Bargaining Power

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Ilmarinen Ilmarinen's picture
Bargaining Power
So, hey. My community needs an outside opinion on something. First things first, we exist on the Rim. Before you make any assumptions, no that does not make us anarchists. We simply happened to be in the middle of a project when the Fall hit and have thereafter found it convenient to remain far, far away from the sapient rights violations and unethical business practices found in the Inner System. Unfortunately this means most of our neighbors [i]are[/i] anarchists, which makes it very difficult to trade goods and services outside of a bizarre barter system which seems to use popularity as a store of value. While we've been able to operate in this manner for quite a while now, it's been over a decade and there are those among us (myself included) who feel it's time to help our neighbors readjust to a proper monetary system. As such we're attempting to once again follow the steps that brought us money in the first place. The first and most obvious step is to introduce a universally desirable good into the system. Once such a good is available, anyone will be able to trade their own goods or services directly for it and then use it to obtain goods or services they themselves desire, cutting out the arduous process which comes of seeking to exchange favors with someone. Since we and the habitat in question both possess nanomanufacturing technologies, the only universally desirable goods are effectively raw materials and energy to be used in the manufacturing process. We figure that in time we'll start to mint these into the shape of a coin, then give out certificates for a given number of coins and within maybe another decade even the most hardened anarchist should once again be familiar with the concept of fiat money. Which brings me to my original point: is there something else anarchists like that could serve as a medium of exchange? Preferably something that doesn't suffer from being made round and kind of flat? Expert opinions welcome.
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Erenthia Erenthia's picture
Maybe it would help if you
Maybe it would help if you understood your neighbors better. Most anarchists do have a form of currency. It's called "Rep". You want something from us? Find out what we're looking for at the time and provide it. Generally speaking, physical goods are less than interesting. Software (especially skillsofts and blueprints we lack) will get snatched up like crazy. Sure it's a little more complicated than old fashioned currency, but you'll get a lot more out of us by respecting us than by trying to circumvent our culture. That said, I'm [i]sure[/i] you can find a broker on most habs. If you have a form of currency you recognize, there are people who will take it off your hands and use their own Rep to get you what you need. They'll also use that money to buy things from you as favors for their buddies on theirs habs. I never understood how traditional currency works myself. You do favors (but they call it "labor") for a hypercorp and get paid in somekind of meaningless mediated abstraction whose value can fluctuate. You don't even get to decide what favors you'll do or when, just who you'll do them for. And if you fail to do the favors to their satisfaction you lose the privilege of doing them favors? That doesn't make any kind of sense. Unlike me, a broker [i]will[/i] understand how your weird form of economics works. They'll know what value to assign your glass beads, pokemon cards, or whatever it is you guys use to trade favors.
The end really is coming. What comes after that is anyone's guess.
Ilmarinen Ilmarinen's picture
I already know about how
I already know about how reputation is used. It's not really quite the same. Standardizing things becomes very difficult and its ability to function as a store of value is less than ideal. Brokers, though...an interesting idea. Not a substitute for a proper system-wide currency system, of course. We will most likely continue pursuing that goal. But for dealing with more distant habitats, it might behoove our people to engage the services of someone like that. It could really cut down on the micromanagement. In any case, your description is fairly close. It's just that hypercorps (and in our case regular corps and individuals) require the 'favors' done on a fixed basis. They need to be sure that certain things will get done week to week. If you don't feel like performing the particular type of 'favor' or can't be available a certain number of hours each week, you naturally can't enter into the exchange. As for what you get in return, it's best to think of it as having a certain percentage of rep belonging to your entire habitat (or entire planet if the currency extends that far). Alternately, it's like having a supply of a good that everyone wants, which means it can be exchanged for other goods or services from anyone at any time. It's like a more streamlined combination of the reputation economy and direct bartering.
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Erenthia Erenthia's picture
Ilmarinen wrote:
Ilmarinen wrote:
In any case, your description is fairly close. It's just that hypercorps (and in our case regular corps and individuals) require the 'favors' done on a fixed basis. They need to be sure that certain things will get done week to week. If you don't feel like performing the particular type of 'favor' or can't be available a certain number of hours each week, you naturally can't enter into the exchange. As for what you get in return, it's best to think of it as having a certain percentage of rep belonging to your entire habitat (or entire planet if the currency extends that far). Alternately, it's like having a supply of a good that everyone wants, which means it can be exchanged for other goods or services from anyone at any time. It's like a more streamlined combination of the reputation economy and direct bartering.
A fixed percentage of the whole? Huh. Sounds like socialism. Titan's a socialism so I guess I can get behind that. I mean, it's [i]so[/i] totally not for me. I'd rather choose what I do and when, then give away the benefit of my labor. You gotta give to get ahead in a anarchist-hab. Oh and speaking of Titan. Another route you can try for something more familiar feeling is to use Titan-currency or Extropian crypto-cred. Not that those are "officially recognized" since such a thing doesn't exist on an anarchist hab, but most of us have friends on Titan, Extropia, or both - so we'd have some use for it. I've got a cousin living on Extropia. I remember getting my hands on some crypto-cred a few months ago. I dumped it into his account straight away, which turned out to cover some "debts" he had coming due with no way to pay. He owed me big time after that (more than the money itself was worth, that was for sure). Actually if you want the dirty truth, we kinda/sorta do have something like currency, but it's all managed behind the scenes by muses and other AIs. The system takes our reputation and productive capacity (things like our ability to code, create desirable works of art, etc) into account and creates some kind of index. I don't know the details and frankly I don't care, but it's a lot like old nation states and the valuation of their currencies. It all happens behind the scenes and what [i]looks[/i] like a single favor often has dozens of favors changing hands in the background. Like one person buying another persons "debt". The guy who has what you need probably owes someone [i]something[/i] and somebody out there probably owes [i]you[/i] something. When said-hypothetical guy gives you that shiny bauble your after, a whole series of favors could very well get shifted around in the background. It's more complicated that I want to think about, but if it helps that's more or less how our economy works. It's also vulnerable to "double-spend" attacks. Sometimes you want a favor, but you need it kept quiet. Well if that favor is reported on in the RepNet, it's not very quiet is it? That's why you'll find most people require a little extra for keeping things on the sly for a while. It's got to be reported eventually, though the nature of the favor can be obfuscated. That's another thing to look out for. Let's say your on an anarchist-hab or (more likely) a SCUM barg, and you get into it with someone. They try to fry your morph and you don't take too kindly to that. You try to chase the bastard down but lose track of him. You BETTER be keeping an eye on his RepNet account. Someone your trying to kill gets away from you and then suddenly takes out a BIG favor with 9-lives? Yeah, you want to know about that the second it happens.
The end really is coming. What comes after that is anyone's guess.
Ilmarinen Ilmarinen's picture
Not a fixed percentage, no.
Not a fixed percentage, no. It's more like you break up the entire hab's reputation into a billion pieces and then people trade those pieces in exchange for favors. The value of your favor isn't defined by what other people think of it but by how many pieces someone else is willing to give you for it. Sometimes it's a one-time deal, but more often it's set up on contractual long-term basis because, as I mentioned, people need to know that a certain thing will get done every week. We do deal with Extropia sometimes when it comes to non-physical goods, but introducing the currency directly into our dealings with anarchists isn't really practical on any large scale. Some people will take it, others won't. Again, we might see if our neighbors would be willing to have a broker onboard. Maybe he would be able to streamline the process on their side. Of course that still means adding an unnecessary middleman to the transaction, which usually means a waste of time and resources all around. So not an ideal solution. As to the anarchist 'currency', that's basically how much of our business is done already. But did you notice how it adds a dozen unnecessary steps to what would otherwise be a simple transaction? That's basically what we're trying to avoid with this initiative. The entire 'chain of deals' thing is like something a comedian would come up with. And yeah, it gets done electronically, which is convenient enough if you've chosen to get sleeved. Since most of us didn't, it's basically the equivalent of waiting until someone goes door to door to see if anyone wants to trade some flower arranging for a week of looking over a hab's outer walls for cracks, then waiting again while someone trades the wall-looking for an unusual morph...it's frustrating, would be my point. With [i]actual[/i] currency in place each arrangement pretty much takes place between two parties and you get to skip the walkabout.
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Erenthia Erenthia's picture
But if you take the entire
But if you take the entire Hab's reputation (something pretty far removed from an individual) then break it into a billion pieces what [i]meaning[/i] does it have? At that point it's an abstraction of an abstraction of an abstraction. Sure it's useful - if you have a lot of it, but traditional currency is how the PC maintains its plutocracy. No thanks. As for our "currency" well that's the thing. We don't really use it. A good chunk of us aren't even aware that it exists, so in practice it doesn't add any steps at all. Besides, traditional infrastructures tend to involve things like a "supply chain" which its own series of unnecessary steps - and frankly sounds more like a comedy routine as far as I'm concerned. Besides, it's the AIs that do the walkabout. You want some flour? Query the network and it'll tell you a dozen people within 20 minutes walk who have extra on hand along with people who are already walking from their part of the hab to yours who'll just bring it to you (an additional if trivial favor). It's done in seconds, so you rarely have to worry about someone jumping ahead and getting what you were looking for. In your example, if you wanted some flower arrangement done you'd ping the network for people with the skill to do it, then check their wanted list to see if there was anything you knew you could provide. Failing that you actually need to have a conversation. The deal is sealed in that conversation, you don't usually wait. If you promise to watch the habs outer walls and your rep is good, they'll just assume that you'll do it - and you better, or you'll find yourself having trouble finding meals after a screw up like that. Oh, my muse tells me I missed the part about most of you not being sleeved. Well the point remains. If you want to maintain your Rep you better do what you say you'll do. That said if your reliable you don't have to wait for your part to be complete before the other guy even starts on his end. You need that flower arrangement done today and the other guy needs something next week? You'll get it today, and your obligation to help him next week could very well get shifted away if you do something for somebody else in that time. It's quick and efficient. The only thing it's bad at is supporting big business, which is something none of us minds.
The end really is coming. What comes after that is anyone's guess.