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Old 03-30-2021, 09:56 AM   #1
Michele
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Udine, Italy
Default GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

Just an idea. I think it is somewhat balanced and realistic enough to also be interesting for gaming, even though, actually, I doubt it has ever been tried in pure form. Have at it.

Participatory
In a participatory economy, the people vote on what goods are made or what services are produced, and how both are made available to the population. Citizens are thus almost always happy, but the system might be unable to react quickly and effectively to changing circumstances or emergencies. On top of that, leaving decisions in the hands of uninformed and possibly short-sighted citizens may have its drawbacks; windfalls tend to be distributed out as consumer goods, which makes the populace even happier but doesn’t set reserves aside.
Examples: Modern-day Greenland communities; Tito’s Yugoslavia.
Benefits: Increase starting Citizen Loyalty by one step. Start with one additional Workforce point.
Drawbacks: No positive modifiers to the Management Skill are available. Any Windfalls that grant RPs or additional Revenue are turned into the Reform Windfall instead. In case of any Disruption not having external causes, roll against Management Skill; a critical failure results in the Realm being affected by the Demagogue Disruption as well.
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Old 03-30-2021, 12:49 PM   #2
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
Participatory
In a participatory economy, the people vote on what goods are made or what services are produced, and how both are made available to the population. Citizens are thus almost always happy, but the system might be unable to react quickly and effectively to changing circumstances or emergencies. On top of that, leaving decisions in the hands of uninformed and possibly short-sighted citizens may have its drawbacks; windfalls tend to be distributed out as consumer goods, which makes the populace even happier but doesn’t set reserves aside.
Examples: Modern-day Greenland communities; Tito’s Yugoslavia.
Benefits: Increase starting Citizen Loyalty by one step. Start with one additional Workforce point.
Drawbacks: No positive modifiers to the Management Skill are available. Any Windfalls that grant RPs or additional Revenue are turned into the Reform Windfall instead. In case of any Disruption not having external causes, roll against Management Skill; a critical failure results in the Realm being affected by the Demagogue Disruption as well.
The efficiency falls off as you go to larger scale. On one hand, the number of decisions to be made increases at least as fast as the number of people (perhaps as fast as the square of the number of people?); on the other, the rate at which decisions are made at best does not increase, and may decrease. And the informal channels that compensate for the slow formal procedure only work in quite small groups.

I'm not sure if your Benefits and Drawbacks reflect this.
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Old 03-30-2021, 04:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
The efficiency falls off as you go to larger scale. On one hand, the number of decisions to be made increases at least as fast as the number of people (perhaps as fast as the square of the number of people?);
Not if the decisions made are broad in nature. The number of types of goods and services certainly isn't proportional to the population.

(Also, the total number of economic decisions made regardless of how they're made can't be scaling faster than population, because the total number that can be made by people only scales proportional to population. Scaling as the square is right out.)

That said, the point that plebiscites are at best population-independent in frequency holds, unless you have something akin to federalism going on.
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Old 03-30-2021, 04:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

GURPS Realm Management, as a rule, seems to gloss over questions of what works at differing scales- Autocracy/Dictatorship is depicted as permitting an efficiently run realm of any size, despite history strongly suggesting that it becomes ever more unworkable for larger and more complex societies; Athenian Democracy is assigned an arbitrary cutoff of 75,000 citizens (before TL9) rather than providing detailed rules for how it becomes increasingly unwieldy with a larger populace.
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Old 03-30-2021, 04:51 PM   #5
whswhs
 
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Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Not if the decisions made are broad in nature. The number of types of goods and services certainly isn't proportional to the population.

(Also, the total number of economic decisions made regardless of how they're made can't be scaling faster than population, because the total number that can be made by people only scales proportional to population. Scaling as the square is right out.)

That said, the point that plebiscites are at best population-independent in frequency holds, unless you have something akin to federalism going on.
It seems to me that "broad in nature" omits virtually all the real economic decisions. When Steve Jackson Games has me write a book, I'm not providing them with so many units of "prose" or of "recreational material"; I'm providing them with units of my specific kind of writing on a specific topic for a specific game. And knowing things about me, and about Rory Fansler, and about Hans-Christian Vortisch, is part of what Kromm does for SJ Games. Some Central Committee administrator or planner, or some deliberative body of citizens, could know that they wanted X quantity of "roleplaying game supplements," maybe, but they couldn't know the local details. And as you go to a bigger scale your locus of decision's "general" approach gets more and more abstracted from the actual substance of the economic decisions.

And I think when you say that "the total number that can be made by people only scales proportional to population" you're actually making my point for me. Suppose that it DOES scale as the square (that is, roughly in proportion to the number of possible two-person encounters in the entire population). With 100 people, say, you might need 1 unit of decision making. With 1000 people, then, you'd need 100 units. With 10,000 people, you'd need 10,000 units—and it's all you can do to stay on top. And when you go to 100,000 the system fails catastrophically. That sort of scaling effect is what I was suggesting in the first place. See Haldane's "On Being the Right Size" for a biologist's discussion of this.

(Back around WWI, the German socialist activist Roberts Michels came up with "the iron law of oligarchy," which says that as an organization intended to function democratically gets more successful and thus larger, it unavoidably develops an inner circle who make the actual decisions—because that's the only way it can function at all.)
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Old 03-30-2021, 05:13 PM   #6
Willy
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
The efficiency falls off as you go to larger scale. On one hand, the number of decisions to be made increases at least as fast as the number of people (perhaps as fast as the square of the number of people?); on the other, the rate at which decisions are made at best does not increase, and may decrease. And the informal channels that compensate for the slow formal procedure only work in quite small groups.

I'm not sure if your Benefits and Drawbacks reflect this.

It all depends, a society, with wellinformed und learned people, is often more flexible than some global corporations in the case of production and development.
On the other hand strategies to cope with slow decission making and shortages of goods, are quite common at the whole world. One of the german part states, the DDR ( east germany ) has had over the whole time a shortage in many goods, and people developed some quite sophisticated coping strategies, like trading services, rare goods and much more in private.
Some steps bigger was this in the old sowjtunion, where more than 50% of the food came from informal channels, mostly from the 5000m2 a peasant was allowed to use privately. Same goes for spare parts, repairs and other things, i heard storys how people traveld in this times and while it was a adventure it teached me a lot about the human mind and flexibility.
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Old 03-30-2021, 05:50 PM   #7
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Portsmouth, VA, USA
Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
Participatory
In a participatory economy, the people vote on what goods are made or what services are produced, and how both are made available to the population. Citizens are thus almost always happy, but the system might be unable to react quickly and effectively to changing circumstances or emergencies. On top of that, leaving decisions in the hands of uninformed and possibly short-sighted citizens may have its drawbacks; windfalls tend to be distributed out as consumer goods, which makes the populace even happier but doesn’t set reserves aside.
Examples: Modern-day Greenland communities; Tito’s Yugoslavia.
Benefits: Increase starting Citizen Loyalty by one step. Start with one additional Workforce point.
Drawbacks: No positive modifiers to the Management Skill are available. Any Windfalls that grant RPs or additional Revenue are turned into the Reform Windfall instead. In case of any Disruption not having external causes, roll against Management Skill; a critical failure results in the Realm being affected by the Demagogue Disruption as well.
Neat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
The efficiency falls off as you go to larger scale. On one hand, the number of decisions to be made increases at least as fast as the number of people (perhaps as fast as the square of the number of people?); on the other, the rate at which decisions are made at best does not increase, and may decrease. And the informal channels that compensate for the slow formal procedure only work in quite small groups.

I'm not sure if your Benefits and Drawbacks reflect this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
GURPS Realm Management, as a rule, seems to gloss over questions of what works at differing scales- Autocracy/Dictatorship is depicted as permitting an efficiently run realm of any size, despite history strongly suggesting that it becomes ever more unworkable for larger and more complex societies; Athenian Democracy is assigned an arbitrary cutoff of 75,000 citizens (before TL9) rather than providing detailed rules for how it becomes increasingly unwieldy with a larger populace.
I could have included notes on some governments where it was impossible for certain populations to have, but I felt that was constraining the creator and I'm usually firmly against that.
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Old 03-30-2021, 06:05 PM   #8
TGLS
 
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Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
The efficiency falls off as you go to larger scale.
I think that's kind of the point. It just stops working effectively after you get over a certain size, keeping things from becoming so large that they take on a life of themselves.
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Old 03-30-2021, 06:41 PM   #9
Ulzgoroth
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
It seems to me that "broad in nature" omits virtually all the real economic decisions. When Steve Jackson Games has me write a book, I'm not providing them with so many units of "prose" or of "recreational material"; I'm providing them with units of my specific kind of writing on a specific topic for a specific game. And knowing things about me, and about Rory Fansler, and about Hans-Christian Vortisch, is part of what Kromm does for SJ Games. Some Central Committee administrator or planner, or some deliberative body of citizens, could know that they wanted X quantity of "roleplaying game supplements," maybe, but they couldn't know the local details. And as you go to a bigger scale your locus of decision's "general" approach gets more and more abstracted from the actual substance of the economic decisions.
Basically any economic system with scope larger than a village involves that type of abstraction.
Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
And I think when you say that "the total number that can be made by people only scales proportional to population" you're actually making my point for me. Suppose that it DOES scale as the square (that is, roughly in proportion to the number of possible two-person encounters in the entire population). With 100 people, say, you might need 1 unit of decision making. With 1000 people, then, you'd need 100 units. With 10,000 people, you'd need 10,000 units—and it's all you can do to stay on top. And when you go to 100,000 the system fails catastrophically. That sort of scaling effect is what I was suggesting in the first place. See Haldane's "On Being the Right Size" for a biologist's discussion of this.
You've missed the point: your suggestion of super-linear decisions existing implies that decisions needing to be made eventually exceed the total number of economic actions that the decisions govern. That's an indication of algorithmic failure, not a real constraint. (It also would imply the collapse of any possible economic system with scale, rather than saying anything about the participatory type.)
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:59 PM   #10
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: GURPS Realm Management: New Economy Types

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Basically any economic system with scope larger than a village involves that type of abstraction.

You've missed the point: your suggestion of super-linear decisions existing implies that decisions needing to be made eventually exceed the total number of economic actions that the decisions govern. That's an indication of algorithmic failure, not a real constraint. (It also would imply the collapse of any possible economic system with scale, rather than saying anything about the participatory type.)
I'm not sure about that. I grant that if you have N people, and N(N-1)/2 possible relationships, the number of economic actions is going to be smaller than N(N-1)/2. But does it get increasingly small in proportion as N gets larger? I'd want to see at least a handwavy argument. At any rate, N(N-1)/2 seems to be a possible upper bound.

And we also should consider the number of potential economic actions, which could be much larger. In getting to actual economic actions, chosen from a narrower set, we have to have eliminated a whole lot of potential actions as unworkable. But that elimination requires decision making, too.

A deliberative process, where all N people sit down together and discuss what is to be done and "who, whom" and that sort of thing, has a single processor, in effect. All decisions have to filter through it. It becomes a bottleneck. Each potential action that's ruled out takes one unit of time, and those units multiply. And if you truly involve all N, then you will take a really huge amount of time for a single decision when you consult them for it.

That's why deliberative processes don't scale up well. If you can offload decisions onto the informal processes of a small group (ideally one within the Dunbar number, but there are ways of making it work for several hundred, the size of a typical national legislature), then you can keep them working, but I don't see how that could work for a small city of 50,000 people trying to consult together.

Markets actually avoid this problem by a simple trick: You don't have the entire N consult together. Instead, you have many different pairs of people make decisions about the different economic actions that are each open to each pair of people. No one decision is made on behalf of the entire community, but if each person gets to take part in multiple decisions, the information about each one gets spread out. Or little bits of it get spread out. But they aren't at the same level of abstraction; they may be as highly specific as "I can get printer paper at $6.49 a ream at my usual store, but there's one across town that has it at $4.99 a ream. . . ." This is what Marx criticized as the abstraction of the market—but then, he wasn't of an age that had figured out the need to economize on bandwidth; his ideal society was one whose economic decisions had infinite bandwidth.

Which is not to say that markets can scale up without limit, either. I suspect that the scientific method as a social process might scale up even better, when it applies. But there might be limits to it, too. And on the other hand, while bureaucracy, or the "oligarchy" that Michels wrote of, has problems in scaling up, it clearly can work for organizations much larger than the Dunbar number applies to.

But, in the end, I'm at least entertaining the idea that any possible economic situation may fail if you scale it up enough. Why couldn't that be true? It doesn't seem any weirder that the idea that any living organism can only get so big . . .
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