88: You Have to Keep Making the Sausage

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Trekonomics, with Manu Saadia.

“The economics of the future are somewhat different,” Captain Jean-Luc Picard tells Lily Sloane in Star Trek: First Contact. “You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.” But the “primitive” 21st-century human is instinctively appalled: “No money? You mean you don’t get paid?” To some viewers, the post-scarcity economic system that underpins the Star Trek universe—what author Manu Saadia calls “Trekonomics”—can seem equally baffling. But is the utopian future of the Federation really as improbable as the creation of warp drive or the transporter? Or is Star Trek, as a cultural product of American capitalism, produced by relatively well-paid entertainment professionals, just fundamentally ambivalent when it comes to some of its most sacred ideals?

In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Saadia for a look at both the imaginary economics of Star Trek and the real-world economics of getting the show on the air—and turning a profit from it. We also discuss the link between economic conditions and “evolved” human behavior, the thorny question of human nature, and the extent to which—in attempting to predict the future—all economic theories are really little more than science fiction.

Host Duncan Barrett Guest Manu Saadia Production Duncan Barrett (Editor and Producer), C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Tony Black (Associate Producer) Clara Cook (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager)

109 episodes