Afflueconomics in Orion’s Arm (OA)
What is an Afflueconomy and how can it exist?
One of the main features of OA is the idea of a Afflueconomy. What is meant by this term? Afflueconomics is the idea that there is no lack or want left in society, often referred to as a Post Scarcity Economy. This is a highly efficient system of obtaining full need and maximal want fulfillment. The question remains of how does this incredible economic environment arise and what factors are required to maintain it? By its very nature, Afflueconomics are not a stable state and require effort to maintain. So what needs to happen to create this economic outcome? We must first describe the requirements of such an economy. How large a society can exist in such a state. What preparations must be done to maintain an Afflueconomy? For simplicity’s sake, we will skip most of the permutations and styles of social and environmental variances that can color and shape an Afflueconomy and stick to the fundamental requirements with a few descriptions for color and elaboration.
The Pillars of Afflueconomics
These Pillars of Afflueconomics are the essential factors in creating and maintaining this economic state. Without these, this system of economy and exchange cannot survive. These will vary in size, power and degree of influence, but all are required in some form to create this state for at least some of the population affected by it. The resultant state will be only as strong as its weakest pillar which ultimately becomes the limiter of its scope and durability to stress.
The first pillar in any Afflueconomics society is effectively unlimited elemental resources. Matter, by nature, is a limited resource. So an Afflueconomy must have access to the entire spectrum of periodic elements, and potentially artificial elements to become a true Afflueconomy. Ideally, these supplies of periodic elemental abundance must be brought close enough to negate transportation costs for the population, and be refined enough to eliminate processing efforts as well. Once this hurdle is conquered, one can look to the next major hurdle to the existence of a Afflueconomy.
Energy is the next essential pillar for the existence of an Afflueconomy. Without an effectively unlimited energy source, this will enforce a market on energy. Energy must be plentiful, easily and instantly accessible by all in the Afflueconomy and it must be abundant enough to be essentially free. Many sources of energy can be used to create this state, but one must be wary of any form of energy that consumes or destroys matter for that will slowly but surely create a strain on the first pillar; elemental resources.
The third pillar of Afflueconomics is distribution. Without a highly efficient and powerful transportation infrastructure, pockets of need and scarcity will begin to occur. To prevent this, the most rapid system of transportation possible for cargo, point of purchase manufacturing, or many other methods are required to speed the finished good or service to its requested location.
Fourthly, an Afflueconomy requires unlimited manufacturing technology. Goods and services must be produced at a rate that either equals or surpasses that of actual need. Often this can be averted by projecting the expected need into a certain area, or utilizing a “JITPOP” (Just In Time Point Of Purchase) manufacturing system.
If all four of these factors are met, an Afflueconomy is possible. In fact, the scale of an Afflueconomy is what is most in question. A single person can have a personal Afflueconomy if the proper technology is applied, and his needs do not outstrip his supply of any of the four foundations. The larger the four pillars, the larger an Afflueconomy can become.
What other factors can effect a Afflueconomy?
A few factors exist that can increase the size and power of an Afflueconomy or limit it or even destroy it. These will vary from place to place, nor are they always present. These factors can also counteract each other in a way that leaves the Afflueconomy unaffected.
One of the largest factors in limiting Afflueconomies is information and data. Without a highly effective communication system and ability to record data, an Afflueconomy can be severely stunted. This system can be anything from Genetic to Memetic to computerized or any other variation you can think of. It must be reliable and able to supply the needs and wants of the people to communicate desires as well as fulfill them. When manufacturing is automated and available to anyone, designs and copyrightable information will become the limiter. New patterns and designs and uses for the materials can both limit and expand the luxury of a people as well as more or less efficiently meet their needs and wants.
The most powerful ally or enemy of an Afflueconomy is political will. If the governing polity or Sephirotic decide that they will or will not allow Afflueconomics to exist in a certain location, there is little to stop it. The abundance for each of the pillars limit the size and form that it can take. A government can even force a certain area to become an Afflueconomy even though it is not ideally suited for such an existence due to lack in one or more of the foundations. This artificial propping up may not be obvious to those inside the Afflueconomy, but will become increasingly painful and destructive to the systems supporting it.
A related limiter to Afflueconomics is privilege. Since it may be desirous to a polity to limit the types of commodities accessible to its citizens, some access to certain aspects of Afflueconomic Pillars may be artificially limited. Their reasons may vary from caprice to safety. How a citizen gains or loses privileged access to levels of their Afflueconomics is up to each individual polity.
The speed of light is another limitation to the size of an Afflueconomy. Although Wormholes can expand the territory included, relativistic travel will still cause limitations or slow the speed of an Afflueconomy down. This delay, if attached to especially time sensitive needs can be incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately, little can be done about this outside of moving supplies closer and spread evenly across an Afflueconomy.
Speed of manufacture can affect the size and robustness of an Afflueconomy as well. If the equipment used to manufacture goods and services are limited or slow, lack may occur if sudden need arise and surpass emergency reserves if any. Much of this can be fought with JITPOP manufacturing, nanofacture and other local forms of construction.
Picotech manufacturing (the ability to reassemble the parts of atoms to create or destroy elements) can nearly eliminate the Elemental Foundation of an Afflueconomy. Since it can construct any type of element from other elemental parts, this is incredibly useful. The more broadly used Picotech is, the greater it’s impact on the Afflueconomy. This technology has the largest impact of any on the nature of an Afflueconomy because it allows an unlimited elemental resource. Since Picotech is a Transapient technology, it often is rare for baselines to have access to such equipment.
A system of recycling also increases the stability of a Afflueconomy, and prevents entropy of maintaining it from being a problem. Although through use of Nanotech or better recycling methods, this can nearly be eliminated, it can never be totally stopped from happening. Matter will be consumed and destroyed, or lost in some manner over time. The rate of this loss is what will govern the need to replenish lost matter.
In regards to nanofacture, intellectual materials, like designs and programs to create commodities. Intellectual commodities and services cannot be satisfied by material manufacture, and often become the major pinch point for any Afflueconomy. If there is a large and effectively comprehensive freeware community, this minimizes the impact any intellectual property pinch-point, although it may not address all the issues.
Where in OA do Afflueconomies exist?
True Afflueconomies are relatively rare when compared to the total state of the Terragen Sphere. They are usually associated with Nanotopias and other ultratech societies. The chances for their existence increase dramatically when a polity has readily available Picofacture, and energy supplies. Occasionally you will find true Afflueconomies outside of a Nanotopia, but this is increasingly rare the less technologically advanced the society is. The farther out from the Inner Core one goes, the fewer and fewer systems are capable of supporting Afflueconomies without extreme external effort. Almost universally, these become rarer and smaller as one travels outward.
Can there be partial Afflueconomies?
Most economies in Orion’s Arm are partial Afflueconomies. They may have the technology to manufacture or distribute or even the materials, but lack the energy. In places where the energy exists, there will be a full Afflueconomy, but a greater effect will be made on society as a whole by manufacturing for the larger area for a cheaper price. Often, the more stable the four pillars of Afflueconomy exist, the cheaper goods and services become till they become essentially free to all ad infinitum. In some cases, whole sections of the economy, but not the whole economy itself will become Afflueconomical. Often this shows itself in the form of basic needs being met first, and some rudimentary luxuries. This is referred to as “The Welfare Syndrome” by some economists as a derogatory term. The more solid the pillars, the larger variety of “free” goods can be found and population included in this largess of society.
Most often, due to the level of technology commonly available in the Terragen Sphere, the major limiting factor is Elemental availability.
When it comes to Afflueconomic limitation due to Elemental reasons, a few categories of limited Afflueconomics have been discovered. They are SiCHON (Standing for the five most common elements in the universe; Silicon, Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen), Common and Trace.
SiCHON Afflueconomics occurs when the most common elements are abundant enough for nanofacture, but the less common elements are rare enough to warrant market forces to be placed upon them. This is the most common limited form of Afflueconomics. Often this is what economists talk about when referring to the “Welfare Effect” of an Afflueconomy.
When most of the naturally occurring elements are practically unlimited, then a Common Afflueconomy is possible. This means that non synthetic, non-trace element essential nanofacture is possible in a Afflueconomic manner. Often the luxury and comfort of this form of limited Afflueconomy is far greater than SiCHON Afflueconomy.
Trace Afflueconomy is almost indistinguishable from a true Afflueconomy to most baselines. Only synthetic particles are excluded. Since most of these particles are made by Picotech, or specialized equipment, this is the most rare form of limited Afflueconomy. Since almost all commodities and goods in this society do not require synthetic elements.
In conclusion, Afflueconomics are everywhere in some forms or another. They may be artificially propped up or the result of truly lucky circumstances. Many variants and styles of Afflueconomics exist here and there, but essentially follow the same pillars and principles, and are ultimately seen as varied offspring of a true perfectly working economy free from all need and want.