A setting with No Poverty has no poor. Take a moment to parse that sentence. Something which has eluded human civilization has been achieved: this is a world where no one is homeless, everyone eats three full meals a day, and society casts no one out. The elderly, physically and mentally ill are cared for, and probably even have jobs. There is no-one at the bottom of the pyramid; or at least, the base is not such a bad place to be. This is not a change to human condition that authors are likely to take lightly; it's usually treated as a pretty big deal. The weight of this idea is such that many writers will use it as the central premise to their setting, and may even pen a full blown Author Tract
about the way their Utopia
came to be.
Maybe Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome
, The Singularity
brought total equality, matter replicators
and infinite energy machines made scarcity disappear, or a revolutionary philosopher/economist came along and taught humanity a new way to go about civilization that doesn't marginalize anyone. Whatever the case, someone(s) have made it so that characters can only be poor or indigent by choice, and can almost effortlessly access a support network that would elevate them out of it. If characters native to this setting encounter a vagrant or someone in poverty (this may require Time Travel
, visiting alien worlds, or going to a remote and uncivilized place) they'll be confused and horrified at the concept (and running into active slavery will cause fits).
Expect these kinds of worlds to be called out as Mary Suetopias
. Authors can potentially minimize this trope and use it only as a minor part of the Backstory
of their setting, making only passing references to how it was achieved. This is likely a form of Conservation of Detail
to avoid distracting viewers from the focus of the story (like space exploration or magical adventures). The risk here is that treating it too
glibly may make viewers lose their Willing Suspension of Disbelief
"Wait, you're telling me nanomachines
made everyone rich? How?!" Furthermore, an additional issue that is rarely pointed out is that even with an environment in which everyone has more money, there would still likely be an inequality of income. It would just be that there would be more goods overall and the rich would now have even higher extravagant displays of wealth.
It's also possible that rather than be applied to humans, this trope be used by aliens, a fantasy races, or a subgroup of humanity. There may be some Cultural Posturing
involved on the part of these peoples.
And then there's always the subversion
where the lack of poverty was achieved at the cost of society becoming a Dystopia
Compare and contrast Eat the Rich
, Kill the Poor
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Anime and Manga
- In the anime No. 6 the titular No. 6 appears to have no poverty and be a utopia. It has been designed that way.
- True in a weird way in Baravada in With Strings Attached. In that dying anarchy of crumbling infrastructure, the gods always have work and loans for anyone who needs them (though woe betide you if you refuse to work to pay your loan back), so nobody starves or lacks for any material possessions—not that the skahs, at least, want much. It's a measure of how worthless money is to the skahs that Brox and Grunnel gave their entire hoard to the Thirders in exchange for a little information. Well, it's clear that Baravadans use money out of habit rather than economics.
- Naboo in Star Wars. The government figures and civilians alike dress like Venetian noblemen from the Renaissance, and even the Gungans, supposedly ostracized from society, live in glittering bubble-cities underwater. It makes Amidala's later claims of widespread economic depression, to the point of starvation, very hard to swallow, as the city always looks unblemished and no such hardship is ever shown. This is largely due to the fact that it is stated to be a capital planet. In Attack of the Clones, the miners on the moons of Naboo were initially blamed for the attempted assassination attempt on Padme, so there was some unrest due to this inequality presumably.
- Hot Fuzz has Sandford in Gloucestershire. Seemingly has no poverty or crime problem whatsoever, being the living ideal of any English village. Turns out there is a very grim reason for that.
Live Action Television
- In Star Trek it's mentioned that poverty is effectively no longer an issue in 24th century Earth. By the time of The Next Generation transporters and replicators make most things so cheap that money is kind of pointless, making this is one of the reasons people of the 24th century tend to question the moral character of anyone from the 21st century.
- Then Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came along and deconstructed this. Because Earth has no money, they've lost the concept of the value of work (Jake at one point asks Nog to give up his entire life's savings for a baseball card, and thinks Nog's the one being unreasonable when he refuses) and they're too much of an ivory-tower utopia to really appreciate the troubles that happen out in the rest of the universe.
- Then again the reason of why the Federation abandoned money (other than replicators makes it pointless) is that they don't see wreath the same way we do, they understand work just fine, after all Jake spends most of that episode doing a number of tasks for crew members in order. "they work to better others and ourselfs"
- Jake does this with guidance from Nog and is essentially trading favors, or work for goods or goods for goods throughout the episode. He's just not using currency to facilitate the exchanges.
- In addition it is primarily Earth that has this condition, many of the other planets in the Federation lack this. Tasha Yar's home planet collapsed into poverty and crime. In addition the Federation takes advantage of many of its member worlds in order to protect that Utopia.
- Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium main rules. On the Imperial capital planet of Kaitain, the capital city of Corrinth has no poverty.
- Warhammer 40,000 has this, but not where you'd expect it as the faction without poverty (comparatively) are the Orks. How come? Orks use their teeth as money and Ork teeth regrow constantly while inside the mouth, but sooner or later will inevitably rot when knocked out, which keeps the economy stable and so every Ork has a near unlimited income. Though Played With. Yes, Orks generate their own currency naturally over time, but so do Grots, who are part of the same economic system. However, Grot teef are a lot smaller and worth a lot less than that of Orks, meaning that Grots are almost always much more poor than the larger orks. And speaking of larger, Orks grow bigger with success, and have a very Might Makes Right philosophy. Bigger Orks will often just take the teef of smaller Orks. Those Orks who cannot beat their way up the social hierarchy a little will find themselves always struggling to afford some decent gear.
- The Simpsons: in "You Only Move Twice" Homer gets headhunted for a job in a Company Town. In order to encourage the family to move he shows them a video made by the company which displays signs of No Poverty. It shows an ugly suburb transforming into a perfect community; parking meters become trees, abandoned warehouses become coffee shops, and a bum becomes a mailbox.
Marge: I keep expecting to get the bum's rush.
Hank Scorpio: We don't have bums, Marge, and if we did they wouldn't rush, they'd be allowed to go at their own pace.