Sharing the Wealth

Due to the prevalence of automation and nanotechnology there are very few jobs in Federation space in the fields of mining, agriculture, or manufacturing, and the ones that exist are primarily supervision and programming of robots. Almost all manual labor is performed by machines, and with nanotechnology one can have a factory and recycling complex on their desk.

When automation all but eliminated manual labor in the Republic of New Pallas the government was faced with the prospect of hundreds of thousands of unemployed citizens, the obvious solution was to instate a guaranteed basic income that was enough to keep everyone fed and healthy, half the population was still living in state-owned arcology apartments anyway. For a couple centuries population expansion was carefully regulated to keep pace with the resources available and the progress of the terraforming operation and most seemed happy. Some of the permanently unemployed spent their time just soaking up entertainment, yes, but many others became artists, amateur scientists, or full-time parents.

Then there was the Plague War. The Republic was not hurt as badly as the SPPS but death spread throughout the arcologies regardless. While automated infrastructure remained intact its minders did not, breakdowns became increasingly commonplace leading to starvation. In addition, many parahumans became wary of packing so many people together in the immense but still confined city-buildings and fled to the largely unused countryside in droves. Desktop nanofabbers had become a luxury consumer product in the years before the plague, and some groups had (illegally) hacked them to self-replicate, now the starving masses were shoveling random plants and raw dirt into bootleg fabbers simply to eat.

Some in government tried to brand them as criminals, but they didn’t have the resources left to enforce those laws and the politicians in question didn’t last the next election cycle. Once able to operate in the open nanofab homesteads cropped up all over the continent, many of them nearly self-sufficient. But nanotechnology cannot turn lead into gold, raw elements still needed to be found and mined, often only after a significant investment of time and resources.

Joint-stock companies or corporations were never accepted as a legal entity in New Pallas, the corporations who created and enslaved their ancestors were too thoroughly demonized in their culture. Rather most businesses operate as independent contractors or at most partnerships with employees. However, a system of profit-sharing and crowdfunding has emerged that fulfills most of the functions of a corporation.

Profit-sharing is a system in which an individual citizen sets up a program to automatically distribute the profits from their work, after expenses of course, to specified people. Usually those people are friends or close relatives, but if some of them were people who gave them a significant amount of money when they were just starting their business then so be it. Each of New Pallas’ founding genera has a profit-share in which each member contributes a small portion of their income, generally a small fraction of a percentage given the populations of every founding genus, which is distributed equally to every member of the genus. Smaller families also tend to have their own profit-shares, most notably Psi-Comm for the high families of genus Argentum.

Crowdfunding can generally be sorted into three categories: pre-orders, subscriptions, or loans. Pre-orders are for specific projects with a discrete start and end, backers receive a reward at the completion of the project that they specified at funding (like Kickstarter). Subscriptions give the backers exclusive access, or at least early access, to the creator’s content (i.e. Patreon). Loans are just what they sound like, backers expect to be paid back with interest at some point.

In practice, most citizens have a steady income from a combination of profit-shares and crowdfunding. The net result is that everyone eats, anyone can afford luxuries with some degree of saving, and artisans, inventors, and primary producers are the most affluent members of society.Interstellar merchants are a bit of an exeption to this rule, but they’re an extremely small minority.

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