“Human behavior is economic behavior. The particulars may vary,
but competition for limited resources remains a constant. Need
as well as greed have followed us to the stars, and the rewards
of wealth still await those wise enough to recognize this deep
thrumming of our common pulse.”
— CEO Nwabudike Morgan,
“The Centauri Monopoly”
The culture and governance of many of The Empire’s dominions are based on a set of views that can be referred to as “Homo Economist”, which in turn can be viewed as something of a hybrid between two of the three controlling ideologies, Egalitarianism and Individualism. In the case of Egalitarianism, the view can be simplified to the idea that all people have a fairly consistent understanding of economic factors and are able to act on it. In the case of Individualism, the view can be simplified to the idea that all people are assumed to be willing to act on only their own self-interest, and that society must presume that is going to be the primary motivation.
To give an example, society assumes that someone behind the wheel of a new sports car is going to follow the speed limit, because they do not want to pay a traffic ticket and higher insurance premiums. Society cannot assume, as it would be impractical, that the person may be drunk that day, that they may have an undiagnosed impairment that prevents operation of a sports car, or that they want to impress others, that the possible costs are not material to them, or that they simplify feel that no jurisdiction can or will pull them over (see a particular Canadian singer). In extreme cases, most jurisdictions have an awareness that “civil enforcement” must be supplemented with the threat of incarceration, despite the net drain of government resources that would represent.
Because Homo Economist, as it is understood and acted on by the regime, relies on the current, modern understanding of Economics, we in turn need to review what Economics is, and what it is not.
Economics, for our purposes today, can be described as a series of models to predict the behavior of the flow or stockpile of money, broadly defined, (1). It was never intended to model the actions of an individual, nor was it meant to model the actions of individuals in groups, only the flow or stockpile of money. Since one of the underlying “baked in” assumptions is that rational people have economic dominion over more money(2), this became approximated as being applied to rational actors, not individuals. This makes it easier to understand conceptionally, but next to useless for a society that actually believes to some extent in Egalitarianism.
But as the sorid history of central planning in the USSR suggests, if one has a model that might work, even if it should’nt be used, someone is going to use it. So almost every level of The Empire, both “Foreign” and USG-Domestic, relies on Homo Economics, because it’s the only model that shows any realistic chance of modeling future behaviors. Without getting too deep into some very old economics debates, most western Economics schools, and some of the Marxist ones, believe that the purpose of a marketplace is to achieve price discovery, to allow for functioning spending and allocation decisions(3). In the West, the politicians over time wanted to use the principals of economics to make social and moral judgments as well, with predictable consequences (4).
Since these models are not actually meant to be used for this function, that means that either the modern Establishment has managed to achieve something that escaped even the great philosophers of Government, or that modern Finances/Economics are “A set of lies agreed upon”(5).
The author will argue the later.
(1) The author is aware that there is much more to economics than that, but that is beyond the scope of this post.
(2) An oversimplification, the theory really assumes irrational people will not long have dominion over sufficient economic resources to be relevant in the model. This is one of the underlying disagreements between “Efficient Market Hypothesis” and Benjamin Graham-Warren Buffett investing styles.
(3) Another theory, that it is a competitive function to set the collective “cost of capital” between currencies, asset classes, and indeed entire jurisdictions, is one of the underlying disputes involving “Modern Monetary Theory”. A theory with more relevance with each passing month.
(4) See: Prohibition
(5) h/t Napoleon