In 2016, Manu Saadia wrote Trekonomics, a book dedicated entirely to looking at the economics of Star Trek. And while the universe of Star Trek is entirely fictional, some of the possibilities and philosophical questions it poses are not—a moneyless society, Saadia writes, is a strange concept worth investigating.
“It’s made clear and emphasized several times in the course of the show that the Federation does not have money,” Saadia said in an episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “You have Captain Picard saying, ‘We’ve overcome hunger and greed, and we’re no longer interested in the accumulation of things.'”
Saadia writes that traits like talent and intellect are the highly valued status symbols in Star Trek rather than commodities because material wealth is so abundant. “What really makes sense in the Star Trek universe and Star Trek society is to compete for reputation,” he said. “What is not abundant in Star Trek’s universe is the captain’s chair.”
Advanced technologies that could bring us closer to science-fiction levels of tech development have the possibility of turning a universally wealthy society into a reality, he suggests. “If we decide as a society to make more of these crucial things available to all as public goods, we’re probably going to be well on our way to improving the condition of everybody on Earth,” he says.
But Saadia says that "more gizmos or more iPhones" alone won't make this possible. “This is something that has to be dealt with on a political level, and we have to face that.”