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Old 06-22-2017, 01:32 PM   #1
tetrahedron
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Default Cost of Living and Governance

Hey team!

I'm struggling with the Cost of Living as it pertains to the individual and government. B265 explains to us that a Status 1 person who becomes president (a Status 7 job in the example), would need to pay out $1,200 per month and the government would pick up the rest. Straightforward. Clear. Good.

But what about someone with higher status? At what status level do we stop paying for the Cost of Living and let the government/job take over? I can grasp the idea of someone spending $12,000/month to keep them in style but can't comprehend someone spending $60,000,000/month to keep up their status. At some point the Status and Cost of Living must represent governing.

So two questions I'd like input on:

What would be the maximum amount of personal Status for a TL 3 noble or king before the government picks up the tab?

If you are adamant the King is Status 7 and must fork over $60,000,000 each month to keep them in supply of expensive food and clothing, how much of the Cost of Living should go towards the actual governance of their realm?

I'm all ears hive-mind. Please let me know your thoughts.

T
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Old 06-22-2017, 02:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: Cost of Living and Governance

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Originally Posted by tetrahedron View Post
Hey team!

I'm struggling with the Cost of Living as it pertains to the individual and government. B265 explains to us that a Status 1 person who becomes president (a Status 7 job in the example), would need to pay out $1,200 per month and the government would pick up the rest. Straightforward. Clear. Good.

But what about someone with higher status? At what status level do we stop paying for the Cost of Living and let the government/job take over? I can grasp the idea of someone spending $12,000/month to keep them in style but can't comprehend someone spending $60,000,000/month to keep up their status. At some point the Status and Cost of Living must represent governing.

So two questions I'd like input on:

What would be the maximum amount of personal Status for a TL 3 noble or king before the government picks up the tab?

If you are adamant the King is Status 7 and must fork over $60,000,000 each month to keep them in supply of expensive food and clothing, how much of the Cost of Living should go towards the actual governance of their realm?

I'm all ears hive-mind. Please let me know your thoughts.

T
A large part of "keeping up status" is simply the "wine saves blood" theory of government. Flattering foreign dignitaries while it seems silly to laymen and no doubt to many in government is important enough that there is no sharp dividing line as to where actual government work begins. Then too a monarch's job is to a large degree simply to be a cultural icon. A lot of the stuff that is a monarch's property officially is really the state's property but it is officially bestowed on a monarch for aesthetics sake. As for the mundane workings of government that is really so expensive that keeping the royalty in state does not really compare. A modern fighter for instance, could probably cost $10,000,000 at least

I would say most of that hypothetical $60, 000, 000 goes for maintaining public treasures. Even a monarch shouldn't need that much just to live in state. These are things which would have to be maintained without the monarch or at least which the voters would never tolerate demolition of. But I can't believe even royalty needs $60,000,000.

An example is Buckingham Palace. In America it would be retired and made a museum. As Britain still has a Queen she might as well still have a residential wing. She is a Queen after all so that is right and proper. But in neither country would it be blown up and turned into a warehouse because the twenty first century has not gotten quite so philistine yet.
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Last edited by jason taylor; 06-22-2017 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 06-22-2017, 02:45 PM   #3
tetrahedron
 
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Default Re: Cost of Living and Governance

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Originally Posted by jason taylor View Post
I would say most of that hypothetical $60, 000, 000 goes for maintaining public treasures. Even a monarch shouldn't need that much just to live in state. These are things which would have to be maintained without the monarch or at least which the voters would never tolerate demolition of. But I can't believe even royalty needs $60,000,000.
I'm glad we are in agreement here. What I'm looking for is what number the royalty needs to live off of. If most of the hypothetical $60,000,000 goes to maintaining public treasurers, what is the definition of 'most'. I've been using 90% with Status 7 and like the results but want to see what the rest of the community thinks.

Tangentially to our discussion, a Status 7 job would net $700,000,000 or bring in a surplus of $100,000,000 per month. I'd imagine the monarch would want to tie up those futures too...
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Old 06-22-2017, 03:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: Cost of Living and Governance

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Originally Posted by tetrahedron View Post
I'm glad we are in agreement here. What I'm looking for is what number the royalty needs to live off of. If most of the hypothetical $60,000,000 goes to maintaining public treasurers, what is the definition of 'most'. I've been using 90% with Status 7 and like the results but want to see what the rest of the community thinks.

Tangentially to our discussion, a Status 7 job would net $700,000,000 or bring in a surplus of $100,000,000 per month. I'd imagine the monarch would want to tie up those futures too...
To be honest, I don't know, and it may be a state secret. It doesn't seem to me
though that a typical monarch lives all that much more extravagantly then a captain of industry in the last century. There is only so much you can spend on just yourself and your entourage.
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Old 06-22-2017, 03:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Cost of Living and Governance

First, I feel obliged to inject the usual observation that no simple rule of thumb could possibly give you accurate results, nor are the GURPS Basic rules meant to be a detailed economic simulator for calculating the cost to run an entire society -- of any sort imaginable, from modern-day to fantasy medieval to far-future multi-galactic empires. Trying to read too much into those simple numbers is foredoomed to frustration and failure.

That out of the way:

Quote:
But I can't believe even royalty needs $60,000,000.
Degree of belief isn't the deciding factor, though. The thread also seems to have some confusion over the definition of "governance". As Jason points out, in some sense anything the leader does is "governance". The expense of the Status isn't just fancy food for one person.

There was a book going into the costs for maintaining the White House during Obama's Presidency. (Let's avoid politics, please; this is just an example.) It ran about $1.4 billion per year, or twice the amount declared as unbelievable. Per that book:
  • Presidentís salary and allowance: $450,000
  • White House building operating expenses: $14,658,000
  • White House Grounds: $6,057,000
  • Vacations: $20,000,000
  • Health care for the first family, including traveling medical staff and equipment: $7,000,000
  • Campaign expenses not reimbursed to government: $311,000,000
  • White House staff: $7,985,420
  • Office of Administration budget: $14,481,000
  • Special missions including White House Communications Agency: $161,252,000
  • Military salary costs: $153,441,360
  • Salary costs for presidential airlift squadron: $75,000,000
  • Presidential plane fleet: $44,000,000
  • Presidential helicopter fleet: $300,000,000
  • Ground transportation: $2,200,000
  • Transportation total: $346,200,000
  • Secret Service: $259,152,884

Note that little of these numbers have anything to do with the function of the White House as an office building -- that is, its "governance" functions. Notice most of these bullet points do, on the other hand, fall into the categories mentioned on B266's box on "What Cost of Living Gets You": "A palatial mansion, multiple rural estates or retreats, a private jumbo jet, a large yacht, a fleet of vehicles, and an entire agency of security guards". One might not imagine that those "personal" things can cost a lot -- but apparently they can. High Status can spend quite a lot of money.

And none of it has to count toward "governance" functions like maintaining legislative offices, or the courts, or the military. (Yes, those expenses historically have at times come out of a monarch's personal purse. But then, see Social Engineering: Pulling Rank for more details, including the point that for those medieval examples, you shouldn't have split Wealth and Status in the first place.) You could try to count some of the above as "governance". Surely some of the White House staff are taking care of the executive staff offices, or some of the comms agency expense covers their phones. But that's a forest-for-the-trees problem.

In game terms, it's not worth worrying about. Few games actually have the characters playing out their day-to-day life of governing a realm, medieval Papers and Paychecks. Often enough, the characters have titles and background responsibilities, but that's not the actual focus of play. In that sense, the difference is irrelevant to the point of most games. For the rest, you probably don't want a traditional RPG at all, but instead some sort of economic simulator, starting with SimCity rather than D&D.
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Old 06-22-2017, 07:32 PM   #6
sir_pudding
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Default Re: Cost of Living and Governance

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Originally Posted by tetrahedron View Post
But what about someone with higher status? At what status level do we stop paying for the Cost of Living and let the government/job take over?
It's not about straight Status but rather imputed Status from Rank. If your Rank includes imputed Status in it's cost, then your organization covers that part of your CoL. This is as true of the Army Captain (Rank 3; Status 1) living in base housing (or getting the BAH) as it is of the Pope (Rank 8; Status 6?) receiving very little direct compensation, but living in the Vatican. Social Engineering has all of this.
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Old 06-22-2017, 07:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: Cost of Living and Governance

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
There was a book going into the costs for maintaining the White House during Obama's Presidency. (Let's avoid politics, please; this is just an example.) It ran about $1.4 billion per year, or twice the amount declared as unbelievable. Per that book:
  • Presidentís salary and allowance: $450,000
  • White House building operating expenses: $14,658,000
  • White House Grounds: $6,057,000
  • Vacations: $20,000,000
  • Health care for the first family, including traveling medical staff and equipment: $7,000,000
  • Campaign expenses not reimbursed to government: $311,000,000
  • White House staff: $7,985,420
  • Office of Administration budget: $14,481,000
  • Special missions including White House Communications Agency: $161,252,000
  • Military salary costs: $153,441,360
  • Salary costs for presidential airlift squadron: $75,000,000
  • Presidential plane fleet: $44,000,000
  • Presidential helicopter fleet: $300,000,000
  • Ground transportation: $2,200,000
  • Transportation total: $346,200,000
  • Secret Service: $259,152,884
Transportation total seems to include planes, helicopters, and ground transport, but not military salaries or presidential airlift squadron salaries, which is odd; in any case it shouldn't be counted twice.

The campaign expenses don't seem to be part of cost of living, and I'm doubtful about the special missions. If you exclude them you have just over $900 million, it looks like.
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Old 06-22-2017, 08:41 PM   #8
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Cost of Living and Governance

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Transportation total seems to include planes, helicopters, and ground transport, but not military salaries or presidential airlift squadron salaries, which is odd; in any case it shouldn't be counted twice.
I don't know that they are counted twice. I'd guess (and agree with you) that many of those salaries are the crew of the transports, which could theoretically be civilians. It's not important that they're military. But they're certainly not military salaries in the sense that they're active-duty military officers defending the realm or invading colonies and so on. They're staff for the President.

The other observation is that high Status isn't just paying for personal consumption (depending on your definition of "personal") for a single individual. There's a _lot_ of people covered by that budget, and people to support those people, and people to support those supporters. So thinking of it from a middle-class bachelor's point of view and thinking "there's no way I could spend $60 million" is starting from the wrong viewpoint.

At any rate, my point was just to demonstrate that there's a lot more money spent on those government officials than you might think, not to do an account of every dime and fact-check the book's accuracy. You're welcome to do that, of course, but the GURPS rules are generic, and don't have to exactly match 2016 US Presidency expenditures -- and wouldn't be any more useful or accurate for any particular game even if they did. I was just pointing out one example that shows the RAW numbers aren't completely out of the ballpark. (There's probably a disgruntled book author from the UK that's done the same for their royals. And for that matter, defenders of the imperial Presidency that debunk these numbers and claim that it's something smaller. That argument is just politics, though, and not really germane to the thread. The original question was whether 90% of the money is really a disguised form of spending for actual basic governmental function, which isn't true at least in this example.)
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Old 06-23-2017, 10:29 AM   #9
tetrahedron
 
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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
The other observation is that high Status isn't just paying for personal consumption (depending on your definition of "personal") for a single individual. There's a _lot_ of people covered by that budget, and people to support those people, and people to support those supporters.
Anaraxes, I believe you might be missing the point of my question or else I am simply not understanding what you are trying to communicate.

The example out of the Core book says a person with Status 1 may enjoy the benefits of Status 7 while only paying for Status 1 cost of living (CoL). The government picks up the rest. Where you seem to have a misunderstanding of my question is in your comment that high Status isn't just paying for personal consumption. I am looking for just that personal consumption, separated out of the CoL for Status 7 because you are right - there are a lot more people and things covered under the CoL than just personal consumption.

Also, I respectfully disagree with you regarding it not being worth worrying about. I am trying to run realm management and my group is interested in knowing how much money their House budgets hold for civic improvements, warfare and mercenaries, and a whole host of other items. The pyramid articles provide a way to tally what the land can supply in terms of income. I want to put that to work in combination with the CoL and Job rules.

I see the point made about Pulling Rank but I want more crunch than 'the organization provides assistance on x roll' because the PCs themselves will be controlling the organization.

Finally, Social Engineering has great information on pages 19 and 20, particularly the Styling box, but I can't get my head around some of the pricing. Status 7 is CF 99,999. A $500 broadsword becomes $49,999,500 when made for a monarch? I have a hard time with that. However it does appear to keep in step with the CoL and Jobs mechanics, which is important to me, so I may have to accept that the monarch does spend $60,000,000 on personal consumption alone. Just doesn't seem right however.

Great discussion so far everyone!
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Old 06-23-2017, 04:28 PM   #10
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Cost of Living and Governance

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Originally Posted by tetrahedron View Post
Hey team!

I'm struggling with the Cost of Living as it pertains to the individual and government. B265 explains to us that a Status 1 person who becomes president (a Status 7 job in the example), would need to pay out $1,200 per month and the government would pick up the rest. Straightforward. Clear. Good.

But what about someone with higher status? At what status level do we stop paying for the Cost of Living and let the government/job take over? I can grasp the idea of someone spending $12,000/month to keep them in style but can't comprehend someone spending $60,000,000/month to keep up their status. At some point the Status and Cost of Living must represent governing.

So two questions I'd like input on:

What would be the maximum amount of personal Status for a TL 3 noble or king before the government picks up the tab?

T
To be blunt...the government never picks up the tab...when you design a character like that. You have to design the character with a heaping helping of imputed status from rank and wealth to assume that the government is picking up the tab. Otherwise you personally have the job of "king" and are hopefully earning earning from it by collecting taxes to support the cost of it. It is of course easier to calculate if you get military or feudal rank.
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