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Old 12-17-2013, 09:59 AM   #181
Ze'Manel Cunha
 
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Default Re: Flat Black

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
In this case I'm creating a setting for, as Ze'Manel puts it, serial planetary romance.
Just to point out that phrasing was combatmedic's suggestion, not mine, though I do agree with it.
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Old 12-17-2013, 02:26 PM   #182
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Under those conditions it doesn't seem to me like the commodities mentioned couldn't be grown cheaper on any planet that wanted them.
Tau Ceti has eight times the population density of Navabharata, which means more people bidding for [the use or product of] each hectare of land, and it has 23 times the real per-capita income, which means more to bid with, and the real exchange rate is almost five. Rent for land to grow crops on on Tau Ceti could be hundreds of times the rent of land on Navabharata, in nominal terms.

But it really doesn't matter, because of one of perhaps the most fundamental and surprising results in economics: Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage. Prices don't matter. Only price ratios matter.

Tau Ceti is rich in capital and skilled labour, poor in land. Navabharata is the other way around. That means that the cost ratio between labour-intensive goods and capital-intensive goods is higher on Navabharata than on Tau Ceti. It is to the advantage of them on Tau Ceti to specialise in capital-intensive goods and swap them for land-intensive goods; it is to the advantage of them on Navabharata to specialise in land-intensive goods and swap them for capital-intensive goods. If both types of goods are worth a lot of silver on Navabharata and not worth many écu on Tau Ceti it doesn't matter; the exchange rate will adjust. If the productivity of both land and capital are higher on Tau Ceti, so that the Tau Cetians can grow drugs on less land as well as producing photonic computers with less plant that still doesn't matter. Navabharatans will swap more drugs for a computer than Tau Ceti can get by reallocating resources from computer production to drug production. The exchange rate will adjust to make what is profitable in real goods profitable in money.

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So I thought about it a bit, and they are gen engineered crops, so maybe there are royalties required to grow them.
There might be on some of the TL10 (advanced) things that have been invented in last fifty years, but most of the the genetic engineering was done six hundred years ago or more, on Earth. Even if Earth's patent laws applied on the colonies to begin with (it's likely they didn't), they would have expired by now; and even if they hadn't, the inventors and their assigns, heirs, and executors, their records, and the patent offices all got blown up in AD 2353. TL 10 (standard) legacy biotech is royalty-free.

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Another, unrelated way this planet could make space-money would be to let companies come there and do whatever experiments they want on the local peasantry. Want to research long term effects of your new Smart food colouring? Sure! Want to try out your new chemical weapons? Well this one village have been rather uppity lately... and so on.
The chemical weapon thing is a no-no. The Empire would nail everyone's hide to the wall for that. As for the other suggestions: things of that sort do go on, but somewhere in the Periphery with an even worse economy would be even better for it than Navabharata. And I don't see there being enough volume in this industry to support the Navabharatan ruling class.

Remember that I have hundreds of under-developed dumps of planets in the setting, and that I need spaceship services to all of them. An overall structure of specialisation and trade works better for me than a special case to create trade (or other reasons for interstellar contact) on each colony.

{I ought to mention at this point that there is one other source of foreign exchange with which to buy imports and motivate transport provision, besides trade. But it only works for places that are even worse than Navabharata. Charity.

On planets where there is famine, disease, crop pest, adverse environmental change etc. the Empire (and other charities such as the Humanity League etc.) undertake large-scale charity mostly in the form of public works. They build irrigation systems and hospitals, set up systems of schools to teach basic agronomy and medicine, build harbors and railways and airports and cellular networks and marketplaces. To do that they buy a lot of land and material locally, hire a lot of workers. So they show up with hard currency (such as Imperial crowns), exchange it for the local valuta so as to pay wages and rents and buy land and materials. And that gives the locals hard currency to buy imports with (and it is typically no use to them for anything else).

There's nothing of that sort going on on Navabharata on such a scale as to affect the structure of the economy. But on, say, Cassegrain — which has TL2 (early) industrial methods on a good day and where population exceeds carrying capacity — the Agricultural Service, the Public Health Service, the Public Education Service, the Terraformation Service, the Agricultural Service, and the Humanity League gush Imperial Crowns like geysers.}
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Last edited by Agemegos; 12-17-2013 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 12-17-2013, 02:27 PM   #183
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Default Re: Flat Black

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Originally Posted by Ze'Manel Cunha View Post
Just to point out that phrasing was combatmedic's suggestion, not mine, though I do agree with it.
My apologies, especially to combatmedic.
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Old 12-17-2013, 02:34 PM   #184
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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
Tau Ceti has eight times the population density of Navabharata, which means more people bidding for each hectare of land, and it has 23 times the real per-capita income, which means more to bid with, and the real exchange rate is almost five. Rent for land to grow crops on on Tau Ceti could be hundreds of times the rent of land on Navabharata, in nominal terms.

But it really doesn't matter, because of one of perhaps the most fundamental and surprising results in economics: Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage. Prices don't matter. Only price ratios matter.

Tau Ceti is rich in capital and skilled labour, poor in land. Navabharata is the other way around. That means that the cost ratio between labour-intensive goods and capital-intensive goods is higher on Navabharata than on Tau Ceti. It is to the advantage of them on Tau Ceti to specialise in land-intensive goods and swap them for land-intensive goods; it is to the advantage of them on Navabharata to specialise in land-intensive goods and swap them for capital-intensive goods. If both types of goods are worth a lot of silver on Navabharata and not worth many écu on Tau Ceti it doesn't matter; the exchange rate will adjust. If the productivity of both land and capital are higher on Tau Ceti, so that the Tau Cetians can grow drugs on less land as well as producing photonic computers with less plant that still doesn't matter. Navabharatans will swap more drugs for a computer than Tau Ceti can get by reallocating resources from computer production to drug production. The exchange rate will adjust to make what is profitable in real goods profitable in money.
Yes. It turns out to be a very simple problem in convex bodies theory and linear programming, though it's rather impressive that Ricardo was able to work it out before those fields had really developed. But given some rather simple assumptions it's mathematically inescapable that gains from trade and specialization can occur.

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Old 12-17-2013, 02:41 PM   #185
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Yes. It turns out to be a very simple problem in convex bodies theory and linear programming, though it's rather impressive that Ricardo was able to work it out before those fields had really developed.
David Ricardo was smarter than the average bear. I must see whether I can get a portrait of him.
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Old 12-17-2013, 03:15 PM   #186
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Default Re: Flat Black

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage. Prices don't matter. Only price ratios matter.
According to the article transport costs do matter.

Which you described as:

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Originally Posted by Agemegos
Interstellar transport in the setting is economically like steamer transport c. 1890;
This didn't seem very efficient to me. But I guess if this planet is in the equivalent of North Africa (in relation to Europe) it could still be believable. While if it's the settings equivalent of Australia SoD would be harder. Assuming FTL costs scale somewhat linearly with distance.

Speaking of Australia, you could have a planet whose "export" is prison space. :)
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Old 12-17-2013, 04:09 PM   #187
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According to the article transport costs do matter.
Yes. they have an effect. And if the transport costs are high and the differences in price ratios small they can make trade uneconomic. But surely you can see that the effect is not necessarily so large that trade in agricultural products is impossible. Trade costs in the real world are non-zero, yet we have and have long had worldwide trade in food and other agricultural products.

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This didn't seem very efficient to me. But I guess if this planet is in the equivalent of North Africa (in relation to Europe) it could still be believable.
Navabharata is actually closer to several of the worlds of the Suite than they are to each other.

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While if it's the settings equivalent of Australia SoD would be harder. Assuming FTL costs scale somewhat linearly with distance.
In the 1890s Australia sustained the highest per-capita incomes of any country in the world, by exporting minerals and agricultural products in steamers. Wool, butter, cheese, beef, sheep meat, wheat, and timber, plus gold, silver, copper, lead and I think coal. Steamers carried million of tons of the stuff to England, which took six weeks. Navabharata to Tau Ceti is only six days.

The American South before the US Civil War supported a wealthy and highly-educated aristocracy on the labour of a much poorer unfree underclass by exporting cotton to England for manufacture and re-export around the world, in ships that were both slower and more expensive than 1890s steamers. Economically and even socially, Navabharata is a lot like the American Old South. There are probably even a lot of gods on Navabharata who believe in "king kevlar".

Navabharata's place in the interstellar economy is a close parallel to a large number of historical examples in the world economy. If you're having trouble suspending disbelief in it I'm afraid that the problem is with your lack of knowledge of history and understanding of economics, not with my set-up of Navabharata. This is how trade actually works.

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Speaking of Australia, you could have a planet whose "export" is prison space. :)
Yes, though pre-Revolutionary America is probably a closer analogy, because the Empire wouldn't let a colony exercise government authority on another planet in the manner of the prison colonies in Australia.

I can see several ways of doing it.

First, if a colony had an open immigration policy other colonies might find it cheaper to ship their criminals there as exiles than lock them up. Imperial Spaceways would probably insist on such passengers travelling in hibersleep, because it wouldn't be keen on the security problems of having unwilling passengers, and its staff would jack up at being asked to serve as prison guards.

Second, in a manner similar to the deportation of English criminals and Cornish and Irish rebels to the Americas between 1600 and 1775: a colony could impose an indenture on a convict as a criminal penalty, and assign the indenture to an agent on another colony where the law supported such transactions. The agent would sell the indenture when the convict arrived in hibersleep, and use the proceeds to defray the cost of passage. That the Empire would be perfectly fine with providing transportation in such a case is another example of it not being as moral as martinl would like.

Third, a colony could supply, or countenance firms in its jurisdiction supplying, the services of a private prison, like many in the USA today. In this case, a colony where keeping prisoners was expensive might find it economical to ship them off-world to a place where accommodations, food, guards etc. are cheaper. On a long sentence the savings on prison costs might cover the transportation costs.

After the Compromise of '84 I can see a consortium backed by the LRA buying the cheapest possible planet in the Beyond from Eichberger Realty and setting it up as a prison planet. Colonies all across the Empire would pay it to accept migrants such as it could not otherwise attract. And the "prisoners" could be used as a workforce and population for a new world, in which the entrepreneurs of the scheme could set up a political system such as could not attract voluntary immigrants. And after fifty years they get a seat in the Senate!

It's not Navabharata, though.
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Last edited by Agemegos; 12-17-2013 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:10 PM   #188
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Can TL 4/10 shipbuilding make something to survive and navigate winds five times as energetic as Earth's?
There is probably some super-wood and super-fibre in the biotech toolkit, which combined with legacy theory from TL 10 on boat design will no doubt result in some awesome and terrifying watercraft. Sailing hydrofoils exist now.

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Oh, I expect all sorts of Vancean shenanigans with the royal sacrifices. ... or very large cake as a substitutory sacrifice.
I'm not quite willing to say you are morally obligated to run an adventure some day where the PCs are responsible for procuring, protecting, rescuing, poisoning, detonating, and/or impersonating a giant sacrificial god-king cake, but it could be ... Glorious. Not to mention frosted.

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But as for the Empire, it really isn't as moral as you seem to think. The kind of people who get to sit in the big chair don't give an obscene metaphor about repression and human misery, they care about atrocities and mass death.
My bad. My personal gut reaction is that leaving folks under the thumb of autocrats at TL 4 when TL 10 is available costs lots of lost potential lifespan and involves constant small scale atrocity to keep the aristos in power, but of course the Empire doesn't work like that.
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There are no death camps.
Not to be pessimistic about human nature, but why not? 10,000 autocratic states and none are as bad as the Nazis? I doubt the historical record is as good as 99 in 100.

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The whole universe ought to be like this, Imperially speaking. The benefits of social and political change and economic recovery don't justify the risk of starting revolutionary war, which would kill a lot of people outright and probably make things worse.
You might want to emphasize this attitude in your continuing drive to make the Mink creepy.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:14 PM   #189
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Default Re: Flat Black

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Originally Posted by martinl View Post
There is probably some super-wood and super-fibre in the biotech toolkit, which combined with legacy theory from TL 10 on boat design will no doubt result in some awesome and terrifying watercraft. Sailing hydrofoils exist now.
Also they can just straight up import TL10 vessels if they need to. I don't think the equator is an impassible barrier, but it's probably an expensive one. Also during the Age of Piracy it was probably closer to being impassible for planet bound Navabharatans.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:54 PM   #190
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My bad. My personal gut reaction is that leaving folks under the thumb of autocrats at TL 4 when TL 10 is available costs lots of lost potential lifespan and involves constant small scale atrocity to keep the aristos in power, but of course the Empire doesn't work like that.
One day the Empire will get strong enough to actually suppress the D5+ atrocities, famines, and epidemics that keep it busy now, and then it will have time for systematic attention to D4s. A little later and it will turn to D3s, which is about the scale of the worse battles and repressive massacres on Navabharata. Eventually it will be reduced to dealing with D1s, and then our free-range days will be over. And finally it will start worrying about the fact that not everyone is getting eugerione.

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Not to be pessimistic about human nature, but why not? 10,000 autocratic states and none are as bad as the Nazis?
You can't murder six million people in death camps when you only rule fifty thousand. Navabharata is not afflicted with psychotic race-hatred. Murdering Jews, Gypsies, liberals, communists etc. to steal their stuff makes a certain sort of sense, or even killing them because you were raised to hate them. Massacring your own workforce, whom you were raised to think of as a sort of ****able livestock, is less conceptually obvious. The gods aren't likely to massacre peasants unless the peasants attempt a jacquerie and lose, or even worse, succeed. Attempts at radical social reform are likely to make jacqueries more common.

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You might want to emphasize this attitude in your continuing drive to make the Mink creepy.
It's always there, but players, especially who play mink, tend to forget what monsters the mink are. Always their minds on the glossy fur and the playful pouncing, never on the teeth and blood and the dead bunnies.
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