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Imperial Interstellar Scout Service Details of the worlds of the Imperium (and beyond).

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Old January 28th, 2009, 07:12 PM
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Default Government type 1

Another thread made me think about just what a corporate world government means. I know that for 30 years one of the interpretations has been "owned by a megacorporation" (or a sector-wide or subsector-wide company, but in any case an off-world corporation).

But if you think about it, this is not correct. A type 1 government runs its world as a corporation, with shareholders, elections, and some sort of board of directors. Whereas a world owned by any off-world entity, company or not, would be a captive government. The off-worlders appoint the government who runs it as an autocracy or oligarchy or civil service or whatever. But not as a sovereign company answerable only to its shareholders. Unless it a subsidiary company, of course. But if it is, the parent company does not own the world; the subsidiary does and the parent company owns some (or all) the stock in the subsidiary. A distinction that the Scout Service apparently has a hard time grasping .

The corrolary to this insight is that our choice of worlds owned by megacorporations is not limited to worlds with gov type 1. There's gov type 6, as already mentioned, but also (potentially) dictatorships and oligarchies and technocracies and possibly other types as well. It all depends on how much autonomy the corporation allows its possession and how the government is structured.


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Old January 28th, 2009, 08:00 PM
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Makes sense
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Old January 28th, 2009, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rancke View Post
But if you think about it, this is not correct. A type 1 government runs its world as a corporation, with shareholders, elections, and some sort of board of directors.
As models of democracy go this could be a goer.

The "company" releases shares. There is no direct taxation, however shares purchased in the company directly translate to votes. In effect a vote-buying democracy without the need to wash the funds or avoid any campaign finance laws. Much more honest then some of the vote buying democracies currently in existence.

There would be problems if the system declared that it was a LLC.

The imperial noble would automatically be the chairman of the board I guess (and vice versa depending of how you run the assignation of nobility). Though depending on limits to outside influence the Imperium could just buy majority ownership in the system.

I can see people of a certain liberal bent (Companies are always more efficient then government!) having a hard time wrapping their head arround the concept.
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Old January 29th, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Your model, Hans, has some issues. If it is a stock corporation, then the shares could, concievably, be owned by anyone. They could be bought, and sold, and controllled by off-world owners. If it is a non-stock (a member) corporation, where every resident / citizen has membership, then what distinguishes this from a democracy? It can call itself a company, or commonwealth, but if residence is the "buy in," one per, and that ownership is non-transferrable, it's not a company but a democracy.

In my book, (LBB3) what distinguishes a corporate from a captive government is whether the residents are employees (who may or may not be shareholders). The company can be a corporation, or not. The residents are employees. An employee is somewhere because their employer sent them, or they arrived there to apply to stay.

"1. Company/Corporation. Government by a company managerial elite; citizens are company employees."

As to 6, a corporation can be the outside group imposing leadership. The citizens there are not there because they work for the company.

"6. Government by an imposed leadership answerable to an outside group. A colony or conquered area."

So either can be "corporate government," with voting shareholders as citizens. Type 1 does not dictate that the company is a strictly planetary affair, but rather that the relationship between government and citizen is contractual employment. Citizens can be fired, and deported, or they can quit. Type 6 is more oppressive; the "outside group" exerts control which was derived by other than contractual means.
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Old January 29th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rancke View Post
Another thread made me think about just what a corporate world government means. I know that for 30 years one of the interpretations has been "owned by a megacorporation" (or a sector-wide or subsector-wide company, but in any case an off-world corporation).

But if you think about it, this is not correct. A type 1 government runs its world as a corporation, with shareholders, elections, and some sort of board of directors. Whereas a world owned by any off-world entity, company or not, would be a captive government. The off-worlders appoint the government who runs it as an autocracy or oligarchy or civil service or whatever. But not as a sovereign company answerable only to its shareholders. Unless it a subsidiary company, of course. But if it is, the parent company does not own the world; the subsidiary does and the parent company owns some (or all) the stock in the subsidiary. A distinction that the Scout Service apparently has a hard time grasping .

The corrolary to this insight is that our choice of worlds owned by megacorporations is not limited to worlds with gov type 1. There's gov type 6, as already mentioned, but also (potentially) dictatorships and oligarchies and technocracies and possibly other types as well. It all depends on how much autonomy the corporation allows its possession and how the government is structured.


Hans
Yes, anything written can be twisted to mean something else. It's the backbone of modern society As soon as someone launches into a
"let me explain" mode or "the psychology of the mythology is such that" you know a shovel-job approach-eth.

Anyway getting back to the rules, it could be the government type is in error (meaning it shouldn't be there in the first place on the original charts made up by the game designers) or they're trying to convey something else.

I think people have problems with the term "feudal technocracy" over the years, but ultimately it'll come down to what the GM thinks something means. For an RPG I don't think you really need to go much further than that, but that's just my explanation (see above).

I'm certain over the course of history of this earth, people have made contracts, pre-nuptials and so on, and then ended up with something far different than was written. The old "living ruleset" (in america the Constitution is considered living on most TV-law shows) which I take to mean: It means whatever the prevailing wind/blowhard is saying it means, because the original writers couldn't conceive of the world we live in. There's undoubtedly more to it than that (the old "now you see it, now you don't") but suffice to say, given the passage of time, it'll mean something else.

If you don't understand what I've written, just read Loren Wiseman's
latest editorial http://jtas.sjgames.com/login/article.cgi?1123

I'm sure in some future incarnation of RPGs they'll be deftly written by teams of crack lawyers...and arguments about what it means will still take place


>
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Old January 29th, 2009, 11:20 AM
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And a few more options for the government code

The scouts made a mistake when they listed the world information
The individual who made the listing was bribed to list the world's government as something it was not.
The world's government has changed since it's last listing.

These things can be used to make the world suitable for your universe or to just make it more interesting to those players that have memorized every page of the game material.

Dave Chase
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Old January 29th, 2009, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveChase View Post
And a few more options for the government code

The scouts made a mistake when they listed the world information
The individual who made the listing was bribed to list the world's government as something it was not.
The world's government has changed since it's last listing.

These things can be used to make the world suitable for your universe or to just make it more interesting to those players that have memorized every page of the game material.

Dave Chase


Or that scout info was from the 700s or whenever the last official survey in the Marches was (someone please pounce on that opening...)

Yes, I just did a primitive query and the rules lawyers will have to expand it from there.

I'm all for ignoring UWPs and making them fit something more to my own liking.

Recent Trav-setting poll on the GURPS Traveller bbs had lots and lots of
"modified" and "heavily-modified" replies in it. And I think at least one guy who doesn't play traveller but had to input something.

I'm sure the OP in the Original Post will make a decision he can live with.

>
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Old January 29th, 2009, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samuelvss View Post
Your model, Hans, has some issues. If it is a stock corporation, then the shares could, concievably, be owned by anyone. They could be bought, and sold, and controllled by off-world owners. If it is a non-stock (a member) corporation, where every resident / citizen has membership, then what distinguishes this from a democracy? It can call itself a company, or commonwealth, but if residence is the "buy in," one per, and that ownership is non-transferrable, it's not a company but a democracy.
Maybe the difference is the 'one per'.
Maybe stock can be bought/sold to residents only, and the biggest shareholders get to sit on the board?
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Old January 29th, 2009, 05:22 PM
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I have a corporation-as-government nation in IMTU, the Union Corporation.

The surface difference between the restricted Traveller description is that citizens are not employees, they're stockholders.

Their system works as follows: When you're born, you receive a single stock share. This is how a citizen is identified - someone who owns a voting, dividend-bearing share, referred to as a "citizenship share." These shares are fairly expensive per share. Citizens can buy and sell their shares as they please between to each other within limits - and the process is heavily taxed with certain exemptions. Sales of shares to those who are not already shareholders is forbidden. A citizen may sell his or her last share, of course, but then they stop being a citizen. It is possible to become a citizen by purchasing stock, but this is controlled by the corporation, and usually requires whatever flaming hoops they want you to leap through and payment of a large sum of money (like anywhere from x10 to x1000 its normal value depending on circumstances).

The company is an indirect democracy, with eligible votes weighed by how many shares that person owns. There is a limit on how many how many shares someone may own (to limit the power of any one person) with formula being based around the idea that 95% of the citizens would control no less than 55% of the voting shares. 45% of the shares end up being owned by the last 5% - the political power elite. As power is diluted for most shareholders, the equivalent of local elected officials is present in the form of proxy representatives. The only direct elections are for the board members which occurs once every five years, though in cases of crisis, there exists a provision for a "shareholder revolt" and a board election to occur immediately.

The company earns its money via taxes levied upon businesses that make use of its assets - land, ports, utilities/infrastructure, and natural resources (which includes citizens employed). Business, especially large corporations which do business, accept this as the corporate government was set-up by them in recognition that a bunch of squabbling, competing companies could not provide certain kinds of services that weren't deemed profitable and that the common workers desired this government to protect their rights as human beings.

The government's services are entirely based around the concept of the "citizenship share." The dividends are paid out in the form of "service credits" in lieu of money. Services such as primary education, health care, and so on are all based around how many citizenship shares a family has. The dividends are not paid out in cash, but instead "in kind" and paid into an account of service credits. Schools, various health care procedures and so on are paid out of service credits. What you can afford in service credits is what you get. In addition, the only kind of "old age pension" you get in the Union is via these service credits - buying these shares at a steady rate from the company to protect your retirement lifestyle is therefore very important to most lower and middle class people. Of course, where service credits don't cover, you can make up the difference in actual money as well. Nevertheless, as citizenship shares also equal political power, the wealthy who wouldn't use public services are also buying shares, which provides a sort of "trickle down" benefit to the less affluent sectors. When someone dies, they may will their shares to someone else, however, that someone needs to pay the (heavy) share tax - most people choose to "sell back" some percentage of the shares to the government instead of paying the tax out of pocket - in turn these shares become available for sale.

Obviously, the system is not perfect. In particular, it's also possible to go into "welfare debt" with the Union Corporation. The major sources of Welfare Debt are medical debt (long term medical care), education debt (basically student loans), welfare debt (requiring life basics you can't afford), and pension debt (people too old to work who don't have enough service credits to pay for medical treatment and life support).

As a corporation, its recognized that market forces will always be putting people out of work, however, at the same time, the idea that workers who are able to work are lying fallow is an anathema to the corporation. Job retraining costs are paid for by the government and someone can slouch provided you can pay for it. If those who can't, the corporation will collect people like the homeless and those unable to service their debts where they're interviewed and whatever corrections necessary are made to put them back to work. No matter what their skills and abilities, some sort of job will be found. "Corrections" often involve chemo-hypno therapy for various psychological impediments to operating in a job environment, such as "depression", "low boredom tolerance", "poor attention skills", and "antagonism to orders." Obviously, this all costs money, and it's simply added to someone's welfare debt. Union law stipulates that such persons must be given work allows them to pay off their welfare debt in a timely and realistic manner. This often means the worst of such people are given hazardous and unpleasant tasks (where equivalent pay rates are high because nobody wants such jobs) such as toxic waste cleanup, urban renewal operations, corporate peace enforcement, military scouting, garbage reprocessing, etc. Of course, such jobs also have a high morality rate...

People with more medical disabilities might find themselves used for more exotic purposes. For instance, those in a persistent vegetative state will be rigged up to be virtually controlled by those with body-crippling injuries or birth defects as "remote bodies", the partnership being used to pay off both parties welfare debts in tasks like infrastructure maintenance, hazardous exploration/rescue, and so on, while crippled-in-body but sound in mind types await treatment for full rehabilitation. Even the 'too old to work' often find some use, working at basic tasks - usually involving making labor-intensive "hand-made" products for sale to the liberal affluent. Of course, failing all that, the government provides euthanasia - especially in the case where the person who wishes to die has healthy organs that can be used for transplants...
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Old January 29th, 2009, 05:28 PM
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UWPs are static and have been since the First Imperium, by order of The Emperor. What do you think all those Tigress Battleships and the rest of the Imperial Navy, Marines, and Army are really for? Pirates? Zhodani? Nooo, keeping everything in The Imperium nice and steady, no change is allowed to the UWP. Conformity will be assured, by force if required.

The Grand Surveys are fact checking missions to insure that all worlds are still conforming to the UWP assigned when they became members of The Imperium. And boy oh boy, you do not want to be the system that has messed up a thousand years of status quo...

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