14

DispatchFactbookEconomy

by The Republic of Sunset. . 668 reads.

Sex Sells...


SEXYE

It has been asked whether all of the people in
Sunset are female, and attractive females at
that. Well, no - but due to widespread sales of the
SEXYE (Selected Expression (X>Y Emphasis))
'health supplement' by the brilliant madman,
Dr. Stephen Ambrose, many species which
previously did not have human/humanoid female
sexual characteristics have developed them. This
is both the Doctor's primary source of income
and one of the more commonly-known products
of the Republic economy, whether sold openly or
available through the black market. Where it is
sold, it is usually offered under the regulation-
dodging category of a 'nutritional supplement.'

To stay ahead of both the law and his competition,
new versions are frequently introduced; NuSEXYE,
SEXYEu, and the latest update to the Ambrose
Pharmaceuticals product line; SEXYE¡, which
appends a long, sensual tail and expressive
fur-covered ears to the regular user.


Taking Care of Business
'Different' is the easy way to describe the Republic's economy. As a post-Singularity civilization wrapped in the thin veneer of a space-age utopia, there are some important things for both the visitor and the potential businessperson to know. The first and most important is that the post-Singularity part is essentially an 'open secret' - there's no real limit on the resources available to both the government and the everyday citizen. This means that attempts to import regular goods are going to run straight into a rock wall where they can be made faster, cheaper, and in most cases better here. Even in those cases where an outside entity might be able to make better, it is again unlikely that they will be able to make them faster or cheaper - the Republic's industrial infrastructure triangle is simply that much larger than even what it publicly admits to.

For those who do have some revolutionary product to pitch or sell, the best option is to set up shop in the Republic and this is to their distinct advantage. Firstly, the economy itself is extremely well-connected and very mobile. Goods manufactured on one station or planet can easily reach trillions of individuals in the Republic and beyond in hours if not minutes. Second, the labor pool is very well educated; with most of its citizens possessing effective immortality, there is no reason for anyone not to be highly educated. Thirdly, the economy is... Well...

Different.

There is very little cost for the material resources needed to manufacture or craft whatever product might be sold - with few exceptions. Even advanced engineered elements and materials can be had as easily as turning the tap on the kitchen sink. There are some political restrictions on exports but by and large anything one can imagine can be made and sold. However that word 'imagine' is important. Regular consumer goods are effectively as cheap as the resources required to produce them - there is very little profit to be made in selling millions or billions of toasters. Where companies can expect to make their most profit is again in the 'different'.

Because the cost of generic consumer goods is so low, most consumers look to put their earned surplus towards purchases with more personal value. These are those goods and services that have been customized to the individual; their needs, their usage. These are also goods or services with some kind of a story behind them; a set of dishes made by hand by a native artisan on a frontier colony. Which - thanks to automation - is also where most people are employed or what they choose to have as their employment.

Which takes us to another detail of the Republic economy; Universal Basic Resources - or UBR. Every citizen receives a UBR stipend every month from the moment they sign the paperwork. Even a citizen who lives in some other nation somewhere else in the galaxy is entitled to and receives it. Essentially the UBR is an amount of physical resources that will allow them to acquire and maintain an average lifestyle within the Republic. This is then translated into an amount of DiCoins, thus the DiCoin can effectively be redeemed for a fixed amount of resources - 1 kilogram, to be exact. Any additional income past this is the responsibility of the individual to earn and most choose to supplement this through work.


Did You Know?

You - Yes: You! - are potentially eligible
for the Republic's Universal Basic
Resource program? Because citizenship
is often as simple as signing on the
dotted line it is just as easy to receive
the monthly stipend. However, only
those who work inside the Republic are
eligible for Personal Employment
Income - those who work elsewhere
are subject to local labor laws, if any.
Where this gets interesting is that a lot of what has traditionally been recognized as 'work' has been completely replaced by automation. Robots maintain robots that make things, that deliver them to your door, that clean the floors, file the paperwork. Because there is very little manual labor to be done most people create their own job and thus most people do what they like doing for a living. This can get a little odd; a competition archer might do just that while someone else might work as an adventuring companion in some virtual world. That native artisan will also receive the UBR and the dishes she makes will be her supplementary income - what is known as the Personal Employment Income or PEI. Now because the resources required to do these things are essentially free, a worker is not paid for the product they provide but for their time - essentially, the entire economy is the service industry.

It is important to note that as a matter of government policy no one's time is worth more than someone else's and so the amount each individual receives for their work is based on the amount of time spent - not what we might call the market value of their product. The craftswoman receives as much as the adventuring companion for the same amount of time. That also means that by-and-large most people work to the amount of additional UBR they want - though there are plenty of workaholics in the Republic as well.

Where this changes is when dealing with imports. Someone who is bringing a painting from the Italian Renaissance into the Republic can ask - and get - whatever they want for it. Here the notion of perceived value and the story attached to an item becomes of importance. Again, attempting to import a cargo of toasters or a tanker of helium-3 won't earn the importer any profit. Where they would be able to earn a profit is if that helium-3 was sealed away in the lift sacks of the Trionesse Butterfly, a rare pseudo-insect caught on a distant world by lone hunters stalking the woods at night, net in hand. There are a few other exceptions but like the painting, they are rarities that cannot be reproduced - the painting itself can be, but the story of the original cannot.

What this means is that for an outsider who can bring something new and interesting to the economy there is a lot of money to be made - again, it should be noted that the Republic doesn't really care about someone taking home hundreds or thousands of bulk freighters full of gold bullion because whatever they make is in demand here. It is their problem if they crash their home economy - not ours. It is also highly unlikely that an outside economy will have any significant impact on the Republic economy; its industrial triangle is simply too large, if seemingly invisible, and the UBR guarantees that everyone will have the basics. They should be ready to innovate, create, and differentiate though - rent-seekers and other forms of economic parasites need not apply.

Officially, Sunset practices what the government calls 'Renewable Capitalism' which is where Science meets Capitalism; An emphasis on using solid, well-researched practices to make each worker as productive as possible with things like easy access to healthcare, continuing education, a universal income, profit sharing, childcare, job rotation, and more. All of these 'intangibles' lead to a happy, stable workforce and real increases in productivity. Add in highly advanced information technology systems and an extremely flexible manufacturing base and you have an economy where the average worker can out-produce nearly everyone else - often by multiple factors! Oddly, this is often done more by putting a friendly face on a process rather than by expertise in the process itself; Expert computer systems can undertake the more technical aspects of a job with more precision and speed while the biological worker is there to talk the consumer through it and help them communicate their needs.

And yes; Sex Sells. While not as over-the-top and all pervasive as in other places - largely thanks to near-universal Augmented Reality cybernetics and their ability to filter it out - marketing and advertising is still a force to be reckoned with in the Republic. Carefully crafted media campaigns will use sex, power, greed, and drama to try and sell their wares or those of their clients. Image is everything and both the scruffy-bearded engineer and the nearly-naked nurse are both trying to drive potential sales. What is mostly gone are the billboards and mass-mailings (and their associated trash and garbage) as well as internet advertising of the past. These have been replaced with product placement in all the various forms of media; A character might shop at a certain business or buy a certain beverage and how that character and thus the product is then perceived by the viewing audience is vital to the marketing campaign.


Expanding Your Market
First, Sunset is a great place to do business. Corporate taxes are non-existent, the work force is extremely well-educated, business regulations are few, and investment is easy to come by. However; You will face competition. It doesn't matter how big, how unbelievably huge, how simply gigantic your company is, it will face competition. It is incredibly easy to start a new business in the Republic. With the Internet everywhere and connected to everything the process of setting up a business, getting investment, getting licensed - if that's even necessary - and getting a product onto the streets can be a matter of hours or even minutes. If you think you're going to gobble up your competition think again - before they gobble you up.

Relying on intellectual property? If your product is truly new and innovative you've got a year. If it is merely iterative you don't have any time at all. Sunset recognizes patents from friendly NationStates, but again, only for the year when they were patented and only then in a NationState that engages in free trade with the Republic. In most cases what you have patented in your home country likely wouldn't have survived the much more intellectually rigorous Sunset patent process and the government will not recognize patents on the obvious and trivial. However, for those who do arrive with some fantastic new device, the speed at which that device can reach market means that that single year can be more than enough to set one up for multiple lifetimes if managed correctly. Thanks to infrastructure that spans the galaxy, getting your new doodad to market across a hundred and twenty thousand light-years can take hours from manufacture to end consumer.

Keeping your competition out through burdensome regulation? Again, hard to do and you might not like it anyway. Sunset's environmental and liability regulations come down to 'If you messed it up, you clean it up. Yes, you.' That also applies to things like product liability. If you sell applesauce with razor blades in it and someone sues, the courts will have carte blanche to go through your company and your records. If you've destroyed them the law then defaults to 'Highest Level of Responsibility'. Which means the highest level individual that could make the decision will be personally responsible for any damages. In the Republic a corporation is not a person - period - even in the case of single individuals or hive minds. People are responsible for their actions and while a corporation might have an insurance policy that covers all of their employees against certain actions, it is a contract between the corporation and its provider not the corporation and the government.

As noted above, it is not you-the-employer but the system itself that pays your workers - everyone receives the same income for the same time put in regardless of position. The exception is with products that cannot be reproduced easily and thus tend to have a higher value. Even then workers are paid the basic rate - there's no getting out of that one - but how the profit derived on such (very rare) unique items is divided is up to the owner of said item. That said, an owner who does not 'share the wealth' may quickly find themselves without employees, or worse with said employees attempting to cut out the middleman. Yes, non-disclosure agreements do exist but...

What do you get for setting up shop in the Republic? Well, a big advantage to doing business in Sunset is that you get essentially unfettered access to the rampaging Sunset economy and more every day. The Republic is a member of a lot of free trade zones, not least of which are the Triumvirate of Yut's Free Trade Zone and the VERITAS Free Trade Pact. Add in all the nations that are somehow connected to those nations through their own free trade agreements and a successful business in Sunset can have a potential customer base in the with-a-Q quadrillions.


Individual Transactions
Thinking about starting your own business? There are a few basics you need to know:


Currency
Sunset uses the DiCoin as its standard unit of currency. Historically, it was a thin piece of gold with the Sunset flag embossed on it and an outer ring of platinum. Over time, as these metals became progressively less rare and electronic transactions came to dominate the economy, the physical currency has moved out of circulation to the point where it is now a collector's item. What has replaced it is the re-usable electronic currency card, or credit chip. Some part of those old DiCoins still remains in the design of these new cards, however, with an encrypted microchip in the lower corner resembling the old hard currency. Now it is wrapped in a space-age plastic card that has the same functionality as a modern smart phone; Handy to have when the cards are most often issued to visitors to the Republic who would also lack the everyday cybernetics to interact with the world around them.

These cards are issued by financial institutions who are then accredited to issue currency by the government. They are considered to be disposable and losing one is the same thing as losing physical currency. In Sunset many individuals have elected to replace the card with a cybernetic implant that interacts with their augmented reality system or with an account system held inside the Eien. This makes paying for something as simple as swiping your hand across a terminal or, in many cases, walking through the door of a store with the candy bar in your hand. In addition to personal currency cards there are also universal or anonymous cards. Unlike the personal cards, which conform to the Triumvirate InterNation Electronic Currency Standard, these cards allow anyone who activates them to transfer the contained currency out (but not in). These are used for transactions where anonymity may be important or for things like gifts and such where preparing the cards for individual owners is unfeasible. Federal law requires that any lawfully issued DiCoin be recognized and redeemable as such - even by a foreign or hostile power.


Intellectual Property
One of the peculiarities of Sunset's economy is the very limited patent and intellectual property scheme. Patents in Sunset are only granted to something that has been produced and something that is significantly transformative. These are limited in term, being good for exactly one year (Triumvirate Standard) from the patent date. With the easy in access to rapid manufacturing, capital, and talent in Sunset companies have a very easy time bringing a new product to market. Often this is a matter of hours. Past the patent date they are expected to introduce improvements and refinements in order to keep the public's attention rather than just seeking rent.

Copyrights for works such as books, plays, and television shows operate under the same general scheme. The owner of that work has one year to squeeze as much out of it as possible before it becomes public domain. This date is set by first release or first viewing. This often means that potential hits will have massive merchandising campaigns lined up and ready to take advantage the moment the show hits the air. It should be noted that copyright does apply to software. While you cannot copyright an algorithm, just as you cannot copyright a word, you can copyright the complete body of a piece of software. For one year. It is technically possible to patent software as well but it must be significantly transformative. It cannot simply make the computer in question do something it was already doing. Generally these patents are only granted when the software in question is driving a new computer component.

This patent and intellectual property scheme answers the often-asked question of why more of the Republic's workers don't work from home; That answer is 'Security'. A new product under development is easy for an opponent to capitalize on if it's being tossed back and forth across the Internet for all to (potentially) see. If you don't want someone stealing your new design don't put it online; Once it is in the wild, proving who owns it is exceptionally difficult. That being said there are a lot of people who make their living taking existing products, re-working them for a niche market, and selling small runs made using small-run manufacturing. While not as cost efficient as full manufacturing facilities, these products are often targeted at a few hundred to a few thousand individuals and often include things like use-customization for various species.

Services are also a way many businesses make money on their products if they even have a product to begin with. They may run an entire chain where they manufacture a device, sell it to another company, train workers in the optimum usage of that device, and then contract those workers to that business. In the fast-paced Sunset economy having the best of the best on day one is often the difference between selling a billion units or sending them back for recycling - thought that is another interesting point to make. Because of the UBR and the free physical resources required to make a product, product failures are much more common and acceptable. In the end the workers still get paid even if the product or customization itself is a bust.


Unique Products
Because of its extensive exploration and trade networks, the Republic has access to a large variety of unique and interesting products from across the galaxy. The following are just a small sampling, but they highlight what can be available for those who do trade with the Republic.* Note that nothing on this list is either military or restricted in nature; Whether or not it is available outside of Sunset is up to the trade status and restrictions of the NationState in question.


The Biggest and Best

Interstellar Free Trade

Liquid Design is an excellent example of how commerce
often works in Sunset. While Liquid itself is a major
corporation with offices on nearly every world in the
Republic, much of what it accomplishes ends up as a
multinational result. Frequently contracted to design
warships for other Triumvirate nations, Liquid has
access to the many thousands of different weapon,
armor, sensor, and other military systems produced
by the hundreds of different defense-oriented
companies inside the Triumvirate. It can then pick the
best of these to fill out the needs of the customer in
question. This often results in a design that has
components from six to seven to ten different nations,
thus distributing the effects of any new construction
to not just the Sunset economy but to the wider
Triumvirate as well.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of corporations, holding companies, private businesses, and conglomerates in Sunset but there are a few that stand out and that frequently come up when conducting trade with Sunset. Most have at least some government investment and many are government contractors. These are also the best companies to direct external government contracts through as they have a well deserved reputation for both quality work and tight control over sensitive information. It should be noted that these corporations, public or private, do not have a governance structure that allows any measure of control outside of the Republic, either through shareholder votes or through board representation. Many have a significant amount of government investment and this is intentional; The Republic invests in corporations that further the national interest and set an example for others to follow.


Commercial Notables
These corporations might not have the interstellar profile of a Liquid or Saint Medical, but they are industry leaders inside the Republic and are reasonably well-represented on the international stage. Unlike the previous listing, these companies can have significant outside investment and governance although, as postulated by their appearance on this index, they are still headquartered and managed as a mostly Republic business entity.

Plying the Star Lanes

Across the vast galaxy, trade can be broadly
divided into national and interstellar trade
and within these two categories there is a
distinct separation between what is being
traded. For the most part, trade within a
single star system and a NationState that
completely dominates that system is based
on the large-scale movement of commodities;
Finished consumer-level goods and raw
materials from somewhere they are cheap or
easy to manufacture, harvest, or grow to
places where they are not. As long as it is
properly managed, a single system will
contain all the resources needed to satisfy
nearly all the needs of the local economy.

Nearly all.

That is where interstellar trade comes in.
Most of what is traded on an interstellar level
involves knowledge, information, or goods
with a specific narrative; Art and other
luxuries are one of the largest portions of this
category. Occasionally rare but necessary
resources will be included but in most cases
the costs involved in shipping low-margin
consumer goods will make interstellar shipping
unprofitable. The routine exception to this is
when a new colony is established; Until local
manufacturing and resource extraction is up
to speed these colonies are the frequent
stops for opportunity traders and merchants.

The Republic of Sunset

RawReport