Steve Jackson Games Forums Wealth rules and minimum wage
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 09-14-2017, 02:45 PM #1 hal   Join Date: Aug 2004 Location: Buffalo, New York Wealth rules and minimum wage Hello Folks, I was working on a problem for wages in a cyberpunk campaign set in the near future, and got to thinking about real world correlation of values with GURPS projected wealth rules. Poor income is listed as being 1/5th average income. Struggling is listed as being 1/2 average income. Average income is the standard by which all others are judged and is 1x income. Comfortable income is rated as being 2x standard, and wealthy is 5x standard. So, how does this translate in GURPS 4e? GURPS lists things in terms of monthly income. But in reality, pay is in terms of hours worked. A month is how many days in which a person worked a given number of hours? So, I took a stab figuring out what it translates to, and the results surprised me. Let's say that by definition, the figures of "per month" in GURPS rules, is exactly 4 weeks of 7 days. There is one month that fits that criteria, and that's February. So - dividing the income of 2600 per month by 4, gives us a weekly income. Multiply that by 52 weeks, and that gives us yearly income. Divide yearly income by 2080, and that's how many hours there are in a year. Net result for an average income of 2800 per month at TL 8... Poor income: 3.25 an hour. Clearly, below minimum wage in the United States, and likely indicates that the person is working part time, or is earning an income as a self-employed, where the income from self-employment isn't equal to minimum wage. Struggling income: 8.125 rounded to 8.13 an hour. This is above minimum wage today, but not by much. Average income: 16.25 an hour Comfortable income: 32.50 an hour. Wealthy income: 81.25 an hour. Just thought it was interesting to apply the real world values against the GURPS values to see how they work out. The same methodology for TL 9 at 3600 a month works out to: Poor: \$4.50 Struggling: \$11.25 Average: \$22.50 Comfortable: \$45 Wealthy: \$112.50
 09-14-2017, 02:49 PM #2 hal   Join Date: Aug 2004 Location: Buffalo, New York Re: Wealth rules and minimum wage Putting all of that in perspective, before you start thinking "WHOA!" is this... GURPS bypasses the issue of taxes and the like. The amount of money being discussed (or so I am guessing) is after tax income, not pre-tax income. Having an hourly wage value assessed against these values doesn't take into account the full issues involved. Just thought I'd point this out for people who care to look at the wealth rules more closely. What you do with it is up to you! ;) If you want to take into account taxes and the like - things get even dicier.
 09-14-2017, 06:11 PM #3 mr beer   Join Date: Mar 2013 Re: Wealth rules and minimum wage Looks reasonable. For modern campaigns, I figure Struggling = entry level job. Poor is worse than that, I'd say they are probably on the dole or unreliably get a shift or two per week flipping burgers, something like that. I think you could be homeless and still reasonably be Poor or Dead Broke.
 09-14-2017, 06:18 PM #4 rkbrown419     Join Date: Sep 2004 Location: Orem, Utah, USA Re: Wealth rules and minimum wage Keep in mind also that Gurps is using generic \$ that in a contemporary campaign are based on the American dollar of 2004 when it was published. There has been some inflation since then. Also as mentioned the game income bypasses taxes, it also bypasses insurance premiums and anything put aside for retirement. The income you get is what you have to pay your cost of living and any luxury expenses after all that has been deducted.
09-14-2017, 07:31 PM   #5
hal

Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Re: Wealth rules and minimum wage

Quote:
 Originally Posted by rkbrown419 Keep in mind also that Gurps is using generic \$ that in a contemporary campaign are based on the American dollar of 2004 when it was published. There has been some inflation since then. Also as mentioned the game income bypasses taxes, it also bypasses insurance premiums and anything put aside for retirement. The income you get is what you have to pay your cost of living and any luxury expenses after all that has been deducted.
That is largely why I've been working on the wealth rules for the Cyberpunk campaign in the first place.

Yes, Health insurance premiums are insane here in Western New York. I once figured out that If I could have all of my health insurance payments for the last 10 years back in my hands, I could have paid off my house well before now as well as paid 1/2 of my kid's tuition.

I largely feel sorry for today's kids where an education is now equal in cost to the price of a home. That's before they even have a home to begin with. Getting the down payment for a home just became harder for the younger generation (but that's slipping into real world stuff, so I'll stop here). In the end, GURPS sanitizes a large portion of that by ignoring taxes and the like, health insurance and the like, car insurance etc. They dodge behind the statement "we're not playing paychecks and taxes, we're playing an adventure". Sure, Bruce Willis didn't say "hey, pay taxes for the plane ticket, have a few drinks, have a few laughs" in the classic scene from Die Hard. We don't see Bruce Wayne discussing his finances - but instead, we focus on the story of Batman fighting injustice, criminals, and an overly hot girlfriend. ;)

But dang it all. If that level of realism is desired, then that should be available. A blanket statement "cost of living covers that" doesn't give the players the ability to fiddle with the cost of living to suit their desires. Want a less crime ridden neighborhood? Pay an extra 300 a month in cost of living. Want to have a nicer car? Ok - but where do we figure that out when we don't know what went into the black box of "cost of living" in the first place.

So, in my game worlds, cost of living generally equals about 85% the wages earned for that social status. Housing is 30% the monthly income, food is another percentage, maintenance costs is yet another percentage, and then there is discretionary spending, which is what remains after all else. A character needs a car to get to and from work. Ok, cost of living expense. He wants a better than ordinary car for his status - how much? He wants better than average clothing (GURPS gives you this at least!) - how much? GURPS even gives you restaurant meals relative to social status. But what about ordinary grocery bills? Normal food? Kibbles and Bits (to use CP2020 vernacular)? Alge based foodstuffs that taste sorta like the real thing, but are fake (Alge burgers anyone?)

THAT is a matter of detail. If GURPS won't supply it, then we will. ;)

That is primarily the only reason I put a "per hour" value on each of the income classifications. It gives a reference point for other GMs who struggle with this, that they can maybe use or not.

One person wrote "Let's not" in a post to this thread that has subsequently evaporated ( probably deleted before I came back) when I suggested we use the monthly income concept for February's income based on a 28 day month. There being 52 weeks in a year, and 2080 work hours in a year, it should have been simple enough to come up with a ballpark figure of hourly wage to earn the incomes suggested in GURPS. His post seems to have disagreed with my methodology. My challenge then, is to provide his own methodology and show all work. It still helps even if we have two dissenting approaches with two different values. People can WORK with those assumptions one way or another.

In conclusion, this isn't Taxes and Paychecks role playing, and never meant to be per se. But if we figure out that Health care fees are a base PER MONTH cost, and is the same regardless of "wealth status" - then it stands to reason that the health care fees hit the poor and struggling class incomes harder than they hit the average, comfortable or wealthy status levels. If taxes are a function of income, then that can be ignored to some extent, or people can simply account for it by raising the monthly income to a given level, and then treat 2600 per month income (as of 2004) as after tax income. All that does really, is raise the hourly income from 16.25 an hour to about 16.25/.73 (for about 27% state and federal taxes) and take it from there. All that does it make the hourly wage equal to 22.26 an hour to include the taxes aspect.

In all? Let's see what people think are more accurate values for the per hour income using the GURPS wealth rules as written. ;)

For some, this is a non-valid point of interest. That's fine. Who cares how many grains (by weight) of gunpowder reside within a bullet cartridge? Probably VERY few, and only those who are trying to map real world information to game mechanic information. Who cares how much a house really costs to build, unless you want to have a player character pay that cost in game play. Who cares what a car should weigh if it has 460 horsepower and can do 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds (just pulling numbers out of thin air here, as I'm not a car enthusiast!).

In all, your mileage may vary. Some do the stupid math stuff so you don't have to and they're bored silly. Has anyone ever used Matt Riggsby's HIGH TECH BUILDINGS rules yet? He did the number crunching and writing so we didn't have to do it. ;)

On that note, I'll let this one go. Just posting the numbers and how I got them might be of interest to someone, who doing a search on key words, might find. Otherwise, this thread will sink beneath the waves to be forgotten.

 Tags income, wealth

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