinating — the idea of (economic) communism sounds pretty terrific in theory — nobody’s out for themselves, everybody’s out for the greater good, everybody enjoys equal rights and equal access to wealth etc. But it hasn’t turned out that way.

In an unrelated note, the Trekkian idea of a United Earth and some form of global government is, well, a pretty darned good one.

71. Dom - May 16, 2012

70. Jack

One assumes 23rd and 24th century Earth is a good deal less populated due to mass colonisation of other worlds. A world government in such an era could work if the population were a couple of billion people max. Sadly, right now it could only be a terrifying dictatorship. For me, nations cooperating with one another make for a strong world. We have two extremes of federal states in the world right now: the USA, which functions moderately well, and the EU which is a balls-out disaster.

72. Hat Rick - May 16, 2012

71, interesting post.

I think that the U.S. works very well as a federal state. There are very few disputes between the states and the federal government left. And any that remain or arise are always resolved.

73. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 16, 2012

Just watched the first two videos. Honestly, what a bunch of loud mouthed bores!

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