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Old 11-13-2023, 01:13 PM   #1
thrash
 
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Default Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

Before there was the Official Traveller Universe (tm), there was the setting implied by the rules as written. For the most part, this was a broadly drawn space opera of the imperial variety. But there were occasional quirky, idiosyncratic bits thrown in.

The Merchant career was described in simple, generic terms:
Quote:
Merchants of the commercial enterprises. Merchants may crew the ships of the large trading corporations, or they may work for the independent free traders which carry chance cargos and passengers between worlds.
Like the Navy, Marines, and Army careers (but unlike Scouts or "Others"), merchant characters who complete 20 years' service or more receive retirement pay, in the form of an annual pension. It's not a lot -- Cr4,000 (or about $20,000 in 2023) per year at 20 years, +50% per additional four-year term -- but it is enough to cover basic subsistence-level food and lodging (Cr3,600/year).

The question, however, is who pays this pension?

For the military careers, this appears to be fairly straightforward: the service or its parent government pays. For merchants who "crew the ships of the large trading corporations," it also seems reasonable to infer that the corporation is responsible for paying.

The problem is merchants who "work for the independent free traders." How are individual, privately owned ships able to afford to pay these kinds of pension over the life of the recipient? (Note that characters from the Army career "may also be mercenaries for hire," which raises some of the same issues.)

One possibility is this expense is factored into the life of a standard starship mortgage. In this case, the banks involved set aside a portion of the monthly payments they receive to create a pension fund. This implies a "merchant service" that can at least track merchant personnel over the duration of a career and validate their years of service, even if split among multiple employers, and assign individual accounts to banks to pay.

Another possibility is that the "merchant service" itself acts as a guild, collecting funds (still likely from mortgage payments, broker fees, and such) and dispersing them directly to retired members. This implies a more powerful organization, especially if it can force the large corporations to contribute.

Somewhere in between is a split solution, where a "Free Traders Association" fills the role of a guild for the independent ship owners but large lines manage pension funds on their own or through the banks.

The existence of a strong "merchants guild" might, however, go a long way to explaining another mystery: who funds the "ship acquisition program" (so called in the Alexander Jamison Character Generation Example) that grants millions of credits in equity to selected merchant captains?
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Old 11-13-2023, 02:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

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Originally Posted by thrash View Post
Before there was the Official Traveller Universe (tm), there was the setting implied by the rules as written. For the most part, this was a broadly drawn space opera of the imperial variety. But there were occasional quirky, idiosyncratic bits thrown in.

The Merchant career was described in simple, generic terms:

Like the Navy, Marines, and Army careers (but unlike Scouts or "Others"), merchant characters who complete 20 years' service or more receive retirement pay, in the form of an annual pension. It's not a lot -- Cr4,000 (or about $20,000 in 2023) per year at 20 years, +50% per additional four-year term -- but it is enough to cover basic subsistence-level food and lodging (Cr3,600/year).

The question, however, is who pays this pension?

For the military careers, this appears to be fairly straightforward: the service or its parent government pays. For merchants who "crew the ships of the large trading corporations," it also seems reasonable to infer that the corporation is responsible for paying.

The problem is merchants who "work for the independent free traders." How are individual, privately owned ships able to afford to pay these kinds of pension over the life of the recipient? (Note that characters from the Army career "may also be mercenaries for hire," which raises some of the same issues.)

One possibility is this expense is factored into the life of a standard starship mortgage. In this case, the banks involved set aside a portion of the monthly payments they receive to create a pension fund. This implies a "merchant service" that can at least track merchant personnel over the duration of a career and validate their years of service, even if split among multiple employers, and assign individual accounts to banks to pay.

Another possibility is that the "merchant service" itself acts as a guild, collecting funds (still likely from mortgage payments, broker fees, and such) and dispersing them directly to retired members. This implies a more powerful organization, especially if it can force the large corporations to contribute.

Somewhere in between is a split solution, where a "Free Traders Association" fills the role of a guild for the independent ship owners but large lines manage pension funds on their own or through the banks.

The existence of a strong "merchants guild" might, however, go a long way to explaining another mystery: who funds the "ship acquisition program" (so called in the Alexander Jamison Character Generation Example) that grants millions of credits in equity to selected merchant captains?
If I recall Jamison made an intelligence coup. That is enough to justify the Imperium paying him off.
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Old 11-13-2023, 02:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

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Originally Posted by jason taylor View Post
If I recall Jamison made an intelligence coup. That is enough to justify the Imperium paying him off.
Not in the Character Generation Example (Book 1, pp. 26-27), or other pre-Official Traveller Universe sources. That later sources have expanded upon this character does not invalidate the question. Please stick to the topic at hand.
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Old 11-13-2023, 03:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

I think the best answer is some variation on the union/guild idea. In order to be a Merchant in good standing and therefore eligible for hire, you have to have your union card. Union/guild privileges include the ability to post your resume up on the union 'Members available for hire' board and a union pension. A union approved ship contributes a portion of all payroll to the union pension fund.

Don't keep your union dues paid or do something to get them revoked? Well there is always the Others branch. Same for ships that don't participate in the union program. No union members in good standing will hire on. By the same thought, as long as they only hire non members, they are left alone. Mostly.

Try to bypass or openly violate the union rules, well "That's a nice ship you have there, be a shame if something happened to it." Or for Travellers, "To bad you slipped on that wet pavement 14 times...Next time you will be part of it."

Of course, none of this is really in the early books. Just a guess a few decades after publication.
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Old 11-13-2023, 05:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

Or, he could have made payments to a private pension fund.

But responsible banking isn't replete with roleplay opportunities, I'd recommend a payoff from The Big Score.
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Old 11-13-2023, 05:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

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Originally Posted by J Crocker View Post
Or, he could have made payments to a private pension fund.
Note that in 1977 when Traveller was written, Individual Retirement Accounts in the US were still four years in the future (1981).

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But responsible banking isn't replete with roleplay opportunities, I'd recommend a payoff from The Big Score.
That's not what the rules as written say. This is a pension for service until retirement. The Big Score (such as it is) is represented by rolls on the Cash Table.
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Old 11-13-2023, 09:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

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Originally Posted by thrash View Post
Note that in 1977 when Traveller was written, Individual Retirement Accounts in the US were still four years in the future (1981).

.
The concept of buying an annuity was well known. So the person paying his pension is effectively the merchant himself. If he doesn't serve long enough for the annuity to mature the source of some of his cash comes from the converted partial annuity.
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Old 11-14-2023, 06:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
The concept of buying an annuity was well known.
Sure. But it's important to remember the context in which this game was written. Prior to IRAs, private annuities were almost exclusively in addition to organizational pension plans, not in lieu of them. Besides, the language of the rules as written doesn't support the idea that it's an investment:

Quote:
Retirement Pay: Any character who leaves the service at the end of the fifth or later term of service is considered to have retired, and receives retirement pay. This pension is paid at the beginning of each year, effective upon leaving the service, and may be collected at any class A or B starport. The table indicates the rate of pay, which is dependent on the character's total terms of service. Service beyond the eighth term adds Cr2000 per additional term. Retirement pay is not available to characters who have served in the scout or the other service.
"Pay" or "pension," not "dividend" or "disbursement."

Plus, if retirement pay really represented investment income, why would scouts and "others" be automatically excluded?
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Old 11-14-2023, 07:30 AM   #9
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

The Traveller retirement system seems based roughly on the US Military and Civilian Police/Fire pension systems. Serve 20 years in good standing, get a pension and opportunity for a 2nd career while getting paid for your past service. Interestingly, even though in the US, Social Security was well established, there was no type of universal backstop pension system in Traveller. Scouts and Others are on their own.

Speculation might lead one to think that the writers figured that folks in their mid 60's would make poor RPG characters and didn't worry about that aspect. Someone 38 is still pretty much prime age for doing things. At least in the late 1970's. Of course, most of the writers were likely 20s or early 30s in age and wrote the game from that viewpoint.
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Old 11-17-2023, 04:45 AM   #10
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Default Re: Who pays Captain Jamison's pension?

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
The concept of buying an annuity was well known. So the person paying his pension is effectively the merchant himself. If he doesn't serve long enough for the annuity to mature the source of some of his cash comes from the converted partial annuity.
And if they roll badly on the cash table, the whoever the annuity was with obviously went belly-up, defrauded them of their investment, or somesuch, leaving the character with next to nothing.
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