Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet. It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .
Economics isn’t the dismal science on the worlds of Avenoth; it’s taken quite seriously. When you’ve got sorcery, super-science, and the gods running around it really helps to know what won’t destabilize your economy.
Economics is considered a science similar to statistics, analysis, and forensics – it is about understanding how things work for the sake of improvement. Economics tend to be very workaday, often specialized, and very dedicated – it is not a “sexy” profession.
The major goal of economics is seen as better understanding of how things work and making it better. Many an economist with ambition will pitch a plan to a town, ward, district, or even a Great City to try and implement. Some will succeed – though few seem to go into politics, preferring to be more of an advisory role. Considering the often verbal politics of the Government that’s probably wise.
There are no real economic philosophies as we would think of them in our world – many points of culture and civilization are considered not up for debate. For instance, regulation of toxic substances or the need for strong economic representation of professionals int the forms of guilds and unions is considered normal. What does exist is hundreds if not thousands of proposals, ideas and theories to tweak this or that.
It’s a lot like diet – people know the general outline of what’s healthy, but there are debates over the best food, proportions, and the like.
A few universal elements of the economy of the human worlds of Avenoth:
Marks: Marks are the common currency, maintained by The Government. The term is a shortened version of the term “Mark Of Trade,” an old way people would mark the value of items in different currency. Marks usually come in waterproof paper bills, with coins for single Marks, and fractions of them (half-Mark, Quarter-mark, and Decimark). A thousand Marks is usually called a Kilomark or K-mark.
A Mark would be roughly equivalent to just under two dollars in America 2018, though prices are hard to translate.
City Wealth Funds: Each Great City maintains a Wealth Fund, a large pool of money used to promote economic wellbeing. This can take the form of everything from zero-interest or no-payback loans, grants to promising students, and investment seeking payback in other businesses. The Great Cities also invest in each other’s cities, businesses, colleges, and other ways to seek benefits for their citizens – and this opens up yet another route for complex politics.
Guilds, Unions, and Professional Associations: Almost anyone who has a profession is part of one or more professional group. These groups, recognized by ancient charter and slow-but-inevitably-evolving laws, provide support for various professionals with both social bonding, training, and economic support. They also act as power brokers, giving people economic leverage, which is both accepted, but is yet another area of complex politics that citizens navigate.
Guilds and Unions, especially, provide retirement and economic benefits to their members. The Great Cities appreciate this since it ensures people are taken care of.
Benefits: Citizens of Avenoth who are under The Government (which is about 60-80% of them) are provided with certain benefits as citizens:
- A public education up to and including college. An educated population is a cornerstone of civilization.
- Health benefits. Obviously a healthy population is a stable one – and considering the amount of biological weapons unleashed during the War, and new diseases from other worlds, it’s needed for survival.
- Welfare. The society in general provides a lot of welfare benefits, but they vary from Great City to City and planet to planet. For instance on Gellitar food and housing is free.
- Retirement benefits. Though retirement is a nebulous term in the culture, it is generally figured that past a certain age it is desirable to slow down. Plans are provided by a mixture of The Government, The Great Cities, and professional associations – usually meaning a financial advisor needs to get involved.
- Maintenance of the Network. Cities work hard to maintain a good part of the network and public access is free to all. Some people pay for boosters or additional security.
Taxes and Fees: Taxation is part of Avenoth and is seen as one paying to support their social structures. People often pay government taxes, City taxes, Ward or district taxes, and there are membership feels to guilds or unions. There is no single tax filing day – taxes are reviewed quarterly. Obviously this keeps many an accountant in business.
Electronic Commerce: Electronic commerce has been known for over five decades, and in piecemeal ways before that. Its best to say it’s been secure for a decade. However, people have adjusted to it slowly and there are those who refuse to use it in any form to this day. Some electronic commerce is thus paid for upon delivery or done by other means.
Forensic Accountants: The term Forensic Accountant refers to people who unriddle financial and economic issues, often after disasters, crimes, and historical discoveries.
Banks: Each Great City has its own Bank, and many Unions, Guilds, and the like run smaller Banks or Credit unions. Banking is highly regulated because of the potential for abuse, thus this arrangement is generally considered a positive. There are only two “non-localized” Banks that operate broadly and they are watched with great suspicion as banking is seen as being open to abuse.
Banks are considered more like a public service than a business venture.