The Law of the Market

So, disclaimer up front: this isn’t actually mine, for a large part. It was inspired by a couple of verses posted on Twitter by Eliezer Yudkowsky back in March, it stuck in my head, and I kept thinking that I should do something with it.

So what I ended up doing with it, given that it obviously fits the ‘verse very strongly, is take the best parts of the resulting thread, polish ’em together, and behold!

Obviously originally based on Kipling’s Law of the Jungle. Verse contents pre my hackery taken from posts by Eliezer Yudkowsky (@ESYudkowsky), Andrew Flicker (@aflicker), You Suffer, But Why? (@plasmatron7), ConceptPointer (@ConceptPointer) and Adri√† Garriga (@AdriGarriga). No claim of ownership is made or implied.

Now this is the Law of the Market
As bright and as stark as the Sun
And the party that keeps it may prosper
But the party that breaks it is done

As the caravan circles the trade road,
The Law runneth round and again;
For the good of the realm is its trade,
And the good of each trade is the realm.

Learn daily the wants of the market,
Deal sharply, but never defraud.
And remember that wealth is for working
And never should lie in your hoard.

The trader may follow the business,
But, Apt, when thy plans are well-thought,
Remember that all should earn value –
Go forth and deliver what’s sought!

When buyer meets seller at market,
And neither spreads harm, smog, or schemes
List well while the offers are spoken
It may be as good as it seems.

Ev’ry trade must be good for all parties
So that each’d rather do it than not
You may threaten to trade with another
But not say, “Price it so or be shot!”

Each sale must be paired with a purchase,
thus the balance: Demand and Supply.
If demand falls, prices will follow,
if supply drops, prices will fly.

Now oft you may find yourself tempted
To conceal trades from watcher or foe
But never forget — I say, never! —
That Trust underwrites the whole show!

When ye deal with another against you,
You must keep to the Peace and the Law,
Lest others be harmed by your passions,
And our wealth be diminished by War.

Trades numb’ring as stars in the heavens
Form an intricate web of effect
While the factors perusing their ledgers,
Hope to scry out their profit and debt.

In the depths of the networks of trading
Sleeps a god that is hidden and blind
His the credit when credit is given
And all that do business – his mind!

Trope-a-Day: Screw The Money, I Have Rules!

Screw The Money, I Have Rules!: The subject of any of a few thousand plutarch fairy tales concerning the nature of money as a symbol, and the worthlessness of a symbol without the things that give it meaning.  (The Market Liberty Oversight Directorate, in particular, is particularly harsh on anyone whose approach to money or markets is harmful to said money or markets.)

(And given the very long lives most plutarchs can expect to have in a universe with immortagens, everyone understands that they’re playing the indefinite-iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, in which the winning superrational strategy is not to defect.)

Trope-a-Day: No Poverty

No Poverty: Played straight in the Empire – and indeed the entire Core Economic Zone.

Well, at least as far as absolute poverty goes. Let us consider, for example, the hypothetical lowest-income citizen-shareholder in the Empire, someone who certainly doesn’t exist, having never had a single original, marketable thought in their entire life, possesses no skills, and who has never found any way to make themselves useful to any other sophonts whatsoever.

That guy, whose only source of income is the Citizen’s Dividend, can still afford a good-sized, luxurious home to live in, and – for less than the price of basic cable *here*, at that – an energy-and-cornucopia-services subscription sufficient to fabricate more food than he could ever eat, more clothing than he could ever wear, and a wide range of other assorted consumer goods even if they’re last year’s relinquished-copyright model; along with information-services access, basic-coverage tort insurance, and comprehensive medical.

That’s only going to stop being true if he manages to screw up deliberately and dramatically – and, given the generosity of Imperial bankrupty/debt law designed to encourage entrepreneurship and leave people able to function and earn more money to pay their debts in future, in fairly exotic ways. (And this is itself unlikely, inasmuch as That Guy is likely to receive a friendly visit from the Guardians of Our Harmony seeking to cure his obvious craziness even before taking it to the next level.)

tl;dr It is within delta of functionally impossible to have less than a well-off middle-class lifestyle in the CEZ in general and the Empire in particular.

Now, to mention what the trope page says is rarely mentioned, if you’re the type to concern yourself with relative poverty, then you can still find plenty of material to get hot and bothered about. The Empire got to its poverty-free post-material-scarcity state of awesomeness through the vigorous and rapacious practice of free markets and greed, and isn’t planning to change any time soon. As such, were anyone to bother computing its Gini coefficient or other such measures of economic inequality, it would undoubtedly cause some serious palpitations and flabberghast, the fantastically wealthy Numbers owning private luxury moons, and so forth.

It’s just that no-one *there* gives a damn, because the traditional ways of “legally stealing” your way to wealth are all illegal, and because it’s hard to convince people who live in big houses and own magic boxes that can make heaps and heaps of anything for twenty bucks a month that they’re being Horribly Oppressed by the 1%, the Man, or pretty much anyone else. At least, it is without idiot primate status-game instincts to help you.

Finally to note, this is something that I do pretty much try to take lightly, at least inside the CEZ. After all, to the lucky people from there, the magic box that makes whatever you want just as soon as it occurs to you to want it is the natural state of the universe, belike.

Of course, when they have to deal with the people from outside there, or, dearie me, with the people from the Unemerged Markets, they have the most terrible – “No comconsoles?” – problems in understanding exactly what the heck this poverty thing is. (See much more under Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense.) Not having a cornucopia machine of your very own is about as far as the non-cosmopolitan imagination gets.