Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

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Tyndmyr
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:46 pm UTC

Well, they're burying the bottles and digging them up again, so it's not really bottle production. If you didn't bother with the whole lot, you'd be fine on bottles. Either way, you've got no real production happening, the one option simply has a lot of folks digging.

It's work for work's sake, not work for production's sake.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:09 pm UTC

I agree, but it's slightly better than that: Not only will excavation skills rise over time, because those that are more efficient at recovering the bottles make more money, some might perhaps invent new techniques or technologies that have applications when digging up other (real) stuff.

Sure, it might be better if they just dug up that other stuff to begin with, but this exercise is no more a total waste of everyone's time than spending years solving 'artificial' university questions is. And because we're talking about previously unemployed people, there's no opportunity cost to speak of here.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:24 pm UTC

This assumes that the purpose of people is to work, rather than work existing to provide for people.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:21 pm UTC

This is very true. You may recall I'm a big fan of a Citizen's Wage; I don't see any other way forwards once automation and AI price humans out of the labour force.

Case in point:

Uber passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to hail self-driving cars for the first time within the next few weeks as the taxi firm tests its future vision of transportation in the city.

The company said on Thursday that an unspecified number of autonomous Ford Fusions will be available to pick up passengers as with normal Uber vehicles. The cars won’t exactly be driverless – they will have human drivers as backup – but they are the next step towards a fully automated fleet.

Passengers will be able to opt in if they want a self-driving car, and rides will be free to those willing to do it, a spokesman said.

Uber, which has a self-driving research lab in Pittsburgh and has been testing the cars around the city in recent months, has no immediate plans to deploy self-driving cars beyond the Pittsburgh experiment.

It’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has said the ride-sharing company’s future and indeed the future of all transportation is driverless.

“When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. You basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away,” Kalanick said at the Code Conference in 2014, shortly after Google unveiled its self-driving car prototype.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:04 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:It's work for work's sake, not work for production's sake.
Well, work for distributions sake, but yes: the actual task itself is a waste. Actual implementations of Keynes' policies have always picked something more useful. If one doesn't have tasks that are almost already financially justifiable it'd probably be better to admit that you're just trying to help the unemployed and just give them the bank notes directly.
elasto wrote:This is very true. You may recall I'm a big fan of a Citizen's Wage; I don't see any other way forwards once automation and AI price humans out of the labour force.
A scene from Star Trek sticks out.

Picard was somewhere on Earth and chatting with a hot-dog/crepe/something out of a cart vendor. Picard was very respectful to the guy (If you've worked in food service you can appreciate how rare that is) and even sought his advice about some of his space problems.

The fact that the vendor had a job means one or more of three things:
  1. His labor is cheaper than a replicator.
  2. The real product is hospitality.
  3. Society has decided to pretend street vendors are more important than they are.

I'd guess that A and B have a certain amount of truth. Just because the replicator is economical on a space ship doesn't mean it's economical everywhere. Already we're seeing a shift towards more services being provided.

In terms of manners C is almost certainly true. It'd would look pretty terrible if Picard only showed respect proportional to people's economic value. BUt on the other end I'd rule out it being an entirely pointless job because the guy voluntarily works it.

In terms of speculation: I"d say that guy got a free education, a citizens wage, and help financing his business.
He works that job for supplementary income and the appreciation of customers.
The customers are getting their hot dogs in a wildly inefficient manner, but enjoy the convenience and experience. They treat the vendor with a lot of respect and thanks both due to custom and the fact that the vendor is much more empowered to refuse service.
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Yakk » Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:41 pm UTC

The Star Trek Federation is supposed to be post-scarcity for most resources.

So someone can do nothing of economic usefulness and still get more than enough resources to survive, and do hobbies like build a hot-dog stand and make hot-dogs for people for hours at a time.

If you want to do something like get a star ship to carry you to another world and escort you around, maybe then you'd have to argue that what you are doing is worth the bother for other people to help out.

The customers are people who he gives hot dogs to. He's wandering around saying "I make awesome hot dogs, want some?", and probably not charging money (or even tips).

If you want an awesome hot dog (even with a replicator, picking which hot dog is awesome is going to take work, and getting it delivered to you at any place or time when you feel hungry is hard), you walk on over and he makes it for you. You get a gift (a hot dog), they get to feel good for giving you a hot dog, everyone wins.

There may be a resource allocation system that resembles modern cash in the Federation, but the level of economic drain that the hot dog vendor places on the system would probably below that you'd bother to measure. Much like in modern society, we don't put coin operated or credit card readers on the public water fountains: sure, they take resources, but why bother metering? Imagine that, but at the level where "starting a business" like a hot dog cart is under that threshold, or even getting the meat/supplies/etc for it.

This doesn't even have to be based off anything as coarse as a citizen's wage. You'd just walk up to a public replicator and tell it to build it. An AI might notice if you are being abusive of it (where abusive is more about leaving trash around, or doing a mass-order denial-of-service, than using up the replicator resources: drinking from the water fountain is fine, filling up your jug is fine; taping the button down and blocking the drain and then going onto the next water fountian and repeating is not, or drilling a hole into the pipe to let the water spray out is not, because it makes a mess and gets in the way of others using it).

You need food? You get it. You need clothing? The same. Go to a terminal and ask for it.

Want to start a large endevor? There might be a system where either consent of others, or a currency system, kicks in, to get things done bigger than "free water from the fountain".

Anyhow, that is my ST:Federation headcannon that explains both why people are saying they don't use money, and why some people still seem to want profit or resources. The "don't use money" means "don't use money at the scale of resource consumption that almost everyone does", while wanting profit/resources is when someone wants (say) their own star ship, or a scupture the size of a small moon, or the like.
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 19, 2016 8:32 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:The fact that the vendor had a job means one or more of three things:
  1. His labor is cheaper than a replicator.
  2. The real product is hospitality.
  3. Society has decided to pretend street vendors are more important than they are.
More likely,
D: The Star Trek economy is not well thought out and does not work.

Scriptwriters needed a hot dog vendor, and there he is. It's like where the scriptwriters [are told to] just say "tech" whenever there is an issue with future-stuff, and some other writer will fill in some nonsense with no relation to how things might really work, in the plot or outside of it.

Star Trek is about the Federation, and the Federation is pretty much a military organization that does exploring too. We rarely see civilian life, so it's not well thought out. If it were, there would be more interesting stories forthcoming.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:39 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:The fact that the vendor had a job means one or more of three things:
  1. His labor is cheaper than a replicator.
  2. The real product is hospitality.
  3. Society has decided to pretend street vendors are more important than they are.

See also Guinan in Ten Forward. In the Enterprise, it might well be treated as a sub-aspect of Life Support ("Mind And Spirit"(s *hic*) department).

For the universal well-being of all people, pethaps, in this particular post-scarcity, post-Eugenics Wars era, there is a non-economic need for hot-dog vendors, mysterious barkeeps and Creole restauranters.

And/or
ucim wrote:D: The Star Trek economy is not well thought out and does not work.


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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby morriswalters » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:01 am UTC

Possibly unrelated to the basic question, but isn't it odd that the Enterprise has a helmsman? And you can't replicate living matter, yet transporters do that precisely in many episodes. Evil Kirk and Riker for two.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby jseah » Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:50 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The LOTR saga is a cautionary tale of the results of dragonslaying hyperinflation.

This reminds me why I love this forum.

That said, I suppose the more natural result would be that the developing country sucks in all the money from the nearby countries (possibly even the entire world). Puts a new name to goods dumping.
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Zamfir » Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:43 pm UTC

There is a vague historical example of that. Song China relied on paper currency, and therefore metal reserves in medieval China were relatively small compared to the economy. In the Yuan and early Ming, there were rounds of hyperinflation, printing of too much money, and the economy changed to silver currency (those little ship-like bars, not coins). When the Ming economy grew again in the following centuries, it drew in huge amounts of silver. Like you are describing.

By some arguments, this effectively paid for the early European takeover of the Americas. Silver was the main export from the Americas, and the main export from Europe to Asia, at a time that transoceanic shipping wasn't ready for bulk transport. So it financed both directions of early European long distance war and trade.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:16 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Quizatzhaderac wrote:The fact that the vendor had a job means one or more of three things:
  1. His labor is cheaper than a replicator.
  2. The real product is hospitality.
  3. Society has decided to pretend street vendors are more important than they are.
More likely,
D: The Star Trek economy is not well thought out and does not work.

Scriptwriters needed a hot dog vendor, and there he is. It's like where the scriptwriters [are told to] just say "tech" whenever there is an issue with future-stuff, and some other writer will fill in some nonsense with no relation to how things might really work, in the plot or outside of it.

Star Trek is about the Federation, and the Federation is pretty much a military organization that does exploring too. We rarely see civilian life, so it's not well thought out. If it were, there would be more interesting stories forthcoming.

Jose


Agreed. Star Trek is, IMO, more towards the fantasy end of the spectrum than the sci fi end. There's a lot of inconsistencies if you look hard at it. Most likely, these are simply a result of the creation process, not some intentional thing designed to lead to layers of deductions. In particular, Roddenberry was really big on utopian stuff, so there's a ton of message pushing, but plot mostly demands conflict. So, a lot of things that should have been permanently solved just were not, and people do a lot of silly stuff.

I wish there was, say, a TV show about the Culture series.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby DanD » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:30 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Quizatzhaderac wrote:The fact that the vendor had a job means one or more of three things:
  1. His labor is cheaper than a replicator.
  2. The real product is hospitality.
  3. Society has decided to pretend street vendors are more important than they are.
More likely,
D: The Star Trek economy is not well thought out and does not work.

Scriptwriters needed a hot dog vendor, and there he is. It's like where the scriptwriters [are told to] just say "tech" whenever there is an issue with future-stuff, and some other writer will fill in some nonsense with no relation to how things might really work, in the plot or outside of it.

Star Trek is about the Federation, and the Federation is pretty much a military organization that does exploring too. We rarely see civilian life, so it's not well thought out. If it were, there would be more interesting stories forthcoming.

Jose


In at least some of the books, it's stated that replicated food tends to be, not bland, but repetitive. Sure, you might find the best chef in the world to make the sample chicken cordon bleu that you replicate, but every single time it's replicated, it will be exactly that version, with no variation.

So there's still a market for cooks and restaurants, because people want variation. This also explains the existence of the Picard family vineyard, because the wine is somewhat unpredictable, and therefore unique each year.

Given that there is already a market for hand crafted items, even when higher quality mass produced items are available, it's not unreasonable to assume this trend would continue. Now, what the vendor gets out of it, that's a little harder. Unless, maybe, they really enjoy making hot dogs and talking to star ship captains.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:40 pm UTC

DanD wrote:Unless, maybe, they really enjoy making hot dogs and talking to star ship captains.
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Thu Aug 25, 2016 2:59 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
DanD wrote:Unless, maybe, they really enjoy making hot dogs and talking to star ship captains.
Livin' the dream, baby, livin' the dream!
My brother used to run a bar and there was this thing he used to do called bartender for a night.
Some rich guy would pay the bar and invite a bunch of their friends over and serve them whatever from behind the bar.

People actually do like being hosts; and if we stop and thing about the things that make that a bad job IRL:
  1. Low pay
  2. Long hours
  3. Hard work
  4. Disrespect from customers
  5. Low prestige
  6. Smell like hot dogs
  7. Works outside
A through C are strictly economic reasons.
D and E are cultural, but are strongly related to the economic of the vocation.

Now, let me ask you this, if I offered you a job running a food cart, promised pay equal to your current profession, gave you a wide latitude on how to run your cart, and for some reason people would be impressed by your career; would you take the job?
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby DanD » Thu Aug 25, 2016 8:55 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:Now, let me ask you this, if I offered you a job running a food cart, promised pay equal to your current profession, gave you a wide latitude on how to run your cart, and for some reason people would be impressed by your career; would you take the job?


No, but then I hate people.

However, your point is well made. If I could make a (equivalent to my current) living doing traditional black smithing, without the stress of trying to run it as a business, I probably would. And that's despite generally enjoying my current job.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:20 pm UTC

Everyone probably would embrace a hobby, treating it in some fashion at least sort of akin to a job. Albeit with perhaps not quite the same regularity and/or scheduling we think of with regards to jobs.

A large number of hobbies, though, would probably not be terribly productive. Things like running a hot dog cart...that seems pretty niche. Even for a socially oriented person. If you can push a button and get a hot dog basically wherever, why go to the cart? It'd be like a person walking down main street with a microwave and a battery pack, offering to microwave food for people. You could, I guess. But why? Pretty much everyone who wants to microwave things has a microwave already.

I don't really buy that consistency in food makes it lower quality. And programming in variation to replicated food actually seems pretty easy. I mean, if I know exactly how long to cook a perfect steak given an identical cut of meat, adding a slight random variation on the timer is trivial.

I can buy that some people might enjoy cooking their own food, in the same way that people periodically enjoy anachronistic activities today(the SCA, perhaps), but it seems frigging niche. Mostly, people are very happy to offload work and never think about it again.

I agree that this is, rather than being a well thought out thing, just random stuff the script called for. That's why sometimes you have people buying others drinks, in a supposed culture of plenty.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:33 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I don't really buy that consistency in food makes it lower quality. And programming in variation to replicated food actually seems pretty easy. I mean, if I know exactly how long to cook a perfect steak given an identical cut of meat, adding a slight random variation on the timer is trivial.
I don't think it's an issue so much with the "preparation" being too consistent, but with the "ingredients". But, yes many variations could be programmed in.
I can buy that some people might enjoy cooking their own food, in the same way that people periodically enjoy anachronistic activities today(the SCA, perhaps)
Fun fact, most of the baking mixes call for eggs. We've had the technology to powder eggs for a long time (really since before those mixes were a thing).

The reason for that extra step is not for quality reasons, it's to make the customer feel like they "made" the thing.
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby morriswalters » Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:39 pm UTC

Obviously you have never eaten powdered eggs.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:43 pm UTC

You mean as an egg dish or baked goods made with them?

An omelette made from powdered eggs sucks, but a cake is a different story.
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby morriswalters » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:30 pm UTC

If you wouldn't eat them in an omelette, why would you want them in a cake mix? If they know how to dry an egg than in theory there shouldn't be a difference in taste unless something is lost in the process. Would my reasoning be wrong?

However I grew up poor and as a result I am prejudiced against them, since I got to eat them both at school and at home when my parents participated in the commodity program, however I am open to my mind being changed.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby ucim » Sun Aug 28, 2016 10:15 pm UTC

In an omelet, the primary taste - the base of the food itself, is egg. If powdered egg isn't quite right, you'll notice it.

In a cake, the base of the food itself is the flour. Egg provides various binding proteins and also some flavor, but if the powdered egg isn't quite right, any off flavors will be covered up by all the other stuff in the cake.

Ditto powdered potato flakes. Mashed potatoes made from them are awful because that's all there is, but they do fine when added as an ingredient in (say) meat loaf.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby morriswalters » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:47 pm UTC

ucim wrote:In an omelet, the primary taste - the base of the food itself, is egg. If powdered egg isn't quite right, you'll notice it.

In a cake, the base of the food itself is the flour. Egg provides various binding proteins and also some flavor, but if the powdered egg isn't quite right, any off flavors will be covered up by all the other stuff in the cake.

Ditto powdered potato flakes. Mashed potatoes made from them are awful because that's all there is, but they do fine when added as an ingredient in (say) meat loaf.

Jose
Well I did some research. The answer may lie in the fact that you don't need eggs at all. Evidently the egg supplies emulsifiers, they can be replaced with any number of things. Egads, cake without eggs.

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby ucim » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:02 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Egads, cake without eggs.
Better living through chemistry!

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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:49 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:I am prejudiced against them
I'd expect that's pretty normal.

Apart from the extra intellectual step of separating "this food sucks" from "this food suck, when prepared certain ways", powdered egg has a reputation for being a famine food (from all the welfare programs and wartime rations).

Human (and probably all animals) have a lot of interesting food specific psychological quirks.
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Re: Fictional Economics - Deflation in Basic Goods prices

Postby morriswalters » Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:22 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:Apart from the extra intellectual step of separating "this food sucks" from "this food suck, when prepared certain ways", powdered egg has a reputation for being a famine food (from all the welfare programs and wartime rations).
Star Treks replicators would short out trying to reproduce them.


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