More affordable starships

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Tom Kalbfus
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More affordable starships

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Fri Aug 08, 2014 2:00 am

I noticed the prices on the equipment lists haven't changed much since the classic edition. Which leads to an interesting question. What happens if we update the salaries on the basis of $1 = Cr1, for instance per capita salary in the US is around $50,000, so the average family of four earns $200,000 a year, so suppose the average family of four in Traveller earned $200,000 a year per capita, what if we adjusted the mustering out tables to reflect this. What if everyday items that exist in our world, such as ground cars had their prices updated to say $33,500 for 4 seat sedan, but we left things like air/rafts and starships alone Would their be more people travelin around in Starships under this scenario, where Cr1,000,000 is not as much as it use to be?
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby phavoc » Fri Aug 08, 2014 3:22 am

Your per-capita numbers aren't calculated properly - or at least not how they are done today. If the average per-capita income was $50,000, then a family of four would still be at the $50,000 level. This assumes 1 person is working, and the other three are dependents. You could double this to $100,00, but then you couldn't say the "average family of four", as that is now outside of your parameters.

The last time I saw something about a conversion rate between current $ and credits, it was something like $1 = 3Cr.

Which would put the average income in the Cr150,000 range using the $50k number, but that's probably a bit too high. But assuming the average family made Cr50,000, they could still conceivably afford a used air/raft, since the vehicles tend to last much longer in the Trav universe.

It's not terribly outside the realms of economics to see things work out. There were a lot of ships on the ocean before modern times, much like there is in the Traveller universe. The other issue is, of course, it's a game and some things like this don't always turn out well if you try to break them down too much.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:07 pm

Per capita income is determined by taking the GDP and dividing it by the number of people, whether they are of working age and have a job or not, the people aren't further categorized, doesn't matter if its an infant or the elderly, they count as people so are included in this number.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby ieqo » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:13 pm

Well, for one thing, it would change the tone of the game radically. Players in the classic Traveller campaign got up to the hijinks they did because they were desperate to make their crushing mortgage payment. One of the tropes seen frequently in the introductions to the classic adventures was some variation on "So you're all stuck here in the Arkansas of the galaxy, and the part your ship needs is KCr100 out of reach. Fortunately there's this guy in the starport bar who's willing to pay KCr150 for you to..."

If the ships didn't come with those crushing mortgages attached, or players were inherently wealthier, they wouldn't take those crappy patron jobs; "He wants us to do what? Yeah, screw that. My pension check comes the first of the month; it'll cover a new phlamshooter."

Then who would do those patron jobs? What would become of the canon if Ernest P. Worrel were the only one they could find to investigate the Octagon Society?
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Jame Rowe » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:22 pm

phavoc wrote:The last time I saw something about a conversion rate between current $ and credits, it was something like $1 = 3Cr.

Which would put the average income in the Cr150,000 range using the $50k number, but that's probably a bit too high. But assuming the average family made Cr50,000, they could still conceivably afford a used air/raft, since the vehicles tend to last much longer in the Trav universe.

It's not terribly outside the realms of economics to see things work out. There were a lot of ships on the ocean before modern times, much like there is in the Traveller universe. The other issue is, of course, it's a game and some things like this don't always turn out well if you try to break them down too much.
I heard it was actually 1 cr for $3, so the average would be a bit over 15,000 Cr a year for the average househould - 30,000 cr if both adults are working.

My way of making starships more economic is to reduce the prices for everything except fuel and munitions to 10%.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Reynard » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:51 pm

In the OTU all star systems are in a two dimensional plane to the galaxy, radio signals never leave a star system, hundred, many thousands of worlds in the 21st century are inhabited by humans and 3000 years from now, galactic wide prices are close to 20th - 21st century.

That says the game fairly well reflects wages and prices for THAT universe and the earning potential at the far end of the wage bell curve called travellers compared to similar people HERE trying to buy a merchant vessel or cargo plane to make a living and somehow not think about going into the Small Package business.

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Re: More affordable starships

Postby phavoc » Fri Aug 08, 2014 7:31 pm

@Tom - Whoops, yeah, you are right. I was thinking of household income (which includes working spouses and legally working children).

@James - I went back and checked my notes, an you are right. I had reversed them.

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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:37 pm

ieqo wrote:Well, for one thing, it would change the tone of the game radically. Players in the classic Traveller campaign got up to the hijinks they did because they were desperate to make their crushing mortgage payment. One of the tropes seen frequently in the introductions to the classic adventures was some variation on "So you're all stuck here in the Arkansas of the galaxy, and the part your ship needs is KCr100 out of reach. Fortunately there's this guy in the starport bar who's willing to pay KCr150 for you to..."

If the ships didn't come with those crushing mortgages attached, or players were inherently wealthier, they wouldn't take those crappy patron jobs; "He wants us to do what? Yeah, screw that. My pension check comes the first of the month; it'll cover a new phlamshooter."

Then who would do those patron jobs? What would become of the canon if Ernest P. Worrel were the only one they could find to investigate the Octagon Society?
Well then what's in the starship becomes more important than the starship itself! Suppose there was a starship filled with gold. How much gold would it take to equal the value of the starship?

My T20 book lists a scout/courier at MCr42.258 or Cr 42,258,000 Lets say a credit equals a one dollar Gold used to cost about $400 an ounce, a troy ounce that is. A long ton and a metric ton are about equal, there are 12 Troy ounces in a pound and 2,200 pounds in a long ton. under my listing for Scout/Courier it says it can carry 20 tons of cargo, now that is displacement tons of liquid hydrogen, but lets ignore that for now and assume it can carry 20 metric tons of cargo. So how much is 20 metric tons of gold worth at $400 an a Troy Ounce? I got $211,200,000
worth of gold about MCr221.2, about 5 times the value of a scout/courier.
Now lets set gold to th more current price of $1200 an ounce, we get $633,600,000
or MC633.6, about 15 times the value of the scout courier. Now under the former price structure there is more incentive to steal the starship than what's in it, under the latter pricing, the inentive becomes more to steal the gold, one would be more willing to destroy the starship to get the gold inside, just launch a rocket and blow it up, collect the gold floating in space later. How much did Gold cost in the 1970s? Perhaps them more elaborate plans would be made t hijack the starship so it could be sold on the black market rather than just blowing it up to retrieve the gold. Anyway pirates would behave differently because of this.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby sideranautae » Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:37 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:I noticed the prices on the equipment lists haven't changed much since the classic edition. Which leads to an interesting question. What happens if we update the salaries on the basis of $1 = Cr1, for instance per capita salary in the US is around $50,000, so the average family of four earns $200,000 a year,
No. The average WORKING person earns $50k/year. A family of 2 parents and 2 children doesn't earn, on average, $200,000.

In traveller, A person earning a median income on a high tech world can't even really afford modern personal transportation. In today's world (TL 7) it would be like a person only being able to afford a mule and cart but not an automobile. Look up the price for an enclosed grav vehicle and check out what people make in Traveller.

If you multiply the J-drive cost by 0.2 it goes a long way in making ships cheaper...
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:59 pm

sideranautae wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:I noticed the prices on the equipment lists haven't changed much since the classic edition. Which leads to an interesting question. What happens if we update the salaries on the basis of $1 = Cr1, for instance per capita salary in the US is around $50,000, so the average family of four earns $200,000 a year,
No. The average WORKING person earns $50k/year. A family of 2 parents and 2 children doesn't earn, on average, $200,000.

In traveller, A person earning a median income on a high tech world can't even really afford modern personal transportation. In today's world (TL 7) it would be like a person only being able to afford a mule and cart but not an automobile. Look up the price for an enclosed grav vehicle and check out what people make in Traveller.

If you multiply the J-drive cost by 0.2 it goes a long way in making ships cheaper...
Well you have to take into account the differences in income levels too. If everyone had an equal share in the economy's wealth in the United State, it would be around $50,000 a year, of course that is not the case.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Ishmael » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:25 am

This is all well and good if one is modelling the credit based on the United States, which represents only about 5% of the world's population...some of the highest paid 5% at that. If one considers the entire world as opposed to a single country, the per capita is closer to $12,500 and given an estimated gini value of .71 for income distribution world-wide, most people will make less...often far less.

If the world-wide per capita GDP is considered, then 1 cr is ~$1 and was much less years ago.
The Earth is not the United States.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby sideranautae » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:40 am

Ishmael wrote:This is all well and good if one is modelling the credit based on the United States, which represents only about 5% of the world's population...some of the highest paid 5% at that. If one considers the entire world as opposed to a single country, the per capita is closer to $12,500 and given an estimated gini value of .71 for income distribution world-wide, most people will make less...often far less.

If the world-wide per capita GDP is considered, then 1 cr is ~$1 and was much less years ago.
The Earth is not the United States.
True. But in most trav worlds it isn't balkanized where you have from TL 0- higher levels. Including Stone age type people and very low TL countries (remember millions in China STILL live in actual caves) makes it difficult.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Ishmael » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:55 am

Are you suggesting that moving the Earth from a group of independent countries to a one-world government would increase production 4 fold? and that all technology and income would be distributed equally? ( ok...more evenly, but still with a gini of .3 to .5 )

If you don't take income distributions into effect then per capita is less helpful than median income when discussing how much money people have. Current median income in the US is ~$29,000 with a median household income ( average all races ) of ~$50,000. World median household income is ~$10,000. How 'wealthy' this make someone depends just as much on the local cost of living and how much of the income is free to use for purchasing technology and savings. Exchange rates are also useful to know

I think this is all interesting from a world-building standpoint, myself.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:51 pm

Ishmael wrote:This is all well and good if one is modelling the credit based on the United States, which represents only about 5% of the world's population...some of the highest paid 5% at that. If one considers the entire world as opposed to a single country, the per capita is closer to $12,500 and given an estimated gini value of .71 for income distribution world-wide, most people will make less...often far less.

If the world-wide per capita GDP is considered, then 1 cr is ~$1 and was much less years ago.
The Earth is not the United States.
But why consider the rest of the World? I'm sure there are plenty of planets the size of Earth with a population of 316 million and a living standard the same as the United States. You see on most of those planets, humans didn't evolve, humans settled there, so the settlers set up one world government when they arrived and there was no Third World, no historical legacies, and no group of people living under dictators and theocracies and such. The World consists of one First World Republic and wilderness.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:03 pm

Ishmael wrote:Are you suggesting that moving the Earth from a group of independent countries to a one-world government would increase production 4 fold? and that all technology and income would be distributed equally? ( ok...more evenly, but still with a gini of .3 to .5 )

If you don't take income distributions into effect then per capita is less helpful than median income when discussing how much money people have. Current median income in the US is ~$29,000 with a median household income ( average all races ) of ~$50,000. World median household income is ~$10,000. How 'wealthy' this make someone depends just as much on the local cost of living and how much of the income is free to use for purchasing technology and savings. Exchange rates are also useful to know

I think this is all interesting from a world-building standpoint, myself.
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What I'm suggesting is not every World in the Traveller Universe will have its own Third World complete with illiterate subsistence farmers that come with it. In many instances the Third World will be off planet. One of the reasons for this is that those Third World subsistence farmers can't afford to travel in space, a World would be colonized and the Third Worlders wouldn't follow the initial colonists to establish their subsistence farms, because they can't. The Third World gets left behind on another planet and the Colonists establish a first World Republic with a high median income of Cr29,000 per person, in about 300 years after initial colonization, the population rises to 316 million due to immigration and natural childbirth. Immigrants can come only one way, by spaceship, they have to pass through an Ellis Island like setup and either be accepted or rejected, and there would be no one sneaking across the border on foot. Those who do come would have to afford at least Low Passage, and that would exclude a lot of people that were too poor o afford even that, they would come with some useful skills, and thus wouldn't be as desperately poor as many people are in the Third World today.

Also many Third World countries are poor because they have lousy dictatorial governments, the government taxes them too much, or it is corrupt, or it over regulates the economy and forbids certain economic activity reserving it for the government thus preventing economic growth. If there was one World government of the quality of the United States, the world would be lacking in corrupt dictators, theocracies and a bunch of other incompetent bumbling governments that are keeping their people poor with their policies.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby enderra » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:17 am

Don't use GDP, use wealth statistics. This is quite a different number. For example in Germany the per capita GDP is 47k US$, median income is US$ 27k and median wealth - for a non-real estate-owning household of 2.04 people - is 14500 US$. Note that wealth does not equal money, it includes material goods as well.

Money, wealth, and consequently standard of living have wide gaps in any society, but of course what is "poor" in, say, Nigeria and "poor" in, say, Germany is very different. And yes, this includes the US and yes it includes your 316mio hypothetical colony. You simply cannot have wealthy people without having poor people, and in all societies you have people who - by whatever means, let's not discuss ideology please - will strive to concentrate power and wealth.

I honestly wouldn't try to work out the economy of the universe and then set starship prices, I would decide how common starships are supposed to be and then work backwards to set other prices.

In the setting I am working on I haven't gotten around to spaceship prices and economy yet, but I will work by analogy: Probably airplanes (though ocean-going ships might work just as well, or better, because you more easily live in one permanently and they are easier to maintain). Some people do own private airplanes, ultralgihts, Chessnas, learjets all the way to Airbusses. The major airlines represent your major interstellar corporations. A Chessna might be a good equivalent to a far trader in this scenario. Quick google search suggests that a chessna is about 1.5 mio US$, or 100x what a median household owns. Learjets are about ten times that, so it probably scales fairly nicely at least for what I have in mind.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Sun Aug 10, 2014 12:33 pm

enderra wrote:Don't use GDP, use wealth statistics. This is quite a different number. For example in Germany the per capita GDP is 47k US$, median income is US$ 27k and median wealth - for a non-real estate-owning household of 2.04 people - is 14500 US$. Note that wealth does not equal money, it includes material goods as well.

Money, wealth, and consequently standard of living have wide gaps in any society, but of course what is "poor" in, say, Nigeria and "poor" in, say, Germany is very different. And yes, this includes the US and yes it includes your 316mio hypothetical colony. You simply cannot have wealthy people without having poor people, and in all societies you have people who - by whatever means, let's not discuss ideology please - will strive to concentrate power and wealth.

I honestly wouldn't try to work out the economy of the universe and then set starship prices, I would decide how common starships are supposed to be and then work backwards to set other prices.

In the setting I am working on I haven't gotten around to spaceship prices and economy yet, but I will work by analogy: Probably airplanes (though ocean-going ships might work just as well, or better, because you more easily live in one permanently and they are easier to maintain). Some people do own private airplanes, ultralgihts, Chessnas, learjets all the way to Airbusses. The major airlines represent your major interstellar corporations. A Chessna might be a good equivalent to a far trader in this scenario. Quick google search suggests that a chessna is about 1.5 mio US$, or 100x what a median household owns. Learjets are about ten times that, so it probably scales fairly nicely at least for what I have in mind.
Do they have people living on one dollar a day in Germany?

My question is this, how do you get people living on one credit a day to move to another planet when a colony is established? How does the Third World follow those first worlders to the new planet to be settled? Why can't you have wealthy people without poor people? Do rich people pay to transport poor people living on 1 credit a day and pay to transport their oxen or whatever beast of burden they use on their subsistence farm, as well as all their 8 to 10 children? Having large numbers of poor people hasn't always been a good thing, just look what happened to the Russian Aristocrats in 1918.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby Reynard » Sun Aug 10, 2014 1:19 pm

It's called "cheap labor" and it's how the world has worked for a lot of humanity's history. The upper class don't get their hands dirty. They gather up the lowest paid they can get away with to do the labor intensive work for food and infrastructure for the classes and labor strata above them who will make more money. That's why its always described as a pyramid. As for Traveller and high tech societies a robot will be much more expensive for the menial labor force as long as you keep humans breeding large, desperately poor populations either as freemen or slaves.

Those starships aren't built by the people in the mile high Ivory Towers.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby IanBruntlett » Sun Aug 10, 2014 3:13 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote: Do they have people living on one dollar a day in Germany?
Well... in a Psychiatric hospital in Northumberland, there is a sheltered accommodation unit. Some people on it are given hospital meals. Others, who have progressed further, had a daily food allowance of £3 per day.
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Re: More affordable starships

Postby enderra » Sun Aug 10, 2014 3:29 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:My question is this, how do you get people living on one credit a day to move to another planet when a colony is established?
You promise them a better life. If you are honest and decent, you give them Forty acres and a mule and that's that. If you're a nefarious bastard you let them sign away all they own and then some to keep them in debt for the rest of their lives to create what amounts to slave labor. You do want cheap, manual labor because you obviously don't want to tend the fields and pick cotton or slush in the mud puddles if you are "rich".

Even if you don't pay them, or even encourage them, there will be those who are desperate enough to risk their lives to move to whatever place they think is better than the destitute desperation they currently live in. Even today, this happens every day on the American borders and in the Mediterranean. Sure, neither the EU nor the US are what you would call "colony" but the motives are the same.
Tom Kalbfus wrote:Why can't you have wealthy people without poor people?
This really ought to be obvious, but: If everybody is "rich", that is, has the same amount of possessions, then everybody is just at the average wealth of the society. You can only be "rich" if you can afford more than the guy down the street.
Tom Kalbfus wrote:Having large numbers of poor people hasn't always been a good thing, just look what happened to the Russian Aristocrats in 1918.
I didn't say it was good, I just pointed out that all human societies have built-in inequality, and that it helps to understand this if you want to set up a price structure for your setting, be it starships, hovercars, or glass beads.
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