The Stellar Economy
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George R. R. Martin in space and with less talent
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The Stellar Economy

Post by BgKnight » 02:52:14 Tuesday, 08 November, 2016

Right, I've been thinking about the post-scarcity economy and I want to write a fluff piece about it, mainly for my entertainment. This is pieced together from player descriptions and ideas. So there are bound to be some holes. Lets have some fun:

The world has entered the post-scarcity economy, or so economists around the solar system would say. But the post-scarcity economy can have many meanings to many people and shows itself in different forms. Today, economists who speak of "post-scarcity" refer to economies based on advances in automated manufacturing technologies, which produces nearly all goods in abundance, given adequate raw materials and energy. And in its general application, that is what the post-scarcity economy is, but there are several models of its application and we will attempt to examine them here.

The Private Ownership Model

Also known as the Earther model, despite not actually being applied by most of earth or used in full in many cases. It was the original post-scarcity societal model, developed by various countries on earth, it is the natural progression of capitalistic society and private ownership that has dominated earth for so long. As machines slowly cut out humans out of businesses, the countries were forced to create large social safety nets to keep the populace from satisfied or at the very least managed. Unfortunately, this lead to a small class of "employed" people, be it in government, in politics or as CEOs and the managers, a mass of permanently unemployed and unemployable, who lived in prefabricated government produced housing that packed many people in tight spaces, provided for their food and a small paycheck to allow them to exist in society.

Of course, this was no life at all, living in the tightly packed government houses large parts of the population became virtually excluded from the economy and ultimately became useless to the ruling classes. Since society was so deeply tied to money and private ownership, the lack of such and any means to acquire such for individuals meant that there was rarely a way to enter back into the economy and were thus a drain on the economy. Despite mechanization allowing the companies and government to continue adequately producing enough money to feed back into the economy to uphold the absolutely massive welfare class. Something had to give. This model had come at a very unfortunate time, when global warming had rocked the world and climate refugees had stormed the shores of the formerly-frozen countries of the north.

So it wasn't long before a radical change had to happen. In some countries, the change was slow and almost unnoticed, while in others it was quick and sudden, in some cases coming with revolution, but the result was the same in many cases. A forced dissolution of the artificial inhibitors placed on the population living in government subsidized housing and welfare, allowing citizens to freely make use of their newly acquired spare time to participate in the economy. Money and private property remained, in many ways, but a re-distribution of wealth meant that the equivalent of a middle class could exist, living outside of the government subsidized system benefiting from the system. This of course, is a gross oversimplification of the complex processes that occurred on earth, and as any oversimplification inaccurately describe the begging of post-scarcity economics for the vast majority of the population, but in the grand scheme of things, this is the best way to describe the changes that occurred on earth at that time.

Countries on earth, nowadays, exist in various stages of the spectrum, some, have most of their population living as a well to do middle class, which has most of its life provided and can participate in the economy in their own way, by creating businesses, working in old school jobs, working in a larger corporations or just subsist on government care which is substantial enough to keep them satisfied with their lives with no restrictions imposed upon them. While others, live in the other spectrum, where government housing and support is not enough to provide for a good life, but the economy has been so automated that they cannot conceivably enter it, especially since in most cases an oppressive upper class makes sure that they cannot enter the system. And of course, many cases in the middle, with more or less of each.

But at the end of the day, what defines Earther economies is the private ownership and usage of money in exchange for goods and services. That means that despite the massive automation of the market and the complete post scarcity achieved, a capitalist model of property and ownership continues.

The Money-less Model

Also known as the Lunar system, despite existing in many states on Earth and not being applied on all Lunar states, the Money-less model is not a new system, but it was effectively applied only after the Lunar revolution. Unlike Earth, suffering from the structural issues of all Earther societies using and operating with money as a facilitator of trade, Luna following its revolution, didn't need to develop a money based economy and thus went a different direction entirely. Using the abundance provided by the entirely mechanized work-force and AIs, the major Lunar states could simply provide their citizens with any wish they had, as long as it wasn't too outrageous and entered into the acceptable social norms of the given society. This produce an effectively money-less society where citizens were free to do as they pleased.

However, here, Luna also hit a structural issue, when the largest and major trading partner to Luna was not using the same system, and outright rejected AI assisted governance, the states were forced to use currency to facilitate trade with outsiders. On Luna, the AIs, can simply link up and know when to recycle what resource and use what resource for it to work, but the moment when they contact societies with social and economic structures like Earth or even the Clones on their own planetary body, money became a necessity. Another issue the Lunar system encountered was surprisingly, that too much freedom led to an unprecedented level of boredom. That doesn't sound like a serious issue, but it is, as the suicide rates on Luna are the largest in the entire solar system, despite their long life-spans and small population. Earther economies keep the citizen busy, Lunar economies give the citizen unprecedented freedom leading to undesired results. This has of course had its positives, as scientists, artists and people of innovation of all kind were free to pursue their passion and create and invent great pieces of art and technology, but the vast majority of the population is none of the above.

Again, this as well is a massive oversimplification of a very complicated matter. Especially considering we are treating both systems as islands, but they cannot be treated as such, as they are tightly interconnected to the rest of the solar system. The Earth-Lunar Symbiosis, despite their rivalry on the Sollar Level, is very much a reality. One cannot exist without the other, if the Earther economy crashes, there well be nobody to buy Luna's chief export, H3. And vice versa, if Luna stops exporting H3, the Outer Solar System can hardly produce enough to fill the gap.

The Outer Solar System

This is not a model per-see, but it is important to make an observation on the political situation, as economics cannot exist in a vacuum. While Earth and Luna benefit from the different models of post-scarcity economics, and in many cases so does Mars, the Asteroid Belt and Outer Planets are a whole different story. In order to sustain and fuel their post-scarcity lifestyle, Earth and Luna make heavy usage of the resources and wealth of the Outer Solar system leaving, in most cases, resource extraction based hierarchal societies, with varying degrees of oppressiveness. Post scarcity economies do not exist here, there are clearly defined under and over classes, little to no automation of labor and extensive use of oppressive tactics from both sides.

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