"That's right." Olivia said. "On Earth no one carries money around with them any more. Everyone gets credits. When you go into a store, you pick what you want and the amount is automatically deducted from your credit account."
"So credits are money." Larka pointed out.
"Yes. But Earth people don't like to have it pointed out to them." Li'ira said "They like to think they have moved their culture past greed as a motivation."
"You said everyone gets credits." Lussa said. "How, just for standing there breathing?"
Li'ira nodded. "Yes. Earth is so rich and society is so automated they can afford to give everyone an allowance."
The Greens stared at Olivia and Li'ira in naked shock.
"Vulcan as well. This condition holds over most of the Federation."
The Greens blinked and stared.
"I should point out that this allowance is not large." Li'ira said. "You can survive on it, but your lifestyle will be pretty basic if that's all you ever do."
"You must be kidding me!" Kamil said. "Why does anyone ever get out of bed?"
"Some of us have better things to do then lay around all day and get fat on the dole." Li'ira said.
"Some people don't." Olivia said. "Less motivated people do lie around all day. That's up to them."
Li'ira nodded grimly. "A sizable proportion of Earth people never do much but watch video feeds and complain. I should point out though, that doing useful things increases the amount of credits you receive."
"By how much?" Lussa asked.
"Well, there are rich people on Earth still. There is still a lot of private property and allowing it to work for society is rewarded." Li'ira pointed out. "My own personal buying power is many, many times that of one of these couch potatoes."
"Approximately 5000 times." Olivia added.
Li'ira Looked at Olivia.
"I looked it up." Olivia said. "The Harrier mission was weighted very heavily."
Li'ira looked disturbed.
"How do they know?" Lussa asked.
"Here's something very important." Olivia pointed at Li'ira. "She's embarrassed because I went and looked at her account balance. Theoretically I shouldn't have been able to do that, but that's a secondary issue. Li'ira is shy about saying how much she has and directly comparing it to someone else's total."
Li'ira looked thoughtful "I guess I am, aren't I?"
"Polite people don't discuss such things. Polite people on Earth do not acknowledge how many credits they have. Calculations about how much you have and what you can afford to do with it are done in private, and only shared with a very few people." Olivia explained.
"So you get credits based on services you perform for society?" Lussa asked.
"That's correct." Li'ira said.
"How does anyone know what you did or how much it's worth?" Lussa asked.
Li'ira looked thoughtful. "Well, for us here on the ShiKahr, our duty logs and reports will be analyzed and who does what and its value to society will allocated according to a real time floating analysis. Earth has the best computer technology from the galaxy over and an immense bureaucracy devoted to analyzing and allocating these values."
"How about people who aren't in Starfleet?" Rill asked.
"They keep job logs, too." Li'ira said. "If you choose to work in such a way as your computer can track your comings and goings, you can set it up in such a way as to be handled automatically."
"What if I lie?" Kell asked. He was a Green Orion Male, in his late teenage years.
"Well, if there's reason to suspect that you're defrauding the system, an investigation will be launched." Li'ira said. "And you'll have to pay society back. They'll take a certain amount away from you each month. And if you want to be able to purchase food, or pay rent, then you'll need to find something useful to do, and not lie about it." Li'ira said. "This is how many unpleasant jobs are staffed."
"If you commit a serious crime, or steal a large amount and get caught, then you'll go to jail." Olivia pointed out. "These are labor camps where very hard work is done until you've paid off the debt to society that you've incurred."
"It's all measured and by the numbers huh?" Lussa asked. She had bright, intelligent eyes and an intense focus.
"Yes." Li'ira said.
"Captain." Sunshine said. "May I speak with you for a moment?"
Quotes from Star TrekEdit
Kirk: "They're still using money. We need to get some." - ST-IV
Gillian:"Don't tell me they don't use money in the 23rd century,"
Kirk: "Well, we don't." - ST-IV
Picard: "A lot has changed in three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of 'things'. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions." - TNG: The Neutral Zone
Picard: "The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn't exist in the 24th century... The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity." - ST-First Contact
Jake: "I'm Human, I don't have any money."
Nog: "It's not my fault that your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement."
Jake: "Hey, watch it. There's nothing wrong with our philosophy. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity."
Nog: "What does that mean?"
Jake: "It means we don't need money!"
- DS9: "In the Cards"
Links to ConceptsEdit
Payday in an energy based economy
The price of any given object in Jay-Trek is calculated by - the amount of energy rearranging the atoms costs - this is the main cost
How much energy it took to acquire the atoms and how much energy it took to transport the atoms to you. (Very minor slices)
The cost is deducted from one's account of credits
So carbon atoms are dirt cheap - the energy to force the atoms together in the form of a diamond is by far the largest cost
So Joe Bloeh replicates a diamond
We'll work in arbitrary points of energy here because I am too tired to actually try and work out the actual energy involved - not to mention too scientifically illiterate
So Joe has 100 points of energy
Each diamond costs a point of energy - rent, food and other life expenses cost Joe three energy points per
month. His allowance is - say 5 points per month, so he's been saving up for a while (and there was that incident where he foiled a plot by the bank of Orion - he got serious cred for that)
So Joe says "Computer! Gimme a Diamond!" Now, There is a Standard database of objects built into all replicators - and it's monsterous.
Not only that - but there are more detailed public databases of replicator patterns
A huge fraction of these are "public domain" anyone can use them for free. There's a hammer pattern out there that's a couple of hundred years old, and really low resolution, but it makes a perfectly acceptable hammer for general use.
No one has to pay to use this pattern - it's public access.
Now Jay-Craftsman makes up a design based on years and years of hammering experience. He creates a special purpose, vertical surface finishing hammer for interior decoration surfaces -
Both the low resolution generic hammer and the Jay-Craftsman special will smack the crap out of nails - but a true interior finishing artist prefers the jay-craftsman special
Jay-Craftsman had made the original hammer by hand crafting steel and virgin white pine into a tool of exquisite quality and delicate specialization (as delicate as a hammer is going to get, anyway)
Then, as a service to other craftsmen, Jay-Craftsman scanned in the Jay-Craft Special in to a replicator, made a pattern for it and released it.
The original data file has Jay-Craftsman's name on it. When you ask the replicator for the Jay-Craft special - it reads the file and reports back to the central economic and reimbursement for services administration "I have just replicated a Jay-Craft special hammer on the orders of person X"
The Replicator can recognize its user because it scans him and recognizes biometic features. In Jay-Trek most machines can recognize you (How do you think Starship computers know when to say "Access Denied") among
these are physical features - bone structure - facial recognition reference points and DNA -
So the replicator reports back to the sprawling, huge complex bureacracy that calculates these things "Mister Blue just replicated a Jay-Craft Special"
The central control computer (and remember the Computer is your friend) deducts the cost of using the pattern from Mister Blue's account - along with the usual cost of iron, nickel, carbon and other atoms in both hammers - making the Jay-Craft Special more expensive than a public access hammer. Mister Blue spents 0.3 points of energy and now has a Jay-craft Special Hammer.
Jay-Craftsman gets a small credit to his account - his design has benefited society - specifically in the form of Mister Blue - who needs a special hammer to crack walnuts.
Now the network is lousy with hammer patterns. The most successful get used- the others are history.
Some people believe "Information wants to be FREE!" and release copy left patterns - they aren't charged for the royalty
Other people hack patterns and re-release them with spoofed or blank Made-By lines.
There's a continual race between hackers and computer security experts.
But no one bothers to hack the Jay-Craft Special hammer pattern - it's too obscure.
And being found using a hacked pattern is a civil fine - Basically you get a ticket commesurate with what can be proven that you have done.
There are items that replicators have patterns for but are forbidden - Plutonium for instance - if a replicator grabbed a bunch of plutonium and handed to you barehanded - it would have just killed you and many other people besides - plutonium is very poisonous. (not to mention plutonium atoms are not commonly availble)
So some things like nerve gas and plutonium are on a "restricted" list - no civilian replicator will make them for you.
And recall that every item replicated has the serial number of the replicator encoded in some of its molecules somewhere - blindingly obvious on sensors.
So you can replicate the Mona Lisa. And every one with a scanner will know it's replicated copy. The Louvre has an authorized pattern in public release.
In dark and dangerous places you may find "off-network replicators" Especially on Ferengi and Orion worlds - You have to pay cash up front but no one will know what you have.
low rent bad guys used cheesy hacked replicators - civlilian models which still include their serial numbers in the replicated object
Some criminals are especially industrious and build off-books replicators that do not have this built in marking prorgram - and ones that will replicate forbidden objects. These are labor intensive to build - you need engineers and programmers who are versed in replicator technology and willing to build a hacked one.
Joe is replicating diamonds - he uses a generic public access diamond pattern. If he was trying to impress a girl - then a generic diamond wouldn't be as cool as a special cut from Diamond-cutting-artist-guy.
But diamonds are regarded as a quaint, overly romantic gesture which means girls like 'em, but a girl who really thinks it's sweet likes you anyway, and you're just confirming your status as a sap for her.
Joe isn't doing this - he's helping us with a thought experiment
So Joe replicates a generic diamond, pays 1 point of energy and throws the diamond in his basement.
Joe now has an account balance of 99 "points" of energy.
Joe replicates the other 99 diamonds and hucks them in the basement - Joe's bank acount is now empty
Immediately the Economics and renumeration administration records the zero balance. Joe's economic status has changed.
Now Joes replicator (Or any replicator that recognizes Joe) will note that he is broke and activate lock outs. Joe can't replicate any more diamonds - he can't afford them.
But - Earth has eliminated poverty. How?
Simple - Joe has a very restricted list of basic items food, basic clothing and so on - that he is allowed to replicate on credit. Joe is hungry - he asks for dinner and gets a filling, nutritious but slightly bland generic meal. His account balance is now -0.1 credits
The Administration computer notes this - it compares Joe's resume and listed skills and sends him a message
"You're broke and on the dole - but show up way too early in the morning and help muck out the Djibouti subway station (Recenty ruined in a flood) and you can earn credits of your own!"
Joe's options are now limited - he won't be allowed to starve, but he's on a minimum dole.
But he's free to sit on his ass and try to teach himself how to juggle replicated diamonds.
On Jay-trek's Earth he will not be coerced.
If he continues this, and his account balance falls further into negative numbers, Joe will be beset by ever more insistent offers of scut -work jobs.
Eventually, Joes behavior will be noted and an alert sent - Local social work and mental health people will go by Joe's house to ask him if he's okay - sometimes this sort of "drop out" behavior is the first indicator
of a mental health issue progressing out of control.
If it becomes known that Joe is free loading into serious negative numbers - he will be considered a useless pinhead - basically the Jay-Trek equivalent of "Trailer Trash". Joe will find people avoiding him, or trying (annoyingly) to "help" him - or berating him for being a pig and a slug and demanding that he get off his ass.
Most people on Earth will spend a few hours a week doing something - anything constructive - enough to keep ahead of the curve.
If Joe did a little work, or one piece of very beneficial work - he'd be back in positive numbers and his replicator priveledges would be unlocked.
Recall that Joe gets a 5 point allowance - he is paid this just for being a resident of Earth and breathing. If he tightens his belt and works to stay frugal, he can get back into positive numbers just for being there.
But few people like to see themselves as free loading loosers and so doing an afternoon's work every few days is the norm.
and that's enough to keep things running and everyone fat and happy - Until- as Garry points out - there's a disaster.
But that's a subject for another long winded post.