A question about replicators from Star Trek
So I have been watching Star Trek DS9 lately and enjoying it in spite of it being a Rick Berman project but something keeps bothering me about it. Like any society that has effectively unlimited resources the Federation doesn’t really use currency. If you ever read any of the Culture books by Iain Banks this will make total sense to you. The use of replicators by the Federation means that anyone can effectively have any food or item they want.
In DS9 we have Quark and his bar. The entire Ferengi race is obsessed with earning gold pressed latinum. I have learned from Memory Alpha that latinum cannot be replicated…because you know, science but Quark uses replicators to create drinks all the time. Yet he is often bemoaning his low margins when he effectively pays nothing for his merchandise. Why would anyone pay Quark to get drunk when they could just replicate 800 gallons of Thunderbird in their room? At one point Quark was very much into the weapons trade and selling them by the thousands but why would anyone buy a thousand phaser rifles when you could just buy one and then replicate them by the gross? For that matter let’s say the Cardassians were about to invade Bajor. In the last hour before they landed couldn’t the Bajorian government send out a message of “Um, everyone on the planet go replicate a rifle and 200 kilos of high explosive. We are sending you the schematics right now.” Often times a Runabout is stranded for lack of a part but has a replicator. Doesn’t that imply some kind of solution?
For that matter what could Quark buy with latinum that he couldn’t just replicate? Sure there is probably some kind of status associated with wealth in Ferengi society but even so shouldn’t you just have a free beer tap pretty much anywhere? The economy of the Star Trek universe bugs me. Actually so do the Ferengi. Any Ferengi heavy episode sucks. Beer image courtesy of the funny t shirt category.