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Thorn Explains: In-Universe Currency Redux

Thorn Explains: In-Universe Currency Redux published on 16 Comments on Thorn Explains: In-Universe Currency Redux

A sequel to Thorn Explains: International Currencies.

Universal basic income does actually work out this well every time it’s been tested.

Personally, if I was guaranteed a basic income, then I probably would quit my day job, yeah. And then I’d likely be recorded as “unemployed”…because I would be working full-time on something that doesn’t pay a lot. Which, according to capitalism, doesn’t count.

If you like Leif & Thorn, and you do appreciate how much time I spend making it for free, maybe throw the artist of your favorite net-comic a few dollars on Patreon?


Leif: Follow-up questions and comments about money stuff: go!

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ceannis has policies in place to, say, actually help homeless people or something…

Thorn: We have universal basic income, yes! Everyone can afford decent housing.

Leif: Wait, what? If people aren’t under constant threat of homelessness, how is anyone motivated to work??

Um . . . to get anything beyond your basic needs? Vacation trips? Takeout? Birthday presents? Pet supplies? Sending the artist of your favorite net-comic a few crowns on Gemnmo?

If anything, the chronic stress from living in constant fear seems like it would make people worse at working, not better.

How do you pronounce “Gemnmo”?

Thorn: Very carefully.

Little concerned about the mention of no longer using paper currency – does really everyone have access to a smartcrystal and no reason needed to covertly acquire some spare cash?

Thorn: It’s not like we banned paper currency . . . I just haven’t seen anyone use it for a while. If I worked retail, it would probably be a different story.

Woman in Black: I am literally unbankable, and I just use hard currency chips everywhere. Seems way more convenient than carrying around stacks of paper.

Dex: If you did want to do some covert trading, you might find a digital record is much easier to erase than a literal paper trail. Hypothetically.

The way Leif delivers his line gave me the impression that Sønheim had been playing games with the exchange rate . . . I guess not, then?

Leif: Is there not one person-in-charge who decides what money is worth?

Thorn: Nope! The exchange rate is just “the price traders are willing to buy/sell for at this moment.”

If any one person gets too much control, then it’s market manipulation. Which is illegal in both of our countries. . . . I, uh, don’t know anything specific about how to define or catch that stuff. But I hope smart people are in charge of it.

Leif: Thorn? Is money . . . fake?

Thorn: Well, it exists . . . But it only means anything because enough of us agree that it means anything. So — kinda, yeah.

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16 Comments

Leif looks like he’s very deliberately Not Thinking about “if money is fake, maybe the debt on my back is also fake”

I think it’s been pretty well established that Leif is insanely good at not thinking about things that will get him zapped, so yeah. That’s something he’s probably deliberately doing every moment of every day.

I mean, it takes enough focus to manage it that he doesn’t have available capacity to think about anything else that will get him zapped and it’s a significant enough of a factor in his life that he probably always *needs* to be worried about accidentally thinking about that, so it’s always available as a distraction from any other wrong-thinking that he might need to do.

Note that unless they have zero inflation, the actual value of his debt is going down all the time … possibly even faster than he is able to pay it off. On the other hand, if there is interest on that debt … which would likely be higher than inflation …

If there’s a universal basic income and no one wants to work certain jobs, I fully support reorganizing things so those jobs either:

– Don’t exist
– Are done by robots
or
– Are less crappy (better workplace policies, shorter hours, better pay, etc.)

I’ve met people who wanted to be janitors and sanitation engineers. I went to school with people who were not only interested in, but also spending thousands of dollars per semester for years just to be able to work highly dangerous jobs involving nuclear radiation. There are so many incredibly different people, that there is probably someone who wants to do any job you can think of that needs doing.

I’m not saying that there will necessarily be enough of those people. But there tends to be a lot more of them if you treat them with respect and pay them reasonably given the crap that they need to endure as part of their job.

Yeah, that means I expect that sanitation engineer is probably one of the higher paid jobs in Ceannis, at least when talking about jobs that at least hundreds of people have. That said, Olive probably makes significantly more than they do, just as an example of a rather more selective job that pays well.

In general, I imagine that pretty much all jobs in Ceannis are “less crappy”, simply because it’s an idealized fantasy country where people get treated with respect, and toxic behaviors are such a big part of why most jobs in the US are shit.

But I also imagine that the whole “universal basic income” thing causes most jobs to have shorter hours, and not having to worry about whether you’ll be able to afford the necessities to live if you lose your job also goes a long way to making those jobs better. I mean, I have a relatively cushy job and I have too much job security to get a promotion or transfer to somewhere else in my company, but I still stress about losing my job because of that worry. I can only imagine that someone who’s living paycheck to paycheck has that stress a lot more. At least, apart from people who currently have an infallible financial safety net, though even probably some of them worry about it.

Also, just thinking about one of those jobs that Ceannis probably has that we don’t, I imagine that there are some people who are just so excited about unicorns that they would actually run around after them cleaning their poop off of the streets for free. I mean, in the real world, when horse drawn carriages were still commonplace, *we* had some of those people. They were rather rare because we treat people worse than the stuff those people would clean off the streets for a chance to spend more time around the animals they were fascinated by, especially those sorts of people. But they still existed enough for us to have historical records of some of them from sources other than their employers. I know because one of my great great great aunts was one of them and her diary got passed down at least enough my grandmother read it, and commented that she was so much more fortunate that her daughter (my aunt) felt that way about dogs instead of horses, so didn’t need to worry about her daughter getting killed in the street due to an accident from chasing her fascination.

I sorta expect that unicorns are intelligent enough to not poop on streets, unlike horses. But yeah, people are really different. And the wage for job is proportional to how many people are NEEDED to do it versus how many people are CAPABLE and WILLING to do it.

Still, there are other factors. Many jobs became less crappy if you have better tools to do them. Robots are actually extreme case of it: robots don’t replace workers. Robots are way how to replace many unqualified workers with smaller number of workers with higher qualification doing less boring jobs like robot maintenance, developing better robots, programming robots etc.

Exactly! It’s basic economics: if you offer a certain price for something, and nobody’s willing to give it to you for that…well, if you REALLY want it, you’ll have to offer a better deal.

It works for objects (“nobody will sell you this lamp/cake/oil painting/cat tree/blender/collectible spoon for $20 if they think it’s worth at least $40”), and it works the same way for labor (“nobody will sell you their time and effort to flip burgers for $8/hour if they think it’s worth at least $15/hour”).

“How do you pronounce “Gemnmo”?
Thorn: Very carefully.”
me: or badly, I try it the first way, then usually end up on “Badly”

If I’m remembering my class on macro-economics correctly money is a measure of work.

I mean…in theory, that’s (sort of) the intention.

But in practice — it’s easy to think of a dozen examples of “this person worked very hard and got little to no money for it,” or “this person got a bunch of money from doing little to no work.”

…so this is unnecessarily rude.

You’re belittling either the total breadth of information in the course, or the total amount this person learned from the course, or both…based on a one-sentence comment. In a webcomic comment section, of all places.

One off-the-cuff sentence is not enough data for you to draw any reliable conclusions, let alone “draw a bad conclusion and decide you have the grounds to be vocally judgy about it.”

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