Trope-a-Day: Real Money Trade

Real Money Trade: The problem is that it’s hard to define what qualifies as “real money” versus “game money” when the Mythic Stars MMO alone has an internal economy bigger than some respectably-sized planets.

The logical consequences of this apply in full, including the follow-up to the city guards dragging your character in for stealing someone’s gold (if done outwith the parameters of the game by cheating means, etc. – obviously game theft is fair, um, game) being the game looking up your physical identity and having the local constabulary drag you off for an unsympathetic judge to explain grand theft to you in a prolonged and inconvenient manner.

Gold farming is SRS BZNS.

Snippet: Non-Identical Values

“The greatest and most misleading heresy of my field is the conflation of value with exchange-value.”

– Academician Teidal Ellestrion,
Economist Excellence,
Imperius Professor of Fiscal Econometrics (Commercial University of Seranth),
Director of the High Guild of Coin and Credit,
Aurarch Emeritus of Éävalle

 

Question: Good Economics

Out of curiosity, what would be the eldraeic critique of the idea of “Good Economics” as expounded on in the Book of Life, particularly as contrasted with Classical Economics?

(http://www.thebookoflife.org/good-vs-classical-economics/)

It’s a category error, plain and simple. Ironically, a lot of the things they complain about are examples of the exact same category error.

Economics, saith the Academician, is a science. It is to the laws governing utility, value, and exchange-value as physics is to the laws governing gravity, electromagnetism, color, and flavor. It’s a purely descriptive discipline, which is eo ipso amoral, in the same way that while how you use electricity or gravity may involve ethical choices, neither Newton’s nor Faraday’s laws have any ethical significance per se. Is, not ought.

What they’re talking about, with regard to making judgments of worth and dignity and so forth, with regard to what people want, what people want to want, what people ought to want, and what people ought to want, is the province of various other fields, like ethics, and aesthetics, with a side order of culture and religion, and whole bunch of bare-assed personal preferences on the side… exactly none of which goal-driven behaviors are economics, any more than all the ways sophonts have found to move mass and charge around to useful ends are physics, because neither of them talk about goals. They’re about how, not about what.

…and the irony is that when they talk like this:

But if next year, the wrestling society spends a record 11 billion, it is cause for praise: demand is growing, which is always good, irrespective of what it is actually demand for.

“Work is regarded only with respect to its financial status.”

Profit is, too, assessed only in terms of quantity. So long as one stays within the law, classical economics is neutral on the issue of how it is produced. To make profit from running a casino is no more or less admirable, no better or worse, than to make it by designing and constructing  beautiful streets of small houses.

The classical view is neutral about GDP. A society as a whole is assumed to be doing well so long as GDP is growing irrespective of the kinds of activity that lead this to happen. People might be working endless hours, the beauty of the countryside might be despoiled, but all that counts is whether the financial numbers are going up; anything else is irrelevant.

…this is the same category error ascribed to the “classical” side, in which people are assigning ethical and aesthetic qualities to phenomena which no more have them than gravity does. To say that increased demand for X or the greater profitability of Y is good or bad or better or worse in an ethical or aesthetic sense (vis-à-vis a limited utilitarian sense) is the same kind of damn nonsense as saying “more things falling down is (morally) better”.

(Of course, we have the whole mess called normative economics, which an Imperial economist would consider nonsense on stilts.

To such extent as it is merely a discussion of what one ought to want, it isn’t economics, as above. To such extent as it isn’t, it makes about as much sense as writing down your idea for how gravity ought to work and expecting results. You don’t get to have normative views on natural laws unless you’re in the reality-construction business, and if anything, the laws of economics are probably less tractable than those of physics that way.)

 

A Weapon Too Terrible To Use

CONFIDENTIAL (RED) / EYES ONLY GLITTER TARNISH
EXCHEQUER INTERNAL

Welcome, operative of the Imperial Exchequer.

If you are reading this document, it is because you either have need to know for, or have independently discovered, the weaponizability of the currency validation system.

To recap: the modern esteyn possesses full verifiability against counterfeiting, since every individual currency unit possesses an embedded cryptographic signature incorporating its denomination and serial code. This applies to both physical currency, in which this signature is embedded in v-tag format, and to money of account; an esteyn-denominated account must record not only the quantity of money contained therein, but the unique cryptographic signatures of each esteyn-unit stored. In either case, such units can be verified as genuine by an authentication exchange conducted across the Imperial Banking & Credit Weave.

We retain the ability to generate new cryptographic signatures and to invalidate old signatures at will. This latter facility is used principally by the Office of the Mint when replacing worn-out, damaged, or lost physical currency, and by the Office of Currency and Values, when adjusting the total money supply (i.e., to draw down the money supply, the OCV invalidates the signatures of selected esteyn-units presently in the general account of the Exchequer).

The realization you may have come to is simply that we do not require possession of a group of esteyn-units in order to invalidate their signatures; we merely require their serial codes. As such, we can invalidate any quantity of esteyn, anywhere in the galaxy “by remote control” – revoking its status as legal tender and a store of value, and rendering it useless in transactions anywhere in the legitimate economy.

This capability has never been used.

It is conceivable that one day we may receive an executive order to weaponize this functionality for use against terrorists, slavers, rogue polities, criminal organizations, or others misusing Imperial currency. It is, naturally, far more flexible than seizure of accounts (possible in Imperial banks or those of close allies only) or transactions (which requires that said transaction clear directly through the Imperial Banking & Credit Weave) inasmuch as it can revoke any esteyn-units, even those instantiated as physical cash. For these reasons, we retain the technical capability.

However, the projected economic effects of exercising this capability would be very severe. Much of the galactic market can be modeled as imperfectly trusting, irrational, and/or panic-prone, and the use of this capability would undoubtedly lead to an immediate external market crash, extending into a medium-to-long term depression. As a matter of policy, the Exchequer considers this a circumstance to be sedulously avoided.

As a final note, while the existence of this capability is not a secret (note the classification level of this document) since it is readily comprehended by anyone who makes a sufficiently adequate study of the relevant public protocol definition documents, the Exchequer chooses not to advertise its existence widely in the sight of economic knowlessmen. As such, you should consider it sensitive data, not for casual public dissemination.

 

Trope-a-Day: We Will Spend Credits in the Future

We Will Spend Credits in the Future: While somewhat played straight out towards the Rim Free Zone with its ergcred, a currency whose name is never abbreviated at the front, for the most part we will spend exvals in the future.  (See: Global Currency).

This may have something to do with the way that those proposing currencies named “credit” were, somehow, all accidentally lynched by rampaging mobs of accountants who knew exactly where this would end up. Like the trope example says:

“So as you can see, on 10 June we credited 35 credits to your line of credit and debited 7 credits from your debit card. Then we debited 8 credits from your line of credit and credited 14 credits to your debit account.”

 

Labor Theory of Value

(I was going to post the next chunk of Before the Phoenix today, but it’s not quite ready yet. So, here’s a quick wee thing instead…)

In the Conclave of Galactic Polities, Ambassador llin-Terl-an of the Palnu Sodality put forward a measure – supported by others of the Socionovist Association – proposing a system of voluntary interpolity fund transfers for the support of those individuals deprived of employment by imported cornucopia and other “industrial magic” automation technology.

Speaking for the Empire, Presiding Minister Calis Corith pointed out that his polity had, by the definitions contained within the proposal, all-pervasive deployment of industrial magic and an employment rate of zero, and thanked those supporting the proposal for stepping forward to financially ease the citizen-shareholders’ negative-value labor deficit at what would surely be a great cost to themselves.

The measure was tabled for further study.

– from the Imperial Infoclast

Trope-a-Day: The Federation

The Federation: Well, that would be the Voniensa Republic, an essentially conscious Expy of Star Trek‘s Federation.  Unfortunately, the Voniensans have to contend with the lack of the scriptwriters on their side; thus, their baseline-fetishism and naturalistic-fallacy-ridden philosophy (“our insert-species-here-anity”), heavy restrictions on personal augmentation (including ephemeralism, because, y’know, people were meant to die), and information control of dangerous ideas filtering in from the extranet make them relatively technologically backward; their biochauvinism (and even carbon chauvinism) and stance against AI personhood (guess where quite a few of the Silicate Tree’s renegades come from) also doesn’t help in that regard; their strong-central-government system makes them a tottering giant, steering a thin line between collapse and the Regional Governors Being Given Direct Control Of Their Territories; and their dodgy non-agorist economics make them actually one of the poorest – they have rationing, even – purportedly near-post-scarcity civilizations in the Galaxy.  Which takes real talent, let me tell you, when you have even restricted cornucopia machines.

While their volume is enough to keep them at least notionally within the Great Powers club by dint of mass of metal and economic leverage, in practice they’re the Sick Man of the Galaxy in exactly the same way as the Ottoman Empire was the Sick Man of Europe.  And the clock is ticking…

In short, a classic example of how to purportedly-benevolent yourself to death, statist-style.  The Imperials call them “the Land of Murdered Dreams”.