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No Poverty

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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 just about everyone willing has ways to contribute to the society despite not being forced to. Either the social structure is no longer a pyramid at all, or it's a hierarchy with an exceptionally wide and inclusive base which is not a bad place to be and does not differ qualitatively from higher layers.

Considering inequality is as old as human society itself, the authors are unlikely to take lightly such a change to the human condition; it's usually treated as a pretty big deal. The weight and appeal 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, is organized, and may yet be improved still. This trope can be used to promote a range of political philosophies, which might include libertarianism, anarchism, socialism, or communism.

Usually the key to a post-scarcity future revolves around new technology. Maybe Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome, The Singularity brought total equality, matter replicators and infinite energy machines made scarcity disappear. In a fantasy story, maybe wizards use Magitek to provide unlimited energy. In a science fiction story, maybe benevolent aliens arrive and give us advanced technology that triples food production and eliminates chronic illness. Other authors are convinced that we don't even need any new technologies; rather it's a matter of better distributing the resources humanity already has. Thus, their works may feature an Author Avatar revolutionary philosopher/economist showing up to teach 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 of rage).

Authors can potentially minimize the unrealisticness of 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, but no one would particularly care about that as everyone's needs and most of the wants are satisfied.

It's also possible that rather than being applied to humans, this trope will be used by aliens, 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 by the society becoming a totalitarian Dystopia. The good news is that you get three means a day and a government-provided apartment. The bad news is that there is constant surveillance by secret police and dissidents are tortured and executed for criticizing Big Brother.

Compare and contrast Eat the Rich, Kill the Poor.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Superman: Red Son, the Global Soviet Union, led by Superman, becomes a utopia nannystate where poverty (and crime, hunger, starvation, etc) are eliminated.
    Superman: Every adult had a job, every child had a hobby, and the entire human population enjoyed the full eight hours of sleep they required.
    • President Lex Luthor manages to turn a struggling, waning American economy around by using a "strict, internal market where he had absolute control over every dollar bill".
  • There was a hidden tribe in Africa in Planetary that lived in an Advanced Ancient Acropolis with no poverty and super-advanced science.
  • Played with in DC One Million; in a society based on dataflow, the "information poor" don't appear to be struggling by our standards, but have a desperation about them that reminds The Flash of "kids who'd mug you for your sneakers".

    Fan Works 
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Hot Fuzz has Sandford in Gloucestershire. It seemingly has no poverty or crime problem whatsoever, being the living ideal of any English village. It's revealed there is a very grim reason for that — everyone who doesn't fit into this gets secretly murdered.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: Picard tells Lily, a 21st-century woman, that material wealth is not an issue in his time, and that money doesn't exist (though other statements in the franchise contradict that latter part a bit).

  • In The Third Millenium: A History of the World 2000 - 3000 A.D., virtually the entire population of the world is middle class by the end of the millennium. While this was partially due to technological and political reasons, the death of the "lost billion" in the 22nd century and the radical global tax code changes of the 28th century (which effectively exiled most of the planet's super-wealthy offworld) also played a critical role.
  • In Macrolife, this is true of the civilization within the "urban levels" of the Asterome, a colony ship roughly 200 km across.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, there are no really poor people on Beta Colony, their understanding of the term refers to people without a computer in the home, and even that is unheard of since access to information is guaranteed by the government. Cordelia has trouble getting her head around the concept on Barrayar, where illiteracy and starvation are everyday occurrences in the rural areas.
    Cordelia: Beta Colony doesn't really have dregs, we sort of stop at lower middle class.
  • Ivan Yefremov's Andromeda Nebula makes this trope one of a central points of its Utopia narrative. While there are examples of conscious self-limiting, no one really comprehends what it is to not have access to everything one needs, never mind not being able to eat enough each day.
  • The Backstory of The Wheel of Time establishes the Age of Legends to have been like this. While there was still inequality, nobody lacked food or shelter. They also had access to high-level magitek (medicine included) with the Aes Sedai's abilities and ter'angreal.
  • True of The Culture, but then the Culture is also considered a post-scarcity society, so material concerns are relatively irrelevant. Look to Windward plays with it a bit, mentioning that the privilege of attending a limited seating unique event got people pleading and bartering favors just to get a chance to attend.
  • Voyage from Yesteryear by James P. Hogan is set on a planet where all physical resources are abundantly available. Consequently, the inhabitants never bothered to develop a monetary system.
  • In The Kingkiller Chronicle, Kvothe visits the homeland of the Adem, a society funded by their world-class mercenaries. He notes that everyone lives simply, but in great comfort.
  • Played with in Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel where health care, accommodation, and education are universal and nobody goes hungry, except that what lower-class people get to eat and where they have to live, although nourishing and clean, is still not up to the same standards as more valued members of society.
    • And all of it comes at a cost of hyper-dense population that essentially mitigates overpopulation. The protagonist mentions that his having a sink is a show of status—and even he has no restroom in his personal quarters, having to use a public restroom nearby.
    • Played straight in the sequel, The Naked Sun, where Solaria has no poverty... because the resources of the entire planet are shared between twenty thousand people. The Robots of Dawn has it somewhere in between; Dr. Fastolfe states that each person has a reasonable share of the goods (there are two hundred million people on Aurora), but a barber's house is noticeably shabbier than a roboticist's. Some people are even too poor to afford household robots - or would have been, except for the fact a robot is provided by the society in such cases.
  • This is more or less the case for the small colony world of Hitchemus in Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Year of Intelligent Tigers. The planet's entire landmass is slightly smaller than England and has a positively tiny population mostly catering to musicians, all of whom receive a livable stipend as long as they're working on something that involves the creation of music. It's pretty heavily implied that the only way it can function is through tourist revenue and a significant amount of off-world funding, but it really is that nice for people living there. Though, as Anji mentally grumbles, if you aren't a big music buff it gets boring and annoying pretty quick. And Hitchemus does have a rather nasty tiger problem...
  • Island (1962): Pala, thanks to philosophical enlightenment, population control and advanced agriculture.
  • Played with in The Dispossessed. Anarres, being inhabited by anarcho-syndicalists, has no wealth disparity, and no 'poor' by definition. All resources are shared as equally as possible and everyone participates in the system as much as they can; no one is turned away and no one is forced to fend for themselves. What makes this complicated is that Anarres is barely habitable to humans, so everyone on the planet live in what is considered a state of poverty by the standards of other, more inhabitable planets. When protagonist Shevek visits neighboring Urras, he's struck both by how incredibly wealthy its people are are owing simply to the planet they settled on, and how much they're unable to share said wealth equitably.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Even somebody who ends up on Level 96, the lowest inhabited level in the Hive, has sufficient healthy food, shelter, clothing, and a job. Someone who is incapable of doing any job will be supported until such time as they can; someone whose job options are limited by disability will be given a job within their abilities. Someone who runs out of money for food will be supported and given lessons on budgeting.
  • The Hands of the Emperor: The government of Zunidh has practically eradicated poverty worldwide in the great reforms following the catastrophic events of the Fall: first with with housing and job programs for the least fortunate, and later with an universal income (the stipend) for any who need or want it.
  • In No. 6, the titular No. 6 appears to have no poverty and be a utopia. It has been designed that way.

    Live Action Television 
  • In Star Trek it's mentioned that poverty is effectively no longer an issue on 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 one of the reasons people of the 24th century tend to question the moral character of anyone from the 21st century. As the series creator put it, Earth has become a world where "no one is hungry, and no one's in need, and all of the children know how to read."
    • However money is still used by many outside of the Federation, most notably the Ferengi
  • An Imagine Spot episode of ALF has one of the Tanners fall asleep and dream of Alf becoming President of the United States (somehow ignoring the fact that he's not a natural-born US citizen or even human). When she goes to the Oval Office to criticize him, she is surprised to find out that he has solved both unemployment and homelessness problems by starting a massive home-building program, which employs the unemployed and provides homes for the homeless. Naturally, it's All Just a Dream.
  • The human Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (2003) by virtue of being purpose-built machines. It's a notable contrast to the humans in the rag-tag fleet, every Cylon is clean, has nice clothes, is well fed, has access to a direct democracy that votes on all issues, and there isn't even any real hierarchy. Contrast to the humans who, even before the Cylons attacked the colonies, had poverty, inequality, and disenfranchisement. Even the Cylon's ships are self-sustaining, each able to provide enough food and water for the entire crew indefinitely. Where it gets subverted is that the Centurion Killer Robots and Raider automated space fighters have been locked into non-sapience to use as foot soldiers. This along with the Spaceship Girl Hybrid piloting each Basestar, who are trapped in the role and physiologically unable to leave.
  • Brave New World: An obvious feature of New London's pseudo-utopia. There are no signs of poverty, which isn't a big surprise given that everyone has a strict social role and gets all they need provided.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • 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 Tau are also implied (being essentially Space Communists) to have a much lower degree of wealth disparity than humans do. They do use money (at least they pay the Kroot somehow) and have a hierarchical society, but adherence to the Greater Good precludes allowing portions of your society to starve or go without the ability to help others through employment.
  • In Eclipse Phase habitats using a "New" economy give everyone enough daily resources for their Nanofabricators that no one starves and they can make most products without paying.

  • Utopia, Limited:
    King: We have solved the labour question with discrimination polished
    So poverty is obsolete and hunger is abolished.
    Flowers of Progress: We are going to abolish it in England!

    Video Games 
  • The Qunari in Dragon Age, due to their staggeringly totalitarian society that slots every individual into their role and forces them to stick with it for the good of the entire society. They don't have poverty in the same way that a bee hive doesn't have poverty.
  • The "Eudaimonic" Future Society in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is stated to be this, representing a "perfect" post-scarcity society of no wants or lacks where everyone is allowed (and encouraged) to fulfill their potential for maximum happiness. The only problem with it (gameplay-speaking) is that human life and happiness is held so high that waging war becomes more difficult because nobody wants to kill or create things that kill.
  • The town of Jidoor in Final Fantasy VI has only middle-class and wealthy townsfolk, is the only town with an auction house, and has a mansion that is owned by a wealthy man who collects art. One of the townspeople you can speak to says that the reason Jidoor has no poor people is that everyone drove them out, which also caused said poor people to form the Wretched Hive town of Zozo.
  • Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising has widespread use of nano-assemblers that can create practically everything from its base components and (apparently solar- and fusion-based) energy. This has led to eliminating poverty by ensuring ready access to the assemblers for anyone: Anyone capable of accessing an assembler can obtain food, clothing, and basic healthcare needs freely. The other result was the end of capitalism, money, and the private market.
  • Octopath Traveler II: Partitiio the Merchant starts his story with this goal in mind after his hometown went from Rags to Riches and then the landowner taxed them Riches to Rags.
  • In a deleted line from Portal 2, GLaDOS mocks Chell with this idea.
    GLaDOS: Did you know I found a way to eradicate poverty? But then you killed me. So that's gone.
  • Stellaris:

  • In Leftover Soup, Lily's fiction setting Florenovia is "conveniently" free of poverty. While it also includes a radically revamped economic system which is presumably intended to be understood as the reason for this, the fact that Florenovia also has no men and Lily freely admits that to be because she's a misandrist led Ellen to question it.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Earth, being the heart of one of the most powerful species in the galaxy, apparently has no poverty. At one point it's mentioned that severe unexpected military losses (an entire fleet got curb-stomped and the rest had to be upgraded) will only probably result in "pockets of scarcity and overcrowding." The rest of human space isn't perfect, but it's still pretty good.

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: in "You Only Move Twice" Homer gets headhunted for a job in the Company Town of Cypress Creek. 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. Somewhat justified by Scorpio being a megalomaniacal James Bond villain who's ridiculously good at administration - enough so that from that one town, he manages to conquer the East Coast.
    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.